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Why Should the Feminine be Sacred?

There’s a lot of talk about the sacred feminine in the pagan circles I run beside, and I have to admit I’m pretty conflicted about it.  Yes, there is far too much sacred masculine in the world, and in the sense that we need the sacred feminine to bring balance I absolutely embrace it.  In other words, I’m all about the sacred feminist.  I look forward to a spiritual landscape in which women are more than wives and mothers, fertility symbols, virginal saints and demon harlots.  As a reaction to the prevalence and inherent violence of the masculine in religion, the sacred womanhood can be a statement, a movement, and a revolutionary idea.

But it also carries the same problems and baggage as feminism does and has.  If it can only exist as part of some sacred duality, it leaves many identities out of the spectrum of sacred energy.  How are we defining feminine?  Placing women on a pedestal is not a step towards equality, whether we do it or men do it.  And what kind of female imagery are we talking about when we talk about the sacred feminine?  Is it only the kind of female who is fertile and spiritual and nature-focused and fits into that particular archetype?  Are we fetishizing women of color in the process of building up sacred female images?

The baggage starts to get overwhelmingly heavy.

So what do we do with it?  Where does the idea of the sacred feminine fit in with our spiritual understanding?  How much power do we give it?

To the extent that it gives women a place in spirituality, a visibility and power equal to that of men, I embrace any efforts to lift up the image of the female.  But I am no more happy in a spiritual tradition which treats me as special and separate than I am in one which treats me as lesser.  We all come to spirituality to have our spiritual needs met, not to be elevated and shaped into something we are not.

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