Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Anne Baring and the Rise of the Feminine

"I Rest in You, A Seed" (1992)

"Perhaps we can now understand that the concept of soul embraces an immense web or matrix of relationships which is concealed behind the veil of matter. But can we also understand soul to include visible nature; the physical aspect or manifestation of life which arises out of the invisible, out of what cannot be seen, rather like the stem of a flower arises out of the depths of the soil or the stars emerge in the night sky?"

 Recently I had one of those short conversations about the importance of myth, spirituality and symbolism in the face of overwhelming "here and now" problems with a woman who is very involved in feminism and women's issues. We were standing in line together, and she asked me, after I'd shown her a book I had in my hand on Goddess culture and contemporary Women's Spirituality, if I believed this was really important in the face of the huge global issues of gender inequality and injustice?

Whew.  I couldn't answer that one in 5 minutes, no way.  I said yes, which was about the best I could do at the moment.  Then went home and found a book by Jungian psychologist Anne Baring, whose eloquence on the subject far exceeds my own, at least with the printed word.  It helps to share it here....

I operate from a construct of ideas that have become second nature to me and my contemporaries, assumptions that it is often easy to forget others may not be familiar with.  Archaeologist Maria Gimbutas, and activist philosopher Riane Eisler, for example,  have been very influential in informing my worldview.

It's interesting to me that when I speak of the "return of the Goddess", so many people take this to mean the ascendancy of a female hierarchy, much as there is currently a long established hierarchy based on male values and power. Patriarchal culture and psychology is profoundly based on heirarchical thinking (the "alpha male system") and as I have so many times noted, hierarchal thinking, and the trivialization of anything that is "feminine identified" is deeply, unconsciously, and systematically embedded in our cultural paradigm.  To talk about the Goddess, be it women's spirituality, myth, or Mother Earth, requires stepping way out of the conventional box on many levels.  Remember:  the three great Western religions have a God with no wife, no mother, no daughter.  Just open the Bible, and witness the complete erasure of the Goddess.  And is there a "Book of Ruth" or a "Gospel of Sarah"?  You might have noticed that there is no such thing. 

But if one doesn't believe we live in a cultural construct that is patriarchal,  just  look around and see where the priorities lie.  Education, environment, children,  healthcare,  all are secondary in budget, and in importance, and with the Trump regime, virtually all of these life affirming thins are under attack.  We spen 60% of our tax dollars on the military, and take a look at the media:  a continual and ongoing preoccupation with war,m violence, and, of course, the rape and murder of young women.  The Descent of the Goddess, and the descent of woman, is a long and sad story, and one best seen in the evolution of mythology (and religions are mythologies as well).

"The religions of the last 2500 years - all formulated by men - were, not unsurprisingly, focused on the masculine aspect of spirit and neglected the feminine aspect of it. They excluded from the word 'spirit' nature, body and the material world. What was once imagined as the Great Mother - all nature and her mystery - came to be seen as separate from spirit and desacralised. (Giordano Bruno was burnt at the stake in 1600 for refusing to deny that God was present in nature). 
We need now to bring together body, soul and spirit so that life is not so fragmented, so that we know ourselves in our wholeness, know that our lives, our consciousness, our being and our body, are inseparable from the life and consciousness and being of the universe.  The effects of the loss of the feminine aspect of spirit on our civilisation are incalculable. Instinctive knowledge of the holy unity of things, reverence for the complexity and inter-relatedness of all aspects of life, trust in the powers of the imagination and exercise of the faculty of intuition - all this as a way of relating to life through participation rather than through dominance and control, was gradually lost."

"The Goddess" (1982)
Effects of the return of the feminine principle: 

-Return of the idea of cosmic soul or anima-mundi. 

-Recovery of a sense of relationship with nature. 
-Recovery of a sense of the sacred. 
-Recovery of the instinctive, feeling values that are so vitally important for our connection   with soul  and spirit. 
-A better balance between thinking and feeling 
-Greater sensitivity to other people's needs and feelings in the field of human relationships. A sense of global connection with others. 
-A greater respect for the body  
Anne Baring

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