Sacred Feminine Spirituality
| Ulrike Manhart
Spiritual traditions in our society. What is the role of feminine spirituality? Why a female supremacy in yoga today and what are the opportunities?
When do you know that your femininity demands more YIN?
Society has been shaped by the male spiritual experience. This made access to the spiritual exclusive.
Women have always played a role in religion and spirituality. The Catholic Church made a clever move with Mary. After all, Mary is a good identification figure. Woman, mother and sufferer. But the concept belies the fact that she herself is not a goddess. She is holy, but not divine. In Christian doctrine, the role is clearly distributed. Mary is the comforter, even though she is more than that with her devotees. So that the woman in the Catholic church does not take herself too importantly, still another hook was inserted. The immaculate conception. Mary is thus denied corporeality. A misogynistic trait and an important characteristic of monotheism. Neither can one attain full humanity as a woman in Christianity. Nor is one valued for conception. And this image of women is manifested in many other world religions and holy scriptures and is still lived today.
Very often I hear as a yoga teacher. Yoga is only something for women. Yoginis are on the rise. The participation that has been forbidden to women in most spiritual traditions is seemingly present in yoga. Practitioners and teachers are overwhelmingly female. Yoginis are giving yoga a new face. But is there an advance of a feminine spirituality? And what is female spirituality?
The banishment of women from yoga
The first yogic testimonies prove that women took an active role in the spiritual context. They were not excluded from this, but were equated with fertility, growth, abundance and prosperity. In early yoga, around 2600 to 1600 BC, there was no separation between the human and the divine. Sacred scriptures also indicate that a female goddess was as important as a male one. Women were an important part of this as teachers, priestesses and saints. They were actively involved and equal.
But as in most traditions, they were banished from yoga. Brahmanism (about 900 to 600 B.C.), which led to Hinduism and the caste system, encouraged patriarchal spirituality. Women were increasingly considered impure in Vedic society. Feminine matters such as menstruation, pregnancy, and childbirth threatened Brahmin priests.
The Upanishads shifted the focus from the exclusive rituals of the Brahmins to inner spirituality. But it was not until the Bhagavad Gita that women were granted re-entry. It states that everyone can participate in spiritual life and help shape it. It is true that the Bhagavad Gita still emphasized Jnana Yoga, the yoga of knowledge. But the special thing was the presented connection between spiritual practice and everyday life through karma and bhakti yoga (yoga of devotion). For enlightenment, it was not necessary to retreat, but just the opposite. What was spiritual and what was not? That was no longer decided by the priests who appealed to their one-sided male experiences and sold them as universal.
Patanjali’s yoga sutras also strengthened bhakti yoga and thus the feminine. With Tantra, the spiritual rebirth of women was finally possible. Tantra stood in contrast to the teachings of the Brahmins. The body was no longer an obstacle on the path to enlightenment. Rather, it was a manifestation of Shakti, the divine feminine power. The body was seen as a vehicle on the path to enlightenment. Tantra then became the precursor to Hatha Yoga.
Women held the community together, cooked, and cared for children and the elderly. These experiences, however, do not appear in the sacred writings. They were opposite to sacral masculine. At the same time, we should naturally bring in our experiences. Because every moment is sacred. Feminine spirituality is everyday spirituality. Feminine spirituality carries deep change. It also carries a revolutionary, deeply transformative spirit. Femininity is as diverse and mutable as women themselves. And we here in Europe have the freedom to go into our power and see ourselves as pioneers for many cultures where a lot of enlightenment work is still needed. (Africa (genital mutilation), Arab cultures, etc.) The men profit from it too, because these do not know since the birth control pill quite what their task seems to be. It was groundbreaking, however, has led many women to become or want to be better men.
YIN AND YANG Energies
Yin and Yang. One is created by the other. If they are in balance, they merge. A disbalance creates separation. Whereas Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee says, “Seperation is a masculine idea.”
Yin & Yang are the sacred substance in creation.
How do you know that you “need” more YIN?
Here are some thoughts from Daniela Hutter. She describes in her book “The Yin Principle”.
– You feel an inner emptiness or an inner longing for you?
(Since the 70’s and emancipation, there is a lack of identity, inner emptiness and hunger for yourself in many women.
– You mean you can’t with women? The idea of being out with a larger group of women makes you cringe?
– You carry a grudge against the masculine inside you? You totally reject the masculine?
On the body level, a YANG excess expresses itself like this:
– You can’t fall asleep well. Restless nights, not sleeping through the night.
– You are jumpy, anxious & shaky?
– You suffer from ringing in the ears?
– Your joints ache, bones are brittle, your back is weak?
– You lack the desire for sex? Your orgasm is missing or only fleeting?
More YIN in your life
– Everything that leads you into relaxation. Relaxation allows opening. When we are open, we can receive.
– Environment influences cell nucleus. In nature we meet Mother Earth.
– Water represents the feminine. Water always seeks the way into the depths.
– All creative processes are feminine aspect of creation.
– Rituals at new & full moon. The moon is a strong source of power for women.
– Sleep during the night gives YIN.
– Nutrition according to TCM. Vegetables, avocados, pumpkin, melon, berries, etc. nourish the YIN.
– When the doing (physical) & the soul become one, they open new consciousness that brings change. This happens through the practice of yoga, which unites body, mind and spirit.
YIN energy gives roots & support.
YIN Yoga is such a nourishing unique way to go into observer mode. This passiveness is deeply healing and sets emotions, blocks and traumas in a safe space free. The yin practice which is also connected to the TCM/ Traditional Chinese Medicine is related to the organs and meridians also called Nadis in yogic astral anatomy.
The sacred feminine is the ancient voice that sings the song of creation.
She is the side of the Divine that brings the original spark into being.
In reverence for the sacred feminine we find love for every being in creation, and a respect that teaches us to appreciate all beings as sacred, as filled with divine light. In this we recognize our kinship and mutual relationship, learn that together we belong to the great mystery of life. Through the feminine we recognize the light in creation, the sacredness of the earth.
When we honor the divine feminine, we find a natural access to spiritual qualities such as receptivity, patience, the ability to listen and care for life.
The sacred feminine also encompasses the spiritual power to give birth to life and to connect matter and spirit. Her greatest potential is the power to connect the created world to her soul and to renew that connection.
The divine feminine is not bound to one gender, it lives in all of us, in women and in men.
Women have a special part in bringing the feminine back into our spiritual work and practice after we as humanity have neglected and disregarded it for millennia. For me, this work represents an indispensable contribution to the healing and transformation of the world.
Only through working together with the sacred feminine can we heal and transform the world. And this means to honor her presence within our bodies and our soul, in the ground we walk on, the air we breathe and the water we drink.
YIN Yoga is a sacred tool that puts me in the softness and receiver position. I have chosen to break the circle of being an inferior servant (that was a hard nut)….it was passed on in my feminine line over generations. It was a lot work about self-worth and self-love. Then protecting my child from an abusive, violent & addicted father. It has highlighted my mistrust into the masculine. I made a conscious choice to be a single-mum who had to learn to ask for help, because it was in my world just weakness to ask for help. I am raising a son that your daughter will be safe with. I promise. And I could go on and on. It was hard work for me to get there and therefore it gives me even more pleasure to share my deep insights with you. This is a qualitative practice and travel to step into the power of the goddess who you are.
Now I am ready for the male energy to serve me. The masculine is deeply honored.
May this thoughts give you inspiration & strength to honour your sacred divine feminine.
Jay Jay Ma! Jay Shiva Shankara!
Aquarian Rebirth – Robyn Chance, 2nd source unknown, @mirkformphotography