Since changing my views about what constitutes femininity and masculinity I was posed a question that deepened my awareness and understanding about what my feminine essence is. A fellow mother who has felt a call to her Divine Feminine self asked me, "how do you connect to your feminine self, where do you start?" In the past I would have shared with her a list of lunar activities that would activate her 'feminine' self, however, I know now that women are both lunar and solar, and so suggesting activities that are exclusively lunar would be suggesting she participate in activities that would activate only 50% of her feminine essence. Since I cannot define the feminine essence solely with lunar examples anymore, what suggestions could I give to help her to connect to her feminine essence and what steps could she take to embark on a path of feminine spirituality?
I reached out to the women in my Goddess Gathering Facebook group. This is a private group of women who have gathered together on the New Moon for years now, a lot of us have since had geographic relocations, however we have stayed in touch via the far reaching world wide web. I asked how they connected to their feminine essence, responses ranged from simply spending time in the nude to taking salsa dancing lessons. Overall the consensus seemed to be that the balance between connecting to oneself on a personal level and connecting to the Goddess on a Universal level was the path that have led us into a place of understanding and relating to our feminine essence.
When I reflect on my own journey, it was the Universal Goddess that first began to awaken my connection to my feminine self. At the age of 25 I had been an avid student of Christian Mysticism and knew nothing about the Goddess, I am also an artist and was at that period of time challenged with writers block. I began the Artist's Way, a workbook created to help artists to unblock their creative selves, the book promised to not only unblock me, but to also reveal to me hidden aspects of my creative self that I had yet to actualize. On one of my artist's dates, an activity that I was committed to once a week throughout my process, I visited a book store and purchased a copy of the Mists of Avalon. When I read the Mists of Avalon, and experienced Vivienne pulling down the mists for the first time, when I was introduced to the Priestess isle of Avalon, something inside of me was awoken and I could never feel settled again until I found a way to have that magic, that power, that feminine essence in my everyday life. That was it. From that moment on the course of my life was altered forever. I like to think that the Grace of the Mother was guiding me, She was calling me home to Her. At the culmination of my Artist's Way journey, my writers block had shifted, however instead of finding a new artistic talent, I had a new thirst that was born, it was a passion and a determination to know the Feminine Face of God and to understand what my femininity looked like and felt like.
I began the journey of reconnecting to my feminine essence by seeking out wisdom from the teachers around me, I remember fondly a yoga teacher asking for us to share our intention for a workshop that I was participating in, my intention was that I wanted to become more feminine, my teacher laughed and asked the class, "who here thinks Candise isn't already feminine?" I was flattered and hopeful that maybe I was feminine, though at the time I couldn't see it. I run a lot of solar energy, I am most at ease in my lunar, but on a day to day basis I am generally quite solar in that in the world I am active, determined and initiative. I assumed that in order to be feminine I had to become more subdued, gentle, flowy, attributes that I have always admired and sought in my female friends, attributes that are very lunar and that I confused with being feminine. What my teacher saw at that time and what I have come to know is that every person who identifies themselves as a woman is feminine when they are connected to their authentic self. I run my feminine energy in a very solar way out in the world and a very lunar way when I am at home or amongst a close group of friends. My Myers Briggs type is INFJ, a very rare combination that gives me the appearance of an extrovert, as I am quite talkative and comfortable on stage in front of a large group of people, however internally I am introverted and need time to regenerate and refuel after being out in the world. Extroverted = solar, Introverted = lunar. My astrological chart is equal parts lunar and solar. My personal path of feminine discovery has led me to find the balanced expression of femininity in the lunar and solar expressions of self, this is of no surprise to me, as I am called to work in the Libra tribe in this lifetime, the tribe of balancing both sides of the scale. As my personal path continued to weave and to wind I began to attend Goddess Gatherings, I took a small four week workshop that reawakened ancient knowledge within me about the phases of the moon and how they correspond to the phases of my body and the phases of my life, and I joined a Priestess circle and was ordained with my Priestess sisters. With each circle that I joined, each woman that I connected with, each process that I went through with the intention of connecting to my feminine self, the more awakened to my true feminine essence I became.
My reacquaintance with the Divine Feminine was a whole other journey that happened simultaneously and side by side with my personal connection to my feminine self. The first place that I sought Her out was in books, I was inspired by fictional works that incorporated the mystical resonance of true Goddess worship that I had found in the Mists of Avalon. I found that those fictional novels kept me inspired and motivated to continue my search. The Passion of the Mary Magdalene Chronicles, the Red Tent, more Marion Zimmer Bradley novels, the Fifth Sacred Thing, the Witch of Portobello and Medicine Women are just a few of the books that have sent my feminine soul soaring into actualization. Today I revel in herstorical books, anthropological accounts and archetypal information about the Goddess and how She was revered, however when I was first seeking Her, it was the myths, the stories and the lore that kept me opening up and looking for Her presence. Beyond books there wasn't any other place that I knew of to seek Her except for in circle with my sisters, in nature, and then, most importantly for me, within.
My first concepts of the Great Mother Goddess came through a new relationship to Mother Nature. As I began my Priestess apprenticeship I took one week to dedicate my intention to each of the four elements. I delved into my relationship to them, I discovered the life within the four directions and found that their influence on me was both soothing and grounding. I found the Mother in the external realm, in abounding nature I was lifted up, I walked into a realm where the vibration of a flower, the essence of a tree, the passion of a flame, the messages of water, were all reflections of Her presence in my life. This was a great blessing and the foundation for my walk with the Goddess.
I still had one area that I thirsted in, and that was the area of inner awareness, I longed to feel Her Divine presence within me as a benevolent being that I could seek guidance, direction and love from. That relationship has been a process, without realizing it, the Father God concept had been so engrained in me from society that I felt as though I was praying to a made up mythical entity when I began to reach out to Her. Bit by bit, I began to have moments of an awareness of a Mother presence with me, it was a slow beginning, however, when I became pregnant and then after the birth of my daughter I felt my relationship with Her reach new heights and depths. She is all around me, and within me. I ask Her daily to Mother through me, and as I gaze with love and admiration at my daughter I get glimpses of the love of my Mother. It is through the unfoldment of my life as a woman, a woman connected to her feminine self that I found the Goddess within me.
This relationship has solidified in me an understanding of the Divine Feminine. When She came to me as nature I learnt that She is as soft as a feather, as fluid as the oceans, as hard as the rocks and minerals and as dangerous as the hottest flame. I learnt that my femininity was defined by my expression of self as a female in whatever form, in whatever way I allowed my authenticity to flow. As I became acquainted with the Goddess archetypes I became acquainted with facets of my feminine self. Some days I am as wild and untamed as Pele, as kind and compassionate as Kuan Yin, as benevolent and generous as Lakshmi or as fierce and destructive as Kali. Every day, in every way I am in my feminine self. Societies definition of femininity does not define me nor does it define the Goddess, the Goddess is not a soft, soothing place for the God expression of Divinity to rest His weary head, though She can offer respite to the masculine expression of Source when that is needed. I am not a doll faced, gentle lamb, licking the battle wounds of my ferocious lion of a husband , though some days I feel so good being soft and gentle and feeling his strong presence lie into me....and other days I prefer to be the hungry and exhausted lioness, sweaty and bloody from a day in the wild, lying down to be served by my gentle loving lamb of a husband. I wear all of the faces of life, I wear all of my emotions and all of my dreams and I call it all Divine and all feminine.
As I remember the beginning of my journey into Goddess spirituality and review my relationship with my feminine self, with the Divine Feminine and with the dissolution of the social construct that labels femininity, I have some particular suggestions I would offer to anybody who identifies themselves as feminine and is looking to awaken their relationship with their own Divine Feminine self and with the Great Goddess Herself.
- Contemplate and open yourself up to the four major elements. Spend a week noticing and communing with water, and then earth, and then fire and then air. Find these elements both externally and internally and notice how they change your day to day life experience.
- Research the Goddess, learn about her herstory, learn about Goddess worship, research the different Goddesses, buy the Goddess deck by Doreen Virtue and begin to pull a card a day and find that Goddess in your 24 hours.
- Spend time in nature, a lot of time. Observe mother nature, observe her in her quiet times, in her wild times, in her bareness and in her lushness. Begin to notice her wherever you go and commune with her, say hi to the trees that you walk under, stroke the bushes that you pass, wink at the flowers that preen. Interact with the vibrational life that is animating the nature that surrounds you.
- Have a baby! An actual baby, or a fur baby, or a creative baby, or a surrogate baby. Birth something, it can be an actual birth (though you will probably find more reasons to choose to bring a life into the world beyond learning about the Divine Feminine) or it can be the birth of a project, a creation, a plant, a pet, anything that you bring forth and are then in a position to nurture and care for as it grows and develops. This time of your life will put you in the position of acting as the Great Goddess acts in your life, as you guide and love your 'baby' you will have brief moments to understand the Divine Love that is constantly pouring forth to you from Her.
- Pray to Her, ask for Her to reveal Herself to you.
- Meditate, on an image of Her, a concept, a feeling, or simply become open and wait for Her to reveal Her presence to you.
- Lastly, remember that you are feminine just by virtue of being you.
In the final analysis this journey that has led me to connect to my feminine self has brought me to a place that has made the word feminine redundant. What I was seeking for was an authentic connection to myself, that connection to my authenticity automatically brought me into alignment with my feminine self and with the Divine Feminine that animates me. I have shown up in this world and identify myself as a woman and am therefore feminine, in all of my authentic expressions and ways of being. The parts of me that I thought were masculine, were really my capable, strong, direct feminine traits. The parts of me that I thought were feminine, were my introverted places, my soft spots that I love and cherish. In the grand scheme of Universal Truth, both feminine and masculine merge together to create the One Source, yet while I am on this spinning rock in an embodied form I live in a realm of duality. In this realm of duality I can choose to connect to a feminine expression of Source that I call Goddess or a masculine expression of Source which I call God, and at times, at witchy, enlightened, high vibrational moments I can connect to the asexual, transcended Source energy, I am made aware of the Absolute that lives beyond duality in the realm of Oneness. This One Spirit is my Home and lives within me, I brought this One Spirit down with me when I incarnated onto this planet as a woman. I am honoured to have this lifetime as a woman, this is an exciting era where the feminine is rising up and claiming her validity on this earth, eventually these dual expressions will merge, until then I carry my role and my mission as an expression of the Divine Feminine with the utmost honour and reverence and my hope is that each and every woman finds her authentic self as a true expression of the Divine Feminine and continues our journey towards enlightenment. One woman at a time we are rising Her up. Each woman that finds her connection to her authenticity is finding her connection to her feminine essence and in turn is beginning a relationship with the Divine Feminine, a relationship that will forever alter the spiral path of destiny that lies ahead of us.
Grace Be With You,
Priestess of Grace,
Candise Soaring Butterfly