Attending yesterday’s story circle with about 20 other adult women of various ages was a kind of homecoming. A joyful celebratory event with strangers. For four hours we sat at the feet of our educated and experienced leaders and listened to stories and new ways of honoring our Yin energies. There was some drumming, some dancing and an initiatory rite or two. We all wished it could’ve lasted all weekend.
This unique workshop was on the order of the gatherings of men with the poet Robert Bly in the 90s where the fairytale Iron John modeled masculine coming-of-age through meeting the wild man archetype. The late Jungian psychologist Robert A. Johnson wrote eloquently on the subject of our primal energies with his He, She, We series of books around the same period. The difference in this type of group from other support/recovery groups (which birthed in the second half of the 20th century) is their experiential and ritual components.
It may be that exclusively male and female groups for the growth, healing and expansion of one’s dominant energy is necessary but in today’s gender neutral environment adjustments can and surely will be embraced. I’m not sure what that will look like but LGBT individuals would certainly benefit from this form of self-care. You can call it “woo woo” all you want but our social structures and identities are shifting.
These types of groups will likely multiply around the world. We are living in an extraordinary era. A time of great change. A falling apart and a recreation of all that went before into new forms. The cycles of transformation are nothing new but because we are living in the crucible of such confusion without the shamanic rites of passage and elder wisdom that once guided society outside of a church, mosque or synagogue, something is needed to help us find our way.
The story circle reaches back to the camp fires and villages of pre-literate culture. This brand of group “shrink -in” (sorry, couldn’t resist) is one known way to fill a growing psychological/emotional need and it definitely beats binging on social media, passively watching TV or abusing substances. All of which isolate us from being in relationship with others, where life is juiciest. The story circle is ritual communal healing where real friendships can form and real changes happen and ultimately, if you want to take it that far, the fabric of society can be remade.
It is no secret that the divine feminine or Yin energy (the introspective, passive, nurturing force in both men and women) has been suppressed in patriarchal societies like ours for 2,000 years. Now the great cosmic cycle is aligning to elevate the nurture and bring balance into these turbulent times. It truly is the age of Aquarius. Evidence of the feminine force rising is everywhere so now is the time to embrace the change.
We don’t have role models for the new man and woman either. This means we will be creating and discovering them, each for ourselves. It means taking responsibility for our own becoming. The women’s liberation movement struck out on a new frontier and ran right into a wall, in my opinion, because women tried to emulate men. They tried to be like men in a man’s world. Both sexes felt a deep sense of loss.
Now the conversation has turned to celebrate the Yin/ feminine as an integral part of the Yang/ masculine. One cannot exist harmoniously or at least very happily without the other. Both are needed even though our roles have transformed. There is a new beginning. A new understanding. A new day. That really is something to celebrate.