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Interview with Jan Lundy: What is Women’s (and Men’s) Spirituality?

March 4, 2010

Monday, March 8th is International Women’s Day. To mark it, I really wanted to get a conversation going about women’s spirituality, and what it is and isn’t.

To get this started, I decided to interview Jan Lundy, one of my favorite bloggers and a dear online friend, about women’s spirituality and related topics. Jan is the author of Your Truest Self: Embracing the Woman You Were Meant To Be, as well as several other books. She is a spiritual director/mentor with an interfaith focus, an inspirational speaker, and she conducts regular workshops and retreats, many for women. She maintains two blogs – Awake Is Good, where she hosted the excellent 28-day meditation challenge in January that I mentioned then, and Awakened Living, which is a space specifically for women to come together on the spiritual journey.

This is just the basics of her bio. Like all of us, she is many other things, including a lifelong seeker. It was my great pleasure to speak with her by phone, and put a voice to the writing I have come to love.

Thanks for agreeing to this, Jan. The idea of a “women’s spirituality” has been around for awhile now, and there are a lot of opinions out there about what it means – whether it is valid to talk in terms of a distinctive spirituality for women, and what it’s value is. So I wanted to hear, what does it mean to you? Personally, what does women’s spirituality mean? And what does it not mean?

Great question. Well, first off, I think that women’s spirituality, and men’s spirituality, are absolutely valid ways of talking in terms of understanding self and understanding spirit. I think that men and women have unique ways that they explore these themes, and also that they have unique needs that have to be met in their spiritual lives.

Actually, [our mutual friend] Paul, of Original Faith, did a post in which he explored this a bit. There were people who commented that thought the idea of a separate women’s spirituality was a distraction [you can read that post here, or my interview with Paul here.] His post got me thinking quite a bit about this again. In reality, I think men’s and women’s journeys are not the same. In an ideal world, perhaps they would be. But as human beings, in human bodies, and in these cultures we’ve created, our experiences are very different. There is not gender equity, at this time, and so that contributes to men and women having very different experiences in life. It is one factor, along with our differing bodies.

So to me, women’s spirituality is not just a movement. It really is a deep attunement to what our spiritual needs are, our healing, our processing of our experiences in spiritual terms. And this is true for men too. My husband would absolutely agree. He thinks there is absolutely a men’s spirituality also – special spiritual needs for men.

That’s interesting. So what do you think those special needs are? For both men and women?

Well, ultimately we are the same. We grow a sense of self, and then we lose that sense of self, to become, in a sense, a ‘one-self’ with everybody. In my view, that is a universal journey. But the ways women and men get to it are often different.

On a general level, for men, it is often about letting go of initial programming, especially related to emotions and the expression of feelings. This has been so culturally negated in most cases, for many, many generations. And attunement to these emotions and feelings allows for a softening to happen, an embracing of those ‘feminine’ aspects, that have not been freely explored.

For women, on the other hand, it is almost an opposite journey, in some respects. Culturally women have been silenced, sequestered, negated, in history, in so many different ways, including in their spiritual journeys. As you know, from your study of women mystics, in so many cases, their awakening experiences were written off as ‘madness’, because they didn’t follow the traditional path, or toe the line as expected. So for many women, their journey becomes about grasping a sense of communication, and voice, and power – attributes we might associate with ‘male’ or ‘yang’ in the world.

Ideally, for men and women, we end up embracing both aspects of ourselves, yin and yang, and come to a place of equanimity.

I had not thought as much about men’s spirituality. It’s great that you and your husband have worked together to understand your differing needs.

Yes, the question I often get asked in women’s groups and workshops is “why aren’t men more spiritual?” And of course they are spiritual. But they don’t necessarily express it in the same ways. My husband really helped me understand this, that men may not be as adept at verbally expressing what is going on. And they may access it differently, especially through nature, and through ‘doing-ness’. I know many men who access their spirituality through hiking, and fishing, and camping.

As you know, I’m not one to debate things theologically. But I think sometimes you can just cut to the chase, to some sort of common truth, based on observation. I understand the perspective of many people, especially men, that these distinctions aren’t valid. The term ‘women’s spirituality’ has been bandied about much more than ‘men’s spirituality’. But I think women are the ‘way-showers’ in this regard. They are the ones buying spiritual and self-help books these days, and attending workshops. There is an increasing number of offerings for men, but women are really leading the way on this one.

I agree. My next question is, how has this unfolded for you personally in your own spiritual journey? I know that you, like myself, draw on many different religious and spiritual traditions. How have you handled the patriarchal histories and messages that often come through these? Has it been an issue?

Oh absolutely. You know from reading my blog that I have talked a little bit about that there. There was a time, when I was a young mother and my kids hit school age, that I began to realize that as progressive as I thought things were, little boys and little girls were still treated very differently. I guess you might say for me, this is when my feminist ire really began to rise. At the same time I was also beginning to question whether or not I wanted to bring my children up in the Christian faith.

At that point my feminism really went full-blown, and I did have this period where I was pretty angry about the idea of a male deity. And the notion of God that I was raised with was not a tender, loving one. It was more about being afraid, and preparing to be judged. I remember having an argument with a woman friend of mine who was preparing to ordain as a Lutheran minister. I was at the height of my ire at that point, and I really chastised her, saying ‘How can you buy into this? They are making you fight tooth and nail to get ordained.’

But over time, I  began to realize there could be another path, one that nurtured my feminine side, and one that gave me permission to envision another image of the divine.  I spent many years exploring that. And as my spiritual insight deepened, as I began to accept myself as I found myself, even in the midst of all this questioning, there was a softening that started to happen. I wasn’t so angry anymore. I could see the value and beauty in traditions I had rejected.

I still have a tremendous passion for the feminine. My house would probably have nothing but feminine images of the divine if I was left to myself, but I do also want to honor my husband’s path, and the symbols and images he chooses for himself.

What are some of your favorite feminine images of the divine?

You know, I just wrote about this on my blog. I love the idea of sacred spaces, and especially altars. I have an altar, and on one side I have Christian feminine images, especially Mary, who I feel a very strong connection to. And on the other side I have Eastern images that I connect with, like Kuan-Yin and Tara. In between I have a lot of art, much of it Native American, and largely focused on the sacred feminine.

I would love to meditate at your altar! It sounds beautiful. Next I wanted to talk about motherhood. You know I have young children, and it is very interesting to me that your own spiritual journey was really triggered when you had young children. What happened after that? What role has motherhood played in your journey overall?

Oh for me it’s been absolutely pivotal. It put me deeply in touch with my body as sacred, for one thing – the experience of pregnancy, and even holding my children. It opened me to a deep embodiment of the sacred. I’m a big nurturer, it is a major part of my being. I connect with the ‘divine mother’ in the core of my being, and I’ve come to realize it is the role I play in life. And so having and raising children really opened me, especially to love and compassion. And continues to do so.

When I had my youngest child, now 19, my next oldest was 6 years older, so there was a gap. And at that point my spiritual journey really blew open. I was attending workshops and seminars, and she came to all of these with me. There was something about having this child in my late thirties, that opened me to a deeper level yet. I really began to see the mother-child bond as an archetype, as a microcosm of a macrocosm. At that point a friend and I founded a women’s center, and that really expanded my awareness and growth in a new way also.

This continues, as I age and become a grandmother, and continue my work as a Spiritual Director. It feels like the connection to the feminine in me continues to deepen. This embodiment of the divine mother archetype continues to expand. I really could never have predicted I would end up in this place!

And now you are really a community-builder online. To me, that is a strength of your blogs, with all the people you feature and discussions you seek to trigger. You connect people to each other.

You know, it really didn’t start out that way. I came online kicking and screaming, you might say, because my publisher said I needed to. I don’t love my computer like some people do. But it has become the most amazing experience. I feel I have connected to others in a heartfelt way that has totally changed my life. There’s tremendous transparency on the web, and I feel like I can really feel the purity of someone’s heart, and where they are on their journey. I’m sort of blown away about how all this happened. I am older than many people online, although that is changing, and I do feel very motherly towards a lot of the people I interact with. But I feel support from them too.

Thanks so much Jan, I’ve really loved talking with you.

So readers, what do you think about the topics we’ve discussed here? Do you think it’s valid to talk about men’s and women’s spirituality as distinct? If you’re involved in a formal religious or spiritual tradition, how do you deal with the patriarchal history? Does it bother you? What are your favorite images of the divine feminine? Has motherhood been a big part of your spiritual journey? How about the web?

There are ALOT of different directions we could take this discussion, I hope you’ll chime in. Jan and I will be checking in as time permits over the next few days.

Namaste-

47 Comments leave one →
  1. March 5, 2010 1:31 am

    Hi Lisa and Jan.
    You are not kidding when you say we can take this discussion in a lot of directions.
    There is a lot in this post I can chew on.
    What stand out the most for me is the wholesomeness of looking at things that Jan does. Seeing the difference between men and women’s spirituality and being open to her husband and his spirituality.
    I love that, her innocent perceiving of the other, recognizing what is so for others even if they do not fit in a mold we are familiar with. Right and wrong do not fit spiritual conversations well.
    I can so relate to her struggle with traditional religions and her softening anger when she says this; “I wasn’t so angry anymore. I could see the value and beauty in traditions I had rejected.”
    I am at this point as well and I am enriched by no longer throwing rituals away as empty stupid religious theater.
    I think we are on the verge of a whole new way of being together, neither patriarchy, matriarchy but a matristic one as Humberto Maturana calls it.
    I do think women have lost their intuition and healing & spiritual properties and it will be hard to get those back in this busy world but I do think it is time to claim them again.
    And we will as I too see this; “. . . women are the ‘way-showers’ in this regard. They are the ones buying spiritual and self-help books these days, and attending workshops. There is an increasing number of offerings for men, but women are really leading the way on this one.”
    We are leading, NOT because we feel we are now the one to claim the power, but just because it is what we do well, it is where our difference lie.
    I do believe there is a difference in men and women, but they are not adversarial but complementary.
    Jan and Lisa, thanks, xox Wilma

  2. March 5, 2010 1:58 am

    This is such an important topic! There’s much to think about in the conversation between Lisa and Jan, and in Wilma’s comment.

    I belong to Christian church that has a big heart for serving others, but is not as developed in fostering spiritual growth and nurturing spiritual life. It seems to me that the service we offer to the homeless, to those in prison, building Habitat houses, etc. are a male kind of spiritual expression. Women lead these efforts, it’s not that the men are running the show, but that kind of tangible, measurable, accomplishment feels to me like male energy– externally directed and results-oriented.

    As a church, we’re far less comfortable with talking about our relationship with the divine or sharing our spiritual journey. It can happen in special contexts, but it’s not as much a part of the culture. It seems to me that this is the result of the church remaining a largely patriarchal institution. We do good things, but we don’t have the balance I would like to see.

    However, though I’ve often wondered over the years if I should leave, I’ve chosen to remain there and try to work from within it. I’ll soon be leading a new class there exploring different ways to pray, which I see as undergirding the more internal, feminine aspect of spiritual life.

    I think that men and women naturally tend to different spiritual practices, yet as we mature we’re more able to learn from one another and to incorporate more of the kind of spirituality we’re lacking. But I see a lot of women settling for a spirituality that’s largely informed by men, which I think is sad. I was in that same place for a long time, and spent years being spiritually malnourished. I hope to help women in traditional church settings learn more about the spiritual possibilities for their lives.

    I look forward to checking back, seeing how the conversation is going. Thanks for introducing such a rich topic.

  3. March 5, 2010 4:09 am

    Hi Lisa and Jan,
    Okay – coming from a male viewpoint – I find my deepest spiritual connection is very much one on one personal connections with the Divine. I would rather internalize it all. In fact, I would feel strange discussing some of this amongst other men. Perhaps that is because words that feel “softer” might be used (i.e. love, care, compassion, etc). And these are great words, and words I am working at using more in my life. The thing is, though, saying them makes me feel vulnerable. From a female standpoint, is that the case?? I’m not sure, although I would guess that women are much more okay using these words.

    I am involved in a spiritual tradition, and I guess I don’t personally really thing about the patriarchal history. Is that because I am a man? I honestly don’t know. I do believe that we are all equals here on this earth. And in the eyes of the Divine, we are seen as our spiritual being. How would I feel, if I looked back on history and could see the inequalities against my gender? (or race, or religion, or whatever – really)??? I don’t know, and I think you bring up a very valid point.

    Anyway, this was a wonderful interview – and filled with so much insight. Lisa, thank you so much for doing this. And Jan, your answers, as like all of your writing, really touch upon that deeper spirit within us all.

    Peace,
    Lance

  4. mommymystic permalink*
    March 5, 2010 6:22 am

    Wilma – I love this idea of a new way of being together, neither matriarchal or patriarchal. I am not familiar with Humberto Maturana, I will have to check it out. That is exactly what I think is going on, but it is a tough transition. I feel like it is both a social movement and a profound energy shift, that needs to go on at both the ‘macro’ level of the world, and the ‘micro’ level of each of our individual awarenesses.

    Susan – Thanks so much for sharing your experience in your church. I think this is many people’s experience, and that it is probably a reflection of the ‘doing’/action masculine orientation historically. I honor you choosing to work within your church to shift this, although it isn’t the choice I’ve personally made. Have you read the book Taking Back God: American Women Rising Up for Religious Equality? It is all about women in all three ‘religions of the book’ who are trying to work within their religious affiliations to shift things.

    Lance – thanks so much for sharing your perspective. I think to Jan’s point, perhaps it is OK that men do not necessarily verbally share this ‘softening’, or that not all do anyway, as long as they feel free to explore and express it. I am wondering how this happened for you, and if you think other men you know experience the same things, but also don’t necessarily talk about. It’s interesting too, from things you have written on your own blog, you do seem very much to experience your spirituality the two ways that Jan associated with men – nature and ‘doingness’, in that you are big into running/biking and spending time in nature.

  5. March 5, 2010 10:49 am

    Hi Mommy:

    This article is loaded with potential for discussion. I think male and female spirituality are interdependent upon each other. You can’t have the yin without the yang and vice versa. I think too that yin’s relation to yang and vice versa is a spiritual connection. I think much of the issue has to do with us seeing yin and yang as nouns…..whereas I tend to see them as verbs. Seeing gender as verb or process (The Way) means I see the yin and yang in everything…from making a baby to conceiving these words to the birth of a new tree in the forest. For example, in this writing, you are a Father to these words. Your interview was seminal to the creation of my writing. This writing is conceived within me, which is why Psyche, the Soul, is traditionally feminine (and reflected in Snow White, Cinderella, and other myths). Your words, your interview with Jan Lundy was excellent and I think it is important for women and men to bite off their own fig leaves prior to exploring the other. Yet, I would say that as a male I don’t get my process without understanding the female….nor do I separate out the process of my conceiving these words from the process of conceiving a universe or a baby. As the Taoists say, this is the Way…and the Way is Process and not an arrogant command to believe a certain way. So to say there are separate male and female spiritualities is a little bit unnerving to me and speaks to our continuation of the Kali Yuga (Dark Age) logic which entails duality. Indeed, I see what we deem duality as being integrated. One of my favorite examples is Bush’s “shock and awe” campaign to end terrorism. Shock and awe, by definition, is terrorism and is meant to induce fear in a people in order to get them to submit. As the “Bible” states, “judge not lest you be judged.” Or, “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Well, according to this logic I’m using, thy neighbor is thyself. Hence, when I look at a woman, I see my inner world. I see my Psyche, my Soul. When I seee a man, or look at myself, then I see myself extending into the world to engage in a creative dance. Lovemaking is about creation. Hence, it is my desire in writing that you and I conceive together….just as I conceived these words through absorbing your words, which could be called seminal to this piece. It’s all a dance. As the Tao Te Ching sings, “The entire universe makes love.” Can we bite off the fig leafs and see that? If you or anybody is interested in some of my writings (in addition to my Examiner pieces), visit my blog at http://sophianature.gaia.com/blog thanks, Burl

  6. March 5, 2010 3:12 pm

    Great interview.

    I definitely believe different ways of getting or experiencing the same human journey between men and women. I was a little resitant of such ideas when I was younger partly because my focus was equality. I have come to embrace my Feminine side more over the years. Which does make me wonder about the women who resist the differences, whether it’s a disconnection to their own womaness. Just a thought.

    I like the thought, “mother-child bond as an archetype, as a microcosm of a macrocosm.” Although Jan connects to the idea of the Divine Mother, and I absolutely do not! lol I cherish the spiritual openings my child has given me. And I am constantly in awe and constantly reminded of how motherhood has been a doorway into deeper spiritual connection. That doesn’t of course mean that motherhood is necessary, just that creating and compassion are, I believe, essential and essentially female components.

  7. Gramma7 permalink
    March 5, 2010 3:45 pm

    I really enjoyed reading the interview, but am having a tough time putting my comments together. I have watched my own very liberal Anglican church grow from a very patriarchal church to one with women having the top roles in all aspects. And we have discussions of the strong role women played in all religions’ histories.
    Are women more spiritual?
    I’m not sure.

  8. March 5, 2010 7:00 pm

    I want to comment on this so I don’t forget, but I also know I will be pondering the possibilities. Hopefully, I can make my comment somewhat cohesive.

    I grew up Christian (very involved in the Methodist church) and as a young adult, I had a pastor who really made the effort to connect with my age group. He went above and beyond to be sure we were included in a proactive way, and through the years since, I have continued to realize just how profound his influence on me was.

    I left home and went on to marry and begin my family and all seemed fine. At that point (in retrospect) I took spirituality for granted. When I was 29, after being happily married for 7 years, I started to really question my spirituality, and along the path, I discovered I am a lesbian. I can’t adequately go into the incongruities this caused me, but suffice it to say there was a huge connection for me in realizing that Christianity could be less than kind at times, and I won’t get started on the Patriarchy.

    I felt a bit abandoned. I started learning about other faiths. I am Jewish by birth on my father’s side, so that was a reasonable exploration. What I discovered, unfortunately, was what I now appreciate as the same stifling patriarchal leanings.

    There was explorations of Wicca and inerest in learning more about Muslims…and then I started going to yoga. That was another profound awakening which has led me to a buddhist approach.

    I am 45 now and really feeling more awake than ever. You could say I am a bit of a spiritual mutt and you wouldn’t be far off.

    What stood out the most to me in the interview was the simple statement that there is no gender equity. Sounds like a good lace to start.

  9. mommymystic permalink*
    March 5, 2010 8:41 pm

    Burl – Ultimately, I am with you on not getting trapped in the duality of womens/mens spirituality, and I do think it can be a trap. I resisted the idea of this for a long time for that reason. But i think also think in our own daily paths, we have to start from where we are, from a realities of our daily lives and religious and spiritual traditions we have been brought up in, and ‘undo’ some of the messages and conditioning. Only then can we truly see the ‘wholeness’, the full yin/yang present in ourselves. So someday, talk of womens/mens spirituality may be entirely useless. Right now it is useful, or ‘skillful means’, as the Buddha would say, in terms of walking the path, I think.

    Mon – yes, I resisted this too. It is actually very surprising to me that I am willing to use the phrase ‘women’s spirituality’ at all because I resisted it for so long! But I see my own path as having to own the ‘yang’ aspects, in my 20s with martial arts and career etc. that really helped me own my personal power, and now opening up to a deeper expression of yin, through motherhood and yoga and other pursuits. It’s a different trajectory for everyone I am sure, but this has certainly been true for me. And I also don’t think that the divine mother archteype is the main way for me, even though motherhood has also been an incredible doorway for myself.

    Gramma7 – This is great to hear. I have opted to create a path outside of organized religion, but I am very inspired by the changes taking place in certain churches, particularly Episcapalianism. As I mentioned to Susan, Taking Back God is a great book on this. But as we know, there is a lot of resistance too.

    Maxine – yes I am a spiritual mutt too. It’s a good place to be I think, forging our own way. Maybe established religions can be transformed to honor the feminine (see Gramma7) and maybe they can’t, I don’t know. My own issues with organized religion go beyond the issues with the feminine also. Thanks for sharing your story.

    Gramma7 –

  10. March 5, 2010 9:36 pm

    Lots of good questions!

    I do think about men’s and women’s spirituality as distinct. I am very open about my spiritual thoughts, and my husband is more quiet about his own. When we attended a Valentine’s workshop on heart practices, we were asked to write a poem about each other in 7 minutes. I was fully ready to read mine to him, but he waited two weeks to share his poem to me and insisted I not share it with anyone. Culturally, women are conceived as emotional beings, and men as logical ones. My husband is one of the most spiritual beings I know, and the only way you can tell is through his his photography, his letters to me, and brave actions.

    I gew up in a Hindu family. Though Hinduisim has many female deities, the religious climate and culture still favors male intellect and priests over female intuition. Growing up, I often had to keep my mouth shut over the inequality, but my parents know me well by now. Do not shush a woman who has something to say! It does bother me, but I’ve learned when to speak and when to keep my mouth shut on deaf ears.

    One would think that I would have images of Hindu deities everywhere. I actually relate better with mermaids, angels, Kwan Yin, and Tara. One of my favorites is of Galadriel from Lord of the Rings. I picture her with a rainbow heart, as Earth Mother.

    Motherhood is what brought me to Buddhism. Motherhood had brought me face to face with my own childhood wounds and is helping to heal them.

  11. March 5, 2010 9:51 pm

    This is really, really cool. I love the interview, and I love the comments this post is generating. This is one of the best spiritual discussions I’ve ever been in. I think spirituality is the same for all of us, men and women, but that we approach it from different angles and we express it in different ways. For that reason, I believe that it’s very useful to talk about “Women’s spirituality” and “Men’s Spirituality.”

    I have a somewhat unusual perspective because I have been involved with many different spiritual traditions, both patriarchal and matriarchal. When I was a boy, I was heavily involved with my church, and deeply in touch with my Christianity. I learned about God through watching and “shadowing” the male adults in the church. Farming, especially, brought men closer to God. We worked the Earth; we nurtured the crops so that they would nurture us and our families. We tended the animals and took care of them, so that they would produce (and yes, become) food for us. Hunting…fishing..hiking…woodworking…these are all ways that men enjoyed nature and became closer to the Divine.

    In our church (and I think in general terms, too), women were much more concerned with healing and nurturing. The women would take food to sick people, clean homes, “visit” the elderly, and things like that. It was all about giving, and about taking care of people directly, whereas the men did it more indirectly. If a woman wanted to talk to you about spirituality, she’d invite you over for dessert and tea, but if a man wanted to talk about spirituality, he’d invite you to go fishing with him, or to help him fix fences or herd cattle or whatever.

    Susan mentioned Habitat for Humanity homes, and I think that’s a good way to explain it. In our church, the men would be the ones hammering and sawing, building the house, but the women would do the painting and hanging curtains…making the house a home. It’s a subtle, but powerful distinction.

    Later in life, I came to the Goddess, and I fell in love with the Divine Feminine. It definitely “softened” me, made me more open and receptive. Not just knowing the Divine Feminine, but actively choosing to worship Her to the exclusion of all masculine divinities opened up my heart, opened up my spirit. I became more compassionate, more tender, more caring. I started listening more, and being more passive. One of my spiritual challenges has been to find a good balance between these two viewpoints.

    Ultimately, I believe that there is only one “Divine”. I believe that all Gods, Goddesses, spirits…whatever…are all expressions of the same being or the same force which encompasses both masculine and feminine qualities. I think it’s important for all of us to achieve some harmonious mix (not an absolutely perfect balance – I don’t think that’s even possible) of both kinds of energy within ourselves and our lives. Masculine/Feminine, Active/Passive, Providing/Nurturing. In breath/out breath.

  12. March 5, 2010 11:56 pm

    Hello Lisa! Gosh it’s been a while. I loved this interview with Jan. I agree with so much she says. My spirituality seemed to blow wide open after I had kids. I really began my search after my 2nd child was born. I became a Reiki Master and delved into as much spiritual “stuff” as I could. I always wondered why this seemed to happen so much later in life. Spirituality is quite a journey. And one that I enjoy immensely.

    I find it especially interesting to think about the male perspective. I always thought that my husband was devoid of spirituality (as we never go to church and he does not talk about God, etc). However he’s doing marathons, ironman’s and often “loses” himself in intense activity…perhaps he’s more spiritual than I give him credit for! Such good food for thought here!

    On an entirely different note…I think we need meet Jay when he moves out here…

  13. March 6, 2010 1:29 am

    Lisa,
    Thank you for giving me this wonderful opportunity to connect and share with others on this very important topic. I truly appreciate each person’s perspective. Aren’t our journeys amazing? Here we are, mucking our way through how we’ve been raised, cultural conditioning, and more to arrive at a deeper understanding of ourselves and the Divine. Don’t you just love it? Let’s celebrate us?

    That said, I am not one to debate or go back and forth on various points. It’s just not me to “defend” or wrangle, even in a friendly way, over words or concepts. My hope is that we will always just “sit” with another’s viewpoint, take delight in their perspective, and allow in what speaks to us and leave the rest. I’m so deeply touched by the energy everyone has put into their answers thus far. I’m with Jay–this is one of the best spiritual discussions I’ve been part of for a very long time. Congrats, Lisa, for arranging it.

    Here are some of my early thoughts on your thoughts:
    Wilma,
    I so appreciate what you say at the end. I, too, believe our differences as men and women are to be celebrated. We have so much we can learn from each other. And when we bring the best of ourselves to the table, much healing can happen. Men can help heal women’s wounded places and vice versa. We are the yin and yang of beingness and together we can actually create wholeness within ourselves and others. Not to mention planetary wholeness.

    Susan,
    Thank you for sharing your “church” story. It sounds like you are passionate and willing to be an advocate for change. I agree and it saddens me when women “settle,” or stay complacent within patriarchal systems without speaking up. This is found not just in Christianity but in many of the world’s traditions. As our organized religions learn to embrace the feminine (as is happening in the Episcopal church and within Buddhism these days) we really do answer a necessary sacred call. Blessings on your efforts!

    Lance,
    I love your openheartedness and willingness to look deeper. I love that you even ask what it might be like to be a woman and experience discrimination or feeling like a second class citizen or a sexual object? Thank you for that. As each of us is willing to place ourselves in each other’s shoes (and ladies, we also need to put ourselves in men’s shoes) we WILL heal the wounds we carry and come into wholeness. And I appreciate your sharing of how you experience the Divine – directly, no holds barred. Woo-hah!

    Burl,
    I appreciate your perspective. Yes, in an ideal world all would be The Tao. (And on some ultimate level, I know that it already is.) There would be no borders and boundaries; no need even for dialogue like this. But we are not there yet as a culture. Within some individuals, yes. And having discussions like this helps ease the pain. The viewpoint I express here is sourced in a concern for healing—individual and global. Women do need to heal the wounds perpetuated by the patriarchal cultures in which we live. The wounds continue to be perpetuated. (Just turn on the TV or pick up a magazine…) And men are suffering as a result too. When one suffers we all suffer. The Buddha was right about this. May we continue to hold ourselves and one another in tenderness and deep understanding. May we open our hearts to one another…

  14. March 6, 2010 1:30 am

    Hi Lisa

    My spirituality and my femininity feel like the same thing, a sacred sort of thing that can’t be separated. Thinking about women’s spirituality or men’s spirituality feels right to me. There is overlap but there also are differences.

    I first became aware of my gender/spirit connection as a little myope with my face always in a book. I knew the Bible was important and wanted to read and understand it, but I kept getting sad about the portrayal of women. I wondered how a book that made me feel sad could be the greatest book ever written.

    We right-brainers tend to respond emotionally like that. I don’t recall my mother or girl friends voicing concerns about scripture.

    Spirituality of any kind embraces kindness, compassion, and love. Motherhood has taught me how to be better at those things for sure. I love your interview with Jan.

  15. March 6, 2010 1:40 am

    Monica,
    Thanks for sharing. May the mother-child relationship continue to be a blessing to you and a source of divine understanding!

    One of the interesting “cross-overs” of the divine feminine (and mother) is how the personage of the Dalai Lama (traditionally male) is the embodiment of compassion, seen in the Tibetan tradition as Chenrezig, or Avalokiteshvara, an aspect of the Buddha’s compassion. His Holiness may be one of the most “feminine” beings on the planet because he personifies the qualities of the sacred feminine, and yet he is male, single, no kids. Which speaks to the fact that service and compassion are not limited to women…

  16. Brad Lundy permalink
    March 6, 2010 1:37 pm

    Jan has a gift for putting her thoughts in ways that feel like a gently hand leading you into untraveled areas of your spiritual journey. This may be why her spiritual directees love her so. I lovingly include myself in this group.

    The important thing I came away with from the interview is the overwhelming feeling that we limit ourselves by seeing the spiritual journey as male or female. Our spiritual journey is a very personal and private exploration into the universe of our metaphysical self. Every person’s spiritual journey is a perfectly unique journey, no two are alike. No two women’s, no two men’s. We all do our own, unique thing. I struggle with the notion of male and female journeys. When I talk with someone about their spiritual journey, I speak to a genderless soul. When we get below the surface we are the same, we are one, having countless journeys, countless experiences as we reclaim our true beingness. The more we break away from the programing and the ego thoughts, the deeper we tell our truth. Our old baggage isn’t needed on this leg of journey, we are traveling light from now on.

    Much love and joy,
    Brad Lundy

  17. March 6, 2010 1:50 pm

    Gramma 7,
    Thank you for your thoughts. Like you, I am celebrating any openings that our religious organizations can muster in terms of the femnine… Blessings!

    Maxine,
    I loved reading about your journey. My maternal grandmother (a staunch Methodist) may have been the one who taught me the most about walking your spiritual talk. And it sounds like you are too, after much going and coming and wandering. Truly, this is how so many of us find our way to an authentic spiritual life. I love when we have the courage to claim our “muttness.” It means we’re truly listening to the Sacred within us…

    Mermaid,
    Oh this is so good to read. You know me, I adore interspiritual journeys. 🙂 I appreciate all you’ve shared from your Hindu upbringing and marvel at how staying true to what presents itself can cause pain, then ultimately healing. And it opens the doorway to knowing love on so many levels. Partner love (hooray for your beloved!) and parental love. And the love of friendship which so many of us experience here by sharing our truest selves. When we can be transparent (as you have been) the love rolls in, along with a tidal wave of new friends. xo

  18. mommymystic permalink*
    March 6, 2010 5:52 pm

    Thank you everyone, for sharing your stories, that is the kind of thing I personally love to read, and that I think are so valuable for anyone who comes across this and is struggling with their own questions along these lines. I am so glad we are getting both women’s and men’s perspectives in here too. And Jan and Brad, thanks so much for doing this!! I’ll come back later and comment some more (but Caroline I agree, we need to meet up with Jay when he is here…)

  19. March 7, 2010 3:58 am

    Lisa,
    (I would love to meet with you when you meet Jay-LOL:)

    Jan and Lisa,
    What an amazing post, and great discussion with reader comments. Definitely lots to consider!
    I do see the necessity for “women’s” and “men’s” spirituality and why we would need to perhaps approach Divine from different perspectives or in different ways. In my world, men don’t openly discuss their spirituality with other men around, so it’s neat to see participation within our blogging community. I learn a lot from that which I am not familiar 🙂
    In my personal life, I was drawn to the concept of a male God because I was abandoned early on by my mother. This past year I realized I could see the feminine Divine in others, but couldn’t access it within myself. I didn’t know I wasn’t connected. Yoga, meditation, grace, all helped me to recognize and celebrate that inner spark. And life has been fantastically different ever since. I think that then allowed me to fall in love, a true healthy whole love because I could feel that about myself.
    Motherhood further opened my spiritual path. I wanted my children to be raised in love, with love, and give love; to know Faith and stand in it to make decisions. What we practice is far different than what I was raised with but for us it is genuine and real, and I’m happy to watch my children as they experience the fullness of life in ways I wasn’t exposed to. I continue to grow as I watch them grow.
    For me it is all so intertwined. What I experience in yoga allows me to be open in life, what I experience in church is a fellowship in worship I don’t find elsewhere, which I then bring to the drum circle or my talks on the beach with the moon, which then allows me to be open in yoga…..and all of that enables me to be most open to experience each moment mindfully and fully. Now, Jay brings Goddess to my household so we will incorporate her as well. Imagine the huge dynamic ripples that will follow:)

  20. March 7, 2010 1:57 pm

    Jay,
    I think you’ve blown everyone away by your spiritual journey story and your astute observations. Me included! As the granddaughter of two farming families, I so appreciate what you say. For me, you describe women’s and men’s “spiritual work” on the farm to a T. My grandmother, who was one of the strongest spiritual influences in my life embodied the values you spoke of (and she was a Methodist!). Her love of the earth is carried on in me.

    This earth (farm connection) also bore fruit as “goddess spirituality” and I celebrate that you, too, found your feet walking this path. It is a very healing path for many. My “goddess” came in the form of Mother Mary – the Mother of Us All – and I did not invite her in. She claimed me years ago – taking me completely by surprise, but validating how all “this” works. When we give ourselves over to the journey it reshapes us in unexpected ways. I’d love to learn more someday how this goddess energy plays out in your life (in a practical way). I am overjoyed to hear it brought you great healing – softening – embracing yourself and others in a more gentle way.

    And your “ultimately…” statement at the end echoes my own. Yes! Gassho. (Deep bow) We are One, lest we ever forget…

    Caroline,
    Wonderful to hear your spiritual journey store too. Isn’t it amazing how each of us is “opened” in our unique way? Parenthood IS definitely one of those powerful pathways…I don’t think many of us are aware (before the fact) of how we will be changed by the experience of having children and what it invites us to.

    Very cool about your husband. I am confident that he IS connecting with the ALL in his own way. Yes sireee….

  21. March 7, 2010 2:03 pm

    Brenda,
    I appreciate learning about your journey too! What you experienced with the Bible and how women are portrayed has been a “turn off” for many. (We have to remember those were extremely patriarchal times and Judaism back then played out the same way.) Thankfully much scholarship has happened in recent years to uplift the Feminine in the scriptures. (Especially the attention brought to Sophia (the wisdom being) presented in the Old Testament. (You might want to check out Joyce Rupp’s books on this. “The Star in My Heart” and “Prayers to Sophia.” Powerful!)

    I love your definition of spirituality: that which embraces and magnifies compassion. Yes!

    Brad,
    Hi Honey! As always, I appreciate your wisdom. Though we don’t always agree on everything “spiritual”, your deeper insights always amaze me. Yes, ultimately there is no duality or distinctions. We are One. And there is One River, many wells…..xo

  22. March 7, 2010 2:43 pm

    Hi, Ladies!

    I especially relate to the “softening” aspect Jan speaks of in here. It is my experience too that inner softening where I feel friction has always helped me. I cannot change the world or anyone else, thus the olde proverbial… I change me! I change my attitude.

    The following line speaks to me too… “There was something about having this child in my late thirties, that opened me to a deeper level yet. I really began to see the mother-child bond as an archetype, as a microcosm of a macrocosm.” I see myself in that! Of course, I only have one child, so no others to compare my perception of having had children when I was younger too. But I can certainly agree — this bond with my child is blowing me away, opening cosmic doors I had no idea were even there.

    I have loved the transformation in my husband since he became a father. He was not sure if he believed in a loving God prior to her coming on the scene. But he does now. It is so beautiful for my heart to watch him at meals waiting for The Child to say a blessing over the food. I feel so complete!!

    I think whoever seeks, shall find, whether man,woman, or child.

    xo

  23. March 7, 2010 3:56 pm

    Fabulous interview!

    Motherhood has been and is integral to my spiritual journey. I felt that same connection with the sacred and with my body. It changed everything.

  24. March 7, 2010 4:05 pm

    Hi Jan and Lisa – I need to come back and read this properly sometime .. as I’d like to go back in history re women as figureheads – eg Boadicea, Greek goddesses etc .. but more importantly to read and and understand both aspects of spirituality – it is a man’s world apparently .. but is it? I’m not in a competent time frame to put my thoughts properly .. apologies .. another day.

    Lisa – I’m looking forward to reading your next interviews .. this interview with Jan was very indepth and really interesting – a lot to take in .. especially when I’m only touching the surface of spirituality .. thank you, however!!

  25. March 7, 2010 4:37 pm

    Hi Jan and Lisa, and thanks for the mention…

    I see spirituality in these same basic terms – specifically as a process of identity-shifts: first from egoism to love, then from love to something that’s really hard to talk about (shorthand: “detachment” but I don’t like the word…).

    If this is the essential spiritual process and direction of development, could gender and other differences along the way basically be matters of psychology and sociology rather than spirituality?

    What do either/both of you see as the difference between psychology and spirituality?

  26. mommymystic permalink*
    March 7, 2010 6:22 pm

    Hi all, I’ve been wanting to respond to comments here all weekend, and just have not been able to. Which points to one of the big lessons motherhood has had for me (as I’ve often mentioned here) – letting go and going with the flow. Kids are masters of the unpredictable.

    Mermaid – Like Jan, I appreciate you sharing your Hindu upbringing. It’s interesting, I do have a lot of Hindu feminine images – Lakshmi, Sita, Kali, Shakti, etc. – but they don’t have the same cultural baggage for me of course. Whileas I haven’t quite made my peace with Christian feminine images, although I am of course fascinated by Christian women mystics. And I found some of the same issues in Tibetan Buddhism – there are these amazing feminine figures like Tara and Yeshe Tsogyal, etc., but a disconnect in how women have historically been treated within some Buddhist traditions (although I guess overall, it is better than many.) Thanks for sharing.

    Jay – I love what you said about all deities/beings being expressions of different aspects of the divine. This is how I think of it also, so I am always uncomfortable with traditions that ‘worship’ either male OR female deities. Of course I’m not into worship anyway, since I don’t think in terms of a ‘higher being’, just a ‘higher order’. I do think we connect with different images at different phases, depending on the energies and messages we need to pull out of ourselves. So glad you shared here, thanks.

    Caroline – Yes, my husband is very similar. He does meditate, but that is more of a centering, health thing for him. But he is into martial arts and exercise, and we both do a lot of hiking, etc. in nature, and that is really his connection. And photography on these trips is big for him, which used to drive me buts because he would always be stopping to frame and take the perfect picture. But I have come to see that those pictures are a spiritual ‘practice’ for him – the process keeps him 100% focused on what he is seeing and feeling, and then he is trying to capture that, which is a spiritual art form, really. Of course this makes me think of you because your photos are so luminous – you often capture moments in a way that I find very spiritual.

  27. mommymystic permalink*
    March 7, 2010 6:38 pm

    Brenda, yes the Bible is particularly problematic that way. I just recently re-read The Red Tent, which kind of gets to the heart of some of that, by re-telling the story of Jacob/Joseph from the perspective of the women. And I want to dive into the books Jan suggested too.

    Brad – Thanks so much for chiming in here. I agree, I think, with your overall point about how identifying too much with either a ‘female’ or ‘male’ journey can limit us. In fact, I was really turned off by a lot of what is often called ‘womens spirituality’ for a long time because of it. Buddhism has been a primary spiritual reference point for me, and so I was much more focused on the ‘genderless’ expression. But now when I look back, I do see such differences in my journey as compared to many men’s, and I do see trends in each. They are not absolute certainly, and that is why it is a trap to talk absolutely in those terms. But is ‘skillful means’ at a certain point in the journey for many of us, to look at things in these terms. It is interesting that for the most part, the women are appreciating this distinction more than the men.

    Joy – what a wonderful combination – fellowship in Church, and yoga, drum circles etc. fueling a more inner spark. As much as I am not drawn to organized religion, I do appreciate the fellowship a good church community provides. And how insightful of you to realize that your mother leaving had left you unable to connect with the divine feminine in yourself. I am glad you have moved past that. I hope we do meet someday!

  28. mommymystic permalink*
    March 7, 2010 6:55 pm

    Jannie/Mama Zen – it is interesting how many people’s paths (both men and women I think, to Jannie’s story) are really opened up by parenthood. This is kind of a modern phenomenon I think. Historically. most mystics and monks/nuns of all the various spiritual traditions have been celibate and/or childless. I think both path’s have different lessons and strengths. For a lot of us in this modern world. parenthood opens up our hearts in a way that we might not have been able to find previously, and in many cases, our creativity too. On the other hand, I’m always on the lookout for the ‘motherhood is the ultimate destiny for women’ trap, which has been used historically to actually prevent women from pursuing certain spiritual paths. So it’s a mixed bag. For me, motherhood has been mind and heart-opening and I can’t imagine it any other way. For others, birthing something else – themselves really – is the right path.

    Hilary – Ohh, I love it, Boudica, yea! Yes, there are many powerful women-warrior images that get less play than the divine mother/virgin images. And in my own path, these have played a big role. I spent my 20s studying martial arts and working in the corporate world, and it was a very necessary part of my journey, in terms of owning my personal power. For me, that was the part of my journey that helped me own my yang, and then motherhood has helped me reach a new balance in terms of owning my yin. I think many of us swing back and forth like that, and images and symbols are such an aid in that regard.

    Paul – thanks for chiming in. You have asked the million dollar question: what is the different between psychology/sociology and spirituality? Personally, I used to think of them in very different terms, and now I no longer separate them. As you alluded to, part of the spiritual process is seeing and releasing conditioning, going through a series of identity shifts away from our conditioned/socialized ego towards love and source. That process takes place largely in the psychological realm, but of course the doorway is usually provided by spiritual experiences of some type. And I think I have decided that back and forth never stops. In terms of this post, and the idea of men’s and women’s spirituality, there may come a point where the gender-based conditioning and ego-identifications we are working through is no longer a ‘biggie’ for us, no longer our main ‘theme’, so this distinction may just be a temporary step. But there is still something about women’s and men’s energies that are fed differently. Whether that would better be called ‘occult’ rather than ‘spiritual’ I don’t know. In a way, as I mentioned, I have stopped making these distinctions for myself, I think these levels are all integrated and always playing off each other.

    Jan – thanks again for taking the time to comment here, I love your responses!!

  29. March 8, 2010 5:42 pm

    Hi Jan/Lisa,

    Great interview. I don’t really resonate with any spiritual methodology, and in fact frequently point out the traps of attachment to beliefs, but I do see that men and women evolve differently. We could say that spirituality is not about beliefs but about shedding of identity, so I suppose that it’s not surprising that we evolve differently since our identities and fears are forged by gender and culture.

    And there’s no reason for me to believe this, but I do believe that women are generally closer to awakening than men are.

    k

  30. March 8, 2010 6:06 pm

    I’ve never been a feminist, and always succeeded well in a traditonal ‘amn’s world’ in business.
    I think spirituality is non-sexual.
    God is present to whoever is attuned to him/her with loving intent and awareness.

  31. March 8, 2010 6:07 pm

    Oops, the last commnent was from me, Aurora! I hadn’t changed my log-in.

  32. mommymystic permalink*
    March 8, 2010 6:42 pm

    Kaushik – yes, I like this phrase ‘shedding identify’, or at least shedding conditioned, ego-based identity (and hopefully not just replacing it with a spiritual, ideological identity!). And in that process, I do think we are dealing with certain gender-based conditioning and ideas, and that is where these ideas of women’s and men’s spirituality come in.

    Aurora – it’s interesting you associated this with feminism, because in fact, many feminists hate the idea of a ‘women’s spirituality’, because it draws a distinction between men’s and women’s experiences. So it really depends on what ‘direction’ someone is coming from I think. When it comes to religious institutions, it’s hard not to think in feminist terms, because there are still so many positions (in both Eastern and Western religions) that are just flat-out denied to women, which we would never put up with in the West in any other sphere (corporate, political, etc.) And then on the level of personal experience, I think there really is just differing experiences than men and women often go through, and very real energetic differences. On the other hand, I also worked in a ‘man’s world’ for many years, both corporate and in martial arts, and I chafed at any kind of ‘special’ treatment because I was a women in those arenas. And I resisted the idea of women’s spirituality for a long time because of that. I really have only come around in the last few years, largely because of beginning to teach, and seeing the common patterns in students. And motherhood shifted my thinking in this regard too, although as I said in a comment, it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with actually being a mother.

  33. ACarlson permalink
    March 8, 2010 6:50 pm

    To be honest, spirituality wasn’t even on my radar growing up. As a young girl, I never felt any connection to the church or to God. Spirituality and divinity were never terms heard in my house. Later when I questioned my mother about this she explained to me that the man is the spiritual leader of his family. I come from a broken home with a father I saw maybe two times a year so this answer confused me even more.

    It really wasn’t until the birth of my first child, that my spiritual journey began. It was then that I began to feel so close to God. So, yes I think the journey for men and women can be different and I think that the spiritual awakening that can come in conjunction with parenthood is profound.

    I belong to a personal renewal group (www.reneetrudeau.com) where we’ve studied an entire chapter on motherhood as a spritual journey. It’s been really fascinating to see that connection so clearly (at least for me).

  34. mommymystic permalink*
    March 8, 2010 8:49 pm

    ACarlson – thanks for sharing your story. I actually have Renee’s book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal, here on my bookshelf, and have been meaning to read and review it for awhile now. It looks great, from what I have seen. I actually won the book from Stacy at Create a Balance, maybe you know her. Good stuff!

    Also, to everyone, here’s a Buddhist sutta passage that I came across when doing my article on the Therigatha, the first Buddhist writings by women (accessible from the side bar). It is from one nun’s story, and her coming to the point where she needs to move beyond gender identification, as well as all other conditioned identification. ‘Mara’ represents delusion:

    One to whom it might occur,
    ‘I’m a woman’ or ‘I’m a man’
    Or ‘I’m anything at all’ —
    Is fit for Mara to address.

  35. March 8, 2010 11:04 pm

    My first thoughts as a 63 year old mother, wife, friend, sibling, great grandma and grandma, who is the search for peace and serenity…which to dtye I haven’t found… Although I have a good life, as I’ve survived two bouts with cancer the most recent in January of 08, 6 months of chemo therapy, where you loose much including (for a time your dignity) however, I’m alive and doing well, and still in search of my place where I will land and do what I want to do with my world indicating, my perception of spirituality.

    I wrote a few posts regarding how blessed I am to have founded a blog with my partner Linda as it has given me the freedom to write and choose whatever I needed at the moment to please my soul..thus here I am on your site (for the first time) and pleased that I found you.

    Dorothy from grammology
    grammology.com

  36. March 9, 2010 4:31 pm

    Hi Lisa and All,
    Boy I get out in the sun for a few days relaxation and I return to find so many great comments. I thank you all!

    Mama Zen, Jannie and ACarlson,
    I marvel at your comments about spirituality and motherhood. We all have so much to be grateful for, don’t we, that this simple path provides such deep insights! May your motherhood journey be richly blessed.

    Hilary,
    I, for one, would love to have you do some research and posting on women as spiritual figureheads. I’m sure Lisa would too! Let us know if you do so we can pop over. 🙂

    Paul,
    I am leaving Lisa to respond to your question because she answered it beautifully. I really can add nothing to her insightful response. May we hold each other tenderly, no matter where we find ourselves on this path. To me, as you know, all answers to all questions can be found within the embrace of compassion. Everything!

    Kaushik,
    I love your response and I concur. I understand that it has been proven that women are generally more attuned to “the spiritual” than men because of their DNA – and conditioning to emote and process through feelings. They are also more verbal (again, research based) than men which could explain why women are leading the way in this “field.” Buying the book, attending the seminars, etc.

    Aurora,
    I appreciate your viewpoint and do agree. Where Love is fully present there is no notion of distinction. We can move beyond any sense of “self” and move into the larger “Self” or no-self.

  37. March 9, 2010 6:15 pm

    Hi Jan and Lisa .. re your replies to my comment .. thanks Jan – I am not sure (in fact I know) that I can remote scratch the surface on your thought .. but I’d come at the subject from a different angle .. I’m still not sure .. I can remotely do it justice. In a few years yes .. but now??!!

    Anyhow before I make that decision .. it’s funny my next post I’d decided to do something related to Int’l Women’s Day .. yesterday I know .. but I also saw something scientific that interested me .. so I thought I’d go that route – so you won’t get Boudica .. but women, or about women .. I’ll think about your suggestion Jan .. thanks for having the confidence in me!

    I still need to read this post properly – there is so much wonderful information here .. amazing .. thank you .. such in depth commenting too … – Hilary

  38. mommymystic permalink*
    March 10, 2010 3:47 am

    Dorothy – ‘Grammology’, what a great name! Yes, blogging has been this for me too. It really is a journey in and of itself. I have been meaning to write about that actually….

  39. March 11, 2010 11:29 am

    For some people, spirituality has no gender. It is the human mind that colors it with labels and judgment to distract focus from the heart.

    As many commenters indicate, the nature of this subject does indeed inspire varied reflection

  40. March 14, 2010 1:11 am

    Hi Lisa – so great you did this – I will come back and read more in depth, but just upon briefly reading this interview, I loved the question about motherhood and spirituality. Motherhood has completely sent me into a different, deeper spirituality because of the opening up like Jan spoke of. Each birth and child has opened me up spiritually and lovingly more and more; this is why I would like to keep having more and more children! 🙂 xx

  41. March 15, 2010 6:28 pm

    Ruth, I agree, except with the part about having more children because of it – you are a stronger women than I!

  42. March 15, 2010 8:50 pm

    Hi Mommy and All: As I was reading this, I was thinking, how do I respond? A lot of great thoughts, a lot of heart in the folks that attend to you…and coming from you. Yet, to respond..something about that word…. any word that begins with the prefix “re” worries me, for it’s about going about in a circle…being stuck so to speak. Perhaps we need to pond or ponder instead? In other words, I’m wondering what could bust us out of this system that has led us to wars without end, pollution, children not getting an education, and an economy that is about to go ka-put?

    When I think of Feminine Spirituality, or my Beloved Sophia, I think of potential. Just as any woman contains in her ovaries the potential of a human being, our Psyches contain the potential of another world. This is what evolution means. As an egg unfolds from the inside out, from center to periphery, then so do we as adults. We’ve reacted to our governance through revolution, but to revolve is to again go about in circles. At this point, given the state of our world, we need to evolve…to unfold our true stuff. In mystic Christianity, this is the meaning of Jesus. Jesus is the evolutionary potential of humankind. In the mystic way of looking at the virgin birth, that birth is one in which we become empty of ourselves, i.e.., we need to die to what we think or believe we are and become empty, and in that emptiness a new life will unfold within us.

    this is the alchemy of the Feminine, it is the alchemy of Sophia-Marie…and it has been suppressed not because it is the weaker of the sexes, but because it is so powerful. Obviously, any child born is of the intercourse of yin and yang, hence these words could potentially father something in the reader…who contains within her the potential of a new way of looking at life. Hence, what the reader comes up with in relation to my words becomes OUR creation. But, due to this same process, these words have come about through my absorption of other words which married to the potential that is within me. It’s that potential that is so dangerous….and is the reason Marie as well as other Goddesses had to go into hiding….Egypt for Marie or send their baby into hiding….Moses in the Old Testament who was sent to the land of the Pharoh.

    What I am saying here is that Feminine spirituality is a spirituality of the inner world….the Imagination…os Sophia or Wisdom. But, we are taught in school to line up, shut up and do as we’re told. This is Egypt. We are hell bent on controlling labor…and labor again is a feminine process. Hence, in our modern age, we are destined to labor in pain, in turmoil. this is about not just the pain of birth contractions, but slavery, working hours on end for a corporation that really doesn’t give a flying shit about you or anybody else.

    So, the question I’m asking is how do we get out of another re-volution? How do we instead evolve…to bring forth the potential within us? As one of the mystics said, “Of what use Gabriel your message to Marie if you don’t give the same message to me?” I think each of us needs to partake in that birth in our own way. WE need to be the ones to come out of hiding behind the skirts of the Pharoh….the gov’t, the corporation, etc. But, to do so, we must marry the Yin and the Yang….for the Yang is the impulse to create (Eros) while the Yin contains the potential of creation. In the depths of the Soul, these are quickly firing impulses that speak quicker than a flicker of light. Thanks for your thoughts and giving folks the opportunity to explore and question. I’m having a good time reading and absorbing the words of yourself and your readers. Burl

  43. March 22, 2010 4:58 pm

    Hi Burl, thanks for your comment again. Things have been a bit crazy here, so it took me awhile to respond. You know, as I’ve said in the above comments, I do ultimately agree with what you are saying about union, wholeness, and moving beyond yin/yang. And I do ultimately agree with the idea that feminine spirituality, and imagery, and creative power, is not really about women per se. I do think we are in the midst of a ‘correction’ in this regard, an owning of yin power, that goes beyond simply men or women. But I also think there are different levels we can talk about womens spirituality, and on the level of experience, the actual process an individual goes through on their spiritual journey, there are often some very different themes and experiences for men and women.

    I am thinking I will do a follow-up post at some point in the future about this idea of ‘levels’ of looking at yin/yang, masculine/feminine, and womens/mens spirituality.

  44. March 22, 2010 6:05 pm

    Yea, I’m with you.

  45. March 27, 2010 3:56 pm

    Inspiring post!

    I’ve found that few men attend meditation retreats and workshops, but perhaps it will change…

  46. Margaret Swift permalink
    September 1, 2010 3:56 am

    Thank you for that interview.

    These words bounced out at me, I can take ownership of that journey also.

    ” as I began to accept myself as I found myself, even in the midst of all this questioning, there was a softening that started to happen. I wasn’t so angry anymore. I could see the value and beauty in traditions I had rejected”.

    I think our patriarchal History really started during the Pagan days when men began to seek marriage so they could take advantage of the opportunity to better them through trade. It was probably a necessary part of our evolution.

    I have a wonderful book that I am taking years to read, titled “The Great Cosmic Mother”
    By Monica Sjoo & Barbara Mor, it’s all about the Rediscovering the Religion of the earth.

    It tells me woman where the first healers, women were the first at so many things.
    The present patriarchal age has unfolded through out the Age of Pisces, which astrology tells us comes to an end in 2012 when we will ease into the Age of Aquarius, FINALLY HERE!!, my god, have we have waited a long time for this.

    Interesting that Jesus was born in the Age of Pisces and was symbolized by the fish.

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