Why We Focus on the Feminine in Tantra
I was recently reading comments in a Facebook group where people were arguing about the “incessant focus on the feminine”. It began as a series of angry responses to someone posting an article about physical abuse towards women. Someone asked why this was in a tantra group. What did this have to do with tantra?
So why is the feminine so important in tantra? And why is this article of abuse actually an important topic to bring up?
The Foundation of Tantra
There are two main focuses in tantra at a foundational level. First, the integration of divinity into our physical life and second, the merging of the masculine and feminine to bring us back to unity and bliss. Everything that we experience in the tantra realm comes from these two goals.
The merging of the masculine and feminine is very new in our world. We have interacted with each other (and within) in a totally separated way. When two energies interact in the physical world, they will still take on masculine or feminine roles (Masculine/feminine does not imply gender. You can substitute yang/yin, positive/negative, whatever works for you).
This polarity is simply part of truly interacting. If there is no polarity we are simply co-existing but not interacting.
The problem is that for centuries, we have acted “in separation” from each other.
When we interact, but are separate, the masculine energy oppresses, controls, and forces the feminine to do as it wishes. This could look like a controlling parent, our logical/left brain mercilessly beating down our right/artistic brain. It could be yelling at someone, abusing them, or simply convincing them to do something they don’t want.
Our history shows this happening often in many cultures in heterosexual relationships where the masculine/feminine dynamics actually do line up with gender. I am currently writing this in Greece where I have had conversations with people in my generation and older who will openly argue that men are simply above women and that’s that. And you can see it playing out in the family dynamics. You can see it playing out in much more extreme ways in other countries in the world, and in other countries it is much more subtle.
And so what has the “feminine” partner done to survive? Sometimes she has become the masculine energy herself. She has become controlling, aggressive, and abusive. This is where it is confusing to speak about genders… because now, after so many years of interacting in separation, anyone can be the aggressive/abusive masculine energy. Everyone is just trying to survive and have a voice.
Tantra is About Union
But when we actually come into union with each other something very magical happens.
The masculine energy that was once controlling become protective and the feminine energy that was oppressed is safe to expand into her wholeness. The masculine energy that was once bending everyone to their will is now giving and the feminine who’s truth had been irrelevant is now receiving and full of love. The masculine energy that was once anger, fury and frustration is now excitement, inspiration and movement. And the feminine who had once been the doormat just trying to survive is now the foundation for the expansion of the union.
But after generations of living separately and in fear of each other, the idea of union is terrifying. It can feel like a lack of power, a lack of individuality, and a place that we’d just rather not go. Plus, we might not have anyone in our life who is safe to merge with. Everyone in our world might only be capable of acting in separation and therefore are incapable of merging.
This is why tantra is a spiritual journey that often begins with healing everything that needs us to stay separate.
The Union Begins Within
We each have masculine and feminine energies within us. Ideally, these are beautifully balanced within.
In balance, we listen to our intuition and we create structure with our masculine. We are open and vulnerable with our feelings and also protective of ourselves. We have wonderful inspiration from our feminine insight and create amazing things in the world with our masculine/yang side.
But all things feminine within have also been oppressed. Logic has ruled over intuition. Science is more important than the arts. Apparent strength is more important than vulnerability and feelings. We learn to only trust the “known” and fear the “unknown”.
This feminine side has been lost within all of us and so, this is where we must start.
This is why we learn to meditate, to have stillness within so that we can hear our feminine intuition. We are learning to express our feelings and then to stand strong to protect ourselves. We are learning to follow our bliss and trust our intuition.
Ideally the masculine and feminine flow effortlessly together nourishing each other and bringing us incredible happiness and joy.
Once we have achieved this, it is much easier to truly unite with another person. It becomes effortless to release our masculine or feminine to the other so that we can polarize and create something magical together.
What Happens When We Achieve Union?
Tantra is about the merging of the divine with the physical. The challenge is that the divine is a “oneness” and the physical is “in duality” (I go into much more depth in my book Tantric Intimacy about this). The duality is the physical world, experiencing each other and the world around us. Here, we do this in a masculine/feminine, yin/yang, positive/negative magnetically charged way. In “oneness”, this is where we hear things like “we are all one”, “God is omnipotent, everywhere, etc”.
These two worlds are very different ways of experiencing the world.
But, because duality is created by the masculine and feminine, when we are actually able to unite, we return to the oneness. The two halves come together and pure magic happens. There are no words. There is no way to explain what happens – because you are no longer in the physical world.
This can happen with another person and it definitely happens within.
We need to work on redefining the masculine for sure… and healing the feminine is the first step.