Thursday, June 7, 2012

Our Lost Wisdom: The Woman Clothed with the Sun

                                                          Elana Gibeault   
Our Lost Wisdom
What is Wisdom, you might ask?  How can I possibly possess it?  An ancient writer spoke of her this way. 

For in her is the spirit of understanding; . . . loving that which is good, quick, beneficent, gentle, kind, steadfast, assured, secure, . . . intelligible, pure, subtle: for Wisdom is more active than all active things;. . . For she is the brightness of eternal light, and the unspotted mirror of God’s majesty, and the image of his goodness.  . . . For she is more beautiful than the Sun, and above all the order of the stars: being compared with the light, she is found before it.  For after this cometh night, but no evil can overcome Wisdom.     Wisdom 7:22-30

            My five year old friend Ava explained Wisdom to her father this way when talking about how she loved her family. 

“Wisdom is when you know you love them in your heart, but you haven’t figured it out on the outside yet.”

I believe we are all searching for our lost Wisdom.   
For a long time now, Wisdom, adorning our public buildings as the Greco-Roman Wisdom-goddesses, Minerva and Pallas Athena, could only be channeled through a masculine, left-brained mode of perception if women wanted to be taken seriously in our culture.   Women who go into politics, law, medicine, science and finance – considered masculine professions – find they have to toe the patriarchal line every day.  While they use their intuition and feeling whenever possible, they have to fit their feminine perceptions into an already structured reality. 
But the world is changing.  Women are healing our inner wounds, and learning to express our feminine being without fear or shame.  Women have a need to get to know ourselves, after long centuries of being subjugated and twisted by patriarchal expectations.  When women look within and acknowledge our strengths and recognize our weaknesses and wounds, we begin to untwist ourselves.  We stand up for ourselves, our feelings and our beliefs.  We stop trying to become a man’s perfect fantasy.  We become our own fantasy!  The woman we always wanted to be.  We stop being afraid to excel, and since we’ve learned to listen within to our own wisdom, we find solutions to our problems.   We remember that we are here on Earth to be whole, not perfect, as is so often expected of each of us. 
As women heal the wounds inflicted on our feminine being, we become living examples of new ways of being for our children and men.  Feminine consciousness within men is just as twisted and wounded – maybe even more so, since the patriarchy looks down on men who are in touch with their feminine soul.   While there are many women who still uphold the values of patriarchy and will defend them to their deaths, there are also men who have reclaimed their feminine consciousness and are examples of the new masculine man who works in harmony with feminine spirit.
Our culture has not served us well.  By devaluing the feminine aspects of life, we created an out-of-control life-style that is killing the Earth, and killing us.   And so, it is most especially women’s purpose, our unique purpose, to achieve our inner freedom and learn to embody Wisdom, so that we help create a new society that equally values and respects both men and women as well as masculine and feminine consciousness, and most especially soul and spirit.   
As women regain and express our feminine powers, and become Conscious Wise Women, we need an archetypal image that allows us our shadows as well as our light.   Women have learned to understand the bright light of the Sun, for we have been Father's daughters – Daughters of the Patriarchy - for a long time now.  We are unique individuals as much as any man.  But still . . .    We sense that we can be more. 
There are many ancient forms of the Divine Feminine, goddesses that women can learn from, and in turning to these ancient powers, women have become more comfortable with our innate feminine powers.   But these ancient goddesses are just that – ancient.  Their images come from different times and different cultures.  We need to discover an image of the Divine Feminine that can help us find our unique purpose in these tumultuous times of change, one that embodies the returning Goddess-energy that so many people are feeling.

The Woman Clothed with the Sun
In the many cultural stories about the changing of the ages, it is the Divine Feminine energy that brings about the transition to new life, for feminine spirit knows the rhythms of life, death and rebirth and is often portrayed as the ‘opener of the way’.   Since we live in a world of duality, both masculine and feminine energies carry their own unique attributes which we’ll explore in later chapters.  We need to understand how these different energies work and how to best use them.  In times of death, it is feminine consciousness which helps us let go so we can experience the transformations we need to undergo for a rebirth. 
 The image of the returning Goddess I believe we need to incarnate is the transformative energy at work during the changing of the ages.   While different cultures see this Divine Feminine energy within their own mythological traditions, we Westerners have lost touch with our mythological roots.  But we have our own story of change and in the midst of it there is an image of Lady Wisdom who mediates the transformation.
In this story of the changing of the ages, there is a powerful image of Conscious Woman, an image of divine feminine spirit who transforms and births a new Age.  I am attracted to this image without being attracted to the Christian End Time story it is part of.  I am drawn to this archetypal image because I believe it speaks to our modern sensibilities.  And I know that this archetypal image gives us instructions for accessing and incarnating Wisdom.
The image is one of the Cosmic Woman:   “A Woman, clothed with the Sun, standing on the Moon, crowned with Stars who is in labor, giving birth to a Savior”.  In earlier times and different traditions, this archetypal image was understood as an image of Lady Wisdom.  Today I feel this Goddess image of Conscious Woman can be incarnated by women everywhere.  This Woman is Lady Wisdom and all women are called to become Wisdom’s daughters.
Our times, which are the forerunner of a new world age, call to us to honor Lady Wisdom, who in Gnostic Christianity is the equal partner of Christ.  But Lady Wisdom is not associated with any one religion. We find her in all traditions.   Lady Wisdom is the image of the Anima Mundi, the World Soul; the energy of our Earth’s conscious evolution.  As such, she belongs to all of us and is within all of us.  I believe she is calling women out of the Father’s House so we can ‘give birth’ to a new collective paradigm, a new ‘way of doing’ to match her ‘deep being’ that embraces partnership over domination, love over power, unity over divisiveness, peace over war, our collective benefit over individual profit. 
In leaving the Father’s House, women are not rejecting the masculine energies of life, but by re-connecting to our own unique feminine gifts, we are re-integrating both feminine and masculine energies at a newer, higher level of consciousness.   Women are learning to re-balance the two lights in our sky: Earth's bi-polar consciousness – the Sun and Moon.   Perhaps we are entraining with the Earth when we learn to use both sides of the brain.  We are becoming this Woman clothed with the Sun, finally able to access our feminine Wisdom freely and consciously.  This Wisdom gives us the insight to make life-enhancing decisions, to understand complex situations and to consciously co-create new directions for our culture.  This Wisdom gives us spiritual insight into life. 
We are called to be social artists, people who use our creative vision to enhance and strengthen our common lives, our one world.  Our job now is to bring this knowledge and wisdom into the public arena.  But we have to face the fact that our womanly wisdom is still viewed with suspicion by the patriarchy.  We have only to look at the reaction to Chief Justice Sotomayor calling herself a ‘wise Latina woman’ to realize how deeply afraid patriarchal men are of sharing their power and privilege.   Our most powerful institutions, which control our civilization, are still solidly entrenched in this kind of patriarchal thinking. We live with an imbalanced perspective on life, one that often disregards feminine qualities and values, or else uses them to support our culture’s masculine values.  We live in a dying paradigm that disregards the Soul and therefore also the Spirit. And it has led us to the brink of global annihilation. 
            The truth is:  Wisdom is what we most need right now in our world. 
Women, in breaking away from the patriarchal structures and strictures of life, are recognizing our gifts and re-discovering our wisdom.  Wisdom itself is encoded in both our physical and soulful DNA, and as you will see, is available to us within our own bodies, minds, souls and spirit.  This Wisdom belongs to all humanity, and yet the truth is that women and feminine consciousness connect most easily to it.  That is why I believe it is women’s gift to the world. That is why it is so important for women to ‘leave the Father’s House’ – leave behind the rules and expectations of being a proper wife, worker, mother, friend, as well as the rebellious roles we play out against those rules – being wild, irresponsible, addicted, promiscuous, stupid, angry, or crazy.   We need to step outside the collective expectations and heal ourselves, so that we can learn to access Wisdom and incarnate it in our lives.
To leave the Father’s House means to leave behind the old rules and perspective of patriarchy, to take responsibility for our own life and find meaning in what we do; to learn to understand our feelings instead of being overwhelmed by them or repressing them; to learn to listen to and trust our intuitions instead of ignoring them; to search for our personal visions and meaning in life instead of buying into the prevailing collective story of desire, power and consumption; to open ourselves to love in whatever form it comes to us, instead of continuing to get lost in the misery and need to possess and control love; to find our creativity and give it to the world, whether it’s to our children who grow into conscious adults or our artistic creations that open others to healing and consciousness. 
These are the gifts women find once we leave the Father’s house behind.  We find our own talents, our own patterns of life; we find the source of Wisdom that we need to live securely with our Mother, the Earth.  Like Yin and Yang, the cosmic interchange of Earth’s bi-polar energy, we all need to be in balance.  Coupled with the masculine values of action, rationality, individuality, creative genesis and discipline, Wisdom’s feminine values empower the imagination, love and compassion, endurance and compromise.  Wisdom encourages intelligent and fruitful dialogue over issues.  Wisdom opens us to think with our hearts, to love in a way that allows for our imperfections while demanding greater consciousness, to use our imaginations for life rather than profit.   Wisdom takes the whole into account, while still honoring individuality.  What wonders could we achieve here on Earth if we all asked for the gift of Wisdom?
Wisdom is not a word we use very often anymore in our society, just as Lady Wisdom is so often ignored by the world.    But it’s not because there isn’t plenty of wisdom around.   I hear it flowing out of women all the time.  The older woman walking her dog is secure in what she knows and isn’t afraid to say it.   Mothers who listen to their instincts know it.  Women who are turning to the ancient goddesses find it.  But we have to name it to own it. Yes, we are wise. 
Of course, men go in search of wisdom.  These are men who have engaged in deep soul work and who have integrated their feminine and masculine consciousness.  They have created the best of our Western culture.   And of course, Wisdom shows herself to children, like Ava, who see the world with Spirit’s eyes.   But there are still so many ‘father’s daughters’ who do not even know there are other possibilities, as well as men who don’t realize Wisdom is even there to be found.  And the power structures of religion, government, finance and industry – the Fathers – too often denounce and disrespect Wisdom, and so our people are not taught about this vital aspect of life.    
Lady Wisdom cries out in the marketplace, but no one listens.
In most traditions, Wisdom is female.  It is not only the Hebraic Wisdom that is feminine, but also the Gnostic, the Greek, the Native American, the Celtic.  Men and gods desired Wisdom, just as King Solomon desired the Queen of Sheba, who was the incarnation of Lady Wisdom for him.  So it makes sense that when women search for our life’s purpose, we discover our connection to Lady Wisdom within ourselves. 

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