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 Celebrating three billion (spiritual) women Wendy Stokes on International Women’s Day and why it matters   Studies show that women and men are hard-wired with different abilities. Though there are always exceptions, women have better verbal skills; men have better spatial and maths skills. Women are better at multi-tasking, men at concentrated singular tasks. Women are better at understanding holistically (the big picture); men will dissect and consider separate parts. Women are more intuitive, and have more emotional intelligence; men are better at logical and rational thought, and direct action.

Lady Justice
   

For the past century, International Women’s Day has been held on 8th March. It’s a day when women celebrate their skills and achievements, and bring the plight of disadvantaged women to public attention.

From The Goddess Oracle - A Way to Wholeness through the Goddess and Ritual by Amy Sophia Marashinsky, illustrated by Hrana Janto  For PN readers, I have chosen the card of the Hawaiian goddess of awakening, Pele (pronounded ‘pay-lay’). Just before a volcano erupts, she appears as an old woman who lights her cigarette with the snap of her fingers. Her priestesses were the Queens of Hawaii and, until the late nineteenth century, Hawaiian royalty appeased her wrath by reciting old chants, giving offerings of red cloth and pouring libations of alcohol into her bubbling lava. This goddess invites you to awaken to your potential and power. (The Goddess Oracle is published by Element Books).
     

Fifty per cent of the world’s six billion people are female, and many suffer from inequalities of opportunity, healthcare and education. Justice, compassion and prosperity are not just political issues. They are spiritual issues that both men and women must address until there is fairness for everyone.

Whether suffering is the result of forced marriage (often at a very young age), female genital mutilation, forced prostitution or other appalling oppressions, the lives of women in many countries can be a painful lifelong struggle.

Throughout the world, females are placed in caring roles – rearing children, supporting their partners and often attending to elderly relatives. The bulk of responsibility for caring falls upon women, usually an unpaid and easily dismissed role within families and communities.

Mary Beard
“ Prominent broadcaster and writer, Mary Beard, is not prepared to conform to stereotypical trends in female beauty and has been bullied as a result ”
   

Throughout the world, in the past two thousand years or more, men have occupied positions of religious power and prestige, and the worship of a male deity reflects the importance of the male gender over that of the female. The male God, whether it be Jehovah, Allah, Jesus, or the trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit/Ghost, does not reflect the special abilities that women can offer.

Prior to the patriarchal religions, the goddess was the principle deity; the earliest known sculptures, 22,000 years old, are those of the matriarch. The Earth itself was regarded in ancient Greece as a Goddess whose name was Gaia, and she gave birth to all the gods, the plants and animals and to humankind. It is thought she was the original deity behind the Oracle of Delphi. She was the great mother of all creation and Man was given dominion over her and now she is conquered.

In modern times, many believe that, on our unique planet, every lifeform is co-dependent on all others and every species is needed to create a balanced eco-system. Pollution and climate change threaten this harmony, and ultimately life will be unable to survive.

In the UK, we have laws which protect the rights of women at work and in the home. Young females are overtaking young males at school, yet the earning potential of these women will in many cases be less than that of males unless equality of opportunity and payment are fought for.

Currently in the British House of Commons, males outnumber females, with 147 female MPs and 502 male MPs. Men are viewed as having experience, authority and wisdom as they age; women are sidelined.
 

Examples of Watkins Top 100 spiritual leaders

Talk show host Oprah Winfrey is at number 8, while human rights activist Alice Walker is at 11. At 29 is one of the leaders of the goddess eco-movement, Starhawk. At 35 is the feminist charity fundraiser, author and politician, Marianne Williamson, and Esther Hicks, who channels the spirit group titled ‘Abraham’ is at 40. Medical intuitive and spiritual healer Caroline Myss is at 60, while intuitive counsellor and psychic Collette Baron-Reid is at 95. The author Lorna Byrne, who has seen angels since her childhood, is at 97, and Anita Moorjani who lectures on her near-death experience is at 99.

 
Wimbledon champion, Marion Bartoli (pictured below) was accused by John Inverdale of not being “a looker”, and medal-winning athlete Rebecca Adlington shed tears on air because of her lack of confidence in her appearance. Prominent broadcaster and writer, Mary Beard, is not prepared to conform to stereotypical trends in female beauty and has been bullied as a result. Women are still judged on their looks, not only by men but also by women.

Bartoli Marion
   
Women's Hour Playing Cards

Commemorating 50 years of Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour, ‘Women’s Hour Playing Cards’ comprise a traditional 52-card deck with two jokers. It features 54 inspirational women from around the world, who have influenced science, politics, industry, arts, etc.

For instance, India’s assassinated prime minister, Indira Gandhi, is King of Hearts, and Marie Curie, the first winner of two Nobel prizes for her dangerous work with radioactive substances, is 9 of Diamonds. Deaf and blind from early childhood, Helen Keller is 8 of Spades. Helen graduated from University with honours and campaigned for rights for disabled people.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Burmese political prisoner of conscience and Nobel Prize winner, is 5 of Diamonds, while Joan of Arc, a medium for Saints Michael, Catherine and Margaret, is 5 of Hearts. Body Shop founder Anita Roddick is 2 of Clubs. James (Miranda) Barry was an accomplished Army doctor in the early 1800s. After his death it was discovered that Dr Barry was a woman and may have borne children. She is Jack of Clubs.

In the New Age arena of spiritual teachers, the image is regarded as more important in many cases than the message they espouse. Some of its leading female proponents are surgically enhanced in order to look the picture of health and vitality – a deceptive picture in an area which should promote life-wisdom, truth, and having the confidence to be who you are.

Women are, by far, the majority of mind, body and spirit professionals, and also of those seeking spiritual fulfilment. They are complementary health practitioners, mediums and healers. They attend talks, workshops and other events which raise understanding of our world, and the higher realms.

It is rarer for men to express an interest in spirituality. When men are involved in spirituality, most are professionals whose earning capacity is greater than that of women in the same field.

Esoteric booksellers, Watkins, have published the top 100 most spiritually influential living people for 2013. In the top 10 places there are only three women, and in the top 100, only a quarter are women. Why should this be when so many women spend more time and money on spiritual interests and development? And how can we address the imbalance so that women receive  parity in both influence and income?

Wendy Stokes is a London-based journalist and Spiritual Worker. She is the author of The Lightworkers Circle Guide.        

The answer to this problem is not to raise competition between women and men but to be co-operative and offer support to those who deserve it, regardless of whether they are male or female.

Just as the intelligence that created the universe, and life on this planet, is neither male nor female, no one gender should take priority over another where the achievement is of equal standing.

 
  


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