Here, I see female knowledge that has developed over the millennia and that has been under attack for many centuries. Today, in our current era, it is reforming and congealing into a field-creating power. I am trying to formulate something that I have found in many women – in their desires, fears, and needs, and in their deeper longings. What is said here is certainly not true for all women. I am trying to draw an image of a female archetype which, being connected to universal healing processes, today could generate a field to initiate a social healing process.
“I am a woman. I am thankful for that, for I like being a woman.” Already this statement, if spoken in full truth, requires a fundamental shift in the worldview of women, reconnecting them with their true and most beautiful sources. It requires me to liberate myself from the societal straitjacket, which for thousands of years has forced images upon me that do not correspond to my true universal source of life. In the history of religion, the historical break that robbed me of my female source of knowledge is expressed by the Fall. Since all women are the descendants of Eve, the entire female gender is to have sinned with her. Tertullian, an early Church Father, had the following to say about the female sex: “… your guilt must thus also continue to live. It is you who created the entrance for evil … you first dismissed divine law, and it was you who beguiled the one whom the devil could not approach. This is how easily you brought down man, the image of God. Because of your guilt, i.e. for the sake of death, the Son of God also had to die.” It was forgotten that there were much older myths of Creation relating to Eve. Eve originally meant “mother of all living beings.” Many old peoples saw the goddess and the serpent as grandparents. Religious images show Eve as she gives life to man, while the serpent is coiled around the apple tree, symbolizing the tree of life. The human being was driven from Paradise through a historic cultural shift and, according to the Kabbalah, paradise on earth could only be restored through the reunion of the two sexes. Even God himself had to be reunited with his female counterpart, called “Sheshina”, the divine Eve. Reconnecting with the original female sources seems to be an essential step on this path. I call what needs to happen historically the “culture of partnership”. This free thought carries within it an image of partnership that is no longer dependent on any conditions but that occurs naturally between two freely loving people, and which can include many other men and women on its journey of love. This kind of faithfulness arises from a free and empathizing perception and understanding of the world.
My biological longing for community
In early history the hearth was the social hub and sacred place of a community. The women were at the center, not only for a man and their children, but for the entire tribe. There is in me an archaic, original, and elementary longing that calls out for community. It calls out for life forms that are again embedded in a larger context. In my cells I seem to have an original memory, reminding me of an old form of matriarchal life together, where the hearth was the center of the community and thus also the social and religious focal point for the blossoming of the entire community. I want to live in a community of men and women, with children, animals and plants, in such a way that I do not have to hide my true image from the others. Perception and contact are elementary sources of life on a par with breathing. If this is given, then I love being a woman, for then I can be a woman fully. My fulfillment as a woman always occurred in the community. This basic biological longing still lives in my cells today. Under the conditions that we have in society today, I am forced to squeeze this longing for contact, permanence, and faithfulness into much too narrow forms. A larger community of love that is based on trust is needed for love and Eros to be able to unfold in a way that corresponds to my true femininity. The establishment of a human culture of peace depends on our ability to build functioning communities. It is strange that people can even live without community. In our western patriarchal culture they have all been torn away from their natural, universal, tribal connections. Today, communities always fail because of the topic of love. They always fail due to the unsolved problem of competition and jealousy.
I am a Sexual Being
In earlier cultures we were all connected to Mother Earth, in whose service we were. We called this connection with Creation love. We were all one large interconnected family, and all love relationships were connected with the greater whole. There were no private love relationships.
Here, I am approaching an essential aspect of my being a woman, an aspect that is usually suppressed and denied. It is the sexual aspect. “I am a woman. Since I am a woman, I am a sexual being. And I like being a sexual being.” Still today, in the 21st century, this statement, spoken by a woman, requires revolutionary courage. It is a type of courage that only few women have, although we are supposedly living in an era of so-called sexual liberation. It requires leaving shame and the fear of violence, suppression, and punishment behind. It requires leaving false morals, the fear of the envy of competitors, and the normative images of the beauty industry behind. It requires leaving the religious concepts of our patriarchal culture, the old concept of love, and helplessness toward men behind. And it requires leaving sexual comparison and the stress of performance behind. There is hardly anything that she does not have to leave behind in order to be able to make this statement freely and without secretly having a bad conscience.
A fundamental fear of sexuality is historically embedded into female cells ever since the establishment of patriarchy. The level of fear rises immediately if her sexual affirmation is no longer directed toward only one man. The images of violence, the annihilation and destruction of all female elements, and the sexual atrocities of a catastrophic history between man and woman, which are stored as sedimented fear in the cells of women, are awakened whenever they approach the topic of sexuality. The cruelty and the fear of it are, however, not a part of sexuality itself, but are a result of thousands of years of misguided and suppressed sexuality.
“I am a woman and I love being a woman. I am a woman and thus I am a sexual being, and as a sexual being I am a woman who relates to several men in loving sensuous connection and who wants to unite with them mentally, spiritually, and voluptuously.” It is sometimes difficult to understand how much courage it takes to make such a statement in our times. It requires overcoming the fear of both women and men. Many women become furious because they see a positive commitment to heterosexuality as being a step backward to a renewed dependency on men. “Now she not only wants to be there for one of them, she wants to sacrifice herself for many. That just creates an even greater dependency.” They see the statement as a boycott against the freedom and independence that they are seeking. Their disappointment in men and the resulting hatred of men has become so great that many women do not want to deal with the erotic or biological attraction between man and woman. For them, revenge against men has a greater power than the desire for peace between the sexes. They do not know that it is specifically fulfilled sexual contact that transforms the images of subjugation or violent fantasies into images of true empathy and contact. Sexually fulfilled contact gives rise to truly free women.
My Idea of Partnership with a Man
There are only a few women, who can stand behind this in terms of a true emancipation of women. There are not many who can imagine that a woman wants a full erotic contact with a man on an independent and free basis. This is the free wish of a woman to enter into a partnership with a man, whereby she neither subjugates herself, nor turns away from him, nor places herself above him. Being a heterosexual woman, I say: I need men. But I do not need a man as a tyrant, a henpecked husband, or a ruler. Nor do I need a man in his old role as a teacher or instructor. I want him as a truly potent, sensual lover, as someone who knows sensual love well. I will neither subjugate myself to him nor will I stand above him and mother him, for neither role fulfills my true sensual longings. Nor will I bind him to me with tricks, for during the last several centuries I have experienced that blackmail in love destroys the very thing that we originally loved about each other. I will see to it that free and passionate encounters with men become possible in the way that I have wanted them for millennia. Eros is naturally free and will not let itself be confined to flow in artificial channels. The enlightenment that I am seeking does not occur in the beyond but in my cells, in an earthy and elementary way, and it is of a sexual nature, through and through. Here, I am referring to ancient female mystery knowledge that is slowly being remembered and is today eliciting a natural shift. But this shift can only occur if we sanctify our natural sexual source as a source of knowledge and universal love.
The friendships and the faithfulness that I want from men are the result of a different power than that of blackmail and false laws. Of course, I will support the men by showing them what I love and desire about them and what not. True devotion toward a man, which is also sexual, does not make me dependent; it makes me free. Because I resigned myself to this, I entered into constricted and exclusive relationships and put personal demands of love onto a man. But Eros demands an opening and a participation in the sensual world beyond all limitations of marriage. Eros itself has an anarchistic power that breaks all laws. The sensual recognition of the other gender and the recognition of the erotic reality give rise to a deeper love and permanence between man and woman, which is not based on prohibitions and limitations. By revealing oneself more and more fully to the other, it becomes possible to walk this path of insight that leads to a deeper faithfulness than was ever possible in a form of marriage which was connected to the exclusion of others.
Original Sexual Knowledge
There is an aspect of sexuality which in earlier cultures was characterized by our intimate connection to nature and to the Goddess. There were sexual fertility rituals in which we celebrated Eros itself. They were cosmic celebrations and, at the same time, a cosmic thank you to Mother Earth. Fertility rituals were practiced and carried out in public, whereby we women naturally were allowed to show and reveal our sensual lust. This was not the sensual revelation in front of a private man. It was a temple feast, during which we gave back our sensuality as a thank you to Mother Earth. The men, too, carried out the act of love not with us personally, but as an expression of service and gratitude toward the Goddess. A woman, who in a temple of love tried to bind a man to herself personally, had failed in her service to the Goddess.
This type of elementary, simple, and powerful sexual encounter between man and woman was banned in our culture. Love and sexuality were split. Historically this gave rise, on the one hand, to the romantic “minnesinger” and admirer of women, worshiping them and thus making them sacrosanct. On the other side it gave rise to the sexual offender who followed the elemental force of the forbidden Eros. The ban on both the sacred and the passionate aspects of sexuality led to various forms of sadism and masochism, all the way to real violence, resulting in a trail of blood and unspeakable violence that runs through the entire patriarchal history.
The desired realization of love in all its aspects requires that the sacred aspect of sexuality be integrated. We need natural forms of community in which this truth can be lived. A cultural historical shift would occur if we were to invest our power of caring into creating communities that are based on trust instead of pretense, so that we can live according to our erotic truth. Think of how much gasoline is burned up during the search for erotic contacts and how much vicarious consumption is needed to silence our erotic longing.
As truly as I am a woman, I have a sexual reality within me, just as I have a sacred reality. How could we for such a long time have allowed the sexual truth and reality to be driven out of religions? I would like to be able to honor the sacred quality of life itself with all the passionate devotion that lives within me. Of course I would also like to love and honor the male forces. What an image of fulfillment it would be if I were to fully surrender myself to a man because I know that this self-abandonment will not be misused! My female religious longing does not need any churches or altars. Patriarchal religions have come about through the suppression of our erotic and sexual reality. It was a tool of power that was used against the erotic authority of female cultures. The symbol for it was Eve and the serpent who were driven out of Paradise by the male God and condemned as being evil. But there is a sacred component of life itself which cannot be driven out and which has remained intact through millennia of destruction and suppression.
In the beginning of the 19th century a nun wrote:
“It suffices to raise one’s spirit to God, and then no act is a sin, no matter what it may be (…) the love of God and the love of your neighbor are the highest commands. A man, who unites with God with the help of a woman, is following both commands. The same is true of someone who raises his spirit to God and takes pleasure in the same sex or alone (…) Carrying out these acts, which mistakenly are described as being unclean, is the true purity that has been ordained by God, and without which no human being can gain knowledge from him.”
This quote is an expression of how ancient matriarchal knowledge could remain intact throughout the centuries in spite of all alienation and persecution through the church and the Inquisition. It is this elementary sexual knowledge, which is vehemently announcing itself.
As a woman, I will develop myself culturally and historically to where I am a powerful organ for the care of Mother Earth. I will see to it that a mental-spiritual field and consciousness for this issue arises in many women. The earth is as physical as we are. It is a matter of body knowledge, a cellular knowledge. We can access it through the right kind of wakefulness, perception, and presence for each other and by becoming sensually present for this earth. This consciousness will give rise to an entirely new concept of ecology.
Finding Elementary Trust Again
Here, we find the elementary trust that we lost a long time ago. It is the trust in the elementary forces of nature itself. Based on this trust, it is possible to connect with these forces in such a way that they give us their protection. The connection with these forces provides us with a great opportunity for fulfillment. It requires that I place myself fully in the service of the earth with all its creatures. I must do this in spite of the great powers of destruction that are currently, at the end of the patriarchal era of the 20th century, accelerating more and more.
In this sense I can willingly subscribe to the biblical statement: “Follow me, for I am with you all days, until the end of the world.” In this case I am not following a guru; instead I am giving myself with full trust to the loving aspects of the earth, the Goddess. Imagine the sensual trust that enters into our cells when we follow the statement in such a way that no fear can creep in, because we can perceive the protective powers of growth in nature and consciously and physically connect with them.
This view gives rise to a spirit of discovery, and I feel challenged as a woman to develop and establish life connections that re-create the basis for this elementary biological trust. Of course this is only possible by including and affirming the sexual reality. As long as a woman has to take a stand against her sexual reality out of fear, she will take a stand against material reality as a whole, and experience the elementary forces of life as a threat that she must protect herself from. If, however, we can follow this path fully, then we arrive at the basic cellular knowledge of our female cells. They carry the information that is necessary for our fulfillment. It is like the memory of an old archaic dream, of a pre-historic state, in which a culture of peace has already been dreamed.
Based on this new perspective, I am engaged in finding a new relationship to myself as a woman – a historical being. I am being guided, but this time not by leaders and not by the laws of patriarchy. Instead, I am guided by the universal powers of growth and the guiding powers that are inherent in the earth’s and matter’s original dream of paradise. In this sense my freedom and my necessity place me squarely in the service of Mother Earth.
(This text is an excerpt of the book: Temple of Love, by Sabine Lichtenfels