This is the modern era in which we currently reside, as the divine feminine shift has been re-developing leading society into its next phase of existence, perhaps the purpose of the return of the divine feminine is that of harmonic convergence and balance.
Prehistoric cultures were known to worship the “Great Mother,” holding the feminine in the highest regard. Dating back to 33,000 B.C., modelings and engravings of the female form depicted Goddess figures that portrayed the importance of the life-giving female form. The symbolic gestures of the vulva associate itself with the idea of becoming; i.e.; seeding, budding, sprouting, pregnancy, and life-giving. As the life-sustaining celestial breasts become an icon of nourishment and life-promotion. These body parts were portrayed as exaggerated and almost grotesque expressions of the prominent aspects of the life-giving feminine form, known as the “Monstrous Venus”.
This female form was documented from as far back as the Upper Paleolithic through the Neolithic, Chalcolithic, and Copper Age, lasting twenty-five thousand years and ending in the male god dominated Old Europe. - Gimbutas
“Herman Wirth saw the primordial Mother Goddess as the original religious impulse of humanity and…regarded matriarchy as the earliest form of human society” - Gimbutas.
Though there is no distinct record of the paradigm shift and actual onset of a patriarchal presence. Some theories suggest the start of Old Europe, around 7000 B.C. as well as the division of labor shifting from hunting and gathering to weapon-making and farming were partially responsible for the shift.
The beginning stages of the transition from a female, goddess centric form of worship to a more patriarchal, male god dominated widely held belief system took place gradually. - Lerner
This patriarchal cultural progress is recognized through aspects of more left-brained functional and practical ideations. It is goal-oriented, power-hungry, organized, direct, timely, controlled practical, grounded, and ego-driven. During the last nine thousand years, culture has endured wars, revolutions, and civilization reforming inventions with the byproducts of artificial life-sustaining elements, depletion of resources, and the disruption of nature. This obsession with productivity and perfection has allotted less importance on modern-day society’s relationship with Psyche and soul, which can be more associated with the feminine.
The nineteenth-century has obviously been a turning point in power shifts for women in the Western hemisphere from years of oppression to Feminism, Emancipation and Women’s Liberation, and appears to be just the beginning:
A patriarchal society is based on power and control over others. Lots of women are just as bad patriarchs as men. Worse. I think the whole planet is moving from power to love. But the agony involved to make that move! Because we have been brought up on power, that is the ethos we understand. If our parents or our teachers or our boss controlled us, then that’s what we understand as life. So the old relationships have to become chaotic in order to find anything new. - Woodman
Woodman discussed the metaphor of eating disorders as a longing for the archetypal mother or the Mother Goddess in a culture that struggles to identify with the spiritual feminine:
People simply do not like the feminine. They are terrified to let go. Into what? Nothingness? So she has to come in the back door, through eating disorders or other addictions. Eating disorders reveal an enormous paradox. On the one hand, the spiritual feminine is so desired, and on the other, we are buying ourselves in our own concretized matter…generally speaking the feminine is thought of as irrational and stupid…most people are terrified of spontaneity.
They don’t know how to be in the now so they’ll do anything to follow a preconceived plan. This is the exact opposite of the feminine, which lives in the present - Woodman
The transformation of the instinctual and the intuitive feminine current is a process that is presently underway. “According to the psychoanalyst Willhelm Reich, ‘Sexually awakened women, affirmed and recognized as such, would mean the complete collapse of patriarchy.’ In order to accomplish this, to bite deeper into the apple, ‘she’, the archetypal feminine, embodying Shakti energy, requires recognition, permission, and affirmation from the masculine Shiva principle of ordering consciousness…the goddess will return, and this time around, the apple will be eaten down to the core”. - Pinchbeck
The feminine, as seen in Judeo-Christianity has been simultaneously condemned as well as highlighted as responsible for some of the most popular metaphors throughout time. The metaphor of Adam and Eve depicts the female as the catalyst for original sin, tempting her male counterpart with the potential of greater wisdom through the forbidden fruit. If the story is seen through the Judaic lens, Lilith was actually disguised as the serpent that tempted Eve as a jealous retaliation for being displaced as Adam’s wife. This female-centric blame led to either female as being responsible for the downfall of mankind. This initiation of original sin not only led to heightened awareness and consciousness of their differing bodies but also the earthbound experience of human civilization and the onset of the human population. This placed huge blame on the female, but inadvertently held her accountable for the creation for the rest of humanity, while God had created the backdrop to the human experience.
The myth of the pregnant virgin, Mother Mary, immaculately conceived the savior Jesus Christ without any physical contact with a mortal man, indicating God as the father. This also brings to light the relationship of a feminine figure as a necessary counterpart to God in order to transpire a new life. “Creativity is divine! To me it is the virgin soul opening to the spirit and creating the divine child. You cannot live without it. That’s the meaning of life, that creative fire”. - Woodman
In ancient Greece, the word for the soul was psyche, often imaged as a butterfly. The emergence of the butterfly from the chrysalis was analogous to the birth of the soul from matter, a birth commonly identified with a release, hence a symbol of immortality. - Woodman
Through the container of the metaphor of a chrysalis, one is able to safely transform through death and rebirth. This process entails entering the next phase of our life, leaving behind what is no longer necessary, and taking on a new form of the butterfly in flight. Like the womb, the chrysalis is a protective and nourishing zone to rest in a metamorphic state as the change occurs. - Woodman
This is the modern era in which we currently reside, as the divine feminine shift has been re-developing leading society into its next phase of existence, perhaps the purpose of the return of the divine feminine is that of harmonic convergence and balance. In just the fifty years or so, modern society has undergone quite the paradigm shift in terms of the expected male and female roles. Same-sex marriages are gradually seen as equal to traditional ideas of marriage in the courts and to adoption agencies. Men are taking on the role of sole care-taker as women are free to pursue their dreams. Men are also now heavily involved in the birthing and baby bonding process. Women are free to explore their sexuality without judgment or condemnation. Many females have been appointed to run countries as leaders. And women no longer have the need to dress like men to compete in the work world, letting go of shoulder pads and embracing their feminine appeal. All these examples are signs of the importance and relevance of the return of the divine feminine metaphor in society. It could be helpful to look at yin-yang symbol in reference to gender and sexuality. The yin has some yang in it and the yang’s got some yin. In the sexual act, you have a continual moving of that circle so that the woman experiences her full masculine and feminine and the man experiences his full masculine and feminine.
Instead of searching for another to complete and balance oneself, one attempts to find the missing feminine or masculine energy to fulfill one’s circle of balance. Since society has been much more saturated in masculine yang energy throughout the last few thousand years, it is more likely that the search for one’s feminine aspect and energy is sought after today. But only by going into the depths of darkness can one reach one’s feminine awareness.
“The chrysalis is essential if we are to find ourselves. Yet very little in our extroverted society supports introverted withdrawal”.
The word ‘feminine,’ as I understand it, has very little to do with gender, nor is a woman the custodian of femininity. Both men and women are searching for their pregnant virgin. She is the part of us who is outcast, the part who comes to consciousness through going into darkness, mining our leaden darkness until we bring her silver out. - Woodman
“The divine feminine yearns to be in balance with her divine counterpart…it means a new type of freedom and end to the delusion of isolation, an end to the necessity for martyrdom, and the birth of a new kind of world” - Carroll
One cannot have cold without hot, day without night and wrong without right, just as one cannot have masculine without feminine. It is the imbalance of nature that causes disease, discomfort and natural disasters. This is nature’s attempt to balance itself. “Whether we like it or not, one of our tasks on this earth is to work with opposites through different levels of consciousness until body, soul, and spirit resonate together” - Woodman. To allow the return of the divine feminine myth into the collective consciousness allows a healing process to take place in balancing the current masculine energy of the earth, psyche, and soul.
“The Philosophers’ Stone is a union of two contrary entities, a hot, masculine, solar part, and a cold, feminine lunar part. This corresponds to what Jung has demonstrated so comprehensively, namely that the Self is experienced and symbolized as a union of opposites” - Edinger
The solar component of the Philosophers’ Stone can be encountered in moderation acting as a creative and life-giving force, but in excess or out of balance it can be encountered either externally as a fiery effect on another person or internally as consumption of fiery anger emerging from the unconscious. Just as the lunar quality of the Philosophers’ Stone can be receptive and grounding, but when encountered by itself can be destructive because of its extreme cold “benumbs and congeals.”
The Stone is also called the “tree of life”, which refers to the second tree in the Garden of Eden where man becomes conscious and aware of opposites. “With the emergence of ego consciousness comes painful separation from unconscious wholeness and the immediate relation to life symbolized by the tree of life. The ultimate goal of psychic development then becomes the recovery of the lost state of original wholeness, this time on the level of conscious realization - Edinger.
The Philosophers' Stone was the central symbol of the mystical terminology of alchemy, symbolizing perfection at its finest, enlightenment, and heavenly bliss. It has been attributed to many mystical and magical properties. The most commonly mentioned properties are the ability to transmute base metals into gold or silver, and the ability to heal all forms of illness and prolong the life of any person who consumes a small part of the stone. Alchemical authors sometimes suggest that the stone's descriptors are metaphorical. It was called a stone, but not because it was a stone. Drawing a man and woman in a circle within a quadrangle, a triangle and another a circle created the stone.
As seen in many myths and metaphors through time, the power of the feminine is as great and important as the power of the masculine. During the beginning of civilization the feminine was worshipped as extremely powerful and respected for her life force creating symbols. As time went on, the pendulum shifted to a more masculine dominant way of being, respecting and idolizing the accompanying symbols of the rapid growth and development of civilization. With the current onset of prevalent wounds seen in the planet and the psyche, it has become a collective unconscious desire for the pendulum to swing again allowing the return of the divine feminine; i.e., the goddess energy or sacred feminine archetype back into alignment. The allowance of the divine feminine back into the developed masculine dominant belief structure allows for the attempt of balance and totality of the Self through the coexistence of the anima and animus in the collective unconscious.
By taking a look at the frenzy around the notion of Armageddon and the apocalypse concepts that has been rearing its head in the mass mainstream media since 2012, we can see how it applies to this death or transition we are currently facing within the shift out of the Masculine dominant timeline. It’s important to see the ties between the created myths and metaphors through history and their practical applications not only to the civilizations of their time but to the modern-day psyche. These ancient and currently subtle historical perspectives are still present and prevalent in the collective soul of today, replaying themselves in various forms and modern archetypal figures. The awareness of these historical metaphors and how they play themselves out in our behaviors are extremely beneficial in healing that which is out of balance or misaligned in order to lay the foundation for the return to the inevitable and required Feminine way of life.
Carroll, L. (2009). The Great Shift: Co-creating a New World for 2012 and Beyond. San Francisco, CA: Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC
Edinger, E. (1972). Ego and Archetype. Boston, MA: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
Gimbutas, M. (1991). The “Monstrous Venus” of prehistory: Divine Creatrix. In Joseph Campbell and Charles Muses (Eds.) All her names: Exploration of the Feminine in Divinity. New York, NY: Harper San Francisco.
Lerner, G. (1986). The Creation of Patriarchy. New York, NY: Oxford University Press
Pinchbeck, D. (2006). 2012 The Return of Quetzalcoatl. New York, NY: Penguin Group
Woodman, M. (1993). Conscious Femininity: Interview with Marion Woodman. Toronto, Canada: Inner City Books.
Woodman, M. (1985). The pregnant virgin: A process of psychological transformation. Toronto, Canada: Inner City Books.