In my CR group last time we talked about archetypes (not the scheduled topic, but came up in discussion). I said that I didn’t relate to the maiden/mother/crone as a way of naming the sacred female, because it was tied to women’s reproductive life cycle. While I can know menstruation and menarche and menopause in my own body I can’t know gestation and birth in the same way as it has not been my experience and never will be now. There was some intense feeling around this that I wanted to explore though, to understand my own vehemence and the reactions of other women.
Separately from that discussion, I picked up a book lying around in one of my rooms, Tantric Sex for Women by Christa Schulte. Christa is apparently a lesbian and writes from that perspective but the book is for ‘lesbian, bi, hetero, and solo lovers’. Over the weekend I had been playing some lesbian music, and was mulling over ‘Her Precious Logic’ sung by Barb Ester, which repeats the motif of ‘the blessings of precious woman’s love’ through figures of a ‘virgin’ (‘her seed on the wind blows, it seeks and carries the blessings of precious woman’s love’), a (mother? – unnamed) (‘glory to her for the joys of living, and praise be her power, her tender care’), and a (crone? – unnamed) (‘it’s her justice in motion, it’s your heart in devotion’). In much of Goddess spirituality, mother is sensual pleasure and desire, the gift of life as earthly paradise. The tantric approach to sexuality in Christa’s book, framed in a purely female sense without any need to accommodate males or their orgasms or functionality or dysfunction, is as simple as breathing once you are able to feel and welcome what gives you pleasure. It is of the utmost necessity to be able to set your boundaries for safety, to close doors, to refuse to be or to see yourself as as object for others’ pleasure or to deny yourself pleasure until or unless it serves someone else’s needs.
Women’s free sexuality is united with our intelligence and morality and our power in all respects – as Audre Lorde wrote in ‘The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power‘. We need to read and re-read that wonderful essay many times in our lives, but here is a part that speaks to me particularly now:
That self-connection shared is a measure of the joy which know myself to be capable of feeling, a reminder of my capacity for feeling. And that deep and irreplaceable knowledge of our capacity for joy comes to demand from all of my life that it b lived within the knowledge that such satisfaction is possible and does not have to be called marriage, nor god, nor an afterlife.
This is one reason why the erotic is so feared, and so often relegated to the bedroom alone, when it is recognized at all. Fo once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that the1 feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of. Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives. And this is a grave responsibility, projected from within each of us, not to settle for the convenient the shoddy, the conventionally expected, nor the merely safe.Audre Lorde, The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power
Hearing Judy Grahn read from her book Eruptions of Inanna some months ago, and in reading Heide Goettner-Abendroth’s book Matriarchal Societies, I was drawn to the connections between sacred sexuality and female power. It is exactly the opposite of patriarchal bioessentialism which treats us as a resource to be exploited ‘good for one thing only’ (and we all know what that is, and ‘good’ to whom: not ourselves). The power is a power of creative intelligence (as Paula Gunn Allen also emphasizes from a Laguna Pueblo perspective). Inanna is a lawgiver who sends her sacred raven out to look over the land and see what is wrong and needs fixing. How can she also be a goddess associated with sacred sexuality? The answer is, how can she not? as Audre Lorde’s essay explains beautifully, and as Christa Schulte’s book offers a way into, to know in our bodies if we aren’t already aware of this power within ourselves.
So, abortion. Right to absolutely, unaccountably to anyone else, decide to terminate a pregnancy while it is still a pregnancy, is fundamental to respect for women as human beings. Motherhood, and capacity for motherhood, are sacred powers of women and not a resource for men, or society, or children, or other women, to exploit or control. Our bodies are ourselves as the book of second wave feminism by that name said. Those who claim to valorize mothers or motherhood while pushing us back into male cages will find themselves deprived of the nurturance they claim to be seeking, and facing the wrath of awakened women.