What About the Feminine? How Patriarchal Value Systems Affect Consciousness

What About the Feminine - How Patriarchal Value Systems Affect Consciousness

By Christa Mackinnon

Guest writer for Wake Up World

“The world will be saved by Western Women.” ~  Dalai Lama, 2009

Not long ago I spoke to a friend who is part of a team organizing a consciousness conference. Looking at the speakers and their subjects, I was surprised that a conference dedicated to ‘ecology, consciousness, human evolution, spirituality, future’ didn’t include a topic that explored the outcomes of the imbalance of the feminine and masculine in our patriarchal societies. This was reflected in the line up of speakers, who were predominantly male. I checked a few more events in the consciousness conference calendar and found a similar picture: only one third, or sometimes even less, of the speakers were female.

This wouldn’t be worth mentioning if we were dealing with a different subject, but it certainly warrants some reflection when we look at conferences within the consciousness, eco, and spirituality scene. We all begin to understand that a functioning, sustainable whole requires the feminine and the masculine to be integrated within the individual and within humanity as a whole, and we are increasingly aware of the dysfunctional results of millennia of human development based almost solely on patriarchal, masculine value systems.

The issues deriving from this one-sided way of thinking and being reach from the appalling way women were, and still are, treated all over the world to the over-exploitation of our planet’s (mother earth’s) resources. They show themselves in the way we use wars as a means of conflict resolution and in the non-caring, self-centered attitudes of our societies. They have led to the exclusion of the feminine from our major religions and to valuing individual success, hierarchical structures and left-brain scientific thinking more than caring for communities, sharing structures and emotional  intelligence and connection.

None of the countless issues we face on this planet today can be resolved by our current way of thinking and being, based on our established, mainly masculine, value systems.  

So, why is the feminine principle not more prominent as a subject and, as importantly, why aren’t more women invited to speak about it? When I asked my friend, who is a heart- and soul-orientated guy, this question, he replied “Oh, it didn’t even occur to us.” Yes, that’s exactly it! It is a kind of ‘thoughtless’ acceptance of the status quo.

The Development

The feminine wasn’t always subordinate to the masculine. As far as we know, it was the earth – nature itself  –  who provided our ancient, tribal forefathers and mothers with the concept of the Great Mother and with a value system based on nature’s ways and cycles. The Great Mother was a symbol of life itself. In her womb grew all of life; from her body emerged all of life; she sustained all of life through the nourishment she provided, and all living things retuned to her when dying. Therefore, the Great Mother, as an inclusive force of life and its cycles, was seen as being sacred.

What About the Feminine - How Patriarchal Value Systems Affect Consciousness - insetThe feminine principle stems in its origins from this nature-based concept, as the female body exhibits the same patterns and cycles as nature. Consequently, the feminine was seen as the life-giving, nurturing, sustaining and life-embracing force, the ‘creative vessel of life that contained, birthed, nurtured and protected’. Not surprising, then, that ancient people respected the feminine.

Over many millennia, we developed from a tribal, hunter-gatherer existence. We became more powerful users of tools and resources; we established agriculture and individual possession; we begun to fight territorial wars; we started  to build big cities and civilizations and we grew in numbers. And as all of this was happening, our spiritual systems changed: the feminine, as the sacred womb-creatrix, was replaced by the masculine all-powerful god-head. We went from female goddesses and priestesses, to both male and female deities, and then to the dominance of the male gods and male priests.

These gods were fierce, war-orientated, powerful creatures, competing with each other for influence and for the possession and sub-ordination of the feminine. This became increasingly evident in ancient Greece around 500 – 400 BC, but so far as our current state of consciousness is concerned the subjugation of the feminine principle reached its culmination in Judaism, Christianity and Islam. In these three ‘religions of the book’ the ‘one masculine God in the sky’ is firmly established whilst the sacred feminine disappears either completely or is, as in Christianity for instance, replaced with a split, guilty woman and a holy mother, subordinated to her son.

It should therefore be no surprise that, parallel to this development, and driving it economically and socially, value systems based on the masculine came increasingly to dominate all levels of society. The feminine, which is defined as the life-giving, nurturing, heart-centred (emotional), intuitive, life-sustaining and circularly-connecting force was increasingly suppressed, belittled, devalued, silenced and even persecuted — and firmly defined as ‘inferior’ to the masculine force, which is the head-centered (analytical), rational, hierarchically directed, seeding, fight-orientated and conquering force.

The Future

This gradual implementation of a patriarchal, masculine (value) system, which is too complex in its many strands to describe in one article, has brought us much by way of material, scientific and cultural riches, but has now reached a point where the destructive outweighs the benefits, where it cannot serve us any longer. Basic attributes of the feminine principle, the life-giving, life-sustaining, the nurturing, the emotional, the intuitive, the inclusive and connective, as well as the wild, nature-based force need now to be brought to the fore, valued and implemented. These values need to enter into our consciousness as a system on which we base our way of life, our relating to each other and our decisions, if we want to find ways and means to create positive change.

What About the Feminine - How Patriarchal Value Systems Affect ConsciousnessNo longer is it helpful to look at our problematic development needs from a dis-connected, head-centered, self-serving, exploiting view of life. We need to cultivate a way of being that strives for emotional connection and honours intuitive knowing, a consciousness that helps us to experience ourselves as being part of the whole living community. No longer can we afford to base our life on a war consciousness that demands ‘to conquer markets’, to make ‘war on drugs and terror’, to ‘fight climate change’, to ’struggle for success within hierarchical systems’. No longer can we afford to turn a blind eye when looking at the mental health statistics, which show that a quarter of the UK population now suffers from depression and/or anxiety. Our rational, pharmaceutical and profitable approach to this problem is to medicate, but we need the nurturing, caring, sharing, compassionate and feminine approach if we are to create a society that does not suffer chronically  from mental  health problems. And no longer can we ignore that loneliness and isolation is at an all-time high in our elders, who should be the source of our wisdom teachings,  and in our young people, who are our future.

No longer can we afford to put factual knowledge above the emotional, communicative and intuitive, because the vast knowledge and facts we have accumulated neither deter us, nor do they make us feel compassionate. We have, for instance, become numb to the fact that we rear animals brutally and slaughter them to provide us with the 7 billion tons of meat we consume every year (that’s over 100,000 living beings per minute). We have numbed ourselves to the pain of the earth and become accustomed to the fact that we over-exploit her for resources, which are used mainly to keep up our so called ‘life-styles’ and to produce unnecessary goods. We have become numb to the suffering of mothers and children in war zones all around the world and rarely do we take the time to consciously form and contribute to communities, which might help us to overcome our isolation.

In other words, no longer can we afford to cultivate a consciousness that is based on masculine principles.

If we could just begin to feel again, instead of running away from our uncomfortable emotions by taking prescription drugs or distracting ourselves though entertainment, TV, internet, social media and more. If we could cultivate our heart responses, allow ourselves to communicate with each other more, tune into what is happening around us properly and feel the suffering, we could begin to take the first steps. If we would allow ourselves to honour woman in her wholeness, her life giving abilities, her cycles and wildness and all the stages of her life, from young to old, which would teach us much about nature. If societies would value woman’s ability to nurture and to connect, her capacity for endurance, communication and intuitive emotionality instead of wanting women to be forever young, plastically enhanced, sex-goddesses whilst expecting them to compete and succeed in the work place or stay in low paid jobs, nurture the children, care for the elderly, run our charities, stay out of religious hierarchies and whilst doing all of this and more, never, ever utter the word ‘feminism’.

When we allow ourselves to explore the feminine as a principle, to look at deeper ways of experiencing it, to bring feminine principle values, such as compassion, emotional intelligence, connecting, sharing, caring and nature connected wildness into our education systems and much more, then we will, and not before time, be taking vital steps in the right direction. Needless to say, I believe that the ‘consciousness scene’ should be at the forefront of this.

There can be no paradigm shift without honouring and implementing the feminine principle equally on all levels of society.

About the author:

Christa Mackinnon

Christa Mackinnon holds a Master of Science in psychology and is a family counselor, clinical hypnotherapist and shamanic teacher. She has worked as a psychologist, therapist, trainer, lecturer and trauma consultant internationally for 25 years, and is an honorary teaching fellow at the University of Exeter in the UK.

Christa sees her current work as ‘Bridging the Worlds’ between the ancient shamanic and the contemporary therapeutic. Based on her ground-breaking book on the subject matter, she facilitates Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses for professionals, speaks at conferences, and lectures widely. She also facilitates courses and retreats for women and is currently in the process of writing a new book, which will be about the feminine.

Christa is the author of three books:

They can be purchased on here on Amazon.

Christa can be reached via her website, christamackinnon.com

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  • Maria

    I agree, rescuing the feminine in us is essential. However the feminine particularly in these days is not an exclusive characteristic of women, many men nowadays have it more pronounced than many women. Women have nurtured their male side, understandably perhaps. The feminine by the way, is always symbolised by the figure of a beautiful young woman, this is of course a modern bias product of our objectifying culture.

  • DB

    This is a product of constant brainwashing for centuries. Even now, the media will use the term *screamed (or cried) like a girl* as an *insult*. It’s common for males to use this *insult* with each other without giving it a second thought. Plus all the television shows and movies that stress a woman is nothing without a man…

    Too many men benefit in the subjugation of women. It’s that simple.

  • Windy Boatright

    Thank you so much for sharing your profound wisdom. This article has put into text the message that I have been receiving from my higher self and have been unable to put into words for others to understand. There is a shift desperately trying to take place. Thank you for your insight, knowledge and articulation of the subject matter to help move others forward in their conscious thinking.

  • Angela Bluestar

    I loved this read, and share with you your view of the world. There are many women out there in all parts of the world who also share in this view, and it warms my heart to know that this message is spreading. We do not spread this out of ego, but out of compassion and love, out of bravery to stand by a higher truth and to speak when we are taught to be silent. Thank you for speaking! 🙂

    On a personal level, I have been doing my own research on this subject to better understand the experiences I have undergone, and to allow healing into my heart. I grew up as an orphan in a western country. While I can in no way say I have been unfortunate in life, the emotional, phychological, spiritual and physical effects of a lifetime of this experience have made it’s impact on my person. To allow for healing we need to acknowledge these dark areas in our lives, feel the emotions that reside in them, and from there search for a way to let love in. Love, of course, heals all.

    In my research I have been looking into the psychological issues orphans face. Most of this research has been conducted in African countries where the largest numbers seem to be. The results I feel are firmly directed to the affects of the feminine ability to heal. While all children living in orphanages scored lower in iq tests to those children living in “normal” conditions, the results of fosture care seemed to be where the differences were to be had. Males were not affected by this change, their iq tests were the same either way. The females, on the other hand, had significantly higher scores when living with a fosture family. This sense of a community, of support, gave them what was needed to overcome some of the emotional and psychological issues all orphans face.

    If we view humanity as lost orphans, this over use of patriarchy seems to suit men just fine, as with the orphans tested it made little difference to be exposed to a community environment and the negative behavious of their emotional trauma persisted. But with the females, if they were loved and helped they excelled. Introducing the feminine back into this world will give the woman a chance to feel loved again, to feel important, confident, and will allow the loving, life-giving nature to flourish over this planet.

    Balance is needed to heal both sides.

    Love and light,

  • Nicky

    Believe a new era demands new thinking – undoubtedly patriarchy has run it’s course, has caused so much damage and continues to do so.
    But believe that ANY divisions, starting with the supposed male/female absolute divide, can only be detrimental to a new world paradigm.

    Believe ‘Mother Earth’ should be simply ‘Earth’ – yes, females carry the unborn child, but both male and female are necessary and equal, each having their own strengths – both can be warriors when called for as well as nurturers.

    End all divisions.

  • Tyler Balkman

    The feminine and females are not synonymous. My personal theory is to attain perfection, men must tap into and integrate the feminine while women must develop and become the masculine. Men can then take on the role of creating while women heal, keeping things in balance while men alchemize. We are headed in this direction, where woman will be better suited to make decisions and run things while men can take on an innovation role.

  • Siv Sunday

    Thank You for this. I believe that this Shift is happening now, and for me this article is a part of that, because I have also been wanting to write exactly this… I wanted to add the witch hunt in the middle ages, because they managed to eradicate and destroy goddess temples, and they killed both men and women who believed in the feminine mysteries. Men are equally discriminated when the feminine principle is missing.

  • Amy

    What a great article. Thank you.

  • Manjot

    A recent soul metaplay on the day of supermoon and equinox, manifested Shiva(masculine) and Shakti(feminine).
    Shiva pointed out the contempt in females of their feminine aspect. While shakti showed how to be nurturing which made the females jealous of the place the shakti held beside the shiva. They ridiculed shakti for acting mother.
    The resolution came in an enlightening way. Slowly females which were fragmented themselves before started loving each other and embraced the shakti as mother god and finally felt one with Shiva.
    It took courage to love.

  • Aho! Blessed BE!! so it IS!!!
    <3 ~2~ <3

  • Melanie Pearson Morfitt

    Inclusive and teamwork vs dominance and hierarchy. Together we are all better.

  • P.

    Wonderful article however I do not advocate feminism. It is a division.