I send in my deposit for a nine-month ‘course’. It is called the Priestess Process and I feel, along with the movement awareness work I am doing, that this is something that is part of my path. This is because I know my masculine way of being is more dominant than my feminine, and also because the information says that the process is about embracing an inner authority. This is both the balance and liberation I want, and feel ready for. I don’t really know what to expect otherwise. I begin meeting for one Saturday a month for eight to nine hours at a time.
I like the time and space—a whole day where I shut out the whirring of the external world and simply focus on what might be going on for me. What a privilege, yes I’ll pay for this. There is a small group of us, all woman, most of us strangers to each other. Luckily, most of the activities are solitary though we do them together. Conversations are hardest for me, I notice. When to share something of myself, when to let someone else speak. I don’t know why I have these issues but I do know that when it comes to relationships, outside of my husband, I lead a rather isolated life. There is a break between my inner voice and outer voice, which I notice during circle when we each have a chance to speak, to simply say what is true for us. Well, where do I start? Where do I end? I am not sure what I am supposed to say out loud. We sometimes drum. Even here I am aware that the High Priestess and the one apprenticing have no inhibitions letting loose with their vocal cords with the drum. The rest of us do not.
Nine months later, I love these women. It happened gradually and then all at once. There was room for me here. The part of myself that I held back, the part that was so used to being quiet, deep within me, the women quietly made room for it all. I noticed it slowly and it allowed me to, in a safe way, be vulnerable. It was also the conscious Feminine space that the facilitators created and held for us. There was a softness to it that was different from other spiritual practices or spaces I had participated in. We invoked Goddesses into our space, our ancestors, the angels and more. I attuned to a depth I had never allowed before, which had mystery at its core. The kind of depth and mystery that is underneath the movement of the oceans, that respects the cycles of the Earth and the Moon, the invisible alchemy that fertilizes the soil. I felt held here in ways I was not even noticing at the time.
Being held is different from protection. I was used to placing distance between me and everything else in my life. It was a learned response to my upbringing, a reflection of the distance I maintained from family expectations and judgement as a way to protect myself. I deeply feared that being a woman meant not having a say in my life. I had never felt safe being vulnerable with others, being my whole self, being a woman. So I hid. I erected a wall based at least in part on a fear of domination, and possibly also rejection. The same wall separated me from my vulnerability and looking back, I can see how this ended up defining my relationship to nearly everything: money, marriage, children, family and friends. It kept me from authentic connection.
The Gift of vulnerability is huge. It allowed me the courage to take a simple inventory of who and where I am and what I wanted for myself instead of putting my energies towards maintaining a barrier of protection that kept me safe but alone. My conscious connection to the Divine Feminine allowed me to trust the feminine in me, to know how unequivocally strong and trustworthy this part of me is. It allows me even now, to remain soft in my gut, to trust the softness of my existence and trust this is strong: I am strong at my core. Maybe the softness is the essence of my femininity, I don’t know. All I know is that this leaves me balanced, it allows me ease in my relationships and joy. More importantly, by trusting the power of my feminine, I have been able to better integrate my masculine and feminine, no one side dominating.
There were many Gifts that followed, in my real life. My previous approach to leading teams at work broke down so I could step into a bigger model of leadership, one that relied on claiming my power, working from an inner authority so I no longer play small or behind the scenes. Through a deep meditation inspired by Mary Magdalene, I was able to reclaim my relationship with my Divine Mother, which is rippling into healing the relationship with my mother and family. Out of the blue, I get a phone call from a woman who wants to use my private consultation services: my first paying client. In these sessions I experience being all of me, in Service to another. It feels brilliant. Now, this is how I define success. Now, I claim who I truly am and I am extraordinary when I give myself permission to be all of me.
Softness is essential. That is what this essay is here to say. As a modern woman with many responsibilities, I feel like I have battled for more than 25 years. I have battled for my rights, I have battled for my visibility. I have taken up arms on the battlefield we call “Action”—pressuring myself against to-do lists in my personal life and action plans in my professional life. I feel grateful for the lessons from my Divine Mother. “Don’t fight,” she says. “Don’t give away your power repeatedly. Know that what is essential inside you, what is Feminine inside you is also Powerful and full of worth. To think otherwise is to give away your power.” Its not that the Feminine in us is balance, its that we have so denied ourselves this part of us that we are out of balance. Its not a matter of staying soft and still, versus being strong and action oriented. No, there is a better way—be soft and firm. Stand Tall. Breathe Easy! It’s a shift in approach and one I am very much still learning. To the Adventure!