Healing the Feminine.
The Jungian understanding of psychological well-being involves the soul's progress on a path called individuation, Along the way we are required to recognize and embrace aspects of ourselves not previously known or welcomed into the conscious identity.
The ninth-century mystic Râb'ia expressed a mystical truth for healing the soul's longing:
The source of my grief and loneliness is deep in my breast.
This is a disease no doctor can cure.
Only union with the Friend can cure it.
Another Sufi mystic, 'Attar, says this:
The pain of love became the medicine for every heart,
The difficulty could never be solved without love.
The Story of My Feminine Soul
Early as a child, I lost my innocence through a physical trauma. Psychologically, I was thrown out of Eden before I was ready.
As a teen, I had friends, but there was a longing deep within me that I couldn’t articulate. To compensate for packing in the head knowledge, I rode horses. Being in the natural world rebalanced me.
That balance was lost in the years of academic education and professional success. My essential feminine nature went into the shadows. As I embraced the masculine values of action, independence, thinking and achievement, my feminine values of receptivity, relatedness and nurturing went underground. Though efficient and brilliant in the spheres of the masculine, I remained a ‘traditional woman,’ not connected to heart and soul.
This intra-psychic schism between the masculine and my feminine nature created a longing of the soul that grew stronger and stronger over the years. No amount of rational analysis could bring healing. I was depressed. Life had no meaning. I had to be transformed through the crucible of personal suffering before a new individual identity could emerge.
The ‘Divine Feminine’ had a powerful pull on my psyche, drawing me ‘down’ into my unconscious depths. As she appeared in my dreams, I was shown how I had rejected Her through my one-sided masculine identification and how She was still repressed in the collective culture. For centuries, women had been split between an inner knowing and the expectations of the patriarchal culture. As She revealed Herself to me, I came to feel a deeper connection with the ‘Greater Mysteries’ of the feminine soul than with the head knowledge of waking ego consciousness.
Depressed and nearly going mad, I kept my imaginative responses to the Divine Feminine alive through writing and art. Eventually, I had to let go of all my preconceived ideas of how to be a woman. Life circumstances forced me to make an inner descent.
The first step in this descent was to face my shadow. Facing my shadow scared me; it took courage. Jung writes, “The meeting of ourselves belongs to the more unpleasant things that can be avoided so long as we can project everything negative into the environment (C.G. Jung, CW, Vol. 9, p.20).”
Finally, to integrate the archetypal feminine energy and her numinous contents couldn’t be done by rational means either. Archetypes are energies fields in the psyche and they hold negative and positive attributes. The Divine Feminine is an extension of a powerful energy field in the psyche, and I had to dialogue with these interior energies as they appeared in my dreams and imagination. The Divine Feminine overpowered my ego-identified masculine mind. I couldn’t think anymore. I couldn’t read books anymore. I felt like I was going crazy. In hindsight, I see how this creative feminine force, energized by Love, is mightier than the mind.
The Divine Feminine is the creatrix of all life. She is the way of peace, compassion, and reverence for life and death in the oneness of nature. She is Divine Wisdom who receives, nourishes, and gives birth on all levels of being through her awareness of the earth and the ability to bring up the water of life from under the earth.
The Divine Feminine watered my arid soul. She is the deep river that flows outwardly into the world from the heart. Her central values come from the heart and not from the head. Her Love-infused wisdom is at work in the world and is infinitely superior to the thinking wisdom of waking ego consciousness. The Divine Feminine is not abstract. She offers a wisdom that lovingly wants to participate in the creation of a new world. She is the goddess of the Whole -- “who governs the transformation from the elementary to the spiritual level, who desires whole men knowing life in all its breath, from the elementary phase to the phase of spiritual transformation (Erich Neumann, The Great Mother, p. 330).”
To know Her is to understand St. Paul: “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory (1 Corinthians 2:7).”
As women, we have a well of images of the Divine Feminine within us. My story is not a solitary one. I have seen the Feminine Divine emerging in dreams, tales and poetry of women today. I believe that these images are mysterious and transpersonal; they constitute our saving reality.
The world needs soulfully strong individuals who have done their inner work and can be penetrated by the Spirit and, out of this incarnation, a new God image will be birthed into the world. This new myth will unite all opposites and bring wholeness to the world -- Oneness.