Why Presence ‘Only’ the Active Feminine

If ‘Presencing’ is listening from ‘the whole’, not from a single perspective, how can I talk about Presencing the Active Feminine? Isn’t that a single perspective? What would that mean?

It’s true that presencing is about being present to the whole and sensing what is emerging, and that in doing so, we need to let go of per-concieved notions of what might be or should be emerging. We need to be sensitive to ‘what is’, as opposed to ‘what I want’, ‘what I fear’, etc.

All true.

Thus, it could be that if we’re going to presence the active feminine, we should also be presencing the passive feminine and all flavors of the masculine principle as well. Sure, you could make that argument.

But let me ‘suspend’ my own belief for a moment here.

1) In my experience, the Active Feminine is the most repressed and feared transpersonal archetype. She is the part we have the hardest time listening to, engaging through, sensing in others. When we do sense her, we tend to instinctively respond repressively or we try to appropriate her. Letting the Active Feminine roam freely among us is our most difficult mixed-group practice. But she’s always lurking, and she has contributions to make. In fact, as with all repression, the more we try to get rid of her, the more fiercely she tries to enter.

Thus – not letting her into the room means not being fully open to ‘what is’. As an area of great challenge, if we can practice explicitly being more open to her, we’ll be more open in general. We might, someday, even be able to get through to the other side of the barrier we’ve made her into. We might transgress that boundary.

2) It’s actually the Active Feminine aspect of ourselves that is the most open to the unknown – that’s what the archetype is all about.

Think about it: Witches – in the literature, this is called the ‘medial woman’, the medium, the woman who mediates among the dimensions, who navigates and channels other layers of consciousness. The wise woman who sees the future, the crone. Isn’t that what ‘Presencing’ is ultimately about?

Also: Whores – the metaphorical image par excellence of a person entered into by the ‘other’ – by multiple unknown ‘others’. In her ‘Sacred Whore’ image, she is the place of reunion between the divine and the human, male and female, body and soul, life and stagnation. She is embodied universal love. Is that not also a crucial part of presencing?

In Theory U, the three levels of organizational change are Structure (the what), Process (the how), and Thought (the why) – in that order, each ‘below’ the other. Then, below those levels, there is Presencing – ‘using love as an organ of perception’, ‘being with what arises’, ‘connecting to source’ ‘sensing what is trying to emerge’.

Look at the Active Feminine from the perspective I just articulated, superimpose than onto the U, and you might agree with me that the Active Feminine is a potent image of what it is we’re trying to connect to at the bottom of the U.

Look at it that way and you might even share the following idea with me:

Relative to those change-layers – speaking metaphorically here about archetypal polarities – not about actual gendered persons – the masculine corresponds to the upper layers of structure (what) and process (how), the passive feminine relates somewhat to process (how) and thought (why), and the Active Feminine sits at the bottom.

So – I’m not talking about parity or fairness. People say to me ‘what about inclusion?’ ‘Don’t we need to give equal space to everyone?’ Well, on the one hand, we live most of our lives at those upper layers, we’re always present to those perspectives, so even if we spent all day every day for years in the Active Feminine, we wouldn’t even things out (nor do we need to). We already know that stuff. If we’re transforming the world, aren’t we supposed to be leaning into our unknowns?

But also – including everyone in the U process would mean bringing everyone along on the journey, not allowing some people to keep everyone stuck in any one spot. In systems thinking, we recognize that a chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link. One strongly resistant person can keep a whole group swirling around, ineffectively, on the surface forever. ‘Down’ is scary, and we’re so indoctrinated to shaming and attacking the Active Feminine, that the fear of her constellates in groups and prevents the full descent. Unless several people intentionally try to make room for her, we default to being stuck.

Without creating a space the Active Feminine is willing to enter into and open up in.

If we want real transformation, we have to go through the bottom of the U, not short-cut the route. And that, in my opinion, means

We all have our place in the ecosystem – this deeply buried but powerful spot is mine. And I can help you learn how to engage there.


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"For a woman to explore and express the fullness of her sexuality, her emotional and intellectual capacities, would entail who knows what risks and who knows what truly revolutionary alteration of the social conditions that demean and constrain her."

-Louise J. Kaplan - Female Perversions