In the Image and Likeness

>  Two days ago I wrote a blog entry entitled “The Women of Vrindavan” that spoke to the culturally-based ostracism of widows in India. Today, the lead story on CNN is about the horrific practice of female genital mutilation. 
   Both of these stories have a common, and tragic, thread. 
   The common thread is the world-wide demonization and marginalization of the feminine by organized religions and cultural traditions. The tragedy is the effect this view has had on the development of humankind.
   Long before there were patriarchal societies, the goddess, the divine feminine aspect of creation and spirit was revered as evidenced by mythology as well as anthropolgical findings. While I do not know for sure when and where the reversal took place (I’ll leave that to the sociologists and historians), at some point in our history male energy became dominant in both religious and political arenas. The result has been an ongoing attempt over thousands of years to consign females to certain culturally sanctioned roles, and where possible, to exclude them completely from positions of power.
   While what I have described exists globally, it does, admittedly, vary from country to country and culture to culture in the severity of its application. While in some places women can now hold positions of power in both government and organized religion, in others widows are condemned to die in poverty and shame simply for their lack of spouse and young girls have their genitalia barbarically mutilated to “tame their sexual energy.”
   Here’s the irony. 
   We are created in God’s image…male and female alike. What that means is that each of us is comprised of both male and female energies. We know this spiritually and we have proved it physiologically. Each gender has its attributes and its own unique contribution to make to the balancing of the whole. When we discount either gender we deny something essential and beautiful about ourselves, whether we are male or female.
   Because I am a woman, it would be too smug to say that it’s the absence or limitation of feminine energy that’s created all of the violence in the world. I couldn’t know that for sure, anyway. 
   What I do know is that any system out of balance is going to be excessive in manifesting some of it’s aspects and deficient in others.
   Balance is the key.
   What we can do to rectify this error is to first recognize and acknowledge that the devaluation of any of us is to the detriment of all of us. Then, through our words and actions, honor both the feminine and masculine energies that exist in the world, as well as within each of us individually.
   Harmony and balance will pave the way to a world where widows are not shunned for being widows and girls are not mutilated for being girls. 
   And just maybe, a world without violence.

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