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The Archetypes of Sacred Feminine Initiation

In the Temple of the Sacred Feminine, we work with universal energies called archetypes that embody patterns of experience that are common to all women of all cultures and times.  Each archetype carries a particular kind of feminine energy and can have countless expressions, capabilities, and gifts.  These vary from woman to woman, as well as within a woman in different circumstances or times of her life.  Sometimes the archetypes manifest brightly and with strength, other times they are dark and in shadow, not very empowered or enlivened, and can be negative in their expression.  Shadow expressions can be passive and ineffectual, or active, as in over-driven.  We can invoke archetypal energies as portals to particular initiations and empowerments, as well as to bring forth healing of what is still in shadow.  Our shadow holds some of our greatest, untapped resources.  The archetypes are activated by the Kundalini energy.

You can take a moment here and imagine these archetypes as Feminine beings or presences--human, animal, or otherwise--standing in a circle like a medicine wheel, with the Mother in the North, the Amazon in the East, the Lover in the South, the Medial in the West, and the Queen in the center. 

All of the archetypes have a life in us all of the time, with one being center stage in a given moment and the others being available and accessible or in shadow. The deepest initiations, and therefore, the greatest openings to Self-realization, creativity, and service to the world, come through the gates of our shadow, our most unloved, unwanted, archetypal wound.

Each phase of a woman's life, as well as each initiation, calls a particular archetype to center stage.  Over the course of our lives we have the opportunity to experience all of these archetypal energies in all of their glory and their shadow.  Life brings the initiations needed to invoke our shadow, heal the wounds, and give us access to the gifts of all of the archetypes. 

When we say "yes" to the journey of initiation, and when these five feminine archetypal energies are activated, the veils covering the Mystery of who we really are dissolve, and the face we have longed to see  our whole life, our own beautiful, true face, is revealed.  We become empowered, healed, healing, awake, radiant women. 

We live our lives continuously spiraling through this circle of life with the different archetypal energies expressing in and through us in varying degrees every day.  The Mother comes in as we tend our children or our animals, the Amazon arrives when we have to set a boundary with our partner, the Lover may appear in the evening for a sensual bath and time with our beloved or our paints, and the Medial is present as we pray and ask for healing for a friend.  The Queen in us is the CEO who has access to all of the other four archetypal energies and is the fount of their expression.  She can orchestrate what needs to happen in her Queendom, make choices about what energies are needed for particular situations, and invoke them.  The radiant Queen in us becomes enlivened, stronger and more present as we go through many archetypal initiations in which shadow is met and healed.  The Queen is empowered by all four of the other archetypes.  Through many initiations, she becomes increasingly open to what is and awake to the underlying perfection and unity of all things.

In each of us, one of these archetypes is usually stronger, more familiar, more who we know ourselves to be, and one is usually deeply in shadow--unknown, unloved, or unwanted, and powerfully controlling our lives until we have the opportunity to see it and do some healing.  This is the archetype that seems foreign to us, and we may feel uncomfortable when we see it in another woman.  For example, one woman may be primarily Lover; it comes naturally to her, while, for another woman, her strength and comfort is in being in the Mother energy.  The Mother woman may find the Lover energy quite unknown, maybe even threatening to her.  This Mother woman gets a glimpse of her own shadow via the Lover woman, what is yet to be developed.  We get to see our shadow in other women.  What is disowned in us is mirrored back to us by other women.  We either have an adverse reaction to them when we seem some aspect of our shadow we may not want to own, or admire certain qualities that we think we don't have.  Our shadow can reveal some very wonderful aspects and gifts that we have not yet recognized in ourselves. 
Parts of us fall into shadow when we are children and a wounding occurs.  Wounding happens when we and certain qualities, characteristics, or behaviors we have are either unwanted or unwelcomed by our parents or other people in authority, such as at school or church.  Some of us were not really seen or given attention by our parents, or we were actively attacked for certain behaviors, or neglected, so certain aspects of us go into hiding and don't develop or emerge in a healthy way.  It's also true that certain archetypal energies are not very present in some families.  For instance, a highly cultured creative family that is big on the arts may have no interest in athletics, so the kids are encouraged in art and music, but a child who has Amazon gifts and wants to ride horses or play soccer may never get that opportunity in that family.  I have often heard of really creative kids not being encouraged in the arts because it wasn't part of the family culture. It just doesn't come up in the family as important to do. 

As adults, we don't then have access to our full capacities
and may suffer the pain of being cut off from wonderful dimensions of our being.  Certain energies within us don't have clear expression, their "voices" are not heard, and they learn to operate in dysfunctional ways, or not at all.  Shadow energies can be so passive that they are non-functional, or so aggressive or over-determined that they hurt others as well as ourselves.  A shadow Amazon can be pushy and invasive, or so unassertive that others walk all over her.  More description of the shadow of each archetype follows below.   

At different times in a woman's life, one or another of these energies is more dominant
and the others take a supporting role.  For instance, when a woman is home raising small children, she may be deep into the Mother energy and so busy in that role that her erotic Lover energy may fall into shadow and not have much expression at all.  Her Amazon functions differently I the mom role than when she was working in the world, and her Medial intuitive capacities may be primarily in service to her family.  All of the energies are there, more or less, functioning in new and different ways than they were while she was out working in the world.  When she goes back to her job, her Amazon energy may become more dominant and her Medial may work more in a creative capacity for her work.  Her Lover may get juicy again as she is out in the world more, interacting with people each day, and her Mother energies may be active primarily when she is home in the evenings and weekends.  We tend to choose careers and make life choices based on our naturally dominant energy. 

This Sacred Feminine initiation work takes courage and willingness.  Courage means "with heart," not necessarily without fear.  We can be scared to death and have great courage.  Willingness doesn't require that we like it, it simply requires that we are open and available to answer the Call.  Sometimes it is all we can do to be willing to be willing.

Ritual: Create an altar in the shape of a circle, a medicine wheel.  You can use stones or shells or whatever calls to you.  Place an object for each of the archetypes in the wheel: the Mother in the North, the Amazon in the East, the Lover in the South, the Medial in the West, and the Queen in the Center.   Consider making the archetypal representatives out of clay or mixed media.  You can pray here and invoke healing, or call forth particular archetypal energies for certain situations.  An altar is a living presence, and if you ask the Guardians or Devas of the altar to teach you how to be with it and use it, they will. 

You could also work with Meditations from a Women's Mystery School, Volume I, Invoking the Sacred Feminine. Click here.


 Preparation to Invoke
the Archetypes

4:18 min

The Mother

 Immanence by Sheila Foster

The Mother energy calls forth a woman's power to birth, sustain, and renew life--whether it is a child, a project, a garden, or an idea. It is the Mother energy that also gives death when necessary, and initiates us into sacrifice (i.e. to make sacred), surrender, transformation, and transmutation. Mother initiations call us to the healing of our own mother wounds, and to look at how we have been, or not been, mothers to ourselves, our children and/or our creations.  The Mother energy calls us to embodiment, to the nurturance of our physical life, and the life of the planet.  One of the greatest challenges to us as Mother is to allow our children and our creations to be what they are, which may not be perfect or healthy or beautiful in a conventional way.  

When the Mother archetype is in shadow, the wounding with our own mother may be profound.  We may not know how take care of our own physical needs, be in our bodies, or nurture a child. We may feel incompetent as mothers, or be narcissistic and deny our child her own individuality and experiences.  Shadow Mother can cause a woman to be totally absent to her kids and ineffectual, or controlling, demanding, manipulative and guilt-inducing.  Shadow mothers don't mind their own business and they may not know how to make real contact.

Through Mother initiations, we learn to open to all aspects of the birth/life/death cycle, and to open to what is, as it is. Our only suffering, ever, is in wanting things to be different than they are. This one comes up a lot for mothers, especially when our kids are hurting, ill or not functioning as we "think" they should. 

Initiatory Prayer: Divine Mother, teach me to surrender to your will.  Help me to open to experience what is, as it is.

Ritual: If you have a question or a need for help in the Mother area, place something on your altar that represents this.  Maybe your child needs some help, or you need help in mothering, or perhaps it is about healing with your own mother.   Pray for help and be willing to let go of all ideas about what that help might look like.   The Divine Mother will definitely answer you.  Be wide open to whatever comes.   The Mother works mysteriously in her own paradoxical and often humorous ways.

Invocation of the Mother
5:00 min
Please read about the
archetype before listening

The Amazon

The Amazon lives and acts from her heart and knows how show up for herself, for others, and for what she has committed herself.   She can help us to set and maintain boundaries with people, food, money, time, energy, etc.  She challenges us to be scrupulous in our inner work, faithful and devoted to something beyond our own ego, and to the underlying, impersonal Truth.  Amazon energy calls and strengthens us to meet our fears, our traumas and wounds, and to face our shadow.  The bright Amazon supports us in being clear, assertive, decisive, honest, responsible, and courageous.  She can help us to make a plan, carry it out, and meet hostility or aggression in another with compassion.  She empowers us to surrender to right action or, sometimes, to non-action. 


 Eve by Sheila Foster

We can call on our Amazon to provide strength and protection to the child within.  She is essential to creating the safety needed for our inner children to come forth.  Amazon boundaries are also essential to creating healthy friendships and intimate relationships.  Often our greatest Amazon challenges are to be faithful to the Truth as we know it, especially when our ego doesn't like it or want it, and to not abandon ourselves, to stay present to ourselves.  The first step is telling ourselves the Truth. 

Amazon women tend to engage their bodies in sports, exercise, hiking, biking and some traditionally male sports, like boxing or football.  They are competent and capable in arenas that have been traditionally male, including the business world.  

When our Amazon is in shadow, we may feel completely ineffectual, unassertive, and incapable of making or following through with a plan or a task.  A woman with a passive shadow Amazon may be unreliable vis a vis time, commitments, or agreements.  She does not create boundaries for herself, so people invade her space or walk all over her.  She does not say No, may not know how to defend herself, nor know how to protect her inner child.  She may be disabled by her fears, low on confidence and self-esteem, afraid to ask for what she wants or needs.  Shadow Amazon can also appear defensive, aggressive, invasive, disrespectful of others and their boundaries--a "tough girl."  Fear is behind this behavior but it is hidden, and most likely, her vulnerability is not even felt.  These behaviors arose to protect the child in difficult circumstances and can be appreciated as such.  As a woman, they are no longer helpful and can be transformed when the fear and vulnerability are met and felt.  The shadow Amazon serves the ego rather than the deepest Truth. 

Initiatory Prayer:
Divine Mother, teach me to serve the Truth, and to tell the Truth-- especially to myself.

Ritual: From your Amazon self, write a letter to a younger you--child, teen, or older, that really needed this Amazon  to take up for her. Tell this younger you what you most needed to hear when you were a child and didn't. Tell her that you are there for her now, prepared to protect her and stand up for her, help her face her fears. Tell her you will help her face the Truth--whatever that is. Wait a few days, and then mail the letter to yourself.  Take some time to read it, take it in, feel the love and protection of your bright Amazon.


 Invocation of the Amazon
5:47 min
Please read about the
archetype before listening

The Lover



 Joy by Sheila Foster

The Lover within us fires our longing for the Mystery and sources our journey Home to Self realization.  Longing is the energy and the path that takes us to the Mystery.  We may attach our longing to many external objects, like lovers, money, status, substances, chocolate, but, when we truly follow our longing to its Source, we realize that all longing is for the Sacred and that can be fulfilled by meeting the longing.  The Lover brings compassion and kindness to ourselves, as well as to others. 

The bright Lover archetype within us is like a playful, uninhibited, three-year-old. She loves contact and wants to engage the world with her body, her senses, and her theart. Eros, relationship with others and with ourselves, with animals and the natural world, are primary to the Lover within. Our bright Lover is sensual, sexual, playful, embodied, creative, inquisitive, and in touch with her emotions. The Lover in us usually feels that more is better, and is not crazy about boundaries. To have healthy relationships, we have to have boundaries and the help of our Amazon.

The Lover falls into shadow when we are traumatized, abandoned, sexually abused, or in some way hurt as children.  She can also fall into shadow after a rape, an abusive relationship, or a deep loss of someone we love.  If we had mothers who didn't know how to make contact with us, or didn't hold us or truly see us, our Lover may not feel safe enough to come forth.  The shadow Lover is often disembodied, may have a distorted image of her body, may carry excess weight, health problems, chronic accidents, or be anorexic or bulimic.  She feels deep shame about her body and her being, and may abuse drugs, food, or her own body.  The shadow Lover can appear as one who knows no boundaries and can overdo everything, override her own needs and her body's needs.  Addiction is a Lover wound.   Relationships can become a hell realm for women whose Lover is in shadow.  The wounding of this archetype within us can also deaden our creativity and our sexuality, as well as our ability to feel our feelings.

Initiatory Prayer: Divine Mother, teach me rest in my heart and be in my body, to feel what is there completely, without the stories, and to come to love myself and my body--exactly the way I am.

Ritual: Give yourself a Lover day--a day to be alone with yourself, also your animals, feel your feelings without distractions, and honor your body and being as an expression of the Divine Feminine. Do what pleases you--walk in nature, dance, listen to music, take a hot bath, get a massage, create something beautiful, buy some flowers for yourself, take a look in your underwear drawer.  Notice if you resist giving yourself this much time without distractions. How is your heart? Feel what is there, moment to moment, without the stories your mind wants to tell you.  Keep bringing your attention to your heart, rather than to your mind and its stories.


 Invocation of the Lover
5:08 min
Please read about the
archetype before listening



The Medial Woman


 Preistess at the Portal by Sheila Foster

The Medial is the archetypal energy in us that sends us on a search for knowledge: spiritual, metaphysical, psychological, intellectual, scientific, technical—all kinds.  She draws us to the Unknown—or the Unknown draws us to it via the Medial archetype.  Initiation teaches us to fall in love with the Unknown, and get comfortable with not knowing anything.  It's such a paradox.  The Medial loves to understand how things work, and often becomes a "technician" of the sacred, serving as healer, shaman, ritual maker, and priestess. 

The Medial serves as the receiver from other dimensions: dreams, visions, art, music, poetry, healing energy, insights, instruction, guidance, information, dharma, and endless other possibilities. This Medial archetype can bring us a great deal of sensitivity to energy, sensation, feelings, and numerous unseen and unacknowledged things happening in our field of awareness, which might extend beyond our own bodies to our families and the world.  Medials tune things in, and this can be a wonderful gift when it is in service to healing and awakening, and it can feel like a curse when it creates an overload and we can't then find ourselves.  Medial women are challenged to be open and at the same time learn how to screen out what is not wanted and protect themselves from the onslaught of too much input.  One of the major tasks of a predominantly Medial woman is embodiment.  We have much more to contribute more effectively when we are grounded in our bodies. 

The Medial dimension in us gets wounded in a number of ways.  As children, we are so exquisitely open and often aware of things others can't see, like angels and fairies or people who have passed on.  We also see things going on in our families that may be denied, like alcoholism or abuse. When we are punished or made to feel crazy or bad for what we see or know, or when adults act as though these things don't exist or the abuse didn't happen, we may learn to shut down that part of us, or at the very least, hide it.  On the other side, our Medial may go into hypersensitivity for self-protection and turn into a painful hyper-vigilance and lack of trust in the world. 

The shadow Medial can express as a cut off from this sensitivity in varying degrees, and even an insistence that only what is rational is real, a fear of deeper knowledge and psycho-spiritual energies and abilites.  Another shadow expression can be an egoic identification with the spiritual energies and powers, and the use of them in service to ego to manipulate, control, or invade others, rather than to serve the Sacred.  Medial shadow can also appear when one is wide open to all kinds of input and energies, but no one is in the driver's seat mediating them, so chaos reigns and is brought into various situations. 

Initiations in the Medial realms call us to impeccability, high levels of discernment, and scrupulousness in our own inner work and our service to the Sacred.  We must learn and be committed to the right use of spiritual powers.  Initiations call us to address our healership and life as a priestess, legitimacy in a patriarchal world, and visibility in the world as a Medial Woman.  This can be scary, as we carry the collective memory of the witch hunts.  This work leads us to take our place in the world as healers, and empowers us as priestesses and ritual makers.   Initiation teaches us to learn to listen deeply to our hearts and our bodies, as well as to the Silence, and it brings us to a place of recognizing the Voice of internal spiritual authority. 

Initiatory Prayer: Divine Mother, teach me to fall in love with the unknown, and to rest in not knowing anything.

Ritual: Choose an area of your life for which you would like some guidance, some clarity, then take a Medicine Walk.  Drop your question into your heart and take a walk. Observe what you see, hear, touch, smell.  Pay attention, don't think, analyze, judge, or try to figure anything out.  Be empty, don't know anything, open to everything, and see what comes to you.  Write a description of what you experience, without interpretation. Then see how it relates to your question.  Nature is a pure reflection--it will tell you the Truth and you will hear it if you are empty, and willing to not know anything.


 Invocation of the Medial
5:01 min
Please read about the
archetype before listening


The Queen

The Queen is in all women, and she becomes radiant and empowered as she has been through countless initiations around this wheel of the Sacred Feminine.  With each initiation, she comes to rest increasingly in non-dual awareness, realizing there is no separation, everything is an emanation of the One Presence with all its paradoxes.  The Queen lives her life in receptive devotion to the Truth.  She realizes her life as it is, and her spiritual path, are the same.  

 Eternal Spiral by Sheila Foster

Through initiation, she has embodied a number of profound Truths: the deepest, most challenging, most essential inner work is to open to what is, as it is; she only suffers when she wants things to be different than they are; there is nothing to fear but her own stories about what is happening. 

She also realizes that she can know nothing; she does nothing, for she truly knows in her bones that the Ma does everything, including her life--She always has; there is nothing happening but Divine Presence, appearing as woman, dog, tree, tsunami, war.  She has learned to live with this mystery and paradox.  She realizes that she can't understand the Mystery via the mind, but she can directly experience the Mystery. 

Queen initiations call a woman to access what is needed from her archetypal Mother, Amazon, Lover and Medial in order to better serve the Sacred and her community.  Her community may be her family, her clients or students, her job, her church, or her town.  The Queen is empowered from Source.  She gets her "orders from headquarters" from Ma, and her life is lived through the heart in service and in surrender to Love.

Initiatory Prayer: Divine Mother, I give myself over to you, to be a vessel and emanation of your love. Your will is my will.

Ritual: Simply sit in silence for an hour, or even ten minutes, each day, letting go of all stories, moment to moment, opening to feel  what you feel, as it is, especially to what you resist. You can open to feel your resistance, too.  Whatever is there can be witnessedwith compassion  and felt.   


 Invocation of the Queen
5:45 min
Please read about the
archetype before listening

Self Inquiry:

Take a look at your life now to see which of these archetypal energies is activated, inviting you to awaken to the Mystery and Beauty of who you really are. Which ones feel most familiar? Which is the least known?  In which archetypal domain is your deepest wound?  Where are you being challenged right now?  Where do you hurt?  The archetype that is least known, most challenging, most "other," is your shadow, and it is the one that offers the most opportunities for spiritual awakening and healing. It requires that you face it fully, move toward that which you have avoided most.  Each archetype offers numerous initiations and opportunities for empowerment, the realization of non-dual reality—no separation—the end of our stories, and the opening to what is as it is, whatever it is. This is true freedom.

       © Sheila Foster 2012