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Divine Feminine

September 22, 2011

I had a little, unexpected conversation with my tree one day last spring. She is a large, stately white oak in the middle of a thick woods right alongside a deep valley wash. Her circumference is about 7 or 8 feet around, and she shoots straight up to the sky to dominate the local woodland canopy. The stream side of her incredible root system is radically exposed from the tremendous forces of the flood waters that pushed through here a few years ago. She looks vulnerable, yet powerful, hanging on tenaciously to the ever shifting, rocky soil.

I went to her that day and gave her my usual daily hug that allows me to enjoy her solid, massive, girth. This connection also gives me the opportunity to transcend myself up her deeply furrowed trunk to the upper-most leaves there above everything else, intermingling among the valley breezes and the open sun.

As I was holding on to my stately friend, I heard her comment: “how lucky you are to be such a self-sufficient, portable, compact little thing down there far from the threatening storms, protected from the flashing floods, and hidden from the barren cold.”

Without hesitation, I heard myself respond: “well, you wouldn’t think this if you could see what I had to go through to procure sustenance, protection, and shelter for this fragile, high-energy bag of vulnerable flesh; whereas you simply stand there proud and mighty, impenetrable, solid and strong, with all the nourishment you need coming right to you. You are a most favored of Earth’s children.”

My towering friend heard this, thought a moment and then responded: “well, what is your saying: ‘things always look greener …?’ Look at me; my roots are buried in the Earth and when the earth washes away, I have no where to go but down. And when the air gets bad, I can only choke and wheeze and endure until my green lungs give out and turn brown and shriveled, and then I die; and when the bugs start chomping, my limbs are not flexible enough to swat them away. It’s not easy being a tree.”

So I said, “I’ll tell you what: if you continue to provide beauty for me to gaze upon, and shelter for me to protect this feeble little body; and if your sweet breath continues to fill mine, and if you continue to provide those wonderful fruits and nuts to nourish me, and if you always provide that wonderful umbrella of shade that keeps the hot sun from scorching my delicate skin; then I will use my own limbs to protect you. We can have a partnership, a friendship, a bond … from my heart to yours. I vow to love and protect you as long as I have life in me. I will keep the floods from washing you away, I will make sure the air remains suitable to your own lungs, I will nurture the soil that intermingles with your long, convoluted toes, and I will wrap my arms around you each day so you don’t get lonely.”

She listened to this and pondered my statement for a long, long time. I thought that maybe I had moved her heart so much that she was crying in a tree sort of way and couldn’t find her words; but then she finally replied:

“And how are those scrawny little limbs of yours going to do all that?”

About two years ago, I had a profound realization: much of my life I had been looking for God without much real success; it only occurred to me during one particularly insightful walk that the reason for this is because HE isn’t present right now. SHE is! The era of the god of Abraham, the era of the god of Muhammad, the era of the god of Christ,  of Shintoism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, Sikhism … and on and on is over as far as I can tell.

God the king is dead, long live the Queen.

I jest, of course, but only slightly. Referring to divinity in terms of gender seems ludicrous anyway, yet we have done so for eons with what I would say are tragic results because time and time again the culturally dominant gender has empowered and enthroned his own sexual identity while devaluing and disregarded the whole other half of our dualistic reality. Any readers who are not offended by these statements need no further explanation, for you probably already know this and already sense that we are gradually entering into a new spiritual epoch.

I mentioned in a couple earlier posts that last year I was involved in a spiritual journey with a group that met once a week for a year. This was only weeks after I had that significant spiritual insight. What I don’t think I mentioned, and what I didn’t know at the time of that vision, is that I would be the single male among 12 women. When I began that life altering group journey, I had little awareness of the significance of this situation; but by the end, I knew with simple clarity what the Universe was teaching me. After thousands of years of emphasis being put on the Divine Masculine imposing the Yang qualities of fast, hard, focused, and aggressive on nature and cultural reality, it is now time for the Divine Feminine to help steer things back to some Yin qualities of slow, soft, yielding, earth based, natural, and compassionate realities. Nearly everyday for a year, I had 12 teachers who literally manifested the Divine Feminine to me in uncountable ways. Were I in the group with other men, I -and maybe even the other women- may have been distracted by the traditional story that we have all become acclimated to. As it was, I learned to strip many of the facades I acquired throughout my life that reinforced the meaningless masculine strategies that sequestered my own nurturing qualities of compassion, attentiveness to others, unconditional love, and slow, attentive, spiritual endurance.

I then realized that my my mom and my three wonderful sisters were my earliest teachers; and that my life partner, Peg, has been my greatest teacher of all. It is Peg who stays with me day after day as I learn to strip the foul layers of a lifetime of accruing the rancid over-clothing of institutionalized Patriarchy (or more accurately, Kyriarchy). She was never deceived … not even once. By the time I had reached the opportunity to intimately share my life for a year with 12 more women, I had already been uniquely prepared.

The point of all this is not to promote a swing to another polarized extreme and empower the Feminine over, or at the expense of the Masculine, but simply to find a balance that once again (or maybe for the first time) harmonizes our two halves and makes us whole.

How-bout a little ricktla mythology?

In the beginning, the Universe was singular. There was no such thing as division, separateness, or individuation. In the beginning we were one. But for some reason too remote for me to comprehend, the Universe expanded and split into a trillion, trillion stars, planets, and living beings. The Universe was still one, but had the illusion of many separate stories disconnected one from the other. Here on Earth we divided into male and female, and developed our primary relationships as mother, father, and child. Father was harsh, strict, aggressive, and driven: the protector … just the thing a young species needed to physically survive in a challenging and competitive environment. Mother was representative of unconditional love: soft, compassionate, patient, and giving … just the thing to nurture the spirit of a growing species. And to round out our little divine nuclear family we introduce Child, the lover; this is where our partnerships come from, where we learn to be both giver and receiver in an equal relationship.

Up until now, the Father has dominated the religious scene with judicial control, while the Mother played Her role in the background as undying love. As Her children, there was nothing bad enough we could do that She would abandon us for … even when we neglect and destroy the rest of Her creation. Enter Child, our lover. For me this is feminine, as it seems to be for many spiritually inclined people these days as far as I can surmise … including women (this is not a carnal love relationship afterall). I am no longer a child, and unlike a mother’s undying love, I do not have the luxury of neglecting, ignoring, or abusing my Divine Lover or She will abandon me. So long as I am present to Her beauty and wisdom, She will remain my constant companion, will show me uncountable wonders, and I will experience joy in my life. The more I focus my attention on the trivial, the temporal, the ambitious, and the ego self, the more she disappears from my life.

Nature is a good example of this. We as a species have neglected and abused nature for so long that She is abandoning us. This is not done with intent, but as a result of indifference,

"Tree Goddess" sculpture by local artist and "Rivers and Roots" editor, Stacie Anthony

disregard, disrespect, and carelessness. As with most things in life; our actions have consequences, and the consequence of neglecting and abusing that which supports us, is we lose the support.

So, part of the moral of the story about the conversation with my tree is to illustrate the way we have gone about dealing with Nature and each other. We always think we know what is best for everything and everyone else, and we insist on manifesting this at will. Yet, we most often don’t know what is best, and Nature is teaching us this in so many ways if we only listen to Her. We can teach each other this as well, by listening to each other rather than only listening to ourselves and deciding what everyone else needs.

We are entering a new spiritual epoch … one that should bring a new understanding to how we relate to each other and the Universe. Wednesday the 21st, Autumnal Equinox, was the start of another year long Wheel of Initiation sacred circle at the Calliope Center in Viroqua. Our group this time consists of 6 men out of 13. The times they are a-changin, and I think I see our Beloved on the horizon turning back to embrace us once again.


9 Comments leave one →
  1. Kathy O'Rourke permalink
    October 4, 2011 10:48 pm

    Is there a copy of that Tree somewhere that could live on my altar? I love that tree.

  2. Kathy O'Rourke permalink
    September 29, 2011 7:14 pm

    The wheel group was such a profound gathering of energies and it was pivotal to have a man in the circle. I just figured it would be all women — but it was so balanced by your presence and the full focus that you put into the endeavor. Your opening to the divine feminine and the beauty you see all around you in the world and especially in other people has so deeply touched my heart. I honor you, dear friend, and am so full of gratitude for the magnitude of your opening and understanding.
    Hari om tat sat,

  3. Rebecca Wainscott permalink
    September 25, 2011 10:29 am

    HI Rick – Love your tree story. I remember how, after years of not being able to honor men, I discovered that the way for me to find that balance – not just an acceptance of men’s right to be here, but of their essential role in human existence and well-being – needed to come from going deeply into Mother Nature, and finding the masculine that gives Her form. That exploration and writing enabled the relationship that produced my daughter.

    We are slowly maturing in our perception and understanding of the forces that guide and define who we are – and the extent to which we are able to choose to consciously embody those forces, to work with them instead of be victimized by them.

    Everyone, masculine and feminine, needs to be honored. All life (and all death) needs to be revered. Everyone has a part to play. If we want to see a different story unfold, we must start by taking responsibility for how we treat all the men and women in our lives. And that starts and continues, daily, with forgiveness, and acceptance.

    The gift of your words – your willingness, courage and ability to explore these issues and share your insights – serves to support and light the way.

    So Many Blessings, Rebecca

  4. Stacie Anthony permalink
    September 24, 2011 10:49 am

    I love that you pointed out the importance of a “balance”…not just a shift to the feminine, but a balancing act. Thanks for including the lovely photo of my woman-tree sculpture. It is an honor that you photographed her and included her in your blog. Seeing the photo of your tree on the same page as my sculpture is striking. I can see the resemblance too, especially the way you captured her from below as she reaches to the sky in the same graceful movement as your tree pictured above in the article.

  5. September 23, 2011 8:37 pm

    Very nice post. I’m sometimes hit with an almost unbearable sense of grief as I feel (what I interpret to be) the Universe’s loop repeating, over the eons and in a moment; the apparent division between masculine & feminine of which you speak, forever separate & yearning to be whole. It’s been increasingly hard for me to reconcile in recent years, which is maybe a good thing, sign of change and such. It’s just difficult for me not to perceive it all as reliving “The Big Split” or “God/ess’s mistake” over & over, if that makes any sense…

  6. Sara Martinez permalink
    September 23, 2011 7:54 pm

    Oh Rick, this post is special indeed. Genuine listening and learning are among our greatest challenges.

  7. mokasiya permalink
    September 23, 2011 1:01 pm

    Dear Rick, Tree medicine and greeness of heart, the divine feminine the divine masculine, balance, intergration of soul, body, mind and spirit. Thanks for sharing such insights and beauty.

    May divine feminine
    continue to rise up form beautful moist earth
    and divine masculine
    slip down from blue sky sunlight,
    inter mingle
    into heart sacred
    with all that is.


  8. Laurie B. permalink
    September 23, 2011 9:46 am

    It is my belief, and experience, that all is cyclical – and filled with struggle too. Thanks for the above Rickla mythology. It feels like a long long memory…

  9. September 22, 2011 5:50 pm

    Lordy, I can’t keep up with your posting…but this one is special. Reminds me of a tree poem I saw recently

    It’s short, painless…

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