I was interviewed once by a beautiful woman, and these were my responses to her questions. Enjoy!
What do you love about being a woman?
I love my breasts and the curve of my hips and the softness of my torso. You know the bit that runs down from my underarm, past my breast, dips in at my waist and then balloons out with my rosebowl hips. I love the feel of that part of me in the mornings. I love the feel of my soft round angles.
I am learning to love my flesh, all of my flesh. I am coming to a place of love with my stretch marks. I believe that there are stories in everyone of pulled apart lines.
I love bleeding too and the mystery of that – I always feel like some part of my psyche leaves when I bleed and comes back deeper and wiser, reborn through my cycle. I love that the cycle is me and not a social me a much more private me. I also love that the cycle is even much bigger than me. I am a part of something unfolding in the moment. I love the way the moon dictates my energy. I love the way people I come into contact with affect this feminine form.
I love my descent and I love re-emergence even though sometimes I feel like I have no skin.
My femininity is in truth something truly beyond what my personality (ego) can control.
It’s like how I am the unbearable lightness of being and the deep dark corners of the ocean and the smell of rotting leaves. I am all of it and what a blessing it is.
You have created and offer retreats, contemporary Red Tent gatherings, called Nurturing the Feminine Essence. What does the feminine essence mean to you?
It feels like such a mental question for such a mystery. It’s something that must be felt with all of your senses. It’s more gutteral and intuitive than words or mental constructs.
What is important is the experiencing and finding your place in a women’s community. Coming to understand the invisible threads that weave us altogether as women. And there is no escaping these threads, it’s like a silken spiderweb.
It is important to understand and find your place – ‘who are you big sisters and little sisters’. Just like the book ‘Circle of Stones’ by Judith Dureck, “What if there were a place where a woman could go!”
I believe it is absolutely necessary that women’s groups create a sense of safety, a soft place to land for our wounded women. But I also believe that women’s groups need to be a place where we can rough-house like kittens or puppies in a pile.. Where we are lovingly rolled around and shown our rough edges.
One of the things I love about women’s groups is that you’ll always find a woman who irritates you. And you can use that irritation just like Nacre (Mother of Pearl) does to create something beautiful. You’ll always find a woman that represents your un-finished soul business. A woman in the circle will represent ‘your mother’ or ‘the girl who stole your first boyfriend’ and what do we do with that gift. And at that point a woman is always at a cross roads. She can run and hide from her arch-memosis, or she can offer her heart whole-heartedly even in the darkest moments and that takes courage.
It’s important to be under no illusion about women’s gathering. They are indeed beautiful, replenishing, rejuvenating, nurturing and they are meant to stir the pot.
Sometimes women’s groups can look like a tea party.
Other times it is important to know that women’s groups look like a birthing process, and as anyone knows, who has given birth or been at a birth, they are hardly ever baby pink and white with rose gold hues. Births are exquisitely grey and purple and raw and messy. But very very real.
That is also what is exquisite about being a woman. We need all of those things.
There is always a backbone skeletal structure to Nurturing Your Feminine Essence events, but it is also very important to work with what is happening in the moment.
For example, at one event several years ago, I was leading a group of women on the second day of a festival and it was hot. The women were exhausted.
All I could think of doing myself was being in water. As the women gathered together excited but tired for my time with them, we sat in circle and I felt strongly we all just needed to be in water and indeed that was what we did.
We wandered down to the lake and began to disrobe. One woman played a beautiful thumb piano while we entered the space. What unfolded was truly beautiful.
Some women had never seen another women’s body completely naked in real life. Some women were bursting into tears with their fear and shame bubbling to the surface. We had entered an organic moment and it felt tangible that we were being held by something bigger than us. It was all washed clean in the water.
This moment was one big woman.
The aftermath however was hilarious. I was boiled in oil (figuratively speaking), by the men who were hosting the event – a festival that was supposedly celebrating the masculine and feminine. From their perspective I had offended the nature spirits and had acted inappropriately in accords to the indigenous peoples of the area.
Much to my delight an elderly aboriginal women (an honored guest of the event and an important elder in the community) came to my defense and said that the lake was a sacred women’s lake and that on this very ground, birthing took place. This was a little known fact to all concerned. And that the women were doing what women had always done before – grandmothers, mothers, daughters gathering in the lake. She felt the nature spirits were jumping for joy at a returning.
How do you define the difference between gender, being female or a woman, and the feminine as an energy or essence?
Let’s look at the island of Manhattan as example of these energies and the screwed up definitions we have in society of gender, feminine, masculine, man, woman.
Manhattan is often referred to as a Lady, the Big Apple. Full of promise. But Manhattan is a place full of masculine energy not feminine energy. All the phalluses (buildings) erected on the island are a testimony to the masculine energy being generated on the island. Manhattan is a place where you go to succeed.
Manhattan is highly creative, just as masculine sexual energy is highly creative (lots of sperm in ejaculate). Very few reach success but there is an explosion of creativity.
So is Manhattan masculine or feminine? I believe Manhattan is masculine.
So you can see we live in a very mixed up time, but it is also part of our evolution as humans.
In actual fact everyone is a unique mixture of masculine and feminine energy. You, me, everyone.
When I worked in the computer industry for 25 years, which at the time was a very male dominated industry, I wasn’t using a lot of my feminine energy. In actual fact I became one of the boys, almost asexual, to handle the jokes and communication styles. I was paid for my ability to problem solve.
But I am a much happier woman when I got to live in my feminine energy, although I found I received a very large pay decrease for making that choice.
I have known some very interesting people in my time, one gentleman was a raving queen who wore dresses and skirts and had the deepest masculine essence I have ever felt. Another woman I know, who used to be a man, has an exquisite feminine essence just like Audrey Hepburn.
So I am a unique mixture of feminine and masculine energy moving through a female body with female genitals.
It seems that many traditional religions and spiritual practices are both created by men and carry with them a masculine energy or emphasis. How have you found ways of experiencing the feminine element of god or the divine and embodying your own feminine in your spirituality and spiritual practice?
I believe that feminine spirituality is women doing the dishes with feeling and a connection to whatever the divine means to her. Why shouldn’t changing a dirty diaper be spiritual. There are stories of female saints licking the wounds of lepers in India. That’s feminine spirituality.
It’s not something that is separated. It is full of deep messy soul. Do you remember the last scene in the movie Samsara where Pema the monk’s wife is speaking to him as he is opts out of householder life to return to the monastery. She tells him that her spiritual path is through all of life’s ups and downs, not out of it.
That’s the beauty of being a woman.
A couple of years ago I ran a womens group and wanted children included rather than excluded. It was so interesting to see women’s reactions to including children in their feminine and spiritual time. More mature women whose children were grown didn’t want little ones running around – it was disruptive. Women who had little ones just wanted time to themselves, and wanted freedom from them.
Ultimately we ended up with a group of women who liked small children and who wanted to experience opening through everything rather than separating from life.
These women learnt that the circle had a more elastic shape to it, just like a cervix can stretch and grow and become more elastic-like. They learnt how to mindfully leave a circle without jarring its participants and silently re-enter without even drawing attention to themselves. They learnt to keep their intuitive senses alive and connected to their children, while nourishing their spirits in the company of other women.
There are so many stories about finding the feminine element of god.
There was the time I witnessed a birth for the first time. I felt she was present so strongly. There was the times, I volunteered for a hospice just giving primary care-givers a little break. I felt the female god once when I assisted a man to relieve his bowels in front of me, a complete stranger – it was beautiful and humbling – in that moment I felt ‘a god moment’.
I had to reacquaint myself with the goddess traditions and that wasn’t an easy journey for me. I guess I must have had some not so good past life experiences. J I journeyed to the lands of the mists of Avalon in Glastonbury, and stood at the Tor at the time of the last solar eclipse in 1999. I found myself travelling with a large group of wiccans, and a smattering of other traditions, Gardenarian and the like. I was outed as a witch in a book with a lovely big photograph of myself, although I had to come to terms with sitting in circles with women before this time. I was not ready to be publicly known as a witch in the traditional sense of the word. I don’t believe that is my journey this life-time.
I journeyed a long time with symbols of female divinity. I discovered that many of the myths surrounding these deities were tainted by masculine patriarchy interpetations. I believe one myth that means a lot to me is the myth of Inanna and Erskerigal, her sister. It spoke volumes to me about my own life’s journey.
I’ve sat in churches in Guatamala and balled my eyes out in front of a statue of Mary, with is sword driven into her heart and diamonds for tears rolling down her cheeks.
I have a deep and indefinable relationship with the Black Madonnas and Kali. I adore the Virgin de Gaudelope. I hope to travel to the South of France and Spain one day to drink in the energies of the grotto’s dedicated to her.
And I hope to return to the ancient hills of Britain and once again enjoy the waters of Saul and the energies of Bridget.
I live in a place where I get to feel the rainbow serpent energy enter the land of Australia, and I feel her pulsing and I get to hear the voices of the aboriginal ancestors of the land singing in the trees.
So you can see I have followed a winding path.
I also feel I need to honor a charismatic catholic priest who wouldn’t convert me when I was 20 and getting married to a catholic. I feel he spurred me into a deeper inquiry into my faith or more importantly a lifelong question of ‘what is my faith?’.
I also honor that a large part of my own journey is to experience the divine ‘SHE’ entering me and using me in a sacred ritual. I know that when I have come to a crossroads in my life, this space informs me in a cellular memory way. I believe women performed these rituals in moon lodges and caves from the beginning of time. It is a way for women to witness archetypal energies in a manifesting through a woman’s body, in actual fact any woman’s bodies. It’s not something that you can ‘do’. It’s done to you. It is an ultimate form of surrender in many respects.
I have been practicing this ritual for 15 years now.
I believe it is every woman’s birthright to ritual in this way. In the beginning, I was angry with my mother for not having told me this vital piece of information about our bodies and the feminine spirit. But of course it isn’t her fault. We all forgot, a long time ago, that our bodies are vessels for spirit to move through. We spend too much time in our personalities rather than as a vessel for the divine.
What has your own journey been that has brought you to a place of desiring to “risk your heart and soul in the liberation of love and life?”
In truth, I am always amazed at people’s tolerance of pain actually. I feel that I have a pretty big pain tolerance, but everything in life has been done to alleviate pain and suffering for myself. How selfish is that? J
So, it has just gotten to be more painful not to risk my heart.
I feel more alive in the risking of my heart. It feels more REAL.
And sometimes I still want to and do hide under the covers.
You say on your website that “Our feminine hearts desire to live as nothing less than an artful whole body offering of love. . .” How do we move from a closed state of self-protection, fearful of being hurt, to this artful love?
Come to My Dangerous Beauty and find out.
Your work involves spiritual sexual relationships. What allows for sex to move beyond simple gratification or even emotional connection with one’s partner and into a spiritual practice, a means of devotion, prayer, worship?
Actually there is a lot of stuff that needs to be undone around sex for it to become a form of devotion and prayer. Although we can and do have spontaneous accidental experiences, which always leads us to wanting more.
Most of the time, our bodies aren’t clear channels for the divine to flow through. So our work in this realm requires a type of discipline that enables us to get out of our own way. If the ego thinks it is doing anything, then you are not in a place of being a conduit for the divine.
Many women have a great deal of discomfort if not shame surrounding their bodies and sexuality. How have you learned to embrace your sensuality and sexuality, live comfortably inside your skin, not just for the sake of self-acceptance, but as an offering of your love?
My journey looks like a lot of other women’s has been – through some form of difficulty. When our society views our female bodies as objects, it is pretty hard not to have difficulty. There is a definite media preference for projecting women with bodies that don’t look like they have begun to bleed yet – like they are 12-13 year girls and boys.
I personally needed context for my sensuality and sexuality, I had no framework for who and what I was and am. I have participated in a lot of different traditions with wonderful teachers some still on the planet and others who have unfortunately left. And a lot of that truth organically arises in what My Dangerous Beauty is.
One thing I can say, and many women may experience is that we have a place in ourselves where these questions arise: ‘Do You Love Me?’ and ‘Am I Beautiful?’. These questions can run and ruin your life. When I realize these unanswerable questions running my show, I stop and find my way back to my own center. This is a very important piece.
On another more personal note: One of my practices this year is to be photographed professionally every couple of months. By the way, I hate being photographed – so this is big for me. But I wanted to chronicle my beauty in all of it’s forms.
I have had two rounds of this practice – there are many photographs where I am truly magnificent and many photos where in my opinion I am way less than beautiful. I found a female photographer who would journey with me taking these pictures. The last round of photographs I did the sacred rite that I mentioned earlier. Both she and I were balling our eyes out throughout the shoot. This practice is about viewing myself and my body with soft eyes.
I also had photographs taken like the beautiful Bosom Ballet by Annie Sprinkle and ‘god-damn it’, if I don’t have great tits. J
I have been contemplating whether I would be game enough to show all the photos of me to the public. Would I still hide some part of me? When my photographer comes back from Japan it’s something I want to discuss with her.
You also offer My Dangerous Beauty which includes teleclasses and being a part of a community, a place for women to nurture their feminine spirit and have connection with other women. Can you tell us a little more about this?
Actually, in truth I hope that My Dangerous Beauty turns the way women live, upside down and inside out. I feel that we are long overdue for a change and we are just too damn exhausted.
The conception of My Dangerous Beauty was a beautiful thing and it’s a baby that has taken it’s own good time in arriving. As the mother of My Dangerous Beauty, I am being continually surprised by it’s true nature as it grows and reveals itself to me. And she’s a beautiful baby girl always informing and deepening me.
The teleclasses are an entry point into My Dangerous Beauty. They are like dipping your toes into a warm tea-tree lake and as you acclimate to the water you just want to let go and surrender and be covered by the primordial vermex that the tea tree water offers.
Another aspect of My Dangerous Beauty involves a story.
A long time ago, women participated in a temple life as well as in their householder and family duties. These temple duties included women giving their wisdom, cultivating community and honoring the seasons and celestial events through different rituals. These temples existed when society was more matriarchially based.
When men and the churches began fearing women, they tore down those temples. They defiled the god-given link between a woman’s spirituality and her sexuality. These temples fell apart under the assault, the oral stories and teachings were lost to all of us. Women stopped gathering collectively for fear of their lives.
Then another very long time passed and the women who still remembered and practiced the old ways – although in a solitary fashion, began to be burnt at the stake – branded either a witch or heretic. This tragedy caused women to separate even further from their deepest feminine truth and from female community.
Just as a sidenote, have you ever noticed that women’s magazine very rarely show women gathered together. It is so deeply sunken into our psyche’s, not to gather. You might find a photograph of one or two women maybe three if you are lucky, or a photo of a grandmother, mother, daughter type shoot. Often there is not a collective of powerful women type photograph to be seen. And most fashion magazines even feature women as objects rather than human beings.
Another aspect that I think is important to mention – the feminist movement gave women permission to animate their masculine energy and I am so grateful for what my older sisters have done, but I was and am ‘so over’ over-animating my masculine energy to the detriment of my feminine heart and body.
I am also over men who are constantly apologizing for their own masculine energy and submitting to ours. I think we have progressed from the misgyonist ways of the 50’s but we also lost something beautiful too. I believe, hope and pray that society will be better off if both men and women understand the sacred gifts of their inherent energies and then give them.
My Dangerous Beauty is a temple, a temple for now. My Dangerous Beauty is a remembering of matrilineal ways without a feminist perspective tinting our glasses.
One of the beautiful things about My Dangerous Beauty is that we get to discover what each others inherent gifts are and how to give them in the context of community. We also get to discover our blindspots and the things we aren’t that crash hot at.
My Dangerous Beauty wants women to be able to live from the truth of who they know themselves to be in that moment and know that there are other amazing women filling in the gaps where you don’t have all the answers.
So My Dangerous Beauty is about sharing wisdom. Now I’ve stepped up to the plate, in the first instant, as momma of this beautiful baby, and am offering things that I know women need and want. In truth however, My Dangerous Beauty is a place where all women (if they want to) will be able to share their wisdom and gifts. My Dangerous Beauty also includes an opportunity for women to create an income for themselves. I actually feel that My Dangerous Beauty will be a temple that helps women to sustain themselves financially.
We live in a culture that can create narrow definitions of beauty, causing many women to judge themselves, fear or shun beauty and experience an ambivalent relationship to their own appearance or even the word “beauty”. What does beauty mean to you?
What does ‘beauty’ mean to me. I think this requires another story and it is part of My Dangerous Beauty. I believe everyone is wounded. After many years of therapy and healing. My wound still exists but my relationship to the wound is very different.
Have you ever heard the stories about Japanese tea cups. They are purposefully made with a flaw in them. It is part of the artisan craft, to make the flaw.
So I am a Japanese tea cup – I have a flaw. I am not perfect and in that I am totally perfect in god’s eyes.
I have two favorite scenes in the movie ‘The Last Samurai’. Katsumoto is in the cherry blossom garden and he is speaking to the Bashito quest of ‘finding the perfect Cherry Blossom’. At the end of the film, where my beloved Katsumoto is dying on the battle fields – one of the last things he sees before he closes his eyes is a grove of Cherry Blossoms, in that moment of death he realizes that all the Cherry Blossoms are perfect.
So one of my perfect flaws is my wound and my wound is ‘to be wanted’. I could probably turn blue in the face and this story will still continue run in my background. But I have learnt that instead of my parents not wanting me and being bitter and resentful about that, I came here to want ‘them’. And I am dissolved in the desire of that wanting. There isn’t a wound or a story when I am in the place of I want them – all of them in their mysterious imperfections. In this place I am just a big alive pulsing heart.
I believe that I came here to want their beauty even if they are flawed, just as much as I am here to want the beauty of your heart with all of its perfect little flaws.
Now it is fine to fix up the rough edges on anything, but there is a part of you that is so sweet, tender and vulnerable in it’s imperfections. That delicious mixture of you is what I find truly beautiful.
What has connection with other women meant to you in your own life?
I have never been a woman who has had a plethora of women friends, but I have a handful of woman friends that are so dear to my heart that I can hardly breathe. They know me, love me, champion me, stand beside me and kick my arse when it needs to be kicked. I have women friends who will cry for me when I cant cry for myself.
You say on your website that “this is about play, joy and fun, and an exploration into your deep beautiful feminine self.” How can we as women reconnect with the sense of playfulness, joy, fun?
Women have to be willing to lose face, to forget themselves and their day-timers, to have fun. If you have kids then get down on the floor and play with them, forget about brushing their teeth and eating their green vegetables for one night. Kids will remember the moments of unbridled play.
Watch a light silly romantic movies and laugh like ‘Failure to Launch’.
If you have a pet play with them. I have a new puppy called ‘Cherry Blossom’. She is awakening so much joy in my heart, and I get to be in the moment with her. I am her pack leader but I am also someone who will play with her and exhaust that overwhelming supply of playful puppy energy. She’s an antidote for some old deep sadness in my heart.
The most important thing is you must be willing to lose face.
Another thing that I love to do, that brings out the playfulness in me is to get in the shower and coat my body in biodynamic yoghurt before turning on the water. It’s yummy gooey fun by myself and if I am lucky enough there might be someone with me to enjoy the fun of smooshing the yoghurt between two warm bodies. On a practical note, it is also great for your skin – all that lactic acid.
Can you tell us a little about your own mother? What did she teach you about what it means to be a woman?
I have had a difficult relationship with my mother for most for my life and still do. I saw my mother for the first time three weeks ago after 4 years. We’ve been on speaking terms for the last two years with a phone call once every 3 weeks.
My mother was adopted and her adopted mother died when she was 4, so there is a big story in her life of abandonment, abuse and betrayal.
My mother defiantly and purposefully got pregnant with me when she was eighteen, just a girl trying to get out of a hellish situation, and I was a convenient means to an end. But once she had me, she didn’t really want me nor know what to do with me. But I got her out of a tough place with a very sexually abusive father and it got my father out from under an alcoholic father’s regime.
I feel that my mother in many ways taught all the things that women shouldn’t be.
- I learnt a lot about the betrayal women do to each other.
- I learnt a lot about competition my mother played my younger sister and I off against each other until we were in our 30’s and my sister had her first child.
- I received very mixed messages about sexuality from my mother. When I was 13-14 and she was 31-32 she began walking around the house naked and discovering her own sexuality but punishing mine (my mum has moon in scorpio) – she burnt the very first outfit I ever bought. The outfit was soft yellow coloured cheesecloth fabric (muslin-like) very flowy and feminine. She branded me a slut for having purchased such a thing.
The list is long and I could go on but I think you can catch my drift about my mum.
When I was fifteen my mother and father kicked me out of home, and I am 47 now. Our relationship has been such that there have probably been 7 years on and off over that time that they have been speaking to me.
So although my mother was abandoned and bears the wound of that she is pretty much in denial of the abandoning she has initiated herself and she lives in the world of victim pretty much all of the time. She’s taken many drugs to numb the feelings that follow her everywhere.
My sister is currently in the process of teaching my mother something very valuable. My sister has been a very dutiful daughter and in the last seven years my sister has chosen to live her life very differently and outside of the shadow of my mother’s tyranny.
My sister took the golden granddaughters with her. It has been very painful for my mother to have lost access to the grandchildren.
As children, my siblings and I had very little to do with our extended family, no access to positive or negative grandparents. This has been a very hard lesson for my mother to learn, and she is still learning it.
I guess I am a survivor of abandonment and the tyranny of victimhood and I didn’t chose the same path as my mother to follow. But having said that I am still my mother’s daughter.
If you could back and talk to your twenty one year old self, what would you tell her?
I feel that if I was speaking to my twenty one year old self, I would tell her (if she would listen to an old fart like me that is) – that every woman has a bottom line of ‘self-doubt’ manifesting as ‘Am I Beautiful?’ or ‘Am I Lovable?.
If she can catch herself before she makes any decisions or moves in her life that are based on these fears and doubts running her life, to stop find her centre, come back home to herself. She needs to know that she is beautiful, lovable and be in love with herself regardless of anyone elses threats or actions. She will save herself a lot of heart ache.
And if your boyfriend tells you he loves you, but wants you to have an abortion. And your heart and truth is telling you not to, don’t sell yourself out for someone like that. Anyone like that is not worth having around. You deserve someone who really loves you and would never make you chose between him or the baby. His actions are selfish, and not about what is good for everyone concerned. It’s not that having an abortion is right or wrong. It’s about feeling everyone including the baby and making the best decision for everyone concerned. He’s just scared and immature and so are you.
And if I could give her a little preview of the upcoming attraction. It’s a big drama. He lied about having children with you later and he punished and belittled you for those desires and then he cheated on you and broke your heart into a million pieces.
He’s not a good one through him back!
What does it mean to you to stay true to yourself and live authentically?
This is a great question to end. In actual fact it has been a question I have been living while responding to these questions.
Some part of me wanted to play it safe and hoped that you would like me. And I wondered if I should write to that small part of me’s dictatorship, whose creed is to keep me safe.
But I wouldn’t be living my truth if I did that and I wouldn’t be living authentically and I especially wouldn’t be my own My Dangerous Beauty then would I.
So I guess being truthful and authentic to me is about getting naked with you. Writing the good, bad and ugly of me. This is me, and if you don’t like me that’s OK. I could somersaults and seek to please.
But in truth the only thing I need to be authentically beautiful for is ‘the divine’ within all of us. I am just a simple cracked Japanese tea cup with a few stories to tell and a large heart that wants all of your dangerous beauty.