Beyond the Divine Feminine & Masculine! Tea with A Druid 20
I begin by reading from ‘A Tree for the Earth Mother’ which you can find here on Amazon UK and Amazon USA.
For some time there has been a strong movement towards recognizing and enhancing our appreciation of the Divine Feminine. Centuries of male-dominated religious beliefs have necessitated this. But over the last few years I’ve become aware, both in personal experience and in hearing from others, of a new wave of awareness that goes beyond an interest in either the feminine or masculine principles.
It’s as if we needed to turn our attention to the Divine Feminine to honour, balance and integrate it, and now – for some at least – the journey continues as we ask ourselves “What is the principle, the reality, the Source, or indeed Being, who is beyond or behind, or causal to the Goddess, the God? Do I need to work with the Divine Feminine, or should I go deeper, higher, further, and focus on the Divine Source of All Being? Is my soul Masculine or Feminine, or are these concepts redundant at the level of soul?”
Have a look at this short piece I wrote on ‘Spiritual Sexism’ and tell me if you agree or disagree – I’d love to hear what you think!
Druidry has been influenced by Alchemy, Tantra, Taoism, Wicca and Jungian psychology in placing a good deal of stress on the idea that there are Feminine and Masculine Principles that need honouring and uniting. This approach makes a welcome change to the body-denying and sex-denying attitudes that can often be found in the Abrahamic and Dharmic religions. But look what has happened as this idea – powerful and indeed obvious as it is – has become over-used. It has jumped out of its box and run riot – gendering everything from stones to planets, from numbers to qualities of heart and soul.
I agree that the time has come to re-examine the traditional Pagan emphasis on “the goddess” and “the god” as aspects of a masculine/feminine binary. I think those ideas were truly radical when they were first proposed, but as an organic spirituality it behooves us to change with time and not be beholden to traditions and old ideas. Many people are now becoming aware that gender is more fluid and more complex than simple “male” and “female” roles and archetypes, and I see that as a good thing. Diversity is healthy in a natural ecosystem, in society and in spirituality. I really appreciate your essay on “spiritual sexism” and I am delighted to see that Druidry is open to other forms of gender identity and self-expression. As a Pantheist, I tend not to work with the divine as gendered, and go straight to the source of all.
I absolutely loved this. Reducing everything in our world and the Otherworld to a gender binary is just as restricting to me as the gender-based boxes our society tries to force us into.
There is a special, individual tree whose company I enjoy, and who I’ve often visited during the past two years. Like all types of oaks, my tree is monoecious—both male and female flowers bloom upon its branches. The particular type of oak that I’m working with is also rhizomatous, which means it doesn’t necessarily even require pollination to reproduce, but may also reproduce via underground runners.
To the extent that I believe the divine in immanent in nature, and to the extent that this tree is an expression of the divine, it is perhaps not unreasonable to infer that the divine is at least capable of this level of integration, regardless of however we may choose to clothe the divine within our theologies and in our symbolic thinking and practices.
On a related note, I find it interesting that the Proto-Indo-European language apparently, at one time, had no noun classes that were specifically masculine and feminine. It had two grammatical genders, but they were “animate” and “inanimate/neuter.” That binary is also present, to some degree, in the English language. On my own path as a Druid, I feel as though I’ve had to grapple with that animate/inanimate binary even more than with the masculine/feminine binary. For example, I personally regard stones as lively beings, and the soil and rivers as lively communities. But my native tongue doesn’t always offer an easy means to speak of them in that way. I’m stuck with “it” as a pronoun for these things. Alternately, I could use “he” or “she” to talk about a boulder or about a brook, and this would immediately suggest a more personal relationship. But as soon as I do that, I’ve assigned a gender, just like the Celtic languages and Romance languages tend to do!
A timely essay….it seems to me that Druidry can be much more gender fluid than Traditional Wicca.
Mistletoe has both male and female expression as a plant, is fertilised by flies rather than ‘pollinator bees’, sows it’s seeds with assistance of the thrush (presumably gender irrelevant) and also reproduces asexually through direct sprouting from its haustorium complex.
Non-duality embraces isness in all its expression, whilst our fevered cortical perambulations hasten to measure, judge and further the Cartesian madness. We float in our fluid cosmic paradigm of infinite possibility and have free choice to perceive as wished, yet to simply be can often feel condemned as being too hard a struggle by me?
Thank you for bringing up this interesting topic! I believe the devine does not have a particular gender and can not even be represented by the image of a human body. I experience the Source as a song that is inherent in every particle of our universe; a song that can be heard not by the ear but only through the heart! I called this the “song of creation”, when I first experienced it during my ovate studies.
Does a song have a gender? Well, it doesn’t matter.
As a student of Druidry, I loved the comment that I’m not male or female, I’m just being human. Genetics has shown us that “gender” is a poor label indeed. Our sexuality spans the whole spectrum of maleness to femaleness in physical and psychological realms just like our electro-magnetic spectrum spans “high” to “low” frequencies which always requires new descriptors to better specify. So the gender binary language should be left out completely, except for describing reproductive processes, and replaced with a better descriptive, gender-neutral language of behavior; such as, one who is Loving, Kind, Nurturing, Compassionate, Empathetic, Generous, or who is Mean, Hurtful, Hateful, Fearful, Selfish, Self-centered or Greedy.
The terms, Gods and Goddesses, are such “labels” which mean different things to different people and as such, these labels are poor descriptors. A solution is to replace these labels with behavioral language that we all can understand from our own life experiences. So let God or the “Life Source” be the multi-dimensional, anthropomorphic entity that it is. Then the “soul” more clearly has no gender as in that realm there is no more reproduction. And Gaia or “Mother Nature” can then be more appropriately described less as a Goddess and more as the protector and nurturer of the life received from the cosmic creator, life-source entity.
I found this very helpful, as one thing I have struggled with in my journey towards Druidry is the widespread focus on gender. For me, I have always experience The Mystery / Great Spirit as beyond gender and taking a gendered position always seemed like a backwards step on my spiritual path. Personally I see the gods and goddesses as archetypes pointed us towards The Mystery; providing symbolism that we can relate to; and providing context for our relationship with Great Spirit.
It struck me reading this that if you cut the threads in the weave drastically it might unravel. If the mataphors are sufficient for the learning .don’t throw them away. Some of the new gender discourse around here is not entirely benevolant and it is not clear what is behind it.for me.
For many years I have followed an interesting series of books which work on the idea of “God” being in four parts, four disparate parts still seeking unity which is reflected on Earth now, an evolving “God” whose struggle towards self acceptance is evident in each of our own. This “God is: “Spirit”/Thought/Electric Polarity/Action/Masculine, “Will”/Feeling/Magnetic Polarity/Reaction/Feminine, “Heart”/Love/Symbol of Union but essentially non-sexual, and “Physicality” which is all these forces manifested in the material plane.
There is a lot to be said for an examination of those aspects of the sexes that separate us and then, of course, “equality” of psyche- male and female aspects of ourselves balanced in in our Heart along with respect for our physical journey sounds like a good idea too.
We may allocate gender to various forces in an attempt to befriend them, know them and ultimately ourselves as humans and this is necessary to the journey of our understanding, but part of our awakening is realizing also that our process to achieve this may require symbolism and getting stuck on that isn’t following the lesson through to its conclusion but becoming transfixed by the illustrations on the blackboard.
Then I later read an interesting review on these books and this concept, which suggested that the God and Goddess of this world, the Male and Female polarities and their search for balance could be but one of millions of worlds with their own god/esses struggle to understand the formula for autonomy within unity, all evolving, returning in their own time to the Tao which births all universes. The Tao being neither male nor female.
A quote from this source: “Let’s delineate between the Tao and God- God being the overall consciousness of this universe, the Tao being that which propagates universes…God is not the Tao- you might say God is a step between the Tao and our individual experiences here.”
Feels like a spiritual Mandelbrot set and who really knows- all we can do is feel our way toward what makes sense intellectually and emotionally. One test I run past myself when I read or hear something that makes me uncomfortable- I ask myself why I’m feeling uncomfortable and when the most honest answer finally whispers from deep down inside, it has nothing to do with external justice or redress or social trend. It always comes down to my own inner imbalance between mother/father/child/parent/male/female/thought/feeling and when I attend to that need I find I am able to be open to consider any and all spiritual challenges.