Sexuality can be healing! That may sound odd – it goes against what most of us usually hear. So what does that really mean?

All of us experience sexual trauma on one level or another just by living in a culture that denies the beauty of sexual expression and yet uses sexual messages or innuendoes to sell almost anything. We are constantly exposed to mixed messages and then wonder why we feel confused.

Sexual healing is needed by everyone. There are many layers of negative cultural conditioning connected to sexuality that must be stripped away and replaced with the higher vibrations of light and love.

I have been interested in the sexual journeys and stories of women and in helping women heal their sexual wounds for the past 25 years. I believe that sexuality is an inherently sacred force, indistinguishable from the rest of our life energy – it is our essence, whether we are male or female. Living in a culture that denies women full sexual and spiritual expression causes women to feel estranged from their bodies and to harbor negative thoughts about everything female.

However, new energies are coming into the world and people are waking up. The awakening process involves dissolving the collective sexual shame we carry, releasing of old habits and patterns, and coming into a new awareness of our connection to the Divine, to each other, and to the earth. For women, this awakening includes reclaiming our spiritual authority. Part of this process is learning about the archetype of the Sexual Priestess and the Divine Feminine.

Marilyn is a 45-year-old woman who spent much of her adult life feeling unattractive, shy, and frequently like an outsider. It started after she was sexually abused by her father when she was young – a secret she never told anyone for years. She tried to deny her pain in many ways. Later in life she experienced a lack of interest in sex but was too embarrassed to talk about it. She also experienced weight gain, poor self-esteem, periods of depression, a bad marriage that ended in divorce and a series of unsatisfying relationships with men who were emotionally unavailable. She tried various therapies, most of which helped, but her feelings of inadequacy never went away.

By the time she reached 45, she had decided that a low level of sexual desire was just part of her personality, that men were not attracted to her because she was too "fat," and that she might never find the kind of relationship she desired in her heart.

Then Marilyn came across information about sexuality and the roles of women in ancient cultures and something resonated deep within her – a remembrance of something long ago buried, yet ever-present within, waiting to be awakened, embraced and celebrated…the eternal Feminine. She immediately felt the truth when she read that, long ago, sexuality and spirituality were viewed as one. There was no separation of body and spirit.

Creator of Life Force

The Divine Feminine was considered the creator of the Life Force and was worshipped as the Great Goddess for more than 25,000 years. Her qualities were expressed in the stories of the various gods and goddesses with a thousand names and faces. Women were seen as embodying Her on earth.

Female shamans facilitated the link between the community and the Great Goddess. In trance states created and expressed through sacred rituals and dance, the shamanic priestesses channeled the creative energy of the Goddess into the material world, thus opening the connections between the individual, the group and the cosmic source. It was especially through the sacred act of sexual love that women came into the direct presence of the Goddess. In these ways, they honored the Goddess and connected to Her through divine union.

Around 3000 B.C., goddess-worshipping cultures everywhere endured the invasions of tribes of war-like, male-dominated nomads. These groups subdued the people, cast out the dominant Goddess religion, and, instituted the power of the masculine. Male rulers and priests consolidated their power and ousted the sacred priestesses from the temples.

As the status of Goddess worship declined, so did the status of women. With patriarchy came the need to control female sexuality so that lines of paternity could be confirmed. Goddess worshipping, with its exaltation of sexuality, had to be suppressed in order for patriarchy to take hold. Ownership of property now formed the economic basis of men’s power. All women were publicly designated as property of men and were expected to practice chastity before marriage and be faithful and obey their husbands after marriage, Women were taught to hide their beauty and energy by dressing modestly and being reserved in their manner. Women who went against societal norms and openly expressed their sexuality and their desire for independence were ridiculed and ostracized, and sometimes even murdered. The belief in male superiority can still be seen in most societies in the world today.

The essence of Love

When Marilyn read these words, she instantly realized her life had been governed by these old beliefs and structures. She longed to free up the essence of Love which had been suppressed in order to cover up her deep pain. She saw that men had been negatively impacted by patriarchy as well, and that everyone suffered as a result. She became interested in finding a spiritual path that would help heal her wounds, wake up her senses, fill her with light and positive energy, surround her with loving friends, and let her express her feminine essence in powerful ways that included men. That is when the door opened to the Sexual Priestess Process.

What does it mean to be a Priestess in today’s world, especially a Sexual Priestess? Every woman is already a priestess in her own life – in her Highest Self she knows what she needs to create a fulfilling life. Women who are ready to take the next step on the journey of sexual healing might want to explore the role of the Sexual Priestess. This doesn’t mean to become a sacred servant in a temple. It means connecting with our internal Divine Feminine Energy in a personal empowerment process that is grounded in feminine spirituality and helps us remember, reclaim and acknowledge the ancient wisdom that lives within and is waiting to be expressed.

A contemporary Sexual Priestess is a woman who has cleared and cleansed old wounds and reclaimed her sexual innocence and wholeness. She has shared her personal story and felt supported within a safe and loving circle of women. She values her thoughts, feelings, opinions, and experiences, using her own innate feminine essence as her reference point. From this place of loving and accepting herself, she steps fully into her feminine power and can celebrate the life-force energy of the Goddess within.

The process for exploring the sacredness of feminine sexual energy is presented in a four-weekend workshop series entitled "The Divine Feminine Unfolding." Temple space is created and a safe, sacred circle is facilitated so that women can reclaim their inner Sexual Priestess. Activities throughout the series include dance and movement, meditation, personal sharing and storytelling, breathwork, journaling, ritual, inner reflection, bodywork, art, sacred sexual healing techniques and pampering.

When Marilyn finished the workshop series she was amazed at the difference in herself! She connected to her deepest nature and discovered the original blessing and sensuous joy of being woman. She can no longer be made to feel less than beautiful and whole.

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Candessa Hadsall, R.N., M.A., is a counselor, sexuality educator, transformational guide and the founder of Ms. LaVie's School of Loving Arts in Minneapolis. For details on her 4-weekend workshop series for women, "The Divine Feminine Unfolding," call 612.825.0886 or go to www.mslaviesschool.com. For more information on Shamanic Priestess Process circles, contact Patricia Montgomery, 651.270.7695, www.womangrace.com or Carol Savage, 612.483.6269. Copyright © 2008 Candessa Hadsall. All Rights Reserved.

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