An Emerging Feminine Consciousness

A warning: This blog post is back to the tangent based on my current exploration into feminist writing.  If this type of information is not of interest to you, I’ll return to more “retirement transition – life journey” stuff soon. 

This post begins a series on the area I’ve been exploring – learning about our patriarchal history, the systematic destruction of the matriarchal culture, the subjugation of women, the deification of violence, and women’s reality today. Essentially I am trying to break out of a patriarchy mindset and cultivate an emerging feminine consciousness.

Books read to date in this exploration: Goddesses in Older Women by Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD, Goddesses in Everyday Women by Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD, The Virgin’s Promise by Kim Hudson, The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock, When God was a Woman, by Merlin Stone, Woman’s Reality by Anne Wilson Schaef, and Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Peres

Many of the authors, while using different languages, talk similar constructs for the beginning of the patriarchal culture we live in.  These constructs are different than currently accepted constructs of the birth of human civilization being Mesopotamia. By that time, patriarchal systems were already in place.  Before then, most references are made to cultures with no well-defined structure. The authors I am reading beg to differ. Is it that the newest archeology finds have not made it into these long held constructs, or have these authors taken a different interpretation?  I’m going to continue to read, explore, and see if I can find an answer to that.

While each author has a slightly different approach (exploring goddess archetypes, crone archetypes, a woman’s life journey, or today’s society) and each uses different language, in total I am becoming more aware of the Patriarchal Belief Systems ingrained into our culture and our own collective unconscious. The reality is I (and most probably you) live in a predominantly white-male-culture; we are entrenched in the Patriarchal Belief Systems. I grew up in it, survived in it, and in many ways embraced it.  While there might be some shifting elements, it is still the dominant culture and in some cases/places is actually resurgent.

In the Patriarchal Belief Systems, the feminine has been degraded, devalued, and pushed to second-class status. The feminine, whether it is called out as energy of the Goddesses, traits of the Crone, or aspects of the Divine Feminine within, is in essence: embracing feelings, intuition, sexuality, creativity, playfulness, and humor.  Cultivating a feminine consciousness means embracing all those things.

So why am I exploring this space?

The post 50/post menopause/early retirement years are a time of personal wholeness and integration.  In this life stage there are significant life changes with the winding down of commitments, a possible “empty nest” feeling of loss of motherhood status, the end of career with a possible loss of identity and/or connections, and possibly a post menopause feeling of loss of fertility or sexuality.  There can be a feeling of loss for a path not taken or regret for lost opportunities. The adult development at this stage becomes learning to express who you authentically are.  Finding an identity beyond work/career, recognizing personal (not societal/familial) values, and activating strengths in new ways. One of the ways to aid in this time of growth is to recognize the archetypes authentically within and cultivate them, making them visible. Archetypes are part of the collective unconscious – inherited or innate ancestral psychic structures encompassing knowledge and imagery.

For a woman who has embraced the masculine culture, growth can also include healing the wounds inflicted by living in our patrilineal, patriarchal culture and beginning to allow the Divine Feminine of the old matrilineal/matriarchal cultures to reemerge.  To feel a sense of wholeness, my personal growth space is to acknowledge and connect to the feminine within and releasing alliance to patriarchal values – to grow in compassion (versus judgment), enjoy simple pleasures, and connect to nature. 

I hope to share some specifics of my learning in the next few blog posts.

Picture Credit: Me. A sunrise this week.

12 thoughts on “An Emerging Feminine Consciousness

  1. Because I was reliable labor on our family farm, necessity overrode culture, and my father unconsciously taught me how to appear as one of the boys and to operate heavy equipment. It gave me the confidence to observe and face patriarchy as weaker than necessity or the essentials to life. Oh yes, I have to mentally fight as an adult, for the feminine consciousness but I fight better when I don’t fight patriarchy because men too are under its crunch, but I fight fear. I fearlessly connect with women expressing the feminine consciousness, I showed my husband he doesn’t need to fear doing laundry, and when society tells me to stop expressing myself through religion, I smile and keep following ideas respectful to an undivided consciousness of doing to others as I’d have done to myself. Thanks for going off on a tangent!

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  2. I too have found this time of life (though not quite retired yet) to be one of personal wholeness and integration, one of learning who I really am at the core. It is certainly interesting to think about how living in a patriarchal society has shaped our lives and ourselves. I live in a place where not only is it a predominately white male culture, but also there is one predominant religion. I love my community, but find that can at times be a challenge.

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    1. Christie, I think you’ll be interested in the next couple of blogs where I really dive into patriarchal culture. For someone who lived in it and embraced it, it’s been mind-opening. I’m still trying to figure out who I am, at the core. Not who I’ve become, per cultural/societal expectation.

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  3. Love reading your learning and perspectives. I am currently ‘stuck’ in learning about moving from role to soul…and embracing the older years. I am, as I have mentioned before maybe not a “midlife” woman or blogger…those years are long gone. I am still musing on things..and enjoying the learning too as I think you are for yourself.

    Thank you for sharing your post for Life This Week. I enjoy seeing your blog’s post pop up in the link up. Warm wishes, Denyse.

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    1. Denyse, Well, unless I live to 120, I’m no longer a mid-life blogger either! While I’m not quite able to say “embracing my older years”, I can agree with musing and learning. I really like the phrase “role to soul” and feel that’s also what I’m working on. I’m glad you’re enjoying this tangent I am on – it’s a bit scary to go out on a limb like this. It’s so different than my normal retirement lifestyle blogging!

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    1. Thank you for that! This is a bit scary – being on such a big tangent from my normal stuff. But yes, I tend to jump in on exploring things. I’ve got 6 books still in the to-be-read pile, but needed to synthesize what I’d read already… a couple more posts are drafted so yes, more to come.

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  4. There’s definitely a lot to unpack in this area – for me I always feel left out of conversations about women with jobs because I don’t have kids, and it always seems to centre on that.

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    1. Being child-free by choice does make one an oddity at our age. I’ve learned to ask questions and just do active listening. The hardest thing for me is trying to keep everyone’s kids separate in my head – who’s just broken up, who’s moving, who’s having a baby. I sometimes think I need rolodex file cards like in the old days! It was interesting recently listening to one friend talk about how she felt as a young working mom with non-working mom’s in her community. In their eye’s (per their comments) she was a “bad mom”!

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  5. Hi Pat – I absolutely agree that “The post 50/post menopause/early retirement years are a time of personal wholeness and integration” . It’s been a fantastic time for me to finally dig down deep and discover my true self and my self-worth in the process. I’m relieved to no longer work for medical and dental specialists who have god complexes and think women are there to facilitate their lives. I don’t miss the culture at all and I love being surrounded by strong, like-minded women IRL and online. It doesn’t get much better than what I have these days. I guess I’m embracing my “goddess”.

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    1. Leanne, Hearing you say “embracing my goddess” gave me a chuckle! I love that you feel like you’re coming into your true self and having a good sense of self-worth in the process. This reading I am doing is definitely pushing me to think about my authentic self even more… digging deeper. Some of it gives me conflicting feelings, since I was one who really embraced the patriarchal hierarchal culture. It’s been a bit eye-opening on my own beliefs.

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