Chapter 1: Of Ants and Spiders: Understanding Feminine Energy
I have learned something from the ants and spiders that frequent my home, each of which has a different lifestyle that illuminates something about we humans and about the feminine energy that both males and females possess. Just as ants and spiders—both male and female—represent feminine energy, humans also—both male and female—embody and can express feminine energy.
Ants favor sweet droppings on the kitchen floor, while spiders spin beautiful webs around doorways. From my purview, they live a carefree and enchanted existence, unburdened by worries about who pays the rent or whether females or males are superior. Ants are social, and much of their activity centers on community endeavors. Skilled architects, they build complex homes, galleries, and even vaulted ceilings. From the perspective of shamanism, because they live in the earth they represent the ability to ground oneself and to work collaboratively for the common good. They participate in food exchanges as well as gathering, hunting, and growing. Moreover, they share a common goal that ultimately serves the queen. A queen ant has wings and the ability to fly until her eggs are fertilized. Once fertilized, she pulls off her wings and sacrifices her own flight for the birth of the newborn and for the future of the whole colony.
Spiders, on the other hand, spend much of their lives alone, spinning isolated webs that also are architectural marvels. The spider within its web reflects the quiet center of one’s own world, which humans access through meditative knowing of oneself and thus knowing the universe. Spiders symbolize mysticism and demonstrate how to maintain balance between the past and the future. Because of their webs, they also signify the magic of creation, linked to feminine energy. Many cultures associate spiders with keeping feminine energy alive and strong.
Like ants, humans sometimes have social aims, with roles more or less defined by the collective goal. At other times, we need solitude for our creative undertakings and to be the weavers of our own destiny. Each of these creatures reflect aspects of feminine energy that are important attributes for males and females to cultivate within themselves, as they are crucial elements in achieving peace in the world. Feminine energy, then, concerns:
nurturing self and others,
Increasingly we hear from caring and thoughtful people: it will be women who save the world. One needs only to listen to the morning news to know how violence, hatred, and destruction threaten this planet. As I write this, the United States is grappling with a seemingly endless and escalating series of race-based killings that highlight how our nation carries the psychological imprint of prejudice and hatred toward people of different races and skin colors. We can also add to this list violence against gays, immigrants, and even our planet, through the destruction of natural resources.
There is no question that healing and restoration need to happen individually, interpersonally, and culturally. We will need the lessons of ants and spiders to bring about change. We will need to rally the feminine energy that resides in us all to heal the planet’s wounds. Women can and will be the leaders who save the world because they are more in touch with—and generally more accepting of—their feelings, which is a core ingredient to improving the world, as will be elaborated.
I want to be clear, however: there is a key distinction between female energy and feminine energy. Female energy is based on the physical differences between males and females, such as wider hips, broader faces, menstruating, becoming pregnant, and lactating (while men are larger and stronger, have more body hair, and live shorter lives). Feminine energy connotes psychological and spiritual perspectives that men also possess and can exercise, as is seen when they nurture children, express their emotions, hone their intuition, and inhabit the world in a more globally holistic way.
Males indeed can join hands with females and be leaders who balance the world—and it won’t be for the first time.