The Call of the Divine Feminine
A few months ago, I wrote about a topic that has been of great personal interest to me, titled “Yin & Yang: A Case for More Yin.” In the post, I dive into the philosophy of yin and yang, an ancient Taoist concept which describes the duality of existence, wherein I share my thoughts on how this philosophy can play out in our lives as individuals and on a collective scale. I’ve been surprised and truly honored to see how many times it’s been read. It’s nothing out of the park but considering the newness of my website and the fact that I write mostly for my own personal musings, it’s a point of curiosity that’s been quietly percolating. After some contemplation, it dawned on me that in some worldly sense, I shouldn’t be very surprised at all. While I’d really like to think it must be related to my undeniable writing prowess (ha!), there is a deeper and wiser knowing within that is picking up on a wider unmet desire to bring this conversation to light. It is eagerly waiting to be discussed, heard, and received.
Interestingly, I’ve noticed more podcasts, writers, and main stream voices make mention of topics related to yin and yang, more-so as it relates to the feminine and masculine duality and other sister subjects, but they are either brief, singular, or only highlight certain aspects to add context to another subject entirely. And likely for good reason. Talking about masculinity and femininity, or yin and yang, comes with a sense of enormity. There are so many layers to the conversation; it’s difficult to know where to start and how to proceed to weave all the pieces together in a way that makes sense. It is also laced with the fear of being socially, culturally, or politically incorrect. Even the most well-intended discussions about feminine and masculine dichotomy are loaded with sociocultural landmines and cancel-culture ammo, leaving most to simply not bother for fear it may accidentally burn the house down. Because these conversations “are better left to the feminists, scholars, and law-makers.” Yikes. In actuality, it only serves to lead many to quietly ponder, perhaps even subconsciously yearn for a better framework to understand the complexities that grace our shared humanity.
On a deep intuitive level, I sense the collective longing for this subject to be addressed and expanded upon. It is validating to see it circulating the ethers, popping up here and there, in passing conversations, in random books I pick up at the store, and in new podcasts I stumble across. And it’s no wonder that of any other post, it is the one subject people have been consistently drawn to. I trust that if you read part 1 and are now reading this follow up, that you share in this interest in some way. I think that’s incredible and I’m truly grateful you’re here. I hope this post offers some solvency or sparks further curiosity for you to expand upon in your own world and experiences.
Divine Feminine and Masculine
Okay, so let’s dive in. First, what is the divine feminine and masculine? If you’ve heard this terminology before, or are just hearing this for the first time now, it’s widely used in spiritual rhetoric. A universal concept unrelated to any set religion or dogma. The divine feminine and masculine is the understanding of the divine energies at play in all of us, dual sides which make up the whole sum of our being and represent the pure and unadulterated aspects of our existence. Synonymous to the duality of yin and yang, the divine feminine (yin) and divine masculine (yang) are ways of understanding the opposing energies that are present in life, and the ever-delicate balance between them. It’s not about being female, male, or gender-specific. It is based upon the idea that we are all made up of energy and the divinity of the feminine and masculine is present in all of us, regardless of sex or gender identity. The divine aspect is about how we honor these energies and gracefully dance between them.
Dating back to many of the world’s oldest religions and myths, the divine feminine and divine masculine can be understood and distinguished in the following ways.
Yin or The Divine Feminine (DF):
Nurturing, healing, creativity, maternal, internal, reflective, universal motherhood, mystery, the unknown, receptivity, giving, compassion, chaos.
Yang or The Divine Masculine (DM):
Discipline, personal authority, paternal, boundaries, the known, protective, external, action-oriented, assertive, structure, logic, order.
If you sit with each of these characteristics and allow yourself to feel into each one, what does it bring up for you? You may be able to intuit the essence of each aspect. For me, the DF traits feel soft, gentle, and nurturing in relation to those of the DM, which feel more grounded, solid, and bold. However these elements may manifest is how they are being divinely guided within you as they are the energies that you balance every single day. Take a simple interaction at the grocery store for example. If the young new clerk makes a mistake while bagging your items, you could opt to smile and say it’s alright while patiently waiting for them to finish up. Or you could choose to gently correct them instead and step in to help bag the items yourself. Both are fine and compassionate responses. The first would be embodying more of the yin and DF energies described above while the second more the yang and DM. Passive and patient gentleness (yin) versus assertive solution-oriented action (yang). We could opt for either type of response in this interaction depending on the day or what energies we happen to be embodying more of in that instance. We are not static beings, life is a constant state of flux and flow and it is how we come to balance these sides of us that make up the totality of our existence.
Divine vs. Ego
Now for an important distinction. There is a clear difference between the divine aspects of the feminine and masculine versus other ways they may manifest. When expressed divinely, this energy is pure and intended to promote love, harmony, and peace. It lacks ego and self-righteousness. As is another dualistic reality of life, anything in the light also has its shadow representation, the light versus the dark. The counterpart to the divine expression of our feminine and masculine energies is when they are expressed through a more egoic lens, when our actions are motivated by our physicality, unhealed wounds, insecurities, and the stories that do not serve us.
When discerning whether something is divinely guided or not, it is helpful to ask whether it serves the highest good for all. When there is no attachment to the outcome, it is usually a good indication you’re operating from a place of light and the divinity within rather than from ego.
The Collective Imbalance
Many years ago, I was in an Uber heading to dinner with friends when the driver brought up the topic of the divine feminine and masculine. Naturally, my ears perked up and I immediately jumped at the conversation. It was a quick ride but one of the major takeaways I recall him sharing was from a book he was reading about the collective divine feminine and masculine. He made an analogy of the DF and DM representing either side of a set of wings and that for many years, humanity has glorified the masculine side, allowing it to flourish and grow robust, as if to prepare for flight. However, over time the wing of the divine feminine has consequently been overshadowed, malnourished, and imbalanced in its ability to match its counterpart, its other half. There was something about this vision that stuck with me over the years; it represents such a beautiful and poetic metaphor of how important it is to balance the scales in so that humanity, as a whole, can take flight and ascend to higher levels of consciousness. The truth is we cannot hope to ascend as one without the strength of both wings.
Back to the metaphor, it seems on a collective level, we have come to rely predominantly on yang and masculine energies to push society and globalization forward. Not exactly in a pernicious way, as most of this has been very well-intended. After all, I’m not one to complain about the clean water flowing through my sink or the Whole Foods down the street. But what is the price we are paying for it? For over a century, our global model has been largely driven by the masculine desire for growth, stability, and order. This desire has touched nearly every sector of humanity, ranging from how our food is grown, distributed, and consumed, to the massive cities we’ve built and inhabited, to the ways we’ve affected nearly every natural ecosystem on earth. On a global scale, humanity is obsessed with more. More food, more land, more stuff, more money, more, more, more. Even the mechanisms that facilitate the process of obtaining more are hyper-masculine such as war, imperialism, and government rule. Since the beginning of our known history, the theme has been conquest for power and domination. This collective emphasis on the masculine spirit has created a perpetual and self-sustaining cycle to create and maintain order, build structures both physically, mentally, and spiritually to contain humanity, while somehow getting us all to work harder every year. The unmagnificent end result: we are left exhausted, overweight, sick, anxious, depressed, and fragmented. Sorry to be a buzzkill.
So what’s the antidote? I make the case in part 1 that due to the pandemic of burnout and dis-ease, there is a need to place more emphasis on getting in touch with our feminine, as a means to slow down and learn to be still in our natural ability to reset and heal. In the quest for continued growth and ensured survival, priorities quintessentially characterized by yang and the masculine, our inherent ability to connect to the divine feminine has gotten fuzzy. As we desperately look for ways to recapture that connection, our attempts have seemingly run counter to the end goal. Instead we are fighting fire with fire. Men and women alike are being conditioned to operate heavily in their masculine to stay afloat, which in turn, drives society to encourage more of this behavior as a baseline for success.
Let’s take feminism for example. It goes without saying, feminism has gotten a bad rep over the years. It’s been tied up with a lot of rhetoric like “Down with the man” and “Anything men can do, women can do just as well, if not better!” Don’t get me wrong, somewhere inside this messaging resonates with me. I identify as a feminist. I’m all about equality, hell yeah. Let us vote, let us sit at that damn table, let us lean in, and do whatever else Sheryl Sandberg is telling us to do. The feminist movement has done wonders for women and it’s on the coattails of those efforts that I became the strong outspoken woman I am today. But I’m the kind of feminist who…loves men. I think they’re great! I’d like to believe most of them are trying their best and it’s a select crummy few that are seriously ruining it for the rest. And I like it when my guy brings me flowers and opens my door for me, ya know? When did feminism become the end of appreciating chivalry?
It goes to show that some part of the conversation has gotten lost in translation over the years. Like a really bad game of telephone gone awry, involving a lot of pointing and syllabic clapping. To say feminism means we need to displace men all together or aim to run parallel in all the ways men can seems pretty extreme and to be honest, a little bit besides the point. Modern feminism makes men the common threat, asking women to beat men at their game. The irony is this requires women (and men) to step more into their yang to keep up. To work just as hard, just as long, make just as much money, and all before it’s time to get home, make dinner, and put the kids to bed. This type of feminism, while noble and understandable, is actually offering very little solace to the collective imbalance towards the masculine. In fact, everyone suffers the imbalance — even men. It is reinforcing a game where the rules require all players, regardless of gender, to do, get, compete, win, and do it all over again but a little faster the next round and a little better than the next person. Most of us know what it is like to work tirelessly through the week, counting down the days till the weekend, the “designated” time for respite, enjoyment, and rest. This is the game of the masculine. It keeps us disconnected from our inner wisdom and intuition to feel and know when enough is enough. I think we need to come up with a new game. A game less focused on sizing up men and women and more about acknowledging and celebrating the unique gifts and strengths both femininity and masculinity have to offer, as equally essential parts to our ultimate well-being. Where men, women, and everyone in between have the opportunity to succeed and feel fulfilled by simply being — not based on earning power, the hours they’re clocking in, or how much they are accomplishing. Only then can we start course correcting and move towards a system designed to honor more of our yin.
So for all my ladies and feminists out there, laying it down for women’s rights, I see you and am rooting you on. I stand beside you in my belief that we need to make more room for femininity and that every single person can benefit from this on a human level. With that said, if we can shift the conversation away from what we are losing at the cost of masculinity, we create so much more space to notice and honor what we aim to gain. There is so much to gain by encouraging our divinely feminine desire to loosen the reigns — to play, connect, and delight in our existence. To self-nurture, be gentle with ourselves and others, celebrate our hard work and fruitful wins. The divine feminine is asking to be awakened in each of us. It requires us to step into the unknown and embrace the chaos of a new way of living and being, and redefining what it means to thrive. Will you answer the call and give it the attention it is seeking? As with all things, where attention goes, energy flows.
Written by: Laura Kim