The Feminine Path of Awakening: Shakti ~ Power, (Gender) Politics, and Practicalities
I'm sensing a need...
This is a topic I’ve avoided speaking about publicly until I was good and clear. And I am good and clear now. It’s time.
Join me for a public talk with opportunity for questions on Thursday, November 2 from 7-8:30pm EST:
As some of you may know, I spent the first half of this year, from January to August, writing, re-writing, and sharing the story of my spiritual awakening via shaktipat with a male teacher. It happened in 2009 and it took me this long to tell the story—to be in a place where I could understand and tell my own story. Part of the delay was the healing journey I needed to go on to *see* more clearly the dynamics at play between us and to heal the parts of me that prevented me from seeing then what I can see now. This all led me down a long and deep journey into the heart of kundalini, trauma, the masculine and feminine within and without, sacred sexuality, tantra, earth magic, witchery, power and ethics.
As often happens when we extend our inner lives into the public sphere honestly and vulnerably, the writing of my story taught me a lot and seemed to open the floodgates to a lot of women—mainly, but not all, younger (30s)—coming to me with their own stories and confusions related to the awakening of Shakti or Eros. Unfortunately, their stories are often troubling: I speak to women who have nearly lost their minds; women who have given their bodies to narcissistic and predatory men; women who have been seduced by men holding great spiritual authority over them; women who are on the verge of losing their marriage or wondering if they can perform the duties of motherhood. It’s often harrowing when we first get in touch—they come because they are in crisis.
I believe MANY of these crises are unnecessary (and I say that as someone who avoided almost none of them). I want to shout, “Listen! Don’t make the same mistakes I did!” I think it’s the beauty and benefit of age, experience, and wisdom. I think it’s the desire to spare women from avoidable disaster. It’s also a deep knowing I have that we must collectively re-awaken the memories of the practices and practicalities we once knew—as sisters, as priestesses, as women.
I want to be available for this conversation. The transmission of Shakti is about power and empowerment—who holds this power and how they hold it is critical. How the power is awakened within us is important and how it is understood, or usually misunderstood, through the particularities of Western trauma at this time is critical.
Right now, there seems to be a mass awakening happening. Plant medicine and psychedelics are facilitating some of this. Higher yogas are facilitating some of it. I believe the Earth herself is also facilitating it though Her body and ours. I trust that it is time for this dormant power to be awakened. It’s essential to our collective transcendence (and I don’t mean that in the bypassing kind of way). BUT, it needs to be handled with care, compassion, and wisdom…ETHICS…and FEMININE leadership.
A note—I have also heard stories about men victimized and seduced by women wielding the Shakti irresponsibly. This needs to be part of the discussion. I know from my own experience that there were times in my journey when the power I possessed in my body was magnetic and drew potential partners and seekers to me in ways that made them totally open to whatever I might want from them. Desire made it hard to discern what the true nature of the relationship should be! If I hadn’t had my own struggles with being disempowered in the play of Shakti, I might have succumbed to the base desire to take, to manipulate, to feel the heady rush of the greatest power there is: spiritual power.
I am happy to say that to my knowledge, I didn’t abuse my power. I actually went the opposite direction—overcorrected—and went into hiding. I was terrified of hurting someone in the ways I’d been hurt. I still consider this all the time when I am working spiritually with clients and groups. Recently, for the first time, I explored the idea of actually asking a group of women with whom I was working deeply in the energy fields, for their consent. It felt BEAUTIFUL and MATURE to be in such a transparent conversation about this great mystery.
For millennia, a lot of this secret knowledge has been hidden—maybe for good reason. But, everything is making it’s way into the public discourse. That is part of this mass awakening, too. Even the Dalai Lama has given instructions and initiations on Zoom (!!) that were once reserved for small, private, groups of elite practitioners. It feels important for me (and others wielding this power responsibly) to hold space for an informed, compassionate, and mature conversation on the topic. I want to listen, share, teach, demonstrate practical exercises. There is so much we can do to care for our bodies and selves through the process of awakening when we know what is happening.
I will start with a public discourse and exploration of the topic on the evening of Thursday, November 2 from 7-8:30pm EST. What it feels like in my body right now is a sermon…a teaching…a transmission…a rant. I have to be honest so you know what you’re getting into. This topic is very charged and because it’s been hidden for so long, there is a lot of just wrestling it into the light. I will do my best to hold the space responsibly, but there is also a place for passion, for wildness, for fun, for emotions of great intensity. THIS is the nature of the Shakti. The space must honor HER, reflect HER nature, be worthy of HER. I guess, this means…check in with yourself before coming. Are you interested in being in HER presence and knowing HER more intimately and responsibly?
I am doing this because I feel called and I hope it speaks to some of you…women, men, any body:
Maybe you want to learn more about kundalini, about Shakti, about vital energies in your own body that may be dormant or may be awakening.
Maybe you want to heal trauma in the lower chakras to ready yourself for the beautiful opening this energy is.
Maybe you’ve had an awakening that was traumatic, scary or destabilizing and you are looking for support.
Maybe you are noticing the way this natural power activates and exacerbates so many of the power imbalances inherent in the patriarchy.
Maybe you are just curious about this formerly occult phenomenon.
If you feel called, join me. I am not sure where it will go or if there will be more of a series-like approach to the topic. I am curious about the level of interest, to be honest. Let me know or even feel free to write a comment below if you have thoughts or can’t make it, but would be interested in sessions in the future.
Join me on Thursday, November 2 from 7-8:30pm EST for a public talk on Shakti and Kundalini awakenings for our time.
Background (for those who need it)
Shakti is the term that most resonates with me to describe the dynamic feminine power of creation and manifestation that exists in the world and in our bodies in the form of kundalini. Shakti is the feminine counterpart to the masculine power of consciousness and stillness represented by Shiva. They are consorts, “lovers,” two sides of the same coin, within us and within creation. Through their union, worlds are created.
This energy lies dormant within us at the base of the spine (approximately) until it has cause to awaken. When this happens, this very force of creation must find ways to move through our bodies. This can be a very intense and destablizing process for a modern body in a control paradigm. It’s primary demand is “SURRENDER.” Over millennia of practice and study, yogis have found ways to prepare the body for this process and also to initiate it. The Tibetans and Taoists have mastered this process, too.
But, of course it is not a physiological peculiarity of The East. It is a potential in ALL bodies. The Western schools related to this energy of Eros and practices such as The Egyptian Sex Magic of Isis, the Hieros Gamos, or Sacred Marriage, have been suppressed almost to the point of extinction; lost and maligned over time by Empire and by The Church. But, they are making a comeback. I am learning so much in this moment about the Sacred Heart and the tradition of working with the kundalini through the chakra of the heart.
Where all of this gets tricky is that the process of awakening this energy happens by grace and that grace comes through proximity with another person in whom the energy is already awakened. The Shakti, it is said, seeks itself. It is Life wanting to experience Life living. So, like a serpent or a flame, it slithers, jumps, and ignites a process body-to-body. Awakened masters can activate this energy pretty much “at will” or “by grace,” through the use of words/voice, touch, dreams, thought…that process has traditionally been called shaktipat.
In a guru culture or an ancient culture like India’s, this process is held close by the spiritual hierarchy and for good reason. People come to the guru expressly for this activation and for the guidance that will help them when the floodgates of energetic awareness and vitality flood their chakra system. This energy actually bestows “supernatural” powers as it comes online, also visionary experiences that can be quite overwhelming in a lay context. This process is best experienced within a safe and nurturing environment where the right ethical guidance, spiritual guidance, even diet, can be adhered to.
But, as it stands we’re in a spiritual Wild West moment where hierarchies have been thrown out. It’s no longer just a class of spiritual elites within ashrams who are holding this power. There is something liberating and joyous about this, but it also needs attention. Without proper stewardship, this process can be abused terribly. People can really be hurt—irreparably. Unfortunately, the Shakti doesn’t discriminate—it will awaken within a narcissist or sociopath if the conditions are right.
However, WITH the right guidance and in nurturing conditions, there is nothing more beautiful and potent for spiritual development, ethical development, and collective awakening—dare I say, EVOLUTION. We need more Shakti-wielding samaritans at this time to birth a beautiful new culture! We need women, especially, to recognize, honor, and protect this incredible power of creation and manifestation they hold within their bodies. Just as we hold and protect the ability to create human life. It’s miraculous. We are full of miracles.
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