Its been a magnificent start to 2023 I have been lucky enough to visit Canada. Despite it being a little chilly it was a magnificent opportunity to spend each day enjoying the glory of nature. I think we all need that time to just 'be" Surrounded by great beauty and the absence of social media I was lucky enough to have some truly life changing experiences around releasing stored sexual trauma. This has been a very freeing experience that I hope to share with some of you at my next conscious sexuality party. ( March 4th)
I also took the time to really challenge the myths around aging - so I climbed a mountain, ice-skated for the first time, and took every opportunity to embrace my sexuality To anyone who says that aging means declining - please think again. It is without a doubt the time to combine the joys of your body with your inner wisdom and the results are spectacular
As a result I have really been spending a lot of time thinking about who we actually are before the social conditioning tells us who we SHOULD BE. For a woman in her late 50s I am very resistant to the myth that woman become less sexual and less valuable with age But there are so many myths around sex and sexuality that start at a very young age and determine who we are. Sadly guilt and shame are very much a part of our sexual conditioning It is sometimes very hard to separate our authentic selves from the parts of us that have been socially conditioned around sex. But history will tell us that it has not always been this way Before the onset of Christianity the prevailing belief systems around sexuality were totally different Can you imagine growing up being proud of your sexuality and being fully able to own your right to pleasure? How would that look for you ?
I found these two stories in some of my reading I think they are a perfect illustration of two very different spaces in time.
I would like to acknowledge the author - Linda E Savage in her book "Reclaiming Goddess Sexuality"' These stories are heavily based on the story in her book although I have added a narrative around Tracey that reflects the time and space that I personally grew up in
Perhaps compare the stories of these two young woman and see how this conditioning may apply to you and dare to imagine what your life might look like if you were to release this conditioning,
Inanna lived on the Isle of Crete around 4000 BC. She was the daughter of a priestess and lived with her mother, father and her mother.s extended family. In her home there were tapestries and statues depicting nature sexuality and the wonder of human life. One of her most prized possessions was a small clay figure of the goddess NU -the full breasted voluptuous Mother of all. It was very old and had been given to her when she was born When she was little Inanna wondered why Nu had no face. Now she knew that no one could visualize the face of the Divine Mother so she was represented by a body alone.
When Inanna was small she was taught that her body was an expression of the Divine. She felt no shame at all about her beautiful form and she gave no thought to covering her body. Her curiosity about the difference between male and female bodies was satisfied by the beautiful sculptures in her home. Her mother explained to her that in the beginning there was unity. However, when the goddess gave birth to physical reality she created two opposites that together represented the whole. The union of the male and female in the physical body was a demonstration of the divine unity of all life. Sexual pleasure was a gift to be treasured and like all gifts it had to be experienced in the right conditions to honor the goddess.
Inanna's mother taught her that all relationships were but a reflection of our relationship with the Divine Source. As a result Inanna knew she had to respect herself and her body and honor all others as an expression of the Divine Sexual relationships were no mystery to her. She had seen the sacred healing that happened in the temples as well as animals breeding on the farms. Her parents were open and loving and sex was comfortably discussed as a natural part of life. Her mother was very willing to answer questions and as Inanna grew she could talk to her mother about sexuality. Inanna showed a great aptitude for healing early in life. She visited the sick with her mother and had witnessed birth many times She knew she wanted to be a healer and could feel the strength of the great mother as she worked with herbs
Inanna eagerly awaited the day when she would join the women of the village in the great lodge where all woman retired during their moon flow. She experienced her first blood at 12 with no fear or shame. All her female relatives came with her to the lodge and she received gifts. Most importantly her beloved grandmother as well as her aunts , cousins and her mother all stayed with her. They spoke of the wisdom and the power of the goddess that was now part of her life as a novice maiden. Each one told her stories that reflected her life experience Her grandmother was the last to speak as her age and experience were seen as something of great beauty and importance.
As a novice maiden Inanna was taught about sexual union She was told that she would feel powerful emotions and a strong pull in her sexual centre. Her sexual desire was a thing of great beauty and the will of the the Divine. When she was ready she would feel incredible pleasure that which she had never known before. This was the gift of the goddess
About 5 years after her first bleed Inanna became special friends with Tor and they began to explore their attraction to each other . They experienced kissing and sexual touching but Inanna did not feel ready to practice full intercourse. However, with the approaching of a large temple festival of sexuality Inanna and Tor decided that this would be a special night to celebrate their first union. Inanna was very excited. Many of her friends had already experienced sexual union and some had chosen to be mothers already. However she had been busy developing her healing skills She knew that if a child was to come from this union it would be a sacred child of the goddess. She was ready for her mother stage if this is what the goddess willed
The evening of the temple arrived. Inanna and her family joined the community in games and dancing. Tor was drawn to Inanna by a magnetic force. As the dancing grew more frenzied their bodies glistened and their eyes often met. This was to be their night. Inanna's mothers packed her some food and blankets and smiled as they two lover slipped away. They found a quiet glen and slipped into the blankets Their bodies touched and danced as they moved in a slow dance of primal pleasure The hours of ecstasy were a product of their years of spiritual preparation. The night was more than they ever expected and all that had been promised
Tracey was bought up by a middle- class family Her father was an accountant and her mother was a very skilled nurse. Her mother gave up work to bring up the children. Tracey learnt about the bible at school. She was aware that all the prophets had been men but they always had a wife whose sole contribution was the honor of bearing children. She was taught that God was a man and that Jesus was the son of God. At church all the services were held by men. Priests were all powerful. Tracy's mother had had a number of miscarriages due to some issues during her second child's birth. However, she was not able to use contraception as this was a sin. It was considered Gods will that she went through the pain of lost babies. it was considered normal that male priests told women what they could do with their bodies.
Tracey had very little knowledge of male bodies. Occasionally she caught site of her brothers naked. This was a source of great shame as she knew there was something wrong about seeing naked bodies. Tracey also had no knowledge of her own body However she knew that she needed to keep it covered and felt a lot of shame around her naked body.
Tracey's brothers teased her about being a girl. They though it was something ugly and " less than" Tracey's mother seemed to think that her sons were provoked by Tracey's natural assertive behavior and were justified in teasing her. She felt it was in Tracey's best interest to be submissive and to not draw attention to herself Although Tracey was very intelligent her father told her it was best that she not appear too smart as this would be intimidating to men
Tracey loved to dance and would often dance naked in her bedroom. One day her mother found her doing this She was punished although she did not know what she had done wrong Tracey's sex education came mainly from watching TV shows and from jokes and whispered secrets. She has some understanding of her reproductive organs but no understanding at all about how the sexual act would make her feel. Most information about sexual activity scared and disgusted her. She was scared of the thought of intercourse as it seemed like it would be very painful.
When Tracey's first period came along she was to embarrassed to say anything. She was on a family holiday and did not want to cause a fuss. Even so her brothers found out and teased her mercilessly. Boys at school snapped her bra and told jokes about sex. They also made lewd comments about woman's bodies. All of this made her wish she had never been born a girl. When ever she had her period she felt dirty and embarrassed She was afraid to go out in case blood leaked on her clothes
From her friends at church Tracey knew that is was dirty to let a boy touch her below the waist. She spent many dates fending off pleasurable feelings when kissing boys and often felt very guilty if she felt any enjoyment Boys were always pressuring her to go further but Tracey found all these feelings very confusing so she learnt to repress her own desire. Tracey's mother bought home a basic book about sex education to read with her This was considered a very progressive thing for a mother to do and Tracey's mother was clearly very uncomfortable. There was a page about masturbation Tracey's mother ripped these pages from the book and told her that masturbation was evil. Tracey's mother also told her that she needed to understand sex for reproductive purposes There was no mention of contraception as there was a strong presumption that she would not be having sex before she was married. There was also no discussion about pleasure. At this time Tracey had started to experiment with boys but it was a secret she kept from her mother. At this time her mother was a constant source of support about a lot of things BUT Tracey could not talk to her mother about sex. She could not admit to her mother that she was doing anything sexual or having any sort of sexual feelings. Even though her friends were going through similiar experiences it was rare that they felt safe to talk to each other. There was too much shame, guilt and insecurity
Tracey was in constant battle with her parents about what was appropriate to wear when she went out Tracey often wore one set of clothes to leave the house and then got changed once she was out of her parent's sight. One day Tracey was wearing a bikini in the lounge room in her home Her curtains were open Her father threw a robe at her and told her to cover herself. He told her by dressing like that she was asking to be raped
In her senior year Tracey experienced her first orgasm as a result of a boys manual stimulation. She was very very confused by this experience although it felt physically pleasurable. After this episode Tracey's boyfriend broke up with her She was very hurt but figured it was because she had allowed him to go too far She knew it was her responsibility to stop sexual touching. It would be many many years before she would ever have an orgasm again.
Eileen continued to experiment through her teen years. Although the burning questions in the minds of her and all her friends were- who will I marry and how many children will I have. There was no real encouragement to have a career or a vocation. Throughout her sexual experimentation Eileen was very aware that she must remain a virgin until married so that her reputation was not ruined. Eileen's best friend had suffered socially from rumours that she was a "slut" after having intercourse with her boyfriend. However other girls had been humiliated for being"frigid" when they refused to have intercourse It often felt like a no win situation
Eileen had done very well at school and had a strong desire to help and heal She decided to study social work. Her parents felt it important that she had something to fall back on At university Eileen fell in love with a boy Their commitment was strong and she decided to allow some genital touching. Her boyfriend would ejaculale outside her and she would have manual orgasms
Traceys's boyfriend was also a virgin The sum of his sex education was his father telling him " Don't you go getting a girl pregnant" Eventually Tracey had intercourse with her boyfriend This first sexual union was meaningful but awkward and painful Her body had become conditioned to manual stimulation and the muscles in her vagina tensed up meaning she could not climax or even feel any enjoyment Her boyfriend and Tracey had sex often but there was very little pleasure in it for Tracey. However, she really loved that it made her feel important and wanted. She never gave much thought to her own pleasure Often she pretended to orgasm as her boyfriend seemed to like this and it got the process over quickly.
Eventually Tracey married her boyfriend Every Saturday night they would have sex. Tracey was relieved when she had her period as she was off the hook. Sex was a duty that was sometimes pleasing However Tracey often felt guilty about enjoyment Soon after marriage Tracey became pregnant She did not feel ready for this responsibility However she understood that this was her role as a female Her life was now about caring for her husband and children
Two women from different times with a very different upbringing My passionate belief is that as a society we need to move back toward the former
So how about you ? Think back Who were you before you were conditioned Can you claim that part of you back ?