Three of the major feminine roles, mother, caregiver and concubine, take the same skill set.
In all three of them, a wide range of knowledge and talents merge with the power to pay acute attention to another person.
Children, the frail and lovers all tell you what they need if you pay close enough attention. They probably won’t tell you explicitly, mostly because they don’t even know themselves, but the clues and signs are always there.
Once you discern what they need, what they crave, you can then use your skills to give it to them, starting with the words and symbols they might use to express what they feel inside.
Much of what they need, of course, is emotional support. They may need to feel strong, feel more courageous, feel more cared for. They may need someone to fight with them, to help them sharpen their own knowledge, help them externalize and own the fight that is already going on inside of them. They may need someone to distract them, taking them away from the battle and letting them heal, refresh or renew.
The skill sets to deliver what they need are the key difference between the roles. Babies needs are simple, but the needs of complex, intense and powerful men are much more complicated, to use one example. According to the Kama Sutra, a “public woman” should be proficient in 64 arts, including singing, musical instruments, dancing, writing, drawing, magic, tailoring, carpentry, architecture and chemistry.
The real, tricks in the bag are about being present choosing to offer effective delights, challenges and soothing. These aren’t techniques one is born with, rather they are discovered, created, practised and honed over time, which is one reason that women get better with age. Being young trades external beauty for internal mastery, which can only come with discipline and practise.
Other people need what the feminine has to give. They pay attention to what they are working on and the feminine pays attention to what they need, working to make sure they have it.
Of course, today’s woman doesn’t have the luxury of just doing the feminine, of course. She usually also has to be in the world of work, achieving goals and being part of a team. Many women wish that they could have a wife, someone to pay attention to them and be there to meet their needs, taking care of them. In many tribal cultures, one of the roles of the grandmother is to be the wife to the mother, taking care of her so that she can tend to the children.
The power of the feminine, though, threads through everything she does, which is one reason that women are often found to good managers, paying attention to people and details, making sure those around her have what they need to achieve success for the team and for themselves.
The power of focused attention and the ownership of a range of skills (including the skill of looking smashing) are at the heart of the feminine arts, and those arts are at the heart of so many roles, including mother, caretaker and courtesan.
For me, they were skills I worked hard to master.