You’ve likely been hearing a lot of talk recently about divine feminine traits, but are dark feminine traits the same?
The “Goddess Movement” phenomenon that’s rising up all over the internet certainly has a lot to say about it the expression of divine feminine energy
But many of the conversations I hear around the Feminine tend to be skewed in ONE direction. And that direction is a very narrow expression of divine feminine energy, which includes almost exclusively her lighter, gentler, and more amenable side.
But that’s not even a fraction of the story!
The truth is, there are BIG pieces missing when most people talk about the divine Feminine. And many of these missing pieces involve Dark Feminine traits.
To read more about the (lighter) Divine Feminine – or as She’s also known, the Sacred Feminine, read this POST.
For now, let’s talk about the Dark Feminine…
What is dark feminine energy?
Dark feminine energy is a potent and transformative force that embraces the darker aspects of nature and the psyche. It’s characterized by qualities such as intuition, emotional depth, and creativity. as well as death, destruction, and the unknown.
It is often symbolized by Goddesses and archetypes such as Kali, Lilith, and the Black Madonna, and is an extremely powerful tool for personal growth and transformation.
Yet the dark feminine is often misunderstood, and confused with shadow aspects of the feminine. These are distorted and suppressed qualities of feminine energy (that we’ll go into later in this article).
Dark feminine energy is –
- Death and decay
- The crone
- The void
- The liminal
- The unknown and the unknowable
It may seem like Dark Feminine energy is opposed to many of the “light” feminine qualities you probably know about (such as gentleness, softness, receptivity, etc.), but that’s not true. They’re more like different surfaces of one prismatic expression of the true Feminine. Dark and light.
… And everything in between.
Yet these darker aspects of the Sacred Feminine Principle are paradoxically perceived by many as unfeminine. Yes, you read that right. The patriarchal paradigm has conditioned many, many people to believe dark feminine traits are actually, decidedly, unfeminine.
Need to ready up on dark feminine energy?
Read this post next – What is Dark Feminine Energy?
20 Dark Feminine Traits
- Self-sourced power
- Sensuality + pleasure
- Deep devotion
- Magic, mysticism + the esoteric
- Internal safety
- Sexual liberation + reclaiming eros
- To devour
- The unknown
- The Void
- Death and decay
Scroll to the end to look at each of these traits in more detail…
Suppression of the Dark Feminine
For a lot of men and women, dark feminine energy is not only unfamiliar but also a little frightening. This is because traits and qualities of the Dark Feminine have been shunned, silenced, and suppressed for many centuries. Probably longer.
The capitalist, colonial, patriarchal structures our modern world operates through, have taught us that the Dark Feminine is synonymous with “bad” or negative. That any dark feminine expression is undesirable, unwanted, and probably harmful.
✶ That passion, fury, and rage are uncontrollable, and therefore dangerous.
✶ That sex and pleasure are sinful.
✶ That the crone is ugly and worthless.
✶ That magic is silly and doesn’t exist.
✶ That women’s bodies, blood, and vulvas are dirty and ugly.
✶ That the darkness is scary.
✶ That the Earth and her creatures are wild and need to be tamed.
The list goes on and on…
Over centuries our cultural narrative has conflated the concepts of dark and “negative”. We’ve been told that there is something wrong with the dark, and the qualities found there.
Even the inky black darkness of nighttime has been purged from many people’s lives. Electric lighting can be turned on in one flick of a switch in our homes, while streetlamps bathe our towns in artificial light.
Religious + New Age conditioning around light vs dark
The dark feminine lives in, yes, you guessed it – the darkness. She lives in the deep, fertile soil of Mother Earth. She lives inside caves and crevices. And She lives in our bodies too.
YET these are places – religion has been telling us for millennia – where evil dwells.
Hell is down there, underground, isn’t it? The devil lives in the fiery depths, beneath your feet.
Those sensations in your body – the desire for pleasure, the pulse of the erotic, even the urge for sex… those desires are a sin. Your body, dear women, is sinful.
Instead of descending into the dark of the Earth, dropping into her mysterious depths, and embracing the sensations of our bodies, the Abrahamic religions trained us to turn our gaze UP to the “heavens”.
UP to the light – that’s where you’ll find what you are looking for.
And the New Age isn’t much different. Many New Age teachings tell us that enlightenment will come through ascension. Through “love and light”, staying “high vibe” and transcending matter.
Even though it’s not as explicit, the New Age movement is also conditioning us to reject the dark, because the dark needs us to descend.
Why has the dark Feminine been suppressed?
Quite simply, the Dark Feminine has been suppressed because she is hard to control.
Dark Feminine traits, characteristics, and qualities have been pathologized because we’ve been taught there’s something wrong with them.
Women who truly embody and live out their inner dark feminine characteristics are ungovernable. This means they won’t uphold the patriarchal system and control paradigm, nor will they teach their children to. And these women (and men) are a big threat.
… Because without their complicity, patriarchal structures will crumble.
Upholding the “light” Divine Feminine?
Paradoxically, women who only embody the “lighter” feminine traits such as gentleness, softness, patience, and nurture are way more likely to sit quiet, do as they’re told, and behave like “good girls”. Their fragile, obedient natures are rewarded.
There’s a beauty to these divine feminine characteristics, but an immaturity too. These are woman who only have contact with their maiden archetype and haven’t yet grown up into the maturity of their inner mother archetype (or beyond). She hasn’t touched her true power. She’s still submitting to a masculine paradigm of control.
Yet THIS is the “femininity” with which many women are operating.
Learn more about female archetypes…
Read this post next – 7 Divine Feminine Archetypes & How To Embody Their Power
And of course, this archetypal stuck-ness suits patriarchy. Women who don’t develop their inner power tend to feel unconsciously unsafe – and therefore need protecting. This puts them in positions of disempowerment, dependency (or codependency) and this, in turn, makes them easy to control and manipulate.
… And all the while, these women believe they’re operating through the “Divine Feminine”. Convenient, huh?
The New Age Goddess movement plays right into this illusion, because it presents and teaches such a skewed and narrow version of what Divine Femininity really is. It leaves out a LOT, mainly the dark feminine traits and characteristics, and the dark feminine archeypes too.
And instead these are distorted, suppressed and vilified too.
Suppressed Dark Feminine traits = the feminine shadow
Through centuries of suppression, men and women have been led to believe the dark feminine represents the qualities, traits, and characteristics we don’t want around.
So naturally, over many generations, humans have worked to avoid, ignore, disallow, shun, censor, silence, subdue and collectively hide expressions of the Dark Feminine.
BUT. As you may know by now.. anything that’s exiled from human consciousness takes refuge in the shadow. The pieces of ourselves we repress don’t disappear. They get buried in the unconscious and take on new and distorted forms. Then emerge later in often unconscious, shocking, or taboo ways.
So this suppression is the root of SO much feminine shadow.
But don’t get them confused – the Dark Feminine is NOT the shadow side of the feminine!
Many people continue to conflate and mix up dark feminine traits with expressions of the feminine shadow. Yet this confusion and mislabeling only add to the fear and rejection of her traits as sinful, ugly, evil and undesirable. It keeps us fragmented, and it keeps women separate from their independent, sovereign state.
20 Dark Feminine Traits
So what ARE these dark feminine traits we need to learn to embrace? Read on…
1. Self-sourced power
The polar opposite of codependency, self-sourced power comes from within. But this isn’t the kind of power you wield over others – the Dark Feminine isn’t some authoritarian beast! She is self-sourced – an infinite wellspring of strength and power that pours from the deep, dark, glistening depths within.
Once you start to access this, you’ll find it has a magnetism of its own, and some people can find this very threatening – be warned.
2. Sensuality + Pleasure
Another powerful way to tap into the Dark Feminine is to receive pleasure through sensuality.
The Divine Feminine lives in the intimacy of the present moment. She exists in the here and now, and you can access her powerful healing, regenerative qualities through the immanence of touch, taste, sound, sight, and smell.
Slow down and feel. Get really intimate with the exquisite NOW.
Learn more about sensuality…
Read this post next – Who is the Sensualist Archetype?
Embracing the dark feminine is embracing chaos.
The deep, tangled forests and the unwieldy mess of decay and destruction are sacred parts of Mother nature – and you, too, are nature. So unless you can allow the vital chaos of nature to also rise within you, you’re complicit in the paradigm of control.
The Dark Feminine is not complicit. Let her have her say.
4. Deep Devotion
… But that’s not to say that the Dark Feminine is all anarchy and disorder. This energy can be can also manifest through a fixed gaze and deep devotion.
A lot of Divine Feminine teachers speak of “surrender”. This has connotations of letting go of sovereignty and relinquishing choice. Yet the kind of devotion unleashed when Dark Feminine energy is expressed is an active choice. So what will you choose to devote yourself to?
- the Goddess?
- the Cycles of the Moon?
- the Great Cosmic Mother?
- Esoterica and magic?
5. Magic, mysticism, and the esoteric
Suppressed for centuries, ridiculed, and shamed as something dangerous and false, the belief and practice of magic and witchcraft is an intrinsic part of the Divine Feminine mysteries.
From spellwork and sigils to astrology and divination, the dark feminine weaves her way through SO many of our most esoteric, magical practices.
The mainstream STILL doesn’t tend to accept magical, intuitive, or spiritual modalities of working and creating (though astrology IS being embraced more these days). And understandably, those who DO practice keep their true nature hidden.
It’s been this way for centuries. And for many people today, this pattern of non-acceptance is rooted in the European witch hunts of the middle ages. So the sense that practicing anything occult is dangerous is a very real and deep-seated fear. It’s a huge part of the witch wound.
Yet exploring esoterica (and other things you may think are ‘witchy’ practices), are not only potent acts of self-realization, but they’re also a reclamation of the spiritual activities that were banned and suppressed along with the Dark Feminine.
Trusting, and following your desires can be a sacred duty, and an act of rebellion in a society that wants women to put up with a mediocre life. The Dark Feminine will not do this.
One step further, passion is defined as a “strong and barely controllable emotion”. This kind of emotional intensity has also been shunned and shamed in women, only allowed out in particular scenes and scenarios (such as in the bedroom). Yet accessing YOUR extreme passion, your emotional might, and channeling this to what you care about is where the Dark Feminine comes into her own.
So liberate your passion, and unleash your own inner dark feminine!
Rage, anger, fury… these emotions have been vilified by patriarchy. Shunned as over-dramatic, uncontrollable, and even shameful (“you hysterical women…”) these heightened and fierce expressions of dark feminine energy have been – mostly – exiled into the shadow. From there, they erupt unconsciously, without direction or purpose, causing pain and upset.
YET sacred rage is a potent force, it holds a quality that can bring radical transformation. Sacred rage is a true alchemical tool of the Feminine.
This dark feminine trait – her ability to transform – is maybe one of her most mysterious.
There are many shape-shifting dark Goddesses – one is the Morrígan (the Phantom Queen) who shapeshifted into an eel, a wolf, and then into a cow.
Yet working with the transformative potential of dark feminine energy doesn’t need to be taken this literally! She can teach you about subtle transformation. About shifting states and releasing old identities. About shedding old skins, and emerging into newer versions of your power.
One way to connect with this metamorphic quality of the Feminine, and harness it in your own life is to learn about your own cyclic nature through your menstrual cycle.
Do you honor your monthly blood?
Do you bleed with a red Moon cycle or a white Moon cycle?
10. Internal safety
The world is not a safe place for women.
Most women on this planet have NO true experience of what it is, to feel 100%, implicitly safe. And with this fact, we also carry an almost unacknowledged state of victimhood.
Rape culture is ripe, and patriarchy has turned women into victims.
… But the Dark Feminine is no victim!
It’s slow, long work, but cultivating internal safety through nervous system regulation work is a really potent way to access this dark feminine trait from within.
Hand in hand with cultivating internal safety, the dark feminine trait of fearlessness has to come from within.
When you know you are spiritually supported, when you know you are held by your ancestors, when you know the Goddess is holding your hand as you follow a divinely orchestrated map, then you can live without fear.
AND… the kind of fearlessness the Dark Feminine offers is what we need tonavigate the shadowlands.
Doing your shadow work is one of the best ways to awaken Dark Feminine energy. Not because the Dark Feminine IS shadow – again, this is a huge misconception! But because She is the animating force that transmutes shadow into gold.
12. Sexual liberation + reclaiming eros
Female pleasure has been actively discouraged for centuries. Sex has been framed as either an act of procreation OR something for male pleasure only. Women who sought sexual pleasure were (and still are in many places, and cultures) defined as whores, or deviants.
Real, raw, messy, ravenous female sexual desire is still taboo.
And even in so-called modern or progressive societies, slut shaming happens on a huge scale… YET women are still required to be “sexy” and attractive when it suits.
Sex sells after all, and money is King.
There are SO many layers of conditioning, pain, wounding, and distortion around female sexuality. Even “wild woman” archetypes can seem less than authentic.
The sexual liberation of women is a multilayered, multidimensional journey, and it’s different for every one of us.
YET at its core, sexual liberation is the freedom of Eros. Eros as: The sensual, present-moment aliveness that we can all come into contact with if we learn how.
13. To devour
There are devouring dark Goddesses – Kali Ma, Lilith, and Sekhmet, for example, who contain all-consuming, untamed and voracious energy.
Not quite rage, or revenge, not wholly destructive, and peppered with tough love, this trait isn’t something negative. It’s something else, something almost indescribable. It is to devour whatever crosses its path.
14. The unknown
The Dark Feminine is mysterious. While she is characterized by some traits we can know and recognize, there is a whole lot to this potent feminine energy that we don’t know. It’s been repressed for too long. So opening up to the dark is a process of trusting the unknown – for THIS is what She is.
Like the Dark Moon – the sacred pause between lunar cycles, when the sky turns black and the Moon disappears from view – the power of regeneration is unseen. Rebirth occurs in the dark, and has a mysterious quality that cannot be touched, yet is the origin of life.
Women who access their inner Dark Feminine power have this miraculous ability to regenerate.
Cycle after cycle after cycle, we “give birth” and we “give death”. Our wombs are instruments of birth AND rebirth, not only of children but of whatever our creative capacities can imagine.
Each month, each sacred cycle we are bleeding ourselves anew.
Nothing is unwelcome.
The dark Feminine accepts all of you.
Shadow, light, good, bad, beautiful, ugly… the Dark Feminine invites every part of you to rise up and be seen. This takes the form of both radical acceptance AND tough love – those who aren’t honest won’t survive in her presence.
One way into this paradigm is self-love.
17. The Void
All and nothing. The Dark Feminine exists outside of space and time.
To unleash her potential to move through your life, begin by –
- Unhooking yourself from linear time
- Dreaming + daydreaming
- Dropping the center of your being into your womb, and perceiving life from there.
- Spending time in darkness
- Making friends with the middle of the night and the wee small hours
Other women are not the enemy!
Patriarchy has conditioned us to believe competition between women is healthy, and suspicion is necessary. But these sister wounds are destroying all of us. Together we are not only stronger, but a force that will change the world.
Invite the Dark Feminine in, and she will dissolve toxic relationships between sisters, so we can reclaim our unified strength.
Who are you without your masks, your triggers, your trauma responses, and your people-pleasing?
Awakening dark feminine energy is all about the journey to personal authenticity.
20. Death and decay (embracing endings)
How do you feel about endings? Goodbyes? The dissolution that comes with breaking apart from something you love? Do you see them through a lens that says – this is bad, sad, difficult, or wrong?
The Dark Feminine teaches us to embrace the thousand mini-deaths we must go through as we cycle through life. To greet endings as not only necessary but pleasurable?
Our modern cultures praise youth and demonize age, maturity and elderhood. Yet there’s SO much wisdom in the latter parts of cycles. After fertility, creativity and growth have reached their climax… And decay, dissolution, and decomposition move in.
The Dark Feminine teaches us to value the energy of the crone – embrace your inner hag and she will rise up!
How does Dark Feminine energy show up in your life?
Which of Her traits can YOU feel emerging? Which of these resonates with you the most? Drop me a comment and lets heal these wounds together X