When girls are too strong

I left my home town when I was in my early 20s. I’m surprised it took me that long to leave.

Since then, I’ve lived in a different city in the same country, and in two other cities in other countries. But the crux of it all is I couldn’t stay in my home town. I was the cuckoo that had to leave the nest.

Our parents expectations of who we are and who we will be don’t stop when we become adults.

My parents wanted a daughter who would be pretty, feminine, traditional – and go on in life to do pretty, feminine, traditional things.

I was the exact opposite.

Born that way…

When a child arrives and they’re not who – and what – we expect and desperately want them to be, things get difficult. Especially for the child, if the parents insist on trying to mould them into becoming something they can never be.

There’s a reason why so many gay kids leave their home town, moving far away. I’m not gay, but in the same way as gay kids often do in traditional families, I didn’t meet expectations.

I was too strong to change who I was. The only way I could be true to who I am was to leave.

When a home is not a home

The best thing I ever did was leaving home. Looking back, I only wish I could have left before I even became an adult, had that been possible. My parents are good people, but my home was fiercely patriarchal.

Even now, when I go home to visit, I’m very much at the bottom of the pecking order. It’s expected that I’ll help with the household chores (together with my mother and brother’s wife), while my father and brother sit and drink whisky.

This isn’t a home in which I feel wanted, welcome or equal. I don’t feel loved there, or accepted for who and what I am. I feel like my parents try really hard, but that’s it – they’re just trying to love me.

My failure to accept my patriarchal roots was an expression of my own inner strength and who I truly am, which was only given a chance to develop once I left home and was no longer stifled.

Once I left home, I went on to become a community leader, a mentor to other women, an internationally-performed composer, a competitive athlete. A woman of strength. A person with purpose.

Why women are not equal yet

Again and again, I see articles in the media querying why women haven’t risen to equality across the board in society. After all, the articles argue, we achieved theoretical equality in the 1970s – surely it has been long enough since then?

Surely one generation should easily be able to erase the inequality of thousands of years of entrenched abuse and inequality? That’s not much! It can’t be that hard!

I know the answer: we’re still dealing with the legacy of inequality. We’re still unequal. We’re teaching what we knew ourselves to our daughters and sons.

I see it in the women who are spoken over in conversation, I see it in the absence of movies and media about women, I see it even in the programming club where I volunteer, and among the 9-12 year olds I teach only 1 of 15 is a girl, because it doesn’t occur to local parents that their daughters might like to learn how to program. Or be good at it.

We’re passing on a legacy of misogyny. It cuts to the core.

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Why strong girls leave home

Girls leave home when it ceases to support them. They don’t come back because there’s nothing to come back for. I moved cities because, away from home, I could finally be myself without my parents criticising everything I did. It felt like a breath of fresh air.

When I return home for visits, every two years or so, yet again I feel that stifling, patriarchal, controlling weight holding me down and crushing my spirit.

Family dynamics can be difficult, especially when you don’t fit in with your family’s expectations. In anyone else’s world I’d be a success: I’m a professional woman, I’ve achieved in my career and in my hobbies, I’ve made a positive difference for so many people.

But what I wanted to do and be just didn’t fit in with what my family wanted. I was never going to be subservient and feminine. I was never going to be the pretty girl. I was never going to be the perfect daughter – an exact copy of my mother, minus all her mistakes. I was always going to be my own person. I think that came as a shock.

Raising girls is just raising little humans

Our society has a real problem in raising girls, especially non-traditional girls. We’re fine with girls who want to follow traditional paths, and who are beautiful in traditional ways, but we struggle with women who want to be soldiers, or bodybuilders, or engineers, or programmers.

Or even with women who just want to speak their minds.

We do our best to push and shove our girls into a tiny box labelled “acceptable” and anything else we don’t know what to do with. It’s time we started accepting our daughters – especially our strong, unique, powerful daughters – as amazing human beings in their own right.

It’s time we honoured their strength.

It’s time we welcomed them home.

Paganism and simplicity

When a lot of Pagans start out, they get a bit of the “gear witch” vibe about them.

They buy stuff. Lots and lots and lots of stuff.

In the Pagan community, there’s so much stuff to be had, so many fabulous tools and toys. It can all be a bit overwhelming. And if you like to spend and possess and have lovely things, it can be real easy to start collecting a lot of stuff.

I went through this, and a lot of my friends did too. Tarot sounds interesting, so you collect a few tarot decks plus some books on the subject. Runes sound great too, so before you know it you have a few sets of rune stones and some books about them too.

You figure you must have a Wand (everyone knows a you’re not a Real Pagan[TM] unless you have a Wand!!!) and you must have a Blade (because they’re cool too, and a Blade has different energy).

Before you know it, you’re eyeing off those fancy swords online and wondering which you can afford. Or how many. Maybe a collection. Yeah…a collection would be great.

It all adds up, and builds up, and when you add the candles and bells and Tibetan singing bowls and God and Goddess figurines and chalices and cauldrons to the collection, no wonder so many Pagans are drowning in stuff! Plus the clothes – you feel like, as a newbie, the right ritual robes and capes will give you pagan “street cred”.

So you buy, buy, buy.

It’s all very addictive. And very, very easy to do.

And very, very wrong.

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Paganism comes from within

All the stuff in the world won’t make a person a Pagan. Which is a good thing. We’re a bit selective like that! Likewise, I’d argue that any path that encourages you to buy and own lots of stuff is a fool’s path.

You’ll find lots of Pagans with lots of fancy stuff all around the world…and they’re usually the silliest Pagans of the lot. They’ve forgotten that the Divine is immanent. Within us. It can’t be bought or sold.

The more stuff you collect, the harder it is to focus on the inner self, your connection with the Divine, and what really matters. Fancy stuff is just a temptation; a lure. A diversion from the truth.

A diversion from the truth.

prince

We all know that of course. It’s written clearly in one of the most valued early texts in modern Paganism, which is the Charge of the Goddess:

    “…If that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee.

    For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.”

You won’t find Paganism in stuff, and you certainly won’t find Divinity. All the tools, and toys, and robes are just props.

You could even call them diversions for the weak-minded. They help set the scene for those who can’t focus without them. They hold no real power by themselves. Only living matter can do that: living energy.

That’s what we Pagans do: channel energy; create energy; focus energy. A wand in the end is just a stick. A blade in the end is just a hunk of metal. This is the real truth. Connection to the Divine comes from within, not from these lifeless things.

If you want to find the Divine, get rid of everything that isn’t essential. Then you will find what you truly seek.

aphrodite4

I’m not a partial human! Sidelined and disappeared…

I’ve always felt like a complete human. No matter whether you’re male or female, or what race or culture you’re from, I’m guessing you have too. Not a partial human.

So today I want to talk about this.

I'm sure there was *ANOTHER* Avenger...
I’m sure there was *ANOTHER* Avenger…

And this.

I seem to recall there being *FIVE* "Guardians"...
I seem to recall there being *FIVE* “Guardians”…

And this.

Something strange is going on here...ummm...do I remember an Avender in a black outfit called "Black" something...Black, black..it's clearly slipped everyone's mind...
Something strange is going on here…ummm…do I remember an Avenger in a black outfit called “Black” something…Black, black..it’s clearly slipped everyone’s mind…

And this.

Here's what to do. If you need to sideline or "disappear" a character, simply double over with more socially palatable characters.
Here’s what to do. If you need to sideline or “disappear” a character, simply double over with another white male character.

And this.

Looks like a bizarre racoon creature is more palatable than some genders of human...
Looks like a bizarre racoon creature is more palatable than some genders of human…

And I won’t even comment on this, which is so awful it just makes me furious.

The t-shirt in Disney girlswear on the left, and boyswear on the right.
The t-shirt in girlswear on the left, and boyswear on the right. This sucks.

Very occasionally, we won’t be “disappeared” but we’ll very definitely be sidelined…

Who is that character with the red hair in the far right? They couldn't possibly be a REAL Avenger! It's clear from their lack of space in the pic that they're a "helper", and "assistant" character, possibly only "eye candy" for the real stars, the males...
Who is that character with the red hair in the far right? They couldn’t possibly be a REAL Avenger! It’s clear from their lack of space in the pic that they’re a “helper”, and “assistant” character, possibly only “eye candy” for the real stars, the white males…(notice the other sidelined character on the extreme left)

Sidelined and disappeared…

I want to point out a few facts now.

We’re nearly 50% of the tickets. Women make up nearly 50% of movie sales at comic book movies (one recent survey suggested the figure of 44%). We’re a BIG market, not a tiny percentage of viewers and attendees and fans.

Women are attending ComicCons in large numbers. This year’s San Diego Comic-Con had 40% female attendance. These events aren’t all white male antisocial geeks from basements. The crowds have changed, if they ever were that stereotype to start with.

Women buy stuff. We want to buy merchandise, and we want that merchandise to feature our favourite characters. Not some of them. ALL of them.

We want fairness. Women are increasingly pissed at the way we’re being sidelined in comics. We want our female characters, and we’re pissed that they’re not appearing as the STARS of movies.

We want to be seen as real people. Women are also pissed at the way we’re being overly sexualized in comics and the movies that spring from them. We want accurate, diverse representation. We want to be seen as real, whole people, with real strengths and weaknesses, and real stories to tell. Because that is what we are.

Most of all, we don’t want to be seen as things. We want to be seen as people.

Speaking for myself and my daughter…and my daughter’s generation

It’s not hard to write real, strong women. Just write us as people, because that’s what we are. We screw up, we have frailties. We’re not governed by our relationships all the time. We are goal driven a lot of the time, especially if you’re writing a hero character.

Women can be heroes. Often we are.
Women can be leaders of men. Often we are.
Women can be strong, yet still completely feminine and powerful and amazing and uniquely beautiful. Often we are.

Even in real life, when I look at some of the strongest people I know, my mind often travels to the women I know rather than the men. We don’t typically hold higher career positions, because of the boundaries and limits that society has set us, but heck, we can be powerful.

So don’t sideline us. Don’t “disappear” us. It’s offensive and nasty and cheap and hurtful. It’s degrading and demeaning to some of the most incredible people I know.

Sure, these are superheroes I’m giving as examples, and you could claim it doesn’t matter. But it does. We all need our role models. We all need to believe we could be that hero on the screen. We all need to believe that we too can be the “chosen one”, the hero with a destiny greater than we thought possible.

We all need to dare to dream. Give us our dreams. We deserve them.

Voluntary simplicity – the anchor and the albatross

Never say that a Priestess of Aphrodite isn’t busy, because I’ve been flat out!

My house is currently undergoing renovations, so naturally I thought it would be a great idea to have a big clear out of old stuff at the same time. It’s odd how renovations get you in the mood to clear out the clutter, isn’t it? It’s even odder how much clutter tends to build up over time – especially when you have kids.

But I’ve been really enjoying the sense of release that comes with selling stuff I just don’t use any more. A lot of old books are going, and a lot of old bone china, that for some reason I thought I just had to have when I was younger. Now I’m older, I look at it a bit the same way you might look at an albatross around your neck – it’s weighing me down, sapping my energy, and I just long to be free of the stuff.

So out it goes.

albatross

The older I get, the less STUFF I seem to need. And the less attraction STUFF has for me.

When I was in my twenties, I really wanted to collect belongings, gather my identity. Now I’ve come to realise that my identity comes from being who I am – not from what I might happen to possess.

These days, I’m far more interested in going places and meeting people than in owning things. I understand the lure of voluntary simplicity. I want to scale my life down, remove the clutter, and relax.

Be free.

We humans are moss-gatherers. We like our security blankets of possessions – clothing, furniture, homes, tools. Stuff. It tells the world who we are, our status, our value.

However, I can’t help thinking that I don’t give a damn what value other people place on me. I’m a successful woman. I know my own value. I don’t need others to calculate it for me – and anyone who does calculate my value based on how much junk I happen to possess is a bit weak in the mind anyway.

So here I am, clearing the junk, getting rid of the flotsam and jetsam I’ve collected in my life, and I’m not missing any of it as it goes out the door to new owners.

All I can feel is the weight lifting off my shoulders.

aphrodite4

Same sex marriage laws change in the UK – and the Churches get all confused

With the change in laws allowing same sex marriages to take place in the United Kingdom, the first marriages have taken place.

gaymarriageuk

Not everyone is happy of course. The Churches are looking all confused – on the one hand preaching that “God is love” while on the other hand saying, “wee-eeeell, maybe God is love – but not quite for all people. Not for you gay people over in the corner, anyway.”

And the politicians who, in not too distant memory were all iffy and uffy about same sex marriage, now rush in their full acceptance of the cause, saying, “We were on your side all along! Yes, really!”

Then there are groups who claim that same-sex marriage will persecute traditional marriage types. I’m not sure how – and neither are they, as they don’t quite specify the details – but they’re vehement on the matter.

Vaguely familiar

The thing is, all this denying and delaying and complaing and whinging about being persecuted sounds eerily familiar. The same complaints were heard, and the same arguments, every time a persecuted minority (or majority) has gained rights.

The same arguments were used against the civil rights movement in the US (didn’t you know whites are discriminated against?), and the same against women rights (men are being persecuted now – didn’t you know?). It’s the same old line, used over and over.

It never held water then, and it doesn’t now.

Australia is a backwater

My home country of Australia is starting to look more and more like a backwater of human rights. I’m embarrassed. I’m living in New Zealand now, but I follow the Aussie news, and I feel ashamed that Australia hasn’t led the way on this issue. Especially when so much of the population is clearly in favour. It seems like the politicians have stopped listening to the people. Or maybe that happened a while back…

But you can’t stop change. The Churches in the UK are against this, but popular opinion is changing so swiftly in favour of this issue that they’ll soon be left behind, if they aren’t already. Just one more way in which mainstream religions are losing touch with popular culture.

These are interesting times we live in. I think there are some issues that are changing a little too fast for my liking, such as the amount of violence on TV and film. But other issues, such as rights for minorities, can’t change fast enough.

What do you think?

Aphrodite: the Goddess of sluts and whores

There’s been a lot of name calling going on in politics at the moment.

prudewhore

Apparently, women who have sex are sluts. Especially if we have sex outside of marriage. Even if we have sex inside of marriage sometimes.

But I want to ask – why? Why the emphasis on women? And if women who have sex are sluts and whores, surely men are too?

I guess that means that our mothers are sluts. And our grandmothers. And the Queen is a slut. And pretty much any women who didn’t remain a nun.

Name calling in the playground!

When I think back on primary school, I remember that kids used to call each other names a lot. And it was all about pecking order, and putting people into their social rank.

Names were used to make people feel bad about themselves. Names were used to put people down. Names were especially used by people in power to keep those who didn’t have the power from having any.

So you’d get the bullies name-calling the loser kids. And the jocks name-calling the nerds. And the popular kids name-calling the unpopular kids. Never the other way around.

So we had a nerdy kid who people labelled “Eugene” and gave him a hard time. And a girl we called “craterface” because she had bad skin. And a friend of mine used to get called “red pubes” by a group of guys because she had red hair and, well, they liked to make her feel uncomfortable.

Pleasant stuff. Real intelligent too. But it did it’s job: it made those without power feel worse, and those with power feel even more powerful. It kept those lower down the power hierarchy in their place.

And now we have grown up men calling women who have sex – and, let’s face it, the vast majority of women do have sex, so they’re by association name-calling all of ussluts and whores.

Then they act all surprised when this is the result:

slutwalk1

And this:

slutwalk2

And this:

SlutWalk March In London

I love sex! OMG I’m a slut! And a whore!

I love sex. I really enjoy it, and yes, I’ve had sex with a lot of men in some people’s estimation. And a fair number of women.

I’m a slut! OMG! Kill me now! LOL.

I suppose, if you stretch things a little, I might even technically be a whore, because some of the guys bought me dinner beforehand. So I was PAID (in food) for sex, if you want to get nitpicky.

OMG OMG!

I have no regrets (well, there was this one guy who was pretty awful and had no clue…lol), and am proud of everything I did. It was consenting, and fun, and I enjoyed most of it.

I’m an adult, and I have the right to do what I want with my body. I believe that others have the right to do what they want with their bodies too.

If Aphrodite is the Goddess of beauty and love, then She is also the Goddess of sluts and whores. Which in some peoples eyes is all women.

I don’t understand why or how some people can hate women that much. I suspect it’s a combination of bad sex and too little of it, or maybe just lots of rejection by women in their lives. I feel sorry for them for that, but they’re not going to improve matters by hating women for their miserable sex lives.

In the meanwhile, I’m going to stand proud, as a slut and a whore, along with all my friends who are also sluts and whores, and continue to fight for our rights to do with our own bodies as we wish.

Oxygen mask

In the safety guidelines on every airline, flight attendants tell us in the event of an emergency to attend to our own oxygen mask before helping others.

oxygen-mask

But in everyday life, how often do we give to others before giving to ourselves?

I’ve had a friend staying with me for a couple of days. She’s a mum and wife, just like me. Two young kids. And we’ve been spending a couple of days fossicking through little shops, having a lovely time.

But one of the most interesting conversations was one we had about buying for ourselves.

She admitted that she rarely buys for herself. When she goes shopping, she’ll spend money on her partner and her children, but not on herself.

I used to be the same. And my mother is the same. She’ll buy beautiful gifts for everyone in the family, but somehow feels guilty if she buys anything really nice for herself. She’ll buy clothes and lovely items for the grandkids, but never for herself. Cosmetics for me – I’m swimming in them already, but I always receive more – but nothing for herself.

And I remember how, when I was a kid, she’d always serve everyone before herself, and if any part of the meat or meal was burned or broken or damaged, she’d give that portion to herself. She got the poorer portion; we got the best bits.

Heal yourself first

We women in particular have been raised to do this.

We’re taught that we’re somehow not as worthy to receive stuff as good. If we pick out the best serving on the plate for ourselves we get frowned upon, but should a male do it nobody says anything.

Carry the whole thing further, and you can see how this relates to women being socialised to taking up less physical space, and the pressure on women to be small, petite, skinny, and the eating disorders so many suffer as a result.

I think there’s a lot of healing to be done, and it begins with cherishing ourselves as Goddess. Honouring the bodies we possess, accepting that we have value. That we have worth. That we deserve the best portion equally. That we deserve a fair share.

That we need to attend to our own oxygen mask first.

I’m not suggesting for one moment that healing can be found in buying ourselves stuff – quite the opposite – but that we need to see ourselves as worthy. And that we need to let go the guilt and say, yes, sometimes it’s okay to buy that expensive dress if we want it. Or have that serving of dessert.

Fix your own oxygen mask first. Take care of yourself first. If you don’t, who will?

But but but…Gods and Goddesses don’t exist!

    “I choose to worship a Goddess whose very essence embraces what I am, as a woman.”

So you’re an atheist. Good for you.

Or an agnostic. That’s a cool choice as well.

Or you just haven’t made up your mind, but one thing you’re not sure about is how these ancient Greek Gods and Goddesses could possibly fit in with today’s modern world. They don’t fit in with the scientific view. I mean, where the hell is Mount Olympus anyway?

In case you were wondering, by the way, Mount Olympus is a real place. It’s the tallest mountain in Greece, and you can read about it here. Here’s a picture of it:

800px-Mount_Olympus_from_Litochoro

The thing is, the Greek Gods and Goddesses fit in really well with modern society. You can view them – as a lot of people do – as a set of archetypes, or ideas. Or you can view them as real people. It’s up to you.

Making choices

One thing is, they’re very real to read about. Take the time to read the myths, and the characters of the Gods and Goddesses jump out at you. They make sense. You can imagine them bickering, and not getting along at times, just like human families do. They’re understandable. They’re something we can grasp. They make sense.

So you can either choose to view Aphrodite as a personification of a set of ideas – an ideology bundled up into the form of a Goddess. Or you can choose to accept the Goddess as a whole, real entity – a living, breathing being that actually exists.

It’s your decision, just as the decision to believe or not is yours.

For me, Aphrodite is very real. I found that once I started accepting her as real, and her influence upon my life as real, the magic started happening. Some of the ways she has changed my life are deeply personal, but all are powerful. She is a tranformative Goddess – when she enters your life, she will change it. Every aspect of your life will be transformed and renewed.

It’s all too much codswallop!

And if you simply accept her as an archetype, as a bundle of ideas?

She can be useful in that respect too. If you look at what she represents: feminine power, the acceptance of our sexuality, the belief that it is okay – more than okay – to be beautiful. That to be a woman is not a sin, but something that can be wonderful, and powerful, and dynamic.

These are powerful, useful ideas, and very pertinent to the here and now.

What Aphrodite is and does

Aphrodite shows us that women can be decision-makers, that we can control relationships, that we can control our own futures and our own bodies. We have these rights, they are ours. They always have been.

And that we have power over men. This is a BIG concept to grasp, and the power of Aphrodite resides right at its core.

The reason feminine sexuality has been hidden away is precisely because it gives us power over men. This is why female sexuality is denigrated in patriarchy. This is why Aphrodite and all that she stands for is so uncomfortable for so many.

Aphrodite teaches women to accept our power. Accept our power, and our bodies, and we accept ourselves.

Reveal our strength and our beauty, just as She revealed Hers when she stepped out of the sea at the beginning of time.

Aphrodite teaches us not to be afraid of our sexual and sensual selves, not to hide them or closet them away. She also teaches us not to deny that our physical and emotional and spiritual selves are one and the same. She throws away the break between physical and spiritual that the Christian churches emphasize, and shows that separation of physical and spiritual up for the cheap and shoddy misogynistic trick that it truly is.

Instead, and in opposition to the “physical world is sinful and broken” ideology, She revels in the sacredness of the body, and the sacredness of physical pleasure. And she gives us the power and the strength to do likewise.

Aphrodite’s gifts

Do the Gods and Goddesses exist? Perhaps. There is no proof either way. But I choose to worship a Goddess whose very essence embraces what I am, as a woman.

That choice makes me stronger, more beautiful, more powerful, more confident, happier and more joyful with every day that I live.

I think it is a good choice.

Botticelli. The Birth of Venus.
Botticelli. The Birth of Venus.

Madonnas and whores, and that awesome double standard

Are you a Madonna? Or a whore?

For a long time the whole Madonna-Whore Complex gave women two roles – we could be “pure” as wives, mothers and virgins. Or we were “dirty” as whores – women who enjoyed and appreciated sexual fulfilment.

prudewhore

Madonnas and whores – the two categories for women.

Nothing in between. The thought that sex could be a normal healthy part of a person’s (particularly a woman’s) life was, and is still, problematic for people who see women as either madonnas or whores, as pure or impure.

Because sex is such a massive stepping stone in the madonna-whore world, such a huge item of goods to be traded and sold by a woman’s father on her wedding day to the prospective husband, it can never be seen as a normal healthy thing that humans simply do because its enjoyable and natural.

In the Madonna-Whore world, virginity is of incredible importance. Without her virginity, a woman is worthless. Soiled. Trash.

And a man who has had sex with many women? Well…

fortunes-men

Have you ever noticed how there are so many words for a woman who has had sex (or a woman who people think has had sex) but there are very few for men?

slut

madonna-whore.xxlarge

The outcome of “sluts versus studs”

So we get the politicalisation of contraception – because only a whore would need it. Once a woman is married, her role becomes simply that of “Mother” or “Prospective Mother” and contraception is an unmentionable. Although almost all couples use contraception in modern society, it’s an unmentionable topic. People pretend it doesn’t happen.

And we get the politicalisation of abortion. Only a whore would abort. A “nice” pure girl doesn’t get pregnant in the first place (because she’s “abstinant”). And if she does (whoops!), she’ll marry the father and have her Happily Ever After.

Except life doesn’t always work out that way. And atheists have a lower divorce rate than religious couples. Hmmm…something seems to be going a bit wrong.

This very narrow view of women – as pure or impure, madonna or whore – stems from patriarchal religions, is tied up with the old worldview of women as chattel and property, and is directly at odds with the direction society is headed in. Hence the clash between the patriarchal churches and society at large.

And the churches are losing. You can see this very clearly in the political landscape in the United States at the moment, the likely collapse and fragmentation of the Republican party – it has aligned itself with the old, white, extreme right religious sects of society, and is finding it simply doesn’t have the numbers. Those numbers are reducing at a very rapid rate, reflecting the way society is changing.

So what’s happening?

Sex is coming out of the closet. That’s what’s happening.

Women are starting to talk about sex, we’re starting to proclaim loudly that it is natural to enjoy sex – with however many partners of whatever gender we wish – and that whatever sex we happen to enjoy does not value or devalue us as individuals. It is simply something we, as human beings, do.

The changes we’re seeing in society, and the death of the madonna-whore complex, are part of women’s movement towards full equality as human beings. That’s all it is.

A group of people cannot be equal as long as they continue to be put into boxes for their behaviour and stereotyped. The “purity” concept needs to die – and the sooner the better. Purity is a concept that should be attached to clean water, or safe food. Not to women and girls. Not to people. We’re not a commodity. We’re human beings.

Aphrodite is a Goddess who represents the sexuality and power of women. She is strong, and fearless – and yes, she is sexual, and sensual, and beautiful. That is why she is intensely uncomfortable for people who have traces of the Madonna-Whore complex instilled in them. Because we’ve been taught that sexuality should be secretive, that is doesn’t give us strength and power. Yet it does.

This is why I think women need to embrace Aphrodite and what she represents. Make peace with our beauty, our sexuality, our sensuality. Be proud to say we enjoy sex. With whomever we choose. In whatever way we wish. Our bodies are our own to use as we desire.

That is why we do the Slut Walks, and why we support the womens shelters. That is why we do NOT bitch against other women, or criticise them for their sexual choices. That is why we support the right to choose, and the right to have safe, freely accessible contraception. Because all of these things are about the right to control our own bodies.

I’m no Madonna. I’m no whore. I’m a human being. And so is every other woman on this planet. It’s time to throw the boxes out the window. None of us is pure, or impure. There is no such thing as virginity – I’m tossing that out too.

We’re all just women. And we’re amazing.

Guided Meditation: Power Meditation

There are many meditations in Akasha WitchCraft – this power meditation is just one of them.

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Prepare for this meditation by casting Circle, and removing shoes so that you are barefoot. Loosen any restrictive clothing and sit, preferably cross-legged, so that you are comfortable.

This meditation is best performed outside, in a quiet place where there will be no interruptions.

Begin the meditation:

Start by closing your eyes, and slowing your breathing. Breathe gently in through the nose, and out through the mouth. In…out…in…out…Feel the earth beneath your body, and be aware of the life all around you.

Know that you do not live on the earth, but in Her. Touch the earth with your hands. Feel the connection.

Visualise drawing power from the air. With every breath, draw in the power of communication. Every breath is a link between your body, mind and spirit, and the bodies, minds and spirits of every being around you. Slow your breathing, and with every breath feel the connection between all that breathes in the earth – animals, insects, plants – even the tiny beings that live in your eyelashes and on your skin.

Know the connection between all living things and you. Feel the pulse of intelligence around you. You are connected by thought, my consciousness, by breath, and by the meaning that each and every being finds within its own life. With every breath, draw power from the air, draw the power of air.

Know your birthright. Know the power of air. Feel it in your mind, your spirit, your blood, your bones.

Visualise drawing power from the Earth’s spirit. With every breath, with every heartbeat, draw in the power of fire. This is the power of passion, lust, creativity. It is the power of daring to take a stand, to honour the Earth with all that you do.

To respect the lives around you and love those you know not just for their strengths, but for their flaws. To honour all beings for their uniqueness, for their differences. Feel the strength within you growing as you take sustenance from the earth. Honour the earth, and take time to thank Her for giving you this chance to live.

Be thankful. Consider ways in which you can be passionate in aspects of your life. Consider ways in which you can give back to the earth, to balance what you take. Consider the challenges that might lie ahead in your life and be aware that as long as you feel the connection, you will be strong enough and daring enough to meet those challenges.

With every breath, with every heartbeat, draw power from the flame within that is your spirit. Know your birthright. Know the power of fire. Feel it in your mind, your spirit, your blood, your bones.

Visualise drawing power from the water around you. Water is in the air, in the ground, in your body. It is the gift of life, it creates life, it sustains life. With every breath, with every heartbeat, with every wave of energy coursing through your body, draw in the power of water.

This is the power of emotion, sensing, perception, psychic energy and awareness. It is the power of connection by empathy. Be aware of the beings around you, of the beings that live on this fragile planet. Feel the life around you as your body drinks in moisture from the earth, from the air. Consider the value of clean water and fresh, clear seas.

Focus on the creatures that swim in the seas and live in the rivers. Know that water is more precious than gold – it is the life-blood of the Earth our Mother. With every breath, with every heartbeat, with every wave of energy coursing through your body, draw power from the water of the Earth.

Know your birthright. Know the power of water. Feel it in your mind, your spirit, your blood, your bones.

Visualise drawing power from the earth beneath you. The earth beneath you is silence, darkness, richness, depth. It is warm and cold, moist and dry, desert and swampland. Every millimetre of the earth is different from the next. The earth is our mother – we live on Her and in Her, and when we die we return to Her.

Consider the earth beneath you. Consider the nameless, miniature creatures that make their way through particles of soil. Consider the flow of underground rivers, and the cold air of underground caverns. Consider the tree roots that bend and weave through the soil, drawing power and strength from the earth.

Be aware of the strength that the earth gives you. Be aware of the food with which the earth nourishes you. With every breath, with every heartbeat, with every wave of energy coursing through your body, with every movement, draw power from the Earth.

Know your birthright. Know the power of Earth. Feel it in your mind, your spirit, your blood, your bones.

Gently come back to here and now. Take time to open your eyes when you are ready.