The following article is an excerpt from Anna Palmer’s book, Coming Home: Healing From an Eating Disorder by Finding Beauty in Imperfection. May the words here grant you deeper permission to come home to the fullness of yourself, humanness, divinity, and all. Welcome home.
Chapter 13. The Feminine Face of God: Healing Sexuality, Pleasure, and the Goddess Archetype
I didn’t know I was looking for her. I didn’t know I was searching in a masculine God for this missing counterpart. I did not know I had spent the first quarter of my life searching for my connection to her. I searched for her in empty cartons of ice cream, in sweetness dripping from my mouth and in my body’s desire for intimacy with another, that I had not yet had with myself. I searched for her in the love I never received from another.
I tried for most of my life to be something else. I tried to be anything but me. I tried to emulate other girls and their beauty. I tried to be anything but the unique feminine expression I was. I tried to be a prettier done-up version of me. I tried to be a different body type, a smaller or more curvy-in-all-the-right-places size, to be quieter, to be louder, to be more noticeable and attractive. I tried to change myself to feel worthy. I never got “there” though. I felt empty, starved, and was constantly at war with my body and myself.
When the Goddess came knocking on my door, I was hesitant and afraid to let her in. I heard her speak to me in my own fiery rebellion and my fiery emotions, urging me to listen. She would find a way to communicate to me, whatever it took.
While growing up, I believed in a masculine God. Patriarchy tells us this is the one and only face of God. I always felt like something was missing though. It was a feeling I couldn’t shake. I couldn’t put my finger on the nebulous something that was missing.
Generally speaking, in westernized cultures, we are rarely shown and taught the sacredness of the feminine expression of God. The Goddess is not mentioned in any religious text I had ever read or learned about growing up in the Christian church.
We are taught God is male, and godly women are those who give their life, devotion, and service to him. I began to see how religion mirrored patriarchal society and women are portrayed as being “less than,” even in the eyes of God (or the man-made version of God, that is).
Once upon a time, the world lived in more of a matriarchal society. The feminine was revered. Many moons ago now (hundreds, thousands even), the Goddess was highly respected, worshipped, and given sacred devotion that now only the masculine face of God receives.
History has shown us a timeline of repression. Society and the sociocultural institutions of government and religion have historically tried to repress freedom, for the sake of order and power. This foundation of inequality, oppression, marginalization, and “othering,” based on skin color, gender, or sexual orientation has been a prominent part of our society for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.
Though we have come leaps and bounds with more equality between these groups in recent years, there still exists vast inequality. The feminine power is still very much repressed, misunderstood, and considered taboo.
We can see this when we look at the Salem Witch trials. This is one “small,” but devastating example of women, deemed witches, who were persecuted, hunted, hung, and burned at the stake. They were charged with being witches for the very paltry corroborating “evidence” of being earth-oriented women who understood nature and used herbs and tinctures to boost health and healing.
These women, with seemingly “magical” or “witchy” traits, are just one example of the war against the power of women. Society deems it a threat for a woman to be connected to the earth (feminine in nature) and herself. Yet, women are inherently connected to the earth.
The earth (the mother) is the feminine essence of life and of creation itself. The earth gave birth to us, her children. She is our mother. As women, we house the ability to create new life as well. This is not “witchy heresy.” It is energy. It is nature. It is the essence of life itself.
As women, we have moon cycles, known more commonly in patriarchal cultures as menstruation. We cycle each month, bleeding at the new or full moon, if all is healthy and balanced within. We are meant to synchronize with the “tides” (the moon cycles).
Blood symbolizes life. It symbolizes our ability as women to create and birth new life. It is not dirty or shameful, as we have been taught. Our nature as women is intricately connected to Nature and her shifting nature.
When we lived in a matriarchal society, Friday the 13th, now an auspiciously “unlucky” day according to patriarchy, was a day dedicated to the Goddess. “It was considered a day to worship the Divine Feminine that lives in all of us and to honor the cycles of creation and death and rebirth,” says writer Tanaaz from the online spiritual publication, Forever Conscious.
Friday is a day associated with the planet Venus, the feminine energy of love, beauty, and creation. “The number 13 is also associated with death, rebirth, creation, fertility and blood. The 13th day of the month falls between a New Moon where a woman is shedding (the death) and the Full Moon where a woman is ovulating (rebirth),” says Tanaaz.
Once patriarchy took over, the power and mystique of the Goddess was hidden from view. She was hushed away as if she never existed at all. This imbalance we feel now may actually have a rhyme and a reason. We are living as a half, when we are meant to be living as whole. We are limiting and excluding half of the world of creation, and the creative force herself.
The Goddess is the earth, Gaia. The Goddess is in all women and men. We are both feminine and masculine expressions of the Divine.
In Eastern cultures, the Yoga and Chakra system pinpoint the sacral chakra (second chakra) as the energy center that houses our feminine expression, emotions, and creativity. The feminine is innate in all humans, not just women.
But in a patriarchal culture, we have negated the feminine aspects and thus restricted ourselves from living full, harmonious, and balanced lives. Ancient eastern culture and medicine acknowledges that we need both, yin (feminine) and yang (masculine) energy. This is nature’s wisdom. It is the natural order of the world.
It is one we have ignored, suppressed, and tried to negate by overpowering and over-masculinizing our world. For too long have we been trying to dominate, overpower, and control others, the earth, and ourselves.
Generally speaking, the mind is the masculine, and the body is the feminine. The mind, which dominates all mentality, has been ingrained into us from birth. The body’s wisdom, sensitivity, and intelligence have been overrun by our intellectual-driven world.
We all can feel this masculine dominating aspect over the subtle, feeling feminine aspects. We are a culture that lives mostly in our minds, not our bodies. We use our minds to overpower the body and negate how we actually may be feeling. It’s a “mind over matter” mentality, such as the maxim “No pain, no gain.”
But the two were always meant to be in relationship and conversation with the other. Neither was meant to dominate the other. And, in fact, maybe the two are not separate after all.
The body and mind are intimately connected. The feminine was never meant to be separate from the masculine. Many religions have conditioned us in the blanket of shame to believe that the body’s natural feelings and urges are lustful, sinful, and self-indulgent. So, the body (the feminine) becomes the scapegoat for all evil.
In the Garden of Eden, Eve became the source and symbol of sin for all humanity. But, perhaps, there is “good” reason these lies have been told: to keep us cut off from our body’s innate healing power and infinite wisdom. The goal of these power-hungry agendas running our world is to keep us cut off from our own source of divine, creative power.
With a power unto ourselves, who could rule and overpower us? With knowledge of the god(dess) within our own bodies, what dogma, creed, or religion could govern over us? If we knew ourselves to be Divine and whole, we could never be governed by anything or anyone outside of us again. This was a dangerous secret withheld from us and used as a weapon to shame us out of our own power.
It is the colonization of the body. Much like other nations endured their own colonization, the body is another manifestation of that colonization principle: to be possessed, dominated, owned, sold, bought, ravaged, punished, poisoned, raped, and pillaged.
But the Goddess is not dead. She is very much alive and has been steadily contacting many in the healing, mystical realms. Often, she has been associated with the Shadow, the hidden more fertile, unexpressed energy. Perhaps because we have suppressed and denied her full power, she has been making herself known through the “darker” aspects of life.
Addictions, namely, are one way in which this imbalance of masculine and feminine may appear. When we deny and suppress our emotions and their need for expression, an addiction is a way for us to do so. Energy needs to find an outlet, somehow, some way.
For me, that suppressed emotional nature (beginning in my anorexia years and suppression of my own appetite) later reared its ugly head in the shades of bulimia. The body (the emotions and the feminine) was not meant to be controlled, manipulated, or suppressed.
But this is precisely what we learn. We learn that our bodies and our emotions are wrong. We can’t quite pinpoint why we feel so flawed, unworthy, and broken. So addiction and disordered eating become a manifestation of that belief system. We become bent on the absolute dominance of masculine energy (control, force, power) and the negation of the feminine aspects of life (emotions, creativity, fluidity, and flow).
There are many ways to process the unconscious. Our emotions and painful childhood experiences become the unmentionable things of life. We hold in the grief, anger, and desire (the deep pull and pulse for life itself, knowing it will never match in the emptiness of the external world). We keep searching for this sense of wholeness and of god-like power outside of us, hoping we will find it in some structure, institution, or understanding. But they never fulfill this deeper longing within to know and be known by the Divine.
In my own quest for wholeness, love, and truth, I brushed up against previously held and limiting beliefs. I felt the growing and reclaimed desire for liberation and rebirth, to deconstruct this faulty foundation.
Read part one of this series: Coming Home: On Healing from an Eating Disorder.
Read part two of this series: How Eating Disorders are a way of Coping with Emotions & the Effects of Traumatic Events.
Read part three of this series: Hello Bulimia, My Secret Friend: When Food Becomes Survival & the Body the Enemy.
Read part four of this series: The Real Toxin: The Harm of our Fat-Phobic Culture.
Read part five of this series: How Eating Disorders Feed on the Insecure Self.
Read part six of this series: What Sparked my Healing Journey from an Eating Disorder.
Read part seven of this series: The Dark Side of Religion: On Religious Trauma & Body Shame.
Read part eight of this series: When Lines Blur: Journey into the Heart of an Empath.
Read part nine of this series: Spiritual Bypassing Won’t Heal You—but This Will.
Read part ten of this series: Shadow Work, the Unintegrated Ego & How to Reclaim our Wholeness.
Read part eleven of this series: The Seat of Addiction: Trauma, Emotions & the “I am not Enough” Club.
Read part twelve of this series: The Body Holds the Key: We Heal as we Feel.