Of the Sacred Feminine

Something happened to me after my last post. Something clicked. I’ve got to chuckle because, after all this time—after having ceased exploring my femininity many months ago and setting my sights on what I considered vastly different horizons—I find myself here. Writing a post titled, “Of the Sacred Feminine.” It’s funny how projects like this one come full circle.

Because it all happened quite by accident. I was having fun with some ideas. Trying to fuse Jung, Horney, May, and countless other psychologists/philosophers/poets who I’ve read and re-read over the past serval months, looking for some semblance of order in that wild tide of information. Something to frame it, reign it all in. And as far as I’m concerned, the a-ha moment came the second a voice in the back of my mind suggested I “buy new makeup” in order to begin the rather arduous process of internal self-transformation. To become a new woman. (To be clear, I don’t really want to be a “new” or radically “different” woman. I’ve come too far for that.) But, I learned something about myself in that moment. Something I’d been chasing, or circumambulating, for months. For a year. For almost two full years since I’ve started The Used Life. That little voice is everything. 

Indeed, it’s one thing for me to contemplate my femininity, another for me to take the initiative to write about it with the intent of dignifying, or re-creating, it, and it is quite remarkably another for me to honor it. All different layers of experience and meaning. Depth. I tried the goddess angle, thinking I might find an icon or a figure that would open my eyes to the sacred feminine within. And I failed miserably. I was unable to develop a strong affinity for any of those images or myths. They don’t feel like me. But I finally realized that was never what I needed to learn. I didn’t need to look outside. I needed to learn how to experience myself. Because the feminine within me becomes sacred the moment I honor it. 

How strange and wonderful it is to finally understand this. Wonderful to experience it. Strange because it all seemed to happen coincidentally. Because I chose to respect one haphazard thought about my girlishness. My knee-jerk reaction was to dismiss it and move on in another, decidedly more rational, direction. But my intuition signaled it was important, and I listened. And I am proud of that. I consider it a kind of achievement, actually, a milestone, in my inner work. Because it resulted in what feels like a radically new form of self-discovery. My inner life becomes sacred when I honor it. 

I am enjoying Jung and attribute some of these developments to my reading of both his autobiography and The Red Book. (Jung and Kerényi’s The Science of Mythology is next.) As with the feminine, I am beginning to understand that myths and archetypes need not be “seen” as Jung “saw” Elijah and Salome in his dreams and reflections. But they are experienced. A realization I came to myself this afternoon, as I composed a short summary of Seven Road for a word-art-themed exhibition in which T. Blake and I are hoping to participate next month. And I never know where to begin when describing my own work. I found myself writing the following:

“Seven Road” is a narrative poem that represents a collaborative effort between anonymous poet, TheUsedLife, and the artist, T. Blake. Told from the perspective of a woman who has been swept away on a magic carpet ride with an archetypal “wise old man” who bestows on her the wisdom of the ages, the work represents a fusion of philosophy, psychology, alchemy, and music. The poem consists of a total of five sections and five images. To learn more, visit theusedlife.com.

I could think of no better way to describe the prophet, or sage, in “Seven Road” than as a wise old man. And, yet I only conjured an image of him in my imagination. He didn’t come to me in a dream or a vision. That is, it was instinctual for me to use a magical, or mystical, older man as the purveyor of wisdom. That is always my first impulse. Because a wise old man is the metaphor that most accurately describes my inner experience when creating a work like that one. An otherwise ineffable experience. And it is never a woman (I only made the speaker in White Apple a woman for the sake of variety.). Always an older man full of pixy dust, wisdom, and occasionally a bit of booze.

Perhaps I should have titled this post, “Of the Sacred Feminine and Other Things.” But, alas, I’ve said all I can think to say. Now, I’ve got a great deal more reading to do and some new—or, rather, old—records that require listening.

17 thoughts on “Of the Sacred Feminine

  1. I love this sentence: “My inner life becomes sacred when I honor it.” Yes! And I also love your description of how “something clicked.” Very well done!

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  2. You are very welcome. And your reading it has inspired me to return to it. I have been reading it off and on for several years, but I struggle to find my footing in its pages, so to speak.

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  3. I meant to comment on your last piece, many of your pieces actually. “buy new makeup” I loved that…made me smile nothing like new makeup.
    I have a copy of “The Red Book” that had slowly made its way down to the bottom of one of my book piles your mention of it made me dig it out and attempt a second read. I think it might be up there with “Infinite Jest” as a book many have tried to finish but never succeeded.
    I had an experience this summer that has echos of what I hear you saying. Sacred feminine, goddesses, muse I would hear it and give a knowing smile and like you there was nothing that spoke to me. I ended up almost accidentally at a four-day workshop called the Dance of Oneness at a retreat center. The woman leading it was called Banafsheh she has been called the best Sacred Dancer in the world, I knew none of this at the time I signed up. This comment is long enough already so I will make it as brief as I can. After the four days not only did I understand the embodiment of the Sacred Feminine, I felt like for the first time in years I actually stepped back into my body and allowed the music to move me. I honored not only my feminity but my body and for the first time in many years (I am 68) walked down to the ocean dropped all my clothes and swam naked (it was a clothing optional beach) In a way it felt like meeting myself again after a very long absence. Much more I could say but your post just brought so many of these thoughts up again.

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    1. Oh, you know after I wrote the last post (and it really was a coming together of ideas I’ve been learning and writing about for a long time), I was so excited I ran out and bought new lipgloss. 😊 There is nothing like new makeup!

      And yes, The Red Book is tough. I try to take it in a few scenes at a time, but I agree it’s among those books many of us start with good intentions but never finish. Sometimes getting a glimpse into a work like that is enough.

      I’ve never done anything like the retreat you describe, but I do know the feeling of coming home to yourself after a long absence. And I think it is about honoring and experiencing bodies and our nature. It’s too easy to abandon ourselves and not even recognize the way back. Thank you very much for taking the time to comment.

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  4. After my midlife realisations otherwise known as a midlife crisis, something of honouring the sacred feminine must have begun for me – i began buying gemstone rings, but had never been interested in wearing rings before! I now have a lovely collection built up over the last few years. Not really expensive but special to me. I also revised my wardrobe and began wearing my ‘nice things’ instead of keeping them for some nebulous time of ‘later on’. And of course I delved into makeup. All this seemed superficial on the surface but reading your post has made me realise it is far from that – it is indeed honouring the sacred feminine in me. So many thanks for that!

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    1. I like that: “midlife realizations.” 🙂 I am becoming increasingly convinced that we have these instinctual, or inborn, capacities for growing/healing ourselves, etc. that often guide our behavior when we need them to (as long as we allow it), whether we recognize it or not. I don’t think I quite realized just how important “experiencing ourselves” is, and for women, in an entirely different way, perhaps. Both jewelry and makeup are huge in that way…and I think shoes can be, too. Of course, it depends on the woman. But, what’s important is, as you say, to not reserve those things for future enjoyment, but to use them to express ourselves and kindle our spirits in the present. As for me, I have to put on a different face. And it’s taken me a long time to take that seriously. To recognize it as a significant ritual practice. And even longer to really experience what it feels like when we change our perspectives and, for a moment, honor those inner impulses, and everything within us seems to line up just perfectly. I am glad you found this post relatable. Thank you for commenting!

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  5. i find your mind quite intriguing. a couple of thoughts, for that super-processor, tucked in behind those penetrating eyes. you are absolutely on track, that it needs to be about you. while we can reject the definitions of convention and say they don’t apply to us, if we don’t come up with our own definitions, they still imprison us. the good news is, within you is the code, the answers to all of your frustrations. it has been, from the first moment of your existence. you just need to learn to access it. sorry, but it is not a switch that can be thrown, it is a process. we begin by opening your mind and considering possibilities, not comprehendible within your present paradigm. and it is easy, if you let it be. we will call this first lesson, “frequency modulation”. step1 – free your mind (your personal choice). step 2 – headphones strongly encouraged. step 3 – plenty of room to dance. step 4 – “Put Your Records On” by Corinne Bailey Rae. step 5 – lather. rinse. repeat.

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  6. Wow. This one really hit me – long before I even got down to the part about Seven Road. I may be on “pause” with this post for a bit. Much to think about here. One of my first thoughts, though: I believe I really connect with SR so much while reading it, because I can move seamlessly between the role of the traveller, and the role of the sage. I can feel the sacred feminine, and the sacred masculine in both (if that makes any sense). I think of many myths of the Native Americans, where the “wise, old” was a woman, who guided a young man through his own “Spirit Journey”.

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    1. What you say is interesting. I think one of the reasons I feel so close to SR is because it feels totalizing—that is, like it represents so much of me, as if it truly came from the depths. I am currently reading Jung’s “Psychology and Religion” (highly recommended) and am intrigued by his thoughts not only on the anima/animus as sources of wisdom but also very much by the idea of engaging the second half of the soul (that which is inherently religious/spiritual/instinctual/comes to us in dreams). But perhaps that’s it: honoring our instinctive personality makes it sacred. I intend to write more on these topics within the next few days—possibly even today.

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