Saturday, September 12, 2009

Awakening the Divine Feminine

Once upon a time, in the sacred societies and temples of the ancient world, women were respected and revered as the living embodiment of their divine role model, the Great Goddess. Their bodies were seen as sacred alchemical vessels of creation and transformation, as radiant temples of Divinity filled with the vital healing and transformative current of light and energy that ceaselessly pours outward from the Primordial Source of all life. Deeply in tune with the inner world of spirit and the outer forces of nature, women were known as the "Keepers of the Sacred Mysteries."

Working together side by side, day after day, constantly sharing their insights and observations, their dreams and visions, throughout the centuries, women developed a highly sophisticated body of knowledge. An essential part of this knowledge was learning to perceive and maintain the psychic-energetic-emotiona
l landscape of society, the subtle realm of energy, emotion, vibration, and sensation that is recognized by healers and mystics as penetrating all reality, linking the spiritual planes with the material. In their crucial roles as the mothers, caretakers, visionaries, and peacekeepers, these wise and loving women knew that it was their fundamental task to maintain harmony and balance within their community and the larger world. Knowing that every thought, every action had a profound impact upon not only their own lives and those of their men and children, but on the very fabric of life itself, as teachers, guides, healers, mediators, consorts, and initiators into the sacred mysteries of birth, death, sexuality and spiritual transformation, they transmitted the light and power that sustained all of civilization.

Over the centuries, through trial and error, insight and intuition, teachings and practices were developed that trained young women to focus and enhance their innate perceptive abilities so that they could maintain this psychic-energetic-emotiona l balance. Passed along through oral tradition from mother to daughter, grandmother to granddaughter, teacher to student, these were symbolic teachings that transcended the use of words and the written language. These practices taught young women how to work with and refine the powerful energy of emotion, attune themselves to the dimension of dreams, portents and visions, and develop qualities such as fearlessness, commitment, right use of power, contentment, happiness, generosity, humility, patience, serenity, love and compassion.

As an essential part of this training, women learned how to awaken, nurture and enhance the feminine gift of second sense we now call women’s intuition. Special techniques were developed which enabled them to expand their senses to perceive and interpret the signs and symbols conveyed to them during every moment of life. These signs and symbols and their underlying meaning were seen to arise from every aspect of human appearance, such as facial expression, gesture, movement, vocal tone, smell, skin color, and so forth. But the signs also came from the expressions of the world of nature, inner vision, and the land of dreams. Women spent much of their time learning these subtle languages.

In the sacred temples of India, Egypt, Greece, Rome and Sumeria, highly specialized techniques were then developed which enabled them to open the mystic or inner eye to perceive and interact with the fluid currents of divine light and energy that create, envelop and connect all living things. The priestesses who resided in these temples mastered yogic practices that enabled them to purify their bodies and minds and transform into the Great Goddess, the most profound role model that shaped and preserved culture and society. Essentially, they would become living symbols of Divinity, Goddesses in the flesh. As the earthly personification of the Goddess, through sacred rituals that included many levels of artistic expression such as song, dance, rhythm, gesture, and storytelling, they displayed her divine qualities for their students, communities, and devotees. In this way, they not only provided a glimpse of the celestial realms, but also an archetype for a more enlightened approach to being human.

As modern day women, who too often find ourselves caught up in the secular, patriarchal mindset, which has been the signature of our society since the time of the Inquisition and destruction of our sacred women’s mysteries, for many of us the image of the Great Goddess and her sacred sisterhood is but a fleeting memory. Alienated from each other by the pressures and demands of our growing consumer culture in which success is measured by outward achievements and the amount of material objects one acquires, we have traveled far from the days when we sat together and attuned ourselves to the subtle languages of spirit. With the increasing levels of divisiveness and discord that are becoming part and parcel of life in the modern age, as our global community becomes ensnared by the nets of anger, hatred and war, it time for us women to awaken and once again find our true voices. Like the priestesses and wise women of old, let us once again open ourselves to our true calling and take responsibility for our individual and collective roles in creating and shaping the psychic/energetic landscape of our world. Let us work together to discover a means of bringing balance and harmony to our fragile planet.

As we begin this process, let us look to the teachings of the ancient sacred sisterhood. Let us sit together once again as conscious, caring women and dialogue about our feelings, dreams and visions for the future. Let us travel once again into the feminine domain of feeling and emotion, seek out and release our worn out patterns of thought, expression and action and discover the essential light of spirit that resides deep within our hearts- the potent healing current of the Great Mother Goddess.

As a start, for guidance, we can look to the qualities, attributes and expressions of the three main manifestations of the Divine Feminine known throughout the sacred literature as the triple goddess; the fiery goddesses of strength and power; the joyful goddesses of fertility, sensuality, and abundance; or the peaceful goddesses of love and compassion

The powerful female deities—such as Kali and Durga of India, Sekhmet of Egypt, Athena of Greece, and Simhamukha of Tibet — teach us the true nature of power. In their myths and stories, they demonstrate that real power is not about control, repression, and domination; it is about flexibility and clarity in the midst of chaos. It is the ability to relax in the face of danger, so that we can perceive the situation and take appropriate action. Possessing the fierce and fiery forces of Mother Nature herself, these wild and fiery goddesses are role models of right and appropriate action, who function from a centered and integrated space of wisdom and clarity, the images of these powerful goddesses inspire us to recognize that true feminine power lies not in anger and destruction but in knowledge, understanding and transformation. As we work with their invigorating, transformative energy, the negative passions such as anger, greed, jealousy, fear and so forth are transmuted into the enlightened qualities of clarity, self-confidence, divine pride, determination and fearlessness. The veils of the dark emotions are lifted as we once again align ourselves with the sacred current of truth.

The joyful Goddesses – such as Lakshmi of India, Aphrodite of Greece, Hathor of Egypt, Oshun of Africa, and Mandarava of Tibet- teach us the truly sacred nature of sensuality. . Throughout their myths and stories, we encounter a basic awareness of and respect for the beauty and majesty of the female body as a receptacle of and transmitter for divine energy. In the temples dedicated to these Goddesses, the priestesses, as teachers of the sacred sexual mysteries came to understand both the fundamental nature of sexual energy and great potential for spiritual awakening and realization inherent in the art of sexual union. In preparing for their exacting role as initiators into these mysteries, they developed intimate knowledge of every nuance of sensuous expression, transforming the negative emotions of lust, craving and possessiveness into enlightened qualities of discernment, mystery, contentment and ecstatic abandon. Through the process of aligning ourselves with their rich nurturing energy, we can once again become impregnated with the fertile light of spirit and experience the essential sweetness, subtlety, receptivity, and refinement that lie at the heart of true feminine bliss.

The peaceful Goddesses – such as Isis of Egypt, Tara of Tibet, Saraswati of India, Kuan Yin of China and Yemaya of Africa –teach us how to look inward and discover that fundamental light of Divinity that lies deep within the hearts of each and every one of us. In their myths and stories, they demonstrate how to open our eyes and hearts to the perpetual current of truth and beauty that flows through our world and how to lift the dark veils that obscure this pure vision so that we can fully encounter the most profound and transformative experience that any human being can know, that of pure, selfless, all-embracing love. Constantly looking within to encounter and purify their every thought and action, whether sitting together in silent contemplation or moving through the great temples of healing, wherever they went, the atmosphere was suffused with light and grace. For these loving and compassionate women, were so in touch with their own divine nature that they could transmit the essence of this grace with a look, a gesture or a touch.

~Sharron Rose

Sharron Rose, MA. Ed, author of The Path of the Priestess, A Guidebook for Awakening the Divine Feminine (Inner Traditions International) and the creator of the Awakening the Feminine video series (Sacred Mysteries Productions), is an internationally acclaimed teacher, writer, performer and Fulbright Senior Research Scholar in World Mythology, Religion and Sacred Dance.

For the past twenty-five years, she has worked in the fields of education and the esoteric arts to investigate, integrate and impart the knowledge and wisdom of ancient and traditional cultures throughout the world. Sharron’s work is unique in that she is both scholar and practitioner transiting the realms of culture, the arts and spirit. In 1983, she was initiated by her teacher Sitara Devi, into a sacred tradition of the Tantric arts that has been handed down from teacher to student for thousands of years – the transformative path of the temple dancer/priestess/healer– the path of the Divine Feminine.

Since that time, in her studies of Tibetan Tantra and Dzogchen with Tibetan master Chogyal Namkhai Norbu, the art of healing and the Ancient Egyptian Mysteries with Dr. Robert Masters, and research into Kabbalah, Gnosticism and Alchemy with her husband, hermetic scholar Jay Weidner, she has devoted herself to seeking out, understanding and transmitting to students and audiences the lost remnants of this same tradition, as it existed in the temples and sacred societies of Tibet, Egypt and the Middle East.

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