As we looked to May for a teaching to embrace, we were greeted by three reminders of the female aspect of our spiritual nature: Earth Day, which coincided with a full moon, and Mother’s Day, just around the corner. We chose honoring the Divine Feminine as our practice.
The Divine Feminine refers to the creative energies that bring Spirit into expression and all the manifestations of Spirit into form. Honoring it need not imply worshiping a Hindu goddess with six arms. Honoring the Divine in its feminine aspect can be as simple as appreciating the natural beauty around us and as practical as recycling.
On April 23rd, a group of us from the Institute celebrated Earth Day at Alemany Farms, a local, volunteer farm that grows organic food for poor populations. We helped weed beds of chard, distributed compost to new beds, and planted potatoes and tomatoes. Working cooperatively with the earth this way–caring for the soil and sharing its abundance–felt like a beautiful way to honor mother earth. Likewise, we honor the earth by caring for our natural environment, preventing waste and pollution, and supporting green energy.
Spending time in nature can be deeply healing. Being in contact with the earth, by walking barefoot or lying in the grass, grounds us, relieves tension and alleviates stress. We often talk about being in nature as if we are separate from it. Our bodies are a part of nature; caring for them as temples of the Spirit within is also a way of showing reverence. This doesn’t mean obsessing over the appearance of the body, but nourishing it with proper food and rest, and respecting its needs with our posture and breathing.
Our female energies are essentially creative, giving birth to life and nourishing growth with caring and protection. This creative power exists in each of us and we can express it through art, music, and writing. But even starting a business, setting up a home, teaching a Yoga class, or cooking for friends gives expression to this potent energy. We honor it by giving ourselves time to be creative in whatever ways move us.
Yet another way of relating to the feminine aspect is through the image of a Divine Mother. Different female saints and deities, each a personification of certain spiritual qualities, may inspire someone to seek protection and guidance. By acknowledging a spiritual presence beyond the ego-mind and its limited ideas, we humble ourselves and open our hearts to receive a grace that is always present. Praying this way, or invoking the Divine Mother through a ritual like puja, can be a powerful way to access an inner strength and rise above selfish thinking by feeling our connection to a Higher Power.
An obvious but often overlooked way of honoring the Divine Mother is to honor our own mothers. Many of us may follow the American tradition of celebrating Mother’s Day by expressing our gratitude and offering gifts of appreciation to our physical mothers, or anyone who has been a mother figure in our lives.
Our modern culture places so much importance on science and technology–a rational, male oriented way of relating to the world. This analytical mindset has separated us from our natural interconnection with the very creation we dwell in, and contributed to many of the problems we now face. Honoring the Divine Feminine can help us balance the masculine and feminine principles and experience ourselves as part of the whole. This shift will enable us to see with a more global vision and may help solve the problems that torment our world.