The Divine Feminine, and other stupidities
Please remind me never, ever, ever to read books about the “divine feminine” again, especially if they are written by a man.
The feminine, as I know perfectly well thanks to Mary Daly, is a male fantasy, a patriarchal projection, a concocted nonsense of all the gentle pretty passive things women are supposed to be, which they try to force us to be, which they say their male god made us to be.
Fuck that, says Kali the Destroyer, Cerridwen, Hecate, or any wolf bitch snarling at you over her pups and daring you to come any closer. Fuck your wishy-washy, soft, mystical moonshine and your pretty fairy dresses. We are fat and ugly and dressed in animal skins, our feet planted in the soil, unafraid of death and the smell of rotting things, which give life to the trees.
Fuck that, we say, and then we roar with obscene old women’s laughter, and our big stomachs and our fat saggy breasts shake and wobble with delight, and we dance and drum and get drunk, and then we go off in a corner and have ourselves a good and satisfying shit. What, after all, did you think fully embodied woman-hood was about, you fools?
If there is such a thing as the Divine at all, then She is Female.
I’m reading this book because a Facebook friend likes the author. It’s by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee and it’s called The Return of the Feminine and the World Soul. He’s a Sufi, and no doubt well-meaning, and like so many ‘spiritual’ men, he seems to think we need more of the feminine principle in the world, the soft, receptive, passive, idiotic crap that patriarchs have been imposing on women for approximately six thousand years. (Before that, we seem to have had a bit more clout, and there are lots of figurines of fat powerful women dating back 25 000 years or thereabouts. This twaddle is a recent invention.)
This is hardly an original idea; it was the subject of Fritjof Capra’s The Tao of Physics, and masculinists like Sam Keen used to go on about restoring ‘balance’ between masculine and feminine – as though Life Herself can have any balanced relationship with blatant necrophilia.
From the introduction come these words:
“My earliest writings concern my own experience of the feminine from a psychological perspective, the anima or soul figure within my own psyche as she expressed herself in dreams and images, her darkness and light, her power and beauty. From this inner reconnection with a feminine that has only too often been rejected, misunderstood and mistreated, I began to value and understand the role of the feminine on the spiritual quest, the importance of listening, receptivity, and sacred space that is needed for spiritual rebirth and living the longing of the soul.”
Seriously? Careful, dude, you sound like you might be about to come out as trans.
Seriously: this receptive, passive, idealised feminine of yours is a figment of your imagination; the only thing you can imagine in opposition to your rapacious maleness is a void. You have no idea, none whatsoever, of what it is to be a female, part of wild nature, viscerally connected to your young, related to every squishing squelching fleshly living thing. I have less in common with you than I have with a cow, or a bitch, or an amoeba, or any generative thing; and you know as much about me as you do about the inner world of an amoeba. Speculate all you like; in this life the female is a closed book to you.
Far from “reconnecting with the feminine”, you are doing what patriarchs and sexists have done since their mothers first taught them to talk; telling women what their inner world ls like according to you, telling us what we should think and feel, telling us that we are what you want us to be, an endlessly plastic and erasable canvas on which you can etch your little hierarchies, your pictures of pretty, compliant women. Whether they are spiritual, or chaste, or violent and pornographic, they are your fantasies, your imaginings. They are nothing to do with us, and we do not recognise them. And when you foist them on women you assault the female principle. There is no essential difference between the priest and the pornographer.
Do you want to understand the female principle? Take a cub away from a lioness, with your bare hands, or instruct the scorpion or the cobra in her ways. Anger a witch. Or cut the trees down and burn the atmosphere, and then plead with the Earth your Mother for fresh air and clean water, and see her abide, implacable, immovable, indifferent, until you suffocate on your own hubris. Then you may get an inkling, assuming you live long enough.
Some more hogwash:
“My own journey took me beyond my individual quest into the drama of the whole, feeling the suffering of the earth and its longing to reawaken from this nightmare of exploitation and patriarchal greed. Here I experienced the pressing need to reclaim the wisdom and power of the Goddess, Her healing and transformative potential. And I glimpsed how this energy is especially present within women, and how women have a crucial role to play in redeeming the sacred feminine and learning once again how to work with her. Although the feminine is an important part of a man’s psyche, women carry her wisdom and power in every cell of their body, and they have a responsibility in reawakening her potential.”
Oh, how art thou totally fucking wrong-headed? Let me count the ways.
The Earth is not an “it”. You wouldn’t be alive if She was the neutered mechanical lump of matter you have the impudence to take Her for, somethng awaiting animation by the glorious light of your imaginary godlet. Henceforth you will refer to the Earth your Mother as Her, capitalised, and you will not try to posit some mysterious feminine goddess as in any way separate from this living shimmering Cosmos. The Goddess, whom we call Nature, is the Cosmos. She sleeps in your substance and in the dancing space between the stars. It is your fear of nature and your bizarre notion of transcendent sky gods that started this mess in the first place; and a pretty, feminine goddessy aspect of the Old White Male Imaginary Friend in the Sky just perpetuates this poisonous rubbish, not to mention acting as a sop to the women who are too fearful to refuse to worship a violent Bronze Age psychopath, but know in their bones that they are not made in any such repellent image.
Oh, yes, Life suffers on Earth, thanks to your endless rapaciousness, but do not fool yourself that the Earth is unawake, or that She needs you – or women – to rouse her. She is already roused, and alert and aware and deadly. She is like the sleeping mamba who has struck before she has woken; she is the knife that cuts your throat before you have glimpsed the blade. She does not need you, and She is not your creature to be tamed and used; She is about to fry you off her surface like a flea on a hot plate, and when men are gone and forgotten, and their murderous sky gods with them, she will still be here, spinning around the sun, weaving Life from the void. It is you who are the supplicant, you who need the Earth, you who must follow Her ways again, or she will slap you aside indifferently and make room for a wiser species.
Here is what you need to learn in simple terms.
And – do I understand you correctly – women have a “responsibility” to reawaken the sacred “feminine” so she can “heal” and “transform” the earth? No, what you actually mean is what men always mean when they praise the “feminine”: you’ve made a disgusting, revolting mess of things, and you expect Mommy to clean it up for you. Fuck off. Fix it yourself or die. This tit has run dry.
And now we get to the nub, where the facade of respect for the feminine collapses, and the deeply and profoundly patriarchal mindset lurches into view, like Jack the Ripper stumbling into the light after a night carving up prostitutes in the dark:
“For the Sufi wayfarer it is love’s feminine quality of of longing that draws us back to our Beloved. The mystic lover waits in a deep space of feminine receptivity and unknowing for the Beloved to reveal Himself. This inner love affair of the soul with God has taught me much about the relationship with the feminine…”
Ah yes, here come the respectful capitals, here comes the protagonist, god the male, the man in charge, the active principle which sets the passive feminine soul aflutter before he rapes it. Male god as analog for male lover, and the expectation that women should lie around in silence and receptivity waiting for the lover to awaken, to stir, to activate us, because alone we are nothing but inert matter, inert nature, devoid of will, devoid of light, unconscious.
What utter, disrespectful drivel. This isn’t love and it isn’t religion. It’s a fantasy about a sex robot you can turn off when it suits you, or a woolly toy monkey you can cling to when you can’t find your mother. Simon and Garfunkel said much the same thing, in perhaps the most sexist lyrics ever written:
“I’m sitting in the railway station.
Got a ticket to my destination.
On a tour of one-night stands my suitcase and guitar in hand.
And every stop is neatly planned for a poet and a one-man band.
I wish I was,
Home where my thought’s escaping,
Home where my music’s playing,
Home where my love lies waiting
Silently for me.”
This is reminiscent of nothing so much as trans women’s (male) fantasy of a vagina as something to be penetrated, of being penetrated as the epitome of womanhood; when women know that a vagina is the pulsing, heaving gateway through which Life bursts into the world, roaring, bloody and yelling. We carry pitiless infinity in our bellies, and you think we are passive receptacles? You think that by making yourself passive you are imitating us, discovering something fundamental about femaleness? You have the temerity to lecture us on women’s nature, when we are the ones who grant you your life, or take it from you before it has begun, as we choose? We have absolute power over you, and always have had, and the only reason you and all your works exist is because we chose to exercise it in your favour – this time. The only thing you’re discovering is your own ignorance, your idiocy, your arrogance in the face of the principle that created you.
Now listen, because you will die if you don’t. We are not silent; we are not waiting; we are not your love, or your anything; we are not your home. We are our own selves, living and generative beings with the power of Life within us, not something to be brought into life by a man. You are there, temporarily spun off from the female by the Mother, to provide a little genetic spice and bring us meat; that’s it. If you fail at that, then you’re worthless carrion. All your great civilisations, your guns, your technologies, your towers of glass, your rubbish dumps, are nothing compared to one blade of living grass; and if the grass dies, so will you.
And the Cosmos is complete in Herself, benevolent but not endlessly patient, and She needs no sky god to animate her. She was not created by a male – what a ridiculous piece of patriarchal reversal, as though anything male can ever create Life Herself. She is the Mother of the Myriad Things, as the Tao te Ching says, and it is in flowing to and from her that the male principle, such as it is, arises, and falls away, and arises, and falls away; but the Mother abides. Best you bow to Her sooner rather than later, or she will eat you alive, and not even bother to spit out your miserable bones.
“Sunlight pouring into plants, ingested into the bodies of fish, into the red-winged blackbird, into the earth itself, because we know ourselves to be made of this earth, because we know sunlight moves through us, water moves through us, everything moves, everything changes, and the daughters are returned to their mothers. She always comes back. Back from the darkness. And the earth grows green again.” – Woman and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her (Susan Griffin).
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