The masculine/feminine polarity has been conceptualized in many ways, including yin/yang, active/receptive, order/chaos, spirit/matter and solar/lunar.
Ultimately, these are two modes of expression of the self-same energy of All-That-Is.
Divine Masculine or Divine Feminine?
The Divine Masculine mode of expression is active, kinetic, forward-moving and aggressive. The Divine Feminine mode of expression is receptive, restorative and Reciprocal. The masculine archetype is identified with the Sun, which radiates the energy of heat and light outward with such force that we cannot even stare directly into it. The Moon, on the other hand, does not shine of her own accord, but is illumined by receiving the light of the Sun. The feminine archetype is identified with dark, cool, damp and void, while the masculine archetype is identified as hot, dry and light.
Divine Masculine energy is initiatory, exemplified in the image of the God who creates the Universe: “Let there be light!” The Divine Feminine energy is receptive, exemplified as the primordial space within which this Universe was made. The archetypal Goddess energy is also often described as the Great Sea whence all life rose—the matrix of all matter, older than time, undifferentiated and pure.
Nurturing the Inner Goddess
When we in our modern times hear the word ‘receptive’, we may be inclined to impose a value judgment upon it, associating receptivity with weakness or passivity. Western civilization places much more value in action and ‘doing’ than receptivity or ‘being’. Yet without the still void of being-ness, light would have nowhere to shine.
Divine power expressing through receptivity is no less powerful than divine power expressing through activity; it simply has a different mode of functioning. There is clearly nothing weak about the primordial Goddess Gaia, the most ancient earth— she who gives form to what was only formless force. Within the stillness of the earth all plants, trees, minerals and fossil fuels are fostered, nurtured, and born into being. Within the stillness of a womb a human soul is brought forth into physical incarnation. Water is receptive, as it will accept, consume and absorb any object or obstacle into itself without resistance, and yet water can wear down stone, wipe out entire cities and is the one element required by every single living being to survive.
Many artists, mathematicians, scientists and philosophers attest to the power of the receptive mode; it is common to hear that one’s most brilliant ideas come, not when one is laboriously working upon a perplexity, but instead when one is at rest and least expecting it. The conscious mind, which is identified with the masculine archetype, is a brilliant tool, but it can easily become too narrowly focused so as to obscure the full truth. The unconscious mind, identified with the feminine archetype, is undifferentiated, transpersonal and unconstrained by logic or reason. The collective unconscious contains, not only the personal deep mind, but the deep mind of the entire human race throughout history. In relaxed states, including trance, sleep, intoxication, fatigue, meditation or simple contentment, the contents of the Unconscious mind are made available to the conscious mind. When we create space within the mind, we allow brilliant solutions, visions and revelations to come forth as though from beyond ourselves.
Patriarchy and Matriarchy
A patriarchal lifestyle is organized by assertiveness, initiation, activity, logic, competition and hierarchy. There are positive, healthy expressions of patriarchy— expressing the Divine Masculine attributes of protection, security, order, reason and justice— and negative, unhealthy expressions of patriarchy, which involve excesses in the need to control. The symbol of the masculine God energy is the forward moving line or arrow— as in Zeus’ lightning bolts or Ares’ spear, and we may witness that patriarchies function by the drawing of lines— whether these are boundaries of territories, orders of rank, delineations of duty, the limitations of law or the designations of ownership.
A matriarchal society is structured around reciprocity, nurturance, balance and cycles of renewal. The symbol of the feminine Goddess energy is the circle— a shape without end or beginning. Goddesses are often pictured with the Moon, with round life-giving bellies or as the circular planet of earth herself, and matriarchies function by way of circles, which manifest as the gathering together in collaboration, the dissolution of boundaries and the orientation to the cosmic rhythms or cyclical nature of time.
The earth— whom we often refer to by feminine names like Gaia or Mother Nature— is the ultimate example of the matriarchal structure. In a healthy forest, every independent plant, tree, animal, mineral and element lives in a reciprocal relationship with every other living being. Predators operate in perfect balance with prey to maintain the equilibrium of the ecosystem. As a tree dies, it drops the seeds that sprout the next generation, and its rot feeds the soil with nutrients that further the life of all beings in the forest. Nature, left to herself, is eternally self-sustaining and self-renewing, with nothing wasted and nothing lost. It is an expression of a purely reciprocal and unconditionally nurturing structure.
Building Matriarchy in Daily Life
Here are some tips for building a matriarchal lifestyle:
Be in the Moment: While patriarchies aim to build static structures which hold forth steadfastly against the vicissitudes of time, matriarchies are mutable. The Goddess witnesses the world in a constant process of transformation with no situation exactly like any other and no binding ties of permanence. What was appropriate in winter may no longer apply in summer. Matriarchies are structured to maintain openness to the unique subjectivity of each individual as well as the uniqueness of each and every moment. Try to create structures within which you may organically respond in a new, feeling-based way on a moment-by-moment basis.
Live the Lunar Calendar: The solar calendar deals with “objective” time wherein every day of the year is more or less the same. The lunar calendar deals with “subjective” time— that is, the time of unfolding, development, momentum, growth, maturation, ripening and seasons. Each phase, a period of approximately 3.5 days, has its own personality— a quality, mood or mode of consciousness which predominates during that period. There is time for introversion, extraversion, initiation, completion, work and play. When we align ourselves to the rhythm of the Moon, our every action becomes exponentially more powerful, since we undertake the proper action at precisely the most propitious moment.
Practice Gratitude and Appreciation: Maintaining an openness to life is essential to activating the Goddess energy. Holding yourself in a state of pure positive focus softens and opens your auric field, relaxes the body and releases stress from the mind. Gratitude puts one immediately into a receptive mode of being-ness, and in this state we open up to higher realms of inspiration, insight, illumination and revelation.
When you take time out of every day to count your blessings, you open your heart to life in a welcoming, inclusive, matriarchal spirit. Make time every day to do some activity for the simple joy of it— even if it is as small as petting a cat for ten minutes or dancing to a song.
Enjoy Beauty: Beauty is essential for the happiness of the inner Goddess, whether that means spending time in beautiful scenery, enjoying or creating art, bringing more aesthetic harmony into your personal space, or primping yourself! Uplift yourself with pleasing scents, sights, sounds, and textures simply for the sensory joy. Do not get so obsessed with doing that you forget about the thrill of being.