By: Natalia Herran
Image Courtesy of Broadly – Vice
Initially, I considered writing this article under an alias. I had a second of panic when I realized I had agreed to go to a workshop at a sex shop. Despite the fact that it would be at such a positive space like Good For Her, I still felt uneasy. I now realize that I felt this way because of a certain amount of shame I felt in exploring my own sexuality and sharing that so openly as a woman. This exact feeling was addressed as Shahrazad, the instructor of the workshop, led us through the history and decline of the normativity of treating your sexual energy as a positive part of your identity.
In Ancient Civilizations, particularly Mesopotamia and Babylon, the faith-based belief systems worshipped a Mother Goddess. Worshipers, known as Temple Priestesses, were similar to nuns in the way they devoted their lives to their God. However, these women strengthened their faith through the training of their sexual energy. This definition of sexual energy, however, was not exclusive to engaging in sexual acts with another person. For these women, nothing could be lost or taken through sexual engagement.They were whole before, during and after, which is a completely different belief to what we have in our society today.
Shahrazad emphasized that sexual energy is anything that makes you feel alive—it is your life force and you need no one but yourself to strengthen it.This concept allowed women to be in charge of their sexual energy and granted them the ability to access it whenever they saw fit.
I took three particularly important concepts from the workshop that can benefit me and possibly other women in the same stage of life that I am in.
The first is the idea that my body is a temple. I had heard this before, growing up in the Catholic Church, except in that case the temple was for God. Now, the temple is for me. It is how I make space for myself and how I present myself to the world. It requires respect from myself and others as it is to be regarded a sacred space.
The second is that there is a correlation between sexuality and spirituality. As I have strayed significantly from the Catholic religion, I’ve had a certain feeling that there was an open space not yet filled by faith or spirituality. The concept that sexual engagement, accompanied by a healthy relationship with my sexual energy, can be a way to connect to something greater than myself is comforting.
The third is the importance of communication within women. This goes hand in hand with the abolition of the unspoken competition between women in our society. My favourite part of the workshop was being surrounded by women of all ages and situations who were communicating openly with me, despite the fact that I was the youngest person in the room. For the most part, all of the women in my family have always been very conservative, which unfortunately closed certain channels of communication that I could’ve benefited from in my formative years. I learned that this was also the case for many of the women who shared this experience with me. Making the time and space to listen to other women breaks the cycle of shame and silence.
I was worried that I would not be able to connect with the workshop as perhaps the other women attending would. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that at least for me, it was more empowering than spiritual. I found the history incredibly interesting, but I also knew that in leaving I would not have to commit to the faith system to make connections within my own life. By exploring this archetype and retaining her key principles, I am now able to make realizations and positive changes towards my own sexuality and how I channel that energy in my everyday life.
This article was originally published on our old website at https://thenewspaper.ca/the-inside/awakening-the-temple-priestess/.