Hallie Igelhart Austen
Hallie lglehart Austen is the author of “Heart of the Goddess: Art, Myth, and Meditations of the World’s Sacred Feminine.” This is the kind of book you want to have as a tool and statement piece in your home. It’s beautiful, informative, artistic, and anthropological. It is meant to create a relationship with you, your goddesses and lessons from the sacred feminine around the world.
Hallie has a fascinating life story, rich with early childhood experiences that shaped her as an adult and eventually led her to travel back and forth between London and Nepal in a VW van with her friends. During that time, she was struck by the fundamentalist Muslim structures that treated women differently, which sparked her lifelong journey with feminism. In 1974, she arrived in San Francisco, in search of integrating her feminism and spirituality. Seeking the guidance from a mentor on how to do this, she encouraged her to create what she was in search for. Hallie quickly got to work, creating a women’s circle where she could teach about the sacred feminine and her writing career was birthed at this same time.
In our interview we discuss the struggles many of us face in our modern society, which is to define our relationship with femininity or reconcile our feminine energies in a world that is still hyper masculine (and asks us to suppress the feminine.) I ask Hallie specifically, “How did the feminine become suppressed, and second class in our global society?”
Hallie explains that ultimately, there is not one specific theory or truth that points toward the systematic suppression of the feminine, but offers us two different points of view to *explore. The first is a theory by Marija Gimbutas, Marija was an archeologist whose work was focused in matristic cultures in Old Europe and she supposes that eventually these matristic communities became conquered by predominantly male factions that began to create hierarchal structures. The second point of view is the burst of populations and an over abundance of resources, that shifted cultures from partnership to more militaristic structures.
I ask Hallie her opinion and theory on the matter, and what she thinks was the biggest shift. She returns to the idea of the boom in agriculture life being of great influence, because historically women were the inventors of agriculture as the gatherers and men–the hunters. When people learned to farm and organize animals for sustenance, this changed the “at home” hierarchy. And possibly changed the course of the feminine.
So how do we work towards moving from the suppressed feminine to celebrated feminine?
Hallie’s first response to is to have the aspirant look back in time, to the matristic societies that existed and successfully lived harmoniously and peacefully. What were they doing, that allowed for this system and way of life to work. How are they relating to one another? What can they teach us? How can we integrate what they have learned into our current culture?
The final question, maybe the most important is: “How do “I” become more connected to my feminine history, energy, the Goddesses and the sacred feminine?”
Hallie encourages the listeners, when researching Goddesses and the sacred feminine, to trust your own intuition about where you are being drawn, meaning the cultures, specific goddesses, lore and stories. This rang very true for me, in looking at my own affinity for one Goddess in particular.
I have always been drawn to Artemis, who is also thought to be the Roman Diana. As a child, I used to search the sky for Orion, he has and always will be my celestial anchor in the cosmos. Later in life, when I had the luxury of my own spiritual exploration I would come to find out that Orion is Artemis’ hunting partner. “What a coincidence!” I thought. Then finally through the happenstance of my interview with Hallie she would share with me, that the Orion’s constellation is actually believed to be Artemis herself. “Wow!” Talk about full circle!
I identify with Artemis so deeply, to me she imbues the spectrum of energies . She comfortably accesses the polarity of being both a hunter and a protector. She is one with nature and attuned to the creatures of this world. She is often associated with the Moon, my most beloved celestial body (another coincidence, perhaps?). Ancient myth spins a tale that she was the first born of twins. She helped birth her twin brother Apollo after her own arrival moments earlier. I like her industrious style, unafraid to get her hands dirty and immediately get to work.
In a poem by Callimachus, he imagines what young Artemis might ask her father Zeus for–to help her along her life journey. A litany of ten items, specific and rare Artemis doesn’t disappoint, she even asks for her own choir because every great woman needs a crew and hype team to announce her presence in a cacophony of angelic voices. The last on her list, a request that she help any woman at any time through the pains of childbirth. I too am a helper to my core. Although these days I mostly assist in birthing one’s own awakening. Perhaps we might call this, The sacred practice of Midwifery Rebirth.
Artemis gets it. I get her.