There’s a process of Feminine Rising underway in the culture and in the workplace that goes beyond quotas and #metoo. We can facilitate its progress by trusting what feels foreign but also deeply familiar. In this 3-part series, we look at how.
It’s a wild paradigm shift that happens over the span of a few weeks. This is the third essay in a series I’ve written about the rise of the Feminine in the workplace (not just women, the Feminine in all things). The first two installments were written before the Pandemic swept across the globe and changed everyone and everything for good. It’s taken some time for me to understand how to close the series and what to write about that can be helpful to leaders in the middle of this crisis.
Not helpful in the sense of instructional…which, in a time like this feels superficial and hubristic. What I want now is to be helpful in other ways…in Feminine ways, really. It is the Masculine that seeks to instruct (skillful means) and the Feminine which seeks to know directly through experience (wisdom). What’s happening now is a big, heaping dose of direct experience. And so, this last essay won’t provide constructs or tactics or strategies. It will be a transmission of that state of wholeness which is only achievable when the Feminine is known and honored for the radiance and wisdom She is in Reality. This essay is a call to honor and recognize what we’re being asked to remember about how Life works and the beyond-human energies that truly govern things…beyond the reach of mankind and our faulty systems.
I wrote in Essay One:
If “The Feminine” is one thing (and it most certainly is not), it is ineffable; meaning it cannot be expressed in words. So primordial, so essential, so fundamental, so all-encompassing, it can only be pointed to conceptually or experienced directly. It is Mother, Maiden, Crone. It is Nature. It is Yin. Cultures throughout time have had ways of naming and honoring this force — goddesses and landmarks embody aspects of Her — and individual humans have found Her in the processes of life that come with and through the body: birth, living, relating, loving, hurting, healing, and death.
One way to look at this moment is as a wake-up call or even a punishment. We’ve been grounded by the Great Mother; forcing us into a state of lockdown and putting a grinding halt to the extractive commerce that was destroying Life on the planet and the Life in our lives. “Go to your rooms (I am in charge here)! I don’t want you to come out until you’ve thought long and hard about what you’ve done (reflection). I want an apology (remorse). And I don’t want you to ever do that again (this is a warning).”
Remembering that the Mother is forceful precisely because she loves us, because she has our best interests at heart, and because she doesn’t want us to hurt ourselves. Her boundaries are for our protection and development and for the good of the whole.
I have known for a long time that integrating the Feminine would be scary and provocative. I knew it would come with a great deal of resistance. It did in my own life and that has been my experience working to awaken Feminine wisdom within people and organizations. Why? Because it fundamentally upsets the balance of power. We’re seeing that now. We’re witnessing that now. We’re having a direct experience of that now. It’s truly awesome. And I mean that in all senses of that small word.
This work of integrating the Feminine dimension into Masculine-dominant spaces is tricky. In some ways, She doesn’t need help. She is wisdom itself: Sophia. One thing we can count on with The Feminine is that wisdom will and does prevail…though not necessarily through the behaviors of Her human children. Nature knows how to correct imbalance…or rather, how to be in balance. Through a human lens, her movements can seem cruel or violent, like the eruption of a volcano that demolishes a village or the drought that ruins crops. Or a pandemic.
I may yet write that instructional piece. People love lists and tidy instructions about what to DO. But, the doing now needs to arise from a new way of BEING and that right there is the Feminine. Almost overnight, we have begun the shift from a goal orientation (Masculine) to a process orientation (Feminine). How we do things is now as important as what we do. It’s not one OR the other, it’s BOTH.
This adds a layer of complexity and nuance to decision-making that has been ignored for a long time. Our “by any means necessary” mentality in business and competitive markets is disappearing as the humans at the heart of our organizations come back into focus; as “consumers” take back their identity as individual and children of this Earth with real needs versus the needs fabricated by the media and advertising.
Right now what I see many leaders DOING is reacting from a place of fear. This will most certainly backfire. So what do we do in the face of a power greater than our small grasping selves? Let go. Like the monkey with his hand in the coconut trap, freedom comes when you let go. The most important thing our leaders need to get now is this: tension comes from resistance. The trouble comes from decisions made from a place of contraction. This is not to say DO nothing. It’s to say…DO something, but from a place of BEING awake and surrendered to Reality.
But how? How? I can hear you asking. This is not something that can be learned overnight. This is advanced-level human stuff. So, if you are a leader who doesn’t flinch at the idea of surrendering to Reality-as-it-is or at least senses that there is something important in those words, please step forward. If you are a leader who has no idea what I am talking about, then please cede the power you were granted in the old paradigm and hand it over to someone (more likely a community of someones) who does. As you do so, you can say these words softly and from the heart: “I give up.”
See? That’s how it feels to surrender to what wants to happen. And the beauty is that we’ve got you, too. You are still important. Not because you are CEO, but because you are a Child of God and Goddess. Because you were born. We want you here and you belong here, just not in charge anymore.
A Spiritual Perspective
There are many ways to make sense of this moment on the planet and all of them contain some truth and many of them are useful. My lens is a Spiritual one. I see what’s happening as an expression of a Divine Will and a process of awakening that includes and transcends humans.
Put it this way: we’re not in the driver’s seat. Truly, we never were. Now, we know it. The sooner we divest ourselves of the illusion of control, the better off we’ll be. There is something of far greater intelligence than ours at work here and what we really need to do in this moment is get quickly reacquainted with something our ancestors relied on for survival: trust. We must trust each other, a higher power, and our own instinct. All of which, are the same thing at the end of the day.
We need to re-learn how to be in relationship with each other and in communion with that intelligence so we can be in service to it. We are servants to that. Every mystic knows this. Every naturalist knows this. Every woman who’s ever birthed a child knows this. Everyone who’s ever faced a life or death situation knows this. It’s time for Humanity to accept our role in a much greater system — not as architects, but as channels for a blueprint that is beyond standard comprehension. Our Tower of Babel is falling. Beyond capitalism and nationalism and politics and economics and religion and culture. Beyond all human constructs, there is a way of BEING that is being gifted to us. If we choose to accept it.
The awakening process is inherently Feminine, catalyzed by the active, dynamic Feminine. That primordial energy of transformation is Feminine. The righting of the relationship between the Masculine and Feminine energies that so many of us have been praying for and working towards is happening. This is what integration feels like. This IS the Rise of the Feminine.
All of this is critical context for anything else I might say. All of this needs to be explicit. Do you feel me? Don’t think about it. Feel it.
Does it feel frightening? Good. You are awake to the scale of the situation. Does it feel baffling? That humility will be important to your being receptive to what’s in store for us. Does it feel frustrating? That’s the feeling of your ego recognizing its time to let go. Does it feel disturbing? That’s the remorse of conscience that humanity needs to feel in order to reckon with the past and not create this same shit again. Does it feel sad? That’s the grief that shows us we care, we love each other, and each one of us — each and every one of us — matters.
Probably there are other feelings present if, like me, this is something you’ve longed for. Does it feel familiar? Yes, this is the knowing in our bones and in the genetic imprint of our ancestors. Does it feel like relief? Yes, this is the fruit we never allowed ourselves to believe we might actually see in our lifetime. Does it feel vivid? Yes, this is the awakening to the direct perception that is necessary to get close to Reality itself. Does it feel ecstatic? You bet.
All of these feelings are raw and real and important. And there are ways to hold ourselves and each other in them. This holding is from the heart and it requires the Feminine. We can get through this together. We need to listen, to hold, to hear, to feel, to receive, to let go, to surrender, to reach out, to weave ourselves together with stronger fabric and to trust that the web can hold us when we fall. Yes, this is our birthright. This is what the world feels like when the Feminine sensual dimensions flow freely in and through and between all expressions of life on the planet: vegetable, animal, mineral, etheric, subtle…This is Eros, passion, sacred creation at work. You and I have not yet experienced such a world, not in this lifetime. Get ready, it’s going to be a wild ride and well worth it.
The Nature of Work Now
How to take all of this and put it in a neat and tidy box for corporate consumption? I can’t. It can’t be done. So there you have it, my third essay on the Rise of the Feminine at work. (Insert witch’s cackle here…the sound of the timeless Feminine wisdom that was there at the beginning, never ever went anywhere, was never suppressed, and will always win in the end because she is the master of time, of death, and rebirth.)
One thing that looks certain is that work will change and our relationship to it will, too. As the fundamental values of humanity shift, we’ll see energy moving away from some types of work and towards others. Many people are writing specifically on what this means. For example: how can we employ out-of-work people on Green New Deal projects to improve and transform infrastructure rather than re-open J.C. Pennys (again)?
Having gainful employment doing work that has meaning for you can no longer be a luxury. White collar (do we still use that term?) industries have been talking a lot about “purpose” and “impact” for a while now. The dignity of doing work that is personally meaningful, spiritually fulfilling, and aligned with your calling, gifts, and karma, and also societally useful, will become a basic tenet of the future of work I want to see for all people. For this to happen, we’ll need a populace who are self-aware and autonomous and a system that organizes around the individuals rather than organizes the individuals into systems.
As we work through this liminal state, this initiation, we will need guides, magical helpers and a new breed of servant leaders with the ability to listen, recognize Truth, and respond moment-to-moment. The good news is that they’re here. I’ve met these guides. I am one. That doesn’t mean I have the answers, that just means I know what I don’t know and I’m ready to listen and serve. All we need is here with us, when and if we can recognize it. This will require silence, patience, prayer. We will become infants again in this birthing process. We need midwives. This is what leadership looks like now.
Our greatest hope is to move through the transition consciously and therefore differently than we have in the past. This is the only way to a future that is not simply a reprise of the past with a different set of characters. We have to genuinely heal and break old habits in the process.
What do I mean by consciously? Right now, everything is coming up, surfacing, wanting to be dealt with. It looks bad, but it’s not. It’s good. What we need are the resources — personal and communal — to deal with what’s arising in a new, productive, and healthy way. If we default to the old unconscious reactions, we lose our chance to evolve significantly and quickly in this moment. Several factors are helping us: the pandemic itself, climate crisis, oligarchs, threats to the fabric of our systems, anger, transparency of the internet, advances in somatic healing and trauma-related knowledge, psychedelics and plant medicine, new wisdom (like terma from another time) AND the Rise of The Feminine — She is the KEY to doing this work with love and caring…holding us together through it all. Activating the inner mother, the inner beloved, and the inner crone, listening to all the wise women. We are being asked to stop trying to transcend out of this mess and to ground down into it with the love and fierceness of a mother bear.
At the same time, it’s critical to be realistic about the risks, the dangers and the threats in this moment. And I want to voice them in a way they can be heard. If we fundamentally believe the Feminine is Rising — will take her rightful place next to the healthy and Sacred Masculine — and we will move into a new era of integrated culture and leadership the likes of which we’ve never seen on the planet, then we can see the current and momentary instances of violence, backlash, and reactionary hatred for what they are: growing pains.
Anaïs Nin wrote, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” To ease the transition, what we need to cultivate within ourselves and our cultures is equivalent in a sense to the birth process itself: heightened awareness, courage, determination, a selfless commitment to the new life working to come through us…and perhaps most importantly a trusting that there is an intelligence beyond us that knows what to do and how to do it. In birth as in this moment of evolution, the imperative is not to force or think our way through, but to follow the impulse of the universe towards balance, to listen, to receive, and to serve. We must have patience with the process and compassion for ourselves. We are a transitional generation. We probably won’t live to see the day when the great systems of this planet are operating in a truly integrated and balanced way. But, we can feel profound satisfaction in being of service to the cause.
In the coming weeks, I will continue to communicate and share what is coming through for me. In my work with leaders I am finding that mostly what needs to be done now is to calm the nervous system, expand the lens of perception, de-program the old habits and begin to tap into unrecognized dreams and creative energies that were lying dormant. If you are a leader, this is my prescription for you right now. Also, my friend, David Sauvage, and I are launching a podcast called Corporate Shamanism: Leadership in a Time of Crisis (will update with a link when we have one).
Looking back over my unpublished writings from the last few years, I am staggered by how much prescience there was; how much knowing in the form of dreams, sermons, and intuitions. I was afraid then to share because it all felt too threatening to the system, too disruptive. Now I can see that disrupting the system was never my job. My job is simply to relay the message of Spirit through my own creativity. And that is your job, too. I cannot wait to see what is being birthed in this time of sequester; what works of art, what masterpieces are coming through. We must share them so we can put the whole picture together…together. No one of us has the answers. Rifle through your drawers for the drafts! Dig out the old songs and journal musings! Break the mirror and dance in public!
There is a stark divide in the “before” and “after” now. Little by little, we will watch the extractive old ways and bad habits recede in the rear view mirror. What worked for us in the past will no longer serve. Trust that inner knowing at the level of heart, the direct perception, and we will not regress. Step by step we will unfold the future and it will feel good, right, and familiar because it will be both fully human and fully Divine. Aligned with the Laws of Nature that govern all things ultimately. Yes, even business.
“On this path effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure. Even a little effort toward spiritual awareness will protect you from the greatest fear.”(2:40) The Bhagavad Gita translated by Eknath Easwaran
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