I’ve been so immersed in nature the past few years that it took three nights with a full-channel TV to prompt a renewed appreciation for the gifts which that immersion has brought me.
Evenings of sitting under the sky, rather than in front of television commercials, news and reality shows, have left me almost out of touch with what is normal reality for much of the modern world. Not that I shun modern living, with my iPod and laptop as regular companions. It’s more that I now choose to spend a lot more of my time in surroundings which nourish my soul.
I’m not sure which came first—the move out of the city or my reconnection with the feminine. The feminine, the earth, mother nature—she is a fundamental part of us, whether we like it, understand it, respect it, or not. We are, both men and women, deeply and naturally feminine as well as masculine. And many women, as well as men, struggle with understanding and integrating their feminine aspects in a world where we have been raised and educated to place a higher value on the masculine gifts of logic, analysis and mind-over-matter. But the feminine has her own particular gifts which can substantially enrich our lives if we choose to value and harness them.
My own personal journey to reclaiming my inner feminine came at a time when relying on my masculine side no longer worked as it had in the past. I was at a stage in my life where my mind was only getting in the way of my need for a deeper peace and more fulfillment. As happens so often when the old ways are falling away, a series of synchronicities connected me with others who had a more conscious awareness of where I was at the time. But no matter how often it was suggested that I needed to integrate my feminine side, it still made no real sense to me.
The term feminine only conjured up images of floaty skirts, delicate women with no fire and passivity.
How little did I know! It was only after spending more and more time in nature that the feminine gradually permeated my body and mind in a way that rekindled a natural knowing. The recent contrast between the beautiful waxing-moon-lit, starry, Atlantic coastline and the ultra-cool, slick TV commercials simply brought my awareness to how far my journey into the deep feminine has come and how transformative her gifts can be.
Anchoring ourselves more firmly to that large feminine body on which we are currently living—the earth—we can start to tap in again to the natural gifts of the feminine in ourselves. Perhaps the most obvious gift is an understanding of the natural cycles in our lives. The cycles of growth, harvest, decline and regeneration are so inherent in nature, yet how comfortable are we with the last two stages of that cycle in our own lives? Although we now can stall them to some degree, with artificial farming methods and medical interventions, nature still reminds us of the feminine wisdom of heeding these cycles.
Without periods of withdrawal and death, there is no space for new or renewed growth. Think of what happens after a forest fire, or even after a period of physical, emotional or energetic letting go. Tuning into the natural rhythms—the monthly waxing and waning of the moon, the turning seasons, the movements of the planets—we can learn more about our own innate rhythms. We too have our daily, monthly, yearly and multi-year cycles, some of which are active growth periods and some of which are periods of consolidation and withdrawal. There is a comfort that comes with resting in this place of the feminine, of connecting with our own inner processes and allowing ourselves to flow with them rather than fighting them in order to fit a less natural view of how life should be.
With this respect for natural rhythm comes another gift of the feminine—instinct.
Animals, without the reasoning ability that we have come so much to prize, are often used in shamanic practice as a way of reconnecting us with our natural instincts—the untamed, instinctive aspects of ourselves which can let us know the deeper reality of any situation.
Instinct, or intuition, can let us know if something is right for us or not. It is the gift of simply knowing, without logic or analysis, how to act in a particular moment. It is the wisdom of the gut that balances the wisdom of the mind.
And through instinct, we reconnect with a third gift of the feminine— full-bodied presence. When we move out of the mind and into our own personal earth, our body, we can simply be in the moment we find ourselves in. We are open and receptive to whatever the moment presents us with—whether it is emotion or guidance within ourselves, or total participation with others whose company we are sharing. Our body—that natural feminine wonder of nature which continues to nurture and support ‘us’ from birth to death—is our way back into the moment. As we connect deeply with her, we have the chance to reconnect with the present in which she always exists—for only the mind can wander out of the moment in which our physical selves are always present.
Presence, then, also unlocks our fourth gift of the feminine—the gift of sensing. As we tune in more deeply to our physical bodies, grounding that spark of spirit into matter, we become more sensitive to the body’s natural flow and our sensing abilities develop. Hands that can feel and transfer healing energy are no longer just a gift of the few. Chakras that easily open and tighten in response to our thoughts and external circumstances become part of the normal way in which we read our inner emotional landscape. Bodies that can sense what is happening within, and have a greater ability to heal and nourish themselves, are reclaimed as our natural birthright.
Without developing our feminine aspects along with the masculine we are flying as one-winged birds. Yet, to do so challenges us to make substantial changes to the way in which we have developed modern western society—substantially increasing the emphasis on non-academic activities and creativity in education; encouraging time-out to be with ourselves in nature without a well-defined agenda; and rethinking the way in which we approach a variety of business fundamentals from simple office structure and routine to more sophisticated elements such as strategy and planning.
There are welcome developments in each of these areas which can show a way forward, but the simplest place to start, as always, is with ourselves.
(Originally published on Elephant Journal)