I first heard the story of the Virgo from an astrologer I met about five years ago in India.
The Virgo, she told me, is the virgin, but not in the sense of sexual purity that we all envision. The Virgo, rather, is pure, in the sense that she is whole in herself, not seeking a sense of completion or approval from something outside herself.
As such, she is beholden to no outside force and owned by no one. She is possessed by no man whether he is father, husband or guru. She is powerful because she lives in and acts in her own truth.
The Virgo is often is depicted as the Divine Priestess, who wields her sexuality, not to seek material or physical security as the virgin might, but rather as part of a devotional practice to honor the Divine and to help others along their path towards spirituality and health.
She does this because she understands the physical body’s relationship to the mind and spirit.
The same astrologer, who I reunited with last year in Thailand to study yoga and energy healing, was the first person who taught me about the Divine Feminine. She taught me that a fundamental imbalance between the feminine and masculine has been occurring for thousands of years and is the root cause of the diseases we see manifesting in our communities, our own bodies and minds and has led to the massive destruction of the earth’s resources.
The masculine drives for power, profit, property, linearity, individuality and lineage—which exist in all of us, men and women alike—have been suffocating the feminine drives for wisdom, intuition, creativity, love, non-linearity, equality and compassion.
She also taught that I, like many, have come from a long line of wounded women who have suffered directly and subtlety from this imbalance.
It’s time for all women and men to heal the Feminine within ourselves—to make her strong enough again to stand beside the Masculine, so the two can work together to heal our world.
For the Virgo to be healthy she has to walk in her own truth and not be owned by another person or object. Like her, we too (both women and men) must own ourselves and stand firmly and powerfully in order to foster in healing and health. In the society we live in, standing firmly requires relearning the lessons of the Feminine because we’ve already massively overdeveloped masculine attributes.
For many modern women, the idea that men own us might seem misguided. Yes, we are educated. We vote. We work (although we still earn less than men in the same positions). We drive our own cars, run our own businesses, own our own homes and can have sex with whomever we want. But while these are wonderful steps in the right direction, we must remember that this still a relatively new experience for women in the West.
It’s likely that your mothers, and even more so your grandmothers did not have the same opportunities. Also you don’t have look far beyond the news stories of starving women and children in Africa, gang rape in India and child brides in the Middle East to see that many women in poorer, less developed countries are no where near empowered.
Moreover, even in the modern West, women are still owned by men—though perhaps in more discreet ways.
Let’s face it, men have had the primary hand in building the current state of our society and thus have mainly defined not only the laws, infrastructure and economic system that keep it running, but also the values we trust and adhere to. They’ve defined how we are educated to think in the masculine way (rationally and logically), more than in the feminine way (intuitively or compassionately).
They’ve also defined what is generally considered the good life—which television tells us is filled with beautiful people, material things, credentials and success more than the poetic subtleties of human connection, love, giving, compassion, time and joy. They have also built the armies, the weapons, the wars, the mass media and the chemicals that are needed to maintain and protect this good way of life.
Whether we like it or not, every woman (and man) is owned to some extent by this system, because it defines the way we think about ourselves, our femininity/masculinity, our worth, our beauty and our position. It defines our likes and dislikes and how we think about justice, truth and about the purpose of the Earth and all her bounty.
Unfortunately, because the dominant drives within this system have run us away from the mark of health, sanity, peace and humanity, it can be difficult for many of us to see what we can do to fix it besides attempts at recycling, buying organic, signing petitions, calling our senators or lamenting societal ills, such as the treatment of women or environmental degradation.
While these are all completely laudable activities, returning to that place of health, joy, happiness and community requires more. Standing whole in ourselves and as a community requires more.
We need to question what we’ve learned under this system, ask why we think the way we do and ask why women have been treated and are still treated as second class citizens. Then we need to be wise and brave enough to collect the broken, harmful pieces of our worldview, toss them out and replace them with something healthier for all people and the earth.
I’ve learned after my nine years of yoga practice that one of the primary tasks of the yogi is investigation. She investigates her body, her breath, her heart and her mind and how stimuli from the external world affect the balance within them. It’s going to take a strong and brave group of yogi investigators to challenge the predominant, defunct and harmful ideals and practices of modern society.
Five months into my teacher training and with a year of Divine Feminine study before that, I can say that it is not easy to look inside and see that so much of what you believed or thought you knew or what society has been telling you (even if you’ve been studying yoga and spirituality for years) may have been doing nothing but hurting you.
It’s not easy to question the meaning of your own femininity, intuition and emotions within a society that does not yet value these things, particularly a society that has over trained us in masculine faculties and yet still defines the worth of women in terms of how well they match up to a constantly changing ideal of femininity and beauty.
But if you do it bravely and with trust and an open heart, you start getting a bit closer to home, to wholeness and to health.
And with you emerge a stronger sense of who you are and a tremendous amount of knowledge about the power of the Feminine and her essential role in healing and changing our world for the better.
Melissa Holly Mahoney is a Conquering Lion Yoga teacher trainee, overall student of yoga, writer and poet, and was born in the morning under a full moon. She also enjoys a good long walk in nature and can be reached at [email protected].
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Asst. Ed: Amy Cushing
Ed: Brianna Bemel