Amidst this traumatic pandemic, many have been gifted the chance to pause in place, which provides a unique possibility for personal reflection. We can use this moment to explore and foster inner qualities that could help us rebalance our lives, and the world in which we live. In this article I highlight why and how feminine qualities, irrespective of our gender, are so important for this time and for helping us move into a new beginning.
Why Focus on the Feminine Right Now?
“a collective opportunity to lean into that precious still moment between the in-breath and the out-breath.”
Like everyone, I’ve been having my own nuanced relationship with the Covid-19 pandemic and the multitude of ways it’s influencing our lives. After an initial and very practical crisis response, I’ve been blessed with some degree of being able to settle and pause. That’s not to say there aren’t still kids to look after and homeschool, work to be done, family, friends and communities to connect with and support and so on. My loved ones have so far remained well or recovered and are mostly in isolation, the sun has been shining and we live in the spacious countryside. With this backdrop, I sense I am amongst the lucky right now. Although we are physically separated, I feel connected in my place amongst the millions having this chance to pause in place. It has felt like a collective opportunity to lean into that precious still moment between the in-breath and the out-breath.
“an opportunity for reflection and rebalancing”
As anyone who has done any significant personal growth work or been confined to long periods of empty time due to illness or any other reason knows, in these moments we are invited to meet ourselves in ways that can be confronting and bring up a myriad of issues. How we choose to approach this varies and our defense mechanisms can get activated as we draw on both our functional and dysfunctional ways of coping. This pause can however also offer an opportunity for reflection and rebalancing. For me, part of this process means remembering and reclaiming our innate feminine power to help address a long-awaited rebalancing in our own lives and in our collective lives at this time on our planet. In this article I invite you to join me in this reflection and offer signposts for how you could play around with this for yourself both now and going forwards.
“We are recognizing how much we have been living out of balance with ourselves and with our world and how change is desperately needed.”
There are great rumblings amongst societies the world over calling for life not to return to ‘normal’ as we emerge from our covid-19 caves. It is widely understood that we must no longer continue the destructively domineering path the human race has been blindly walking on with our planet for so long. In this pause and re-emergence we have a unique chance for collective reflection and for re-scripting how we wish human life to be beyond Covid-19. Many refer to this time we are living through as a cross roads and a great opportunity for the initiation of humanity to move towards a new way of being. It has been described as a portal for the great turning of human kind predicted by various traditions around the globe for centuries. Many talk of the new story we need to create for humanity and our place in relation to the earth. We are recognizing how much we have been living out of balance with ourselves and with our world and how change is desperately needed.
“We clearly have a lot of work to do, and it needs to begin with ourselves.”
There are a number of interrelated ideas emerging that shine a light on what needs to be seen and given its place to guide us towards a more balanced and life affirming way of being as we move forward from this moment. My current favourite being the life expanding works of Charles Eisenstein. We clearly have a lot of work to do, and it needs to begin with ourselves.
“The story of the rising feminine is already alive and gaining momentum”
Over the past 18 months I’ve been writing about the need for and ways in which we can balance our inner feminine and masculine energies to create a more healthy relationship with ourselves, each other and the world we call home. This is relevant for anyone of any gender as I am referring to what some may call the yin and the yang, basically the different types of inner energies that we all possess. Engaging with processes that promote more harmony between the masculine and feminine principles in our inner landscape also creates ripples of change in the outer landscape of systems we live as part of and ultimately the entirety of this planet. I see this as one of the fundamental ways we can elevate our collective human consciousness and through this create a new way of being that can help us change course, in service to life. The story of the rising feminine is already alive and gaining momentum, yet so far it has only flirted around the edges of mainstream narratives. It is really worth listening to what is has to offer us right now as we face this unknown space, which holds such beautiful possibilities. But why, you may wonder, has this imbalance even arisen.
How Did This Imbalance Arise?
“our ancestors moved out of a more dynamic and respectful inter-relationship with the earth towards a more static and possessive one”
Over the past several thousand years humanity has gradually become increasingly out of balance. We have moved away from our sense of interconnection towards a disconnected individualistic way of being. This was dictated from the power-over paradigm that emerged and began to dominate certainly the western world following the advent of agriculture, when our ancestors moved out of a more dynamic and respectful inter-relationship with the earth towards a more static and possessive one. The dualistic world-view that emerged out of western philosophy gaslighted us into viewing ourselves as separate and superior to the earth, known as anthropocentrism. It also placed our intellect as superior to the physical, emotional and spiritual.
“patriarchal belief structures… lay foundation stones for the industrial revolution to be built upon. Brick by brick we then stole the natural treasures belonging to the earth.”
Placing our intellectual capacity, which is associated with the masculine, as above nature, which is associated with the feminine, fed beliefs that the masculine was superior to the feminine. The advent of formalised religions also strengthened these beliefs, both through their hierarchical structures and the removal of the sacred from the earth by placing the divine with Gods in the sky. This gave permission for patriarchal belief structures to lay foundation stones for the industrial revolution to be built upon. Brick by brick we then stole the natural treasures belonging to the earth.
“we have lived by a largely unexamined set of fear-based beliefs”
Patriarchal systems led to dominating power being placed at the feet of the masculine and our devotion towards the sovereignty of the feminine in all its forms was increasingly dismissed and suppressed. This led to distortions of both the feminine and the masculine in societal systems and within us. For centuries we have lived by a largely unexamined set of fear-based beliefs that we inherited and that underpin these patriarchal systems. We have by and largely been blinded to this and through our understandable naivety have also contributed to strengthening them without realizing as we go about our daily busy consumerist lives.
“severance from the feminine and nature… has led us to a place where all of life, including our own, is under threat.”
Through our severance from the feminine and nature we now find ourselves living in a time where we have turned our back on the very planet that has given us life through our endless exploitation of her and other living beings. This has led us to a place where all of life, including our own, is under threat. I must be clear at this point that patriarchy is not synonymous with masculinity and also reiterate that by masculine and feminine I do not mean the reductionist notions of male and female in the outer world. Similarly, I would not propose that we throw out everything from previous paradigms in favour of something completely new and there have been many gifts from the divine masculine that are essential to bring with us. For example, the sciences are fundamental to the old paradigms and very much still have a place in a future more balanced world.
There is obviously so much more to be said about all of this, but for the purpose of this article I wish to focus on how, for any of us, understanding and fostering feminine qualities at this time can serve to bring more balance into our own lives. This in turn can help us understand what is required of us in taking our place as we stand as a collective at this so-called cross-road for humanity and contribute towards a more balanced future for humanity and the wider world.
Feminine Qualities For These Times
“the feminine… like a crystal with many surfaces… invites more depth and perspective the more we examine it”
I’ve been collating a list of qualities of both the masculine and feminine and of the distorted masculine and feminine as part of my book research. I’ve been attempting to approach this task with feminine fluidity, recognizing that becoming too definitive and rigid in this process would risk becoming overly masculine in the very process of identification. I heard Maria Papaspyrou elegantly describe the feminine once as being like a crystal with many surfaces, which invites more depth and perspectives the more we examine it in different lights. As such, I want to simply highlight some key qualities of the feminine that are of particular importance in these times and need not only fostering, but honoring and celebrating. Some may have been historically demoted to a lesser than role and some even dismissed altogether or attached with negative connotations, but now is the time for these powers to be called upon within us and between us. Examples of words strongly associated with the feminine include; heart-centered, creative, being, intuiting, compassionate, embodying, nurturing, connecting, surrendering, regenerating, feeling, enduring, devotional, healing, grounding, sensing, kindness, patience, cyclical, fierce, playful, giving, flowing, relational, transforming, listening, receptive, communal, timeless.
“It is through the feminine that we understand interconnection”
We have I’m sure all witnessed beautiful examples of these feminine aspects emerging within ourselves and others during these times. It is through the feminine that we understand interconnection, and the Covid-19 pandemic from the outset has invited us to truly appreciate our inter-connection. Social media is awash with stories of people all around the world embracing the importance of community and demonstrating beautiful acts of kindness, resulting in a whole manner of things we previously deemed impossible or were unable to even imagine coming to life. We have also seen more traditionally feminine roles that were previously under-appreciated in society, such as those of carers, being recognised for their immense value.
This is not to say that healthy masculine qualities are not also being very much called on because of course everything is needed in order to create balance. For example, more masculine attributes such as strength, clarity, direction, action, practicality, courage, boundaries, focusing, decisiveness, reasoning, organising, questioning and responsibility are absolutely key to enable a healthy balanced approach at this time.
Distortions of the Feminine and Masculine
“Such distortions are clearly being played out on many political stages at the moment”
We may also have witnessed ways in which distortions of the masculine and feminine have been showing up during these times of crisis as we are each propelled into our fear-based survival reactions. For example, the distorted feminine can show herself in the form of judgmental, gossiping posts on social media or self-righteousness about charitable acts. The distorted masculine may present in the form of entitled risk taking actions that assume one is above the regulations around social distancing or in the anxious calls for immediate actions that could only offer a false sense of control over things that we do not have control over.
Such distortions are clearly being played out on many political stages at the moment, as well in the media. When these actions seem to have such huge ramifications on a mass scale we can risk collapsing into hopelessness and despair. There are however glimmers of hope as we look outwards too. It is interesting to note for example, that where more feminine qualities have been integrated into political decision-making in countries around the world at this time, that there has apparently been a notable correlation with more positive outcomes to this crisis so far.
“we need to accept the paradox that we are both greatly insignificant alone yet greatly significant as part of the collective.”
As well as being observant bystanders to whatever is unfolding around us in the world at this time, I appeal to all of us to be brave enough to recognize and embrace the need to look inwards and take our place in the unfolding of humanity’s response. With this we need to accept the paradox that we are both greatly insignificant alone yet greatly significant as part of the collective. We are each nothing more than a tiny aspect of the greater whole and yet also we each have a vital role to play as we take our place within this cycle of life.
This capacity to accept paradox is another gift of the feminine within each of us, which can be very helpful to draw upon to help us sit with the discomfort of these unknown times. Instead of helplessly turning a blind eye, by reclaiming our innate feminine power we can begin to face and allow ourselves to truly see the vast array of devastating personal and societal imbalances being brought into stark relief as a consequence of this pandemic.
Fostering The Feminine
“Re-balancing our inner worlds quite simply helps to re-balance our outer world”
I truly believe that we were made for these times, that we are all here right now for a reason and that our inner work is essential to this process. Focusing on qualities that enable us to ‘be’ in greater harmony in our inner worlds in turn enables us to step up to ‘do’ what is required of us at the time in our outer world. Re-balancing our inner worlds quite simply helps to re-balance our outer world and this dynamic relationship is also reciprocal. My invitation then is quite simply to seize this moment of pause, if and when it becomes available to you, to reflect in your own way on how feminine aspects are or aren’t given space in your life and in what ways you could foster them to help address any imbalances you notice.
“Now is a time for truth-telling and we can start with ourselves. In doing so we must hold a space for deep self-compassion”
By listening inwards with an open and non-judgmental heart, notice what you observe in the chatter of your mind, in the subtle flows within your body and emotional world, in the everyday relational actions you take or don’t take. Now is a time for truth-telling and we can start with ourselves. In doing so we must hold a space for deep self-compassion in this process. There are no right or wrong answers and it can be helpful to take a playful and curious approach to the process of reflection and of developing new practices that foster the feminine. There are many different practices you may wish to explore to find out what works for you.
“embrace this time to really ‘be’”
In choosing to foster feminine qualities you may for example decide now is the time turn to the magic of meditation, which is a great practice for engendering a more grounded connection with ones physical being through the body and breath. It is also a great facilitator for developing an observer perspective of our mind and emotional world, which enables us to choose our responses more easily rather than unconsciously react.
You may simply take on the practice of ‘sensing slow’, by which I mean embrace this time to really ‘be’ rather than do as much as possible and see what emerges from this way. This contrasts the pressure that is around for people to seize this space as a time for achievement, which comes from a more competitive masculine energy within us.
“there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground” (Rumi)
You might be lucky enough to have natural spaces that you can engage with and choose to take this opportunity to step into a deeper dialogue with nature. As Rumi beautifully said, “there are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground” and if you are short of ideas for stepping back into conversation with the world’s soul, the Anima Mundi, then dip into a resource on forest bathing or similar and learn how to turn your everyday stroll into a mindful pilgrimage.
The expanding field of rewilding also has some exciting offerings. To keep it really simple you can begin by standing with bare feet on the ground, a practice known as earthing, which is said to regulate cortisol, reduce inflammation and pain, and shift the body from a stressed fight-flight response to a restorative rest-digest mode.
“your own physical body — offers wonderful opportunities for grounding at this time.”
Nurturing feminine qualities of embodiment, intuition, surrender, sensing, patience and listening can be done by connecting not only to the body of the earth but also to your own physical body which offers wonderful opportunities for grounding at this time. Practices such as chi kung or tai chi, dancing, running or yoga are amongst the many ways of engaging with this connection.
“Creative expression and play are key for fostering the feminine”
Creative expression and play are key for fostering the feminine and this can obviously be explored in so many ways depending on what resonates for us and what we have access to. Whether it be music, cooking, painting, crafts, dance and so on, this time has the potential to be a wonderful space in which to nurture our creativity whatever that means for us.
Routine has been recognised as helpful during this time but ritual and ceremony, which often stem from a feminine creativity, can further enhance everyday life by offering more depth and meaning. This can be through something as simple as bringing intention to the meaning and lighting of a candle in honour of something or someone, creating an altar of significant objects, or in turning a daily cup of tea into a more ceremonial act of conscious self-care.
“Finding places, even if digital, where we can safely witness and be witnessed in our truth, in our full humanity, is both rare but necessary.”
Of course we all recognize the importance of connection in this time of potential increased disconnection due to the requirements of social distancing. You may already be practicing new ways to ensure this is central to your everyday experience, such as through the various technologies available to us. I encourage you though to examine how you actually show up in these connections, reflecting on the level of depth and honesty you bring to them. How we show up with others hugely influences what we both give and receive from these spaces. Finding places, even if digital, where we can safely witness and be witnessed in our truth, in our full humanity, is both rare but necessary, particularly right now. I encourage all of us to nurture relationships and spaces that are accepting and holding so that we can bravely show up and share our souls. In doing so we will be able to not only feel our interconnection and the strength and joy that comes from it, but also to grieve for our many layers of loss.
“We must therefore call upon the sacred feminine to midwife our lives back into relationship with death”
We all know there is so much grieving to be done if we step into true responsibility for where we find ourselves, yet we live in a death phobic society that push this truth away. We must therefore call upon the sacred feminine to midwife our lives back into relationship with death and our capacity to grieve, and to do so together. It takes fierce feminine courage to do the work that opens our hearts to letting these emotions flow through.
“Feminine wisdoms can often be found if we tap into the resources of our ancestors”
In the spirit of co-creation you may wish to explore any of these avenues or others with company. This may be with people you live with in person, such as identifying a feminine quality for the week to foster as a family. It may be with others you connect with through virtual communities. It may even be by leaning into a spiritual council that speaks to your soul. Feminine wisdoms can often be found if we tap into the resources of our ancestors, either the elders in our own lineage or held for us collectively within many indigenous traditions around the world that still live in harmony with the earth.
“We need to lean into and trust that inner knowing of the heart, our intuition.”
There is also much companionable feminine wisdom to be found in the written word, such as those of some poets, Sufi masters and ancient myths, among others, or in art or music. One of the written voices that has helped re-light the feminine fire of many souls over recent years, my own included, is Clarissa Pinkola Estes. She speaks of the need for us to stand with ‘soul on deck’ and how this acts as a beacon of hope to others. Just imagine how many beacons of light there are to look towards, but most importantly remember that you are one yourself and that the most important wisdoms for you to hear lie within you. We need to lean into and trust that inner knowing of the heart, our intuition, which is a centrally important feminine quality that has been sidelined in this heady rationale world for too long.
“By listening inwards we can really connect with our own true values”
Many are reporting that their dream life is suddenly particularly full and rich these days and this is another way to listen inwards. Your unconscious has lots to offer you too and working with your dreams is a great medium for reading the nightly letters from your soul that are trying to communicate with your conscious mind. By listening inwards we can really connect with our own true values and begin to explore what we wish to take forwards into this next expression of our souls journey from the bedrock of our own daily lives.
Moving Forward With The Feminine
“Whatever you choose to do next, you have a chance to do so now from a more balanced place within you if you learn to foster the feminine.”
What these next steps beyond the impact of Covid-19 look like none of us know. There are already so many amazingly beautiful new ways that people are coming together to co-create initiatives in service of each other and the world at this time and you may wish to invest some of your resources into supporting a project like this. Whatever you choose to do next, you have a chance to do so now from a more balanced place within you if you learn to foster the feminine. From this non-hierarchical position we are able to recognize that everyone and every contribution towards creating a new story for humanity is equally valid and valuable. Also, we can understand that this will not be a linear process full of progress, as has been the masculine dominated way for so long, but a more cyclical process of regeneration, which learns from the feminine life-death-life cycles of nature.
“Feminine power is a yes to life”
We have a chance to actively surrender to the creative chaos of this moment if we accept the unknown space we find ourselves in. From this place, from this pause, if we truly turn inwards and lean in to all that this tension the unknown offers, the difficult and the beautiful, then there is the possibility of rebirth. Feminine power is a yes to life, and after all, all new life is birthed from darkness.
“Doing inner or outer work that creates change sets off a healing impulse that ripples out in all we are interconnected with”
This process of slowing to stillness, of facing our truths in our shadows, of grieving our losses, of connecting to and risking our vulnerability in the hands of each other, is not an easy process, nor one to be taken lightly. I therefore suggest we approach all of this with both feet firmly planted on the earth, recognising that both within us and around us there will be many conflicts in this process of rebalancing, wherever it ultimately leads. Doing inner or outer work that creates change sets off a healing impulse that ripples out in all we are interconnected with, sometimes in ways that are wonderful and some that can be challenging. What I therefore predict for you, and for us all if we collectively engage in a meaningful way in this process, is that there will be an understandable kick back. The pendulum will swing back and forth before settling into a more harmonious, yet still ever dynamic balance. Any changes to our inner landscape will feel inevitably like a challenge to the status quo and activate our defenses that evolved historically with the aim of keeping us safe. We must be prepared for self-sabotaging and dismissing behaviours and contemptuously mocking nay sayers, whether within your own psyche or in the world at large. I certainly come across repeated internal and external invitations to stray from my own paths as I navigate these unknown waters.
“As we emerge from social isolation we will bump up against all sorts of reactivity… both within ourselves and from others.”
As we emerge from social isolation we will bump up against all sorts of reactivity such as anxiety, fear, anger, attempts to control and judgment, both within ourselves and from others. If we anxiously return to old solutions at these points though we will obviously get more of the same problems with more pandemics, ecological and social disasters, to name but a few. We don’t yet know what a new way of being will bring, but we need to have faith that it can bring something more beautiful and life affirming, so we must hold steady. This is where the more masculine qualities such as discipline and boundaries need nurturing and in doing so we begin to honour and work with both the yin and the yang, recognizing that balance or imbalance to one results in the same for the other. Life giving feminine qualities of patience, endurance and compassion then work in harmony with these masculine qualities and we can tolerate this place of tension, like the pause between contractions that ultimately leads to the flow of new life.
“Let’s receive and carry forwards wisdoms from this moment, having learnt that there is power in stillness.”
We know that we’ve reached the end of something. What our new life beyond Covid-19 will look like is yet to be scribed on our next out-breath. For many this chance to pause may not come for some time, if ever. If we are lucky enough to have this chance let’s not squander it. Let’s receive and carry forwards wisdoms from this moment, having learnt that there is power in stillness. We may even learn to return to a state of pause repeatedly so that we can come to ground and rebalance ourselves before heading back out into the world again. This movement back and forth between the difficulty and the settling experiences in some trauma work is known as titration. There is so much trauma that we need to process and I have a sense that we could all benefit from titrating as we ease out of social isolation.
For now, if we have the chance to, let’s lean into the opportunity this pause is gifting us, to gently and bravely turn to both our inner reflections and the outer reflections mirrored back at us in the face of the natural world. In these reflections we will find the feminine principle waiting patiently to be remembered and reclaimed so that we can re-balance this force that so beautifully compliments the masculine principle. Inviting them back into a dynamic dance flowing back and forth with one another opens up new possibilities for us to re-imagine a new paradigm that balances the head and the heart and honours the sacred as integral to the body. From this place we can begin to co-create new more balanced lives for ourselves and for our world.