Male – Female duality, the spiritual principal that there is a male and female energy within us that we need to bring into harmony in order to achieve spiritual growth.
I have always wondered about this concept. In many spiritual courses I attended, I heard people throwing judgements around like ‘you need to get in touch with your female energy’.
What does this even mean? And where does this idea come from?
Looking into ancient religion, in Palaeolithic religion the concept of male and female form was first given meaning. In cave paintings horses and bison are seen together very often, and it is believed that the horse stands for the male and the bison for the female form.
Of course, calling the bison female ad horse male wasn’t a completely random thing to do.
The Egyptians well documented their ideas on male and female deities. Interestingly, the god Hathor, the female principle, was found in the form of a cow. As cows and bison are closely related, there is a good chance that the Egyptian male-female principle was brought down through the ages.
The Egyptian god Thoth is known as a male principle, and married to Ma’ath, the female.
When the boat of Ra rose above the waters of Nu for the first time she had her place in it beside Thoth. Thoth is the god of magic, knowledge and writing, he’s supposed to have written the 42 books of Thoth. Ma’ath is the god of law, order and truth.
Thoth has the same qualities as the Greek god Hermes. In Greek Thoth is referred to as Trismegistos, or Hermes the Thrice Great. The Hermetic writings, which form the base of Hermeticism refer to Thoth and Ma’ath as the male and female principles we all carry within us.
The caduceus, the symbol with the 2 serpents has Egyptian and Greek origins as well, where one snake carries the male and the other the female energy.
From the early teachings of the Egyptians and Greeks, we see the male-female principle evolve.
We see the role of female deities evolve from darkness and war to love and fertility.
Especially monotheistic male-driven religion has transformed the shape of male-female duality. Where male and female were on equal foot in pre-dynastic Egypt and other early religion, an imbalance is created, where male overpowers the female energy.
Cue centuries of men talking and writing about male and female principles, and the original equal footing of the principle gets lost in society and scripture. It seems that men carry an all-male energy and women all-female, with the roles assigned to both. Certain religions even practice segregation of the sexes, which is taking separation of the male and female to another level.
The above is not the end-all and be-all of the male-female principle. Though corrupted by certain religions, there have always been schools of thought that have kept up the original idea of the principle, saying it is a natural energy that flows through us all.
The Bahá’í faith is very clear on male-female duality:
The world of humanity has two wings — one is women and the other men.
Not until both wings are equally developed can the bird fly. Should one wing
remain weak, flight is impossible. Not until the world of women becomes equal
to the world of men in the acquisition of virtues and perfections, can success
and prosperity be attained as they ought to be.
(“Selections from the Writings of &Abdu’l-Baha”, sec. 227, p. 302)
Back to the beginning of this blog, the throwing around of terms like: ‘getting in touch with your feminine side’. Personally, I have never bought into this. I strongly feel that we all naturally have a spectrum of qualities within us. Our upbringing and social influences teach us to distinguish those qualities and label them.
In my experience ‘getting in touch with your feminine side’ for many women means sprucing up the body with make-up and fine dress, covering everything with a mantel of ‘loving language’, and displaying other behaviour that is seen as feminine.
For me, being in balance means being authentic towards my own being. It means expressing my feelings both when I am angry as well as filled with love and looking the way that feels natural to me.
Then again, I like non-dualism. The Egyptian philosopher Plotinus came up with the idea that there are three principles: the One, the Intellect and the Soul.
The non-dualistic aspect of his philosophy lays in the One.
The One is beyond anything, it is the light, without naming it ‘light’, because naming it that means there is a dark. The one is the omnipotent matter bringing everything in this world into existence.
I compare the One to dark energy, it’s there but there is no experience tied in with it.
(To read about Plotinus, I recommend Standford University encyclopedia of philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/plotinus/)
I definitely have not reached any conclusions when it comes to duality. It is one of the biggest concepts influencing not only spiritual thought, but every aspect of being human.
Please do share your thoughts on this subject, I would love to hear from you.