All around the world, in all traditions and cultures, there have been female figures who embody the qualities of the Divine Feminine, although until quite recently these goddesses, priestesses, and wise women haven’t had much expression in Western culture.
Not many female Western deities or saints have had their moment in today’s pop culture, with the possible exception of Mother Mary’s advice to “Let it be, let it be” in the Beatles song, which resonated with their fans across a wide spectrum of faiths. Why does Mary have such a hold on Western consciousness, even for those who are not Christians? Because she is the representation of the Divine Feminine that is most accessible to Westerners.
Mary is held in the hearts of women especially, who see her as the link between being human and our ability to connect with the Divine. Look at her history: Mary was birthed miraculously by the elderly Anna, had to flee with her newborn, loved her son and was an active participant in his work, and endured the pain of watching her son be killed. She had so much joy and pain in her human life that she understands the human plight and has overflowing compassion and mercy for those who are suffering and in pain.
I often use Mary’s energy in my energy healing work; she is the most recent incarnation of the Divine Feminine—the personification of the ancient myth of the Divine Mother who gives birth to the Divine Child during winter solstice, when the light “wins” over darkness. I’m thinking of her these days since August 15th is the Festival of the Assumption, when Mary is celebrated as entering bodily into Heaven.
Today the archetypes of the Divine Feminine are re-emerging as the planet shifts from masculine domination and aggressiveness to the nurturing and intuitive feminine. In ancient times, many different peoples around the world had priestess cults (where energy healing was taught) In the desert of the Middle East was an Essene religious community with ties to the Egyptian mystery schools, especially the cults of Thoth and Isis. This Essene community, according to recent researchers, was focused on birthing an enlightened being (one of Christ Consciousness) who would help humankind to evolve. There must have been a reason Mary and Joseph fled to Egypt with their divine son, and why the teachings of Jesus include Essene teachings (as shown by the Dead Sea Scrolls).
The Divine Feminine may be seen as a Goddess, as has long been the case in Hinduism with its vast array of goddesses—Durga, Uma, Kali, Radha, Sita, Saraswati, and so many more—each representing particular aspects of the divine, such as dynamic energy, creativity, victory over negativity, and love and compassion for all. We haven’t had goddesses in the West since those of ancient Greece and Rome, and they are sorely needed!
The Priestess archetype is another way to envision the Divine Feminine. The Priestess is connected to intuitive awareness, the secret knowledge of the spirit realm. Women who connect to the Priestess archetype are calling forth their mastery of spiritual realities, and the knowledge of how to transmute and transform the powerful energies of the chakras and spiritual bodies. The High Priestess is the Shekhinah, the feminine form of the indwelling presence of the divine, attuned to information that comes from within.
Another aspect of the Divine Feminine is the Wise Woman, who, like the Shaman, has the ability to access the higher spiritual realms in order to bring down practical solutions that aid in the survival of the clan or community. In the past, she was the one who knew how to use herbs and natural remedies to help women with fertility and birthing, and to set others on the dharmic path to “right action.” She was the one burned as a witch during the patriarchal pinnacle of the Inquisition. Today, she is a woman who may very well be engaged in the practice of energy medicine.
Who comes into your mind as the representative of the Divine Feminine that you feel closest to? Open yourself in meditation to receive your personal connection to the feminine aspect of divine wisdom, and let it be.