This feels like a really big topic, with a lot of potential to be misunderstood*, but it’s one I’ve been thinking about for a while now. I think about the books I read when I was younger on witchcraft and paganism and how the goddess was always defined by fertility. Goddesses create. Goddesses give birth. Goddesses are categorized as being either in a state of pre-motherhood, motherhood, or post-motherhood. There’s not a lot to relate to there. It’s one action, one facet of being and it’s limiting. There are individual goddess stories that have a lot within them that is relatable. But the divine feminine energy as an abstract, the “goddess” without a particular name and story, is defined in broad strokes that come together to form a very tiny box meant to contain truly diverse feminine energy.
Imagine if I took just one of those epithets and said that that was all she is or could be. I would be reducing her and denying her and cutting myself off from the many gifts she brings to the table. This happens to women every day when we are objectified, when we don’t fit into the boxes men think we belong in.
Divine Feminine Energy and the Dehumanization of Women
Thinking of divine energy as forgiving but not vengeful, peaceful but not angry, compassionate but not just, gentle but not powerful, creative but not destructive, is a mistake. It’s also a way to suppress these very real character traits in women.
I know that I am not the only woman who has expressed righteous anger reasonably and been tone-policed for it. I know I’m not the only woman who has had the expectation of unconditional kindness toward abusers placed on her, who has received a negative response for being direct, who has been condescended to by a man. I know I’m not the only woman who has been told her intuition is B.S. and her emotions are too much, who has been pressured to think like a man, including accepting the male gaze that sees her only as an object and denies the importance of her personhood and her own pleasure. I know I’m not the only woman who has experienced the expectation of being both chaste and sexual, or who has been told to hide her body.
I know that I am not the only woman who has had her boundaries crossed. I know that I am not the only woman who has spoken up for herself and not been only ignored, but totally disregarded. I know I am not the only woman who has worked hard and had her credit for it stolen by a man. I know I’m not the only woman who has been abused. I know I am not the only woman who carried anger in her body for years. The list goes on.
And let us not forget that “crone” (post-motherhood) is considered an insult and that the energy of maidenhood is encouraged to be held on to as long as possible. We see this in our culture in a variety of ways, from how women are encouraged to groom themselves and fear aging, to how women are disregarded when we don’t conform to this. There is a degree of invisibility no matter the age of a woman that gets worse as a she ages, and there is also a terrible degree of scrutiny no matter how old she is that results in a constant critique of her every move. Sometimes women who don’t acknowledge their internalized misogyny contribute to this.
Honoring the divine feminine challenges this structure. It obliterates the tiny box of maiden, mother, crone, and it calls in the diversity of destroyer, challenger, guardian, protector, guide (and more). Honoring the divine feminine means respecting women, standing for us, trusting us, making space for us, following our example, allowing us to lead, accepting us as we are without devaluing us, only objectifying us with our consent. It means respecting our autonomy and ability to choose when and where we create. As above, so below, as within, so without. How you relate to the divine feminine will necessarily translate in how you relate to women.
As a respected scholar Evelyn Nam once said, “women translate their righteous anger [at the violence inflicted on us by men] into fighting for social justice, equal rights, and restoration of human dignity for all human beings.” That fight is what feminism is, which includes the healing of men (who are also very much harmed by this system). Participating in this fight on whatever level you can is what it means to truly honor the divine feminine.