Recently, as I was researching the Divine Feminine and thinking about the feminine principles I explore with you, I had an incredible insight: the male lens through which we see and judge so many aspects of our lives consciously and unconsciously—what we’ve dubbed “patriarchy”—is really just a blip in the big scheme of things.
When you look at the formation of our world, which I had the privilege of recently seeing through the layers of the rocks at the Grand Canyon, the patriarchy really only represents a bit of the topsoil compared to the mile deep canyon.
And that shift reflects our emphasis—as humans and as a society—on the spirit over the soul.
Let me explain.
Throughout time, the soul is often identified by its feminine principles, while spirit is recognized as related to male principles. Both exist and, in reality, are hard to distinguish except by labeling them as separate.
As Thomas Moore writes:
It is impossible to define precisely what the soul is. Definition is an intellectual enterprise anyway: the soul prefers to imagine. We know intuitively that soul has to do with genuineness and depth, as when we say certain music has soul or a remarkable person is soulful. When you look closely at the image of soulfulness, you see that it is tied to life in all its particulars—good food, satisfying conversation, genuine friends, and experiences that stay in the memory and touch the heart. Soul is revealed in attachment, love, and community, as well as in retreat on behalf of inner communing and intimacy. (Care of the Soul, xi-xii)
So soul—or feminine principles—is the innate energy in nature, the unseen force of magnets, gravity, the pulse of life, the “thing” that is alive. We feel a connection to soul in the sensations of our human bodies.
When we think about which view dominated in humans’ perceptions before patriarchy, it was soul and its accompanying feminine principles.
Thomas goes on to explain his definition of the spirit:
“The spirit is that part of us … that wants more. That wants to transcend. Wants to grow. Wants to move into a better world. Wants to improve ourselves. … The soul is quite different. The deep soul has more to do with things that are very ordinary, a part of ordinary life that you feel intimately.”
If we use the Greek timeline, Apollo’s Temple was established around 800 BC. Before that time, the feminine was worshipped and celebrated. Many historians believe that this is the symbol of matrilineal-cyde and patriarchal dominance in Ancient Greece, which firmly established the spirit-focused patriarchy we know today.
After this time, feminine principles remained but were more distorted; the essence of them turned into superstition, sex and fertility turned into sin and another form of exploitation of women. Building, new inventions and conquering were celebrated. Caring for the soul, nurturing and agriculture (feminine principles) were secondary and eventually not seen as valuable compared to science and technology.
So how do we move forward?
I don’t believe turning back the celestial clocks to pre-patriarchy is the answer, nor do we want to stay fixed with the worst ideals of patriarchy (like war and power). Instead, we want to find the harmony of both qualities, the divine feminine and the divine male.
Like DNA strands, they co-exist and cross at intervals where we must hold the AND/BOTH in our consciousness. Like Malcolm Gladwell’s essay on the Tipping Point, when enough of us can live by both principles—not at the expense of one over the other—then we can live more harmoniously with others and with ourselves.