'First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they attack you. Then you win.'
- Mohandas Gandhi
There seems to be a backlash against people who choose to fully live their spirituality in the public these days. I think that we are riding the after-wave of the coming-out of spirituality as cool and refreshing with now widely accepted practices such as Reiki and Yoga, and moving into the depth of our collective spiritual awakening that is challenging us to accept more of what it means to be on the path of spiritual awakening.
First, I’d like to say that one does not choose to be on this path. On one hand, everyone is on the path of spiritual awakening course, but some people do have a profound calling to live a life that is focused around their spirituality. For me, this was the case. I never chose to dive deep into Yoga, Tantra, Divine Feminine empowerment and Shamanism. When I came across these ideas, it was like coming Home to mySelf. These were systems of understanding what I had always known to be true. They gave words to my feelings and symbols to what I knew to be Truth and, although I had to move everything around me to follow this calling, I knew that it was the right decision for nothing had made me feel more like mySelf before.
Being a spiritual teacher isn’t a side gig or a job at all! When your whole being is telling you that you are your spirituality, your whole life becomes your spiritual path. Everything from brushing your teeth, to speaking to a stranger, walking down the street, to any illnesses that you may have and any emotions, feelings and thoughts! All of these have spiritual significance that you need to take responsibility for because, if only for one reason, you know that the responsibility is yours.
Indeed, when you walk the spiritual path which is a path that increases your awareness and your sensitivity, you have no choice but to respond to what is. You can no longer walk asleep without taking care of your trauma, your shadow, your addictions, your wounds, your fears, etc. Because everything becomes amplified to the point of no return. You either face deep depression (also part of your spiritual awakening) or wake up every single day to do your best to stay present and in your heart while life launches the biggest tests for your to grow and learn. And it will test you! In fact, the more awareness (light) you have, the more difficulties (shadow) will come your way. This is the way of the yin and yang dynamic that rules the Universe.
So, although my women’s circles and yoga workshop seem glamorous and sexy, be aware! There is a much harder side to spiritual awakening than you think. It is deep. It is challenging all that you thought you knew and all of what society has told you. For this reason, you might be in direct conflict with your family, your cultural background, your workplace, etc. Because, when you take the torch of enlightenment, you become the bearer of the weight of responsibility to bring light (awareness) and healing to all areas of your life and all of the people around you as well.
That said, every single sacrifice that you make to develop yourSelf, every moment of darkness and pain and doubt, is always rewarded by the deepest fulfillment: knowing that you are indeed on your Path and that you have countless spiritual and earthly allies with you on this journey. Furthermore, the result which we all hope for: the opening of our Heart to hold more Beauty, more Bliss, more Light and more Darkness, truly equate with more peace in your life.
Over all, I believe that we all have different roles to play on this planet and that some roles are very different and sometimes puzzling for some, but all of these roles are nevertheless crucial and all of them have their shadows too. Being a spiritual leader for your community is a noble and humbling calling in this lifetime, just as working in a restaurant, assisting elderly people, or any other job can be. It does not elevate you to a higher level than anyone else. What it does is that it propels you to find a way to live your life with more understanding and meaning. It propels you in a direction from which you never really come back exactly the same as when you left, and yes, this transformation is hard and difficult and yet it brings you closer to yourSelf and to others who resonate with who you Truly are and came for.
May we all find the courage and know the freedom to live our lives with meaning and Truth.. May we find the kindness and humility to keep doing our best, every day, knowing that we always have more to learn for as long as we are alive and even after that.
The Goddess as Mother Earth is still alive within us collectively & individually. Red Tents are the sacred spaces for women to cultivate Her energy and bond over a process of individual and collective healing by remembering their true power and gifts as Women.
A couple years ago, I signed up for an online Red Tent Circle series with Dawn Cartwright, who later became one of my Tantric Teachers. One of the first things that Dawn guided us into visualizing in our meditation was to imagine entering the Red Tent as a Womb space. I’ll always remember this feeling. It felt to me as a deep remembering. I was suddenly a foetus, coming back to the Great Cosmic Mother for regeneration and nourishment. I felt that I knew the power of the color Red, deep within me -- the blood of life, death, passion, sexuality, sensuality, this primal energy. It was almost as if I remembered being in my Mother’s womb and hearing the faded sounds outside, seeing silhouettes on the womb’s inner walls.
Being surrounded by the Goddess is an awe inspiring feeling and it is exactly what fueled our ancestors to believe in and worship the Earth as The Mother Goddess, Creator of all. But most importantly, and I am sure of it, they experienced this to be true. Have you ever felt that the trees were looking at you? Patiently holding space for your existence? Have you ever felt the energy of a plant or a fruit as you approached them? Especially to eat or cut them? There is undeniably an intelligence in Nature, and this intelligence feels like a Goddess. She is providing and she is also fierce as she gives but also takes life from animals, plants, and ultimately from us humans as well.
This experience of the Goddess energy and the felt-sense of Its cosmology is a deep remembering process of Her as ourselves, for we are made from the Mother Goddess as we are a part of Nature. When we worship Nature, we very much tell ourselves that we are grateful for our Bodies, for food, for our environment, for being embodied in this lifetime and connected to the cycles of Nature that are a part of our existence and the reason why we are alive, and the very reason why we shall die as well. Indeed, the Goddess really does hold this dual nature of life and death, and within this duality is the alchemical power of Transformation, Regeneration and Rebirth. As two polarities come together, as the Goddess so beautifully holds them both, we can also witness the transcendence of them both. Because we are a part of a Global phenomenon that is Nature, we shall forever be and forever die, not restricted to time and space. This transcendental feeling is something that we might experience in the Red Tent as we take part in a Ceremony that honors Nature, the Goddess and this part of us that is deeply Human and of this Earth. This begs the question, what are these ceremonies that does it mean to honor the Goddess? Well, you see, because we are a part of the Goddess and not separated from Her, the Red Tent ceremonies will always be exactly what is needed in the present moment, according to what is present within us, Human Beings, and especially for woman as they tend to be more connected to their e-motions, energy and more readily attuned to the cyclic nature of the Earth (notably through their menstrual cycles). Indeed, women’s bodies are receptacle for the Divine, for this energy to move through them and to be transmuted. The very nature of the Feminine is to be receptive, dynamic and a vessel for the eye of consciousness that is the divine masculine.
It’s perhaps easier to understand that, in the past, (and yet, still in many places in the world), much of our Ancestor’s reality was affected by the Earth’s fluctuations: abundant crops, the droughts, the floods, the arrival of Spring, etc. Therefore, as they shared about their worries, their joy, etc. they naturally gave a voice to the part of them that experienced life in accord with the Goddess. Nowadays, with technology, supermarkets and indoor lifestyle, one might think that we are more than ever disconnected from the weather and other natural fluctuations of the Earth, yet -- one thing that leading women’s circles has taught me is that -- we are still very much connected to these natural cycles of evolution and, in fact, we really do tend to go through similar emotions, and even life lessons, at the same time! This might be because of astrological phenomenon which are also a part of the cyclic nature of life.
In addition to providing a space for us to realize this interconnectedness through sharing of our human experiences, the Red Tent also provides a space for us to process and transmute these e-motions. The circle has a form of intelligence that will allow the alchemical transformation of these emotions unto an energy that is extremely grounding, and by grounding I mean, strengthening, humbling, an energy that opens our hearts to accept the reality that life is hard but is worth living nevertheless and that, with all its harshness, it is actually truly beautiful. This is the ultimate lesson of the Goddess. When we enter the consciousness that She holds, we understand (or inner-stand) ourselves as part of a whole. Indeed, we are a part of a collective, a history or HerStory, a series of events that lead us to be here today, a part of a lineage of Ancestors with their own beliefs, their own connection to their Land, their Stories, their Joy and Sadness, their Lights and Shadows. This understanding is grounding. It grounds us to experience this greater perspectives from which to see and appreciate our lives more fully. And, as a result, we feel more peaceful, more centered in ourselves, more accepting of the challenges that life presents before us, knowing that we are not the first nor the last to experience them. And perhaps more importantly, this perspective gives us resiliency -- the courage and force to keep going forward no matter what. It gives us hope, faith, humility and heart. It is regenerating and I dare to say that it brings us back to a state of Innocence and Purity. However, this isn’t the innocence of a child that has not experienced life as a whole, it is the experience of a soul that, despite the countless challenges and failures, the many cries, attachments, moments of frustration and anger, despite the desillusion that life might at once be the way we want it to be, our soul still loves, it still gives, it still stands as a proof that there is verily a greater Force within us. And this Force is the Mother HerSelf; our ability to have compassion and love for ourselves, our ability to nourish, take care of ourselves and console ourselves when we need, have patience. And all of it, despite the modern influence of our culture that makes us feel inadequate when we are not productive and working full time making a living in a conventionally accepted way. We can still Be. And when we take the time to enter the Womb space, whenever it being physically or etherically, we can heal and remember who we are. Aye, we Are!
When women gather in Red Tent, it is precisely to do this work. It is because their Soul has called them to be a part of this collective process of Regeneration and reB’earth. Women, as they are more sensitive to energies, emotions and connected to their intuition, can truly create a huge change in the world as they come together to do this work. Women, who hold the potential for life within their own Womb, can heal the entire collective as they remember their power to do this work and to cultivate their resiliency and strength as a collective of Mothers, Sisters, Allies. Women can serve as vessels for the energy of the Goddess to be once again, grounded and honored, valued and used for Healing and Transformation of the darkest energies found on this planet. Women, as they come together to share their pain, their stories, their joy, their ecstasy, as they come to look into each other’s eyes and share their passion, their songs, their love, the beauty of their faces, their bodies, their blood, Women become the Goddess as She fills the circle and their Hearts with Her Grace. Women, as they come together in Red Tent to honor their own Womb as a Sacred Chalice for Alchemical transformation, honor the Womb of the Earth that holds the many griefs and pain of our collective, can start the process of letting go of the pain and turn it into Strength. And yes, they know exactly how. For this isn’t a process of learning or trying -- this isn’t trying, or putting on a role, this is just us being us, this is allowing Life, which we are, to be expressed, no matter what this looks like. This is why I always start my women’s circles by saying that all is Welcomed here. The Goddess is all parts of ourselves, just like she is all parts as expressed outside of ourselves. And with our Masculine Consciousness of the observer, we just need to witness it all. And magick naturally happens <3
For me, living live to the full means embracing each moment as a opportunity to learn. It means to be present in every moment, no matter how uncomfortable our emotions can be in a situation. Living to the full, for me, means allowing myself to feel, whether it is feeling sensations in my body or feeling my emotions. Living to the full is also allowing myself to be. In this state of beingness I live. In being, I can become aware of my breath, I can become aware of what is me, what is around me. I can become aware of the nature of reality and the life that flows through it. Taking the time to be is, therefore, for me, an important aspect of living life to the full.
So then, when will I live life to the full? Now. Now is the perfect opportunity to do so. In fact, every moment is the perfect moment to embrace all that life is and all that I am. As I sit at a cafe, writing this reflective answer, I feel my heart beating, I feel my breath as it enters through my nose and fills my lungs. I feel energy around me, the heat of my body, my sexual energy.
I believe that we can truly enjoy each and every moment of this life once we learn to enjoy the simple things of life. Through the years of meditating and embracing a tantric way of life, a life that is rooted in body awareness and radical acceptance of all, I have learn to truly find pleasure at simple moments. This means being present in my body through my sense and very comfortable with my sexual energy. For me, arousal is a natural phenomenon that has little to do with sex and everything to do with being fully alive. Therefore, I allow myself to become aroused by life -- the texture of a table, the wind on my skin, the smell of a flower, words whispered into my ear -- many things can create a strong sense of arousal within me, increasing my sexual energy as I allow it to flow through my body, mostly through my heart center and through all of my chakras or energy centers. The state of aliveness, or body awareness and acceptance of my existence as a sensual and sexual being is at the root of my spiritual practice. It allows me to feel fully and to be fully present and alive in my experiences. I give thanks for the opportunity to live life to the full as I continuously bring myself back to the present moment, using my body as a sacred vessel to experience sacredness in every moment that we live, here, on Earth.
May all beings have the opportunity to ground within their body. May all beings find trust and courage to do so. May we all find the strength to be with every emotion, no matter its intensity. I have sat with tremendous amount of pain as well. My life is not a perfect blissful tantric orgasm. However, in being present with the pain that I experience in my body, I can respond to it with greater awareness. I have been lucky enough to have the time to be able to address my pain and to be with it. At times in my life, I was stagnant, I couldn’t do anything nor make any decisions for my future. Yet, I allowed the process to unfold, in crying a lot, I felt that I was able to process some of the emotional blockages that were surfacing for me to witness. When the time was right, when my body told me that it was time to move and laugh again, I was able to move on with my life from a place of deeper wisdom. In a way, I feel that I was able to dig my roots more deeply into the earth through my emotional descent -- in knowing about my shadow and my deepest pain, anchored in my childhood traumas. Now the time is to let my branches grow, my flowers boom. Now is the time to allow the wind to caress my tenderest branches. Yet, I also give thanks for the next cycles of emotional turmoil that will initiate me into feeling the entire spectrum of emotions and allow me to deepen my connection with myself and with the present moment.
They are many reasons why honoring the Goddess might be the most needed and fruitful spiritual path, especially in the Western world and especially at our time in history. First and foremost, what is honoring? A concept that might seem vague and dogmatic for our individualistic minds. Honoring means acknowledging, paying attention to. When we do that, we send energy to that which we are noticing with our awareness: “energy flows, where attention goes”. But it’s also more than that. Honoring meaning to look upon with reverence. That is the part that gets trickier for our minds. Although we can understand this concept intellectually, reverence is something that we practice and feel as oppose to say or think. How does one feel a sense of reverence? This isn’t a given. It is an experience that happens to us as an overwhelming sense of admiration and awe. This experience ultimately makes us feel more humble. Honoring and reverence is about humility. One needs to feel humble in this moment. Again, this isn’t something that we can force ourselves into. However, we can practice honoring others, honoring our food, honoring the water, nature. It does take time. Time is actually key here. To honor something or someone, we need to pause. Our Ego mind fights this process. One, because the humility is directly working against the Ego (unless one shows off a false sense of honoring, in this case, check yourself and do it when you are alone and do not tell anyone in order to cultivate this practice for yourself). Two, because our culture has built much judgment about people who worship and do woo-woo things with their food. The mainstream scientism sees it as cultish and weak, something that only the ones who are easily manipulated do. Well, the truth is that we are always manipulated or influenced. Whether it is by the movies that we watch, the advertisement, our friends’ opinion, etc. When someone decides to take on the devotional path and starts to consciously worship and honor something (not from membership to a cult or a religion but because it comes naturally to them), this person is going against the social norm and is reclaiming their social programming to engage in an activity that they feel is right for them. Honoring is, therefore, going against the norms, reclaiming power over our programmed mind and working to lessen our Ego self. It is spiritual social activism and personal empowerment.
Now, what is the Goddess? The Goddess is the representation of the Divine Feminine energy. According to many spiritual bodies, including Tantra, everything is made of Feminine and Masculine energies. You can think of them as primordial forces of creation. It is easy to see how we all came from a woman and a man coming together in a sexual union. Well, think of it on the micro and macro level as well: “as above, so below”. The Goddess is therefore this Feminine force of creation, called Shakti in Sanskrit. It is the energy that animates and gives life, while the masculine is the force through which Shakti manifests itself. I like to think of the masculine as the container and the feminine as the life force energy that animates this container to give it life. This isn’t quite exact at the Masculine is actually better understood as Consciousness. Also, everything has both, consciousness and energy -- respectively, Masculine and Feminine. But let’s not get caught in some philosophical intricacies here. Why should we worship or honor the force or creation (the Feminine) as opposed to consciousness (the Masculine)? Well, because the Masculine has been, for over 3 millennia, put on a pedestal over the Feminine. In almost all of the institutionalized religions of the world, we have seen the Masculine, often represented as a male deity, worshiped over the Feminine. Moreover, masculine qualities and approaches to spirituality and life are valued to the detriment of Feminine qualities and approaches: the goal oriented, transcending, light focused, hierarchical approach to living and achieving, for example, are encouraged by the capitalistic and individualistic aspects of our society and culture. On the other hand, the patient, compassionate, emotional, body focused and sexuality empowered path to spirituality and life style have been devalued and repressed. As a result, we are suffering from the lack of expression of this Feminine potential within and without. To compensate from this lack of Feminine energy in our culture and psyche, many people (mostly men) suffer from pornography addiction; the female body and our sexuality being the most obvious expressions of the Goddess. The planet is suffering from this lack of consideration for and connection to the Feminine. Other human beings, animals, plants, insects are all suffering from it. We have seen emotions being shamed, many men being emotionally inept, many women being called crazy for their emotions and not knowing how to express them and see them as valuable for their personal development and for their spiritual path. Most culture have shown, for a long time, the spiritual path being spent in monasteries, up in the mountain and cut off from society and modern life issues. The Feminine path urges us now, to descend from our mountain tops and come out of the monasteries to practice a spirituality rooted in our relationships, in our bodies, in our families, in our emotions, in the darkest expressions of our personality and in communion with the Earth.
I believe Tantra is coming back to us humans, and strongly in the West, at this time in our evolution because it offers a Feminine path to spirituality and as a lifestyle. While Classical Tantra evolved to worshiping the Goddess in Its abstract form through deities and worship rituals, neo-Tantra offers the most direct path to deconditioning the mind from its limited beliefs and feminine practices to connecting to this Feminine path such as dynamic, sexual and sensual meditation with or without a partner. I truth, I strongly believe that both, neo-Tantra and Classical Tantra, are needed to practice and understand the Feminine spiritual path. One, in honoring the mystical and spiritual realm and worshiping the Goddess within everyone and everything; in the form of a deity, nature or a person or everyone and everything. Two, in becoming more connected to our bodies and our nature as human being, including our sexual nature.
To be clear, I don’t believe that Tantra is focused on the Feminine. Tantra, like Yoga, means union and weaving of the lower self (the Ego) with the Higher Self (the Divine). It includes both aspect of our nature, the divine and the profane, and aims to see at the human experience in a whole and undivided way. Why make such strong distinction between the Feminine and the Masculine when both are needed and one does not exist without the other? I believe that this process of distinguishing and clarifying between the Feminine and Masculine is needed now in our consciousness. Think of it as Alchemy: you discern what is what, you distill what is needed from what isn’t and you obtain seemingly separate substance before combining them together again, in a conscious way, in order to obtain a form that is greater in value from what it was in the beginning. This is where we are now. The gender rhetoric has blurred our understanding of the Feminine and the Masculine qualities. Everyone and everything is suffering from the imbalance between both energies on the planet and we are, almost all of us, reproducing and, therefore, perpetuating this imbalance in our behaviors, thoughts and speech. The one way to start restoring the imbalance is to become aware of it and then, start cultivating these rebellious practices to help restore the balance -- honoring the Feminine is one of them. Tantra doesn’t focus on the Feminine. Tantra is a wave of consciousness that shines light wherever the shadow is. Right now, the shadow is upon the Feminine. Its expression is lacking while the Masculine is also in its shadow from being in excess. To restore the balance, the Feminine needs to come into power first because it will help to direct and re-balance the Masculine force. The Masculine is meant to protect and serve the Feminine force. By pointing to the ways that the Feminine is repressed and left unexpressed in ourselves and in our cultures, our Masculine qualities that allow us to take actions and flight for what we hold dear will be awakened again to follow this transformation, the lead of the Feminine. Truthfully, we won’t have the choice to do so. Masculine and Feminine work in tandem, therefore, one cannot change without the other changing and becoming a vibrational match to the other.
So how does one assists in this re-balance that is taking place on the collective level by taking on a Feminine approach to spirituality in honoring the Goddess and the Feminine qualities of life? Take a moment everyday to honor life. Give thanks for your food, for the Earth and all of the elements. Honor your own body in all of its expression. Have compassion for yourself and others for everyone is on a spiritual path. See the female body as the expression of the Goddess and honor the beauty of the Goddess by finding healthy ways to worship the female body. See the male body as an expression of the Goddess and find healthy ways to worship the male body. See all bodies as an expression of the Goddess and find healthy ways to worship and appreciate all bodies. See your sexuality as sacred and therefore worth spending time connecting to in a way that is healthy and serves your own spiritual growth as opposed to your Ego and immediate gratification. To honor, send your prayers of blessings, bless everything you consume and everything that your wear. See all as relevant and connected to the sacred, to the Divine. All informs your energetic body and spiritual presence on Earth. At last, train yourself to surrender more. Surrender to the sense of gravity by relaxing completely, surrender to your own feelings and emotions by finding means to express in a healthy way (art, conscious communication, movement). Surrender to your Path and know that you are guided on your Spiritual journey. Life doesn’t happen by chance. And then, trust that the Masculine will rise within you -- within everyone and everything -- to protect this inner balance and alchemy of Life. We are not perfect. Not one is and I certainly am not. By becoming more conscious of our experience and inner process, by sharing our lessons with others, we help this world become a better space. We hope that future Generations will benefit from a better understanding of how to honor all aspect of creation and themselves in the process. At last, open yourself to see how you are perpetuating the current imbalance of our consciousness by devaluing the Feminine within yourself and through others and take actions to change that. Everyone has the power to affect the collective state of consciousness. You are doing it right now with your thoughts and reaction to this article. Instead of thinking about it, send a prayer now and feel the effect in your heart. The Feminine is a Flower forever unfolding. Here is a prayer for you:
“I embody the Goddess. In all my grace and beauty. She unravels Herself inside of me. She teaches me to think and to be more kindly. I listen. I listen to others and my Self. I open my heart to the Divine nectar of Her union with the Father and Masculine. My Soul is nourished by their Bliss. I surrender to my whole Being. I surrender to Nature and Life. I give thanks for this moment and I bless all and everything with this prayer. And so it is.”
Thank you for reading. Know that everytime your bless the Goddess, she blesses you back with Her energy.
I honor the Light and the Darkness within you.
Awakened Priestess hosts a variety of women's empowerment & community events, retreats and trainings based off of Divine Feminine Teachings from its founder, Clarity Barton. She provides her international community with heart-felt, transformative and healing experiences.
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