Feminine spirituality is about becoming whole. It's about containing, connecting, uniting, and bonding. It's about affirming and celebrating our bodies, the Earth, the animals, and all living things. It's about harmonizing and balancing the masculine and feminine principles in all of our lives. We learn that divinity exists in everything, that everything is sacred, that every life has unique purpose and meaning while at the same time being part of all else. The Mothergod's are contained in circles, cycles, sprials, webs, and wheels, the great symbols of rounding, turning, and connecting that are metaphors for life in feminine way.
We find the feminine spiritual message revealed by the turning of the seasons, depicted in the constellations of the Zodiac, and demonstrated with the Native American Medicine Wheel, the Sacred Stone Circles of ages past, and traditional ethnic round dances from many cultures. Sacred traditions celebrate the mystery of the cycle of death and rebirth. Everywhere is nature we find webs and networks creating patterns and making connections between multiple and varied points of creation. In dream and meditation we learn of our deep spiritual connection in the maze of the Labyrinth and down the spiraling paths which lead to a sacred center, the womb of the Mother Earth.
Above all, we find our feminine spiritual experience of cycles reflected in the montly dance of the Sun and the Moon. The lunation cycle symbolizes a Sacred Union of the masculine and feminine principles with each of us. This monthly pattern of the Moon's increase, fullness, and decrease has been a guide in the human quest for meaning throughout time. Our search for wholeness can be described metaphorically in its eith phases, depicted as "faces" of feminine archetypes, based on lunar goddess traditions combined with astrology and psychology.
The Basic Lunar Cycle and Corresponding Archetypes
There is a universal cycle of "emergence-growth-dispersion-withdrawal" that describes every creative process and is reflected in eight phases of the Moon: New, Cressent, First Quarter, Gibbous, Full, Disseminating, Last Quarter, and Balsamic. Each of the eight archetypal figures in our goddess pantheon reflects a specific phase/face in this cycle, briefly defined as follows:
First Quarter Moon-Wild-Woman-Action-Freedom.
Last Quarter Moon-Warrior-Reaction-Passion.
Mother clarifies our essential body-knowledge of rhythm and cycles, the quality of nurturance, and the elemtal powers of fertility, preganancy, and birthing new life. She teaches about our connection with the Earth, and the acts of conception, creation, and sustenance of life. Her lesson coincide with traditional meanings of beginnings and gestation during the New Moon. Winter Solstice is her Holy Day, a time of rebirth and renewal.
Maiden weaves themes of innocence, playfulness, and curiosity in women's developing sexual-spiritual identity. She teaches about emergence and initiation into the mysteries of puberty. Her lesson coincide with the Crescent Moon, Which traditionally prefigures the "coming out" of our individuality as the lunar from breaks out, fresh and bulnerable. Candlemas is her Holy Day, a time of initiation and introduction
Wildwoman identifies an uninhibited form of raw secual energy that manifests when, at any age, we are moved to let our passionate emotions and erotic power be known. She teaches us freedom to be physically and emotionally uninhibited by the artificial restraints of civilization. Her lunar correlate is the First Quarter Moon, which traditionally symbolizes a time of struggle to break free of inhibitions from the past. Spring Equinox is her Holy Day, a time of rejuvenation and return.
Muses calls forth women'c creative imagination and encourages our unique self-development independant from that of others. Her lessons concern communication and giving voice to individual vision. These coincide with the Gibbous Moon, which representa a cyclic point of mastering self-expression. Beltane is her Holy Day, a time of blossoning and exclaming the beauty of life.
Lover embodies the most explicitly erotic, lusty, and sensual aspects of women's sexuality. She teaches lessons about attraction and desire, helping us recognize the distinctions between sexual attraction, affection, attachment, and love. Her correlate is the romantic Full Moon, with its associated meanings of beauty, fullness, and magnetic enchantment. Summer Solstice is her Holy Day, a time off hight romance at midsummer.
Companion has the most dirrect affiliations with the patriarchally defined role for women as partners who support men's identity ambitions. She oversees our relationships and is concerned about the impace we have on others. Her lessons focus on other-awareness, trust, and equality. Her lunar correlate, the Disseminating Moon, Traditionally implies a time of sharing our personal gifts, interests and energy with others. Lammas is her Holy Day, a time of abundance and thanksgiving.
Warrior brings forward more autonomous qualities that allow women to stand up for our rights and protect ourselves from invasion. She rules passionate, courageous sexual, spiritual, and creative energy. In the Warrior's classroom, we learn lessons of strategy, deffense, and self-motivation. These coincide with the Last Quarter Moon, which represents a time of clarifying one's own boundaries and mastering the responsibilities of self-authority and ownership. Autumn Equinox is her Holy Day, a time of dedication and liberation.
Wisewoman is the mysterious aspect of Woman. She bring to conscious light hidden meanings of our secual-spiritual power that reveals the "dark" or Shadow, side of life and teaches lessons about overcoming our fear of the unknown. She enjoins us to transcend mundane limits of our self-image and claim the higher powers of mystical vision, passionate faith, and sacred ecstacy. She is related to Balsamic Moon, or "dark of the Moon, " which traditionally is a time of deep mystery and prophecy. Samhain is her Holy Day, A time of casting out, Letting go, and healing.
How the Archetypes Interact on the Wheel.
Just as divine energy can't be contained in any one part of our lives, the archetypes on the wheel overlap in their meanings and aras of influence. Nothing in feminine spiritually is rigidly defined or set apart, for the overlying assumption is that everything is related, that each part contains something of the others. This intricate interweaving of symbols creates a harmonious synthesis, as ultimate blending of mysteries, that givea a natural flow and vital meaning to our lieves far above and beyond the obvious mundane issues with which we all struggle daily. All aspects of our lives interact, forming networks that support wach other when we remain open to their messages and we are willing to go with the flow of continual growth and change. The ancient wisdom provides us with many tools to do this. Among those tools are the mysteries of the Moon and her cycles, and the venerable art of astrology.
Circles have no beginning or end. We may enter a circle-teaching at any point. This is a core lesson of feminine spirituality:
that life itself is an ongoing, neverending process and what we perceive to be beginnings and endings are only so because our limited understanding. Yet, because we perceive life from the perspective of our limited self, we must orient ourselves with recognizable symbols so as to avoid becoming lost in chaos of choices. One nearly universal system or orientation, recognized by most ancient wisdom traditions, entails a fixing of four directions and their elemtals symbols-Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Although different tranditions ary slightly in their interpretations of the directions, general agreement as to their meanings is remarkable. The traditions I've chosen to embrace teach taht East (Rising position) is represented by the element of Air and brings the experience of illumination; South (high noon positon Northern Hemisphere) is represented by the element of Fire and brings the experience of faith; West (Setting position) represented by the element of Water brings the experience of a quest or seeking; and North (midnight position)is represented by the element of Earth and bring the experience of wisdom. In modern psychnological terms, East is mental energy, South is spiritual energy, West is emotional energy, and North is physical energy.
The Goddess Wheel places the 8th and the 1st archetypes, the Wise Woman and the mother, at the top of the circle holding the North point between them. These two share the knowledge of sacred life mysteries. They unite through our wisdom about the intimate connections between life and death between birth and regeneration, between body and soul. Through our inner Wise Woman and our inner Mother, we learn to join the healing of nature with the wisdom of detachment.
At the right is the East Point standing between the 2nd and 3rd archetypes, Maiden and Wildwoman. These two share a knowledge of innocence and spontaneity. They unite through our illumination in the exuberance of newfound delights and the passion of uninhibited, untamed curiousity. They also work together to help us face the fear of our unexplored limits, test our boundaries, and help us recognize our need for guidance and guarding. Through our inner Maiden and our inner Wildwoman we learn to join the forces of vulnerability and fierceness.
At the bottom of the circle is the South point, embraced by the 4th and the 5th archetypes, the Muse and the Lover. These two share a knowledge of intimacy and captivation. They unite through our faith in our inspired visions of desire and fantasy, the excitement of newfound romance and creative connection, the longing for beauty and meaningful self-expression. Through our inner muse and our inner Lover we learn to join affection with apprection.
On the left side of the wheel is the West point, flanked by the 6th and the 7th archetypes, the Companion and the Warrior, These two share a knowledge of cooperation and competition. They unite throught our quest or search to find the courage of commitment ot join our goals and aspiration with others. They work together to help us connect with the passionate power of our emotions and maintain our autonomy even in relationships. Through our inner Companion and the inner Warrior we learn to join the forces of courage with the attributes of pride.
The wheel divides into two hemispheres, which can be seen to separate into a self-focus on the East (right half) and a focus outside self on the West (left half). The first four archetypes (Mother, Maiden Wildwoman and Muse) deal with the energy focused primarily on self, to promote growth, facilitate the discovery of our own meaning. The second four archetypes (Lover, Companion, Warrior, and Wise Woman) deal with energy focused primarily outside of ourself, to impace others and find our purpose in the larger world. Archetypes in each half balance with their opposite sister on the wheel.
The Mother balances the Lover on the continuum of possesion and affection. This is the axis of emotion, either compelled or chosen. This axis correlates witht he Water element although, the archetypes each occupy a different element-Fire/South and Earth/North- on the wheel. (We are dealing with linear logic. We are able to mix up the meanings of the archetypes, for we recall that the Goddess' first lesson is that everything contains something of everything else. Let go of rigid catagories!)
The Maiden balances the Companion on the continuum of playfulness and responsibility. This is the axis of relation, with self or others. It correlates with the Earth element, althought the archetypes occupy Air/East and Water/West on the wheel.
The Wildwoman balances the Warrior on the coninuum of passion and courage. This is the axis of action, free or directed. It correlates with the element of Fire, althought the archetypes occupy air/East and water/West on the wheel.
Finally, the Muse balances the Wise Woman on a continuum of idealism and knowledge. This is the axis of vision, personal or universal. This axis correlates with the element of Air, even though the archetypes occupy position of fire/South and Earth/North on the wheel.
In our lives these opposite pairs of energies can seem to be in conflict, yet they ultimately work to help us balance different needs. The Mother and the Lover both bring up issues of attachment; both engage our emotions at a deeply compelling level where we struggle with the agony and exstacy of holding, of bonding, and of letting go. Our need to give nurture balances our need to attract loving relationships. The Maiden and the Companion both bring up issues of dependence, both engage us physically to interact with the world in order to experience ourselves in relation to others. The need to learn cooperation balances the need to know ourselves better. The Wildwoman and the Warrior both bring up issues of autonomy, both engage our intuitive spirit to assert our desires, beliefs, and rights. Our need for personal survival balances our need for dedication to a large purpose. The Muse and the Wies Woman both bring up issues os awareness, both engage us intellectually and imaginatively to explore ideas and ideals. The need for creative self-expression balances the need for universal understanding.
The Process of Growth Around the Wheel
To wrap up, wn now return to the original concept of the circle, walking the round of archetypes, as they lead us through a natural crative process that applies to every living thing, and is exemplified by the evolution of a plant. In the first phase (Mother), the seed germinates and roots are established. In the second phase (Maiden), the first vulnerable green shoots push themselves above ground. In the third phase (Wildwoman)< the plant's stems, roots, and leaves gain strength and resilience. In the fourth phase (Muse), buds form, encapsulating and drawing forth the promised creative product of the plant. In the fifth phase (Lover), beautiful flowers bloom, attracting pollinating birds and insects to the plant. In the sixth phase (Companion), the flowers give way to produce the ripe fruits of the plant which hold the seeds for its future generations. In the seventh phase (Warrior), the plant gives up some of its fruit to be harvested and used strategically in the creation of other products for the world. In the eight phase (Wise Woman), the plant goes back to seed and lies dormant in the ground as it stores energy for the rebirth of a new cycle to come. Our own growth and development can be see to evolve in a similar pattern at many levels of our lives, from our daily and monthly hormonal cycles that describe moods and energy output, to the larger patterns of development in our relationships, careers, creative endeavors, and family lives.
I'm convinced I'm being shown an essential and long neglected truth: that our feminine xecual energy is a sacred source of vital creativity that has the power to heal and cleanse the world of it great imbalances: violence, greed and domination. As women and men learn to accept tand intergrate the various aspects of ourselves, we heal not only our own lives and relationships, but through them we create models that help re-vision entire global systems of interaction between peoples of all nations and the Earth on which we all live. Not every woman will hear, and women need not carry responsibility alone, but good women in equal partnership with good men can save the world from destruction, can reclaim health, happiness, and love for the Earth and all its creatures. If we don't do it now, then when?
From the Mother and Child I Hope you enjoy working with the Phases of the MOON.
springs the Maiden who
evokes the Wildwoman who
releases the Muse who
becomes the Companion who
arouses the Warrior who
discovers the Wise Woman who
heals the Mother and Child from whom again
springs the Maiden
I Hope you enjoy working with the Phases of the MOON.