Day 47: A Startlement, Nearly Three Decades In...
An elder-friend posits that the circle is masculine in its archetypal structure. I smiled at the dissonance, because in my Women Writing lineage life, the circle is feminine—round, womb-like, relational, with equanimity and receptivity. The more linear energy of the masculine can be welcome there, in agendas, space held by a facilitator, implicit and explicit structures or practices that everyone knows to expect. Reading Mirabai Starr’s Wild Mercy, I now have unexpected reason to reconsider this shift in feminine/masculine sensibilities.
In my friend’s thinking, the organizational form of a circle is the masculine structure that holds space, protects space, for the feminine formlessness that embodies in us as community, intimacy, the present moment. Any structural “way” of gathering is therefore more masculine in energy, while “what happens in the moment” is the feminine energy of embodiment. Starr’s words: “the way of the feminine is about the movement from formlessness into form, from quietude to expression, a pouring of the waters of the void into the ground of being.” (167). I'll have to ask my friend if she agrees, but the feminine here is the ephemeral embodied Life, Abundance, ungraspable, in the moment..
There is much to push against in Starr’s work, given her disdain of organized religion (understandable, but also signals disrespect), given her straw-man dismissal of deeply rooted traditionalists over-against interspirituality. I do appreciate her honoring the gems in wisdom traditions. I understand the rages against all toxic-masculinized structures. Mostly, today, I love her persistence of the feminine way as one primarily of embodiment, return to the body, the sacred ordinary unknown and unplanned in the Moment.
Like another teacher I’ve appreciated, Chameli Gad Ardagh, Starr points out the dead-ends, ultimately, in traditionally “transcendence-oriented approaches”—crushing the ego, distrusting the body, seeing the body as an illusion to be risen above. Starr and Ardagh push instead for a conscious embodying of human being, the opening of the human heart which is boundless… Starr's words: “…so we let our hearts guide us. We let our bodies guide us. ‘When we align ourselves with our deepest prayer, the next right thing unfolds,’ … This is the way of the feminine mystic. We cannot be expected to not be sanctioned by the hierarchical structures that have let us down and left us out. But neither should we reject them. Each tradition carries wisdom jewels we can gather and plant in the earth.” (142)
All of which landed me in a startlement, which I now plant as gem-seed close to the Grotto nearby: If the feminine is this move from formlessness into form, then the Incarnation of Godde in Jesus of Nazareth is primarily a feminine act, which is different than placing the feminine wholly in his mother, Mary, or his companion, the Magdalene. The Risen Presence of Christ becomes a primarily feminine phenomenon whenever it takes shape in human communion(s). Jesus’s 1st century body was a masculine structure, embodying the feminine.
I’m gonna put that in my theological pipe, smoke it for a while.