“The Hindus say that without Shakti, the personified feminine life force, Shiva, who encompasses the masculine ability to act, becomes a corpse. She is the life energy that animates the male principle, and the male principle in turn animates action in the world.” ~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes
The personified feminine life force (Shakti) reminds the personified masculine life force (Shiva) that we are a force of interdependent nature first and independent humans second.
What does this mean, exactly? To put it into Darwinian terms, it means that we are, first and foremost, social creatures. We need each other to survive. As such, competition has always been secondary to cooperation; otherwise we wouldn’t have survived as a species.
If we wish to continue our survival as a species, it is vital that we allow cooperation to be superior to competition. This means cooperation with the environment as well (Shakti as Gaia). Shakti is here to remind Shiva of this fact. To restore the balance. To make sure he isn’t “pretending to be asleep.”
The problem is that many people, intellectuals and nonintellectuals alike, have confused Darwin’s discoveries by focusing primarily on competition, and concepts like “might makes right.” Similar to the way the Nazis hijacked (and falsely portrayed) Nietzsche’s Overman concept, the modern war machine has hijacked (and falsely portrayed) Darwin’s “might makes right” concept.
This has created a dangerously lopsided view of reality: a kind of conquer-control-destroy-repeat mindset that has permeated our culture to such an extent that it has falsely convinced people that war is necessary to keep the peace and that violence is the answer to the problems we face.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Might does notmake right. War is not peace (as much as the warmongers and weapons manufacturers want you to believe it). Ignorance is not strength (as much as the uneducated egoists and xenophobic nationalists want you to believe it). Freedom is not slavery (as much as the brainwashed statists and fear-filled status-quo junkies want you to believe it).
Women (and men who are in touch with their anima) have a direct line to the kind of deep wisdom that’s necessary to turn the tide of the overreaching, violent war machine that outflanks us all. What Clarissa Pinkola Estes calls the “Deep Knowing.”
Shakti is Shiva’s wake-up call:
“A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it’s finished; no matter how brave its warriors or how strong their weapons.” ~Cheyanne proverb
Shakti is here to deflate the weak and obese (yet violent) masculine ego and build a robust and flexible male principle to take its place. But the process is going to hurt like hell. Going from a culturally conditioned male growing up in a profoundly sick society to a fully awake Shiva in touch with his divine masculinity is no walk in the park.
Sometimes reaching true ground means being uprooted. Pain must be brought to the surface in order to be worked through effectively lest it turn into aggression, numbness and dissociation. Uprooting the pain of the past and digging it out of its shadowy repression opens everything up for authentic healing.
As it stands, armored masculinity is a bloody tangle of weaponry and bloated egos glued together by myopic one-upmanship. Our hypermasculine culture is overly aggressive, numb, and dissociated. It’s a shadow culture that feeds off its own repressed pain, violence, anger, guilt and grief. As R.D. Laing said, “We are effectively destroying ourselves by violence masquerading as love.”
Unbalanced and dangerously lopsided with obese masculinity, our culture needs the healing powers of the sacred feminine, as well as the sacred masculine, to balance it out.
Shakti is Shiva’s red flag:
“It is an absurd contradiction to speak of peace, to negotiate peace, and at the same time promote or permit the global arms trade. Is this war or that war really a war to solve problems? Or is it a commercial war for selling weapons in illegal trade and so that the merchants of death can get rich?” ~ Pope Francis
Shakti is here to transform weaponry into livingry; to remind everyone that weaponry should always be secondary to livingry. And, even then, only in defense of it.
Shakti’s red flag is a symbol for righteous anger. It’s compassionate anger, seeking justice and a healthier system. It’s vulnerable anger: intimate, authentic, resilient and transformative. It’s moral anger, measuring injustice against the Golden Rule, the Nonaggression Principle and the Universal Laws that dictate healthy survival. It’s mindful anger, honoring the wounds of the past in the alchemical present so that they may become the wisdom of tomorrow.
This type of anger is turned, full-flame, toward violence, rape, misogyny, tyranny and war. Burning them in a courageous nonviolent fire.
Such anger breaks the heart open even as it turns outdated militarism into ash. As it should. Where we tend to go wrong is not allowing our heart to break all the way. As Rumi said, “You have to keep breaking your heart until it opens.”
Instead, we have the tendency to repress the sadness. We swallow the grief. We resist the heartbreak. We smother the pain away without ever really feeling it. So it just lingers in the shadows, but it grows stronger. It festers. It magnifies and manifests into an aggrandized version of itself that we call the Shadow. In this case, it’s a cultural shadow.
But when we let our heart break fully, it opens-up. The Shadow becomes self-actualized. It is finally allowed to be a part of the whole. A glorious sadness gushes out so that self-improved meaning can pour in. It hurts, but it’s a joyful ache. Our sadness finally has a resting place, a sacred space where it can be transformative and healing instead of crippling and violent.
Shakti is Shiva’s medicine, and vice versa:
“When the Sacred Masculine is combined with the sacred feminine inside each of us, we create the ‘sacred marriage’ of compassion and passion in ourselves.” ~ Matthew Fox
Shakti is here to transform the congealed rage of a profoundly sick society, clinging to safety and security, into the focused insurgence of a healthy society, defending love and freedom.
When our cultural mythology is one of dominance and control (overly masculine), we become violent and hard, and closed off to the underlying essence. We become offensive and overreaching with our power, clinging to security out of fear.
When our cultural mythology is one of passivity and stagnation (overly feminine), we become fragile and fragmented, and unable to contain the underlying essence. We become submissive and weak, clinging to safety out of fear.
But when our cultural mythology is one of equilibrium and balance between these polar energies (the union of Shakti and Shiva), then the underlying essence can be tapped into and the overarching theme becomes robust and flexible and connected to the heart of creation –what Nietzsche referred to as the “Primordial Unity,” which revives and balances both our feminine and masculine energies.
Such a sacred union creates courage in the face of fear. It creates a billion women rising despite the powers that be and despite the violence they’ve been subjugated to in the past. Women who have the courage to rise-up as a force to be reckoned with (a Unified Gaia Principle). Women who say, “Fuck the war machine!” on behalf of men, women and children the world over. Women who no longer take the violence unleashed upon them lying down, but empower each other through education, the #MeToo Movement, Codepink, and the Women’s March on The Pentagon (taking place October 20th-21st, 2018).
It creates self-empowered women with the tender yet spirited wherewithal to empower men, to “animate the male principle so that it can in turn animate healthy action in the world.” To create a New Man, Shiva incarnate, who has the ability to tap into his inner Shakti, thereby awakening the divine energy from its unconscious state into a state of conscious awareness. The kind of man who creates rather than destroys, catalyzes rather than militarizes, heals rather than injures, and empowers rather than oppresses.
But first, there must be upheaval. First, there must be surfaced pain. There must be fierceness. There must be the strength and the courage to call out misogyny and rape, despite a culture numb to both. There must be audaciousness and the courage to speak truth to power, to call out the unnecessary violence of wars waged for profit. Bottom line: the pain caused by the bloated misbalance of hypermasculinity must first be addressed and worked through before the true Shiva can rise.
About the Author
Gary Z McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.
This article (Shakti Lifting Shiva: Women Inspiring Men Against Violence and War) was originally created for The Mind Unleashed and is published here with permission. It may be re-posted freely with proper attribution and author bio