Yesterday, May 1, I co-led a Beltane service at our UU church, and that night, a Beltane ritual for our Druid Grove. The inner experience of the masculine and feminine in each of us is very real for me right now. Here are some of the reflections I shared and continue to ponder.
I wanted in the service to offer examples of how the inner feminine and inner masculine work together – and perhaps what happens when they don’t! I’ve spent a good portion of my thinking and reflecting time this week really struggling to come up with these kinds of examples. What was nagging at me, semi-consciously—was the fear that I really didn’t know what the union of the feminine and masculine in me looked like—much less that I was able to offer good examples!
And then, it dawned on me. I DO know what the union looks like, and so do you, and we also know what happens when these two inner aspects of ourselves look like when they are not working together. We already know.
Take a moment and think of a situation in your own life in which the thing—whatever it was—literally, anything—a conversation, a project at work, a trip you made, a talk you gave, an event in a relationship with someone, a major life change, a meal you cooked and on and on. Think of a situation in your life in which the thing worked out really well. You could use other adverbs: it worked out well, beautifully, perfectly, magnificently, peacefully, gently, harmoniously, stunningly, etc.
This is the point: when something in which we are engaging our lives works, it is the latest example of the inner masculine that we each are and the inner feminine that we each are working in union, as one, as a whole.
In that kind of moment, knowingly or (quite often) unknowingly, those aspects of us that are masculine are able to cooperate with those aspects of us that are feminine.
What does it look like when they don’t work together? Well, we know that, too. It’s a mess, less than perfect, not quite right, a disaster, forced, unfinished, awkward, deceiving, failed to fire, missed the mark, shallow, and disappointing. Always, in some way, disappointing. Most of us are comfortable with one side of this union or the other, and that side that we are more comfortable with may change from situation to situation. When we do act as unified, whole persons, very often, in the beginning, I think, it happens accidentally, unconsciously, but every one of those occasions serves us as the beginning of our waking up. Each time we act as unified, whole persons, it’s so stunning that it makes us want to get to that place again.
Somewhere along the way (and this place happens, I believe, for different people, at different times for many different reasons, and I can even imagine that it never happens for some people), we gain enough insight to realize that if we want to be more consistently unified, whole people, we have to engage the deep parts of ourselves. We have to know and engage and work with our inner feminine. We have to know and engage and work with our inner masculine. Until we are willing to do that, their union in us will continue to be accidental and unconscious.
What interferes with this kind of wholeness? Your stuff does. My stuff does. It’s that simple. That annoying. That painful.
What does it take to get past that kind of interference to wholeness? Start working with your stuff! It’s that simple. That annoying. That painful. And really, that promising.
Here’s a starting place. Notice the next time you find yourself resisting something. Notice what you resist. I’d put money on the likelihood that what you and I resist is some aspect of the masculine or feminine that we have not come to terms with yet. Let the next resistance be your invitation to start working with your stuff.
At our Druid ritual version of this Beltane service, we opened our ritual with these poetic lines written by Caitlin Matthews in her book, The Celtic Devotional. See if you can hear the feminine and the masculine voices in them:
I am the calm, I am the quickening,
I am the intoxication and the force,
I am the silence, I am the singer,
I am the stallion galloping to its source.
I am the bright pavilion and the feasting,
I am the wedding couple and the bed,
I am the morning chorus and the heartbeat,
I am the goal to which all paths are led.
We enter into this season of summer with the full heat of our Father Sun shining down onto and into the full fertility of our Mother Earth. And LIFE happens! We come to a place now in this season of the year that is for us an opportunity to intentionally bring together into our lives seed and the egg, the heat and the soil, the masculine and the feminine that belong to all of us, that make up the core of what we are most deeply about in our lives. We may find that we have been living in two worlds, or splitting ourselves in some way into various parts.
If we are ready, if we want, we can begin to “tie the knot” so to speak, in our lives of these two wonderful pieces that we are. We already have everything we need to do it, and Beltane is the season of active energy. It's time to go to work!