Earlier this week I read two books from two different sources on the “The Sacred Feminine” or as others call it the “Sacred Whore”. At first glance the name “Sacred Whore” leaves most people a bad taste on their mouth. How is it possible that in such a modern society as the one we like to believe we live in, we are still responding with such cave man ideas and concepts as to suppress the knowledge and reality of what being feminine is all about?.
We seem to have come to a point in our lives where we simply choose to deny the fact that to be sensual is to be a female, that sensuality is beautiful and God given if properly expressed. We live under the believe that sensuality is something to be confused with prostitution and therefore something to be kept under wraps; no wonder there is so much chaos and disconnection in our lives. We confuse a sensual woman with a prostitute, in some cases we confuse sensuality with being promiscuous and immature. We have forgotten a true sensual woman has the mental and spiritual maturity to be in deep contact with her inner goddess in a way that brings all 3 aspects; mental, physical and spiritual; to unison. Let us not confuse those who seek validation and are immature on how they handle their sexuality with the outspoken, or as some would call it shameless attitude of a true sensual female. Such a female is in touch with her inner goddess and understands one can and should be spiritual and sensual in order to find inner balance as a female and therefore inner happiness.
In Tantra we call the beautiful sensual power of woman, the “Sacred Feminine” , “Shakti” among other names.
In Tantra the physical body is the starting point of the spiritual search, as it works not only by making you aware of your body and its traumas but also on the development of spirit as you heal each wound. While many systems of spirituality deny the body; desire and sex are considered taboo rather than embraced and transcended. Tantra accepts the body and cares for it much so as a temple but one very much human yet divine. Tantra sees the body as sacred, desire properly channeled and its energy harness as the transcending bridge to a healthier full spiritual plane. It is a school of thought that seeks complete liberty and fulfillment in every aspect of self. It emphasizes in the feminine power of life and therefore mutilate or condemn women as patriarchal systems do. It is a spiritual practice not a religion, a practice that seeks to make man conscious of God being alive in everything. Tantra really is the beautiful symphony of Yoga, psychology, meditation, ancient sexual practices, biology, spirituality. In Tantra man and woman are honour, however a woman is seen as the gate to heavenly bliss and is approached with high regard. The regard here mentioned is not one based on false preconceptions or prude believes, rather in honesty and full acceptance of a warrior goddess. To become a warrior goddess one must live in coherency. Tantra does not honour the feminine according to patriarchal believes, where a woman is meant to be submissive, quiet, appealable and always seeking for acceptance; rather it embraces women who at all times express their opinion directly, respectfully, do not hide their emotions neither blame nor condemn their sexuality. They embrace both; the Goddess and the Sensual Goddess within self; to embrace means to enjoy both, living in balance, without denying one nor the other. Modern society seems to do the opposite by either hiding behind old paradigms or behind oversexualization. Living in such way leads to unfulfillment, anger, loss of femininity, depression, abuse of body, extreme narrow beliefs, etc.
One of the books I read uses the word “Sacred Whore” often and I can understand how it may affect people’s sensibilities. Personally I do not like to describe Feminine Power with those words, yet I fully understand the whole meaning of what was written and the wisdom within it. It is my wish to share these extracts with you and my hope that as you read them, you may open your mind and soul past any words that may shock you in order to fully understand its meaning. I hope these writings help explain why I chose to add Tantra to my background on Psychology; it has helped me a lot. I have seen its power when properly used or taught; to heal many traumas specially sexual related ones. Tantra is not for everyone, and although I have studied and incorporated all aspects of Tantra in my life, the type of Tantra I focus on when helping others is called NeoTantra. This type of Tantra focuses less on the ancient rituals unfamiliar to the western world; as they are not really necessary within a clinical setting; and substitutes them with modern practices and various disciplines. Personally I love the incorporation of NLP (Neurolinguistics Programming) to Tantra as I feel it complements it well.
Here I will share some extracts from an article I found intriguing, wise in its own way, and very real:
“Who was “the sacred prostitute”? and what happened to the developing consciousness of humankind when people no longer venerated the goddess of love, passion and sex?
So asks Jungian Psychologist Nancy Qualls-Corbett, early in her book The Sacred Prostitute. She goes on later:
These questions bothered me. Much as I wanted to put them out of my head, they continued to jostle and nag me as if, almost autonomously, the sacred prostitute and her goddess wanted to be known. I felt compelled to investigate historical accounts of sacred prostitution, the goddess’ role in the lives of ordinary people in ancient civilizations, and the sacred sexual ceremonies enacted in the temple of love. But most of all, I wanted to know what relevance these ancient rituals might have for men and women today.
Open to her, and you may be in a similar situation – She does that – jostles and nags (or is it she invites and entices?). She wants to be known. Having spent decades in this tug of war, moving toward Her and pulling away, I find She doesn’t let go. Just as She compelled Qualls-Corbett to behold Her in one idiom, She compelled me to (at least attempt to) embody Her in another, and to (at least attempt to) vindicate Her in this third idiom.
We don’t know if there were prostitutes before patriarchy – but I suspect there weren’t. Without the denigration of women or sex, without the separation of body and mind, of matter and the sacred, without the type of monogamy that supports patriarchy, it seems there would have been little need.
Charles Eisenstein – in The Ascent of Humanity (‘Ascent’ here being sort of tongue in cheek) – argues exhaustively that all the myriad problems facing civilization today stem from a mistaken sense of the self as separate. Separate from other humans, separate from nature and the planet, separate internally (body from mind, spirit from matter, feeling from thought), separate from the sacred. That sense of separation began at the dawn of civilization and has been increasing ever since. He makes a good case that this process of increasing separation is akin to growing up – just as an adolescent must separate from her parents in order to become a mature individual, so have we as a species needed to separate ourselves from the myriad webs of connectedness we naturally inhabit in order to mature. Separation as part of our evolutionary path. He also argues that separation has reached its peak – we simply can’t get much more separate than we are. I think most of us would agree – enough is enough, it’s become pathological. Most people are yearning for reconnection.
The absence of the Goddess, and the perversion of her sacred prostitute are deep symptoms of that pathology. Here is Qualls-Corbett again: “I began to see that the pervasive emptiness people complained of could be explained in terms of the loss of the goddess — the one who renews life, brings love, passion, fertility – and the sensuous priestess – the human woman who brought the attributes of the goddess into the lives of human beings. The connection to an important layer of instinctual life – joy, beauty, a creative energy that unites sexuality and spirituality – had been lost. . .
When the divine feminine, the goddess, is no longer revered, social and psychic structures become overmechanized, overpoliticized, overmilitarized. Thinking, judgment and rationality become the ruling factors. The needs for relatedness, caring, or attending to nature go unheeded. There is no balance, no harmony, neither within oneself nor in the external world. With the disregard of the archetypal image so related to passionate love, a splitting off of values, a one-sidedness, occurs in the psyche. As a result, we are sadly crippled in our search for wholeness and health.
The sacred prostitute is one metaphorical link to a connected self, recognized as necessary early on in the separation process, and increasingly degraded the more separate we became. Marion Woodman says: “She is the consecrated priestess, in the temple, spiritually receptive to the feminine power flowing through her from the Goddess, and at the same time joyously aware of the beauty and passion in her human body. . . she magnifies the Goddess in physical delight and spiritual ecstasy. She opens the masculine to the potency of penetrating to the divine, and the feminine to the rapture of surrender to it. The mystery of that union dwells beyond the finite bonds of personal love. The sacred prostitute is where human (both male and female) connect to the Goddess. She has both a human and a divine identity – the literal embodiment of all that the goddess is. And the Goddess is many things – she is sex, beauty, passion, and eros, yes, she is also life and birth. She is love, creation, soul and heart. The Goddess is dance and wisdom, body, matter, death, nature, earth, animal instinct. She is chaos and the unconscious. She is also the final stage of maturity”
Ann Ulanov writes in The Feminine in Jungian Psychology and in Christian Theology: “The highest phase of confrontation and individuation in both sexes is initiated by the feminine: for the man, through the anima, which leads to the self; for the woman, through the feminine self, not through any contrasexual elements. The feminine, in this sense, is the completing element; it is the feminine which completes the individuation of each sex. The masculine initiates the emergence of consciousness from primary unconsciousness; the feminine initiates the completion of consciousness by re-establishing contact with the unconscious . If she is the principle of reunion in a separate-self paradigm, the sacred prostitute is also a healer. She heals the wounds of the masculine cut off from the feminine”
The stranger too is transformed. The qualities of the receptive feminine nature, so opposite from his own, are embedded deep within his soul; the image of the sacred prostitute is viable within him. He is fully aware of the deep emotions within the sanctuary of his heart. He makes no specific claims on the woman herself, but carries her image, the personification of love and sexual joy, into the world. His experience of the mysteries of sex and religion opens the door to the potential of on-going life; it accompanies the regeneration of the soul.
I once read what follows, I don’t know where, so perhaps I dreamt it or made it up long ago, but in my understanding, wherever there is war, there is an urgent need for the sacred prostitute. The masculine warrior, in order to kill, has cut himself off from his interior feminine (and thus, his humanity). To kill for an idea (of kingdom, homeland, religion, economic gain or political system) requires a cutting off from one’s soul. In war, the body becomes problematic. Being subject to horrific vulnerability, having to combat the body’s self-preservative instinct to flee violence, witnessing the horrors inflicted on the body – all require dissociating from the body, from softness, from the need for tenderness.
Afterward, having lost his connection to the body and to the sacred, nothing responds to him. The ground won’t grow food, women and children and domesticated animals shun him. Wild animals stymie his success at the hunt. He is like a ghost. He experiences no fellowship, his presence is toxic. He is a stranger to the natural world and the temple whore is his path back to connection. She heals his separation from his body, from his need, from his vulnerability, from life. She makes him right, again, with the goddess, the planet, with life. Without her sacred rites, this stranger is a wandering, isolated madman.
This is the real reason for ‘camp followers’ – those troops of women who trudged alongside soldiers, accompanying them from battle to battle. Like groupies with musicians, their main purpose was sex – to make them human again. Even now, though warriors no longer march, wherever you find war, you find an exponential intensification of the sex trade. War means trafficking. But without the presence of the sacred (absent because of culture’s anti-body, anti-sexuality misogyny), the sex trade merely perpetuates the separation.
In every hyper-masculine arena, you find prostitution. Crime bosses, political bosses, business moguls – prostitutes are part of the décor. Without consciousness of what’s missing in their souls, without an understanding of why it is necessary, the sex industry around men of power is unable to achieve it’s real purpose. But it still is the inevitable effect of a hierarchical demand that men and women abandon their feminine aspects as they climb toward the top. The uglier it gets, the more necessary whores become.
Yet without understanding her sacred mission, without recognizing that these acts should be consecrated rites, all we’re doing is throwing bodies on a perennial fire. Soldiers and whores alike, disposable bodies thrown into the flames of wars whose only purpose is to fuel the powerful.
Of course, the key factor that’s easy to miss in our current sex industry paradigm, is that the sacred whore is an embodiment of the active feminine, not the passive. With neither end of the feminine spectrum is she an object, there to be dumped on, used, squirted into. But nor is she there to shore up a wounded or exhausted ego with false compliments. The sacred whore is, most of all, a high priestess – there to teach the alienated or inexperienced stranger how to revere and reconnect to the feminine, which has nothing to do with ego. She does not wave a magic wand and poof! he’s fixed. No, he has hard work to do, to bring himself back – she is his guide along the path.
To quote Japanese philosopher Kitaro Nishida: “Knowledge and love are the same mental activity; to know a thing we must love it, to love a thing we must know it. [Love] is the power by which we grasp ultimate reality. Love is the deepest knowledge of things.
When men are cut off from the feminine, they no longer know it – therefore love is impossible. Trying to unite without knowledge and love is dangerous for both parties, and over time creates an ever-intensifying alienation”.
We take as axiomatic Satine’s statement in “Moulan Rouge” – ‘I’m a courtesan, I’m paid to make men believe what they want to believe’ – when in fact the role of the sacred whore is exactly the opposite. That’s the perversion of prostitution. The fixation that glosses over a deeper and more dangerous truth.
David Dieda says that what a woman wants in a sexual relationship with a man (or what the inner feminine wants from the inner masculine – or however we configure the masculine/feminine polarity), is absolute consciousness, pure unadulterated loving presence. She demands exactly the quality of mindfulness of any other mindfulness practice. Diedasays that is the gift of the feminine to the masculine, a clear and living path to awareness.
The woman’s job then, is to make that desire utterly transparent – with clear and instant and unequivocal feedback. The task is simple, but oh-so-difficult for the patriarchially-trained woman. Her task is to express herself with utter honesty. To respond, bodily, emotionally, verbally, precisely how she feels in every moment. If her visceral response is to close against a less-than-conscious approach, her job is to say so. If her man is absent-mindedly behaving in ways that hurt her, she must tell him that. According to Dieda, the only way a woman can open sincerely to her man is if she trusts her body’s every response and offers it to him as a tool for awareness. The woman, Deida says, always intuitively knows exactly what degree of consciousness, of presence, her man is engaged in, and when she responds with utter directness, she gives him a great gift.
In intimate relationship, a woman’s job then is precisely not to make a man believe what he wants to believe, but to make him absolutely aware of what actually is in the moment, to teach him the truth about the impact of his presence. Of course, it can be profoundly painful for a man to experience such honesty. It feels emasculating to a weak ego. But we all gain strength by facing our fears – and judging by the way men react and by the way women are trained (not infrequently with violence) to deal with men in civilization – honestly facing his woman’s displeasure would seem to be among the greatest fears men have. In offering her clarity, a woman helps a man move from a fantasy about manhood to a powerful, mature, loving masculinity – a masculinity that doesn’t depend on authority, or logic, or force, or money, or righteousness for strength. I attest to the truth in Deida’s words from my own personal experience.
The masculine, Dieda says, wants to penetrate the world with love, and the feminine wants to surrender to it. But what civilization has been penetrating with has not generally been love for a very long time, and the feminine has lost faith in surrender. Civilization is like a soldier – cut off from its humanity. And the sacred whore wants nothing more than to lead him back into life’s welcoming arms.
In remaining immediately and expressively connected to her body’s wisdom, a sacred prostitute demands that those who enter into her energetic aura remain connected to theirs, because only by engaging their own bodily wisdom can they engage appropriately with hers. The Sacred Whore can only be approached with an attitude of humility and a desire for restoration. You cannot penetrate her unconsciously”.
**So, you might ask, did I have all that in mind when I made my fateful decision long ago? Not really. But I did have a visceral intuition, a bodily sense of what was possible and necessary. I had a sense of an underlying truth about erotic connection and healing. And I had a unconscious drive to explore this blasphemous way that truth could be applied. The ugliness of the modern sex industry destroys the very gifts we may have, in our rare tender moments, wanted to offer.
My body told me what was possible but it wasn’t possible within the civilized paradigm. I needed to be stronger, clearer about how to proceed, and far more sure of myself to accomplish what I set out to. If I’d had the theory, or if our culture affirmed the role of the sacred feminine, many things might have turned out very differently.
Now, she has given me a new opportunity to serve Her will, to be seen… not with my body for that I share only with my love, but with the words that flow through my body from Her heart
I like to finished this article by making it clear that demonizing the Sacred Feminine, not only strips her of her capacity to heal, it subjects her to the very malady she was meant to treat – the dissociation of the body from the sacred.