Restoring Balance to the Masculine and Feminine Within
We recently begun the 9 night-long festival of Chaitra Navaratri, in honour of the divine feminine force of Durga Ma. I am interested in how we might use her energy and story as an example for healthy integration of the masculine and feminine energies within each of us and society at large.
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. This eventually lead to the appearance of Lord Brahma 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 years of servitude and dedication, this boon had to be granted.
The demon now felt immortal and started wreaking havoc on earth. He consumed everything, creating a model of greed, consumption 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, realising there was a loophole (the promise had been that no man or god could overcome him) called upon the supreme divine feminine who lay resting beneath the Ganga for help. She – Durga Ma a.k.a. Shakti – now summoned, had the power of creation, destruction and protection under her belt. She had 10 weapons that transcended time, space and causality. On top of this, her presence, beauty and shining light could act as a distraction from her underlying power, and in case she needed more: 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 year. This festival marks the first new moon of the lunar calendar, and the moment that the wheel of 27 Nakshatras* ends (with Revati in Pisces), and the cycle of 27 begins again (with Ashwini in Aries).
So the lunar and solar astrological calendar begins afresh with this festival, just like spring is bringing new life to us in the Northern Hemisphere. 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, but longs to be healthily contained and supported in order that she has direction, purpose and doesn’t disappear 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 has the overarching capacity to make sure 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. But in order that this doesn’t spill into chaos and endless energetic leaking – like water in a cup with holes – she does well to be held and contained.
These two forces need each other to work properly. The feminine wants to feel safe and secure, because her ability to be be open can be daunting. I see this to be the supreme job of healthy masculine: to contain the feminine pervasiveness safely so she can bring balance, love and care to the situation.
I see the story of Durga Ma and Mahishasura to be 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 have had this time of containment around the world, and it is no coincidence in my eyes, that it is coming to an end in the UK, where I reside, as Navaratri begins. We need to harness these powers of feminine wisdom to overcome the obstacles we are being faced with. So let’s harness this wisdom and see how we can work together to create a supportive new paradigm for us beings in the world today.
This is a call for action, to see what we can collaboratively come up with, as a medicine for our bodies, beings and world at large.
*Nakshatra – Vedic lunar astrological mansion, of which there are 27. In Vedic Astrology, a person’s Nakshatra and therefore moon placement, is more important than their sun sign placement.