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.
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.
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.
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.
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.