The sacred feminine, marketing nonsense or a new form of sorority?

Quest for well-being, sorority, meaning… women reconnect to their inner energy. Spiritual phenomenon or flourishing business?

What do the book have in common Healers of yesterday and today: 50 powerful women, published in October (Éditions Eyrolles), and his companion Code red: activate the superpowers of your menstrual cycle (Éditions Gallimard), which has been circulating since last May? What twin flies have stung this friend who no longer swears by women’s circles, this other who is going on a female rewilding course? What use is this ritual box (pink quartz and very cute bundles of white sage), this lunar calendar or these Yoni eggs, which have recently appeared on your twenty-something daughter’s bedside table?

What is the sacred feminine?

All these little signals, a bit mysterious – or vaguely disturbing for the most rationalists among us – converge: they revolve around the notion, increasingly used, even… hackneyed, of “sacred femininity”. The dedicated French Instagram hashtag already has more than 155,000 publications, while its Anglo-Saxon alter ego #divinefeminine totals 4 million… Bouncing, the concept (guarantee of success?) is also already mocked by some comedians (like @florian_nardonne) on social networks. The clinical psychologist Camille Sfez, author of The Power of the Feminine. Free, serene and sacred: reconnect with your deepest strengths (Éditions Leduc, 2018) concedes, with the legitimacy of the precursors, that “the concept is very fashionable at the moment. It designates this deep need, assumed by all kinds of women today, to reconnect with their femininity, their sensitivity, their ability to feel… In short, to all these formidable aptitudes, stigmatized as signs of weakness by 5,000 years of patriarchy”.

For Camille Sfez, the sacred feminine “carries the hope that women invent another model, where power would not be based on competition, domination, but of course on the agreement with what we are inside. of oneself, one’s interiority”. Either… go for the “feminine” – we pretty much see the principle, and we even quite agree! – but where is the “sacred” in all this? Still according to Camille Sfez, “the notion of sacred feminine refers to a kind of golden age, between – 10,000 and – 2,000 BC, where women and their sex were celebrated, literally. and figured, like a sacred portal”. She is referring here to the work – in the 1960s – of archaeologist Marija Gimbutas, who established the existence of a Paleolithic, matriarchal, peaceful and collectivist “goddess civilization”, which then disappeared under the pressure of male warrior societies. (to simplify) .

It designates this deep need, assumed by all kinds of women today, to reconnect with their femininity, their sensitivity, their ability to feel… In short, to all these formidable aptitudes, stigmatized as signs of weakness by 5,000 years of patriarchy

Camille Sfez

Even if the analyzes of Marija Gimbutas have sometimes been disputed, it is in this mythical past where the “power of women” – yet another key term of the moment! – was revered that the contemporary sacred feminine draws its source. The ecofeminists of the 1970s, considering that there is “a relationship between the way in which humans dominate nature and the way in which men exploit women’s bodies”, obviously helped to promote it, but it remained a microphenomenon. Surfing on the larger movement of the spiritual without religion, the #divinefeminine has then become much more mainstream in the United States over the past fifteen years, notably via the star of the genre, Rachel Rossitto. In France, the movement has experienced a big boost since 2018, the year of Mona Chollet’s bestseller: Witches, the undefeated power of women (Éditions La Découverte), sold more than 270,000 copies and translated into fifteen languages.

Domestic feminism or marketing?

This mixture of transcendence, girlpower, of new age esotericism and personal development may seem a bit full-bodied to those who have never approached the slightest oracle or tarot of the goddesses, in the evening at the corner of the radiator. Nevertheless, the cocktail pleases. To the point of becoming a real business? Editorial, surely! Typing “sacred feminine” into the Amazon search tab immediately returns more than 1,000 books: educational The Great Book of the Sacred Feminine (Éditions Marabout) to the most abstruse Wise woman: from the end of the moons to the solar woman (Éditions Véga), through a myriad of practical books for coloring, singing, embroidery and boxes of cards. Witches, druidesses, wolves, shamans, wild women are out there on the covers and illustrations, treated with a rather wildly kitsch aesthetic, very heroic fantasy, which can chill fans of minimalism.

Podcasts, gadgets and cosmetics

Podcasts also thrive, which invite you to awaken, reconnect, reconnect, heal, cherish… your sacred feminine. Series Amazons very listened to Metamorphosis by Anne Guesquière, “the podcast that awakens consciousness” is captivating in this respect. The online store (moon ritual kits, spiritual diaries, symbolic jewelry, etc.) is entirely dedicated to the subject. At Nature et Découvertes, we are marketing for next Christmas a specialized Advent calendar (“For you who wake up your inner goddess every day”) whose syncretism can disturb. Even the indomitable Kate Moss, who has above all awakened her inner punkette up to now, goes there with her line of cosmetics under the influence, Cosmoss … The niche has already been exploited brilliantly, a little before her, by her colleague, the actress and wellness guru, Gwyneth Paltrow, not sparing of incantations to boost her “divine feminine energy” (nor stingy with scented candles My Vagina ) on the Goop website.

In video, The Uber Eats teaser for the Super Bowl with Gwyneth Paltrow tasting her vagina-scented candle

As for the market for dedicated retreats (“Become the woman of your dreams”, “Plumes de Gaïa”, “Slow and wild feminine retreat”) or hikes between women in the footsteps of witches and the places of their torture ( ), it is in full swing. Even the world of business and team-building gets into the sacred scent with coaching (“Express your inner power”, “Entrepreneur, free your sacred feminine”) which undoubtedly appeals for the moment more to the founder of CBD chocolate brands than the investment banker…

Even if Camille Sfez admits that “all this, in France, sometimes makes you smile”, Alexandra Jubé, founder of a strategy consulting office and expert in trends, brushes aside the sarcasm: “Beyond folklore, there is in this movement of the sacred feminine a form of “inner feminism” which reconciles many women, little inclined to collective mobilization and shattering struggles, with the subject. It is part of the quest for wellness general, but with a dimension of sisterhood, solidarity, understanding of certain collective issues that other well-being practices do not have.

Celebrate Sisterhood

Sociologist Constance Rimlinger, author of Why Some Women Still Need The Goddess (in Sociology 2021) does not say anything else: “Arousing in some feminists the fear of a return to the eternal feminine and the injunctions that accompany it, this spiritual current nevertheless arouses or accompanies, in many followers, a process of emancipation and raising awareness of feminist and environmental issues.” If the term “empowerment”, very present in the lexicon of the sacred feminine, can annoy those less inclined to striking neologisms, one of the flagship practices of the movement, the “circle of women”, challenges.

women’s circles

A circle of women, what is it? “A place where all women can come together, regardless of their age, culture, religion, sexual orientation, etc., around femininity”, we define here soberly. “A circle of women is a place of listening where one can withdraw from everyday life. In this space, we drop the social mask, the judgments, and we express our vulnerability in complete safety. What is said there will never leave the circle”, explains Camille Sfez, who created La Tente rouge (a reference to the circles of primitive women) for this purpose, in 2011. Some circles of women sacrifice to a real sense of ritual (candles, flowers, mandalas on a background of lunar cycles): “Mysteries, secrets, whispers…”, they boast at Others are held in chic yoga studios, with a healthy dose of meditation to facilitate letting go. There is often a “facilitator” or a “circle keeper” and a talking stick to make the exercise more fluid. But nothing prevents the circle from taking place more simply in a person’s home, around a herbal tea… From time to time laying down the weapons of the warrior who always faces, of the warrior ordinary tired, in front of other caring women? Not entirely sure if it reveals our inner goddess or unleashes the wild woman within us. But without a doubt, it must do immense good…

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