Each February I take about ten days away to go on spiritual retreat. It is a time when I step away from the daily routine to listen more deeply. I never go with an agenda; I allow whatever wants to arise to do so. I have been doing this annually for almost twenty years, and I am always amazed at what unfolds. Often my time is guided by dreams, and always by intuition.
This year I had been immersing myself in a book I had just received, Mirari: The Way of the Marys, which recounts a prolonged dialogue between Mother Mary and Mari Perron, who also channeled A Course of Love.
As soon as I began reading Mirari in the days before leaving on retreat I felt a deep sense of relief, and of homecoming. Having grown up in mainstream Protestantism, in which the Divine Feminine is completely absent, it was like arriving at a spring of life-giving water. My thirsty spirit was being quenched.
Decades ago, when I was in seminary, I had to grapple with how the Feminine had not only been suppressed, but demonized in the religious tradition that formed me. This exile and vilification of the Feminine had profound implications for how I saw myself and my worth as a woman.
This is a struggle that I know many, if not most, women have had to deal with, and, because all of us, no matter our gender identity or biological sex, have both the Feminine and Masculine within us, the repression of the Feminine has had devastating effects on men as well.
Thankfully, that is beginning to change. The patriarchal beliefs of the past are crumbling, the Feminine is rising, and the balance between the Masculine and Feminine is being restored.
In this moment of return and re-balancing, we are coming back into the awareness of our intrinsic, reverent relationship with all Life, including ourselves. This understanding of the inherent truth of relationship is at the core of the Feminine, and it holds the key to the healing of our species and our planet.
While I was on my retreat, I felt Mary’s presence profoundly, which was a new experience for me. I felt her guiding me, encouraging me, holding me in the gentle embrace of the Mother. Since I was already experiencing her presence so keenly, it isn’t surprising that she was also referenced in a dream I had.
I’m riding on horseback with a few other people through an open, expansive landscape of scrub brush and rolling hills when we come to a place overlooking a village. Down in the village, the people, who are also on horseback, are riding out in a procession to honor Our Lady of Guadalupe. One of the riders is carrying a large banner of her on a tall, upright pole. As I watch the processional, my own horse drops her head, and when she does her bridle falls off.
One of the most intriguing things about this dream for me is the horse dropping her head, causing her bridle to fall off.
A horse’s bridle is the means by which a horse is placed in service to a human, directed by something besides her own will. As a friend of mine noted, Horse, in the I Ching, is a feminine symbol, and bridle sounds exactly like bridal (my dreams often use word plays). In traditional patriarchal culture, bridal indicates the ownership of a woman by her husband.
Mother Mary, by contrast, is often referred to as Virgin Mary, and the deeper meaning of virgin is a woman unto herself, a woman who is her own person, not owned or controlled by another.
As I listen to this dream I see that it is depicting a movement underway in which the Feminine is being honored (the processional) and released from the legacy of patriarchal control (the falling away of the bridle/bridal).
But the symbolism of the horse dropping her head goes deeper still. To drop the head is to be released not only from being controlled, but from the need to control.
For so long, western civilization has exalted the head, has sought to control the world through the intellect: dissecting, categorizing, compartmentalizing, seeking certainty and dominance over all things. In the process, we have alienated ourselves from Mystery, and from the direct knowing of the Heart and unmediated wisdom of the Intuition.
Yet, as Mary says in Mirari, The New that is now arising emerges from the Unknown. It is not something the intellect can plan, or strategize for, or make happen. The New gestates within us, is nurtured by us, is birthed through us. It is an act of creation, not fabrication.
As we return to Feminine ways of knowing and of being, we drop the head. We release our need for certainty; the old thought patterns of domination and control fall away; we experience our reverent relationship with All That Is; we bow before Mystery.
This is Women’s History Month, a time when we acknowledge the countless contributions women have made throughout history. But at this moment of global transformation, what interests me even more than women’s history is the contribution the Feminine is bringing, even now, to our future and our mutual survival on this beautiful planet.