divine feminine

How Does Your Body Want to Move? {Podcast Ep. 16}

I recently visited a labyrinth. I go to this labyrinth and wander the grounds, gardens, and the paths of the labyrinth itself when I need to submerge mySelf in silence and Mama Nature and my own depths. When I need to reconnect to the earth and mySelf. When I feel ungrounded.

It is always a nourishing experience, and well worth the 45 minute drive to get there and the 45 minutes home. I never seem to come away quite the same, which I am glad of.

This last time I visited, I had an experience quite unlike any other. I allowed my body to move as it wished, in a way that felt quite out of balance, and came away surprised at the result.

Listen in below or in iTunes, and then tell us in the comments, once you've played with this concept with yourSelf for a bit -- how does your body want to move in the world?

Want more? Connect with me on Instagram, or join our free soul circle on Facebook.

How NOT to Run a Women's Cirlce {Podcast Ep. 15}

Over the last few years, I've dabbled in leading a women's circle. Want to know how not to do it? Learn from my mistakes, which I share in detail in this episode.

Content warning: there is a brief discussion of suicide in this episode.

Also note, this episode was recorded in my car, so the quality is less than desirable. Thanks for putting up with me.  :P

Subscribe to the She of the Wild podcast in iTunes, or listen to this new episode right here:

Tell Me Your Secrets

lost woman

I sit down at the coffee shop. There are only a few long, wide tables, and all the patrons gather around them like we're family, like we know each other.

I sit across from two older women, skin wrinkled by life and joy and sorrow and sunshine, women with fire in their words and eyes and fingers. They clink mugs, talk about their book club, their loved ones

and I want to scream at them,

"How do you do it? How have you survived this world all this time, a planet whose beauty and power is raped by the rich, by those fed with silver spoonfuls of lies, by those who are never satisfied, never empathetic, never never never.

How can you fucking stand it?

How are you not in the streets in sackcloth and screams, rending your hair and burning it on the front steps of our capitals?

And I know, today's world is not unique in its ruin. There have always been dictators and hand-crafted poverty and men who relish standing on the souls of others.

But god, when I read about yesteryear, I thought if it became today I would feel stronger, more awake, that each free breath I take wouldn't be so profoundly exhausting.

So how do you do it? How do you refrain from setting the strongholds of toxic masculinity on fire? How do you smile at any man? How do you stop yourself from encasing your heart in ice seven inches thick so you don't have to feel the weight of all this ugliness?

Tell me your secrets. I wish to learn."

Words are Like Water

Words are like water, washing

and washing us with their truth --

or otherwise drowning

us if we won't allow it, healing turned

to windswept tumult to get our

ever-wandering attention. They are

everywhere, reach everywhere, patient

enough to hollow out caverns

in the deep, strong enough to 

tumble down the thin and ruinous

beliefs we clutch the closest. In

time, with ruthless endurance,

everything they touch transforms.

 

"A story is like water / that you heat for your bath. / It takes messages between the fire / and your skin. It lets them meet, / and it cleans you! / . . . Water, stories, the body, / all the things we do, are mediums / that hide and show what's hidden. / Study them, / and enjoy this being washed / with a secret we sometimes know, / and then not."

- from The Essential Rumi

 

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She of the Wild Reads: The Book of SHE by Sara Avant Stover

She of the Wild Reads highlights and reviews books that support women on their journey toward becoming fully authentic, free, and fully alive. Today we'll be checking out The Book of She: Your Heroine's Journey into the Heart of Feminine Power by Sara Avant Stover. Enjoy!

About The Book of SHE

In The Book of SHE: Your Heroine’s Journey into the Heart of Feminine Power (New World Library, October 15, 2015), bestselling author Sara Avant Stover guides women to a powerful new understanding of and appreciation for every aspect of femininity. “Your feminine soul, which I call your SHE, contains your deepest source of personal power, inner wisdom, and authentic expression,” writes Sara. “We spend so much of our lives focusing solely on our material realities, forgetting that we are all carry a spark of the divine within us, that most of us never come to truly know our souls.”

The Book of SHE provides women with a road map for what Sara calls The Heroine’s Journey, which merges psychology and spirituality into a path that leads to psychological wholeness, empowerment, and ultimately, full female realization. While Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey” was conceived in 1949 with primarily men in mind, Sara’s gender-specific map of the Heroine’s Journey is designed with the unique twists and turns that initiation into empowered womanhood in modern times entails.

The Book of SHE turns the current paradigm for success and empowerment on its head, and reminds women that everything in their outer world is based on the unseen, inner one. “By changing the inner, we change the outer — not the other way around,” writes Sara. “Through relinquishing our chronic busyness, we open up the space to increase our capacity to be present and truly enjoy this precious life.”

Beth's Review

When I was offered the opportunity to read + review The Book of SHE, I jumped at the chance. Not only was it already on my divine/empowered feminine to-read list, but I thought it particularly jived with what we do here at She of the Wild. I'm always looking for more delicious reads on this not-very-well represented subject matter, and Sara's book seemed perfect for my tastes.

Each chapter of The Book of SHE includes:

  • the main text, on topics such as "Becoming a Whole and Holy Heroine" and "Ending the War Within"
  • exercises to help you practice and incorporate Sara's teachings into your real-world life
  • journaling prompts to bring you deeper into your heroine's journey
  • access to supplemental materials on Sara's website, such as audio recordings of the meditations included in the book, which I LOVED -- I always get frustrated when authors include meditations in their books, but don't include an audio version

Sara also describes some of her personal experiences from her own heroine's journey. I always enjoy reading such anecdotal stories, but find that many books swing heavily either toward or away this material. The Book of SHE offers a great balance between the author's life experiences and the inspirational instruction.

I particularly enjoyed how Sara shared some of the feminine archetypes that have showed up in her life -- including Emily Dickinson. Yes, the poet. You know that I swooned over Emily being treated as a divine feminine archetype!

The Book of SHE is easy to read -- but does lead you into some complicated terrain, such as journeying to our personal underworlds and healing our mother wounds (yikes). This is necessary for those women who are seeking to live more awake and more empowered, but it can be very uncomfortable. Thankfully, Sara offers a lot support as you traverse this tricksy terrain.

I felt extremely challenged by much of The Book of SHE -- but in ways that felt healthy and necessary. And I also felt incredibly inspired by Sara's words and excited to see what embracing some of her practices might do for me.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

"We are at the point where, as grown women, we recognize the need to stop pushing ourselves forward from a hidden agenda to be loved" (p. 35).
"Our bodies aren't indentured servants here to labor for us until we take our dying breath. They are sacred chalices . . . . Our bodies always tell the truth and hold the information we need to thrive" (p. 43).
". . . every moment of the day can be SHE space, if we allow it to be. When we're nursing the baby, driving on the freeway, and chopping onions, we can be at home in our bodies and alive in our senses. Rather than getting lost in thoughts, we can fully inhabit our lives" (p. 81).
"We need to see the darkness as part of our nature. It's half of the miracle of life -- a safe and holy place -- imbued, like dark chocolate, with bittersweet beauty. We need to remember that all true creativity springs from the darkness. We need to learn to hold sleep, surrender, and uncertainty as profound spiritual practices" (p. 102).

If you'd like to embark upon your own heroine's journey, you can purchase your copy of The Book of SHE HERE . . . or keep reading for a chance to win a free copy!

From the Author

Author Sara Avant Stover shares a little about her vision in writing The Book of SHE here:

The Giveaway is CLOSED. Thanks everybody!

Sara's publicist has generously offered to give one She of the Wild reader a free copy of The Book of SHE (!!!).

To enter to win your free copy, fill out the form below and click "enter" by Wednesday, March 10,  and you're good to go!

*Please note: a winner residing outside of the United States will win a digital copy; a domestic winner may choose to receive a print or digital copy.

And! If you'd like to earn extra entries, share this post on your favorite social media outlets, then come back here and leave a comment saying that you did so.

Best of luck, wild ones!

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Why the Divine Feminine Matters

So, why the divine feminine?  What's the big deal?  Doesn't the world have enough on its religious plate without adding in a cosmic She to the mix?

Sure, there are a huge number of spiritual options available, particularly in the west, and some of these include divine feminine figures.  But when we take a not-very-close look at the major world religions, an obvious theme emerges: holy men and He gods, with women playing a marginal role at best.

I know that not everyone out there feels the need for the divine feminine (and maybe that's a problem -- but it's not one I'm going to tackle here), but I do.  Here are some reasons why I think its important that She gods become recognized equally amidst a global culture of patriarchy.

1.  Women need a god who looks like them.

In my thirty church going years, I never once encountered any theology that met me in my femininity.  Never did I see or hear anything about breastfeeding, menstruation, sex, childbearing, and parenting that treated them as the sacred acts that they are.  Often, women and women's physiology were talked about in the negative -- women as whores, women as traps for good men, menstruation as dirty, breasts as dangerous.  And even when women were portrayed in a more lovely light, it was in a two-dimensional, passive supporting role to a man.  Nor did I see powerful women in the same kinds of leadership roles as men.

The message was clear: I, a woman, was a problem.  I, a woman, was weak.  I, a woman, was not wanted -- unless, of course, it was to be a quiet member of a man's flock.

As I grew older, and especially after I became a mother, I longed for a god who bled monthly as I did, whose cycle turned with the moon as mysteriously as mine does.  I longed for theological metaphors about the nourishing power of a woman's milk-filled breasts. 

But there wasn't anything, and I was the poorer for it.  I believe that women of every belief are spiritually malnourished because of this lack of the divine feminine.  Women represent roughly half of the world population, and this ratio is not even close to being reflected in our global spiritualities.

“She had power
over the most magnificent
forces on Earth, but she still
didn’t feel like she had power
over the most important thing
of all—her own heart.”

Josephine Angelini, Goddess

2.  Men need to see a god who looks like a woman.

Women aren't the only one's who need a divine She.  Men do, too.  While patriarchy has led to the dominance of males in world in many ways, it has also robbed them.  Modern acceptable masculinity seems to become ever more limiting and claustrophobic.  "Real men don't cry," we hear.  "Suck it up, don't be a sissy," too many little boys hear.  "Don't be a girl." 

But sometimes, we need to cry, both men and women.  We need to be soft or quiet or gentle or intuitive or feeling or sassy or mystical or any of a host of the more feminine aspects, no matter our gender. 

Not to mention that sometimes a Mother God is who's needed.  Men need to recognize the power and dignity and intrinsic value of the feminine, and part of that is reinstating Her into our faiths.

“In the older view the goddess Universe was alive, herself organically the Earth, the horizon, and the heavens. Now she is dead, and the universe is not an organism, but a building, with gods at rest in it in luxury: not as personifications of the energies in their manners of operation, but as luxury tenants, requiring service. And Man, accordingly, is not as a child born to flower in the knowledge of his own eternal portion but as a robot fashioned to serve.”

Joseph Campbell, Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine

3.  Our world is powerfully anti-women.

In many places, feminism has made great positive changes for women.  In others, not so much.  In all places, more work is still needed.  Even the word "feminism" itself is a dirty word, which I can't help but imagine that this wouldn't be the case in a world that respects and honors women as much as it does men.

Rape culture, violence against women, objectification of women, the glass ceiling, overt and subtle sexism -- it's everywhere, not just our holy places.  And again, I can't help but imagine that this wouldn't be the case were god as much a She as a He. 

“Women HAVE a history that has been systematically suppressed. Our collective spirituality has largely been tainted to fit the needs of men and those in power. This has a profound effect on the self-esteem of girls and the women they become. This influence can be seen in their life choices, partners and financial security for the rest of their lives. It also has an effect on the way their future partners will view them - and ultimately treat them. Our girls deserve better. The time to introduce feminism and woman-centered spirituality to ALL children is now.”

― Trista Hendren

4.  We are disconnected from our bodies.

When I check out the patriarchal mores that pervade our culture, I see a blatant disregard for our bodies and our planet (and I don't think the two are disconnected).  Many of the male-dominated religions tell us that the body is bad/dirty/sinful.

But why?  What about our healthily functioning bodies is dirty, exactly? 

The divine masculine is, in my opinion, all about looking outside of ourselves, or up at god in heaven.  This is not inherently bad.  But it becomes an unbalanced mindset when we never look in any meaningful way inside ourselves, or down into the dark, harder, and no less holy parts of life.  And that's what the divine feminine is -- she's the inside, the dark, the night, the balancer of the outside, the light, the day.  To look at it another way, think of what kinds of crazy you'd be going if it was constantly day, or constantly night.  We need both. 

And really, could rape culture exist in a world where women's bodies are seen as symbols of god?  I have a hunch that the answer is no -- at least, not in the pervasive way that [sexual] violence against women flourishes today, and has flourished for centuries.

“It makes utter sense to stay healthy and strong, to be as nourishing to the body as possible. Yet I would have to agree, there is in many women a 'hungry' one inside. But rather than hungry to be a certain size, shape, or height, rather than hungry to fit the stereotype; women are hungry for basic regard from the culture surrounding them. The 'hungry' one inside is longing to be treated respectfully, to be accepted and in the very least, to be met without stereotyping.”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés, Women Who Run With the Wolves

5.  We are disconnected from nature.

Similar to how we are collectively disconnected form our bodies, we hear that the earth is here to be used/subdued/dominated (kind of like how patriarchy treats women, actually).  And that kind of top-down domination has led to a host of problems that will, sooner or later, spell our own destruction.  The divine feminine is not disconnected from the earth, but is one with nature -- there's a reason we call the planet Mother Earth.  She invites us into balanced practices that nurture our environments, and in turn sustain ourselves in body, mind, and soul.

“The symbol of Goddess gives us permission. She teaches us to embrace the holiness of every natural, ordinary, sensual dying moment. Patriarchy may try to negate body and flee earth with its constant heartbeat of death, but Goddess forces us back to embrace them, to take our human life in our arms and clasp it for the divine life it is - the nice, sanitary, harmonious moment as well as the painful, dark, splintered ones.

If such a consciousness truly is set loose in the world, nothing will be the same. It will free us to be in a sacred body, on a sacred planet, in sacred communion with all of it. It will infect the universe with holiness. We will discover the Divine deep within the earth and the cells of our bodies, and we will love her there with all our hearts and all our souls and all our minds.”

Sue Monk Kidd, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter

Your turn: what do you think?  Why does the divine feminine matter?

photo  by  Maria Panayjotou  under a Creative Commons license

photo by Maria Panayjotou under a Creative Commons license

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