Reflections on the Dark Feminine

Sometimes something burbles up in your life and just forces you to see the world from a completely different angle. When it happens, you can’t deny that it was a shock and a doorway to a deeper awakening that you never saw coming until it hit you.

I recently had a profound healing session. What came forward in that session deeply relates to a book that I’m working on presently. This book is on the Sacred Feminine or the Divine Feminine. There are a plethora of books, workshops, radio shows, etc., on the Sacred Feminine. Yes, it is time we started focusing on bringing her back and who she is and how much she has been suppressed. Some belief systems have prophesied her return for some time now.

The Sacred Feminine is quite beyond words. But we still have to try to use words in order to convey some sense of her. In a very simplistic way, she is ultimate compassion, creativity, intuition, and a receptive vessel that procreates life in all forms. I have attempted to define whom she is several times on this blog. The following are links:“the-sacred-feminine”/

Still, I am challenged to fully comprehend the immensity of this Sacredness in the Feminine. I suppose that is only right and will be the case until I die. Even when I pass over, she will still be part of the Great Mystery and not fully comprehensible, I imagine. To study her and attempt to bring her into my life is a journey of surrender and grace each and every day.

There is a side to the Sacred Feminine that most people don’t discuss however. The Feminine is generally described in such wonderfully positive terms — it reminds me of the poem of little girls being “sugar and spice.” But little girls are more than just “sugar and spice.” They can have their darker sides and steal or be hurtful to others when they are triggered. Some don’t even need to be triggered. They are just plain mean.

Within the entire gestalt of the Feminine, there is also the Dark Feminine. Just as all humans have their shadows, and spiritual realms have the positive and negative energies, it is important to acknowledge the shadow of the Sacred Mother energies. If we deny her existence and don’t give this aspect some attention, she will linger there and only get bigger and bigger to pounce on us or those around us. This darkness is like the quiet hunger mounting in a tiger prowling in the shadows of the forest awaiting its prey.

Each of us carries a piece of this Dark Feminine, the shadow of our Sacred Feminine. Some of this sources from our culture. For hundreds of years women have been repressed within the Abrahamic traditions of Christianity, Judaism and the Islam. Great numbers of women have been assaulted and tortured. Sadly some of these actions are still being perpetuated today.

In the past century and a half, a conscious resistance to the repression has been underway. The Suffragettes efforts evolved into the women’s liberation movement led by the courage of many feminists. The bold voices and actions of these women has woken many men (and women) up to the injustices and forged new opportunities for many women. We can hope that this persistent activism will continue and grow stronger, as we come together to change how women are treated as inferior.

These centuries of repression have fomented a collective unconscious of pent up rage and harrowing grief in many women. These are some of the ways the Dark Feminine rises her ugly head. Many women who don’t even know the source of their rage bring destructive terror into their own homes. Then there are those (or the same) who are extremely jealous, or controlling. Some are even manipulative with their loved ones. Their husband or lovers or children live in a constant state of fear within the bounds of the family space. I grew up in a family like that.

When women (and men and children) are abused, ignored, and/or silenced and they cannot speak out and express their pain and sorrow to heal themselves and their sisters (or brothers), these repressed emotions have ramifications. Their subconscious wounded psyches will act out in darker ways to release some of that submerged pain.

How many women have we known in our families or extended circles who scare us? I don’t mean some of the time. They scare us most of the time. They might be biting or downright mean. Or very negative, or even crazy, mad mean and gifted at throwing hard objects. Or if they are not mean and negative, they are very depressed. So long as the deep psychological and spiritual wounds of these women remain buried in their subconscious, the infection of their wounds will leak out in darker behaviors.

Therapists might give these women the label of a personality disorder and conveniently put them in a psychological box. Prescription drugs including sedatives will be recommended most likely. The wild, crazy tiger mama must be tamed before she devours her own cubs.

In an article titled “The Divine Feminine, Unveiled” in what is enlightenment magazine (Feb-April 2008), Elizabeth Debold quotes Carolyn Baker, Jungian analyst and author of  Reclaiming the Dark Feminine:

“If we’re going to understand and dismantle patriarchy, we need to be talking about the dark side of the feminine, as well as the negative masculine.”

Elizabeth Debold goes on to write:

From what I can see, most of the popular approaches to the Divine Feminine engage only superficially with the dark side – the unconscious, repressed or denied aspects of self – if at all. While there is a recognition that patriarchy (particularly the Victorian version of it, I would add) created a context in which women repressed their sexuality, the response seems to be simply to urge women, as does, to “embody your ecstasy.” Sexy has become part of the image, and as such it doesn’t disrupt patriarchy at all. If anything, it only focuses our attention on being attractive, desirable and obliging. But the dark feminine is anything but attractive, which is why, as the eminent Jungian analyst Irene Claremont de Castillejo suggests in her classic 1973 book, Knowing Woman, few women want to get near these aspects of our psyches. Aphrodite, after all, is not just the goddess of love but is capable of ruthless vengeance and jealous destructiveness, particularly toward other women. But until we do recognize the whole of what we are made of, we will continue to project darkness onto men and thereby keep intact the polarizing divisions that hold patriarchy in place.


We as women are being called now to discover and heal our whole selves including the darker corners of our psyches. To mature into taking responsibility for our unhealed emotional and spiritual parts, as ancient as they may be, is critical for allowing the Sacred Feminine to emerge more completely into our lives and our culture. Our wounds may be generational with incest taking place in the same family from grandmothers, to mothers to daughters. Or they may be past life soul memories of torture and abuse yearning to come to light and healing. All of these can be healed in time, with compassion and grace.

I have a personal story to share here. Many people revere Kali and her embodiment of an aspect of the Sacred Feminine in her anger and power. Yet Kali, to me, more embodies the Dark Feminine and I find her terrifying. Her necklace of human skulls and girdle of teeth are quite macabre. She is often portrayed holding some unlucky soul’s head while carrying a collection of weaponry. Her rage and destructiveness is all consuming. I find her a dangerous Feminine deity out of control.

I’ve contemplated on my aversion to Kali for many years. I have not wanted to read about her or just see an image of her. She’s rather gruesome. A friend used to have an icon of her on her altar and I could barely tolerate being in the same room as that altar. I’ve just been repelled by the deity.

As of this week with the healing session that I experienced, I finally understand the source of this strong aversion to Kali. There has been a Kali with me all of my life and she was too frightening for me to face. She is the rage within me that I could not touch. I feared that if I got too close to touching her that she would suck me into a mad destructive maelstrom that I’d never be released from. This maelstrom would take over me and anyone around me. I danced around her and this has not served me, my friendships, and my professional work.

Within this healing session, I was guided into a meditative state to be a compassionate observer to my rage. She was awesomely horrible, a Godzilla exponential as a lumbering humongous beast tearing down huge buildings with one sweep and tossing cars as if they were mere stones. God forbid any human who came within reach. They were crunched like tiny bugs. Terrifying. The wake of mass destruction was a broad swath that got larger and larger similar to some of the recent apocalyptic films that have been released in the past few years.

I did not want to approach this monster but needed to since she was a part of me. Plus it was about time I really faced her. She was a big piece of my Dark Feminine – the same darkness that encouraged me to be so critical of others, to be passive-aggressive, make biting comments, or be domineering. These are all characteristics of myself that I came to recognize over time and were determined to eradicate. Now I understand they were the visible tentacles of this nasty creature of repressed rage buried in my psyche.

So first I offered her chocolate. To my surprise she was not interested. I absolutely love chocolate and this was clearly an aberrant part of me. Then the healer suggested that I ask: “Where’s that coming from?” Whereupon the creature, with the light of my full attention shining directly on it, just instantaneously faded away into nothing. And I was left very still and calm and puzzled. Seems the creature could not continue to wreak havoc anymore since my full kind attention was on her. It was the darkness and my fear of it that was feeding her. I had taken the darkness away completely and she poofed like a balloon with the knot undone that propelled itself into powerless limpness.

I’m not sure if Kali, the deity, could be disempowered so easily. But I do know that disarming this terrifying aspect of me has radically shifted my life. I’m much calmer. More in my heart. Not so based in fear of what is outside of me and within me.

Most importantly, I’m sinking into embracing the Sacred Feminine within me in a far more comfortable way. The shadow sides of her that I have not yet touched don’t seem so scary. Her positive sides of compassion and kindness and wisdom seem all the more attainable. This is all good. I think the Great Mother/Sacred Feminine would approve. ;~)

About Mare Cromwell

Honestly, I am a former worm-herder who has surrendered to serve the Great Mother. I yearn for the New Earth to come to full fruition so I can return to spending most of my time in the garden. I have surrendered to serve the Great Mother and have been referred to the “Voice of Earth Mother” by a prominent Shoshone elder. My work is as a Gaia High Priestess, and have authored the award-winning books: "The Great Mother Bible" (2015); and “Messages from Mother…. Earth Mother” (2012); along with“If I gave you God’s phone number…. Searching for Spirituality in America” (2002). “The Great Mother Love Way” is a year long course I lead. Many know me for co-webweaving the “1000 Goddesses Gathering Global Grid”. And... I also organize events under the auspices of the "Roving and Informal Center for Sacred Silliness" at times! ;~)
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