We realize that we...are participating members in the vast community of life, whose sacredness we must embrace if we are to survive. If we are ever to arrive at this expanded consciousness, we will have to surrender our ego desires to the wisdom of the Self. Masculine and Feminine will have to learn to cherish eachother. --Marion Woodman & Elinor Dickson, Dancing in the Flames
The last three decades of the twentieth century ushered in a remarkable awakening of “goddess spirituality.” The roots of this awakening reached back to the upper Paleolithic worship of the earth as Great Mother. While five thousand years of patriarchal history had suppressed the notion of the feminine as an archetype of wholeness, during this period, thousands of people discovered (or recovered) the feminine face (and faces) of God.
This revolution of the goddess, what I think of as “Mother Wisdom,” challenged the great myth of patriarchy: that a hierarchical (and often violent) male-dominated social structure is inevitable, eternal and divinely ordained. Mother Wisdom made a radical claim: that there is another way. That if the planet is to survive, the awareness that all life is sacred and inter-dependent must replace the patriarchal ethos of man over woman, mind over matter — of a father god creating and holding dominion over the earth.
Mother Wisdom is the force behind the broad spectrum of social movements that arose during those final decades of the century: mind/body medicine; humanistic and transpersonal psychology; the development of women’s health care; attempts to transform the top-down business management paradigm and humanize the workplace; the Ecology movement; the Recovery movement; the proliferation of women as clergy and spiritual teachers; the ongoing questioning of traditional male and female roles; and the growing interest in meditation, creativity, and healing. Our collective yearning to restore soul to modern life, to re-enchant our world, rose up from the body of the sacred feminine.
However, the masculine principle as the dominant mode of being remained tightly woven into the deepest structures of our consciousness, altering the natural balance of the psyche. So that while the outer walls of patriarchy were crumbling, the inner walls, the patriarchal structures of consciousness, remained embedded in our ways of thinking, acting, and sense of self.
As the force of individuation, action, and logos, the masculine principle serves a vital function. Connected to a strong and healthy feminine, it provides focus, strength, stamina, curiosity, and the structure of the word. This psychic foundation is the key to building creatively fulfilling lives, to discovering our right livelihood, to walking our most exalted talk. Without firm grounding in Mother Wisdom however, the masculine principle becomes the “inner patriarch.” Lonely, bloated, disconnected from its female source, this out-of-balance masculine slowly destroys the natural ecology of the psyche, suppressing, distorting, and wounding the pure energies of sacred masculine and feminine.
This is an underlying cause of many pathologies that continue to plague us as a society and as individuals. Giving rise to a dangerous sense of separation, the inner patriarch is a misogynistic (and often, especially in women, unconscious) energy that produces fear, anxiety, isolation, alienation, cruelty, numbness, greed, and the need to control. From these come the addictions, compulsions, obsessions, and abuses that have destroyed life for centuries and now seriously threaten the entire planet.
In America, patriarchal pathology found full expression during the presidential reign of George W. Bush. While the Obama administration appears grounded in the principles of Mother Wisdom, we still have a long way to go. The impulse towards patriarchy is firmly rooted in our collective unconscious. The outer forms may be crumbling, but if we don’t rebuild from the inside out, the old systems will reconstitute themselves.
Only a strong, vital feminine can meet and transform the patriarchal masculine. In this balance, feminine being and masculine doing work in perfect harmony. This crucial shift restores the natural order the psyche and is the key to creating sustainable life on this planet.