So let me ask you something:
I ask, because when I invited a student along to Dancing the Goddess, she vehemently rejected the idea, on the basis that there is “a lot of bitchiness” when groups of women gather together.
“Oh wow!” I thought. “What a terrible association to have with one’s own gender!” And then, of course “nothing could be further from the truth.”
It was a genuine shock to me that a woman could have such a negative impression of her kindred sex or imagine that kind of energy would prevail in a sacred setting.
But also a useful wake-up call as to the potential for women to misunderstand what I offer and – even more importantly – miss out on a magnificent opportunity for themselves to experience the power of the Feminine.
It’s a weird one, because I remember my Mum quoting that same line at me from my youngest years: “ooh, women can be so bitchy you know.”
But that was never born out by my experience, even though I attended an all-girls grammar school and took a first degree, which had 80% female students.
I didn’t encounter bitchiness at work in the corporate sector, nor in academia when I returned for a PhD. Neither did it characterise my training as a teacher of conscious dance with and for a 95% female audience.
In fact, it was my training in the Nia Technique (a holistic synthesis of dance, martial arts and body-mind-spirit techniques) that kick-started my awakening, deeper self-awareness as a woman and induction into the world of sisterhood.
Up until that point (I was 36), I don’t think I’d ever consciously had thoughts about what it meant to inhabit a woman’s body or had an experience of the power and particularity of bonding with all-female groups.
And this despite the fact that I’d specialised in Gender Studies for my Masters Degree in Social Anthropology. Which just goes to show how in my head I was about it all.
Through the Nia Technique, though, I connected intimately with my self and my body to such a degree, that I remember lying on the floor at the end of a class feeling utterly orgasmic and wondering what had just happened.
“This is as good as the very best sex!” I whispered to a nearby friend of mine.
In that same period, I had a premonitory lucid dream. Another first.
And 8 months later, birthed my second child powerfully and ecstatically, despite having had a traumatic experience first time around.
And then over the following years of further training and extensive teaching, I became part of a community of women, that was infused with fellowship, openness and love.
This was totally new to me. And, if I’m honest, a bit unsettling at first.
I mean, yes, I had a sister, whom I had always loved very much. And a handful of dear girl-friends too. But the concept of feeling women outside my family to be my “sisters” was brand new territory that it took me a while to trust and open into.
The more I taught Nia, the more I connected with the every-day struggles, hopes and fears of women of every age and stage.
And the more I blossomed into my fullness as a result of this transformative body-mind-spirit practice, the more passionate I became about female empowerment through embodiment.
This practice was waking me up out of a lifetime of low self-worth, fear of using my voice, disempowerment and buried yearning, whilst teaching me about the wisdom, consciousness and pleasure-potential of my body.
In a time when I was having little to no sex in my marriage, it also provided a fulfilling outlet for my powerful sexual drive via the creativity of teaching, as well as the experience of embodied ecstasy of dance.
I didn’t have the words for it then. But now I know those were the early days of my connection with Shakti – the Divine Feminine energy of bliss and spiritual awakening. The same energy, by the way, that we connect with in Kundalini Yoga: a practice that the student I mentioned right at the start loves!
So where has this distorted notion of the Feminine as “bitchy” slipped in from I wonder?
Fast forward to my Sexual Awakening for Women training with Shakti Malan on a remote sun-kissed farm in South Africa nine years later.
It was here that I was introduced to the concept of the “Women’s Union”: a shadow expression of the Feminine that keeps patriarchal structures wonderfully in place by the self- and other- policing of women by women.
One of the many insidious strategies and structures that have kept women small and disempowered, the Women’s Union is way of thinking that judges, compares and controls the Feminine, so as to keep those who would threaten the trade-offs of patriarchal complicity in line.
“OMG! Did you see what she is wearing?!”
“Who does she think she is ?!”
“She’s a right slut that one.”
“Does my bum look big in this?”
Or, as my sister infamously said to me when I stopped dyeing my hair: “you’ll never attract a boyfriend now!” (how wrong she was).
Do you recognise this voice? Do you know it in yourself?
It’s ok if you do. As part of my training, we all had to explore where and how this voice lives in us. We danced and acted it out, to really get a felt sense of it. To own it. Laugh at and with it. Disempower it with lightness.
But once you understand that this is a voice that is not an expression of your authentic, re-wilded Feminine, but more likely an imposition of the immature masculine that keeps women small and stems from a place of fear, it will begin to loosen its hold.
And then you will become more available to experience the potency and ecstasy of embodying the Divine Feminine in a circle of sisters: a potency and ecstasy so powerful, that it has been suppressed for centuries.
In the words of those women at my recent Dancing the Goddess workshop:
“I felt like I was in a bubble of bliss.”
“I couldn’t stop smiling and laughing.”
“The energy in the room was full of love.”
“My heart overflowed with joy.”
“Joy, bliss and sisterly love.”
Yes. Pure unadulterated bliss. Wake up Sisters! And hear the call to remember who you really are.
Photo by Ann Uddin at my Dancing with Goddess workshop, 17/5/18.
Whether you are sceptical and a little afraid, or passionately in embrace of what I speak, if the desire to experience the power of the Divine Feminine and sacred sisterhood calls to you, then come and experience it live with me in my Sacred Women's Circle at the Mind, Body, Spirit Wellbeing Festival on Saturday, May 26th (10.30am-12.30pm)
Or at one (or all) of my Dancing the Goddess workshops every Thursday evening in London, N4, 7.30-9pm.