Reclaiming the Dark Face of the Feminine Nature, by Meghan Don
(Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal.)
"She is indeed more splendid than the sun, she outshines all the constellations;
compared with light, she takes first place, for light must yield to night…"
—The Book of Wisdom 7:29-30
When we speak of the darkness of our nature we immediately turn our mind towards the shadow of our being—that is, all those emotional states that we would rather people not see or know about us. We prefer for these so-called negative emotions to remain buried, or at least we hope we can manage to control them so they do not go on a rampage in the light of day. This is the personal shadow, and it is a part of the journey into the dark face of our nature. There is also the collective shadow of religious myth (or what I call the false shadow of ignorance), which many of us are unknowingly still living out. It too needs to be visited. However, beyond both of these shadow states there is a great and vast darkness that we can enter, and this is the wisdom of the dark feminine, the radiant darkness of night that reveals the true nature of our being.
My first real encounter with this grand dark wisdom was in a cave in Southern France. We were a small group of three being led into a hillside where there was an intricate labyrinth of pathways leading to numerous internal caves. We wound our way further and deeper into the belly of this underground world, sometimes crawling on our bellies to reach into the next cavernous opening. Coming to a small pit-like place we were directed to climb down, which we did, now so close to one another we could feel each other's breath. My claustrophobic panic set in, but there was nowhere to go and no place to run to, so I had to breathe even more deeply. We were then instructed to crawl through this very small space, and once we did we came into the most magnificent, large, womb-like cave. I lay on my back and slowly felt myself melt into, what I can only describe, as the very embrace of the dark mother's ground of being and the love that this is. It was soft and all encompassing, and I let myself fall into her great spacious darkness. It was a relief to do so. There was no need to hold onto anything any longer. I completely let go.
From this full surrender and trust, something else arose: my own ground of being, a being so wide and eternal with no ground and all ground at once, with no form and all forms of life. There was a cosmic womb in which I was enfolded, and yet, I was this very womb at the same time. I was the pregnant spaciousness of the mother waiting to give birth through my individual and creative being. After experiencing this state of great repose for some time there arose a thought-desire. I simply witnessed it as rising like a bubble in the wind, making its way through the different levels of my consciousness, and by not attaching to it, or thinking it was me, it simply evaporated. And then a fear arose, and the same thing, I simply witnessed it moving in and through until it disappeared. My ground of being was not disturbed in any way; it remained in the dark wisdom of its nature.
It is important to point out that this whole experience was not one filled with light, but rather was one of radiant spacious darkness. Many mystics have called this the "groundless ground of being." I prefer to call it the "mother-ground of being," as it seems to better describe the nature of the wisdom and life waiting to be birthed from here, a wisdom and life that we can all access as it is the very nature of our being. This is the most expansive aspect of the dark face of the feminine that we all need to reclaim, recognizing and realizing the darkness of our nature as the great soul-womb of creation.
As we journey into our feminine nature we will be asked to look at and examine those aspects of our consciousness that remain bound in another kind of darkness, the darkness of ignorance. Our religious myths are a great breeding ground for this and have a great sway over our consciousness whether or not we are aware of it. Even if we have left all our traditions behind, have entered another tradition, or have no tradition at all, still our myths of cultural and religious origin have an enormous influence over the very fabric of our soul, just as our families of origin do! And what is even more detrimental to our being is that these myths and their interpretations do not get upgraded or reinterpreted as humanity perseveres to evolve in consciousness. Ultimately, this evolution can only happen when our myths are retold accordingly. As Robert Johnson says, "Nothing will see us through the age we're entering but high consciousness, and that comes hard. We don't have a good, modern myth yet, and we need one." It is the feminine nature who is still bearing the greatest burden of this lack of mythic evolution, and it is coming hard as we witness the devastating attacks on women (and men) who are inhabiting their feminine nature, as She demands to enter into a new age of consciousness.
Unworthiness, a lack of confidence in one's inner voice, thinking you have done something wrong, shame, and working way too hard to exist on this planet and thinking you don't deserve any better are some of the ways the ignorance of the Judaic-Christian creation myth shows up and is keeping us unconsciously bound. We often look to our family of origin for these binding energetic patterns, and yes, we will find them there, and why, because they reinforce a greater collective consciousness at play in the world of our so-called spirit origins. The personal and collective stories are so interwoven that we cannot separate them and we often get lost in the quagmire of the negative repercussions repeatedly occurring in our lives. With a new understanding of our myths we can leave behind the false shadow of untruth and enter that high consciousness. In The New Divine Feminine a renewed story is brought forward, where Eve is the initiator of new consciousness, of awakening humanity to its inner wisdom and its journey of embodying the divine nature in the physical realm. Ultimately, Eve set in motion the human and divine journey to know its full unity in this world of perceived duality. She was waking us up to our true embodied nature. There was no punishment and no banishment! And Lilith, often portrayed as the snake, offered humanity its kundalini life-force, its power, and its free will and choice. She also brought the creative passion of humanity into existence.
The Lilith and Eve myth speaks a vast and wide wisdom that reveals the hidden nature of the feminine and the many faces, both light and dark that are crying to be heard. As the text attributed to the voice of Sophia, Thunder, Perfect Mind tells us, "I am she who cries out, And I am cast upon the face of the earth...I am the one whose image is multiple…" (translated by Anne McGuire). There are other faces and emanations of Lilith, only previously written about in medieval times in the most disparaging way. In The New Divine Feminine a greater truth is revealed, bringing forward the intelligence, strength, and beauty of the feminine being, returning her from the long exile in the wilderness of this world. The Cosmic Crone and the Grandmother of Primordial Wisdom also feature, bringing to us the great gift of cutting away all falsity from our being, exposing the lies we have been told and the lies we tell ourselves, and revealing a wisdom beyond this world, a wisdom that also lives within.
Our own personal darkness, as stated above, also needs to be visited. Anger, jealousy, feeling inferior or superior, impatience, and pushing our own will forward to make things happen in our life, are the more obvious areas that we encounter. There are also the more subtle places in our soul that keep us bound, like distraction, lack of respect for our own soul, or underlying loneliness, to name a few. When we can identify the energy binding us we can then enter into specific practices that will help comfort, liberate, and bring us closer to our true nature. The New Divine Feminine is a very practical guide in this way. It leads us directly into our liberation through distilling ancient teachings into contemporary practices for when those stubborn patterns keep arising, for when our soul needs to be soothed and comforted, or when difficulties arise.
The Black Madonna, with all of her faces and forms, with her tenderness and her strength, is waiting to help humanity at this time. She is there ready to take in our pain, our confusion, our inner and outer chaos and transform it in her cosmic being, returning to us the great gift of peace. In the Jewish mystical tradition there is the teaching of tikkune ha-olam, which means restoring or healing the world, and we are the ones who are asked to do this. Specifically at this time we are being asked to help restore the soul of the world, that is, the feminine soul of the world, She who is now rising from the dark moon phase of her existence in each one of us, returning into the full moon light of her, and our, sacredness. When we experience a moment of liberation we can also pray for the soul of the world, and pray for all beings who are still bound and experiencing the difficulty we have just been released from. In this way, we can enter into and live the statement, "Your liberation is my liberation, and my liberation is your liberation." Each of us will find our way for this prayer to come alive, whether it be through physically helping another, financial donations, a kindly gesture to a neighbor, working at an animal shelter, or simply moving through our day spending less time thinking about ourselves and more time opening to the life that the divine mother wishes for us to live.
The divine mother in her infinite array is multidimensional, and so are we. This is what we are called to know. In journeying through all the light and dark faces of our feminine being we are given the opportunity to bring them into a unified whole, and with time and practice we then have the potential to enter into our pure radiant awareness, the truth of our enlightened nature. This is what we are called to embody and to bring alive. Unworthiness no longer has a bed to lie on, lack of belief in one self is revealed for the lie that it is, our voice becomes strong, and we stride into the world with an assuredness of our true nature.
Article originally published in The Llewellyn Journal. Copyright Llewellyn Worldwide, 2016. All rights reserved.