This week marks the two year anniversary of the UN’s HeForShe Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality. HeForShe invites men to join and support women in the fight for women’s equality and strives to reframe feminism from its man-hating stigma to a movement that seeks to benefit men and women alike by embracing the feminine side of our humanity.
My soul responds to this initiative and its mandate with a big yes! In the many seasons of my life — from my academic studies of feminism, gender issues and Goddess theology, my work as a gender equity consultant, my perilous healing journey with my own woman’s story in a misogynist world, my travels with the Goddess into the mysteries of the sacred feminine, and my Path of She writings — I’ve been on the trail of the lost powers and ways of the feminine elements of our humanity.
In my journey, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: what ails humanity, men and women alike, is the degradation and repression of the feminine half our nature that holds not only our nurturing and emotive capacities, but also our anchor in Mother/matter: our bodies, the natural world and the mysteries of the Divine feminine.
I would add that we women have to reach back, SheForHe, so we can heal our world together.Walking in the Other’s Shoes
The saying goes that we can’t understand another person until we walk a mile in his/her shoes. This most definitely holds true in the case of men and women. Only by actively increasing our awareness of the other gender can we begin to understand the world through their eyes and experiences.
Don’t look outside of yourself to understand and source leadership and power, look within. Every one of us is a leader when we tap into the inner sovereignty of our unique configuration of beauty and power. To be a leader is to take full ownership for your best qualities and abilities, and gift them to the greater world through your presence and actions.
As a young woman, I was hungry for power and influence. From my middle school years onward, I was a consummate leader. My siblings, school mates and later my co-workers would most likely have told you I was bossy, competitive and a compulsive overachiever, but my mother knew different.
She sensed I was a gifted, high energy person adapting to the cultural options available to me for power and leadership. She steered me into a business education and corporate career, and couldn’t have been prouder when I graduated top of my MBA class and lined myself up for a prestigious consulting career.
Pivotal events conspired to rewire my understanding of power and leadership: the lightning flash of insight that my material, achievement-driven life was bereft of soul; my refusal to follow a career that required me to operate as a man in my woman’s body; and waking up to the mean-spirited, abusive underbelly of my culturally inherited, hierarchical model of leadership.
In this leadership model, leaders stand out from the crowd by being better or more than their competition: more brainy, more skilled, more charismatic, more influential, more connected, more aggressive, more of whatever attributes are lauded in a particular environment. Power is to be hoarded and shared among the limited, most worthy few.
There is no separation between out there and inside. What repulses and attracts you in the public sphere offers key insights into the passions, fears, experiences and world issues that drive your inner process and outer actions. Nowhere is this more apparent than with the individuals you have chosen as your personal heroes and demons.
The public stage offers up a plethora of demons and heroes. These are the larger-than-life characters — politicians, athletes, entertainers, spiritual teachers, philanthropists, and others kinds of leaders and role models — that draw our attention and elicit our revulsion and adoration.
These individuals help us make sense of the world. We divide them into camps of good and bad, worthy and deplorable, and draw insights and lessons from their words and behaviors. Yet these people are typically strangers to us. We project meaning and story onto them, without truly knowing their characters, motivations and personal experiences.
Therein lies the gift for your personal growth and pathwork: the meaning and story that you layer onto your heroes and demons contain a wealth of personal insights; they are an outer mirror of your inner landscape.Exploring Your Personal Heroes and Demons
In this exercise, you are invited to explore your heroes and demons as a means of engaging your inner landscape, including the bigger story, themes and issues of your personal pathwork.
1. Pick a personal hero and demon to be the focus of your pathwork.
Choose individuals, current or historic, that you don’t know but that you greatly admire or loath. Go with whoever first pops into your mind or someone who has long been one of your demons or heroes.
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