Editor: Molly Claire Benjamin, Independent Scholar & Writer


The 2016 Election, The Divine Feminine & Community

When the 2016 election started ramping up, my intuition kicked in and nudged a few ideas into my brain.  I tried to ignore them, but I knew I was right.   This is how it happened.

I found Bernie and took a few glorious breaths of fresh air imagining how we would all feel when the amazing mythology of American democracy played itself out in his election.  I choked up as I imagined young people and progressive liberals standing together to bring about the kind of profound change the first American Revolution brought about.

And then my intuition kicked in full force.  It was, furthermore, an intuitive feeling with which I was familiar.  Throughout our lives moments come to pass when we desperately want something — want it so badly we can taste it — while simultaneously being conscious that this thing will never come to pass.  It is the sneaking feeling I always had when I auditioned for the school play — dreaming of lead role yet knowing I wouldn’t be chosen; the same lurking feeling I had when I desperately believed my true happiness would only be fulfilled if I was chosen for the junior high school cheerleading squad, but knew inside I was nowhere near popular enough.

Well, that intuitive premonition of disappointment settled over my shoulders like a heavy cape at nearly the exact moment our now-President Elect showed his face on the scene.  My intuition used his appearance, and each successive media comment that underestimated how terrifying his presence was, to ease me into the conclusion that the kind of massive social change America (and the world) needs cannot come until we are completely woken up.  And we’ve been heavily sedated for a long time.

My intuition knew, before I could accept it consciously, that there was no way you-know-who would not be elected.  So I spent the campaign season doing my best to avoid all of the campaigning, which was pretty easy considering the time consuming turmoil of my own life at the time.  My gut already knew where this was headed.  I didn't need to hear every speechifying word coming out of the politicians' mouths to know that this was battle of an autocrat against a (purportedly) democratic system.  Of course I voted, for Bernie in the primary and for Hilary in the general election.  It was not, however, with stunned silence that I watched the election returns on PBS that night, but instead with the kind of numb acceptance characters in stories experience when they realize that some sort of final battle is inevitable.  The difference is, this is not going to be the kind of Heroic Final Battle everyone is familiar with.  The roadmap laid out by Joseph Campbell and Hollywood and American pop culture will be useless in this final battle.

Our battle is one for the very soul of humanity.  And no, I do not find that overly dramatic at all.

Allow me to return, for a moment, to those three articles we are unfolding in an interdisciplinary manner.  First, the discussion of an archetypal journey of the feminine, of the Princess.  This journey results in the Princess’ evolution into the role of Empress or Priestess - the mother (politically or spiritually) of her community.  Second, the discussion of how Pollyanna’s Glad Game can be used as a spiritual practice to bring certain distinctly Feminine rhythms to one’s everyday life; and of how doing so strengthens the bonds of community, weaving individuals together.  Lastly, the discussion of disintegrating community in America and my assertion that the problem has its roots in the lack of a fully inclusive spiritual element of community.  

For untold generations, God (the ultimate role model) has been male.  No matter what (if any) spiritual tradition a person adheres to in his or her personal life, this subtle hierarchy of the sexes infuses everything in our world.  And it is not just the ranking of the sexes themselves, but of the archetypal qualities and characteristics stereotypically associated with the male and the female.  Going forward when I refer to the Feminine or the Masculine, I am alluding to this interwoven idea of the male/female dichotomy.  In our culture, for far too long, the Masculine is held up as the one and only Divine ruler of heaven and earth and as the master of our souls for all eternity.  

Alternatively, our culture has — over many centuries — perpetrated a vicious battle against all things Feminine.  Twisting characteristics and qualities traditionally associated with women’s role in community — mothering, child care, elder care, cooking, home-keeping, nursing and so forth — until we have collectively lost our respect for those characteristics and qualities.  This assault on the Feminine has been going on for so long that our very ideas about what Feminine means and how it is uniquely powerful to be female are twisted beyond recognition.  As a result, the two halves of our psyche — the Feminine and the Masculine — are hopelessly out of balance.

We are capable of unsnarling this mess, but I believe that to do so requires re-engaging with our Feminine selves.  Using the archetypal journey of the Princess is one way to do so.  Uncovering lost women's history and then reinventing our communities with the resultant reimagined values is another part of the rebirth.  In this way the disintegration of community that is happening all around us — and that has been instrumental in bringing about the 2016 Election outcome — can be healed.

When qualities such as nurturing, compassion, caregiving and gentle patience are devalued, we collectively lose a great many of the tools in our toolbox.  Additionally, however, is the damaged relationship we have with powerful women.  And a powerful woman in not simply a female who is adept at manipulating the rules of patriarchy and capitalism (a system constructed with an absence of Feminine input).  As I discuss in The Journey of the Princess, the Princess archetype is not simply the Hero archetype with added breasts!  Author Kathleen Ragan uses the term heroine to refer to the Princess archetype.  In her anthology of fairy tales with heroines as their central character, she describes the heroine thus;

As tales with female protagonists were found, a whole new class of heroines emerged.  Some 'heroines' did things that resonated with my innermost feelings but that refused to be classified as heroic: a woman who sensed the importance of an insignificant looking coin, a girl who loved to dance, or a woman who told a story.  A simple conversation between two women when taken at face value could elicit a shrug of the shoulders.  Yet underneath this ordinary conversation, the effort that women make to keep relationships alive in a family or a community swells like the incoming tide (Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters, p. xxvi).

And so, this final battle truly is one for our souls for one half our collective soul has been ignored, abused and left to wither for centuries.  The skill set that comes from our relationship to this Feminine half of the soul includes the tools we need for recreating our human communities.  It will take a great deal of imagination and faith, but with love and patience we are capable of composting the current chaos of our world into something profoundly beautiful.

I am eager to hear your comments and thoughts — we must reweave the connections between us as, together, we imagine how to tell the story of the new world we are building.  And a great deal more discussion of imagination, story and the Divine Feminine is yet to come!