Women Behaving Badly
Shakti Tantra Workshop Review (Part Two)
“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
Women Behaving Badly is the third of five levels of the women-only courses that Shakti Tantra runs. This was the level I was most looking forward to even if I had no idea what it entailed. After all, who can resist a workshop entitled ‘Women Behaving Badly’?
You see, back in my early twenties I put my ‘badly behaved’ self in the proverbial bag. Over the years, my bag has steadily grown into ‘baggage’; or, to be more specific, into an innocuous looking hand-luggage set that had been stored at my parents’ since 2007. When mum wheeled it into the centre of the bedroom she was redecorating (the irony of the symbolism isn’t lost on me), it seemed like the right time to take it home, empty it out, and wash it off ahead of a new set of adventures. When I discovered a notepad in it, though, with a piece of writing which forms Part One of this blog, I was shocked to say the least. Seems it was really was time to get my issues back out of the bag.
The difficulty I face in writing about these workshops, however, is that I can’t disclose our exact shenanigans. Our work is of a similar ilk to the ancient Greek Eleusinian or Dionysian mysteries in that it’s a Mystery School ― a Mystery School that helps you discover your inner mysteries; a Mystery School that helps you unfold, blossom, be all you can be while surrounded by the love, care, tenderness, encouragement, and support of the most inspired, generous, and courageous women I’ve ever known.
I’m a heady person. I’m a writer and student of depth psychology. But the thing about these workshops is they challenge you experientially. They draw you down from the lofty, abstracted, disassociated heights of your head and into ― what is for most folk ― the unknown quantity that is the body.
Many of us ‘think’ we’re consciously connected to our bodies. We may ‘think’ we’ve got our bodies sussed, know what they’re up to, what they like to eat, how they like to be exercised, are aware of the issues in the tissues. But once you’re in a workshop like this, you fast realise you haven’t got a clue about the shame, guilt, loathing, fear, [insert issue here], you’ve been lugging around for years, perhaps even decades. And the thing with issues is they stick. They stick to our bodies. And they hurt. They also numb. And they eat away at us. They eat away at our relationships with others, too. Worst of all, they eat away at our authenticity. You want to get real with yourself and others? Then do this work.
So what did I get out of this particular workshop? I tell you what I got ― I got permission. I was celebrated. I, and my fellow Shaktis, got to be funny, powerful, deliciously wicked, curious, awesome, total, magnificent, playful, commanding, sexy, naughty, expressive, mischievous, magnetic, mothering, nurturing. We rocked it. We had presence, we were outrageous. Beneath the light of the (almost) full moon, we frickin’ ripped it up.
Let me tell you something else: to witness a total, fully conscious, completely authentic woman at her most magnificent best is one of the most numinous, most dynamic, most awe-inspiring spectacles one can ever hope to behold. I saw it again and again and again during our long-weekend together. And each time I was humbled to the core. These were women with the ovarios to stand, dance, and strut from the centre of their womanhood.
Yeah, we kicked ass.
Our culture has a lot to say about femininity, about women. However well educated we think we are, however conscious and spiritually enlightened, many of us unquestioningly accept culture’s definition of the ‘slut’ without ever stepping into the actual energy and trying it out for ourselves. Once you’re given permission to ‘behave badly’, though, you discover a vital, dynamic wellspring of strength that’s always been in you but has languished under millennia of scorn, judgement, disdain, fear, and control. You see, above all else, what I discovered during this weekend was, a woman in possession of her slut energy is a woman who is one-in-herself. She is who she is, because that is who she is. Her back is straight and she looks the world in the eye. She’s the one-woman party where all the fun’s at. Put another way, her cup runneth over.
Our patriarchal society knows the immense power of slut energy and so, to keep it under control, has labelled and loaded the term itself with judgement, loathing, shame, and scorn. But the myopic, parochial label and the actual, physical reality couldn’t be any more different if they tried.
So, during my weekend, I got the fragile bird that is my slut back out of the bag. I told her I was sorry for ignoring her, for being ashamed of her, for listening to others’ opinions first and misunderstanding her. And, despite being repressed, shunned, and ignored for fifteen years, she told me she loved me and kissed me on the lips. Then, she took the steering wheel and drove me home.
We’ve not stopped dancing since.
(For further information on Shakti Tantra’s work click here to visit their website.)
To buy a copy of Running into Myself, visit Amazon UK, Amazon US or, better still, order a limited edition signed copy direct from her publisher here (also ships worldwide). Also available to download on Kindle.
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