"Really? We are supposed to be studying Pacha Mama and her power and you believe that putting me in a skirt in a sweat lodge ceremony is a sign of power? Really? Huh. Why a different standard for males and females?" My sense of justice burned my ears. But it wasn't enough of a deal breaker for me to miss out on an earth-centered spirituality retreat in the desert of New Mexico--an intentional community with an attendant Shaman, Peru-born, Lakota trained.
I arrived in the desert with a bit of a chip on my shoulder; packing only one skirt for a 9-day retreat gave me a little bit of dignity. I wanted to blast someone about the irony of inequity. In the meantime I made some inquiries. I asked one of the original founders to tell me about wearing skirts while her 5-woman crew glided preparations about the kitchen. She explained that in part the women purposely identify the female energy in the space--nurturing, flexible, adaptable. In part they wear them because the opening of the skirt on the bottom acts as a kind of funnel to bind a woman's biology to the Earth. The third thing she talked about made the most sense to me. When women wear skirts it is as a symbol for bringing the Divine Female to bear--especially in a world that has allowed negative masculine energy to rule the planet.
All people are made of both masculine and feminine energies. Feminine energies tend to be felt on the left side of the body and masculine energies on the right. Our job as spiritual beings is to learn to unite the positive attributes of our internal masculine and feminine.
positive attributes: active, intelligent, logical, rational, determined, reliable, strong, stable, protective, sensible, heroic, focused, single-minded, practical, goal-oriented, consistent, predictable, capable, smart, rugged, ordered, disciplined.
negative attributes: rigid, stubborn, aggressive, tough, ruthless, violent, non-communicative, self-centered, authoritative, dominating, dogmatic, closed-minded, autocratic, rule-bound, heartless.
Words to describe feminine energies:
positive attributes: soft, warm, sweet, kind, loving, nurturing, gentle, creative, receptive, flexible, adaptable, yielding, forgiving, understanding, caring, care-giving, serving, passive, peaceful, open-minded, beautiful, mysterious, spontaneous, ever-changing, inspirational.
negative attributes: weak, emotional, irrational, illogical, unpredictable, bitchy, stupid, powerless, manipulative, controlling, indecisive, fickle.The essence of the Divine Feminine is the spark of life that everything grows from. The same energy that grows a plant grows us. The divine feminine is the innate body, heart, gut, and wisdom that all human beings have within them. It is our ability to sense, feel and intuit our highest options.
balanced, accepting, loving, honoring, respectful, lighthearted, profound, ancient, and flowing back and forth between the two--the two almost merging into one, while still retaining their own particular essence.
Our final day we were asked to make a commitment we could support with heart, mind, body and spirit, something we could be successful changing to support our practice. After a couple of inspiring ideas that were too big I decided we could use some Divine Feminine energy at our house to replace some of the not-so-desirable male energies that my sweetie and I occasionally practice. I am not to be outdone by negative male energy, I raised two daughters as a single parent working full time with an absentee ex. I know about both positive and negative attributes of my male energies. But I could commit to a simple change of behavior and I knew it would be a feel-good for everyone. We had to announce our commitment standing in front of the group, first taking a puff on the Shaman's tobacco, stating our intentions and finishing with a puff. I stood, rolled tobacco in hand, took a long puff into my mouth and watched it float upward. I looked back down on the group sitting on the floor and said, "My commitment is to raise the Divine Feminine in my household. Instead of changing into jammies or sweats when I get home, I will slip into a skirt." I took another long draw and exhaled. The room erupted, and the Shaman sat with a satisfied smirk.