the sword of the feminine

A few years ago, during my first Ayahuasca journey, I was shown the image of a sword. I’d never seen anything like it before. It was a work of art, beautifully silver and encrusted with jewels and crystals. I understood that this was not a weapon of destruction; it was the sword of love, cutting through all illusion. The sword of the Feminine.

I think about this sword often. Sometimes I feel it as an etheric presence behind or above me. The image was/is so pristine and powerful, merely remembering it brings me comfort and relief. The sword itself is a remembrance of something I intuitively understand but can’t quite articulate.

It’s interesting to think about the sword now, because my perceptions of the Divine Feminine and Masculine are shifting. I’m realizing that I don’t actually know what the Divine Feminine and Masculine are. It’s kind of humorous and humbling to admit that, because I’ve written about these concepts numerous times on my blog.

shakti's garden by sonja picard

shakti’s garden by sonja picard

For several years, I took part in women’s circles and gatherings. And during my Kundalini Yoga teacher training, I had many ideas for women’s workshops. But something happened earlier this summer. I went off most social media and entered major hermit mode. I had no desire to participate in or facilitate women’s gatherings. I actually felt hostile to the idea. I found myself going within to what seemed like a very frustrated, depressed place. Was this self-sabotage? Fear of change? Remnants of ancient patterns? Addiction to familiar emotions?

I realized that despite all the work, at my core I didn’t feel anything ‘Divine Feminine’ about myself.  How could I then encourage the divine in others, or see the divine in men? It’s not that I felt like a fraud…but ‘Divine Feminine’ and ‘Divine Masculine’ had become concepts I’d used and heard so many times that they no longer held meaning for me. I had thought that these spiritual principles, and others, transcended duality – but perhaps they just reinforced it.

I do believe in a Divine Feminine and Masculine essence within each one of us, which we project outward to co-create reality. But experiencing our essence is a deep and personal journey that goes beyond ‘spiritual’ or new age concepts (e.g., idealized depictions of gods and goddesses). And it takes time. Humanity has run on certain archetypes and beliefs for eons; some are loving and some are not. Can we create new archetypes, and are we ready to?

There is tremendous power in women’s circles, and I know these will re-emerge in my life, in some form, when the timing feels right. I know I don’t have to have all the answers, because I never will (and that’s so not the point). I also think more men’s groups and retreats would be very helpful. The men I know who’ve participated in such groups embody something that is truly…well, ‘divine’ is the word that comes to mind.

I believe the sword of the Feminine is guiding me to her truth and essence, which is in harmony with the Masculine. That harmony creates something new, beyond the labels and categories of duality.

We have seen so much of humanity’s darkness coming to the surface this year. I have my thoughts on the force of patriarchy, but I don’t want that to keep the ‘us against them’ dynamic alive in my psyche. I have observed the darkness within myself and, as uncomfortable as it’s been, it does feel like my process is creating more space within.

The challenge for me is to remain open and trusting in this space, not wanting to immediately fill it with anything, even ‘love’ or ‘light’ (which can be further conceptualizations of the mind). The space itself is highly intelligent, and from this place we can create relationships beyond what we’ve ever known.

entering the terrifying darkness…again

It took a whole year – literally! – but last weekend I revisited one of the scariest places I’ve ever been – a sensory deprivation (isolation) tank, aka ‘float tank’.

My first experience was, for the most part, harrowing. I had no idea what to expect, as I never considered myself claustrophobic. (Then again, I’d never been enclosed in a small space, floating on water, in complete silence and blackness.) I didn’t know just how deafening my mind was (is), until I had to spend 90 minutes tuned into its inane soundtrack, with no distractions whatsoever!

It wasn’t all terrifying; there were moments of stillness and peace. And for weeks after, I couldn’t stop thinking about that darkness. Why had I been so scared of it? What made that void so powerful? Was there anything beyond the fear? What possibilities could be created from that space of nothingness?

float

my home for the next 90 mins

Well, a year later, I decided to revisit the tank. I was slightly dreading the experience; I remembered some of the ridiculous thoughts that plagued me the first time around (What if there’s an earthquake and no one can save me?), and I did not feel like reliving all that again. But, as I’d realized after my first session: that enclosed, dark place isn’t just located in that chamber. It’s always there. Lurking in my consciousness, guiding my every day reactions and decisions. In the tank, I can’t avoid it. Sure, I can physically get out…but it will follow me. So I knew I had to face it again.

Almost immediately after starting my float, I felt petrifying fear at my core. I became aware of acute pain in my neck and shoulders, which lasted throughout the session. Adrenaline coursed through me and I often felt short of breath. Is this how I feel all the time, and just don’t notice it?

Lying there in complete stillness, I felt defenceless. I am very vulnerable in this place…open to attack…I need to be on guard in case something unexpected happens…When I let my guard down is when there will be attack…I’m a mouse, not a lion…I live in fear, trying to control every aspect of my life…

The fear made me hold my breath. Which made me start to panic. Which only made me more fearful!

Then I would remember to breathe. Deeply. And remind myself that it’s not the situation itself that makes me hyperventilate – it’s my thoughts about what could happen. Thoughts that, no matter how ludicrous, seem so real they take on a life of their own, distorting my reality so that I’m blinded to everything else.

In this void, there was nothing to hold onto, to ground me. There was no ‘Aleya’ here. I was reminded of a previous Ayahuasca journey, where my physical reality dissolved in front of my very eyes. My ego did not enjoy that one bit, and the experience still haunts me to this day. I also remembered being in my ex’s presence years ago, and feeling an immense void within. It was something he could never fill, and we both knew it. He was showing me something I’d have to face on my own, sooner or later. It came sooner than I wanted it to.

We are told to ‘look within’ to find love. But this has often felt very conceptual. Many spiritual teachings refer to a loving Mother/Father God, a universe that only wants the best for us. And this is such sweet relief for those of us who grew up in religious upbringings with a judgemental, patriarchal God. In environments where we became intensely self-policing in order to avoid disapproval and punishment, because in survival mode, disapproval = death.

What if I look withinand there is nothing there?

This is the core of all my fear. And it stops me from seeing what could be on the other side of it.

What if there actually was an earthquake? I let myself really sink into that fear, and stay with it. My resistance yielded a little. Even if the worst did happen, I would be ok. This body in the tank wasn’t all of me. I sensed something dormant – huge creative reserves I have not yet tapped into. Are they really there? What will activate them?

I pictured myself floating on a beautiful amber-pink liquid – the colour of a soft sunset. I imagined my little self in the womb, about to emerge into this world. What would I want her to know? That her only ‘mission’ is to live this expression called Aleya, and let her do what she loves to do, no questions asked. Living the expression is enough. On a cosmic level, it’s doing more than she can consciously comprehend.

Will I do another float? Yes, definitely. There are many treasures in this darkness.