What is the Sacred Feminine?
By Vikki Hanchin, LSW
Defining the Sacred Feminine means various things as it is expressed along
several dimensions of life:
- In the spiritual dimension, it means including and valuing the feminine
as an equally fundamental dynamic of the creative life force and the
Divine, along with the masculine. The yang cannot exist without the
yin. It means remembering our interconnection and oneness: we are
not separate from each other and creation.
- In the religious dimension, it means including and honoring the
Feminine face of God in religious expression, ritual and ceremony,
with inclusive language (such as Mother/Father God). It means
recognizing and honoring the female deities and archetypes of the
Goddess across history and cultures.
- In the planetary dimension, it means seeing Mother Earth as our
Mother, respecting and healing her, cultivating right-relationship
with her as our ground of survival.
- In the cultural dimension, it means recognizing the sacredness of all
life, our web of interconnection and community; and celebrating the
stature and wisdom of the Feminine across cultures, in the arts and
in creative expression.
- In the psychological dimension, it means reclaiming the Feminine
qualities as important interior qualities of wholeness and balance
within each individual, male and female.
- In the human dimension, it means valuing women as whole people–
body, mind and spirit; and valuing females equally with males.
- In the societal dimension, it means seeking the voices, visions and
wisdom of women to be received and integrated in the service of
social healing and balance. It means valuing the contributions of
women at home as caregivers, as well as in the work place and
- In the political dimension, it means using the authority of power
to serve the greater good, to protect and serve life, not for
domination, greed and self-interest. It means to protect the
common wealth of planetary resources–such as water, food, air,
soil, energy—and share for the greatest good of all, rather than
hoarding, exploiting and commoditizing them.
- In the historic dimension, it means acknowledging and teaching–
in mainstream education– the archeological discoveries of the
pervasive, pre-patriarchial partnership-based Goddess cultures,
and learning from them a paradigm of society that uses power to
serve life, not greed. It means including in the report of history
the contributions of women, and the story of the Women’s
Holocaust (600 years of the burning times).
- In values of daily living it means welcoming, including and listening
to one another, in the service of understanding. It means affirming
and supporting one another and seeking the unique gifts that each
individual has to offer. It means accepting and respecting differences.
It means being slow to judge, and open to compassion. It means being
grounded in the heart, using the head in the service of the greater good.
It means including intuition in perceiving and decision making. It means
being connected to the goodness, aliveness, sensuality and wisdom of
the body. It means using personal power to serve and to create, not to
dominate and exploit.
©Vikki Hanchin, LSW
Turning the World right side up: The Feminine Remedy
by Marilyn Nyborg
The concept of the Sacred Feminine begins with the obvious but neglected
truth that everything on Earth is born of the Feminine. The Feminine
Principle of life is characterized by qualities that have been identified
culturally as the domain of women, but in truth are an aspect of
wholeness, in humanity and in life.
These qualities of the Feminine Principle are typically described as
interconnection, unconditional love, nurturing, heart, inclusion,
cooperation, receptivity, being, allowing, relatedness, intuition,
oneness, and compassion. These qualities of wholeness have been
at risk, being undervalued and nearly lost, under centuries of culture
characterized by the unbalanced masculine love of power.
The qualities of the Feminine Principle have increasingly been
recognized as urgently needed to address the imbalances and global
crises threatening our survival on the planet at this time in history.
But this cannot be done by women alone. Men must also revalue,
reclaim and integrate the Feminine qualities of wholeness within
themselves. Many men of heart have already done so.
Why call the Feminine “sacred?” Many are choosing to call the
Feminine Principle “sacred”– i.e., the “Sacred Feminine”– to
indicate the multiple life-affirming dimensions of the Feminine
and its inherent essence of seeing all life as sacred, as interconnected
and as unique expressions of one vast wholeness. The essence of the
sacred feminine is about birthing and nurturing life. If we are to
survive on the planet, this essence must be given fuller respect
expression, and integration.
Daughters of the Patriarch and the daughters of evolution.
A patriarch is a man who exercises autocratic authority as a pater familias
over an extended family. This is a Greek word, a composition of πατήρ
(pater) meaning “father” and ρχων (archon) meaning “leader”, “chief”,
“ruler”, “king”, etc.
Feminism comprises a number of social, cultural and political movements,
theories and moral philosophies concerned with gender inequalities and
equal rights for women. How do we define ourselves as women? I think the
Sarah Palin phenomenon has really brought this into question!!
Men and women cannot be simply defined by their assigned gender apparatus.
We know for example, that men and women DO think and act differently.
Viva le difference!!
The psychological and emotional differences are at a deeper level than the
physical. We are all or most of us, born as either the son or daughter of the
What does that mean? It means we have either taken on the roles assigned to
us by eons of male domination OR we have through self introspection chosen
to identify ourselves with values outside of those handed down though cultural
and religious doctrine.
Both son’s and daughters of the dominator model have been restricted in their
emotional and social responses to life. Following rigid traditions, rules AND
roles men will be men…..and women have their place. Even as our culture has
progressed we find daughters of the patriarch still play within the lines of what
is expected of a woman and or, we see really powerful women, strong bright
women like Sarah Palen following the male model for success. First rule: play
like one of the boys.
Then there are the evolved men and women, who play outside the lines that
were drawn for them. They are not confined to developing only one side or
the other of their brains, personalities and emotions.
But have explored and begun to honor the fullness of their beings. What
does that look like? They are not locked in to roles….like “my better half”
which implies we are only living from half of ourselves.
Instead they have explored and embraced a sense of wholeness. For men it
is the freedom to explore and express their sensitivities and feelings. Often
teased or beaten out of them growing up in a man’s world, or being sent off
to war where the sensitive is replaced by insensitivity causing them to close
down anything at the feeling level.
A recent study showed in corporations that men ARE embracing feminine
responses in their management styles quite successfully. While at the same
time women continue to be seen as weak when they come from their innate
modes of operating.
Women who break from the mole they were expected to live value their
emotions and do not hold them as a sign of weakness. They trust their
intuition and by embracing their inner masculine bring these qualities
into action. Oprah demonstrates this integration in which her deepest
feminine qualities are powered by her masculine thrust and manifestation.
There are extremes on both sides: Those who live only by rules from
outside of themselves and those who have thrown out all tradition putting
themselves first in everything. Somewhere in moderation we can respectfully
connect and grow in our wholeness while maintaining the best of both.
In doing so, we can come together in partnership and can contribute so
much more to building a world of peace.
From Thom Hartmann’s book The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight
“We have now traced the history of women from Paradise to the nineteenth
century and have heard nothing through the long roll of the ages but the clink
of their fetters.” – Lady Jane Wilde l821 to l896
A friend who’s a psychiatrist with training in neutrochemistry once joked to
me, “The most dangerous drug in the world is testosterone.” History suggests
he is right.
Exhaustive analysis of “pre-historic” cultures, such as done by Riane Eisler and
others, indicates that in virtually all Older Cultures the women were of equal
status with the men, and in a few they were even in charge. One theory for why
this was is that women uniquely bring life into the world, and it may not have
been until humans moved from hunting//gathering to herding/agriculture that
they began to understand genetics. The women ran the show because they
controlled life itself, producing life from their bodies.
When everybody figured out that the men had a role to play in the process,
however, during the early herding times, some of the men pulled off a power
grab, converting the gods that were worshipped from female to male, and
asserting control over the fertility of women the same way they controlled
the fertility of a field or a flock of sheep. The men took over.
At the same time, testosterone-driven behaviors came to dominate the
beginnings of our Younger Culture: aggression, competition, domination,
When European missionaries taught Australia Aborigine hunter/gatherers
how to play “football” back in the early 1900’s , the Aboriginal children
played until both sides had equal scores; that was when the game was over,
in their mind, and it boggled the British missionaries who taught them the
game. The missionaries worked for over a year to convince the children
that there should be winners and losers. The children lived in a matrilineal
society that valued cooperation; the Englishmen came from a patriarchal
society, which valued domination.
The Iroquois had figured this out a thousand years or more ago; only
women in the tribe could vote on most issues. As a result, decisions
regarding relations with other tribes were more often made in the context of
“what will work for our children?” rather than “who wins/” or considerations
of pride, power or conquest.
Similarly, we find that populations are exploding in virtually every nation
of the world where women are dominated, treated like cattle or goods, or
exploited and controlled. The men in such countries are making the decisions,
and one of the male values is “have many sons to build the biggest army” (and,
of course, another common one is “have sex whenever you want, with
whomever you want”).
On the other hand, in those nations where women have relatively equal
position and power with men, there are lower birth rates, often even to the
point of zero population growth, as has been achieved in many of the countries
of Northern Europe. In virtually every country of the world we can see this
equation demonstrated: male domination equals population explosion;
relative male-female equality equals sustainable populations.
In this regard, you could say that the women’s rights movement is truly a
HUMAN rights movement.
So another solution to this mess we find ourselves in is to give power back
to women in all realms, including the social, familial, religious, military and