I always wondered why so many people in Western culture seem spiritually sick, at least from my perspective. Why do they seem to constantly be filling the void with addiction or consumption of one kind or the other? Why does everyone I encounter seem to have some level of PTSD? I would include myself in this category. I have never met anyone who has escaped this experience of spiritual sickness.
I think I learned why recently.
In the Christian tradition God created the world but is not present in it.
“He said to them, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.’ ” – John, 8:23
We are taught in the Biblical tradition that Adam defied God when he ate from the Tree of Knowledge. But the true blame was with Eve as she was seduced by the Devil and ate the fruit then offered it to Adam. Because of her seductiveness mankind was left alone and expelled from paradise and from the presence of God. Through this act spirit and matter were forever separated and the Divine was no longer manifest in the earthly realm.
So Abrahamic religions tell us that we must strive to deny this earthly existence and to live as “purely” as possible. The Bible, Torah and Koran provide the roadmap and rules to live this pure life. Christianity tells us how to seek redemption through the teachings of Jesus and through that path we can connect with the Divine.
The underlying message in these religions is that we are, in our natural state, disconnected from Divinity and need to seek salvation in order to connect with God.
Those of us who grew up in a culture dominated by Abrahamic paradigms have been taught not to perceive the presence of Divinity in this world or within us. This worldview is so pervasive that we do not even realize that there are other ways to experience this world and our existence. Yet many of us, if not most, feel an emptiness that no amount of shopping, eating or partying will fill.
I would argue that saying this feeling of Divine disconnect is ingrained is an understatement. I believe that this separatist paradigm is deeply entrenched in the individual subconscious as well as the collective subconscious.
This deep-rooted sense of spiritual lack creates a constant low-level stress in all of us living in Western society. This stress is essentially the manifestation of a primal fear of being abandoned by the Divine. It manifests mentally, emotionally and physically and wreaks havoc on the quality of life for most Westerners.
This sense of Divine rejection is exacerbated by other aspects of the Patriarchal society we Westerners live in. We live in a culture of imbalance in the favour of “masculine” archetypal energies that encourage “fight or flight” by virtue of its dynamic, action-oriented state.
This imbalanced state of “survival mode” pushes us even further into a state of fear and stress, in a horrible snowballing effect.
But there is a solution some have found. We have discovered a way back to balance. The path to equilibrium is one that embraces the archetypal energies we are missing in this current cultural paradigm. It is reverence of the Sacred Feminine.
Why? The archetypal energies of receptivity, stillness, introspection and holding space oppose the energies of fight or flight. They position us to do deep shadow work both individually and collectively – to face the demon of spiritual separation that was born of Abrahamic religions. Through this shadow work, we can embrace our inner Divinity and cultivate a pantheistic worldview, escaping this state of “survival mode.”
We can finally begin to heal and connect with the Divine that is all around us. However, this sense that we must act, fight or run is so deeply entrenched that to stop and turn and face our fears seems counter-intuitive to most these days. But it is truly what is needed.
These collective Pagan, Shamanistic and Goddess worshipping paths encourage us to do this work not only mentally but emotionally and physically as well. They encourage us not just to heal but to embrace this earthly existence rather than reject it for the promise of something better in the next life.
We hold that low-level fear in our bodies not just our minds. Our bodies are in survival mode and we don’t realize it, but it is slowly killing us. We disconnect from our feeling and bodies in order to avoid that feeling of low-level stress and this creates a cycle that further perpetuates this state of stress and doesn’t allow for true healing.
I recently read The Body Keeps The Score by Bessel van der Kolk, M.D. and I have become very aware of the impact of this constant low-grade stress on my body. We need to learn to find the “off switch” for our survival mode and I would argue that spiritual paths that embrace the Goddess and all her energies are the paths back to spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing and balance.
I believe whether we realize it or not we are choosing survival mode (on a subconscious level). We are blindly accepting the idea that God has abandoned us. If we purposefully choose a path that brings this choice into the light of our conscious awareness we can break out of its confines not just on a spiritual level but in all aspects of our lives both as individuals and as a society.