Monday, July 9, 2012

Earth Wisdom: Women's Wisdom

Women's Bodies: Women's Wisdom
Now that we find ourselves at a crossroads of consciousness, we need to turn to our mother the Earth again to re-discover her wisdom so we can find the answers to our problems.  Women can do this by donning our mantle of furs and living in our bodies, and by understanding the proper ways to reverence and live on the Earth.  Living in our body means being mindful about what our bodies are feeling, listening to its instinctual responses to what we do each day.   
As Father’s Daughters, women are cut off from our instincts because we have been told to restrain our feelings, intuitions, passions, fantasies, romantic ideals and sexuality for a morality and logic which overtly discriminates against women’s ways of knowing and being.  How can a woman be happy living like this?   When a woman’s instincts kick in, if she is a Father’s Daughter, she will go into her head and find all the reasons she shouldn’t follow her instincts.  The rules and morality of the Father’s House often cause her to turn away from something that she longs for.  While a good Father’s Daughter will be proud of herself for standing up for her values, she probably missed an opportunity for growth and relationship by ignoring those instincts instead of exploring them. If we used our intelligence to understand which instincts to trust and which ones we need to ignore, we would be happier and healthier.
So often, we ignore our body until it gets sick, or we abuse it with food, drink and drugs because we don't know how to deal with its pain.  As we work in our fur mantle, we learn to listen to and understand what our bodies ask of us and perhaps we remember that our bodies are the temples of our souls.  Working with the imagination can help us speak with our bodies through images that arise spontaneously from the unconscious, the interface between body and soul.   

Instead of ignoring or drugging your body, take the time to get to know what your body is trying to tell you.  Meditate on where the pain is and ask it for an image to work with.  

This is the way to begin to reclaim our feminine standpoint, which is grounded in the body and on the Earth.  We each have to balance the four-fold aspects of consciousness within ourselves: the physical, the psychological, the imaginal and the spiritual.  When all four layers are open and aware, we become wise in our choices and in our creativity.
We need to distinguish between instincts, intelligence and intuition. 4  Instinct goes straight to the heart of life, through an instantaneous sure feeling.  Intelligence is the faculty that creates ideas, words and theories that can be used in science, government and culture - the structures we operate in.  When Allerleirauh wears her dress of the sun, she has learned to balance both instinct and intellect as a first step in wearing the mantle of furs.  A Woman clothed with the Sun understands what her instincts are telling her to do.
Taking our stand on the moon allows us to fully experience life because we combine instinct with understanding.   When Allerleirauh wears her dress of moonlight, we find meaning in our experiences when we act on our instincts and intelligence.  The moonlit dress gives us the capacity to reflect on our experiences through images, memories, dreams and feelings and connects us to the creative imagination, which opens us to the magic of the moment.
Then we have our intuition: instinct which has become objective, self-reflective and transformative through shining the light of consciousness upon it.   When we become conscious of the spiritual purpose of our experience, we, like Allerleirauh, wear the dress of starlight.
Since a woman’s experience of owning her body is so important to re-discovering her unique Self, this will be explored further when we discuss the Sun Dress.  Being a Father’s Daughter has taken us out of our bodies and into our heads, away from the feelings and intuitions that ground us in Feminine Wisdom.  So when we leave the Father’s house and find our freedom, we will encounter our Sacred Initiator, Aphrodite, the goddess of the body, Love, sexuality and wholeness.  It is Aphrodite who initiates women and the soul through the power of Love.  But first we have to find our lost Mother.

Mother Earth Is Our Home
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are held and sustained within the arms of Mother Earth.   Just as surely, the life of planet Earth is now in our hands.  Earth is the only home we have.   How could we have gotten so separated from our home that we would come close to destroying it with our poisons and our waste, our wars and our unsustainable economy and population?  We are faced with the stark truth of global warming, which is disrupting our weather, melting the glaciers at alarming rates and heating up the gulf stream, which could bring on another Ice Age.  By allowing our governments to ignore the signs of global warming we are taking away our children’s future.   If women can remember our relationship with our mother Earth, we can become spokeswomen for her Sovereignty.  We have a choice, and we are responsible to our children’s children for seven generations.  Through each woman, the Woman Clothed with the Sun can become the consciousness and the conscience of the Earth.   When we incarnate feminine wisdom, we give the Earth back Her essential power and mystery, which is based in the spirit of life and the testing of death.
Most ancient cultures that lived close to the Earth - the Celts, the Aborigines, the Native Americans, and Western culture itself until the sixteenth century - revered Earth as the Mother.  They knew they were made from the dust of this Earth, that they shared this Earth with the other animals, the trees, the rivers and seas.  They knew that they were part of the Great Round of Nature, one with all the other works of the Mother.  They knew that just as the animals gave up their lives to feed and nourish human beings, so too, human beings gave back their lives to the Great Mother when death took us.  They understood the wisdom and necessity of the cyclic processes of Her mysteries, and they lived within that cycle of gestation, birth, death and regeneration as in the protective circle of a mother's arms.  For them, the Earth was animate and divine; She set the rhythms of life for all Her children.  She was the Divine Nourisher and Sustainer, giving humans beautiful children and plentiful harvests; She was also the Divine Destroyer, taking back Her own.  She was, and is, the bedrock and foundation of all that draw their life from Her.  The Greeks saw her this way:

The Mother of us all
the oldest of all
hard,
splendid as rock

Whatever there is that is of
the land
it is she
who nourishes it,

It is the Earth
that I sing.5

            We have come a long way from our origins, and today, our consumer-driven consciousness is such that we have forgotten this generous and dangerous Mother.  While our Western religions have strengthened our individual sense of morals and values, for the most part they separated us from a positive relationship with the Earth.  Christianity saw the ancient Goddess as evil, and later condemned all things of the Earth as illusionary and sinful.  Since the Industrial Revolution, our scientific rational world view taught us that Earth was only inanimate matter.  Rejecting her divinity, and even her aliveness, we felt safe defiling, raping and poisoning the Earth.  Leaving science to investigate the complexities of life, people no longer honored Earth's mysteries of life, and so we forget that we are also a part of the Great Round of Life. 
As we learned to control and use the Earth, we found that we could also control our instinctual nature, and the mind and the ideal of pure spirit became more important than the body and its experience of soul. We removed ourselves from living contact with our Mother Earth: by covering the land over with our cities and roads; by explaining Her mysteries as scientific facts and nothing more; by living in our heads rather than in our bodies.  We substituted a one-dimensional observing of life for the wisdom of the experience of life.
            The Native Americans treasured the wisdom of the Earth.  Luther Standing Bear, a Lakota (Sioux) medicine man, wrote:

              "The Lakota was a true Naturist - a Lover of Nature.  He loved the earth and all things of the earth, the attachment growing with age.  The old people came literally to love the soil and they sat or reclined on the ground with a feeling of being close to a mothering power.  It was good for the skin to touch the earth and the old people liked to remove their moccasins and walk with bare feet on the sacred earth.  Their tipis were built upon the earth and their altars were made of earth.  The birds that flew in the air came to rest upon the earth and it was the final abiding place of all things that lived and grew.  The soil was soothing, strengthening, cleansing and healing.
            That is why the old Indian still sits upon the earth instead of propping himself up and away from its life-giving forces.  For him, to sit or lie upon the ground is to be able to think more deeply and to feel more keenly; he can see more clearly into the mysteries of life and come closer in kinship to other lives about him. . . .
            Kinship with all creatures of the earth, sky and water was a real and active principle.  For the animal and bird world there existed a brotherly feeling that kept the Lakota safe among them and so close did some of the Lakotas come to their feathered and furred friends that in true brotherhood they spoke a common tongue.
            The old Lakota was wise.  He knew that man's heart away from nature becomes hard; he knew that lack of respect for growing, living things soon led to lack of respect for humans too.  So he kept his youth close to its softening influence."6

            We have indeed become hard-hearted to each other, to the Earth and to ourselves, and I believe it is because of this separation from the Earth, from the feminine realms and from our own souls.  This created a split in our psyches, plaguing us with all the neuroses of modern society.  We no longer understand the beauty of the laws of Nature – or of our nature - and so we live constantly with the fear of the unknown, just as the early settlers must have feared the vast and wild lands of the American continent. 
When those settlers came to this new land, they brought with them the memories and shapes of their old land, the land their ancestors were formed by.  Cultures and personalities are shaped by the land: mountain dwellers are different from sea peoples. Just look at the United States, with our hard-driving, intellectual East coast, our salt-of-the-earth plains people and our laid-back West coasters.   We know about the hardships that accompanied the settlement of America, but it must have been a great psychological hardship as well, for the land was re-forming the people who came to settle it.   Perhaps it was that great psychological wrenching which caused the terror and fear and which contributed to the American determination to dominate and control the vastness, strangeness and wildness of the 'new' continent.  And so the ‘enlightened’ Christian belief that it is man’s place to dominate nature won out over the Native American reverence for and care-taking of the land.   
And the Native Americans, who were formed by this land, also became the victims of this fear of the white peoples.  Luther Standing Bear ventured into the white man's world, and came to understand this about his conquerors.

    "The white man does not understand the Indian for the reason that he does not understand America.  He is too far removed from its formative processes.  The roots of the tree of his life have not yet grasped the rock and soil.  The white man is still troubled with primitive fears; he still has in his consciousness the perils of this frontier continent, some of its vastness not yet having yielded to his questing footsteps and inquiring eyes.  He shudders still with the memory of the loss of his forefathers upon its scorching deserts and forbidding mountain-tops.  The man from Europe is still a foreigner and an alien.  And he still hates the man who questioned his path across the continent.  But in the Indian the spirit of the land is still vested; it will be until other men are able to divine and meet its rhythm.  Men must be born and reborn to belong.  Their bodies must be formed of the dust of their forefathers' bones."7

            Today, many of us feel that connection to the land and are beginning to understand and meet her rhythms.  We understand the need for parks in our cities and open spaces saved from developers.  The ecology movement and groups fighting to protect the oceans and waters, the wilderness, animals, ancient forests and rainforests are signs of this connection.   People working to develop safe and renewable energy and to reduce waste are another sign of this return.   We go on vacations back to the land for refreshment for we recognize the irreplaceable importance of this connection to the land for our psychic well-being. We fight to save our wilderness areas, knowing that if we lose the last of our wild places, our psychic equilibrium will be destroyed.  Our children, through Earth Day activities and school courses, are learning to honor and respect the Earth as our home.  These are steps away from fear and into integration.  We are beginning to listen to Earth's song once again.

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