Essential Oneness: A Path Beyond the Opposites
|The Path through the Irises|
There is a place beyond the opposites that is both one and the other and that is neither one nor the other. But in order to reach that place, first we need to know what the opposing forces or qualities are. Sometimes that is easy, like realizing that a gray paint is the union of black and white. But in other things, knowing the opposites may be more challenging.
Or so it was for me.
Only sixteen years ago, I began to commemorate the holiday season for what it really was, a celebration of the rebirth of light in the midst of the darkest and longest night. A celebration whose origins can be traced back to the Great Mother tradition, this ceremony is a symbol of the miracle of creation, where out of a concealed, mysterious place, a new life comes into existence.
Before then, I lived thirty-five years not knowing that there ever existed a time when the Great Mother, or the goddess, was at the center of devotion.
I had learned quite a bit of history without knowing that it was told mainly from a masculine perspective; it was all about wars and conquerors and dates for succession of power. I had heard of some matriarchal societies and seen a few gruesome drawings of Amazons with their breasts cut in order to facilitate the use of their bows and arrows. Also, I had seen some photos of decapitated statues of Greek and Roman goddesses of the so-called pagan religions of the past and had read several of their myths.
In addition, I also knew that Latin America, where I come from, was a land where there was machismo. But I did not really know what machismo was in contrast to or in what way it affected me, as a woman. I was raised Catholic and followed a patriarchal religion without knowing it to be patriarchal. Since a child, I went to a school run by nuns, where several times a week, I listened to the lectures of male priests and the admonitions of a patriarchal church without knowing or even wondering why this was the structure of the Church. My ideal woman was one created by the patriarchy, a woman who lived in the heavens, someone who had delivered a child untouched by man, who had not suffered the pains of labor, and in a way, was eternally young and smiling—one I could never become.
Unknowingly, I lived most of my life through the values of a masculine culture.
My awakening was abrupt. It took place while still in Argentina. I’m a mother of twins—a boy and a girl. I recall one day when a very pregnant friend of mine visited us and told my kids that there was a baby in her oversized belly. She also told the kids that only women carried babies within them.
My daughter showed excitement but my son was astounded. The discovery impressed him so strongly that he spent several days placing a baby-doll under his t-shirt and walking around pretending to be pregnant. He also wanted to know if there was a baby in my belly and in his sister’s. I could see that a shift took place in him with his discovery. He loved his sister and me dearly, but this was different. It was as if we, women, had suddenly acquired a new standing, a new importance, in his eyes.
Until then, I had grown up hearing the Freudian perspective of the female envy of the male. But after witnessing my son’s behavior, I wondered about the truth of this premise and in me awoke a desire to understand better what had happened to that instinctual recognition of the value of the feminine mystery.
|Candlelight of Hope|
The turning point took place six months after moving to the United States, when I was invited to attend a celebration of the winter solstice. In it people formed a circle and lighted candles in a dark room that symbolized the re-birth of the light. It was then that I fully realized that the celebrations of my Christian upbringing were tied to ancients traditions of previous cultures. Everything began to fall into place after that.
The creative force of life recreating itself in myriad forms was first attributed to the power of a female god, Mother Earth, the feminine principle. A newborn being born from a mother’s womb; a day born after spending a time in the embracing darkness of the night; spirit being incarnated in a physical body—these were some of the expressions of this same feminine wonder, a mystery that was commemorated for a long time during the celebrations that occurred around the winter solstice.
|Venus of Willendorf|
The many prehistoric sculptures of the goddess found spread around the world appear to be among the first representations of a deity, and suggest that earlier humans may have placed a female god capable of sustaining and nurturing life at the center of their worship and seen the creative forces of life as divine. The adoration of the female principle gave humans an intrinsic understanding of the union and deep connection that existed between them and nature, between them and the Earth. They lived within the goddess, were part of her, and she provided them with their basic needs. For a long time, the consciousness of earlier humans was, to a large extent, one of undifferentiated oneness.
I wondered if the decline of the power of the feminine principle had its first origins in the discovery that the male was as needed as the female in the creative process of bringing a new life to the planet and if this awareness could have gradually shifted the direction of adoration away from the feminine principle and its queendom towards its opposite, by enthroning the male principle. Researching possible causes, I found some suggestions that the adoration of the feminine principle at one time may have overpowered the masculine up to the point of becoming too one-sided and causing an imbalance.
Whatever the reason may have been, with the passage of time, supremacy shifted sides. It was as if the law of opposites had intervened, the universal law where creation expresses itself in twos that both oppose and complement each other: inner and outer, positive and negative, Adam and Eve.
Little by little I understood that what took place with this shift in many ways changed the history of humanity as we know it, as the power of the feminine was not only taken away but even the symbols of the goddess tradition that embodied the feminine mysteries were somehow stolen, disguised, or destroyed. The images that I had seen of the remnants of beheaded statues of goddesses, often mutilated with their arms and other body parts cut off, as well as the myths of the birth of goddesses from male gods and of male gods as the supreme deity that I had read, seemed to point to that moment in time.
In the West, most of the Great Mother ceremonies, her attributes, and the goddess herself, were hidden beneath a veil of various religious traditions and celebrations dedicated to a god that is represented as being male. Many ancient symbols of the feminine were taken over and disguised as myths or stories inspired by the masculine principle or in service to a masculine god.
|The Adoration of the Child|
The celebration of the birth of light being born in the longest night became a nativity scene dedicated to the adoration of God in male human form, who would become known as “the light of the world;” an ancient celebration of the rebirth of life and sustenance represented by the evergreen tree, became a celebration involving the Christmas Tree. The goddess, also known as the mother of all gods, departed. She was overshadowed by Mary, the mortal mother of Jesus, who would also take on the title, “Mother of God.” The cosmos as the body of the goddess became the place of residence of a male bearded deity, and the understanding of the universal feminine as the cosmic womb, as life being created within, was transformed into the story of a male god creating life from outside—possibly symbolizing the way men contributed to the creation of a newborn.
|Aubervilliers Notre Dame des Vertus|
The masculine principle incarnated in a divine being separate from humanity, gave birth to a different quality of the mind, a different quality of knowing, one that began to differentiate, to notice details within the undifferentiated oneness, a knowing based on detached observation, one that gave rise to a sense of individuality and separation.
However, the rejection of the feminine reached such dramatic proportions in some cultures, that it ended up creating an imbalance that is reflected in the way many of us live our lives, without meaning, void of natural rhythms, mechanized, a life that is linear and hierarchical, negated of its magic and wonder, where supermarket milk is considered better than mother’s milk, and homemaking and raising one’s children is valued less than working in the marketplace.
In a way it could be said that the power of both the feminine principle as well as the masculine principle helped humanity developed up to a point, but each power eventually overreached its limits and failed to provide human kind with what it needed to move forward. From my perspective, such is this moment in time.
A child cannot live permanently holding to the mother’s breast or being fed in his or her mouth. He or she needs to leave the nest and make an independent life on his or her own. But a life separated and detached from the original nurturance, can become a dry existence devoid of a sense of belonging and meaning.
Until now on a collective level, the divine feminine and masculine principles have been experienced as opposing each other and as one above the other. But the divine masculine and feminine principles are aspects of something larger than themselves. They are aspects of the divine wholeness, of the oneness and totality that life is.
Wholeness is reached when the aspects of one same nature complement each other rather than oppose each other. Then out of their union, a divine offspring can be born. This divine offspring already lives in the depths of our western consciousness.
Although we have notfully embraced or acknowledged its importance or its meaning, for millennia it has been appearing over and over in statues, paintings, myths, and stories. Often, it is viewed as a divine child held by the goddess, other times by a god. At times the divine child appears surrounded by a human mother and father and the three form a sacred family. This child represents a new consciousness in humanity… the consciousness of oneness.
Learning about the feminine principle and how to value my own feminine qualities after having lived through masculine values most of my life, has helped me find a
path among these seemingly opposite forces or visions, leading to the discovery of the divine offspring who is being born inside us. This newborn brought its own way of perceiving and experiencing reality, one of singleness and oneness, one of interrelatedness. The child, also known as the child of the future, symbolizes the product of the union of opposites, the middle way, a new way of being where we are both an individual and one with everything else.
By Alex Warden