notes on Femme Spirituality

femme spirituality: “Spiritual practices and interpretations of sacred texts that honor the divine feminine, Mother Earth, sacred sexuality and LOVE above all else.” [source]

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i need femme-informed spirituality. i’m tired of this masc shit that’s all about the brain (often ignoring/denying the body), control and restriction, anti-pleasure.. i believe there’s ultimately a need for balance but i need to tip the scale in the direction of femme-dominant for now.

i need practices that don’t run away from, deny, or shame the shadow. ones that teach us how to look at it head-on, study it, learn its dimensions (Women Who Run with the Wolves type vibes)

paganism is femme – earth-centered spirituality: sexual, sensual, erotic, pleasure, death, rebirth, ritual, celebration, connection, nature, embodiment (listening to vs denying the body) — witchy vibes

complexity/moment of nuance & clarification: i struggle to speak about the concept of femme spirituality without it seeming inherently exclusionary. this isn’t about anatomy, it’s about having more options in the realm of understanding, celebrating, and working with the mystery of life.
i also don’t want to encourage binary ways of thinking, especially in relation to spirituality. we are all everything all at once, always, and i understand that’s too much for our human brains to hold. anyways, i digress.

here’s an excerpt from Holly Whitaker’s Quit Like a Woman to break down the contradiction between masc-informed spirituality and feminism.

[bolded/italicized for emphasis by me, along with some reformatting]

At the Root of This Longing is a book written by the author, scholar, and educator Carol Lee Flinders. Flinders holds a doctorate from UC Berkeley in comparative literature, with a focus on medieval women’s mysticism; she has lived for most of her life in a meditative co-op under the tutelage of Eknath Easwaran, an Indian-born spiritual teacher. Flinders is a feminist and a deeply committed meditation student and teacher, with a profound depth of knowledge about women mystics. Her life is devoted both to the telling of silenced women’s stories and meditative discipline, and she set herself on a course to understand why her feminism felt so at odds with her spiritual practice. In doing so, she identified four key areas where feminism and spirituality contradict each other.

According to Flinders, all religious and spiritual traditions and specifically meditative practices—because they were built by men and for men—promote the following:

  1. self-silencing;
  2. self-naughting (destruction of the ego);
  3. resisting desire; and
  4. enclosure (turning inward, sealing off from the world).

As a feminist, naming these four requirements of transcendence troubled her. “I realized that however ancient and universal these disciplines may be, they are not gender neutral at all. Formulated for the most part within monastic contexts, they cancel the basic freedoms—to say what one wants, go where one likes, enjoy whatever pleasures one can afford, and most of all, to be somebody—that have normally defined male privilege” (emphasis mine).

What she is saying is that the underlying precepts of a spiritual path—in every lineage from which there is a path—seek to define a degree of spiritual freedom through reversal of status. And who has had that status in societies all over the world for the last few thousand years? Men. “Women, on the other hand,” she wrote, “have not been in a position to renounce these privileges voluntarily because they have never had them in the first place.” In fact, “they are terms of our subordination.”

When I read those lines in her book after that conversation with Cath, every hair on my body stood at attention because finally, finally, someone had put into words the thing that had been screaming in me since I was first told that my failure to submit to AA was really my ego run amok. Finally, what I read was: It makes sense that a woman might entirely refuse a program that asked her to give up something she’s not only never had, but was finally just grasping: a sense of self, a voice, a sense of her own desires, freedom in a world not made for her.

The opposite of these precepts, as argued by Flinders, is to
(1) “find your voice; tell your story, make yourself heard”;
(2) “know who you are. Establish your authentic identity or selfhood. Identify your needs and learn how to meet them”;
(3) “reclaim your body, and its desires, from all who would objectify and demean it, whether it’s the fashion industry, pornographers, or even the medical establishment. Recognize the hatred of the female body that pervades contemporary culture, and oppose it”; and
(4) “move about freely and fearlessly. Take back the streets. Take back the night and the day.

❤ ❤ ❤ much luck out there; take care ❤ ❤ ❤

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