The following are clearly giant generalisations, but for me they are useful stories which hopefully create a pathway to understanding a way that might help us to unite our thinking, our being, our interior and exterior landscapes: In the west we tend to view mind as being something that is contained within our brain and thinking as something that is done by mind which is interior. I don't believe that is true (and hugely encourage you to read 'Becoming Animal' by David Abram if you are prepared to entertain the thought that it might not be true) but for the purposes of clarity of narrative let us pretend for a moment that it is true - for I believe that the interior and the exterior, the as above and the so below, are indivisibly interwoven; and so just as the outer landscape affects the inner landscape so can the inner landscape affect the outer. Our brain is seen as having two halves, generally in the west we attribute the masculine to the left side of the brain and the feminine to the right, these two sides of the brain direct the opposite sides of the body, so the left brain controls the right hand and vice versa. The left brain, the masculine side of the brain, is described as linear, logical, capable of focused thought, the part of the mind that seeks to control, that governs language, maths, science, the place from which action arises. It carries the energy of the sun. The right brain is the feminine side, this is the part which generates creative, holistic thought, artistic endeavours, the awareness of patterns, intuition, empathy, compassion. It is nurturing, emotional and lunar. It is the opposite of active, it is receptive. Each and every one of us has both of these sides in our brain.
One of the troubles that is surfacing for me in these troubling times is that we in the west are currently naming the opposite of active as passive. And to a degree this is how we are behaving... if we are not dominated by left brain thinking, by the outward, striving, potentially aggressive, go-get-it-if-you-want-it colonising potential of the left brain then we are instead sitting in a place of willing subject, powerless pawn, "it's-all-meant-to-be" passivity.
I have learned from The Spirits that a useful symbol for the masculine is this -
This is an ancient teaching; many traditions see the sign for the masculine as an upward pointing triangle and many of them call this sign The Blade. Amongst other things this is representative of the phallus.
The most useful symbol for the feminine, I am told, is this -
The downward pointing triangle, referred to as The Chalice.
There is nothing passive about a Chalice; it is a receptacle, a container - receptive. It is a creative space; the downward pointing triangle represents the womb, that most human, most animal, of creative spaces.
When the active and the receptive truly come together within us, when these two symbols merge into one, Hieros Gamos takes place - the Sacred Marriage. This alchemical union of these two polarising forces generates a star, know as Solomon's Seal. Sol (sun) mon (moon) - union of opposites, specifically these masculine and feminine opposites. Within this symbol, where the two triangles have merged, is the Hex - symbolic representation of the womb, that most generative of places. The place that brings forth creation once masculine and feminine have united. There are many, many layers to this story, but for now let us continue with thought.
The qualities of the masculine; linear thought, calculating (maths), evaluating (science), gives us the intellect, but they do not give us intelligence. Only when the intellect is combined with the qualities of the feminine; intuition, holistic awareness, the perception of pattern, creativity, do we get intelligence. Inteli (intellect) gence (from the Latin genere - to create).
At the moment the most harmful way in which our culture is stuck in the 'masculine' is the way in which we act from a place of judgement based of information received by only listening to the masculine half of the brain. We desperately need to move to a place where we are listening to the receptive; listening to our intuition, to our sympathy and our empathy, listening to our emotional responses and adding them in equal measure to those things that are taken into consideration before a judgement is made and an action is taken.
Those same symbols for the left and the right, the masculine and the feminine can be used in an almost infinite number of ways to express polarities within our bodies and within our world. They can just as easily be the above and the below, and in this way we can use them to mean the brain and the heart. Again - we desperately need to find balance between the two, to move them together to a place where the down ward pointing heart and the upward pointing mind merge to create the star. This then becomes the place of activation and connection and it is our connections (to ourselves, to each other, to the tribe, to the land) that we need to find, just as urgently and desperately as we need to find balance.