I would like to wrap up my synopsis of it, however, as I've read 2 other books since this one, and I'd like to TRY to get *current* in what I'm seeing, as it unfolds ... though it often feels like keeping up with a whirlwind, LOL! It's hard for me to get all fired-up and enthused about something I just read/realized/remembered, and then have to waaaaaaaait 'til I get caught up in blogging what I read a few weeks back! (where IS my clone, and how do I get a few of 'em?)
So, I'm going to hit the highlights of how this book enriched me, and trust that those who would benefit from reading it, will be led to do so. And so, in no particular order (that I'm aware of), I'll share the gleanings:
~ In the traditional rendering of the Genesis/creation story, woman is blamed for bringing sin into the world ... because of her association with the serpent. Her punishment, tradition says, is that she would now suffer in childbirth, and be subservient to man. HowEVER - in ancient times, the serpent was not seen as evil, but as good ... in fact it symbolized feminine wisdom, power and regeneration. The serpent was the main symbol of sacred feminine energy. How did the serpent, out of all the creatures, come to symbolize the epitome of evil, in Judaism and Christianity? Why was the snake selected to portray the "devil/satan"? Is it possible that the patriarchs in control sought to intentionally downplay this former symbol of the feminine divine? Was the point to put "enmity" between woman and the source of her innate wisdom? What has it done to women, to have separated her from her source...?
~ Women have long been forbidden to express anger. "Be nice." Even if it kills us. And it does kill us ... anger turned inward is depression... the bitterness of depression is the root of many diseases. If the emotions are not expressed, the body will take them on. And since we never deal with the *root* of the diseases, merely managing the symptoms that physically appear, we keep ourselves entrenched in the diseases ... imagining them to be "real". We need to face the injustices, and even get angry about them. We need to honor the awareness of the damage done. And THEN, we need to use that anger-energy to do something constructive. Anger doesn't have to manifest as either depression or destruction ... we needn't either deny it, or lash out in it. We can use anger to challenge and question patriarchy. We can use it as a means of finding compassion ... to move from exclusion to all-inclusion ... to move from fear to love.
~ The Bible is not our ultimate authority. Do not allow anyone to enslave you to this unbiblical notion...! Contrary to the traditions of man, our ultimate authority is our Self... our Higher Self ... that union of God-and-Us -- the Divine Voice within our own heart. And nothing else. The Kingdom of God is within -- THAT is our authority. Settle for nothing less. (& don't expect Christianity to back this up -- it knows that once you know your True Authority, it has lost all control over you ... in fact, it becomes superfluous, unnecessary ... which has always been the truth -- we don't need training wheels -- we only THINK we need them.)
~ The female soul resides in the *gut* (intuition), not the head (logic).
~ We must be true to our own spiritual unfolding ... and trust that our example will one day help others (including our own children) be true to theirs. We each have an internal guiding Spiritual wisdom ... we must each hear it, heed it, and trust it.
~ We have sole responsibility for our spiritual lives. There is NO one, and NOthing, between us, and our Divine Source. Don't allow anyone, or anything, to be an idol.
~ As women, we have to come to understand ourselves as central, not peripheral. We have to depend on ourselves/Selves (keep in mind our always-real connection to Source/God/dess). But this cannot be done *against* men ... this is collaborative, NOT competitive.. Women must find their way with or without men ... but never *against* men.
~ Why do we prefer the security of cages, rather than the challenges of freedom...?
~ When we cannot go forward, and we cannot go backwards, and we can no longer stay where we are without killing off a real and vital part of ourselves, then we are on the edge of CREATION...! Joseph Campbell says, "The familiar life horizon has been outgrown; the old concepts ideals and emotional patterns no longer fit; the time for the passing of a threshold is at hand."
~ Sue Monk Kidd writes, "In some ways, spiritual development for women, perhaps unlike that for men, is not about surrendering self, so much as coming to self." Perhaps, because of men's propensity to a stronger ego, men have to "die to self" ... whereas women, who have long suppressed self, must re-discover self..? Something to ponder ... it rings true for me.
~ When we're in a significant juncture of transition, the outer events, circumstances, meetings, conversations, dreams ... are often overflowing with meanings that need to be heeded. Listen. Pay attention.
~ We come to an unimpeachable knowing: Who we are, what we are experiencing, is Okay. Good. True. Real.
~ Pay attention to "sensory intuition" ... when the body quickens with a knowing truth ... tingling, vibration, waves, goosebumps, warmth, or your own variation of sensation, may indicate that the soul and body are realizing (or remembering!) something that the mind has not yet grasped ...!
~ Awakening precipitates awakenings ... we are agents of contagion. Live it, be it ... it spreads like a beautiful virus!
~ Patriarchy wounds men too ... and men must make their own spiritual journey for healing ... for freedom ... to discover Who They Really Are. It's delightful to make this distinct-yet-connected journey *together*.
~ Read what Naomi Wolf says about men's healing choices:
"The world of men is dividing into egalitarians and patriarchalists - those men who are trying to learn the language and customs of the newly emerging world, and those who are determined to keep that new order from taking root. The former group welcomes these changes, seeing that though they are painful in the short term, over the long term they provide the only route to intimacy and peace. But the latter group sees only loss ... The patriarchalists' world view, shared by women as well as men, is battling the emerging egalitarian world view, which is also shared by people of both sexes."(I see this resistance to change in *every* discussion forum I participate in ... and it's institutionalized in religion, which must retain patriarchal status quo in order to survive ...)
~ Any marriage, or relationship, is meant to be created, and then endlessly re-created. As we change (& we must, or die), so too do our relationships change ... they are living, not taxidermied monuments to what was. All good marriages are re-marriages...! ;)
~ Growth-fostering relationships share five characteristics:
1. Each person feels a greater sense of vitality/energy.
2. Each person feels more able to act, and does act.
3. Each person has a more accurate image of themself, and the other person.
4. Each person feels a greater sense of worth.
5. Each person feels more connected to the other person, and a greater motivation for connections with others beyond those in the relationship.
~ Synchronicities: Those times when an outer event resonates mysteriously and powerfully with what's happening on the inside. Synchronicities are more prevalent while we're mid-shift ... we can let them show us what they symbolize, and what they reveal. They will illumine the way for us.
~ Labyrinths are fascinating! Originally, they were a symbol of the Divine Womb, and they were walked in a ritual of rebirth, transformation. As the initiates moved to the sacred center, they were surrendering to a symbolic death, shedding old, unfitting, non-working thoughts and beliefs, and mindsets. IN the center, they became centered ... they intuitively received/realized/remembered truth. As they walked out, they manifested rebirth. (Here's the fascinating part for me ... long before I read this book, I woke up one night with a clear image of a spiral ... the background was a blazing riot of vivid colors ... superimposed over it was a black and white "path" ... I saw this image clearly, and even told Mark about it ... I knew I had to paint it. And I painted it onto two stools. Then I read this book ... and then, yesterday, at an art show, I had the two stools with me ... and people were drawn to them -- 3 different women exclaimed, "Look! A labyrinth!" I looked, and all the dots immediately connected in my mind -- I almost choked on the pear I was eating! I had received the vision of the labyrinth before I'd read about them, before I'd painted them ... and I saw that the black and white represents the superimposed mindset of rules/religion/regulations that I thought represented God ... and I walked that path to the center ... then, I walked out, on the colors that had been there all the time, but I was blind to them..! BTW - both of those stools sold yesterday ... and I *shall* be painting more!)
~ This shedding process happens continuously, over and over - rarely (if ever) is it a one-time-and-it's-over deal. And it happens both outwardly and inwardly ... externally, we confront patriarchal patterns in our marriage, religion, career, culture ... internally we must confront the patriarchal patterns and voices we've internalized. The voices that censor, silence, devalue and criticize, demanding perfectionism and unrealistic ideals that were never our intended identity. Etty Hillesum wrote (while in a Nazi concentration camp!): "Each of us must turn inward and destroy in himself all that he thinks he ought to destroy in others." What we see is our mirror ... and the destruction is more like absorption ... Light absorbs darkness ... Love absorbs fear.
~ Sue Monk Kidd writes about how she dreamt of a "bishop" who forced her to eat when she wasn't hungry ... she needed to vomit, but he wouldn't let her ... she was trapped in the bishop's house. She writes, "I woke up nauseated, depressed. I came to realize that my urgent necessity to vomit symbolized my need to expel the whole patriarchal ideology that I'd swallowed and that was now making me sick." This struck me "in the gut" ... all the years that I was bulimic ... two decades of it ... after years of being force-fed patriarchal rules and restrictions ... being told I was less than, and I needed to accept it and "be nice" (get in line). I have to wonder ... was my body manifesting my need to purge myself of all that sickened me? Was I trying to rid myself of that which was denying/choking the life out of me? Did I misunderstand the body's message for so very long...?
~ In freeing ourselves, we free the world...!
~ Entelechy: the scientific name for a goal-directing energy we each have ... that which seeks to bring the "seed" of our being into fruition ... that which pulsates and vibrates within us, seeking to complete who we are uniquely meant to be. It will not be denied ... it is inevitable. Most of us ignore it, or thwart it ... and we pay for it ... our entire culture is testimony for HOW we're collectively paying for it.
~ We can find our inner-wisdom again ... we can be still, and remember Who We Really Are (it's there, under the noises of distraction) ... we can listen again to our heart, to our inner wisdom ... we can give ourselves permission to follow it ... and if that's too hard right now, then we can find someone who will *give* us permission to do so, until we find our own permission again. We each need at least one "permission-giver" in our lives ... and then we can become a permission-giver for others! (Great fun!)
~ In this awakening journey, we can feel like a *shocked observer* at times, when we question what the HECK we're doing/thinking/believing...! We can hear the voice of our father/mother/pastor/teacher/other, wondering how in the "name of good sense" we got HERE! But the deeper/knowing part of us will know that we've been led here by All that's Good, and that there's no going back to numbed-out blindness.
~ We must BE who we are discovering ourselves to BE! We cannot act in ways to please others, to sell something, to get success, or fame, or money, or anyTHING else of the ego ...! We must simply and purely express what is true for us, AS it unfolds. We must write out of our Self. The Deep and True place. Just do it! (Fascinating how Nike chose the Goddess of Victory as their inspiration!)
~ Those of us who choose this route (& really, it feels more like a shove off the cliff, than a "choosing"!), must prepare to be called "dangerous women". And those who spew the words, do not intend them as a compliment (even though they've come to sound sweetly powerful to me!). It's real to me that the world will one day owe its very survival/thrival to subversive and dangerous women, who have all found their voice, and will no longer shut up ...! ;). Until women have discovered their sacred divinity, they cannot be whole, and the world cannot be whole. Yeah, it's *that* important.
~ God is she, he and neither. Why this insistence that God is male...? Do we really think that God has a penis...?
~ As humans, we cannot conceive of the formless ... in this state, we need forms and images. This is our current reality. And YET - we have allowed these forms and images to become idols to be worshipped...! When only one image for God is allowed, THAT image becomes idolatrous ... it comes to be viewed not as a symbol, but AS God. No longer a mere helpful description, it becomes a god to be defended. That which is transcended (as "God" is), always transcends all the symbols used to describe it ... including the term "God". That which said, "I am that I am" is neither male nor female exclusively, and yet is both in a way that transcends the physicality of either gender ... in order to comprehend God more fully, we must no longer assign only male attributes to God, but must *also* embrace the Divine Feminine. As long as the feminine is missing in the Divine, men will continue to imagine themselves as deserving entitlement, and women will continue to be prone to self-doubt, and dismepowerment. And we, as a people, will continue to suffer from paraplegia (paralysis of half the body).
~ If we are BOTH made in the image and likeness of God, then shouldn't God be referred to in BOTH male and female ways...? Is it not so plainly obvious?
~ Have you ever heard this one? "God isn't male or female. He is Spirit!" Sigh ...
~ So where does this leave me? Perhaps you? I find myself going through the gateway of "beginner's mind" ... approaching everything with a mind that's receptive and free ... ready for anything to unfold, open to everything, trusting in the leading of the Divine. No more mandates (from without or within), saying, "don't touch, don't think, don't explore" ... no more heeding the "Danger-Danger-Danger" clamoring of the ego. Approaching all of creation, of all of reality, with wide-opened eyes ... permission to go wherever I am led.
And y'know, it's taken me in some pretty wild places so far ... I can barely fathom what else I'll discover ...! :)