I woke up to the predawn from a dream where the whole world was at war and as much as I wanted to stay snuggled up in bed with my fella, I couldn’t shake it off. So here I am in the wee small hours giving voice to what’s churning around inside me.
There has been a whole lot of talk of late about Patriarchy and how it is to blame for so much of what is wrong in our world and how we need to stand and indeed march against it.
Modern feminists define patriarchy as an unjust and oppressive social system that enforces gender roles. It often includes social, political or economic mechanisms that evoke male dominance over women. And I am sure as you read this some of you will already find your heckles standing on end. .
But Patriarchy in its simplest form is a system of society or social organisation in which the father or eldest male is the head of the family, clan or tribe and descent is reckoned through the male line. Patriarchy is not new, anthropologists suggest that patriarchy has been around since the emergence of Neolithic man in 10,200 BC.
I don’t really think that ‘patriarchy’ is the problem.
Nor do I think that the embodiment of the Sacred Feminine by women or men is the answer.
And here’s why.
Over a decade ago I committed to a four year tantra training program with a man with whom I was in the early stages of a new relationship. If I’m really honest my reason for doing so was to recover the parts of myself that I had lost and disconnected from as a result of being abused. I wasn’t overly focused on ‘being in relationship’, but I was desperately trying to reclaim my joy, my passion, my sensuality, my sexuality and my sense of self. I was exhausted from being so uptight and guarded in the world and I was tired of being so afraid.
Glennon Doyle Melton in her book Love Warrior shares how as part of her recovery she started going to yoga. During one of her classes instead of trying to do any of the postures she committed to stay sitting on her mat and to be fully present with every uncomfortable feeling that she was feeling. This took a whole lot of courage especially when all she really wanted to do was roll up her mat and run.
Tantra for me was a four year invitation to ‘stay on the mat’.
And not only stay on the mat but stay on the mat with my ‘Beloved’ who more often than not I wanted to kick the hell off the mat because he mirrored back to me all the places I felt wounded, and broken and unloved and unlovable.
But I stayed on the mat and this is what I saw. I saw the sacred feminine in her beauty and her strength. I saw it mirrored back to me in the love and tenderness and fierceness of the other women in the room.
And I saw the sacred masculine and felt what it is to be in the presence of men who are centered in their hearts and in their power. I felt a sense of safety that I had never known and a love so vast that it brought and still brings me to tears. And a deep knowing in every fibre of my being that this was Shiva to my Shakti, Yang to my Ying, and that while we are different we are the same in some gorgeous celestial way. It was an exquisite and humbling and beautiful thing and so difficult to convey in mere words.
Robert Moore the Jungian psychotherapist has written and spoken extensively on the masculine psyche. What we call patriarchy he calls the shadow masculine, he considers it “an expression of a stunted masculine, a masculine that feels itself to be impotent in relation not only to the feminine but to other men. An uninitiated male may seek to dominate women, they may also seek to dominate other men because essentially they fear them.”
Similarly the shadow feminine is a vengeful thing. I know, because I know my shadow feminine well. She will pull down her sisters and emasculate her men and seek power from outside of herself because she doesn’t know how to access it from within. We have spent many long nights together she and I.
She came to visit last night when that same ‘Beloved’ man and I were having a fight. And right there as I felt her fury rise in my body, my man reached beyond his own shadow self, looked me in the eyes and said “I choose to join, not separate” there it was, an invitation to sit with him on the mat.
I didn’t want to. I wanted to be right and make him wrong, and I did for a while. But he held firm, the sacred masculine, calm in the tempestuousness of the storm. And the part of me that is wiser, and more loving and has no interest in being petty reached for him beyond the noise and drama and all-consuming energy of the fight.
We got on the mat.
And this is why I feel we have to stop blaming patriarchy. Because it endeavours to make someone right and someone wrong and we get lost in the fight. And this is why I do not feel that men need to walk the path of the Sacred Feminine. Understand it and respect it, bear witness to it in themselves and in the world? Absolutely! Just as we as women must understand and respect and bear witness to the Sacred Masculine in the world and in ourselves.
But what if instead we each stepped fully into our power as men and women and stood across from each other on the mat? What if we honoured that our shadow will always be present, but choose instead to source from a different place?
A place where we see and honour the sacred. A place where we respect our differences but ultimately know that we are all the same. A place where we join instead of separate. A place where we can collectively co-create a new way of being with each other in the world. A place where despite the millennia we have been on this planet we may not have even experienced yet. A place beyond patriarchy and matriarchy.
A place we can discover, right here together, ‘on the mat’.