One of the unremarked aspects of Madonna’s legacy, in my opinion, is the fact that many of her lyrics are exceptionally devotional. She is remembered for the controversy, the pushing of boundaries about women were allowed to express, but also, she intuitively understood the nature of the Divine Lover and the blurred line between 'him' and 'Him'. The chastity and absolution that comes with prayerful loving.
Aside from the obvious (and controversial at the time) Like a Prayer, we also have : Cherish, True Blue, Rain. Deeper and Deeper. Even the (again, controversial video) Justify my Love. You can see so many of them as potent songs of Shakti to Shiva. Flitting between the Him, and the him.
Demanding that the little him shape up (Open your Heart, Express Yourself) to the full glory of what he is capable. As tantrics have always known, this is the mystical power of the conscious female, the yogini.
And you wonder where the modern day mystics have gone... They are going where mystics are supposed to go. Check out the scriptwriters, the rock bands, the writers, the poets, the artists, the thought leaders. Look at Lady Gaga. ‘It doesn’t matter if you love him, or capital H-im. Baby you were born this way’. Or the quietly witty video for ‘Judas’. Just because she’s exploring the shadow, doesn’t make her dark. It's a journey to the underworld, like the goddess Inanna. This is what women are supposed to do: feel and express without judgement. Feeling involves throwing a harness on darkness, rawness, pain, and pulling it into the light. Transmuting it through art into something less scary and freeing. There’s a great power in saying: This is how I feel. What are you going to do about it? Heal it, accept it or fix it, but don’t argue with it or deny it.
I could go on (and on), but in the meantime, what about the song which inspired this post... True Blue?
Go on, have a listen. I bet you’ve forgotten how childlike, innocent and uplifting this song really is.
As promised, we have a brand new playlist!
You know, back in the day I would have made you a mix tape...but this is more portable.
This juicy playlist is called Guilty Pleasures...
It’s designed to be played at full volume with lots of raucous dancing, jumping up and down, singing at the top of your voice. It is perfect for shadow body healing.
When healing the shadow body, guilty pleasures need to be embraced and integrated.
You need to stop holding yourself tightly, keeping yourself ‘together’ and feel expansive.
Give yourself permission to feel childlike and joyful.
Accept your primal nature and any tension you perceive between your enjoyment and your mind.
As with the previous playlist, these songs have been rigorously tested in the Tantra Mataji kitchen and you can be assured that they rate highly on the Ecstasy-O-Meter.
When you’ve got this little lot out of your system, try meditating right after. I bet it will be a good one - you’ll find it much easier to quiet your mind and savour your inner peace.
This is one for the ladies. Gentlemen, you may use it to connect with your feminine energy or understand your woman better.
Girl, you are doing great.
It is not easy being female with no rule book, no guidebook. There is no template for an enlightened female except the mother figure who sits calmly and blesses those around her. How will you integrate your shadow, and become a whole being instead of the half you have been for millennia?
How will you know which bits to choose, and which to let go?
It’s all been repressed, and now it comes out.
Don’t be hard on yourself.
What does it look like when the woman who has come by the path of Wicca reaches divinity? What when the temple priestess dissolves identity and becomes oneness? The dakini? The warrior woman?
Who is going to tell us what it looks like?
We think we have achieved some freedom as women but look how few these years are in human history. Our karma is still screaming at us telling us that we won’t live to tell the tale. Think of it all - the stoning, the ducking, the burning, the consignment to mental asylums. Joan of Arc was condemned for the crime of cross-dressing in the end. She was just wearing trousers....
It’s all still there just lurking under the surface as soon as you begin to deviate from the narrow norm.
Just a generation ago you were meant to suck it up and take Prozac. Sometimes Prozac still seems like the best option for the pain you’re not even supposed to feel, but you do. Because you are not recognised or valued for your feminine brilliance, you are dissuaded from exploring your essence.
There is no template, no precedent, or very few. This is why we are all in love with Frieda Kahlo, why we are creating a scrapbook of others like her, to learn from.
You are a pioneer. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes you will get labelled. You have to deal with the dual ‘blame’ of not being ok all the time AND breaking the mould. Why do you think you can go your own way when your mental or emotional state is not always well?
Come back into the rigid constraints we have created for you.
We care about you.
We know what is best for you.
What you feel is nonsense.
And you silently scream...
Girl, you are doing brilliantly.
You are still alive. You are still breathing. Are you going to beat yourself up for your self management - your coffee, your wine, your other helpers? You know you’ll let them go when you get a better option. You know the yoga class is good for you, walking barefoot on the grass, the dancing, the talking with a soul healing friend. Open yourself more. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, an open wound.
This is your work.
Feeling something is wrong is important work.
Think of yourself as a barometer of how well humanity is doing. Feel into what feels light. Be the change.
No prophet is accepted in his own village, is what they say. Maybe ‘prophet’ feels a little heavy for you, but if you are guiding from your space of feminine wisdom - your feeling, give me a better word.
We need to forgive ourselves for not being ok, for hurting, for being sick. Just because we feel it, and the other half denies it, suppresses feelings, does not mean we, they, are well.
How do we make this less of a burden? If you had a broken leg, how would you treat yourself? If you had the flu? If we are happy to admit on a personal level that we are sick, and that this is not failure, we will open the way to allowing the masculine energy to let go.
It’s not weak.
It’s not failure.
Take his hand. He can let go of some of that control. We can show him how to trust. We can show him the magic with confidence.
Forgive, forgive, forgive.
Angry people need forgiveness. For the limitations of form, of time, of ability, for being in dis-ease, for feeling cut off from what is sacred, for not being in love.
Girl, you are doing great. It’s ok to have a bad day. We have to allow ourselves to flow with our emotions - around people, around family, around workmates. Find a way to express them, not pretend that we are not really happening. This is the role of the healer, the shakti. We have to be at peace with the feelings of pain and unease, and also find ways of not being overwhelmed by them. We don’t need to identify.
Forgive yourself for being sick. You are carrying the burden of many.
Know when to feel, and when to dive into no-mind and non-judgement.
And allow yourself to heal.
I wrote this letter to myself the other day. It was a challenging day - travelling, a 2.30 am start, many hours more than usual in an airport, many miles covered. This is difficult for a sensitive empath.
I am experimenting with more raw posting. If it doesn't feel right, I may not keep it, so if you find this personally useful or encouraging, please leave a comment :)
and some of the best advice I ever had....
I'll admit it. I'm finding it difficult to be 'out there' balancing my inner authenticity with awareness of others' perspectives. I'm one of those perfectionists who hates criticism, but you know, this is exactly why I'm here doing this. It's something I need to get over.
How much of this is gendered? As a woman, speaking with authority is something that must be learned. Do so many women ‘channel’ because it’s easier than owning it as coming from them? A man is more likely to claim it: I AM.
I am getting tired of being too careful. Afraid of getting things wrong. I have absorbed a lot of trauma over the years from spiritual paranoia and fear of getting things wrong. How dasterdly is the punishment or consequence (same difference) for getting stuff wrong in this or that belief system? How do they conflict with each other, agreeing only in how much fear they engender? How about I trust my journey and my impulses and trust the ONE who carries me through it all?
I am sometimes impetuous, trying to unstifle, break down barriers, I try things, I test things over and over from all different angles. I am trying to find the highest version of me. I don’t want to be too cautious. Some of the greatest blessings and truths I stumbled upon by letting my guard down, by breaking rules, by being ‘spiritually incorrect’ but embodying extreme compassion.
To me this is the essence of tantra - taking the profane, the everyday and making it sacred. Using what you need to get yourself to the next stage. To keep the story moving. To own your journey, your process and weave all the threads into a beautiful pattern. If you have not woven these threads, you will simply not have much capacity for ecstasy. You won’t have developed those energy pathways. You will have one or two threads to play with, a couple of notes instead of a symphony. The key is to remain conscious and compassionate throughout everything you do. To shine the light rather than try to wrestle with demons.
We need to own our shadow bodies. Integrate them fully. Without this, we are only half alive no matter how peaceful we are and how well we have suppressed them. Our shadow bodies contain the key to our greatest potential, our divine selves. We need to allow ourselves to be angry, to break down barriers, to try things out without fear of getting it wrong. We need to look our more primal traits in the eye and accept them as part of ourselves while opening to the highest manifestation of these. We need to accept and honour our desires as things which do not originate from us, but as winds passing through. Take the role of the observer of these and choose whether to act on them without identifying. Do they originate from our most conscious place? Can we invite in a more conscious desire?
My shadow body is a genius at trying to keep me ‘in my place’. But I am getting smarter. Any time I do anything to push my boundaries to invite more unity, wonder and higher understanding it will scream as I integrate more of myself into operation. I am in a permanent place of discomfort as I open to more of myself.
Tantra Mataji is helping me find my truest alignment. I write some posts and then am led further on, to a higher understanding. I ask myself if I should edit/delete those posts or let them stand as a testament to the journey. So far, I have been doing a bit of both. When I start to feel uneasy about particular pieces of content, I have to ask - am I really testing my ‘now’, the new perspective I have, or am I falling back into self-doubt? How does it look in the perspective that allows all with compassionate understanding, that absolves all?
This is the question that I asked a couple of years ago when I first caught sight of the inner me that was trying to get out.
Am I going to keep punishing myself
for being my true self
even if it's not perfect
it sometimes can't resist a prod
It's passionate or it's not there at all
It feels spitting fury
that blows over to calm
Do I constantly need to worry
what others will think of me
that their reactions will come back at me
that I shouldn't provoke
shouldn't pick a fight
I might be thought cocky
observed too closely
I can't stand up to that much scrutiny
What's the answer?
It's still a work in progress, although plenty has been made....
But look at the beautiful advice I got straight back afterwards:
Make yourself beautiful
God loves you
is in all
snaking between you
Babaji admires you
What is wrong with cocky or flirtatious?
None of these will stick on you
Humble is your true flavour
Allow flickers of pride
They will subside
Actions done in love
even if mistaken
will awaken what needs to be awakened
People make fun
it is only ego that is untamed
You should not be ashamed
of taunting it
You are not careful
It is not your way
honesty in all
This is beautiful
Anger suits you
Don't repress it
You are not even tempered
You are free
This is the way it should be
Anger will fade
love will overcome
pain will cease
I love you
I find myself wanting to be more playful, less serious, less careful, more flowing and expressive, and more than anything, more compassionate to myself and others.
Don't sweat it.
Hold on to love and let the rest fall away.
Let's be like children, and let's PLAY.
It's not me, it's you.
Let's call this delegation.
This is counter to most streams of thought which tell you that anything you perceive in anyone else is a reflection of something in yourself. So you do your own work and see what shifts. But then you get to a point where this is your own work. Because if you can feel it, you need to call it. Maybe not out loud, but firmly and silently. Because the bigger you become, the more you can feel other people and their stuff. Or they'll unconsciously try to project it onto you. And if you feel bad about seeing negativity in others you'll end up sucking it up. You need to call it. You need to give it a name. Pretending it's not there is not loving. And when you do, don't allow yourself to feel bad or guilty. Demons go for the jugular every time so you need to be tough. They will say: 'you don't understand me or what I've been through', 'I'm being nice', 'I'm just worried about you', 'you are not so perfect yourself' etc. etc. All these things sound reasonable, play to your compassion, and are designed to get you to back off so that you'll leave them alone to be small. It takes practice, but if you do this your relationship with the real person you care about will improve and more love will flow between you. It's actually an act of trust in the other person - you don't need to rescue them from seeing what needs to be seen and correcting it.
It's not me, it's you. Because it puts you back in touch with who you are, standing firm in your inner light.
This is work in progress. I'm an empathic healer which makes this really tricky so I have been finding rage useful. Allowing rage helps to integrate the shadow body and it's not the same as anger at all. Anger is more superficial, reactive and based in the ego and its attendant emotions. Rage is a much purer cleansing power which bubbles up from your belly in the same way laughter does. Rage is loving, and should leave you feeling light and joyful. It can even be funny.
Here is a selection of four poems around this theme. Rage-y, muscle-the-demon-to-the-ground-y alchemy: this is me, and it's not ok to be aggressive, passive aggressive, cynical, victimised, reductionist, self-righteous, pious, complacent, patronising or accusatory around me. We are all heart-broken, maimed, limbless athletes in the Paralympics. But we can still GO.
I am not here to make friends
to seek reassurances
I am not here to blend in
I am here
Suddenly it’s not ok
for you to deny me
to pretend that I’m not real
to make me doubt my soul
and what I feel
It’s not ok
for you to humour me
to redefine this cynically
I hear your demons
they are carping at me
They want to make me small
so that you don’t have to let go
But it’s not ok anymore
when I look at the work
that I’ve done
the passion that I’ve shown
the truth that I’ve grown
to feel your indifference
If you try to give me bullshit
if you are nice
if you try to be understanding
show me sympathy
but we are feeding your pretense
I will grab you by the throat and shake you
If you take the moral high ground
I will slap you
and pull it out from under you
It is kinder than the violence
this does to my soul
If you play the victim I will keep away from you
lest you make me your next aggressor
I am on my knees
at the beauty of this
but you are unmoved
Where is your fire?
You are busy, you are tired...
Let me tell you how God is busy
Did you not see
what happened there in that
how the universe realigned itself
to my pretty?
Can you do that?
Who will give you permission
to call the clouds to attention
the moon and stars to heel?
I want to see the rage in you
that burns your self to ashes
I am not gossiping
with other inmates
I am standing at the door
and turning the key
Will you be free?
How much love
do you allow yourself to give?
the only question
If you think it is other
your arguments are
But our soul
is a simple
On International Women's Day I have a question...
So tell me:
How many times better
Than you must I be
To be accepted as your equal?
An A-lister, to your B
The only thing you understand
Is my tough love
And you wonder why
We are struggling to be free
If I love you
If I admire you
I can't be serious
If I'm nice
You underestimate me
(Consider it a friendly warning
But don't do that...)
I make it look easy
And instead of virtuosity
You see nothing
I can keep pulling it
Out of the bag
But this is getting boring
And it would be more fun
To ride with you
So I'll ask again
As if to a friend
How many times better
Than you must I be
With my bountiful skills
In my feminine guise
To be considered your equal?
I have some more questions....
When female leaders are strong, they attract a lot of criticism.
Or when they are perceived as weak, or just because they're there.
They can be described as being 'masculine', 'ruthless', 'even worse than men' etc etc.
I think we are still finding out what true female leadership looks like. How a woman would lead if truly allowed to follow her own inclinations...
Is it possible to lead from a place of raw, unpolished vulnerability?
Is it possible to guide from a place of feeling and pain?
To what extent can a woman be sensual?
Which qualities might you 'borrow' from each of these female leaders (below)? Which would you decline on? Are you judging them or loving them? Which other powerful women do you admire?
(Top left clockwise: Baroness Thatcher, Catherine the Great, Queen Elizabeth I, Inanna)
I bit my tongue three times this week.
So I had to ask the glaring question...Why am I biting my effing tongue?
What am I not saying?
So many parts of our feminine story are missing from the dialogue. The unconditionality, the sensuality, the calling to account.
This is the job of Shakti. Embracing the sheer complexity of all that is, has ever been and will always be.
Tantra is like forgiveness in motion. It exists because we are all IT, and we are all one, and because there was a Hitler, and there was also an Eva Braun. They are both still here in all of us.
Because the role of Shakti is to surrender, to remember, to use her whole self unashamedly, and raise her beloved to a higher place. It's not about rejecting or withholding. It's about kissing and upbraiding in a single breath. Caressing like a lover, and cuffing like a lioness to her cubs. Drawing lines, but going in. This is the power of the feminine.
It's time to get our hands dirty, and call our beloved home...
Why am I biting my precious tongue?
The tongue is an organ of loving
Feel the love flow between us
The pouring, the gushing
The gentle prattling to your sweetheart
You just want to be known
Confiding in me your lifetimes
All of your stories your learnings
I have the other half of these
The wisdom, understandings
I will explain it all, the primal rush
The love play
The way you slay me
How whatever happens
I still go to pieces when you play
Between my tongue and my love
The harmonics of good, and god-like
And what is that! and ninja-sweet attainment
I make it ok in you, the god in you
The stuff that makes no sense in you
Come home to me
Why am I biting my precious tongue?
Torturing this love organ
When we are both speaking through it
Giving and receiving
When the chiding and forgiveness come in two
When you finish my sentences, my being
As brother-sister, one-it-y
While you tickle all my love organs
With your ecstasy, our laughter
I have as much to give
As to receive
I am the engine that makes us go
You need to listen to what I say
As part of you
I find the needle in your hay
And know what to do
You slay me
Come home to me
I am not biting my precious tongue
Just for fun: how many famous femmes can you name check in this poem (there are ten to find in all).
This one is from shakti, in her many forms, to the divine masculine.
I wavered on one of the words when I was writing, but have settled for the less mischievous option here. If you spot it, and want to swap it - make it your own....
There are many aspects of the feminine to embrace, if only as potentialities. Not all of them are pretty, but they can all be awesome. If we repress and deny, we will only make our shadow body more powerful. If we find something we don't find 'acceptable' inside us, what can we do with it? What higher use can we put it to? Who is judging it as 'good' or 'bad' in the first place?
Fiddle dee dee
So what if I'm bad?
I get goosepimply
Would you come up sometime
And be pleased to see me?
Like a prayer
I'll whisper to you softly
To justify my love for you
Would you meet me on a train
And will you trust this dark, dark horse
Who has a taste for
Don't make me your
I'm better than your wildest dreams
Chinnamasta yoni veda
I don't have all the answers
But I sing because I have a song
If I drown my sorrows
I love you more
My own skin
Move so delicate
Weaving her moment
Holding me in icy
Devouring her own
In a humorous gulp
Sharing the love-play
At this beautiful killer
With her self-contained
What did we create
This is me
In this and her
By my poison
To an innocent spider
Crackling with the mystery
Of love and fear
Tingling my limbs
With crawling memories
Feeling the pin-sharp
You made her
She is you
And watch her
Happy New Year!
True to form, I found myself writing a New Year's poem. For those of us who need to learn to accept imperfection in their lives and those around them, to discover where and how we can make a difference, and to remain peaceful while it's unfolding.
In the words of Lady Gaga:
'Just dance, it'll be ok'
confidence - freedom - passion