Who is the Divine Feminine?
The Divine Feminine, Goddess, the Divine Mother, the Sacred Feminine, Shakti…
She has numerous names.
Since time immemorial, cultures across the globe—from Africa to North America—venerated the female face of the Divine. Her worship and Her presence took diverse forms. She was the Earth, the Moon, the Sun, and the Cycles of Nature (Life, Death, and Rebirth). She was Fierce and She was Soft. She was Fertile, a Virgin, a Lover, a Mother, a Priestess, a Huntress, an Oracle, a Maiden, an Omniscient Crone. She was a Destroyer and a Dynamic Creatrix. She was the Sky, the Cosmos, the Underworld, and Everything in Between. We can reasonably deduce that societies attributed these characteristics to the Goddess given the iconography and mythologies that illuminate these traits.
For instance, think of the renowned female figurines of Old European culture (e.g., Venus of Willendorf), the cosmologies of Native American peoples, the tales of Grecian goddesses such as Aphrodite and Artemis. Recall Shekinah, the female divine in Kabbalah. Recollect Mary and La Virgen de Guadalupe of Catholicism (Mary/La Virgen de Guadalupe are actually remnants of the Old Goddess religion). Conjure images of the Asian goddesses: Kuan Yin and Amaterasu. Imagine Allat, Al-Uzza, and Menat, the goddesses of the pre-Islamic Arabs. Ponder the spiritual worldview of the ancient Egyptians and envision Sekhmet, Hathor, or Isis. How about the Original Dark Mother from other African cultures? Or, Coatlicue, Tonantzin, and Ixchel: the ancient mother goddesses in Aztec culture? And, of course, how could one forget the eminent goddesses of India: Kali, Saraswati, Lakshmi, Shakti, or Durga.
In every culture, you will find the Divine Feminine. At times, there will be patriarchal overlays to Her stories, deeming Her as inferior and incompetent, making Her obscure, overly objectifying Her, or depicting Her as some false idol. But, this is how patriarchal culture survives: it denies, denigrates, and dismisses the feminine, whether in the cosmic realm or secular sphere. It is important to note that patriarchy is a complex system of male-domination, yet not all men adhere to this model. I believe there are many beautiful, kind men in this world who seek to do good and who value feminine energy.
In academia, there is a term frequently used called “hermeneutics.” It essentially means the art of interpretation. Since Spirit in all of Her/His forms is ultimately ineffable, we humans inevitably succumb to interpretations of the Divine that align with our visions and values. As we know, this can be problematic as certain portrayals of the Divine lead to religious wars, plays for inequitable political power, chasms in spiritual communities, and set up a relentless paradigm of us vs. them.
Despite the differences of major World Religions and spiritual ideologies, hopefully humanity can arrive to a core understanding that Spirit—however we perceive Her or Him—is an Unconditional, Infinite Presence of Love who takes on innumerable forms to be understood and recognized by the diverse Souls that comprise this world.
Because I am a woman who has experienced tremendous pain with patriarchal conceptions of a male god (in Western culture, in particular), for me to embrace Spirit’s Love, She had to be a Woman—a Goddess. When God became a Woman for me, I was able to let the Love in. I was able to start healing on a psychic and cellular level. I was able to recognize myself as sacred. My body as sacred. My Feminine Soul as Divine.
Oddly, when God became a Woman—a Great Mama Goddess—I was able to find a more loving Divine Masculine within Her. Just as the human mother carries her son, the Goddess contained space for a God who was not oppressive, misogynistic, or domineering. Her Love helped me see past the patriarchal conceptions of God and into a Divine Masculine that honors and complements the Divine Feminine.
The Goddess’ presence did not disintegrate with the disappearance of ancient cultures and their beliefs. Her power cannot be lost, stolen, or manipulated by androcentric worldviews no matter how much an unhealthy masculine culture attempts to suppress Her. Note that I said unhealthy masculine. A healthy masculine energy welcomes the feminine in all of her multifaceted splendor. And, yes, there is an unhealthy feminine. Unhealthy feminine energy manipulates, seduces, and betrays her own power for the sake of being wanted.
The Goddesses mentioned above (and so many more) are still alive. They are the Divine Feminine Expressions of Spirit. Just like Krishna and Buddha are Divine Masculine Expressions of Spirit…
Some days, I need the Hindu Warrioress Goddess, Kali. I need a Warrioress within me to help maintain appropriate boundaries from people and behaviors that weigh down my mind, body, and soul. She can do for me what my wounded ego cannot. She can protect the inner child who wants to rage, project, and react. She can remind me of my worth and fight for my worth in times that require unruly feminine strength. She can deliver me to a place of higher self-esteem and remind me that I am good enough just as I am.
Other days, I need Oshun, the Yoruban Goddess of Beauty, Love, and Sensuality. I need a Goddess who reminds me that I am these sacred qualities too, even when I feel utterly broken, unattractive, and defeated. I need a Soft Woman within me who whispers that I am Love at my core; that all Children of Spirit are Beautiful in all of their messy, human glory. I need a sensual presence who melts the walls around my heart and who reminds me of my own soft nature, which helps me be more compassionate to others and myself.
Whichever aspect of the Divine Mother you call on, they are all emanations of the Unconditional, Infinite Presence of Love (Spirit). Sometimes Love is fierce in the name of protecting you and eradicating what no longer serves you; sometimes Love is deeply soft and penetrable in order to encapsulate you and carry you to your next destination. Depending on what you need, the Goddess can be the Destroyer or the Nurturer.
So, who is the Divine Feminine?
She is Love. She is Spirit. Expressed as a Woman.
In whatever Form you need Her.
To keep moving you in your Journey and Awakening.