Eros, Love, & Real Power

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Existence is relationship and you are smack in the middle of it. ~ Alan Watts

 

Eros

I am in a deep exploration of Eros. I suppose I have been for quite a while. It was showing up through me – in my photographs and writing – but now I am making a conscious decision to move into a thoughtful, open, inquiring exploration of what this form of love truly is. It is calling me.

Eros is love. It is joy. It is beauty and deep feeling. And it is power…

I’ve been writing a lot about power: the kind of power we see today in our culture and the kind of power that is beginning to take hold in our world that is truly a form of love, a form of Eros. I see these two expressions of power from a relational perspective, for all of life is relational.

Power Over

The power we witness in our culture today is what I call ‘power-over’. Power-over is hierarchical and is characterized by domination and control. In our cultural systems, those in power are held higher in privilege and worth than those who are not. Those who are in power are supreme over those who are not. Those holding up the power structure are those who have power, whether it be through positions of power or unearned privilege.

This is finite power in a closed-loop system. It’s a zero-sum game. Why? It is a systemic power granted by and held within this specific system. The system grants it depending on how high you rank in the system. But there’s a catch. It’s ultimately not true power in the larger reality because there is a greater source of power than power-over.

Power-over is based on control because to believe that this is true power one must ignore the truth that life is really in control – that life is the greater source of power. Think about it. Within our culture, we do not entertain the truth about death (part of life). We push it into some kind of ignorant oblivion. As long as we refuse to see death and its power, and to see the power of nature itself, those in charge and in power of our cultural systems can pretend that they are all powerful beings, which they are doing on a continual basis.

Power-from-within

But there is another form of power emerging. It is power-from-within. Power-from-within is also a systemic power but within a different system – the system of life, whether it be the whole of life or one’s individual life. Over the past decades, people have been becoming more conscious and doing the work to heal wounds and become clearer about who they truly are. What we’ve been doing is waking up to our power-within. Not everyone is doing this, but so many are. And it’s shifting things.

Within one’s own internal system, there is a flow of life force that comes from Source. It is a steady flow through the body while we are alive. The internal world is the world of the feminine, the world of soul. When the feminine rises within, there is a movement to know and live our power-from-within – our naturally creative, life force power – into the physical world.

The thing about power-from-within is that when we live it, we are no longer living solely in flow with the status quo. The power that flows from source is intelligence that is alive. It is fueled with intelligence that knows something more than any one human being, or two, or even three, could know. This intelligence is tied to the whole of life.

Power-from-within is Eros. It is deep creativity. Power-from-within is the expression of this love into the physical world of matter. 

Now you know why Eros has been made to be something to fear or something that is only sexual in nature because if we fear our source of true power, we will stay within the power-over dynamic, even if we are in the ‘under’ position.

Eros is definitely orgasmic, but then orgasmic experiences are, again, found in so much more than just sex.

Power-with

Power-with is when I am living power-from-within alongside you living your power-from-within. Power-with is generative. When I live power-from-within, I take nothing from you. I don’t dominate you. I don’t try to control you. In actuality, the reverse happens. When I live power-from-within and you witness this happening, the awareness of your own power source begins to be awakened in you.

Eros

So here’s the thing. Alan Watts wrote, “Existence is relationship and you are smack in the middle of it.” In order to navigate and negotiate power-over structures from a power-from-within approach, we must come to remember that we are smack in the middle of life itself. A power-over system is not the ‘big’ system of life. It is pretending that it has that power, but it does not. When we come deeper into the real relationship with life and know ourselves wholly from this place, we can then see these power-over structures for what they are. It does not mean they go away, but we can navigate them differently with this generative life-affirming power.

We navigate them differently through Eros and our relationship with Nature and the Earth. Earth becomes our foundation. We begin to weave our power-from-within together.

We become resourceful and resilient, together.

Eros is love. It is deep feeling. It is beauty and joy. It is pleasure. It is life moving through life, asking life to blossom fully. This is the love we can embody in order to bring a new world into being. Eros connects us and when we are connected we are much more powerful in responding to the power-over structures.

When sleeping women wake, mountains move. – Chinese proverb

It is time to awaken to our power-from-within. To do so, we must go within. That is the task at a hand and we are up for it.

***

This is what I do in my coaching. I guide you to awaken to Eros, to your power-from-within. I then walk with you as you begin to live this in the world. I’d love to be your coach.

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The world will heal when women’s hips speak freely again.

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The music pulses and my hip responds.
It’s my right hip.
She’s clearly talking.
She’s got something to say.
She’s been silent for eons, but now she’s awake.

Hips can be like that.
Especially women’s hips.
They can hold onto words not said, impulses not acted upon, and instincts not honored.
Until, one day, they wake up.

The music is all drums and she begins to thrust.
Just drums.
Just beat.
The drums speak her language and she’s deep in conversation.

Hips and pelvis are sacred territory.
All around the sacrum, deep in the pelvic bowl, lies the glorious instinctive feminine.
She sways and thrusts, drawing divine infinity marks with rhythmic precision.

Her mother tongue is ancient.
No words, just movement.

She’s asserting herself.
She’s uncoiling eons of serpent-like wisdom and sensuality.

She guides me to the wall and makes it clear I must dance against it.
Palms pressed hard against the wood slats, I can feel her power undulating and spiraling out.
It’s as if my entire body wants to experience this power in its cells – all the way out the arms to the tips of my fingers, out my legs to where my toes meet the ground.

She talks and talks and talks.
After centuries of silence, she has much to say.
She’s not going back.
She’s awake now.
She knows her medicine is good medicine.

She knows the world will heal when women’s hips speak freely again.

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Rise Sister – Unplugging Your Power

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Unplugging our Power

Lately, I’ve been having some incredible conversations about power with other women. I find it fascinating what this five letter word points to for so many of us, and how unconscious our power dynamics can be.

In a culture based on a kind of power-over dynamic, a hierarchical sense of what power means, it is an act of love and service to unplug from this dynamic and instead discover the autonomous state of offering one’s vital force to life itself. Our vital force, our life force that is at the heart of our creativity, sexuality, joy and expression is sacred and to offer it in the service of life is to live one’s power as an autonomous being. And, the paradox is that it isn’t really our power at all…it is simply the expression of life moving as you.

As Adyashanti writes,

“True autonomy is not trying to fit in or be understood, nor is it a revolt against anything. It is an uncaused phenomenon. Consciously or unconsciously all beings aspire to it, but very few find the courage to step into that infinity of aloneness.

I know I’ve uncovered so many of the ways in which I give my power away in exchange for something I believe I need. The more I become aware of these power bonds and begin to unplug myself from them, the more I feel my own vital force moving within me, and the more creativity, joy and autonomy I feel in my own life. When I am plugged into power dynamics, I am squandering this vitality as I trade it for ‘things’ I believe I need.

And, the more I move into this autonomy, the more I can feel alone. For me to come to know how I was giving it away, I had to be willing to let go of the very things I swore I could never let go of. There are still more, yet as I feel these bonds unplug, I am feeling deep gratitude, an organic longing to serve, and a quiet desire to simply be what I am.

You can listen to more on power, as well as forgiveness and letting go, here in my interview with Tricia Karp. It was a pleasure to speak with her.

Notice what you trade your power for.

Notice what you are plugged into that no longer serves you.

Notice what drains your power.

Notice what causes you to feel more alive, more true, more real, and more quietly joyful. 

Begin to unplug from that which you believe you need so that you can find it within yourself.

Rise Sister

I’m honored, truly honored, to share this song with you. When I first heard this song that Kandice wrote, inspired by my work here at Unabashedly Female, tears flowed. Her music and words encapsulate exactly what has been, and continues to be, at the heart of my work in the world. One day, we will know a sisterhood so strong, so solid, and so loving, that the earth will feel herself wrapped in the arms of all of her sisters, and all of life will know it is held in the lap of the Mother.

Kandice has a beautiful voice, an uncanny ability to write songs that are infused with love and deep meaning. You can find more of Kandice’s music and creative offerings here and follow her on Twitter. In Kandice’s words:

I write songs and share them with the world (a.k.a. YOU).

I am pursuing a dream that is won’t stop pursuing me. I create songs with high vibrations and inspirational uplifting intention. I write specially commissioned songs for creative entrepreneurs, which makes my heart soar.”

 

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Softening into the Silk of the Soul

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“I burned in the unutterable beauty of being alive.” John Peale Bishop

The Vast Embrace

Last night, I sat on a park bench, on the top of a hill in San Francisco that looks out over Alcatraz and Angel Island on one side and sweet city neighborhoods on the other. I watched as dogs played, lovers walked hand in hand, and the sun found its way down to the horizon.

As I sat, I was drawn into an unutterable presence. No words. Just softness and a few tears. Wind blew across my face, gently drawing me deeper into this presence. A big presence. A wordless presence. A loving presence…a love that burns away most everything it touches. There was so much power there…a full, vibrant, pulsing power.

I felt happy. I felt joyful. I felt a bittersweetness.

I felt love brush against my skin and the silk of the soul’s caress.

::

My old way of trying to muscle stuff into being can’t hold a candle to this powerful presence. Muscling anything grows old. It has never made me happy. Whomever first thought that striving, pushing, forcing, fearing, and dominating life and people and things could result in a happy life was crazy…

Believing that life could be controlled and dominated and forced into submission is crazy-thinking. Perhaps it feels like it will work…at least for a bit. But, ultimately, not a chance.

What we humans do to try to control is cah-ra-zy. In setting it all down, we ultimately open to what is being offered.

Open heart. Open arms.

Setting it down takes a quiet, “Yes”, not a big, clamoring noisy, “Yes”.

I remember my teacher telling me this. I wondered what it would be like to finally simply answer, “Yes”.

For so long, I’ve fought this…and, I can see the fighting is futile. And while I can’t say it won’t pop up again, the “Yes” is getting quieter.

Opening to the vastness of life feels out of control, but then it is. It is out of the control of the one who fights it. Control has never worked, though. Striving, pushing, forcing has never worked…not in the way I thought it did.

What I now know of love and desire has taught me that it is far more powerful than anything I, the small me, could do. All my flailing against myself has only caused me pain.

The inner battle, struggle, and fighting against that thing inside that seemed as though it would be too much has been exhausting. Laying down the fight eventually comes.

I know I don’t know, yet somewhere…deep…down… when I soften, I am held by something. A vast, silent, unfathomable nothing that is something. And, that, makes all the difference.

::

And, you?

What are you experiencing?

How do you feel this pull?

How might you soften into this vast embrace?

 

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When the Soul Ripens

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Ripening

It’s been just about two weeks since my return from Molokai. Things that I experienced there have been ripening inside me. The land holds you. I felt as if I was being pulled down into it. My time there was rich and fertile, salty and soft.

Many of you who followed along with me during this time discovered what it is to belong to the land where you are. Each land has its own power. I’ve wondered what you discovered about your land, both body and place.

We are a land unto ourselves. Our bodies are graced with hills and valleys, sweet water and stars in our eyes.

On Molokai, I saw double rainbows, watched shooting stars, listened to the birdsong, and walked on the land.

I sat with really lovely, beautiful women, and bathed in open-air tubs.

I felt the softness of the ocean water, water that touched and caressed me in ways my body has longed for.

I ate the most divine food straight out of a garden so filled with love that it radiated through the bell-graced gates.

I stood in the swirl of wind and saltwater where Maui, Lanai, and Molokai meet. Here, I felt energy so strong that I felt fully alive, fully pulsing. I felt a joy of connecting, a joy of opening to the wild forces that are bountiful in a place such as Hawaii.

I felt loved. Land and water and sunshine can do that. Place has power. It has character. It is love.

And in all these things…

Something deep awakened and stirred within me…the wildness of my own soul.

I haven’t quite known how to write about my time on Molokai. Yes, I shared my day-to-day with you. And, other more personal things that occurred have continued to stir deep within the cells of this body and soul.

It is good to wait for the ripening before we speak, write or share about something that has not yet worked its way to fruition.

As I felt words stirring and the desire to write, I was listening to this song, Where Soul Meets Body by Catie Curtis. It’s one of the songs on one of the playlists from the Awaken the Wild eCourse.

As I listened to the lyrics, I realized they were telling the story of my experience of opening to this wild place where soul meets body of self and earth, this place where I came to know the land of my body and the land of the earth as one.

“I want to live where soul meets body
And let the sun wrap its arms around me and
Bathe my skin in water cool and cleansing
And feel
Feel what its like to be new…”

I feel new. I feel reborn. I let the sun wrap its arms around me.

“So brown eyes I’ll hold you near.”

I saw, and now see, the brown eyes of this body in the mirror, again, anew each day as if for the first time.

“So brown eyes I’ll hold you near
Cause you’re the only sound I want to hear
A melody softly soaring through this atmosphere.”

Like beautiful globes of fruit, we ripen as we live. We are filled with juice so sweet and love so deep. Coming to know oneself anew is learning to listen to the sound of your own voice, the beat of your  heart, the longing in your belly, the calling of your own soul…the melody that only you are singing.

This is the divine spark within you that sings the song you are here to sing.

“…if the silence takes you,
Then I hope it takes me too.”

This relationship within, between lover and beloved, is the virgin reborn, a woman coming to know herself unto herself. Standing on her own, a whole being, she can truly be in relationship with a world longing to love her.

I do believe its true
That there are roads left in both of our shoes
But if the silence takes you
Then I hope it takes me too

So brown eyes I’ll hold you near
Cause you’re the only sound I want to hear
A melody softly soaring through this atmosphere

And, even though we walk our own paths and have miles to go, we can meet in this place. If the silence takes you, I long to have it take me, too. I can hold you. Here we stand together, whole women, each of us unto ourselves, learning to be wholly and holy real with each other. We’re discovering this together.

And, in this discovery, we also learn how to be wholly and holy real with men, in whatever way we find ourselves in relationship with them.

Whole beings knowing, honoring and loving whole beings.

And, You?

What’s the melody softly soaring through the atmosphere of your soul? Quiet the inner voices that fear you hearing the song you are here to sing, and take some time to listen. ‘Cause I want to hear you sing it.

::

I couldn’t find a great version of Catie singing this song, and even though this is a Death Cab for Cuties song, I love her version. And, if you want to hear the audio, please sign up for Awaken the Wild. It’s my treat. Women and men have loved, and are loving, this eCourse. I hope you will and do.

 

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You Chose For You

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Put it down.

Put it all down.

Stop fighting.

Feel.

It is the way it is.

You did it.

You were scared shitless and you did it.

Breathe.

Breathe, again.

You are here.

You’ve survived…and you’re not diminished one damn bit.

While the voices in your head tell you otherwise,

You chose for you.

Never believe again, even for one second, that you are powerless.

While the voices out there would love for you to believe that you are,

they are wrong.

Be with your self.

Trust your heart.

Let it all go.

Be with,

Stay with,

You.

::

“heart-shaped candlelight” by ZolivierSome rights reserved

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A Love That Moves Us

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Power

What is it?
Who can have it?
Who can’t?

The other day, I had a long, lovely conversation with Rachael Maddox. At the end of a long trek by bike across the country, Rachael and her husband had landed in Oakland for a few days, and lucky me got to spend some time with her.

Rachael is beautiful, and her beauty shines both inside and out. She is wise. She is open-hearted. I was touched by her presence.

My time with Rachael opened my mind in an unexpected way, but first,

a small detour:

I was born in the latter part of the 50’s in the United States, a time when most women were housewives, ala Donna Reed (a TV show of the time). While my mother became a single mother in the early 60’s, the majority of women I saw, both in real life and on TV, were housewives.

I grew up with the sense that there would be someone to watch over me, to take care of me, a ‘big-daddy’ kind of sense of the world. Perhaps that’s the big Patriarch out there. After all, the religious traditions I saw espoused a ‘Father in the sky’. My government espoused a ‘Father in Washington’. Most TV shows showed the father as the head of the household making both the money and the decisions.

Looking back it seems odd to me that I would so strongly believe that a male someone, or something, would take care of things, because it was my mother that took care of me, both physically and financially.

Even though I now see and experience (and have for years) that this is not the case, the conditioning is strong. The conditioned mind’s worldview still sees the world this way, or perhaps a better description would be that it hopes the world is this way.

Back to Rachael,

Rachael is more than half my age. Her world view is different, of course, especially because of her age, but also because of her life experience. I don’t want to write of her world view, because that is hers to share. Be sure to read her blog and get to know her. You’ll be glad you did.

What I want to write about is how Rachael and my conversation with her helped me to see things in a new way.

Speaking with Rachael helped to unlock some of this unconscious conditioning about power, and how I unconsciously still hold out hope that someone, most likely a man, will ride in on his powerful horse to save the day, to save me, to save the world.

Many people never have seen this as a possibility.

Speaking with Rachael helped me to see more deeply and clearly that I continue to try to figure out a way to make what I now know is true about my experience (as a woman and the power I know is within me) fit into this cultural structure. It can’t.

This structure is a dream in that it causes us to believe that it is the true nature of reality. The structure exists in our minds, and in the institutions we’ve created with our conditioned minds, minds that believe in scarcity and a hierarchy based on perceived values and worth of different groups of people, and layers of life.

Scarcity and Hierarchy

In a culture where we believe in scarcity and hierarchy, privilege and not-so-privileged, it seems as though power is something held over others, or something where some have it and others don’t. That is how plays out in action in a cultural structure that sees power this way.

In this cultural structure, power is to be wielded over others, offered up by those who have when it is in their interest to do so, and to be adhered to by those who don’t have it.

In this cultural structure, there is a limited amount of power, so if one group has it another doesn’t. If one group decides to step into their power, it seemingly takes away power from others.

Notice that in a structure like this, when we believe what the structure shows us, power from within makes no sense. Even if we feel our own power within, our minds tell us things that support the structure rather than our own experience, because our own internal thought structures have been replicated from the cultural structure in which our minds were conditioned.

In our conditioned minds, power from within, power that is available for all, power that works together, makes no sense and can even seem dangerous to express in this cultural paradigm.

To the conditioned mind, there are few options:

One can acquiesce, consent to it by remaining silent, to the power out there, making one seemingly powerless.

One can join the power out there in beliefs, in actions, in thought, making one seemingly part of.

One can fight it, in actions, in thought, making one feel powerful against.

But to the awakened mind and heart,

one can feel the truth of one’s own internal power and choose from what is true. One can meet the ‘power over’ out there with ‘power from within’.

In very simple terms I use to try to express something that can’t be expressed, ‘power over’ comes from the fear of the conditioned mind; ‘power from within’ comes from realizing the truth of one’s own experience and feeling and expressing the powerful nature of the life that flows from within.

In recent days, I’ve noticed the Occupy Oakland movement showing signs of many of these ways of being with power. While some small bands of people chose to fight the structural power with power against by using violence, the majority of people have been coming from a place of awakened presence, choosing peaceful protest that comes from knowing they choose to no longer acquiesce to a power structure that does not serve its people.

The sands of our culture are shifting.

I know that the only way I can know what is real is what my own heart tells me. And, I know there is no knight riding in to save us.

All that can save us is love, the power of love, the power of the awakened heart. Many years ago, Jimi Hendrix spoke powerful truth when he said, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

Letting go of hope and opening the heart to the power of love.

The place I find myself in is truly looking within to feel the power of love within. It’s not a projected or romantic love, the kind of I’ve known in my life. This love is powerful and it can almost feel too big to experience. And,

as wise Rachael writes, “We are capable of being love that big.”

And, it means one more step, being love that big in action.

Action can be listening. As a grandmother, a woman who has lived many years, I know I hold wisdom. And, one of the wisest things I can do is listen to the wisdom of a younger generation, a generation that sees things differently, a generation that can help us to wake up. And listen to other races and religions. Listen to both women and men.

Action is not silent. For me, remaining silent has been a place of powerlessness. And yet, the action I want to embody is action that comes out of silence. This action is a natural expression of the power of love. Love this big is an active force. Love this big moves us.

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So Many Silences – part two

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“The learning process is something you can incite, literally incite, like a riot.”  Audre Lorde

There is power in truly wanting to see through your own bullshit.

Since I opened the door to wanting to know about silence, privilege and oppression, so much has been shifting and churning. I am already wiser for this exploration. Your comments have touched raw nerves. My own words are doing the same.

Over the past six days, I kept writing and sitting. Nothing clear would come out. I spoke with my writing partner, Jeanne, and clarity seemed to show up for a bit. But the next morning when it came time to write, fog and confusion, again. Something here doesn’t want to be seen. I don’t want to see it; but, I do. I want to be free.

Silence, privilege and oppression.

Three pretty powerful topics, and I’ve lumped them all together. They are intertwined.

Some of you have asked why I’m exploring this topic. Something is pushing me to see what I don’t want to see. I want to know what keeps me silent. I want to know where I am blind. I want to know where I am ignorant. I want to see what I haven’t been willing to see. I want to be free. And, it is foggy. It feels like something painful is coming to light.

I know that what stays hidden, what stays in the dark, hurts us all.

A few nights ago,

after opening this can of who knows what, anger and grief finally came pouring out. I kept yelling, over and over, out loud, very out loud, from someplace deep inside, “I don’t understand men’s silence.” “I don’t understand.” “How can you stay silent about what happens to women, when there are women in your life you love? Your mother, your sister, me?”

I was saying it to him, my partner…and at the same time, I was saying it to all the world’s men.

After so many years wondering what it would be like to simply say what had been kept inside for so long, I experienced it. It wasn’t clumsy at all. It was clear. It was alive. It was powerful. It came from someplace deep within my body.

The anger was a deep and boiling. It’s been cooking for some time. It burned its way through. It burned itself out of me. After it subsided, grief began to spill out. A deep, deep grief about the way things are in the world. So much grief.

But as everything came tumbling out of my body, the rage, the grief and the tears, I also felt something inside me become stronger. It was as if I found a part of myself that I had lost a long time ago. It’s the part that I silenced.

It is still a bit hazy,

but I’m going to try to write it in hopes it will become more clear.

I don’t understand my partner’s silence. He is a good man. I love him. I feel so much anger and so much love. It was a sign that something was up in me, something coming up to be seen through, something that was ready to be set free.

There is an old, worn out relationship between me and men. In opening the door to seeing my complacency and silence, I see even more clearly how these things are fueled by my conditioned loyalty with men, especially the men in my life that hold power. The men in my life who hold power are white men. Educated men. Middle-class men. Men I love.

If you asked them, they might not feel powerful. In fact, I bet they don’t feel powerful. So many men have said they feel powerless in this culture. Yet, in relationship to me, they seem powerful. They seem to hold the power. What’s that about?

As a girl, I learned I held no power. Small body. Big men. No way I could hold my own.

As a girl, I learned my role was to take care of men, and to try to help them feel good about themselves.

As a girl, I learned to be silent about the things they did that didn’t feel right to me, that didn’t feel good.

As a girl, I learned to stay silent: silent = safe.

As a girl, this was survival.

As a woman, it is no longer survival, it is conditioning, habitual conditioning that covers old fears. old betrayals and very real oppression.

The conditioning played itself out until, one day, the urge to know the truth, to be free of the conditioning, became stronger than the urge to stay safe. As Lorde wrote, we can incite our own learning, if we follow the urge for truth.

So what is the relationship between silence, privilege and power?

You may already know this. I didn’t know, until these past few days, how they have played out in my life.

Over the last few days, every time I tried to write about this, I would feel sick to my stomach. Something really uncomfortable was coming up. I could only see fog, and writing didn’t clear it like it usually does.

The morning after so much anger rose up and burned out of me, I went for a walk in the woods across the street from our home. I could hear the birds calling, the water rushing down the stream, and the rustle of the early morning breeze. As I walked deeper into the park, I could feel the earth alive. I could feel her holding me, Mother earth. I felt so much love from everything alive around me. In that holding, more grief tumbled out. The tears literally poured from my eyes.

As the grief subsided, I could feel something shift. It was as if a distancing had happened, a distancing between me and men. Then I saw it clearly.

My silence earns me privilege, and it costs me my power.

Let me say that again. My silence earns me privilege, and it costs me my power. I give away my power to have privilege.

I may feel I have power, but as long as that power is based on a privilege that is hollow at its core, the power is hollow, too.

Any privilege is hollow at its core.

Privilege is not the way Spirit works. It is not the way of soul. It is not the way of the Earth. And it is not the way of the Mother of us all.

Privilege is the way of patriarchy.

It’s an exchange. A pact. A very unconscious pact. Unconscious in me, until now.

This pact between privilege, power and silence upholds this system of domination and control.

Yuck.

As the tears poured from my eyes, I felt grief rise up and leave. I felt a letting go of this pact of silence. I felt my own autonomy grow. I felt a solidness in myself take hold.

I want to be free, a woman liberated from her own silence.

This is part two in a series of posts on silence, privilege and oppression. You can read part one, here. I don’t know how many more there will be. Thank you for walking beside me through this exploration. I would love to know your reactions, comments and experiences with these very tender places.

Blessings, Julie

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The Nature of Power

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In the 21st Century, power will not change the nature of women, women will change the nature of power. ~ Bella Abzug


Power is only a Word

Power is only a word, but it’s a word with a sordid past…and a very sordid present. It has a lot of baggage.

Power, as we know it today, dominates. Silences. Abuses.

Power is abused, too. At some point, power became power-over.

Somewhere, at some time, in the ‘rules’ of the human world, a rule was written about power, men and women. A rule was made that says, men have power over women. Somehow we, men and women, seem to believe in this story.

The recent, deeply disturbing, widely broadcast story of Sakineh Mohammadie Ashtiani’s imminent death by stoning, once again, brought the tyrannical abuses of power-over into the bright light of our awareness.

A few days after the international outcry about both her death sentence and the method the Iranian government threatened to use, the archaic practice of stoning, I still couldn’t shake the visceral anger, sadness and powerlessness I felt. This was such blatant, abuse of power; power so egregious, that I shudder to contemplate just how often and how much this kind of sadistic power is used against those who are completely vulnerable to it.

In the swirl of these emotions, I felt a very real sensation of complete vulnerability as a woman. Here was this beautiful woman, waiting in an Iranian prison for a death sentence to be carried out in a most barbaric and painful way. And, here I was, sitting safely in my home, but acutely feeling an intense vulnerability, as if there was no separation between us.

Then it hit me, there is no separation between us. In a very real collective sense, what is done to any part of life, is done to us all. If we are aware of the deeper feelings that move through the human soul, we know this.

On this same level, we all feel the pain of abusive power, oppression and misogyny whether we are the abuser or victim.

As I sat with these feelings, I suddenly felt a tenderness open up that was deep. It was painful, vulnerable and raw. It filled every part of every thing.

I wrote about this tenderness, about a revolution of tenderness in the first post of this three-part series on Tenderness, Power and Grace.


Soft Power

I know many women who push their power away because the only power they’ve known has been used against them. I’m one of those women.

And yet, my power keeps pulling me to it. This is a different kind of power than power-over. It comes from deep in the bowels of my femaleness. It feels rooted to the earth. It feeds my soul. It nurtures my creativity. It is the source of my deep and abiding love for all of life.

There is an unwritten, unspoken, yet very palpable threat of violence against women if we do step fully into the power we know is contained within our beings.

I feel this threat of violence. Yet, this power must come to life, regardless. This is soft power, a tremendous tenderness toward all of life. It is a great compassionate love. It compels me to drop even more deeply into this place of fierce tenderness.

Of course we’re coming to the brink of extinction of so many forms of life, including our own – our way for so long has been to dominate, control and destroy the life principle, namely that of woman. She is the embodiment of the life principle.

What would life be like if power-over, once again, became simply power, the power to be able – to express, to create, to be, to act? I don’t know, but I do know it will have something to do with love. It will come from not rejecting anything, because what we reject and condemn in another, is the same as rejecting ourselves, and no peace can ever come from that.


The Power of Woman

This is the power of woman: to love everything, without exception. As the embodiment of the life principle, she holds it all, without division. This power can only come when she no longer believes she must be everything to everyone. It can only come when she comes home to herself, with love for all the beauty she is. When she sees the value of herself, she can know the fullest power that is available to her as woman.

How does woman do that when she faces the immensity of oppression, degradation and misogyny?

By turning to look at another woman, to look deeply in another woman’s heart, to see within her what she can’t see in herself. By turning to the earth, to look deeply in the earth’s heart.

By opening our hearts to earth, to feel the incredible suffering this beautiful, living, pulsing beauty is enduring, and at the same time seeing her strength, her capacity to heal, her desire to continue to provide a home for all of life.

Woman is tied to the earth more deeply than man. When we open to her power to heal and regenerate, we can know our own capacity to heal and regenerate.

Anne Baring speaks of women:

There is a danger that in seeking power and equality with men in order for her voice and her creative gifts to be recognised, woman may unconsciously reject the very foundation which gives, through her millennial experience as custodian of life, something of supreme importance to say.

Can we…

There is no question that women are changing the nature of power. We see it occurring everywhere. As we do…

Can we encourage each other to come forth into our power?

Can we hold each other in supreme love and compassion as we travel this sacred path together?

Can we stand firm in the knowledge that we are worthy of the sacred nature we know is at the core of our womanhood?

Can we love those parts of ourselves that feel so difficult to love?

Can we know, in our experience, that we are all mothers to all the world’s children?

Can we love others with the fierce tenderness that might melt the deepest darkest hate into the most brilliant light of love?


And, you?

I’d love to know your feelings and thoughts about power and women; about what is emerging through us; about your story with power.


This is the second post in a series of three on tenderness, power and grace. All three posts are part of the Summer of Love Invitational, where the lovely Mahala Mazerov has invited bloggers to write about loving kindness.

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Female Creative Power

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“When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.” ~Jimi Hendrix

Jimi was pretty wise. Life is Love and Love is Life. There is no difference. The force that creates is love, it is life force, and it is nothing like the pretty picture we humans have been painted. It is powerful beyond measure, and it scares the hell out of us.

All we know of power in our minds is what we’ve been conditioned to believe. This conditioning is what we have been ‘taught’ by others, by their actions and how they have treated us. We, in turn, have ingested this conditioned worldview about what power is and the effects of power.

When I speak of power to women, of stepping into our power, of becoming more powerful, many women immediately resist the idea of owning their own power. When they speak of the reasons why, it is because they see power as a bad thing. They see power as something that oppresses, degrades, imprisons and destroys. They speak of the way power has been used in their lifetimes to maintain a status quo that keeps an elite group of people powerful, while denying vital life-sustaining resources to others. They cringe at the thought of being powerful if it means they must be like those they have witnessed wielding power.

For us to step into our power as women, we must look to something else to know what true power is, and that something is Life, a power that flows out from within.

When I think of life force, the first thing that comes to mind is a seedling growing out of the ground. Imagine what force it takes for the tiny seedling to push its way through the dirt, through everything that stands in its way of reaching the light. The force that fuels the seedling to reach for the sun is Life finding its way.

Life finding its way is power, power from within, power rising up out of the dark, the power of life exploding into existence.

If you look at the dictionary definitions, there are a ton of definitions for the word power. Words can only point to something, and when we try to use words with each other, more often than not what a word points to for me might be very (or even slightly) different for you. In addition, many words hold memories of our experiences that we attached to the word, and with a loaded word like power, this is especially true.

If we, as women, step into our power, we must first be wise and conscious of our intentions and of the source of our power. We could simply imitate what we’ve seen in this male-centric world, but then we would simply be creating more of what we already have.

Power over others, the way we have been conditioned to see power used, serves to sustain separation and suffering. Utilizing power to keep others powerless ultimately keeps us all powerless and separate. Just look at our world today. The world of human beings is filled with separation, loneliness, and violence. This is the kind of power that keeps many women from wanting to be powerful, or even believing they can be powerful.

Instead, let’s engage our wisdom to tap into what we instinctively and intuitively know about power. When we consciously look at what we know to be true in our experience, we bring this knowing into wisdom, and that sources generative power from within.

Women have been the power source and creative agents of the continuation of the human species from the beginning. Without a womb, humans would not exist.

I have had the glorious opportunity to witness the birth of two of my grandchildren. I have two daughters and they are both now mothers. To witness labor and birth is to witness true power, the power of Life giving birth to itself.

In labor, a woman surrenders to the powerful forces of Life finding its way into life, into light from out of the dark. If you have given birth or have witnessed it, you know what I mean. If the mother-to-be surrenders and works with the powerful forces that are working within her, Life will do what it does so well…bring the new baby into existence. If she struggles with the process, something we humans do on a daily basis, the process can be more painful, but the process continues anyway, in spite of her struggling.

Life force is always flowing, finding its way. If we don’t align with it, life still flows but we find it much more painful, in so many ways.

When we align with the force of life, we are no longer trying to resist our soul’s natural expression. This life force is our creativity. When we express it, without resistance, what we express is beautiful and powerful beyond measure.

This power frightens us because our rational mind is not in control of it. We want to control it but we can’t. When we try to control it by resisting it, we only make ourselves sick. Consider how painful childbirth could be if the mother-to-be actively resisted the baby coming into being.

The really important piece here is to learn to trust this power, this expression, this creative life force. To have faith in it is to surrender to the natural expression of power, a power that sustains all of life.

If you have never birthed a baby, please don’t listen to the cultural forces that tell you you’re not a mother, and you can’t be fulfilled without being a mother. When I use this example in courses I teach, it can be emotionally difficult for women who have not birthed a child. We, as women, must come to honor the fact that we are all mothers. Women can birth so much more than babies, and we do it all the time. We can mother more than just our own physical babies, and the ability to truly love all of life unconditionally is the power that flows out from within.

I have used the example of childbirth purposely here, because women’s bodies know this process. A woman’s body, regardless of whether or not she ever physically gives birth to a child, contains the intelligent substance and process to create and grow new life and to bring it into being. This powerful process is completely mysterious to our rational minds. Our minds will never figure out how this works…hence the mystery. But, when we honor our bodies, and the intelligent mystery within, we align with the life force that engages this mysterious creative process inherently available to women.

Knowing this and experiencing it within brings wisdom, wisdom that is needed NOW.

By aligning with the power within, by this mysterious life force that is our creativity, we are capable of growing and birthing that which wants to be created, that life force that is finding its way. This is the power we must step into as women. This is the power of life-sustaining creativity. It’s generative in that it supports life, nurtures the mystery that is life, that is love, that is the most powerful force because it is existence itself.

Can you imagine how things might shift if we realized this power within that is yearning to flow out into the world?

Can you imagine what might be created if we held all the world in the center of our hearts, hearts that are aligned with this creativity?

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