The Feminine and the Earth
Transcript of a talk by ANGELA FISCHER for the Forum “Incarner l’Utopie” organized by ‘Terre du Ciel’ in Aix les Bains, France, on April 8th 2012, as part of the panel offered by the Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW).
The background of what I would like to talk and share with you is my own journey in this life, a simple life with family and work infused and vitalized by following a mystical path in the Sufi tradition – a path of love that works with the energy of the heart. This path has been brought to the West from India by a woman, Irina Tweedie, it is not bound to a particular religion and embraces an eternal truth that is the essence of all religions. We practice silent meditation and put an emphasis on living in the world and serving God.
For more than 30 years I have had the privilege to listen to the experiences, dreams and stories of many people, and I learned from these insights as well as from the love and wisdom of my teachers reflected into my heart that there is a very deep wisdom in the core of the hearts of all of us, a wisdom that is not part of our intellectual knowledge, that is not lower or higher, not dependant on outer education, that we cannot find in books, cannot find outside. It is a knowing, a feeling and a being – all at once that springs from the center of the soul of life itself.
I am convinced that you all have a certain connection to that place within yourselves, each in your own way, because we gather in a concern for the well being of humanity and the earth, beyond individual interests.
And I would like to speak to exactly that wisdom in you, in your hearts, in all of us. So we can relate to each other in the inner as well as in the outer – and in the inner it is much easier, because it does not matter how many people we are.
The heart is the place where we hear the cry of the world.
The heart is the place where we hear the cry of the world. And I feel, in some way we are also here to respond to that cry that maybe some of you also might have heard before. I have heard the earth crying, in dreams and in meditation, and it had such a deep impact that I will never forget. This cry, of course, is not carried by a physical voice – although it might be heard within the roaring of a thunderstorm or an earthquake, within the outcry of parents who are losing their children in the brutality of a war, or within the screaming of dying animals who are slaughtered and extinguished – yet it is a cry from the inner, from the soul.
To see more closely what I mean, you may compare it with the experience that many of us, especially mothers may have had: If someone close, someone dear to us, but not phyiscally at the same place with us, is experiencing something very threatening, it sometimes happens that we hear them crying inside, crying for help. Mothers do experience this with their children, as many women told me, and I too experienced it with my children. It is inside that we can hear it.
And analogically, our planet is not only dying outwardly, physically. If we listen closely we can feel that she is threatened to die in the inner, and she calls from the inner world. This threat is the result of a deep spiritual crisis of the earth, because humanity is forgetting about the inner meaning of life, about the Divine in creation.
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh once was asked, “What do we most need to do to save our world?” His answer was this: “What we most need to do is to hear within us the sounds of the Earth crying.”[i]
Why is it important to hear the cry of the earth?
So why could it be important to hear this INNER cry? If we hear it, we begin to listen to it, and through listening an ancient memory can come back, the knowing that the earth is not only a material planet but a spiritual being, knowing that not only we as individual human beings are souls, but that like us also the earth is a soul. It is the awareness that – as we are sacred beings – the earth is a sacred being. We have forgotten about the sacredness of creation, and our current problems in the world can be seen as being derived from this lack of honoring the sacredness in creation. So if we are searching for ways to restore and to heal the world, to assist in the process of visions that could be incarnated, we need to return to the awareness of the sacredness in creation.
And if we are here speaking about incarnating – “Incarnating Utopia” -, we are also speaking about light being embodied. We are pondering the question, if we can help Utopia which in Greek means “no place” – so not bound to a physical dimension of time and space, like the soul – to come into the world, to take on form, for the sake of a ‘better’ world. Incarnating is about a birth process. And if we speak of birthing, the Feminine comes into mind. Without the Feminine nothing new can be born.
Without the Feminine nothing new can be born.
It is the feminine that knows about the real, the divine nature of creation, and in particular women have an inner knowledge about how the light of the soul takes on form, because they conceive and give birth. Whatever is on the way to be incarnated, it needs the feminine, because the feminine holds the space in which the divine is being embodied and takes on flesh which means life.
And tragically there is a correlation: As we have forgotten the sacred in all of creation, we have neglected and denied the feminine for a long time. But if we want to help something new to be manifested, a new life on this planet in tune with the fundamental oneness that restores harmony and peace and a way to live together with each other and with the earth which is a Yes to being alive instead of killing each other and this planet, we need to reclaim the feminine in ourselves. Wether it is in women or it is the feminine principle in all of us, in women and men, we need to honor and to respect and to live her again.
I would like to quote the contemporary Sufi teacher Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee whose profound teachings on the feminine are collected in a book with the title: The Return of the Feminine and the World Soul:
“The mystery of the divine feminine speaks to us from within her creation. She is not a distant god in heaven, but a presence that is here with us, needing our response. She is the divine returning to claim her creation, the real wonder of what it means to be alive. We have forgotten her, just as we have forgotten so much of what is sacred, and yet she is always part of us. But now she needs to be known again, not just as a myth, as a spiritual image, but as something that belongs to the blood and the breath. She can awaken us to an expectancy in the air, to an ancient memory coming alive in a new way. She can help us to give birth to the divine that is within us, to the oneness that is all around us. She can help us to remember our real nature.”[ii]
And because she is not just a spiritual image but a real, a vital part of us without which we could not be alive, we can remember her and recognize her on every level of our being, in our everyday life, in nature, while we are working, together with our children, and in the embrace of our lovers. The feminine is inside and outside as well, she belongs as much to the outer world as to the inner, she links the worlds together.
“She is” – as Llewellyn Vaughen-Lee puts it – “part of the mystery of the soul, of the womb of the world.”[iii]
Feminine consciousness: The awareness of the sacredness of the world
We may all know about the feminine qualities of caring and nurturing, of embracing all that is alive without separating, and we may seek to use these qualities to foster a new life on earth, to bring into the world new ways of living together with attention and compassion and living on and with the earth in a relationship of love and care. But these qualities cannot be nurtured from their real source, can not survive within us, unless we first return to the deep primordial consciousness of the feminine: The awareness of the sacredness of the world, that everything in creation is sacred, including our earthly bodies and all our experiences in life, that the earth is a living being in which everything is interconnected and that we all belong to one single soul which is the inner light permeating the whole world.
If we are holding this space within, if we are relating to the world as a soul, we are beginning to remember the mystery of the relationship between the individual soul and the world soul, which is the spiritual principle of microcosm and macrocosm. From watching people’s spiritual journeys I have seen again and again how the soul, as soon as there is a conscious relationship, begins to create an outer life in balance with the inner life. Relating to the soul of the world – which is traditionally called the Anima Mundi – we can help that the awakened light in the soul of the world can bring into form the new patterns of outer life that are tuned to the inner life of all of us.
The new can be incarnated if we are the space where this incarnation takes place, if we consciously make the connection again.
What is the role of women in this work?
Speaking of the Feminine in general, a particular question might be coming up: What is the role of women in this work?
Women who are able to give birth have a knowing, deeply rooted in their instincts and in the cells of their body which is alive in their spiritual centers – it is about the light hidden in matter. Women are connected to the earth and they know how the light of a soul takes on form and still remains true to its essential nature, as they hold the space for this in their body and can participate in this mysterious process.
Our teacher from India taught us that women have a certain spiritual substance in them that is not present in men. This is not known in today’s Western culture. It has to do with women’s ability to directly take part in creation. And this sacred substance is not separated from their physical being, it is living in their physical bodies, sometimes seen as the “beauty of women”. Because we have damaged the earth so much, this substance needs to be given back to the earth – By whom? By women. No one else can do this.
I would like to give you an example to see more closely and to maybe recognize the living reality of this sacred substance in women. I was given a conscious experience of how this substance works in my third pregnancy, and this was almost overwhelming in its wonder. I experienced it through the breath, as I suddenly felt how each conscious breath immersed into the remembrance and love of God was flowing to the child that was growing inside me, how it was helping his soul creating the little body. Each single breath was a tremendous act of creation. And I also felt that this breath was not only flowing through my body and to the child, but through the womb of the whole world. It carried a substance that created the life of the child and at the same time it effected the whole world.
We need the women, and we need the feminine. And I feel to emphasize that this is not meant as an opposite to the masculine or as a replacement of the masculine. Rather more it is about coming together of the feminine and the masculine, of uniting the instinctual feminine wisdom with masculine consciousness that is so important as well. It is about rebalancing life in a world in which the balance between both became lost – and this created a world that we all do not want to pass on to our children and grandchildren. What I sense is that the earth is waiting, and that also men are waiting for women to remember again who they really are and to reclaim their power, to take again their role as part of humanity who is the guardian of the planet.
[i] Thich Nhat Hanh , quoted by eco-philosopher Joanna Macy, in: The Greatest Danger, in: Transforming Terror. Remembering the Soul of the World, p.338
[ii] Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, The Return of the Feminine and the World Soul, 2009, published by The Golden Sufi Center, California, p.14
[iii] Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, The Return of the Feminine and the World Soul, p. XXii-XXiii