Restoring Balance to the Masculine and Feminine Within
We recently begun the 9 night-long festival of Navaratri, in honour of the divine feminine force of Durga Ma.
The Story of Durga Ma
Once upon a time there was a buffalo demon called Mahishasura. Knowing devotional gestures would please the gods, he spent thousands of years in meditation which lead to Lord Brahma appearing before him, asking what reward he’d like for his penance.
The demon wanted that no man or god would be able to defeat him. Because of his tapas, this boon had to be granted. The 'immortal' demon started wreaking havoc on earth. He consumed everything, creating a model of greed and selfish desire that rippled through the lands. The world was soon overtaken by darkness, so much so that the devas and gods usually protecting it were shooed out. They fled to the skies, asking Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu what could be done to halt the earth’s annihilation.
The god heads realised there was a loophole (the promise had been that no man or god could overcome him) called upon the supreme divine feminine resting beneath the Ganga for help. She - Durga Ma a.k.a. Shakti - had the power of creation, destruction and protection under her belt. She had 10 weapons that transcended time, space and causality, and a lion as her consort. When she arrived on earth, the demon assumed her to be another treasure he could consume and control. Rather, she went into battle with him. This continued for 9 nights and 10 days, ending with victory of her light over his darkness.
The balance of good and evil was restored to earth as a result of this fight.
What is Navaratri
Nava means nine, and ratri, nights. So this celebration - over 9 nights - is of the light eventually restoring balance over darkness.
As with all these festivals, the astrological timing is perfect and highly symbolic. It is no coincidence that it falls just after the no-moon, new moon night, where light begins to show itself again after darkness.
Everything is imbued with significance in Vedic Astrology, Ayurveda and Hinduism, and the deeper we dig, the richer the tapestry becomes. The timing of this festival reminds us to take heed of where we are in relation to ourselves, our cycle, the sky and the time of year.
This is the time of new beginnings; an opportunity for us to spread our wings towards spiritual evolution, hope and lightness over the baggage of weighty darkness.
I shan’t spell out the significance of Durga Ma’s story in relation to this day and age. Or the need we have for the powers of feminine care devotion and intuition to reign over those of greed and corruption.
Durga Ma represents ether element of the five elements, for she is behind everything and able to pervade time and space. She longs to be healthily contained and supported so she can have direction, purpose without disappearing back into the infinite cosmos with no beginning and no end.
Through my practice and work, I am exploring the roles of the masculine and feminine energies as displayed in our bodies, minds and the world at large. I see the urgent need to bring these two complementary forces back into balance. Healthily integrated masculine and feminine beings = healthy society. And these energies transcend gender, for every person contains aspects of each. It is how they are integrated within us - and in relation to one another - that leads to health or lack of it.
The Masculine Container for the Feminine Energy
I see the supreme function of the masculine energy to be like a hunter gathering food with his bow and arrow: he has the ability to penetrate and be tunnel-visioned. The feminine, has the means to be wide-spread: she resides over her flock, making sure everyone and everything is taken care of.
She sees that her people are fed, watered, given life and kept alive. Her awareness has the capacity to be everywhere at once. She can work out what’s needed on many levels at the same time. So that this doesn’t spill into chaos and endless energetic leaking - like water in a cup with holes - she needs to be held and contained.
These two forces need each other to function. The feminine wants to feel safe and secure, because her ability to be be open can be daunting. So the supreme job of the healthy masculine is to contain the feminine so she can feel safe to bring balance, love and care to the situation.
The story of Durga Ma and Mahishasura is one of rebalance, rather than conquest. The world’s consciousness is degenerating and proliferating in messy directions, the demonic aspects of greed and self have poisoned the ether, and Durga’s holistic feminine need to be contained and supported to readdress this. We need to harness these powers of feminine wisdom to overcome the obstacles we are being faced with. How we can work together to create a supportive new paradigm for us beings in the world today?
This is a call for action. How can we restore the supreme feminine within each of us, and society at large, so she may once again flourish and shine her light?
By Selina Van Orden
Selina Van Orden is an Ayurvedic physician living and working in the UK. See atyourbest.one for more details