The Power of Inner Work: Three Questions

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We have all experienced the destructive effects of the projections onto the feminine in Western societies. These projections trace their origins to the joining of the patriarchy with institutionalized monotheism. The patriarchy grew out of the middle ages into the Age of Reason, and this movement birthed a cultural mentality that became rational, verbal, and literal. This new mindset rejected the mythological and symbolic values in our religious writings, which had nurtured and guided peopleʼs lives for centuries. Today, because we have lost these values and are allowing information to replace knowledge, we no longer realize that symbols and images carry a deeper reality than words. Part of our devaluation of the feminine results from our loss of the art of thinking symbolically. To lose this art is to lose the kind of grounding that enables us to experience the beautiful depths of love and the Divine presence that is potentially within our capacities.” Massimilla Harris, Ph.D. and Bud Harris, Ph.D. Into the Heart of the Feminine. p. 73

The following questions are from the study guide that accompanies Into the Heart of the Feminine. It can be downloaded here.

Question #1: Can you think of ways that you have denied the feminine in yourself?

I’ve wholeheartedly embraced the mythological and symbolic values in religious writings, literature, and events in my outer and inner life, including dreams for many years. Thinking symbolically has greatly enriched my life.

However, there’s another feminine part of myself that I’ve devalued:  my feeling side. When strong emotions like hurt, self-pity, or pain threatened to emerge, I’ve habitually repressed them. Relying on my ego’s will power, spiritual beliefs, and rational thinking I’ve denied them expression. I’ve thought my emotions were childish, self-indulgent, and potentially very harmful. I’ve not wanted to hurt anyone with my anger and have been proud of my self-restraint. Proud of being a strong, tough, warrior. I didn’t want to be a weak whiner.

I believed that repressing these parts of myself was noble, brave, and admirable. In actuality it was cowardice. I was filled with fear and pain but refused to acknowledge it. In repressing my soft, vulnerable self, my heart and personality were becoming hard and brittle and my life energy was draining away.

Question #2: Can you see how our societyʼs denial of the feminine causes us to ignore our longings for love and for meaning until they erupt in negative ways?

Yes, especially in recent years. I’ve not loved my vulnerable, sad, abandoned Orphan. I’ve longed for love but not loved myself. I’ve unconsciously assumed I was unworthy. Not deserving of love because of some basic flaw that made me unlovable.

By the time I finished writing and promoting The Soul’s Twins, I began to sink into a depression. With the loss of the hard work that had masked some emotional truths so effectively for so long, a confusing mix of lethargy, sensitivity, self-pity, and bitterness began to spill into my awareness. Unconsciously, I projected my frustration and anger at patriarchy’s rejection of the feminine onto my husband.

Fortunately, my ongoing inner work, like my recent journaling about Into the Heart of the Feminine, is helping me see this. I’m astonished at the power self-knowledge has to lessen my depression and bring a return of life energy, hope, and love.

Question #3: What do you think about our cultureʼs fear of the transformative power of the feminine?

The idea that we can control our lives and achieve happiness with intelligence, reason, hard work, and will power—while ignoring our honest feelings and refusing to change our attitudes and ways of being—is deeply engrained in our social fabric. I think it’s toxic and dehumanizing because it rejects the feminine half of our fullest potential.

I think our fear of challenging this masculine model explains why the suicide rate for young men in the U.S. is now the highest in the world. We’ve all been brainwashed by our educational system which passes along this negative cultural messaging. I fear that if our descendants  continue to ignore their authentic feminine sides and inner lives, humanity will become so deeply dysfunctional that we’ll despair of ever finding a way out of our misery.

I hope my books and blog posts provide a model for how to open ourselves to change. I hope my readers will understand and accept the difficulty of this path that automatically brings pain and suffering. I hope they will acquire the strength to stay on it anyway. I hope you will develop the courage to listen to your own heart and soul, and seek self-knowledge, meaning, and wholeness.

Everything I’ve written has ultimately  been motivated by my desire to help my children and grandchildren love their feminine sides and the feminine side of life. I haven’t always modeled this in my behavior, but I’m getting the message and moving in the right direction. I hope my descendants will surpass my efforts and that their lives will be a healing inspiration for others.

Image Credit:  Forgiveness, by Mario Sanches Nevado. wayfair.com

Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications, Inc. Jean’s new Nautilus Award-winning The Soul’s Twins, is at Amazon and Schiffer’s Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.

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Comments

9 Responses

    1. Thank you for taking the time to respond, Jean. It means very much to me. It is a challenging process, but nothing worth doing well is easy! Jeanie

  1. Love this Jean. I too have struggled with loving my feminine side. Although I have defaulted to it so as not to threaten the males in my life when the feminine is too powerful. I am grateful I found it in one aspect though that I materialized, and that is in the creation of my art…yet I have often been criticized by men for the artwork being too beautiful. Interestingly enough, one would think that would make me want to express my masculine side. But instead I have found and yet find myself afraid to “go there”, seeing work that is powerfully bold maybe not so “pretty”. Pretty and beautiful is where I have found success as I know it. I actually want to let some of the masculine side reveal. So I need to love some of the masculine side also. When I took your Soul Twins quiz, I was 9 on the masculine and 11 on the feminine. I need and want to feel more of that balance.

    Thank you for your beautiful, honest and introspective writing. Its a gift.

    Sincerely,
    Jo Sinclair

    1. Thank you very much, Jo. The beautiful images you create with your art is likewise a gift. I see no reason to criticize its beauty at all. Beauty is as much a part of life and our world as is ugliness and deserves as much attention if it expresses one’s passions. I think the very fact that you are so committed and dedicated and hard-working when it comes to manifesting your visions is a testament to the activation and strength of your masculine side. Knowing you as I do, to me your results to the Partnership Profile definitely speak to a life-affirming balance in your life’s work. Love and blessings to you, Jeanie

  2. Dear Jeanie,

    I love everything about this post and will return many times, because one cannot digest such richness in one sitting alone! Thank you so much for sharing. Let me start with symbols and art, for both have influenced my writing in recent years. I find myself drawn to mythological and surreal art in particular, and always write now with an inspiring image at the top of a blank screen or page.

    All three questions were great. I loved the honesty of your answers. Yes, your blog and books have provided a treasure map for me, in that you place many bright lanterns on my path. If you look behind you, I’m literally coming up that hill, a few hills back, but I’m on my way! Thank you for being a beacon on such a high hill. What an inspiration you are! This post exudes love and wisdom.

    Love and light, Deborah

  3. Dear Deborah, during the years I’ve been following your poetry blog I’ve been inspired by how seamlessly you’ve incorporated poetry into your images, and imagery into your poems to create a marriage between masculine logos and feminine mythos. It’s such a perfect example of ‘healing the sacred divides’ within ourselves as well as between male and female, animus and anima, and human and divine.

    I don’t see myself as being ahead of you on the journey. I see us walking the same path together with our sister and brother seekers, all of us taking turns, sometimes leading the way, sometimes lagging behind as the circumstances of our lives require, but always encouraging and inspiring each other with our stories. I thank you and all of them for being beacons on high hills that light the way.

    Love and light, Jeanie

    1. Yesss! What a beautiful revision, I love the beauty, wonder and Truth of the image you’ve painted with words, that of brothers and sisters walking the same path, taking turns to lead and then, follow! Namaste my dear friend, namaste.

  4. An extended explanation of femininity! With a brilliant form in questioning. Thank you, dear Jeane, for this knowledge and wisdom. I might add my pride in synchronising with you on this topic, as I already posted about Ania & Animus and the power of femininity.🤗💖🤙
    I’m sorry for my belated comment, as you might guess how busy I am!!🙏🌹🦋

  5. Thank you, Aladin. Yes, I remember well your interest in the anima and animus and the power of femininity. I appreciate that about you. Please don’t worry about when or if you comment to my posts. I am also busy, late, and sometimes forgetful in responding to the posts of dear friends. To deliberately misquote a line from a famous movie (Goodbye Columbus) that says it all for me in this situation: “Friendship means never having to say you’re sorry.” 🙂 Jeanie

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