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.