This is the eighth in a series, WomanKind on reclaiming the feminine.
When you ask any woman what they love about their body, they will more easily find things they hate. Their thighs, their booty, what I see as all the luscious bits. Why is there so much distaste, mistrust, even revulsion around a woman’s body?
The answer is simple. Our culture teaches us through myth and storytelling that our body is something not to be trusted, to be shamed, scorned, feared, objectified, sculpted, controlled and forced into slavery through cultural distortions of the feminine and masculine.
Much of Western medicine plays into this ideal of youthful obsession, by separating, treating, removing and beautifying female body parts, sometimes with unintended, dire consequences. We try to fix every little flaw or niggle, rather than see the body as a messenger with important news: we shoot the messenger instead.
At no time is this more apparent than menopause when we need to love all of ourselves; our hot flushes, dry vaginas, loose papery skin, varicose veins, life scars, our wobbly, floppy bits. Menopause offers herself up to us to tell the story differently and rewrite the myths, to find a way to celebrate being woman, an ageing woman. In the loving is the healing.
As I age, belonging to the body is more about exploring changing inner feminine landscapes – stillness, reflection, receptivity, gentleness – less about muscular, masculine doing. Less about knowing where I’m going and more about surrendering to the great mystery of my body as home. My body is home to creation; a light bearer, a way maker a “rocket launcher” that propels me directly to source, to Gaia, and anchors me by the knees to mother earth.
My body is a valley, a vessel, a container of memories, a well, a stream, a mountain.
When we surrender to the power of woman mystery and woman medicine and trust the wisdom of our bodies, we DO know what is best for us. The body can heal when we feel, and intuit her natural rhythms. Where does the pain reside, what does it feel like when are we being triggered, what is blocking joy, and what is love wanting to say to this place of discomfort, contraction and pain? How is the body teaching us to receive it? It’s a unique voice in all of us.
We can understand the body as a series of doors, thresholds, and transitions through which we can enter and are birthed, healed and transformed. My body is the memory keeper of everything that has ever happened to me. Long held trauma and emotions stored in cells, muscles and sinews are progressively noted and released through the work that reconnects: body work, breath work, therapy, soul work.
On some days, though the doors are closed, locked and bolted to the intuition of the body, I kneel on the threshold. I am learning not to push, raise fits, force or break down the door lest I play into the old paradigm of fear and control.
Instead, I notice access is available through loving, gentle coaxing: womb hara massage, meditation, use of essential oils, belly dance, Yin or Shakti yoga, Qigong, time in nature, hot baths, infrared sauna, womb steaming,. It’s the work of radical self devotion that opens the door, in time to remember and fall in love with the view all over again.
As our bodies beckon us over the threshold, and start to talk with a clearer voice we feel embodied and emboldened. We naturally choose foods that support energy uplift and reduce toxic burden. We choose daily, lunar and seasonal routines that nurture our nervous system. We choose resonant company to be around, find our tribe, support systems and partners that care, love and hold us. Our bodies make all things possible.
(The body is not)… a place we leave in order to soar to the spirit…the body is the rocket launcher. In its nose capsule, the soul looks out of the window into the mysterious starry night and is dazzled.
Clarissa Pinkloa Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves
And in these times, our body has become bio-political.
When we choose body sovereignty – like the movement #thankyoubodyrally – our bodies can no longer be manipulated, legislated and a possession of the state. We take loving responsibility and share our healing journey with others. Our good health, no our vibrant health, is a radical act of resistance to the status quo, resilience to disease, our greatest weapon. Our immune system is ours to challenge and strengthen with foods, plant medicine, energy medicine. No disease can be our health destiny.
The work that reconnects the feminine belongs collectively to all woman, and sharing the journey creates sweet sisterhood. We co-regulate our nervous systems in a soup of oxytocin, the bonding hormone. This is called a women’s circle; we are not meant to heal and transform on our own. Sometimes we journey alone or in communion with a larger presence – God, spirit, the great mystery, source – that holds and tends our wounds. It’s an excavation into deep, muddy waters; nourishing, holy, solitary work.
As Clarissa Pinkola Estes says in her bookWomen Who Run With the Wolves, the work “goes bone deep” to reconnect the body that bleeds without dying, makes love, creates music, sings and dances, raises a racket, speaks up about injustice, gives birth and feeds babies, the soul that becomes Maga, mage-like and wise to the mysteries of womancraft when the bleeding has stopped. This is the work that makes myths and shapes stories that place woman firmly in the family of all things.
Blessings on the journey x
Please check in with the directory of spirited health practitioners that is being updated all the time. I can heartily recommend them as guides in the work that reconnects the feminine.