The dark feminine
Reflections on the dark feminine and samskara
Launching my blog page and I feel empowered to have a vehicle for self expression and to explore and dive a little deeper into the mysteries and alchemy of yoga and healing modalities. I won’t be holding back here.
How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also If I am to be whole. C.G. Jung
Last week, I decided to join a course as a student (in itself an essential part of being a teacher and a teacher trainer.) The course was called ‘Feminine Flow’ taught by Silfath Sofia Pinto. Silfath is most definitely a woman of power. I admire her creativity, self expression and spontaneity. This is not a world of lineage and lists but the work is to liberate and access your sensual self; essentially to become more embodied and find your divine feminine flow. There are elements of sisterhood circle, discussion, moving mediation, dance (both dance routines and creative dance) and guided meditation. It is a magical modality. Here’s beautiful Silfath and her work:
I was expecting to find creative expression and really enjoy the fun and sensual element of the course, to feel free and liberated. There were moments of this on the course but it became an initiation into the ‘dark feminine’ and a little deeper and darker than I had anticipated.
Timing wise, the course coincided with the darker part of my monthly cycle – the pre-menstrum and bleeding stages. The stages where the darker side of the moon surface. Going deeply into expressive and sensual movement we access what is deep down and buried. When I started a yoga practice, I felt certain patterns, certain grooves in my own personal ‘record’ – a living embodied experience of samskara. According to Indian philosophy, every action or intention by an individual leaves a samskara (impression, impact or imprint) in the deeper structure of his or her mind. These impressions then await a manifestation in that individual’s future, in the form of hidden expectations and unconscious attitudes towards self-worth. These samskaras manifest as tendencies, karmic impulses or innate dispositions.
I remember a day on my 500 hour YTT 9 years ago of just complete breakdown, tears, meltdown all through a whole day of training. This is not the fun stuff but I have been thankful for hatha yoga and it’s initiation into the ‘release’ of patterns and I am certain that the commitment I’ve made to hatha yoga has liberated me from disease and serious depression.
I have realised that once I am comfortable in certain practices, my ego mind starts to relax into poses and postures and pranayama. I feel happier, more at ease with myself and the inner chat is quiet. However, if I shift into practices that are new then I go back to my default psychology. The feelings oscillate between fear of judgement, a feeling of awkwardness, a need to be ‘good’ at something (even if it’s new) and to receive approval from others (‘be liked’) with a hint of victim mentality and self sabotage. In a course, I also feel awkward to ‘take up too much space’ with this array of issues to be fair on others.
Doing Silfath’s course, was actually a teacher training. I had never practiced with her before and there was a bit of a daredevil spirit in the experiment. Right now in my life is an odd moment to explore more self development. I have plenty on my plate with my young children and my yoga work which thankfully has flourished in recent years. I am tired a lot and lots of things going on with my health – a rash I’ve had for months, eye infection etc etc. I have to say I did start regretting the decision to take the course when I realised it would be a one way route to the dark side! I often didn’t really feel I had the energy to dig around in my psychology and attended the course reluctantly.
As women, we often reduce ‘femininity’ to a sweet, beautiful, soft, sensual and floral note. Of course this is an aspect of the feminine. The website homepage photos are very much this energy. Silfath allows women to enter the world of beauty but she is not afraid of the full range of exploration and encourages us through music and stronger cueing to ‘go to these places’.
Exploring the world of the Maha Vidyas or the Wisdom Goddesses in my yoga work has been an opportunity to dive into the depth and breadth of the feminine. Meet Kali. The goddess of time. Kali’s wild dance expressed the dynamism of the cosmic process – intense, endless, dramatic. She is the force for evolution, she is both the fuel for the big bang and she is the cycle of impermanence. The severed head – cutting the ego and the sword cutting all bondage to the world. At the end of time Kali devours the devourer of time himself Shiva as Mahakala (great time). I think as mothers, we meet Kali in the birth experience. As the baby passes through the birth canal there is a primal ring of fire which we either embrace and jump through or recoil. It’s magical and primal. Beautiful in the deepest and most profound way.
Every month during the premenstrum we have the opportunity to explore the darker side of feminity – anger, rage, courage, passion – whatever arises. This is one of the critical parts of the cycle for women. We are invited to contemplate the dark moon, the great void, places of potential, of creative intention. The invitation is to see the darkness as a space of infinite possibility. Think of the womb space itself, as a dark and sacred space to explore hidden aspects of yourself.
I embrace the darkness within
I release all that is no longer needed to the fire of transformation
I am unafraid to bear witness to my shadow self
I honour my pain, my grief, my scars
I am in the natural cycle of death and rebirth
I honour my sensual, sexual, animal self
Affirmations from Christina, http://rawmojo.com.au/
Ultimately, we can burn through the scars of samskara. It will take courage and time. We must leave behind the impressions and expectations. Having consulted with a Vedic Astrologer last year, he asked me if I had gone into a different path to my peers and feel that I don’t fit in. Well yes, true enough. However, I have started aligning myself with my passions in life and following my instinct and this has bought me into abundance. However, there is still the sense of ‘controlling’ myself to fit the perceived expectations of others and to ‘do well’ and ‘be liked’.
In one potent moment on our course, after some discomfort with a dance routine we were asked to follow whilst being observed, I was asked to do the dance unwillingly. I was so uncomfortable, I found my body shaking and so much sadness and anger emerging. I then expressed this in the dance and it was according to the group ‘amazing’. It was a release, but didn’t stop me going into the same cycles of mind the next time we did the dance and I found myself being triggered by our lovely course member who was enjoying the sensual flow of the dance because I didn’t feel the same way about it.
I am in a time with my work where I am starting to explore new ways of being and getting the courage to do more powerful cathartic work. It’s a case of not holding back and not wondering, imagining family members responses what it looks like or conforming. De-channeling my inner ‘Victorian Brit’. I work alongside a powerful energy alchemist (my mentor Peewee) and I have started to feel the fire of kundalini energy potential. I have connected with a Master Yogi (Dr Pradeep Ullal) and know that there is a lot more awaiting for me on ‘a’ future yoga path. I often think of the late Psalm Isadora and well, yes, want to be more like her – to not care so much and break a few chains. Courage to rise!
More than any other goddess, Kali has the power to free you from what keeps you stuck…. She appears fearsome to those who fear letting go of their veils, but when we’re open to her power, she is the mother, the teacher, the Lover. Sally Kempton