In The Shadow Of The New Age, By Carolyn Baker

Posted on Monday 25 January 2016

Carolyn Baker, Ph.D. is the author of Dark Gold: The Human Shadow And The Global Crisis. Her radio show, the Lifeboat Hour, airs on Progressive Radio Network every week. She may be contacted at Carolyn@carolynbaker.net.

Carolyn’s  NOTE: At the request of Andrew Harvey and Stephen Dinan Of Shift Network, I penned this article which was posted today on Huffington Post and which I am reposting here.

In her Time Magazine article “In Praise Of Darkness,” professor, author, and Episcopal priest Barbara Brown Taylor speaks of “full-on solar spirituality.” According to Taylor, solar spirituality excludes the inevitable darkness of human experience which on the one hand feels ominous, yet without confronting it, the spiritual journey is incomplete.

DwC 31

“Darkness” is shorthand for anything that scares me — that I want no part of — either because I am sure that I do not have the resources to survive it or because I do not want to find out. The absence of God is in there, along with the fear of dementia and the loss of those nearest and dearest to me. So is the melting of polar ice caps, the suffering of children, and the nagging question of what it will feel like to die. If I had my way, I would eliminate everything from chronic back pain to the fear of the devil from my life and the lives of those I love — if I could just find the right night-lights to leave on. At least I think I would. The problem is this: when, despite all my best efforts, the lights have gone off in my life (literally or figuratively, take your pick), plunging me into the kind of darkness that turns my knees to water, nonetheless I have not died. The monsters have not dragged me out of bed and taken me back to their lair. The witches have not turned me into a bat. Instead, I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.

While Barbara Brown Taylor is not part of the New Age movement, her brilliant assessment succinctly captures a reality which has incessantly escaped that movement, namely that darkness must be valued as wholeheartedly as our veneration of the light.

Marc Gafni: A New Age Cosby?

While American culture has been recently rocked by ubiquitous allegations of Bill Cosby sexually assaulting women spanning at least the past fifty years, a lesser-known but equally repugnant scandal has erupted among the professional purveyors of “solar spirituality,” namely a plethora of accusations against New Age teacher and former Rabbi Marc Gafni. Born Marc Winiarz and sometimes known as Mordechai Gafni, the spiritual guru, according to Wikipedia, has been accused by multiple women of sexually assaulting them, dating back to 1980, and he himself has admitted to having had sexual relationships with girls as young as 14. He was also accused of molesting a 13 year old girl over a period of nine months. I do not wish to enumerate or comment on all of the accusations against Gafni because the focus of this article is not litigious. Nevertheless, some accusations beg to be mentioned.

In the December 25, 2015, New York Times article “A Spiritual Leader Gains Stature, Trailed By A Troubled Past,” Gafni’s long history of accusations of sexual abuse was examined as well as his associations with the founder of the Integral spiritual community, Ken Wilber, and with Whole Foods CEO, John Mackey. Clarifying the definition of “Integral,” Barbara Marx Hubbard stated that, “Integral theory is based on the understanding that evolution itself is an expression of a spiritual universal force of creation embodied in each one of us as us, as unique selves.”

In Sara Kabakov’s article of January 13, 2016 in Forward Newspaper, “I Was Thirteen When Marc Gafni’s Abuse Began,” she writes, “Right now there are children in the Jewish world, and in other communities, who are being abused and forced into silence. Their parents and teachers don’t know what is happening. I know, because it happened to me. I am the woman Gafni molested when she was 13 years old. This is the first time I am telling my story in my own name.” Kabakov tells her story in depth and also recounts her healing process and her struggle to recover from years of sexual abuse and emotional manipulation at the hands of Gafni.

Only days before Kabakov’s story was released, Forward Newspaper published a daring piece that came after Gafni’s team mistakenly sent Forward a recording of them plotting a strategy of suing journalists. The tape is extremely revelatory and includes Gafni’s statement, “Let’s have a separate meeting, and figure out — do we want to sue someone and who would that be?” Gafni said to Michael Wright, his press representative, and Christopher Marston, his lawyer. Earlier in the conversation, Gafni said: “If we do decide to take action someplace, maybe the Forward would be the test case.”

Another damning piece regarding Gafni, “Gafni Faces Fallout From New Age Community,” was published by Jewish Week on January 5. The article states that, “Already some 25 New Age leaders — including Deepak Chopra, the best-selling author; Andrew Harvey, founder of the Institute for Sacred Activism; Craig Hamilton, CEO of Evolving Wisdom; author Jean Houston; and Stephen Dinan, CEO of The Shift Network — have signed a public statement disavowing themselves from Gafni.”

Perhaps the most thorough piece to date is from William Harryman writing in his Integral Options Café blog and highlighting the psychological aspects of Gafni’s devastating actions. Harryman notes that,

“One of the many things missing in the NYT article, and most of the ones that have followed, is a recognition that Gafni’s pathology is not only emotional and sexual manipulation and other forms of abuse, it is also a sociopathic personality that almost hides the malignant narcissist within. The NYT article exposed some of the controversies surrounding Gafni (which has led to the current outrage in the Jewish community and in the integral community, but in each instance allowed him to refute the allegations with no further exploration of the facts or statements by the victims.) What could have been an important document revealing Gafni’s 35-year pattern of abuses–interpersonal, sexual, and control–became little more than a PR piece for him and his ‘think tank.'”

Harryman, who has two Masters degrees in counseling psychology, states that he has worked extensively with survivors of sexual abuse, and pointing to Gafni’s repeated defense that his abusive encounters were “consensual,” Harryman argues that,

“It is also important to understand that Gafni works hard to make these issues be about pseudo-consensual sex because the reality is much darker. His survivors ARE sexually manipulated, and there are consistent reports of debasing sexuality (woman as whore), but the sexual relationships are simply the seduction that brings women into his circle of influence. Once he seduces someone, then he begins the process of mind control, shaping their thoughts and experiences so that they come to see things his way.”

Additionally, Harryman dares to use the term sociopath to describe Gafni and adds,

“Sociopaths… can be VERY charming and seductive, and if you’ll notice in some of the online statements, even those who have distanced themselves from Gafni marvel at his charisma. It is the charisma that lures women, and it also lures in supporters (financial) and defenders (students). Once they are seduced, especially the women, Gafni’s mask will begin to slip. These women discover the porn addiction, the rage, the manipulation of others, the lack of remorse, the debasing sexuality, and the inability to tell the truth. Understandably, they are frightened of him, and when they escape, they remain trapped in silence out of fear or reprisal — because if they do speak out, he will call them liars, or say they are mentally unstable, and on an on.”

In telling her story, Sara Kabakov (above) reinforces Harryman’s perspective.

Since the publication of the December 25, 2015 New York Times article, over 40 other articles from a variety of sources have been published regarding the Gafni scandal. In addition, a number of spiritual teachers and authors have spoken out against Gafni and distanced themselves from him. One of the largest networks of spiritual teachers is Shift, which recently posted on its blog a statement of disavowal of Marc Gafni with a very specific explanation from one of its members, Andrew Harvey, which stated:

We, the undersigned, have concluded, based upon direct experience, investigation, or conversation with trusted allies, that we cannot endorse Marc Gafni as a teacher in any way. Furthermore, we will not feature him in any event, publication, or online activity we produce, nor will we participate as a speaker or promote any event in which he is featured.Signed by:

Sera Beak – Author of Red Hot and Holy
Adam Bucko – Hab Community
Rev. Diane Berke – Founder, One Spirit Learning Alliance
Deepak Chopra – NY Times bestselling author
Stephen Dinan – CEO, The Shift Network
Scott Edelstein – Author of Sex and the Spiritual Teacher
Lion Goodman – founder, Clear Your Beliefs
Andrew Harvey – Founder, Institute for Sacred Activism
Craig Hamilton – CEO, Evolving Wisdom
Harriet Hawkins – Center for Spiritual Living Livermore Valley
Ross Hostetter – Founder, The Fieldwork School
Jean Houston – Author of The Possible Human
Kurt Johnson – The Interspiritual Network
Anodea Judith – Founder, Sacred Centers
Bill Kauth – Founder, The ManKind Project
Rory McEntee – Foundation for New Monasticism
Devaa Haley Mitchell – Co-founder, The Shift Network
David Nicol – Founder, Subtle Activism Network
Terry Patten – Integral Evolutionary Practice
John Robbins – Author of Diet for a New America
Ocean Robbins – CEO, The Food Revolution Network
Robb Smith – CEO, Integral Life
Mirabai Starr – Author of Caravan of No Despair
Marcia Wieder – CEO, Dream University
Claire Zammit – Founder, Feminine Power

Additionally, Change.Org published a petition entitled “Stop Marc Gafni From Abusing Again,” signed by more than 100 rabbis who stated that:

As a group of religious and communal leaders, we are motivated by the obligation embedded in the belief that whoever saves a single life, it is as if they have saved a whole world. Marc Gafni has left a trail of pain, suffering, and trauma amongst the people and congregations who were unfortunate to have trusted him. He has abused his extraordinary intellectual gifts and charisma to harm many who came to him in search of spiritual guidance and teaching. He has used professional alliances to legitimize himself by association, and thereby be able to continue creating more harm. As a result Marc Gafni is neither trusted, respected, nor welcome to teach virtually anywhere in Judaism. In community after community, those who have trusted him have had their trust betrayed. Some of those who sign here were severely mislead and even once defenders of Gafni’s integrity only to see that we too had been deceived.

Polyamorous Or Polyamoral?

Gafni defends his sexual proclivities as polyamorous, and to that orientation, he is certainly entitled. However, the trail of alleged sexual abuse documented by his accusers and those who believe them reveals manipulation, mind control, and ghastly incidents of misogynistic abuses of power over his victims. Moreover, Gafni touts himself as a “sexual pioneer” who is being persecuted for his polyamory in a manner similar to the way in which a gay man might have been persecuted for his sexual orientation in the 1950s, daring to compare his twisted sexual cannibalism with the benign sexual orientation of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered human beings.

Chaya Kurtz nailed it beautifully in her article “How To Spot A Spiritual Sexual Predator:”

Anybody Who Ideologically Justifies Polyamory: If he’s really “progressive”, this man can quote The Ethical Slut. And since his predecessors in his spiritual lineage had multiple wives, certainly he should have them. While he is free to enjoy his spiritually-sanctioned dalliances, you’re in big trouble if he even thinks you’re cheating on him. After all, it’s Tantra! Or it’s Christianity! Or Abraham had more than one wife! He has so much spiritual mojo that he is simply gifting it to all the women he’s intimate with. How dare you refuse his gift!?

While Marc Gafni attempts to package himself as a spiritual and sexual revolutionary, he has shown himself to be yet another ethical train wreck–a sexual predator with a pretty face, an impressive resume, and terrifying charisma. Gafni is nothing more than a retread of an ancient archetype with which world literature is replete and religions in particular are infested. Whether it’s the prurient guru system of a variety of Eastern spiritual traditions or the Vatican’s soul-murdering path of sexual carnage among innocent children, the story is always the same: Power, control, manipulation, conquest, and psychological mayhem.

Where Are The Voices Of Solar Spirituality?

Marc Gafni is the co-founder, with Ken Wilber, of the Center For Integral Wisdom, one of many organizations promoting Integral Spirituality. According to Wikipedia, “Integral theory is Ken Wilber’s attempt to place a wide diversity of theories and thinkers into one single framework. It is portrayed as a ‘theory of everything’ trying ‘to draw together an already existing number of separate paradigms into an interrelated network of approaches that are mutually enriching’.” Gafni has been long associated with two heavyweights of the Integral movement: Ken Wilber and Sally Kempton.

In 2006, three women from a spiritual community in Israel, headed by Gafni, filed complaints with the police of sexual misconduct against him. At that time, Ken Wilber did not distance himself from Gafni but offered his opinion on the Jews School website:

I have stated my conclusion, after reviewing the evidence and as many perspectives as I can, that there is truth to some of these allegations and that this is due in part to Marc’s illness, and that as long as this dysfunction is not addressed, I do not believe that Marc should be teaching. But I want to point out that emotional illness can be treated and in many cases cured. Marc may or may not be sincere, and his therapy may or may not be effective–but that is exactly the purpose of the therapeutic board: namely, to make that decision, and not to let either of the partial sides do so. I do not know if this solution will work, but to date it is the only rational, compassionate, and fair one that I have heard, and therefore the only one which serves justice.

At that time, Ken Wilber and Sally Kempton published a lengthy defense of Gafni, asserting that the women in Israel had lied.

More recently in the New York Times, December 25, 2015 article, Wilber was quoted as saying that, “Marc has a lot of Shakti,” [Mr. Wilber said, using a Sanskrit word for energy.] “I don’t think he understood the impact it had on people.”

To date, neither Ken Wilber nor Sally Kempton have spoken out about the ongoing, incessant, enduring charges of sexual misconduct against Gafni that surfaced in 2006, 2011, and 2016. In fact, on Gafni’s website, one finds endorsements from Wilber and Kempton who have been aware of Gafni’s proclivities for years, yet neither have distanced themselves from Gafni. What are we to make of this?

Living In The Light, Ignoring The Shadow

For the past three decades, I have been a student of the immortal Carl Jung and currently as a life coach, a former psychotherapist, and an author, my life has been profoundly altered by Jung’s work. Perhaps most personally profound for me in the body of his work is the reality of the human shadow of which I was totally ignorant when in my thirties I wildly embraced solar spirituality

After many years of immersion in New Age spirituality, at the age of 40 my life fell apart as a result of my shadow blind spots. I subsequently entered Jungian depth therapy, and as I persevered in it, I quickly came to understand the extent to which my reliance on New Age spirituality had served to mask my pain and obscure the deep childhood wounds I needed to attend to in order to experience the wholeness for which I longed. My obsession with positive thinking and attempting to manifest a pain-free life had fostered within me an ego-inflation that was rapidly de-flated as I became more familiar with the ugly, obnoxious aspects of my shadow.

While basking in the sunlight of positive thinking was more pleasurable for me than allowing the presence of the so-called “negative,” it neither rang true nor felt consistent with the full spectrum of my humanity. As I read the works of Jung and as I opened to the reality of my own personal shadow, on the one hand, I felt more emotional distress, but on the other, exploring the forbidden territory of my psyche felt profoundly authentic and substantial. I soon realized that solar spirituality, focused primarily on the light, offered a dubious peace of mind at the expense of familiarity with my deepest humanity and the human condition at large. In fact, I came to understand that addiction to positive thinking precariously ignores the dark side of humanity and in doing so, conceals the shadow of manipulation, abuse of power, self-righteous arrogance, and compulsive control that lurk beneath the still waters of “living in the light.”

Seldom does one find discussion or instruction on shadow dynamics within the New Age movement. In an astonishingly hypocritical article by Marc Gafni himself, “Shadow Integration,” Gafni reveals that he has no idea what shadow work entails:

Why would you want to integrate your darkest impulses? Perhaps those impulses need to be transmuted and evolved. At the very least, it would appear that they need to be disciplined and controlled. Is shadow integration merely a sophisticated license for ethical libertines, as some spiritual moralists have wanted to claim? And if it is not, if shadow integration points to some profound and important intuition about our wholeness and enlightenment, as others have loudly claimed, but not explained, then what is it?

As he blathers on throughout the article, Gafni repeatedly reveals his ignorance of the shadow and implies instead that he has a fuller grasp of it than all of the world’s wisest teachers on the topic.

In my 2016 book Dark Gold: The Human Shadow And The Global Crisis, I offered a detailed definition of the shadow, bolstered by several other authors in the Jungian tradition.

For example, mythologist and student of Jung, Joseph Campbell, states that “The Shadow is, so to say, the blind spot in your nature. It’s that which you won’t look at about yourself. This is the counterpart exactly of the Freudian unconscious, the repressed recollections as well at the repressed potentialities in you.”

In The Shadow In America: Reclaiming The Soul of a Nation, Jacquelyn Small notes that:

Until made conscious the shadow causes us to act in ways that create catastrophe or explosions of emotionalism….When we try to deny the shadow, it multiplies. When instead, we choose to invite it in, we gain stability and expand consciousness, losing our self-righteousness, and becoming flexible, less defended, more balanced.

In her 2005 book The Sacred Purpose of Being Human, Small refers to the shadow as “…our holy grit. It’s the sandpaper in your psyche that rubs you raw until you make it conscious.”

It is important to understand that we commit to working with the shadow not only because failing to do so impedes our loftiest intentions but because we are “prospectors” in search of the “dark gold.” If there are precious metals to be mined, why would we settle for less? For as Robert Johnson reminds us in Owning Your Own Shadow, “…these disowned parts are extremely valuable and cannot be disregarded. As promised of the living water, our shadow costs nothing and is immediately—and embarrassingly — ever present. To honor and accept one’s own shadow is a profound spiritual discipline. It is whole-making and thus holy and the most important experience of a lifetime.”

Clinical and forensic psychologist, Stephen Diamond asserts that authentic spirituality requires consciously accepting and relating properly to the shadow as opposed to repressing, projecting, acting out and remaining naively unconscious of its repudiated, denied, disavowed contents, a sort of precarious pseudo-spirituality.

”Bringing the shadow to consciousness,” writes another of Jung’s students, Liliane Frey-Rohn (1967), ”is a psychological problem of the highest moral significance. It demands that the individual hold himself accountable not only for what happens to him, but also for what he projects. . . Without the conscious inclusion of the shadow in daily life there cannot be a positive relationship to other people, or to the creative sources in the soul; there cannot be an individual relationship to the Divine.”

Thus engaging in meticulous and astringent shadow work is a moral and spiritual imperative. Moreover, in situations of ghastly abuse as we witness in the sordid saga of Marc Gafni, a host of enablers always encircle the perpetrator. He would not have been able to continue his devastating sexual behavior without the likes of Ken Wilber and Sally Kempton fluffing pillows and making tea for him. The Gafni scandal reveals nothing if not the grotesque head and monstrous appendages of the human shadow writ large across the entire New Age movement, intoxicated with the Kool Aid of solar spirituality. Overwhelmingly, the New Age movement and the spiritual guru system is in abject denial of the shadow, and until it confronts its shadow, we can expect to see lives and communities ravaged by the darkness ignored while spiritual celebrities bask in the light of happy-faced, huggy, saccharine spirituality.

In his January 3, 2016 statement on behalf of Shift Network, Stephen Dinan wrote: “I strongly believe that the full truth of this situation needs to be surfaced, witnessed and addressed, not just for the sake of those involved but for the sake of our whole movement so that we may do collective shadow work and face the abuse of power that too often happens under the guise of spiritual teaching.”

Integral teacher, Terry Patten, who has firmly distanced himself from Gafni offered wise counsel in a recent blog:

The victim narrative is too easy, too convenient, and very incomplete. We are all autonomous adults. No matter how smart, talented, and tenacious Marc Gafni might be, the only power he has over anyone is the power we have given him. If he has compromised our community, it’s up to us to reclaim it. It’s our responsibility to draw a clear line if we want greater goodness and moral intelligence.His unexamined shadow compromises everything he associates with, so it’s undermining those remarkable philosophical ideas and this community of practice and inquiry, not serving them. They are the victims I’m most interested in defending.

But make no mistake: this is a teachable moment, a developmental opportunity. Our community needs a way to protect itself from talented sociopaths with histories of unprocessed shadow and violating others’ hearts, souls, and bodies.

With respect to Marc Gafni, the trail of accusations against him is so long and so despicable that it is difficult to discern if Gafni is just another so-called spiritual teacher who needs to do shadow work, or if he is a sociopath who truly lacks a conscience and for whom, therefore, shadow work would be meaningless. In any event, until individuals on a spiritual path have done deep shadow work, they are highly susceptible to being blinded to it by solar spirituality, making themselves vulnerable to taking advantage of others or being taken advantage by them. One of the risks and liabilities of solar spirituality is that it makes us prey to exploitation and abuse and also increases our own potential for becoming a perpetrator of abuse. Unfortunately, the more “light” associated with anyone in the public sphere, the more vulnerable that person is in terms if his or her own shadow. Likewise, the more “light” we project onto that individual because we have not done our own shadow work, the greater the danger of shadow eruption and the greater the disservice we do to them and to ourselves.

The poet William Stafford in “A Ritual To Be Read To Each Other,” notes that “the darkness around us is deep.” Without doing our own shadow work, we severely compromise our ability to engage with the gargantuan challenges of shadow and darkness in the world. Embracing a spiritual path compels us to commit to doing shadow work so that we may skillfully and compassionately navigate both the darkness and the light.

Aaron Pyne www.spiritap.com Geometric Creationalolution Awakening the Divine

Aaron Pyne www.spiritap.com Geometric Creationalolution Awakening the Divine

Harmonic Spiral 4

Anyaa McAndrew @ 4:37 pm
Filed under: General Spirituality andOf Interest to Men andOf Interest to Women andPolitics andShadow Work

Missing in Action for 5,000 years, Great Mother Found Alive by ALisa Starkweather

Posted on Wednesday 19 March 2014

reprinted from: http://theinterfaithobserver.org/process/CreateJournalEntryComment?moduleId=11005111&entryId=34685825&finalize=true

 

Community art piece at Gaia Healing Center, Frederick, MDYeah.

Becoming Fully Conscious of Her Presence

Astonishing and it’s absolutely true. I found her in me of all places. Once you spot her she shows up everywhere, hidden in plain sight. She says that she was never gone, never, never, not for one nano-second. I look at her with my eyebrows raised and a little hurt because she was certainly no where in sight when I was growing up. I didn’t even know she existed. I didn’t know even one of her names, let alone her thousands.

In fact, I didn’t even know to look for her. And here is the real kicker. Because of that, I could not comprehend just how much I was missing her or how to recognize my own female reflection in divinity. Essentially I was Divine Mother blind. Seeing my old abandonment stories cropping up, she gives me that mischievous wild glint in her eyes and refutes the idea that she was MIA in one word – “Impossible.” We both laugh.

 

Great Mother loves to laugh. It helps her balance out her terrible awful grief. And I mean terrible, but I won’t get into that too much. She exists in everything, not just that old Earth Mother title alone. I’m talking the big, the small, the whole enchilada. Every electron, every mountain, every star, every river, every piece of anything and even what we deem as nothing, too. Scientists cannot find the beginning nor the end of her great mysteries. But more than that, she is intricately woven in every story of our lives and of our deaths, in the heartbeat of our love and aliveness and each and every heartbreaking loss, every devastation in war, every famine and every time our tears run hot with hate or of pure grace when forgiveness comes like dawn after a night you never thought would end.

 

You know her. Yes you do. She Mothered you too. This is what gives her not one story in humanity but more than can be ever counted and way more than a hundred thousand names. You see, she is complex and some of that comes from not understanding our relationship to her, because of one small problem. It comes down to a little pronoun: “she.” Sure “she” is all right for a girl, for a woman, a sister, a mother, even an animal. I’ve even heard people refer to inanimate objects like their truck or their boat as “she.”

 

Take Siri, the iphone operator, for instance, because Siri gets to be a “computer she,” with no rebuttal that she’s nonexistent. But she as in She, God? Come on now. Some people believe that alone is blasphemy, heresy, and well, her thinking a little too much of herself. Their one word response? Same word actually: “Impossible.” But they don’t have that same playful glint. More defensiveness and a wall up around that idea that is longer than the Great Wall of China.

 

It’s okay. Really. Beliefs are sacred. People get to keep beliefs, especially those handed down for a long time in one’s family traditions, as an anchor to one’s personal reality and value systems. It is our spiritual artistry – being able to bring to the canvas of our lives what we discover in our hearts as true. Spiritual beliefs are deeply rooted and often engrained. If we were talking about politics, you might agree with me that there are differences among us in how we position ourselves that don’t always make us wrong in the absolute sense. But Divine Feminine? “She” might literally be too hard to conceive of for some, though quite honestly she is more ancient than anything we can reference, and in and out of every living matter recognizable. Conceiving, conception, creation are some of her many miracles proving her existence in what births, blooms, and dies and is reborn over and over again.

 

Asherah

In one of the many versions of the Holy Bible, God is also referenced as El Shaddai, the Many Breasted One. El Shaddai is translated most often as God Almighty. Shaddai interestingly enough also means Destroyer, Fertility, Sustainer. Destroyer is some of where her fierce nature lives because, as I eluded, she is complicated and multi-faceted. In early Hebrew writings God had a wife too, Asherah (one of her annunciations), meaning “One of the Womb” or Queen of Heaven. But this Ugartic fertility goddess after thousands of years of being worshipped was taken out of the story. A huge retelling occurred in the progression of many of our world’s major religions, leaving the Goddess as an aspect of God Himself MIA. To be clear, people in many other faiths, traditions, and cultures know her intimately, and her presence is even worshipped. But for others she was erased, first in holy texts, next in our minds, but I believe never in our hearts.

 

How I eventually became fully conscious of her presence personally is unforgettable to me.

 

Shame, grief, and betrayal were powerfully moving me off an emotional cliff of depression at the age of 23, in what we often describe as a dark night of the soul. Though my artistic abilities are far from decipherable, in a moment of quiet desperation I gathered a black and red felt tip pen and a yellow highlighter and began to scribble on a blank page images that would unlock the Great Mother from the prisons of my psyche. I needed her. I needed to remember that I was good, whole, worthy, and most of all loved.

 

Yet as I was drawing I did not know that I was looking for her. Instead I drew a woman on her knees with her arms stretched above imploringly, prayerfully, beseeching grace. Above her in the upper left corner was a Magnificent Radiant Sun. The sun had a masculine stern face, and each line that I drew for him accentuated his gaze of anger, displeasure, and judgment at this pitiful woman before him.

 

What took place next was the interesting part. Behind the woman on her knees, so clearly symbolizing me, a figure of night grew in black lines all around my lost soul. As I drew each black line I wept louder with wails too long withheld. The strands became the long black hair of darkness, became a hundred hands holding me at ground level up and a feeling welled up that I was neither alone nor lost in the dark.

 

In the far upper right corner with my red pen engaged, a woman’s face began to emerge, and in contrast to the stern Father Sun God, her face was Loving Compassion, revealing my sorrow was also her sorrow, my loss her loss. She kept reaching out all around me, under me, above me and everywhere she could caress her daughter. My outer skin was sketched yellow like my Sky Father God, but incessantly I drew on the inside of me in this caricature, the black lines of Mother Night outlining my entire body from within.

 

ALisa Starkweather’s Women’s Belly and Womb Conference – Photo courtesy of Marsia Shuron Harris

Sometimes you live your whole life out seeing only what is on the outside and never discover who you really are on the inside. We hear talk of embodying the sacred feminine and what this means. In that moment I witnessed her at my back and literally woke up to the obvious. She was in me all along. This sweet recognition is better than the movie scenes when someone you thought was dead is actually alive or when the little orphan discovers after years of turmoil a loving family, or even the wild kiss of two lovers who will never be parted again. We live for these moments of reconciliation.

 

The power is in the lifting of the veil when something that has hurt us deeply is finally understood and our hearts heal in the holy, in the beauty, in the love within our Mother’s arms no longer out of reach. With her, we come home ourselves and realize that one tiny pronoun can radically alter whether we see Her or whether we don’t. In investigating this, we risk changing ourselves in how we view our own divinity, not only as women but as all the sons and daughters who emerge from the womb of life.

Anyaa McAndrew @ 10:41 am
Filed under: General Spirituality andOf Interest to Men andOf Interest to Women andThe Divine Feminine

Gloria Steinem: We Are Not Done! by Anyaa McAndrew

Posted on Monday 10 March 2014

 

Gloria Steinem spoke at Western Carolina University on Thursday, March 6.

I had the honor of attending a lecture at Western Carolina University here in my mountains of North Carolina…a remote place for sure to see Gloria Steinem speak! But, what an amazing opportunity it was. Gloria turns 80 in a few weeks. Dressed in a simple black jumpsuit that belied a tall slim figure, hair tied back in a braid,  there was little sign of alteration to Gloria’s natural beauty other than a few gray roots in her reddish hair. She was her usual straightforward self, admitting to us that although she was asked to speak about the changes she saw from the 60’s till now, she did not tend to look to the past, but lived in the future. So, getting this opportunity to compare her view from here to back there, she spoke a version of her famous quote:  “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off!” She confirmed that there were lots of things to piss us off these days, the condition of women’s rights in the U.S. and in the world on top of the list. Gloria feels we have made only incremental changes, and if we invested in women the way that we invested in bailing out banks and corporations, the return on that investment would have been all the economic stimulus we would need.  Women don’t tend to put their money in Swiss bank accounts, but to spend it for the good of their families and communities. “It is more rewarding to watch money change the world than to watch it accumulate.”

We tend to think that feminism is old-school, over, done, passe’, but the truth is that we are just getting started. As long as there is racism, discrimination, reproductive coercion and repression, class-ism, heterosexism, and patriarchy, there has to be feminism, says Gloria, because it is all just imperialism towards one group or another. The core abuse is towards women, because as long as abuse and violence towards women is tolerated, every other form of abuse will be tolerated as well. We have made little progress in the 47 years since the 60’s, because the God we worship still looks like the ruling class, and that means we are still in deep trouble. Gloria said many times in her talk that there is nothing wrong with the majority, and that most of us are aligned with women’s economic and reproductive freedom. The issue is with the 1% who still holds onto the power over. The old boy network is still in charge and has in fact taken over many states. We must stand together to shadow our state legislators, demand fair voting districting, and do our part to stay as aware, active, and attentive as we can every day. The empowerment of women is still ridiculed and it is still threatening to the 1%. We can continue to stand up and speak out. As Gloria says: “Women may be the one group that grows more radical with age.”

And, I love Gloria’s definition of feminism: “A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.”

Enjoy this very entertaining and moving TED talk by Isabel Allende from 2007: It all still rings true-true today in this time where our greatest hope is that the patriarchy will have a good death…..soon, and that women can finally come out of the shadows and into the sun of a new day on this precious and abused (feminine) planet.

March is Women’s History Month http://womenshistorymonth.gov/

http://blog.ted.com/2008/01/03/isabel_allende/  

 

 

 

 

 

Jimmy Carter on the Discrimination of Women by the Religions of the World

Posted on Tuesday 2 July 2013

I HAVE been a practicing Christian all my life and a deacon and Bible teacher for many years. My faith is a source of strength and comfort to me, as religious beliefs are to hundreds of millions of people around the world. So my decision to sever my ties with the Southern Baptist Convention, after six decades, was painful and difficult. It was, however, an unavoidable decision when the convention’s leaders, quoting a few carefully selected Bible verses and claiming that Eve was created second to Adam and was responsible for original sin, ordained that women must be “subservient” to their husbands and prohibited from serving as deacons, pastors or chaplains in the military service.

This view that women are somehow inferior to men is not restricted to one religion or belief. Women are prevented from playing a full and equal role in many faiths. Nor, tragically, does its influence stop at the walls of the church, mosque, synagogue or temple. This discrimination, unjustifiably attributed to a Higher Authority, has provided a reason or excuse for the deprivation of women’s equal rights across the world for centuries.

At its most repugnant, the belief that women must be subjugated to the wishes of men excuses slavery, violence, forced prostitution, genital mutilation and national laws that omit rape as a crime. But it also costs many millions of girls and women control over their own bodies and lives, and continues to deny them fair access to education, health, employment and influence within their own communities.

The impact of these religious beliefs touches every aspect of our lives. They help explain why in many countries boys are educated before girls; why girls are told when and whom they must marry; and why many face enormous and unacceptable risks in pregnancy and childbirth because their basic health needs are not met.

In some Islamic nations, women are restricted in their movements, punished for permitting the exposure of an arm or ankle, deprived of education, prohibited from driving a car or competing with men for a job. If a woman is raped, she is often most severely punished as the guilty party in the crime.

The same discriminatory thinking lies behind the continuing gender gap in pay and why there are still so few women in office in the West. The root of this prejudice lies deep in our histories, but its impact is felt every day. It is not women and girls alone who suffer. It damages all of us. The evidence shows that investing in women and girls delivers major benefits for society. An educated woman has healthier children. She is more likely to send them to school. She earns more and invests what she earns in her family.

It is simply self-defeating for any community to discriminate against half its population. We need to challenge these self-serving and outdated attitudes and practices – as we are seeing in Iran where women are at the forefront of the battle for democracy and freedom.

I understand, however, why many political leaders can be reluctant about stepping into this minefield. Religion, and tradition, are powerful and sensitive areas to challenge. But my fellow Elders and I, who come from many faiths and backgrounds, no longer need to worry about winning votes or avoiding controversy – and we are deeply committed to challenging injustice wherever we see it.

The Elders are an independent group of eminent global leaders, brought together by former South African president Nelson Mandela, who offer their influence and experience to support peace building, help address major causes of human suffering and promote the shared interests of humanity. We have decided to draw particular attention to the responsibility of religious and traditional leaders in ensuring equality and human rights and have recently published a statement that declares: “The justification of discrimination against women and girls on grounds of religion or tradition, as if it were prescribed by a Higher Authority, is unacceptable.”

We are calling on all leaders to challenge and change the harmful teachings and practices, no matter how ingrained, which justify discrimination against women. We ask, in particular, that leaders of all religions have the courage to acknowledge and emphasise the positive messages of dignity and equality that all the world’s major faiths share.

The carefully selected verses found in the Holy Scriptures to justify the superiority of men owe more to time and place – and the determination of male leaders to hold onto their influence – than eternal truths. Similar biblical excerpts could be found to support the approval of slavery and the timid acquiescence to oppressive rulers.

I am also familiar with vivid descriptions in the same Scriptures in which women are revered as pre-eminent leaders. During the years of the early Christian church women served as deacons, priests, bishops, apostles, teachers and prophets. It wasn’t until the fourth century that dominant Christian leaders, all men, twisted and distorted Holy Scriptures to perpetuate their ascendant positions within the religious hierarchy.

The truth is that male religious leaders have had – and still have – an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter. Their continuing choice provides the foundation or justification for much of the pervasive persecution and abuse of women throughout the world. This is in clear violation not just of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Paul, Moses and the prophets, Muhammad, and founders of other great religions – all of whom have called for proper and equitable treatment of all the children of God. It is time we had the courage to challenge these views.

OBSERVER

Jimmy Carter was president of the United States from 1977 to 1981.

Copyright © 2013 Fairfax Media

Anyaa McAndrew @ 7:55 pm
Filed under: General Spirituality andOf Interest to Men andOf Interest to Women andPolitics

Women, Spirit & Money

Posted on Wednesday 6 June 2012

Awakening the New Masculine: Implications for Spiritual Entrepreneurs

By: Sherri L. McLendon
Are you a woman in service through her conscious, holistic business? If so, Gary Stamper’s recent book, Awakening the New Masculine: the Way of the Integral Warrior, offers us possibilities to work with men from an emergent perspective—one of healing.
Though written primarily for an audience possessing the Y chromosome, female readers will love Stamper’s book. The Western North Carolina author differentiates between the masculine and the patriarchy, placing men’s history into a clear perspective. It’s a small but critical distinction, especially for women like me, who’ve met their fair share of men who may best be described as “unconscious.”   “I don’t work with a lot of men,” I confided to another woman entrepreneur recently, a bit cheekily. “I find them on the whole to be vexatious to the spirit.”

Read More in June’s WNC Woman Magazine “Y” Chromosome issue.

For information on where Gary is appearing, click here.

Anyaa McAndrew @ 1:26 am
Filed under: Awakening the New Masculine andOf Interest to Men andOf Interest to Women