I have always loved stories, particularly the memory of Mum reading Little Women to me and my sister before bed. I remember treasuring the cosiness of sisterhood running through the novel, as well as the stirrings of a deep-seated injustice that I didn’t truly understand. I identified with tom-boy heroine Jo, as she fought to resist conforming to traditional expectations of demure femininity and domesticity. And at the same time I adored gentle, quiet Beth and her escape from reality through the piano, leading me to pester Dad to buy me a piano when I was 9.
Even at the tender age of 9, I could sense a power, creativity and strength within me that needed to be released on the world, to light my light, and deliver my magic. However, this inner strength and creativity was frequently misunderstood and suppressed as I tussled with placating a patriarchal father who had another life plan for his little women.
It would take many years of floundering and battling before my connection to the Feminine Infinite Flowing Force was felt and understood. This connection was my coming home, that came with the realisation that feminine is anything but “demure” and “little”, or something that is confined to domesticity.
The sacred feminine is all powerful…..oh my goodness how spectacularly magical, mysterious, and untamed she is…. she is fierce and graceful, and she moves with the rhythm of the soul.
This subtle feminine force that exists within man and woman - Shakti - is the force that enlivens the world, that is life-giving and the power behind spiritual growth. In the West we live in a Yang-biased culture, dominated by the masculine, rational, analytical force, while the magical, all-embracing feminine has been denigrated, disgraced and cast into hiding. Unfortunately we can see the damage this imbalance is creating in our world. Without the tempering calm and cool of the feminine, the masculine polarity has become so directed in its focus that it neglects to consider who it runs over, even making a victim out of its own body! Everyone is suffering because of this imbalance, both men and women. The whole world is waiting for the sacred reunion of the masculine and feminine forces, the harmonisation of yin and the yang, so we can become whole again.
I have been exploring new ways of understanding the feminine force, using stories and myths, focusing on the energy of Goddess mythic beings. Welcoming them into my meditation practice they help bring forward sacred powers beyond my limited ego. For centuries the Indian and Tibetan Tantric traditions have taught meditations and mantras for bringing deity energy into the body and mind. Goddesses are especially potent since they personify shakti, the feminine force. Practicing with these stories and mantras can invite transformative energies into your life.
My favourite is Durga, the protective mother of the universe - she is the Shakti you call on for strength, protection and transformation - she carries a spear, a mace, a discus, a bow and a sword - as well as a conch (symbolising creative sound), a lotus (representing fertility) and a rosary (symbolising prayer)
But she is so much more than a warrior goddess. She is also the power behind spiritual awakening, the inner force that unleashes spiritual power within the human body in the form of Kundalini. She is a guardian : beautiful, queenly and motherly.
As the magical, mystical, other-world aspects of our lives have been ignored and undermined, even our mothers have stopped believing in their Shakti power. They have become numb and stagnant, no longer able to feel it. The tales and myths of Durga are the stories I turn to today as I invite the flow of Shakti energy - the feminine flowing force - to guide and transform me. I also return to the mystical, spiritual places, such as Sri Lanka, to enliven me with their magic, ritual, chanting and connection.
Go in search of your magic - find your stories, find your places, and run to them as often as you can.