I am excited to be launching a new workshop during summer festival season in the UK: Embodying the Sacred Feminist. This workshop arises out of the interesting, at times challenging, space I navigate between the wellbeing sphere and feminist, anti-racist and decolonial practice.
Why the Sacred Feminist?
So often I find that well-intentioned, spiritual and ‘conscious’ communities which are quick to welcome everyone to their spaces, fail to recognise – or worse, intentionally avoid – difference and diversity in the room and how this affects a person’s sense of safety and wellbeing.
The mantra ‘we are all one’ may be true at our deepest deepest core level, yet these words are often spoken in conscious communities by white western, middle-class, able-bodied, heterosexual individuals who do not know what it is like to feel the pain of separation and oppression as a result of one’s race, gender, class, disability or sexual orientation.
As they haven’t experienced it, they may be blind to it or not want to look at it at all lest it shatters the veneer of love and light. Which in turn leads to some disturbing spiritual by-passing/denial and dismissing tactics when responding to suggestions of marginalisation or abuse within these communities.
Beyond the Divine Masculine/Sacred Feminine
Furthermore, in these same communities – and in many spiritual traditions including yoga – there is much focus on the (divine) masculine and (sacred) feminine (and both pre-fixes used interchangeably for each gender). I do value some of these ancient mythologies and archetypes, and believe the masculine and feminine can reside in all of us, no matter what gender we are – if indeed it resonates for you, which it doesn’t have to.
My question to these ideas would be: what qualities of the masculine and feminine are we talking about, and – in relation to ‘the feminine’ in particular – are they reinforcing patriarchal assumptions about the soft, subservient, nurturing qualities of the female, whose main job it is to care for everone (except herself, often). How might we re-imagine these qualities for both men and women?
Enter the Sacred Feminist!
Who is the Sacred Feminist?
Here are some of their qualities:
- Fearless: The ability to speak up for what you believe in, but also to call out offensive or discriminatory behaviour. Overcoming your perfectionism and fear of saying the ‘wrong thing’.
- Boundaried: Awareness of your own limitations or vulnerabilities within how much you give, and how much you share. Knowing when it’s time to say ‘no’ and to step back.
- Inclusive: Recognising your own social positioning – including gender, race, sexual orientation and physical abilities – and how this may affect the sense of wellbeing or safety of others. Being ready to name this and to listen to and respect the voices from marginalised groups whose lived reality is not the same as yours.
- Accountability: Being willing to accept responsibility for approaches and practices you engage in which may repeat patterns of separation, oppression or abuse. Committing to practices that are more trauma-informed and inclusive.
- Compassion: Towards yourself, as you navigate the discomfort that arises when you become aware of your own blind spots or spiritual bypassing habits. Towards others, as you engage with and try to educate those who may still have those blinds spots.
My workshops will provide space to explore these ideas and welcome them into our bodies, through inner reflection, courageous conversations and movement practices. With a spirit of collective care (as well as self-care) at its heart. To find out more about my approach to collective care, read here.
What does embodying the Sacred Feminist mean in practice?
Here are some suggestions for bringing more awareness to the power dynamics and inequalities that underpin many practices within the wellbeing sphere.
- Understanding and acknowleding your own privileges related to gender, race, ethnicity, class, disability and sexual orientation; how this affects your view of the world, and how this may affect others in the room who do not share these privileges.
- If you are a teacher of a particular modality such as yoga, respecting the different religions and spiritual traditions that the people you teach/facilitate may follow, which may be very different from your approach. Being open to learning from them and adapting your approach accordingly – particularly important for working in cross-cultural contexts.
- Knowing and respecting the histories and traditions of the mantras/medicines/yoga (etc) that you use; honouring these lineages that existed (up to) thousands of years before their arrival in the western world.
- Naming also that often there is a history of violence and oppression behind these practices (for instance, the land theft and violence against many indigenous communities that produce cacao and other plant medicines). And that some practices have been appropriated and abused by western practitioners or unscrupulous ‘gurus’ (there are many examples of this, including kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan, Bikram yoga, and the Shambhala Buddhist community).
- Avoiding the assumption that we are all equally liberated and able to act upon our choices and preferences for living a happy life. Remembering that not everyone has the same access to money and resources, due to being repeatedly marginalised and discriminated against by society at large – this is going to affect their ability to ‘manifest’ what they want, to attend a yoga class or benefit from an expensive 12 week wellbeing programme.
You can also read more about the inner work we need to do on racism and other forms of oppression, here.
Maybe these are new ideas to you, or maybe it feels a lot to take in or too overwhelming to act upon.
Embodying the Sacred Feminist means recognising and showing care and patience to those parts of yourself that want to freeze or look away; not blaming the other for their ‘bad vibes’ or ‘negative energy’ but listening to, and intentionally healing, our own feelings of shame and contraction when we hear things that disturb us.
Embodying the Sacred Feminist means remaining curious to new perspectives that might at first feel challenging, perhaps even threatening. And it means being willing to lean in, even if it’s just a little bit more than what you’ve done before; knowing that you might get things wrong, that your imperfections might be more seen – and loving yourself and your efforts to nonetheless show up with more humanity so that you may keep growing.
Want to find out more? Do get in touch to explore how I can help you cultivate your inner sacred feminist. Or come to one of my workshops at All About Love, 2-8 August and Heart of the Rose, 1-3 September. Or to find out more about my other workshops, read here.