"The role of women is changing from the traditional maiden, mother, crone to a time where any woman can be whatever it is she wants to be. A Goddess doesn’t have to be a young woman, or a mother, and she can age as gracefully (or disgracefully) as she wishes. It’s about women having choice; it’s about women feeling beautiful, powerful, confident and sensual in their own skins."
The internet has been awash with blogs, Instagram images and articles about being a Goddess, yet, unless you have experienced it, many women do not know what a Goddess is, or indeed, how to be one. And what on Earth does it mean to be Empowered? In the interests of full disclosure, this article will be my truth about what being an Empowered Goddess means to me.
For many years, I was plagued with self-esteem issues and it wasn’t until I did an online course with Leyolah Antara at Kundalini Dance that I felt the pulsing of energy that is the feminine energy of the Goddess that I fully understood the sensation of being an Empowered Goddess. I guess for me, I had to experience it to understand its power.
I could start by writing about how women were revered in many ancient cultures (and some modern ones), however, I think that it will detract from the issue. Such powerful women as the goddesses of early Pagan (Diana, Hretha), Hindu (Kali), Sumerian (Ishtar, Ereshkigal), Egyptian (Isis), Norse (Freyr, Bil), Irish (Dana, Brigid) and Greek (Aphrodite, Artemis) societies, not to mention those from China, Africa and the Americas as well as Indigenous ones and those in the Biblical stories, such as the divine Mary Magdalene.
I could talk about the other terms like embodied woman and Shakti that are used interchangeably about the Goddess in the early 21st Century but for the ease of the article, let’s just stick with the Goddess. Historically, women were revered as they carried children and the burden of both life and death through the process of childbirth. Thankfully, maternal deaths are decreasing and less women are dying in this important stage of life, and more interestingly, many women are choosing not to have babies. The role of women is changing from the traditional maiden, mother, crone to a time where any woman can be whatever it is she wants to be. A Goddess doesn’t have to be a young woman, or a mother, and she can age as gracefully (or disgracefully) as she wishes. It’s about women having choice; it’s about women feeling beautiful, powerful, confident and sensual in their own skins.
Women have only had the right to vote for about 100 years and the Goddess has risen historically in periods when misogyny was at its worst, such as when the Inquisition tortured and killed thousands of men and women who stood up to the church. Women who rode “cowboy” were considered witches (I kid you not!) (Stay tuned for my first novel, Matilda, based on this crazy misogynist culture in 2018). The Goddess brings us back to balance when the masculine energies become too dominant and unfortunately, we need the Goddess energy now more than ever.
Women are tired of being told what we can and can’t do by men and the institutions that run the world. We are all powerful, we know it and men know it and when they see us in our full power, they know who really wields power; and it’s not men or women, it’s a balance between the two.
The word “empower” means to “to give power or authority to; authorize, especially by legal or official means.” By its definition alone, being empowered means that we give permission to ourselves to feel the power of ourselves. By extension, an empowered person also aids and empowers other people, particularly women, ethnic minorities and those who are in some way disenfranchised by society. Putting others down, does not empower the self, and it certainly does not empower others.
An Empowered Goddess is not the antithesis of men, she lifts up the men in her life as much as she lifts the women and herself. It doesn’t have to be duality; that is dominance by men OR women, it’s about balance. The more the Empowered Goddess taps into her inner self, the more that she can empower others to be the very essence of who they are, raising us all up in a collective empowerment.
To me a Goddess is a woman who has embraced and accepted all of who she is, that is, her darkness and her light. We all have the capabilities to be a great healer or leader or indeed someone who is capable of murder, given the right scenario. A Goddess sees and acknowledges those parts of herself that reflect both the primitive parts of humanity and the full goodness of it.
A Goddess is a woman who has done a lot of self-reflection and owns all of those parts of herself that at times she doesn’t like and at times she loves. When she looks into a mirror a Goddess will sometimes see a frightened little girl, or a vulnerable woman, other times she will see a wild woman ready for anything and other times a sensual, sweet seductress.
A Goddess is a woman who is assured in her sexuality; she has no guilt or anxiety around masturbation or sex and honours each and every lover with every ounce of her being. She can see her lovers’ vulnerabilities and knows just when to support him/her and lift them up. She is able to walk away if it’s not bringing her satisfaction, yet she is happy in the moment, knowing that she is exactly where she is meant to be.
She is not afraid of men, in-fact, she knows just the right ways to disarm or seduce a man should it please her. This is not something that she shows off, but if she wants someone or something, she will get it, she knows of her power to manifest her desires in a way which is loving but not manipulative. An Empowered Goddess feels into her body and she knows it, inside and out. It’s a feeling of being connected to something greater than all of us; a flow of femininity if you like that completely honours and respects the masculine and feminine balance of life.
May you find and honour your inner Goddess and those around you.
©Alyssa Curtayne, 2017
Note: In 2015, I created tools to help people become self-empowered; Chakra Cards. Unlike traditional tarot and other divination tools, these tap into our intuitive self and allow people to clear all that no longer serves for them and help them to become an empowered Goddess or God with the power of looking within. Chakra Cards Empower yourself; look within.
"The ONLY purpose is being alive, is to be alive. There is nothing more. We do not need to seek specialness, we are no better or worse than others. Spiritual teachers are only people who have found a channel of truth that works for them at that moment in time. They are not the panacea for the answers. The answers that we seek are within us. Within our ordinary moments of life. Of seeing life for what it is."
Maybe I’m just ordinary. I’m not destined for any great achievement. I’m not going to change the world just by being in it and I’m not going to be remembered long after I’m gone.
Maybe I’m just another of the seven billion souls inhabiting this planet just doing their very best to be who they are, without any expectations of being more than what I am.
Maybe I’m just a mother. Maybe I’m just a teacher. And maybe I’m just poor and destined to struggle my way through life; I’m not the only one. Maybe I’m just ordinary. Maybe I’m just like everyone else.
When I was younger I had low self-esteem, at 58kg, I thought that I was fat and so hid myself from everyone. I wore baggy clothes. I hid from the world. I strived for invisibility. Then, I discovered Louise L. Hay who taught me that there was so much more to me, to everyone, her words and affirmations lifted me up, built my confidence, made me believe that I could do anything, that I could be anyone, have success if I just changed my thinking.
But what if she was wrong? What if the whole “new age” movement is really just another way to make money, to sell products, to sell ideas, to make people feel like shit and so that they need something to pick themselves up? What if it’s all just bullshit? These expectations that we place on ourselves are nothing more than setting ourselves up to feel like we are missing something.
Expectations create a false reality. They are like a “glamour” that we use to feel good about ourselves when in reality, we feel like shit, but we feel like we have to appear like we are having an easy time. Because if we admit that we feel like crap, there must be something wrong with us, but there's not. We are who we are.
Throughout my life, I have struggled financially to feed myself, my family and I have thought that my teaching career was just a stepping stone to something more magnificent. But what if this is it? What if this is my lot in life to just exist from week to week while I raise my girls in a job that brings me happiness and satisfaction as much as it brings me frustration and annoyance?
Maybe I’m not destined for anything more than to be here, now, living this existence.
I’ve had some amazing moments in my life where I’ve believed all these amazing spiritual things, but what if they too are bullshit? Just like yoga has become to me. What if instead of bringing me joy, the spirituality movement has turned into a search for deeper meaning, for purpose and for seeking something which simply doesn’t exist? What if nirvana is just a load of spiritual B.S. designed to make us think that we are on this “journey” to enlightenment, yet in our seeking we forget that in-fact we are just ordinary beings living life; for the only purpose of living life?
I am so sick of spiritual teachers (myself included in previous posts) telling people to “find their purpose”. There is no such thing! It’s another hook that drags us in, making us feel like we are somehow inadequate and special for having not found that thing we have supposedly been birthed for?
What BULLSHIT! The ONLY purpose is being alive, is to be alive. There is nothing more. We do not need to seek specialness, we are no better or worse than others. Spiritual teachers are only people who have found a channel of truth that works for them at that moment in time. They are not the panacea for the answers. The answers that we seek are within us. Within our ordinary moments of life. Of seeing life for what it is.
Maybe I’m just ordinary. Maybe all I’m meant to be is a teacher. Maybe all I’m meant to be is a mother. Maybe I’m just ordinary and will never be anything more than a struggling single mum.
Well, that’s okay. Because all I need to know is that right here, right now, I can feel my breath in my lungs, I can hear the birds settling in for the night, I know that my children are all safe and well and I know that I live in a country that is free from war. And if that is ordinary; being grateful for the here and now, well, I’d choose ordinary over “special” in this moment and every moment to come.
©Alyssa Curtayne 2017
It’s a challenge for me to write this blog because it may step on people’s toes, it could be controversial and it could offend. But it’s my truth. Here. Today. Modern yoga is like a cult.
It’s weird, you know, not being involved in yoga anymore, not believing all that I used to believe and it’s like all that I was is being stripped away. All that I thought I was no longer exists. I am no longer someone who says “namaste”, who wears an Om necklace in a form of cultural appropriation or is devoted to a yoga practice. I do it when I feel like I need a good stretch. A friend who I was doing my yoga teacher training with said: “Everything has its own time. Only when you are ready, it works.” And implied that it wasn’t time for me to be a yoga teacher. I thought, this is not about me not being ready for a life of yoga, because I’ve been doing it for 20 years, this is about me realising the giant lie it has become and how we aren’t a match anymore.
Modern yoga to me is a bit like a cult or a religion; if you don’t fit in, if you don’t comply with the expected behaviours then you’re not a part of the cult. The word “Yoga” means union and there is NOTHING I can see that unites in separating or elevating yourself above someone because they won’t comply with the predominant culture. I was under a delusion. It is not authentic to take on someone else’s beliefs, or even a whole cultural group. It’s subtle and it’s in no way malicious, it is a culture built on egos, the right leggings and clothes, accessories, Instagram bendiness and acrobatic bodies. That’s not what my experience of yoga is about!
Historically, modern yoga has its roots in the arrival of the British in India in the early 1900s who merged the military fitness regime of the British with the gentler Hindu spiritual practices. It has become all about the asana, pranayama and escaping from modern life. It doesn’t resonate for me anymore and I am sad about that, because it has given me an enormous amount of joy over the years, however, it doesn’t align with my truth anymore. I will view it as a form of experiential exercise, but to get caught up in the culture within modern yoga was destructive for me and misses the whole point of a spiritual practice.
Our spirituality does not depend on whether we practice in ugg boots, woollen socks, braless, hair dishevelled, interrupted, naked or with your favourite music on. Our spirituality does not depend on us listening to traditional and modern Hindu chanting or whether we can stretch into our out of a certain position like the person next to us. Our spirituality does not need us to travel to India or Bali or any other exotic location to be able to access it. And we certainly don't need to be doing headstands or handstands to be spiritual.
We are spiritual. Right here. Right now. We keep seeking these experiences and tools, such as yoga, in order to find this place of peace or contentment when the reality is, when we stop the search, we can see it. We can see the truth of the world when we begin to question everything. The latest search for enlightenment, 5th dimension and higher realms is just another escapism from being here now. It is a distraction from the human experience and from the present moment.
Yes, yoga, when taught well, can be a tool to do this, it can teach us how to be in the present moment, but for now I am disillusioned by it. I don’t know if I’ll ever return to a yoga practice, and that’s sad. And what’s even more sad, it is that now very unlikely that I will complete my yoga teacher training because I just can’t agree with a culture that encourages ego and competition. It is an extension of the commodification of everything good and pure in the world.
The truth about yoga is that it doesn’t matter what colour you wear, music you listen to, or if you have shoes on or not, the timing of your breaths, intentions, how flexible or strong you are, it is time to look after your body and honour it as the temple that houses your soul. Yoga has all these expectations placed about it, when in reality it is just a form of exercise which asks us to be mindful. What you adorn your body with doesn’t make a skerrick of difference to your yoga practice and it certainly doesn’t make you a kind and compassionate person.
©Alyssa Curtayne, 2017
"Even the act of placing my hands in the Anjali mudra at the end of a yoga session makes me cringe, it’s someone else’s truth. It’s someone else’s practice of bringing a yoga or meditation practice to a close. It’s a beautiful practice, but now it feels false. I feel like an imposter."
I have been practicing yoga on and off for about 20 years. As a teacher already, I always wanted to complete my yoga qualification and make the transition into a giver of yoga rather than being a recipient. In 2016, I enrolled in a course and within the first few workshops, I knew that something was not right.
It started when I wore my beautiful necklace with an OM pendant into the petrol station and the Indian attendant looked at me strangely and asked what it meant to me. He looked uncomfortable and moderately offended, I felt like I had violated something sacred by wearing it. Shocked and surprised by his response, I failed to capture how I felt about the symbol in any recognisable word form, it was a feeling I had about Om, not a thought. He nodded. I left, feeling like I had taken something that didn’t belong to me and started questioning our appropriation of Hindu culture, particularly in the yoga and western spiritual community. They wanted their teachers to be of a particular style and I didn't fit it.
It wasn’t overt. It wasn’t intentional. All of the people in my training were very well meaning and loving, but the culture that was created was an extension of the bigger issue and that is, everything we think that we know, we learned from someone else. The culture of yoga is something that is constantly evolving, but for me this is more than having a serious look at yoga culture and our appropriation of something that isn’t embedded in our modern society.
Increasingly I started questioning all of these things in my life. Everything I thought that I believed in, were being stripped away. I felt like a caterpillar emerging from a long metamorphosis, where I was shedding everything that I thought that I was. I was questioning my spirituality and the “spiritual” community with their loving intentions but behaviours that they have learned from others and how, in the way you react to someone, tells them whether their behaviour fits the culture or not.
What I’m feeling now, is that everything I know, I have learned from others; from people, books, media, culture, socialisation but what about what I KNOW? Where is honouring who I am deep within and the resonating truth that exists in me? Even the act of placing my hands in the Anjali mudra at the end of a yoga session makes me cringe, it’s someone else’s truth. It’s someone else’s practice of bringing a yoga or meditation practice to a close. It’s a beautiful practice, but now it feels false. I feel like an imposter.
And if it doesn't feel authentic to me to copy the rest of the class, where does that leave me? How do we, with our reaction to their behaviour, suppress who others are, their infinite beauty as an individual? And if people don’t comply to a set of behaviours, how do we exclude them from the social group?
I didn’t fit in the yoga culture of that studio and unfortunately I may never finish my qualification, but I have gained something infinitely more valuable, myself. My sense of self and knowing who I am and what I stand for. But this is bigger than the yoga or spirituality, it’s about acceptance of everyone on Earth, who they are and where they are on their human experience journey. I am so tired of so-called “spiritual” leaders telling people to “find their passion,” or “wait for the right one” or any of the other seeking-type behaviour. As the wise Alan Watts says, the only purpose of life is just to BE and every time we tell or show someone that they don’t comply with a social construct, we are asking them to put a mask on, to play the game how someone else wrote it.
It’s time that we took charge of who we are and really OWN who we are and share our gifts and not continually look to others to try and give us the answers. We need to stop looking to others to tell us how to be and trust the innate knowledge that we have within. And for me, learning yoga through teacher training, doesn’t honour who I am, and I’m okay with that.
©Alyssa Curtayne 2017