Five Elements of Feminine Power

Five Elements of Feminine Power

The tiger symbolises Feminine power in several Eastern traditions. It’s a potent symbol for women as it challenges the stereotype of the Feminine as being accommodating, sacrificing and domesticated. Of course, women have been fighting against such limited definition for decades. Nevertheless, clear, clean and non manipulative expressions of Feminine power are rarely demonstrated.

Is this your story?

As a young woman, you believed that the world was your oyster. And so it may have seemed for some years. You worked hard, intending to claim your place in the world. And you did.

But then, cracks started to appear in the perfect dream you mapped out for yourself. Maybe you burned out. Or your body complained about your lifestyle in another way, through illness. Maybe the knight in shining armour never showed up. Or when he did, the relationship didn’t match your expectations – and didn’t last. Maybe you tried to ‘have it all’ before you realised that there were only so many hours in the day.

And one day, your ideals, and perhaps your self esteem too, began to crumble….

Women of all ages are exposed to a daily bombardment of  messages about how a successful woman should look and be.

Many of us have discovered that the prevailing image of success comes at a price. Some keep paying the price. Others either can’t because of the toll on their health or won’t (and redefine success for themselves).

This is not surprising as patriarchal cultures cause suppression of the Feminine and elevation of the Masculine. In the process, the inner Feminine, in both men and women, lacks development. I believe this is particularly damaging to the health, well being and potential of women.

There is a collective Feminine Wound, which could be the root of many of the pressing problems our world faces. And this wound causes problems in day to day lives, at work and in relationship.

While we may not have conscious awareness of this wound, we most likely have some symptoms. The suppressed anger at the centre of the Feminine Wound is often expressed as chronic sadness, depression or, when it can no longer be contained, in explosive/destructive ways.

As I see it this calls for a new definitions of success and power that are more healthy for women and re-address the cultural bias towards the Masculine.

During my study of esoteric eastern spiritual pathways, I was introduced to a map or model of power that illustrates the difference between distorted/wounded expressions and those that are aligned with the universal flow of power and wisdom. Power is considered to be Feminine in the traditions I have studied. (Feminine represents the moving aspect of consciousness ie. energy/power. Masculine represents the still, containing aspect ie. the ground of consciousness.)

In this model, power is not obtained via position, it’s obtained via growth in consciousness and right relationship between the inner Masculine and Feminine aspects. (This holds true for both women and men.)

Right relationship between Masculine and Feminine arises when the Masculine aspect, supports the Feminine. If either the Feminine or Masculine becomes dominant and out of balance, problems arise.

To develop understanding of this concept, let’s take the example of a river. The Feminine aspect would be akin to the flowing water. The Masculine aspect would be akin to the banks that hold the water.

Without banks, the water would have no direction and no power. In fact, without banks holding it in place, that water can create a lot of damage through flooding. (Feminine dominance).

With the banks and other containing systems in place, that water has many potential creative uses eg. to irrigate land, to provide communities with hydro-electric power, to distribute water to homes etc.

Too many systems, too much containment and there a different set of problems.

This simple analogy demonstrates that the current conversation about Feminine Power need not be adversarial. The point is not Feminine vs. Masculine (or men vs women). The point is right relationship between Feminine and Masculine, because, in truth they can never be separated!

In patriarchal cultures the relationship between Feminine and Masculine is not ideal. The world suffers. Relationships suffer.

You can change your world faster than you can change The World.

I hope this description of the Five Elements of Power (from an Indian yogic tradition) gives you insight into your own patterns of distortion and wisdom.

And if you’d like to work on those and transform them into more effective expressions of Feminine power, please contact me!

1. Know your Home Base (the Space Element, from which the other elements flow)

 

Discover the origin of basic desires – to come home to ourselves, to be enfolded by love, to find a beloved.

Your success. Your purpose. The clarity of your callings. And your ability to transform your wounds, from pain to gifts, depends on this.

 

2.   Attend to your Foundations (the Earth Element)

 

Fundamental insecurity and instability lies at the root of pride, arrogance, superiority, material accumulation/hoarding and also opposite energies, such as impoverishment, self deprecation/inferiority, denial of needs and lack of care for self and possessions.

The restorative wisdom and nectar of the Earth element, generates safety, equanimity, self care and generosity of heart and mind.

 

3.  Re- consider your Defences (the Water Element)

 

Authentic vulnerability, the ability to self disclose with comfort, is not supported or developed in environments where there is fear of violation and invalidation. Fearing and feeling threat, defensive strategies form a protective shell, while resentments and anger may fester below the surface.

As you restore the nectar and wisdom of the Water element, you will access and improve the ability to remain calm and non reactive, while stating personal truth.

 

4. Trust your Intuition (the Air Element)

 

Effortless action, self confidence and accomplishment can be inhibited by worry, anxieties and neuroses. The mind becomes caught in self-criticism, judgment and self doubt.

As you restore the nectar and wisdom of the Air element, you learn what can be trusted. As confidence in inner knowing and received insight increases, you are less affected by the opinions of others that throw you off centre.

 

5. Engage afresh in Relationships (the Fire Element)

 

The wounds of past abandonments and betrayals may have numbed the ability to relate.

Clear boundaries, respectful interest, compassion and discernment are restored through transformation available as you work with the Fire element, strengthening the ground for the creation of mutually supportive, life enhancing relationships.

Align with the flow of power so that you can live in the flow of life. Discover the wisdom, power and passion of the Feminine. ~ Cathy Rowan

Work with me

 

Are relationships that have ended still sabotaging your happiness?

Are relationships that have ended still sabotaging your happiness?

In recent conversations, I’ve been very aware of 1) deep human longing to share love with another and 2) lack of understanding that relational problems have their source in inner energetic patterns.

On the surface may be behaviours that cause separation rather than connection. Underneath self protective behaviours are the energetic residue of past traumatic experiences.

The truth is that when sabotaging patterns remain unresolved, they will repeat with another person, albeit in a slightly different way.

Let’s consider three situations, that are quite common, in my experience.

1- A woman who is still so hurt by a betrayal that led to divorce that she doesn’t think she can trust anyone again. The marriage ended 10 years ago and she hasn’t dated since.

2-  A woman who remains in a long term relationship that appears to others to be good. But the difficult dynamics, not seen on social occasions by others, are destroying her soul and her sanity.

3- A woman who is in a relationship that seems more healthy and promising than those in the past. As she has relaxed into the relationship and found trust in her partner, she is surprised to discover something in herself that limits a deepening into what she intuits to be her full sexual potential.

I wish the same for my clients as I do for myself – to be a fully expressed human being. This often requires courage to move beyond a comfort zone, followed by dedication to a transformational process.

Transformation is more easily accomplished with a specific type of support that includes: confidence in your ability to grow, holding at your growing edge and the objective vision to guide you forward.

Here are the indications that coaching might help you.

  • if you know you are caught defensive/self protective strategies that have become habitual
  • if you can’t move forward because of the lack of completion of a previous relationship
  • you keep attracting people and situations that deplete your energy

Difficult dynamics make sense when considered from an energetic point of view. A solution awaits – Relational Mastery.

 


What women aged over 35 think of power

What women aged over 35 think of power

A very interesting piece of research on women and power was published by Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Melinda Marshall of the Center for Talent Innovation in 2015.

They surveyed professional women, between the ages of 35 and 50, in the US, the UK and Germany to find out what they wanted.

It was discovered that they want they same things that professional men want.

  • to feel in control of their career
  • to have their work recognised
  • to find meaning and purpose through their work
  • to be able to empower others
  • to have financial security

The difference that was found between women and men is this. Men in this age group sustain their interest in the importance of power and seek it. Women lose their interest in power, as they get older.

The report continued with recommendations for employers on how to encourage and retain talented women. They quote the following data from another US study.

Women without Power

Ability to flourish    18%

Ability to excel       70%

Feeling purpose      26%

Feeling empowered 14%

Contrast this with –

Women with Power

Ability to flourish    58%

Ability to excel       87%

Feeling purpose      63%

Feeling empowered 61%

Here the word power means ‘powerful position’.

I think the figures are on the low side even for women with the power of position, excepting the opportunity to excel. Those figures mean that 42% of women in powerful positions do not feel that they are flourishing. 47% do not find meaning and purpose through their work. 49% neither feel empowered nor feel they have the opportunity to empower others.

No wonder, in the UK, women leaders are the fastest growing segment of self employed entrepreneurs (reported by Jean Martin in the Guardian, May 2015).

The biggest drop out of women from the corporate world comes at the mid career point.

While it might be easy to assume that this is for work/life balance while raising children, this may not be the full story.

Apparently, a whopping 38% of American women, 39% of British women and 41% of German women aged 35-50 do not have children.

Do you think this could mean that as many women drop out due to disillusionment, as due to wanting better work/life balance?

In my experience:

People opt out when they believe their current circumstances won’t change.

People opt out when they are fed up with the feeling of hitting their head against a brick wall.

People opt out when the environment that they are in is not conducive to their growth or in alignment with their values.

In the 1980’s (yes I was in the workforce then and can speak from personal experience) women’s empowerment was all about breaking the ‘glass ceiling’. And some women succeeded.

Is it possible that the new wave of women leaders are not as interested in proving themselves within male dominated environments?

Just maybe they don’t lose their interest in power. Maybe they lose their interest in the forms of power that prevail!

If so, by opting out they are saying no to something that doesn’t work for them and yes to something that could.

It makes no sense that women would lose their interest in power as they get older, given that wisdom traditions the world over consider the menopausal transition as being a passage to power for women.

Is it possible that women that ‘drop out’ are really ‘dropping’ into tune with their innate feminine power? 

It interests me that women may be opting out in their peri-menopausal and menopausal years driven unconsciously by biological impulses.

If you are one of those women, I can help you to reframe the whole topic of power – in order to step into your most powerful and significant expression yet.


The difference between female, feminine and Feminine

The difference between female, feminine and Feminine

I’ve been dialoguing about the explosion of interest in Feminine leadership with the wise women that I know.

We agree that women are awakening and claiming power – spiritual, sexual, financial and heartfelt, hard earned wisdom.

But is female leadership the same as Feminine leadership?

I personally think there is a distinction to be made.

As interest in this topic increases more people use the terms ‘feminine leadership’ and ‘feminine power’ in their blogs and business offerings. The distinction between female, relating to gender, and Feminine, which is non gender specific, becomes important.

A respected leader, whether male or female, is likely to be able to harness both Masculine and Feminine qualities as appropriate to a situation.

Having said that, male and female bodies and brains are wired differently. It does make sense that women, by and large, will have greater access to certain qualities and men to others. But, women must take more than their gender into leadership positions.

Sadly, we are most familiar with stories of abuse of power in leadership. Female leaders are not immune.

My personal view is that a call for Feminine leadership is a response to abuses of power. For me, Feminine leadership implies a change to the patriarchal ‘power over’ paradigm.

Feminine leadership might be framed around an honouring of Feminine values, which include the honouring of women, the arts, the earth and all forms of life on it.

The importance of inner work for leaders is a newly emerging theme. The approach, which might emerge, to the benefit of both women and men, is neither patriarchal ego/male oriented nor matriarchal ego/female oriented.

Initiations to the Feminine are not new – neither for women nor for men.

Joseph Campbell identified ‘The Meeting with the Goddess’ as a key transformational stage on his model of the human journey, in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, published in 1949.

Often, Hero’s Journey is interpreted as being a man’s journey. But, there is another interpretation that deserves consideration. The Hero is a metaphorical term. When the Hero meets the goddess, he is changed in some way. He surrenders, stops fighting and starts to serve and support her.

There is deep longing in both women and men to meet the Feminine.

Food for thought:

  1. ‘The woman who does not require validation from anyone is the most feared individual on the planet.’ Mohadesa Najumi
  2.  The Feminine is the transformational aspect of Consciousness, according to tantric wisdom.
  3. It was at the Vancouver Peace Summit, in 2009, that the Dalai Lama made the statement that many women’s initiatives now quote. He gave the opinion that ‘the world will be saved by the Western women.’

‘Me too’ and the transformation of patriarchy

‘Me too’ and the transformation of patriarchy

The line has been drawn.

The fire has been lit and is now raging.

The women’s march. The ‘me too’ movement. President Trump. Harvey Weinstein. Michael Fallon and others.

Sexual manipulation by those in positions of power is unacceptable.

 The first step in any transformation is to bring what is hidden, denied or avoided into the open.
 
Thanks to social media, secrecy has become difficult.
 
A behaviour that has been normalized in the past is no longer acceptable.
 
That much is clear.
 
We also know that the repression of ‘carnal desires’ doesn’t work.  Sanctions don’t work. 
 
There is one solution that is genuinely transformative. 
 
That solution amounts to a transformation of the patriarchal paradigm in which such behaviours have been normalised.
 
The world seems to be struggling with what I would call right relationship between Masculine and Feminine right now.

In the current patriarchal paradigm, this is often made out to be a gender issue. But, patriarchy limits the potential of men just as much as it does women.

Patriarchy has done its best to de-power the Feminine. Men have an inner feminine aspect. The growth and development of that aspect has clearly been stunted and distorted in those that manipulate, objectify and marginalise women.

We’ve been presented with an authoritive, abusive, ‘power over’ framework.

Men, as well as women, have been denied knowledge of the true roles of the Divine Masculine and the Divine Feminine. 

Some of you will know that I have an ongoing and deep interest in the practices of the Indian traditions of Kashmir Shaivism and Sri Vidya.
 
What I love most about these traditions is that the metaphor and art are illustrations of right relationship between Masculine and Feminine.
 
Yes, much of the imagery is erotic. But it’s not meant to be interpreted through the lens of carnal desire. 
 
The Feminine Herself is the transformative force. She is inter-dependent with the Divine Masculine.

She is the expression of His power! He is the necessary containing and supportive force to Her expression. Her power lacks direction without this Masculine function.

Elevated from carnal knowledge to divine wisdom these images speak of the potential of every man and woman.

The Masculine and Feminine are energetic principles. When the Feminine is suppressed, the Divine Masculine is inaccessible too.
  

The ‘me too’ movement is bringing what has been hidden out into the open. This is just the first step in a healing process that if for the benefit of both sexes.


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