Saturday
Jul042015

* The Right to Remain Single

I celebrate the new civil right of same-sex marriage! Finally, gay couples can legally “have and hold” each other forever, protect their estates and create their own lineages through which they can bequeath their legacies.

And on this Independence Day weekend, I also rejoice in my right as a women to not marry and to live a life of independence and sovereignty, with the freedom to love many people, share my assets with whomever I please, and focus on developing my fullest potential as a human being.

While single status for women isn’t anything new, it’s only in recent decades that it’s been possible for single women of the Western World to survive without great hardship, and in other parts of the world, living an independent life is but a dream. 

As recently as my mother’s generation, women were expected to marry, serve her husband and bear children, and few were bred for anything else. Most women married young and for life. Divorce was an unbearable stigma that kept them in partnerships that left them unfulfilled and joyless. I thank Goddess every day that I was born at the time and place that I was.

Love is natural, but marriage is a man-made creation that has evolved through history. A brief glance into history will help you see that marriage isn’t a romantic union that we’re programmed to idealize. It’s one of property, politics, and progeny, and for many women, it was (and is) the end of their own personhood.

Goddess Inana The Neolithic era (approximately 7000 BCE to 3000 BCE) and for eons prior, women were honored as equals by men. Goddesses, including virgin deities, were revered in nearly every culture, (virgin meant independent or sovereign’, and not necessarily sexually pure). Societies were egalitarian; women and men worked equally and cooperatively to thrive. Women mated with whomever they wanted, and the identity of a child’s father was unimportant. Property was passed through women, thus the family structure was matrilineal. Independent women held high the positions in society as priestesses, shaman, managers, land-holders, artists, warriors and so much more. There is no evidence of marriage between mortal woman and man, however, in the sacred ritual of hieros gamos, the marriage of goddess and god was enacted with the priestess and king (and was basically an act of sexual union) to assure abundance of the land. But this marriage was symbolic, and not a permanent, legal union. 

Things began to change for women during the Bronze Age (approximately 2700 BCE to 1200 BCE), when men began to dominate the world. Dynastic and monarchic societies, ruled by men, began to appear. Paternal bloodlines became important, as wealth and power were passed down to sons. Women began to be perceived as the inferior gender, whose primary function was to produce heirs, preferably sons. Focus was placed on the sons, who were the primary recipients of education, property, and power. The union of kingdoms through marriage often increased wealth and power of both families, and ensured purity of bloodline for future heirs. Nuptial contracts between women and men were formed, not for love, but for power and property. Women had no say in her partner selection, and often the groom was chosen before she could even talk. Often the groom was decades older than she. Luckily for women, these societies were polytheistic and worshipped many different goddesses and gods, so women continued to worship their favored deities. 

In Classical Greece (500-336 BC), women never lived a life of independence. Spinsterhood was considered a terrible fate, yet marriage wasn’t that attractive, either. Again, love did not factor into marriage, rather it was a union to strengthen the community. A girl was the responsibility of her father or male guardian until she was married, and if a woman from a poor family didn’t marry, often she became a prostitute to support herself.  Fathers selected the husbands and the mothers had no say in the matter. Girls were married at a very young age, as early as age 13, to men in their thirties. Sometimes girls met their husbands for the first time on their wedding day. It was not uncommon for first cousins and step-siblings to betroth, mostly to keep property within the family. There was no formal schooling for girls outside of the home, and they were mostly taught how to perform household duties. Once married, women lived in a secluded area of the house, were allowed no social life and were barely allowed to go outdoors, except to fetch water. They took care of the house and bore children, while the husbands enjoyed courtesans and concubines. At least the women had their goddesses to worship for comfort.

The Greek culture exemplified the plight of woman in nearly all societies around the globe.

Monotheism, the workshop of one male god began to arise around the 8th Century BCE, and the first evidence of written scriptures of the Hebrew Bible appeared around 2nd Century BCE, followed by the Christian Bible (around 4th Century AD) and Islamic Quran (around 7th Century AD). With these texts, patriarchy was solidified into religious law; it was no longer just a political concept. Goddess cultures around the world were destroyed and those who worshipped goddesses were killed, because God ordered it. All sacred texts made it clear that woman was (is) the secondary sex, whose primary role was (is) to serve her husband and multiply. Girls were property of the father until they married, and could even be sold off as slaves. Sexuality outside of marriage was (is) considered a mortal sin. Divorce was frowned upon by the religious fathers. Women were not allowed to participate in church activities, much less work outside of the home. Marriage became a religious pact made legal only when officiated by a church or temple authority. Women married because there were few other choices. Without employable skills, property, or even an opinion, women relied on men to survive. They often endured horrific and abusive marriages because there was no other option.

Ironically, single, independent women were shunned, and brilliant women destroyed, because they were considered heretics of the Church, as was the case of Hypatia, (4th Century AD) a brilliant teacher of mathematics and astronomy of Alexandria. She turned down marriage proposals to live independently, and was brutally murdered by a group of Christian monks, intolerant of her self-reliance. And don’t get me started on the Crusades, sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church, which in some cases targeted single women (1300s to 1700s). That’s a separate article.

Love and romance didn’t factor into marriage until probably the time of the Troubadours during the Middle Ages (1110 – 1350), a group of mostly men whose poetry and songs espoused courtly love, and positive views of women. Perhaps this movement was used as a marketing tool to make marriage more palatable.

Thankfully, the feminist movements of the 19th and 20th Centuries opened the door of equal rights to women, and began to transform Western civilization into one in which a woman can choose to live independently. The demand for equal rights began in England and the United States in the mid-1800s with the Woman’s Suffrage Movement. “Suffragettes” organized and spoke in public, unheard of at the time and despite heavy opposition from men, to demand the right to work and vote. In 1919, women of the USA won the right for women to vote, and the 1920 presidential election was their first. Women began to enter the workforce. 

During the Women’s Liberation Movement in the United States during the 1960s, the voices of a few brave and powerful women, demanding equal opportunity, equal pay and equal justice, spread like wild fire via mass media, and positive social changes for women occurred at unprecedented speed. Women grabbed at emerging opportunities to become self-reliant and independent. Marriage was no longer a necessity. Birth control enabled sexual freedom. Divorce became an acceptable option, without fear of disgrace.

Many of today’s Western woman exercise our rights and our freedoms. We’re waiting longer to marry, if we choose to marry at all. Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Committed, points out that married women are more likely to suffer from depression than single women, and as we begin to emerge from the cloud of old programming, it is easy to understand why.

Many women around the world still suffer under outmoded patriarchal traditions with no freedom in Child brides and arranged marriages still thrive around the world.sight. Forced to marry, often at very young ages to strangers chosen by the parents, and with little education, no rights and few options, they are reminders of the great strides we women of the Western world have made and continue to make.

So, today, as a single women in the United States, I express tremendous gratitude for my life. I proudly choose and celebrate independence, because I can!!

SOURCES:

The Living Goddesses, Marija Gimbutas

Women in Ancient Greece, Sue Blundell

Holy Bible

Quaran

Monday
Oct062014

* Body Love

We see plenty of articles and ads that tell us how unattractive crow’s feet, heavy thighs, stretch marks and our other physical imperfections are. Well, this article is to tell you how beautiful they are. Every scar, wrinkle, missing part, or protuberance is a beauty mark and a badge of honor for who you truly are. 

Your life is your greatest gift, and your presence on the planet at this time is your gift to the world. Once you understand the vast richness of your life, your wrinkles and cellulite can be perceived as wonderful adornments, and not things to be loathed and fixed.

Resist the programming of the beauty industry, which tries to set standards of perfection and eternal youth. Instead, see the glory in each of your unique qualities and physical features - just as they are. Adopt the attitude that they are things to honor and love, knowing that you’re perfect, beautiful and sexy just as you are.

By looking at yourself holistically, as a physical being and spiritual being on Earth, you will soon love your features.  Your life decisions, experiences and genetics have formed your magnificent form and beauty. They also contribute to our unique character. Giving birth, indulging in an abundance of delicious food, even unfortunate mishaps, not only shaped your physical attributes, they formed your unique character. The accidents that caused your scars may have also made you a stronger woman as a result. Your flabby muscles may be the outcome of your primary focus to study and develop your intellect.

Become conscious of how your features may influence the way you present yourself to the world. Instead of hiding, hating, and feeling embarrassed or ashamed of them, embrace and love every aspect of them, and proudly appreciate and display your unique physical qualities. They tell your story and make you an interesting person.

Here’s a powerful beauty exercise called Body Love. Closely examine a part of your body that you don’t particularly like or wish to ‘fix.’ Write down its memoirs and capabilities, including your life choices, happenstances and talents that helped to form it. Also list how it contributed to who you are today. If you were born with a particular feature, focus on how it formed your present-day identity. 

This simple exercise will help you see the value of your special features, and help you to perceive them as marks of exquisiteness. You may actually love them for all they say about you, and for all that they do for you.

For example, by beauty industry standards, my hands aren’t attractive or feminine-looking.  When I was younger, I tried to keep them from view. But now I honor every age spot and scar, for they hold stories of my adventures. And I love them for their capabilities to create art and write and do an infinite number of other things. Yes, I use hand creams to keep them as healthy and smooth as possible, but I don’t hide them or feel ashamed of them.

I am an advocate of healthy living and treating our body with respect. And if you do decide to change your body, it will be a conscious choice, rather than a response to the pressure of beauty industry standards.

But by honoring yourself exactly as you are, you will love yourself more deeply. We’ll also behold and appreciate the vast differences and unique features of others.  This would be a beautiful thing! 

Thursday
Sep182014

* Yoni Power with Yoni Yoga

Luna Bloom, by Meloney HudsonWhen you think about your vagina, what’s the first thing that pops into your mind? Sexual pleasure (or absence of it)? The baby you birthed through it? Your period? Your upcoming gyno exam?

In our culture, we typically think of the yoni as a sexual/reproductive region.  After all, it does drive us to mate and procreate, and provides great pleasure when given special attention.  But in all actuality, your vagina is more than a physical region; it’s also the source of potent energy and the home of your feminine spirit.

The Sanskrit term for vagina is Yoni, and this term also means uterus and ‘source of life.’ I use this name when referring to our girlie parts, because it’s a respectful title for the Queen of our physical domain. This multidimensional region is so special that ancient religions considered the yoni as the symbol of the Great Goddess, and worshipped it with great respect and honor. Taoist, Tantric and other energetic and spiritual masters recognized the power of the pelvis to heal and revitalize the entire body for enduring youth and spiritual enlightenment. 

You can apply these practices to your life today. The rewards are numerous, and include: improved pelvic health and overall well-being; amplified self-love and self-appreciation; an upsurge of youthful radiance; enhanced overall sexiness; and increased personal power and confidence. 

Following below are descriptions of each aspect of your magnificent yoni, along with simple and effective practices that will amplify your yoni power.

Physical Aspect

Your yoni and the area around it consists of organs and muscles encased in a pelvic girdle. This area influences you’re the health and well-being of your entire body. A toned vagina contributes to greater sexual pleasure and juicier energy. Strong hip bones and muscles provide ease of movement, and supports the structural function of the rest of the body.  By strengthening your yoni and pelvis, you improve your health. 

Yoni Yoga addresses the physical aspects of the pelvis.To strengthen your hips, dance with hip-focused moves and leg extensions. This fun and easy exercise can be done in your living room to your fave song. It strengthens and tones hip muscles and increases flexibility.

To strengthen and tone your vaginal and PC muscles, simply perform Kegel exercises (squeezing and releasing the vaginal muscles).  This can be done while watching TV, driving, or while meditating.

Energetic Aspect 

Your reproductive organs are the source of creative life-force energy, which is the energy that gives you Yoni Yoga activates sexual, life-force energy.life. When activated and harnessed, this essential energy can be utilized to heal, purify and revitalize the entire body. The pelvis is also the location of your second chakra (energy center), which is the font of creative, emotional and sexual energy. This energy enhances your overall energy, feelings of sexiness and radiant beauty, which exudes outwardly and positively influences others. Yoni exercises can activate and balance this energy.

Here’s one easy exercise. Say the mantra “oooh” slowly as you sexily move your hips. (Oooh is the seed sound that stimulates second chakra energy.) Repeat the “ooh” sound over and over as you move your hips and stroke your body. It’s as if you’re making love to yourself. After a few moments, when you feel an increase of your sexual energy, stand still and inhale through your nose, and imagine the energy flows up your spine from your yoni to your head. Hold your breath and squeeze your yoni muscles to contain the energy. This allows the sexual, life-force energy to infuse in all of your cells.  After a few seconds, exhale through your mouth, release the yoni squeeze. Repeat two more times.    


Spiritual Aspect
Yoni Yoga helps us connect with our authentic essence.Your yoni is the home of your spirit and feminine qualities, including compassion, love, nurturance, intuition, sensuality, and wisdom. Your yoni also holds your sexual history (including past-life), which contributes to the formation of who you are today as a woman. It also influences your spiritual vibration.

The yoni is symbolic of Goddess. Pre-patriarchal civilizations worshipped the Great Goddess and many goddesses, revering their powers of love, fertility, sexuality and creativity. Your yoni represents of the Goddess within you, and your own powers of love, sexuality and creativity, as well as your feminine attributes that enhance the world. 

You can honor the spiritual aspect of your yoni and increase your spiritual vibration with a simple gratitude prayer. Take a moment to be still, and thank her for her important role in your life. Thank her for her health and her influence on your womanhood. Vow to protect her and treat her with honor and respect. Forgive yourself for any so-called “mistakes” you may have made with your yoni.  Shower her with love and devotion.

Practice these every day and you will increase your yoni power exponentially. Love yourself and love life!!! Here’s to YONI POWER!

Yoni Yoga is a system of simple meditations, movement and exercises that address each aspect of your yoni.  Performing even one simple exercise a day provides great benefit. Order your free Yoni Yoga practice guide today!