The Solar Feminine

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Portrait of a Heart by Christian Schloe

I write this blog when the sun is in the zodiacal sign of Leo, and we have just passed the new moon eclipse in Leo (yesterday). For someone whose interests are often rooted in lunar consciousness, and in particular, how women can work with lunar energy, I turn my attention to the solar feminine.

A brief search on the internet into the solar feminine reveals that many people view the solar feminine principle as an antidote to what they perceive to be an enforced lunar consciousness imposed upon women through a patriarchal mind-set. One that allows and accepts certain feminine attributes (nurturance, receptivity, passivity) but not others (action, wilfulness, courage). I disagree.

While certain aspects of the feminine principle have been more permitted within what we have come to consider patriarchal culture, the dark phase of the moon, the dark goddess and her acceptance of the interplay between life and death has been rejected. The territory of the dark goddess contains magic, the occult, divination, embodiment, direct experience, menstruation, blood, ecstasy, lunacy, intuition over reason, the non- rational, transformation, death and re-birth. In our culture, women involved with these experiences are often viewed as witches. Whoever said that the moon was all nurturing, yielding and passive? In certain phases of the moon/feminine consciousness cycle these states may be more present, but that’s not the whole story.

My interest in the solar feminine, then, is not in rejection of an imposed lunar consciousness on the feminine, it is a search for feminine light and spirituality that is transcendent in nature and defies five thousand years of religious culture which has denied a feminine spirituality. In moving from lunar based matriarchal cultures to the worship of solar god heroes, the privilege of light and transcendence became associated with the masculine principle- Christ, Apollo, and Ra to name a few. However in some cultures, typically Egyptian and Celtic, the solar deities were often female- Sekhmet, Hathor, Wadjet and Nut in Egypt, and  Brighid, Grian, and Olwen in the Celtic tradition. In Baltic mythology, Saule is a an important solar deity while in Aboriginal mythology there are several solar feminine deities.

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Brigid- Goddess of Inspiration by Emily Balivet

Exploring feminine solar deities makes for interesting comparative religious studies, but for now I am interested in exploring what the solar feminine looks like from a Western perspective in a culture whose main religion has placed a male figure as the central hero and redeemer – the Son of God. Daughter of God is not so neatly embedded within our cultural lexicon or psyche and many women in their search for God have felt disappointed and rejected by the absence of a divinized feminine. In this context the feminine has been split into Mother Mary the immaculate, and Mary Magdalene the penitent whore- a dichotomy which has played out ever since.

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Repentant Mary Magdalene by Giampietrino (Gian Pietro Rizzoli). Active-1508-1549

There are of course many examples where women have excelled in a culture that celebrates what might typically be thought of male values- ambition, logic, reason, intellect, monetary success, emotional detachment, mind over body, science, fiscal growth, politics, technological advancement… But to what extent is it possible to incorporate more soulful, heart-based, erotic, intuitive and feeling qualities into these spheres? I am sure there are many women (and men) who bring this to the worldly realms, but more often than not, the solar feminine in this context becomes the shadow solar- good daughters of patriarchy upholding values that are not always heart-based or soulful. The shadow solar is active when science attempts to control the matrix of life through advancements that esteems life but negates death; through politics that becomes increasingly separate from the lives of real people; through education that seeks to classify and judge children on an imposed set of values rather than celebrating difference and creativity. The list goes on…

So what is the solar feminine? Well it is not just applicable to women, it can be expressed through both men and women. It is present whenever there is a heart-based connection and true power is being expressed. True power comes from a synthesis of wisdom, intellect and heart – and I would include the body. It is a joined up, holistic approach to life that is responsible for the welfare of all beings including the earth. It gives space to the rich array of human experience and emotions. It respects that we are cyclical in nature and that this cyclicity allows for the possibility of wholeness and renewal, for death and rebirth and for the wisdom of nature to be revealed.

The heart is our central, embodied sun, it connects us to the cosmic sun and the spiritual sun- illumination. It is not surprising that in recent years it has been discovered that the heart is in not just a ‘suck and pump’ vessel, nor is it merely a muscle of the circulatory system, but is in fact a spiral and what are spirals if not vehicles between spheres – vortexes or portals that can open up realms of consciousness between earth and the rest of the cosmos.

In our secularized Western culture, the heart has been identified with romance, feelings, compassion and human love, but rarely with transcendence. The mystical path of Sufism recognizes that the world cannot be known by the mind but must be felt with the heart.

For so long did the Beloved
Face my open heart
That except for His Attributes and Nature
Nothing remained of that heart.
– Maghribi

In the Christian tradition there is the ‘Sacred Heart’ which may be read as Christ’s love and compassion for humanity, or it may be interpreted as the potential for human beings to be pierced by the ray of cosmic light- I am not a theologian. The heart appears to have an esoteric significance beyond the purely physical in all major religions. There is the Heart Sutra in Mahayana Buddhism and in Jewish thought, Rabbi Yerucham Levovitz says “the heart is like a seismograph, recording every tiny tremor that passes through us, even if our conscious minds remain unaware of the impact.”

In the neoliberal takeover of the Western world, the heart has been demoted to a source to be manipulated, a thing to be pulled upon in order to illicit reactions and sentiments, creating voids that can be filled by endless consumer products. We have lost the mystical spiritual significance of the heart and in a culture (cult) of individualism we are encouraged to protect our hearts, to tend to our own little worlds that may be controlled and managed – to stay safe and protect ourselves. We try not to get a broken heart. Charities pull on our heart strings and manipulate us into easing our conscience by alleviating the suffering of others but we have very little contact with that suffering- in many cases we set up a direct debit from our bank account and maybe read the occasional newsletter about the project we support but we tend not to get up close and personal with the mess. We get emotional release vicariously through the many emotive and stirring films from Hollywood and mass media. We choose romantic partners like we choose clothes- what seems like the best fit, what looks good? We like to believe that we are invulnerable and we play our cards close to our chest. In the work place it is taboo to show feelings and emotions and we are rewarded for qualities like consistency, reliability and level headedness. But where is the heart?

Perhaps the solar feminine could be said to be love in action, a willingness to be open and connected, to be vulnerable and not afraid to show feelings or be moved by others. Not afraid to want intimacy and affection, or to serve others; to right wrongs, challenge injustice and say no to the forces that would tyrannize the ways of the heart. The solar feminine in men and women rejects corruption, manipulation and self serving behavior that cares little for consequences and injury to others. She holds the flaming sword of truth and will not be beaten into submission or seduced by the jewels of the world. She cannot be bought and sold. Alongside her magical lunar counterpart, she is true feminine power, not the depictions of feminine power we are encouraged to aspire to through debased sexuality, illusionary independence, and disconnection from our bodies and natural rhythms.

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As an astrologer I look at the placement of the natal sun in a chart to get a sense of where these values may seek expression in the lives of individuals. By placement, house and aspects much can be revealed about our solar identity and how to birth it into the world.

I am available for intuitive astrological guidance.

Venus & Lilith in Leo- “The Force”

la_forza Venus in LeoLa forza (the force”) by Boris Indrikov

Venus enters Leo on Wednesday 13th June, which also happens to be a new moon in Gemini where she is joined by asteroid Lilith at zero degrees Leo.

The zero-degree point of an astrological sign is auspicious containing the power and initiatory energy of a new cycle, or the point where the beginning meets the end. History shows us that the accession of many British Kings and Queens occurred on a zero-degree astrological point. Here is a link if you are interested to find out who and on what point- Start and End: The zeroth degrees

The new moon energies along with the zero-degree point for Venus and Lilith in Leo fertilizes the soil for the next Canterbury Moon Lodge which happens the following evening when Venus and Lilith are almost exactly conjunct in the eighth house. Both these goddesses have made an appearance many times in our lodge though there is something about this alignment that directs the energy in a special way revealing the potential to explore the mysteries of the sacred sexual priestess, her glory and power, her demise and her repeated resurfacing throughout the ages- including this one. So, what is the relationship between these two goddesses?

Lilith first appears in Lower Mesopotamia in the Sumerian myth of Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth. Lilith is handmaid to the Queen and is said to have been the active agent in recruiting men to the inner sanctum of the temple to receive holy blessings and sacred sexual pleasure from the goddess through her priestesses. The sexual rites and mysteries were at that time at the core of feminine power and when the solar gods began to usurp the goddesses the sexual rites were rejected, punished and degraded. Lilith lived in the temple precincts in the holy Huluppa tree where the coiled kundalini serpent lived at the base. Gilgamesh, the Babylonian solar hero intent on destroying the Goddess and her sacred sexual rites chopped down the Huluppa tree exiling Lilith into the wilderness.

This act of violence from the mythic and archetypal realms tells of the core assault of patriarchy against the feminine principle- the repression of sexuality as a sacred, healing act. Lilith’s banishment to the wild places where she allegedly becomes a demoness and succubus who steals the vital energy of men through erotic temptation and kills children- in short, a wicked femme fatale intent on destruction, a seductress eager to emasculate men and cause chaos within the social order of marriage. Where previously Lilith had been a sovereign woman, a virgin, whole unto herself serving in the temple of Inanna (the precursor to Venus), she was now a creature of terror and repulsion.

She surfaces later in the Hebrew story of the Garden of Eden as Adam’s first wife who refuses to be submissive to her husband and chooses instead voluntary exile in barren wilderness on the shores of the Red Sea where she is said to have produced thousands of off springs from cavorting with the wild beasts there. This fear of the feminine and more precisely fear of feminine sexuality weaves a toxic thread through the teachings of the Judaeo-Christian tradition creating at its zenith the hysteria that led to the European and Salem witch trials in the early modern period. Carl Jung says, “What man has found to say about feminine eroticism, and especially the feeling life of women, is derived, for the most part, from his own anima and is accordingly distorted.” Other psychologist such as Demetra George has referred to the feeling of impotence experienced by men in the presence of a sexually powerful, autonomous and passionate woman. In fear of losing himself and his sexual prowess it may be easier to blame, judge and ultimately exile.

The Temptation of Saint Hilarion

The Temptation of Saint Hilarion by Dominique (-Louise-Féréal) Papety

On this new moon these two goddesses will once again be reunited in the regal sign of Leo and in the house of sexual mysteries- the 8th house. Venus in Leo wants to shine and express her full erotic power freely and with mastery. Lilith, handmaid to the Goddess wishes to redeem her essence and express herself with integrity and wholeness.

There are three points of Lilith in an astrological chart, or four if you include the fixed star of Algol at around 25 degrees of Taurus- Algol is the twinkling binary star on the decapitated head of the gorgon Medusa, slain by the solar hero Perseus. The three other points: asteroid Lilith, Dark moon Lilith and Black moon Lilith form a pattern of feminine consciousness and shows a pathway to healing the wounds of patriarchy for both men and women.

Asteroid Lilith is the first part of the process showing us where we seek to be free to speak and express our truth, and where we have been denied and rejected in our lives. Dark moon Lilith is the place we feel exiled, the cave of shadows where we lick our wounds and sometimes plot our revenge on the world even if it is just fantasy. It is the distorted self bent out of shape by betrayal and rejection- in Jungian terms it is our shadow. Black Moon Lilith is our point of redemption where we may be restored -though somewhat changed by our journey – to our essence. Black moon Lilith is like the dark dakini Kali, or the Celtic Goddess Hecate- an ultimately compassionate and loving but fierce mother who will not tolerate anything less that our authentic selves. Here every defense and survival tactic that we have adopted to endure the pressures and expectations of society must fall away. In this way, the teaching of Lilith shows us that we are indeed all unique individuals and that our true voice is needed in the matrix of life.

Both these goddesses, Lilith and Venus are seeking to be expressed from the depth of the feminine principle in both men and women, and the new moon position in Leo opens the door to claiming our sovereignty- at least the first stage through asteroid Lilith- the impulse to be free from conditioning, mind control, manipulation and distortions of self. It also gives us an opportunity to reclaim the exiled parts of ourselves, letting go of shame and guilt and accepting that we are both light and shadow… and that we have been through a lot!

The eighth house is the house of mysteries, it represents one’s intimacy with self and other, including and especially sexual intimacy. It offers the possibility for profound spiritual connection and the transformative powers of Eros- Venus excels here. Pluto rules the eighth house in modern astrology, however before the solar gods usurped the Goddess, the underworld was the domain of the dark goddesses with their secret rites of life, death and rebirth.