The Era of Awakening
I spent this New Years Eve in a very unusual way. Normally I spend it at home writing down my intentions for the year ahead and going to bed waaaay before midnight. But this year I went to the Lost Paradise music festival where I taught the Dance of Shiva masterclass, walked around barefoot for four days, got the most intense massage ever that made me cry (in a good way) and laughed and danced with friends. It was pretty delicious.
Interestingly, I’ve never had the desire to teach at a festival before but just kept saying yes to this opportunity over and over. Once I arrived I realised why. Not only was I being pushed out of my comfort zone for some serious growth, but I was also getting pulled there to meet the extraordinary teachers that came together for this event — in particular, the wonderful Tantric teacher Mark Whitwell. I went to his class and his words sang out to me like nothing I’d experienced before and I want to pay them forward here. Namely, our destruction to this planet we reside upon and the imbalance of the divine feminine and masculine in our world.
Firstly, the dancing around barefoot gave me a beautiful reconnect back to the earth beneath our feet. I could feel her nourishment being pushed back into my body as my feet played upon her sacred surface. Fast forward to the day we were leaving and I saw the most brutal disrespect of this land with copious amounts of rubbish just left sprawling across the site. It was a truly shocking insight as to how we treat our earth with a mindless lack of respect.
Why is it that as a species we do not love and cherish the Earth as our home and deeply appreciate it for its life-giving qualities? Where did this loving act get lost along the way in our evolutionary journey? The answer to these questions has a lot to do with what Mark referred to as The Chain of Being, which is a chain of importance created by the patriarchal construct that we are still living in. Although this way of being came about around 5,000–7,000 years ago, I think you’ll recognise that it is still very much alive in our modern world.
The chain goes:
GOD — a masculine-only expression of creator of all that is
The rule in this chain of being is that you can treat anyone and anything below you however you choose. Anyone above you, however, you have to respect because they are closer than you to God. But putting all the God and possible religious discussions aside for a moment, you’ll notice that earth is all the way down the bottom. Which, if we start to explore what patriarchy is, makes a lot of sense. The word patriarchy means rule of the father, which suggests a powering-over expression. In opposition, matriarchy is defined as from the mother, which leads to more powering-from-within and then sharing that power evenly throughout the world.
In the ‘rule of the father’ map, naturally earth would be down the bottom because the earth is Mother i.e. Mother Earth and Mother Nature. The earth is the ultimate expression of the feminine with her life-giving, life-creating properties. In our current world view, which is profoundly out of balance and not at all a way to structure a well-working society, the earth gets treated very poorly. It is not honoured in the way she was before patriarchal law.
This planet is our home. We survive because of the power and nourishment that comes from her and shifts in our perception must be made if we are going to continue to exist at all. Put simply, we can’t continue the pattern of powering over. Men power over women, adults power over children, people power over animals, and everyone powers over the earth. This is out of balance, counter-productive and unsustainable.
Leonardo DiCaprio continually gives me more reasons to love him. It IS time to wake up! We must wake up to the fact that we have been fed many stories about life that are spectacularly untrue and only serve the few. Before patriarchy came in, societies were more balanced. Women were seen as valuable contributors and not just objects of beauty and pleasure for men, or baby-makers. They worked equally, there was very little conflict, and everyone saw the earth as the Great Mother. So they took care of it. We know this through archaeological discoveries of the time.
One of the stories that stems from patriarchal male-dominant religions is the story of creation. Whether you are religious or not, the essence of this story continues to exist in the undercurrent of inequality and ill-treatment of our planet. It goes like this: God is male. He created the world and the universe etc. He then created man, Adam. From Adam sprung Eve. Then Eve went on to eat an apple, seduce Adam into doing the same, and therefore this seductress of a woman became the very reason the world went into hell (from the garden of Eden, which we are told was just amazing). The end.
So now we have a story that diminishes women of their power to create life i.e. Eve is created from Adam. And a story that says women are fundamentally untrustworthy and will destroy men with their temptress-alluring sexuality, and therefore their sexuality must be powered over, controlled and diminished. The earth, being mother, also comes under that powering over, controlled and abused map. They are one and the same.
Before I continue, let me say that my intention is not to disrespect any religious beliefs. I was brought up Catholic and there was value to some of the things I learnt within that construct. However, even as a little girl in Sunday school (which was always on a Monday so I was confused from the get go), I would sit there and think that this story of creation didn’t feel right. In truth, women birth society. We are not ‘creatures’ but creators. We are not the evil gender that destroyed the world with our sexuality but hold within our being incredible sacred power that can be channelled to serve the world. What is happening through the women’s movement we are presently witnessing (and a part of) is the claiming back of that power.
It is indeed a time of great change and change can be scary and challenging for everyone. But men, in particular, do not need to fear the rise of women and the divine feminine. Indeed, men should be championing for it because it will serve them greatly too. To have a society where women hold equal power and contribution in the running of that society will mean a more balanced and egalitarian world. Remember, matriarchy means from the mother. It is not the opposite of patriarchy. There is no powering over. Not over other people, not over the earth.
I fell in love with the Tantric lineage of yogic philosophy because it is based around the absolute balance of the divine feminine and divine masculine. When men and women come together in the physical world… life happens. We are not designed to be at war with each other but to meet in balance within the energies of love and respect. To go deeper still, if we are expressions of the force of creation itself, the creation of the universe stems from the balance of these two energies coming together in union. Therefore, the source of creation is not just a masculine power. It is both feminine and masculine and the embracing and embodying of this understanding is the very definition of yoga.
So let’s really think about the stories we live by because it’s time to get out of this matrix of bullshit and get real. We are sovereign beings. We are absolutely free and hold within us the ability to examine and rise above these constructs that are destroying our world.
So, we need to deeply examine for ourselves: how do I view and treat the planet? How do I view the balance of genders? How do I see myself as more or less than other races or beings? Because as unbiased as we believe ourselves to be, the powering-over is insidious and gets right into our programming. And the problems happening on a larger scale also reflect the same problems on a micro scale; after all, we are the sum of our parts. We all contribute to the current imbalances in some way. Even if we think we are doing nothing, to do nothing is a passive way of supporting this inequality and damage to our planet — and ultimately, to ourselves.
In a nut shell… It’s go-time y’all. Together, as a collective tribe living on mother earth, the time is NOW to create a new paradigm. The work that needs to be done may sound challenging, but in essence we are removing the shackles that bind us, and that makes this a very exciting time to be alive!
Yours in Yoga,