A group of soul guides in training were camped on a rocky escarpment on an east facing slope that rose slowly towards the grey, craggy, nearly unapproachable peaks of the mountains that framed this immense valley. To our south was a wide, welcoming, seemingly flat arroyo of tumbled rock, studded with creosote and other desert varnished plants. This arroyo at times was the channel for streaming water racing off the peaks, pulled by gravity’s insistent ways, to lower ground. There are places in that Valley that are actually below sea level where rocks that are hundreds of millions of years old wait. While we were there the entire landscape seemed entirely devoid of water.
There were 14 of us gathered there to study ceremony and rhythm. Our tents were placed carefully amidst cactus and rock outcropping above the arroyo and we had picked places along the rutted road that skirted the arroyo, to circle our therm-a-rest chairs and gear, to make our camp kitchen, and to meet and arrange our meetings.
We were insignificant in such a vast and primordial terrain…dots of life in an immense valley of death. This place was not to be underestimated. Though some moments we were shaken by a stillness that surpassed all understanding, it was evident that this place too could roar, could flick us around like a flea on a dog’s body. This rock laden place is continually moved and shaped and re-arranged by harsh winds, rain and snow. Other times, with the perfect recipe of moisture and warmth, this floor too could be carpeted with a florescence of delicate color…wildflowers in concert with moon, sun, stone, seed, water, cloud.
This was a dramatic and stunningly gorgeous land embroidered in mystery…stitched with paradox…and woven with clashing opposition.
It is an uncomfortable mirror for many humans.
One evening when the moon was high and nearly full, but smoldering in a thin grey cloud cover, one woman in our group was to enact a ceremony at the edge of the arroyo. We were all invited to participate, in fact, she needed us to.
While I remember little of the intentioned underbelly of ceremony, my body remembers with minute focus, the arrangement of our group there on the flanks of that great geologic majesty.
The woman arranged us with great care, in a way that would support her ceremonial vision. There are times when the place and the arrangement of components of a ceremony play an extraordinarily important part of our communication with Mystery. This woman had the women stand in a circle, shoulders touching, facing inward. The men surrounded us in a circle, looking outward….muted darkness around us…the silence of night life invading.
Readers; my friends, close your eyes now for a moment and imagine yourself in such an arrangement.
Can you feel it?
I felt the somatic message immediately on that night so long ago. In an instant, my body felt so many sensations that added up to wholeness in me…it was visceral, it was emotional, it was primordially embedded in my genes, it was amplified in my feminine wisdom and wrote an essential indelible message not to be forgotten.
This was the way of the feminine in relation to the masculine.
This was the way of the masculine in relation to the feminine.
This was vibrant, vital, balanced, generative, whole and empowering.
This was the sacred way of marriage within AND this was a vision for a way of living in community in the world.
I felt we had landed in a simple yet immensely profound embodied teaching.
Many many times since then I have returned in my imagination to that moment in moonlight where I remembered a way of being that was solid and loving and truly respectful in all directions; a way that brought out the true gifts of each. I have often returned to my body’s knowing from that experience, in times when I have dueled and struggled internally with what I recognized to be my more feminine aspects and my more masculine ways. I’ve always known I had and needed both, but have watched, sometimes in frustration, the complexity of the interactions within, my judgements and condemnations, and my leans and tendencies in one way or the other.
I’m aware that in using the words masculine and feminine we can bump up against all kinds of fear-based, discriminating images, and painful memories and wounds, and we can unfairly transcribe that into the images of men and women in our outer lives. While horrendous patterns and abuses exist and are very much in need attention, for this time let us turn our attention inward. Though we often are weighted as women towards the feminine and vice versa this is most certainly not always true and in fact, it can be the opposite. I want to invite each of us to examine the fact that inside of us, in the riches of our psyche we hold both!! We have feminine aspects and masculine aspects. We NEED both…this is part of our wholeness!
If it helps to use different adjectives, please do. We might see the feminine as more lunar, the masculine as solar, one more representative as darkness or night, and the other as light and day, one as more upward, the other downward. Find what words work for you, but please, do join me here in this inquiry.
I invite you to recognize these aspects of your inner family and to imagine interacting with them with the greatest respect. Yes, we have both polarities within and we also have them surrounding us. The mirror is there…sometimes smokey, sometimes golden, but clearly there.
We are living in a time when we are turning our eyes towards the places where a disparaging imbalance between men and women exists in the world. Sadly we forget, often, that this dynamic is alive inside many of us too. Yes there are women and men with all the unfortunate events of our histories being revealed, AND there is the inner world that holds its own versions of these stories.
I was recently horrified as I thumbed through the chapters of my life with a focus on how the patriarchy has been, and still is, alive in me, as well as all the small inequities that go on between my more masculine and more feminine voices. All the subtleties of my own collusion were lit up and with it a sickening realization of the part I play in this dynamic. I offer a humble prayer that we not only speak truth to power, but we also acknowledge and work with the way in which there is inequity in these relationships within as well.
In our fury to make the other wrong, we sometimes forget that the inner work MUST go on in unison with the response to the outer events. Yes, both are true, both must be investigated AND it IS time for us to find and return to the sacred marriage that is meant to be between these forces of beauty.
Can we return again to this simple concentric formation that I was a part of in Death Valley as an image of direction and invitation?
Can you find inside, your own lunar, dark, mysterious feminine aspects…can you imagine that as the wise inward looking circular shape of you…the receiver of vision, the eyes-closed-see-er of truth that arises from your inner worlds of emotion and sensation and sensitivity..of loving care and empathy…your anima, the one of you that is the creator on the inner level, who births life after nourishing and nurturing it into form. That intuitive, vulnerable alluring one of you… can you feel that inside of you?…the one that shapes projects with her keen respect for what is life giving?
Can you remember this place inside of you?
And now, can you also find inside your bright solar, directed, outward looking, Spirit driven masculine aspects? Can you remember the archer, the protector, the hunter, the animus, the manifester of you? …the focused, eyes open, light born, strong warrior, provider of you who can get a job done with seemingly super human powers if it is in support of the night and the vision that arises there.
Can you feel that one inside of you?…the potent, goal-oriented one of you who stands at the helm and tracks the way towards sustaining family, and village, and Life.
Can you remember this place inside of you?
Reach out to each of those…look respectfully into the story and experience of the other. Feel the pain of the rupture and loss here. See this as a sacred and vital union available within.
Then turn outward.
Yes, our world too has been fractured and warped, the origins of this union have been forgotten and fallen into disrepair all too often.
Can we tune our inner ears to find the muted feminine voice…lay in that reflective lunar glow and listen attentively to the wisdom inherent there? Can we love Her back into beauty? Can we hold Her and protect Her and open our hearts to what she holds in her fertile darkness?
And can we turn our eyes to see the immensity available in our mis-directed fallen masculine ways…can we lean into the strong light of him and open to his potency and protection? Can we trust him back into cogent intent upon this union and the care for the life-giving feminine within? Can we allow his purpose-filled light to support us?
Can we find trust again? And honor?
Can we be in service to the nourishing wholeness of equality, and the elegance of a balanced union…both internally and externally?
Can we return again and again to this image of concentric circled ways of being that is supportive, whole, radiating and life-giving, in concert with the dark mysteries and the light of Spirit?
What if, as the feminine rises, we are invited, rather than into further division, disregard and warring, to a wedding within??
The ceremony extends, includes, opens and awaits us…all of us.
The doors are open.