Dancing to the Goddess’ Drum – Carol Jud

We are a culture that has lost its ground. We live in a world where there are few maps or guideposts to understand the most basic of human relation- ships—our relationship to our bodies and our relationship to the divine. We can acknowledge that as humans we are sexual beings, and many off us acknowledge that as humans we are also spiritual beings, but do we really know what we mean when we use these words? What does it mean to be sexual or to be spiritual and how do the two meet?

Traditionally, sexuality has been considered the epitome of embodiment while spirituality has been considered to be a breaking loose from the body. We live, however, in a culture where sexuality has been disembodied. It has become a spectator sport and a matter of commerce rather than a deep body experience. Spirituality, too, has lost its connection to the life force. It seems to be imprisoned in old rhetoric and empty ritual.

I arrived on this planet with a body and to the best of their abilities, my parents helped me to love and honor that body. The culture, however, coun- teracted those teachings with double messages about the body. There were not-so-subtle teachings about the body being dirty, shameful and of a lower order than the mind. There were teachings that implied that it was dangerous to live in a body, that sexual feelings are bad, and that pleasure, especially sexual pleasure, is bad. There were messages telling me that being female was of a lesser order than being male, and there was increasing evidence the feminine was being violated and disparaged.

My mother died when I was just moving into young womanhood at age thirteen. This cut me off from my most immediate teacher about the mys- teries of womanhood and sexuality. I was left feeling that I had been sepa- rated from and abandoned by the community of women. I was given all of the facts about sexuality and I do not believe that I was flooded with undue negativity about sexuality, but it seemed that when the basic teaching of the child was completed, there were no new teachers available to teach woman. A parallel situation occurred in my spiritual life. I was raised in the church where I spent my early days listening to God’s word, singing the hymns and carrying out the rituals. The church was a part of my family life and my community life and yet as I grew to be a woman, the teachings no longer seemed to speak to my life in a relevant way. I felt an undeniable spiritual longing that seemed to have no container. There seemed to be no one to look to for guidance, and I am not even sure that I would have known what I to ask. So I left that part of myself behind and went out into the world to marry and find a career. Perhaps the questions stopped temporarily but the indefinable longing remained.

It was not until I entered training as a core energetics therapist that I started awakening to my sexual and spiritual energies. Although I was well into my thirties, I am not sure that I had yet developed any deep under-standing of either sexuality or spirituality. When I started to do deep body-work I was amazed to discover that my sexual energy was my most immediate connection to the spiritual. In this work, I started to actually experience my body as the gateway to both sexual and spiritual realms. Ironically, these most significant sexual and spiritual experiences did not include anything that might be considered sexual activity or spiritual practice. They simply involved being fully present in my body—breathing, moving, listening, feeling. I learned that my body is my place of truth. Knowing in my body comes from experience, not from teaching. My experiences came in direct opposition to the culture’s teaching that sexuality is not sacred and that to be truly spiritual, one must remove oneself from the desires of the body. I felt the sacredness of the sexual and the sexuality of the sacred and the meeting place was my own body. In my body, the sexual and the spiritual are not merely connected, they are one.

I became aware of this union during one of my training sessions when I unexpectedly experienced a profound sexual and spiritual initiation. It began as I danced to intensely rhythmic drumming with an almost hypnotic beat. I danced alone with my eyes closed, feeling connected to the ground, and to my body. Moving with a slow and swaying motion in my pelvis and arms, I kept my feet firmly planted on the ground. I worked with rhythmic pelvic thrusts to the beat of the drum. Moving slowly and then in double time, I felt pleasurably grounded and very powerful. Gradually I quieted myself and felt the vibrations that were pulsating through my body. I reached out. I was aware of a difference between extending my arms with the palms at right angles to the ground and reaching out with the hands open. In the open position, I felt both softer and more receptive, while continuing to feel powerful — a strange combination for me. As I stood in this flowing position, the music shifted to Gregorian Chant. This music brought me to a totally new place of consciousness. My arms felt full, as if by reaching, I had finally satisfied my longing. I raised my arms to the top of my head and allowed the energy and vibrations to move through the Crown Chakra.

The following is an attempt to bring words to what I experienced.

“I am still vibrating—needing to be alone, not wanting to get involved with any social activity. The experience had been too powerful. It almost seems that concretizing it into words might take away from that power. What to say? I felt (no, I knew) that I was in the presence of the Divine. I saw God, Goddess, the Ground of Being—the name didn’t matter. First there was the longing. My arms were outstretched and the music began—seeming to emanate from within, not from without. The pain of the longing was intense—longing for what I did not know. At first it felt like the longing I feel for my Beloved, but then it went far beyond. I saw that my longing and my love for a Lover give me a model, a container, a starting place, a channel to know God. I realize it would be a mistake to make a human lover into my God but I also know that the human lover opens the pathway to my God.”

So what did I experience? It was an opening of myself in vibration with something above, around, and within—awesome, terrifying, and yet full of peace and love. There was no form. Perhaps there was only color, like a brilliant sunset—moving, vibrant, spacious. I opened myself fully to the light even though I felt vulnerable and almost overwhelmed by the awesomeness. The vibration within was so powerful that I began to see it as a mirroring of the powerful vibration on the outside. My smallness and my insignificance melted into the knowledge that I was a part of this power—part of the universal web. It was here that I was able to begin to touch the divine within. Because God is all and I am a part of that whole, I become God when I become a part of the whole. This is the source of my power. This power, however, is not something that I own or which I can claim that I earned. Rather it is something that flows through me as it flows through all things and sets me on fire — connecting me, opening me, moving me. The Fire and the Rose: the Fire burning through—destroying the old and warming the new with life; the rose—soft, vulnerable, and sensuous. I vibrate and become a leaf drifting. through the skies. I vibrate and the vibrations are channeled and focused, cutting through like a sword, grounding my consciousness.

I have wrestled with God for many years. I was mad at the guy who sat on the throne and judged me, never being quite satisfied with anything that I did. I was mad at the guy who took my mother from me when I was thirteen years old, leaving me with the feeling that I had been cheated and that somehow I was to blame. He was supposed to be the God of Love, but the words seemed empty. There were too many rules and too many judgments. Yes, I left that guy a long time ago.

His departure, however, left an empty space within my soul. I surrounded this vast emptiness with a thick wall that kept it from my sight and out of my consciousness. I was so successful at this deception that I almost forgot that my soul had once known some other way of being. But now Miracle of Miracles, my body has brought me back to this divine place. My body has brought me home.

How ironic that the Christian Church has blocked off the most obvious channel that we humans have to experience our divine selves—THE BODY. It is almost as if the fathers of the Church were threatened by the idea that by allowing us to know and love our bodies that we might suspect that the divine is within and not enthroned on a cloud somewhere. It is amazing how much fear and energy have been poured into making sure that we will never arrive at this simple and basic truth that we are divine. What a mystery! We don’t have to do anything to be divine. We just have to allow ourselves to be.

Listening to my body in this special way gave me a glimpse of what it is like to just be. For a brief moment I felt myself to be nothing but pure energy — no name, nobody special, maybe not even a body since the energy was flowing so freely in and out of me. Such surrender brings its own terror because in giving up all that gives me my own unique identity, I come close to the experience of my own death. Yet by giving up that part of myself, something new is born that is much larger, something eternal. I have a sense of being not an isolated individual, nor even an individual part of the web; the feeling is that I am the web. All that is outside me is also within me and all that is within is also outside. There is nothing that is foreign. There is nothing that is separate. What I hate is part of me and what I love is part of me.

This was such a breathtaking idea that I feel that I could hardly contain it. But that misses the point. Energy is not energy when it is contained. Energy moves. That is what it is about. So to contain this idea or to own it is not to be it. Perhaps even formalizing it into a theory is an attempt to own it and to contain it. But without understanding, I was afraid that I would lose the powerful impact of the experience. Then I realized that this was the illusion that I believed all of my life—that if you cannot prove something logically, it isn’t so.

But there is another kind of knowing, a deep knowing that is the conse- quence of experience. This is a knowing beyond logic. So now what know about my spiritual self and the spiritual aspects of the universe, I know through direct experience, not through scientific proof. This is stored and grounded in my body, not in my head. I still need to bring my consciousness to these body experiences. Without the consciousness, the moment is lost and cannot be integrated into the flow of my life. With this experience I am changed. The vibrations in my body no longer feel only like a personal expression. These vibrations are my connection to all things and so they are my connection to the divine that moves through all things.

It is sad that I spent so much time during my training years looking for a book that explained how the body is connected to the spiritual aspects of a person’s life. I see now that even if I had found the book that I would have missed the message. Spiritual truths cannot be passed on by word of mouth. That is why such truths have traditionally been referred to as Mysteries. They can only be the outcome of direct experience. Passing along the Word can easily become religion or law. What starts as truth becomes rigid and dead. But true spirituality must be experienced, and the most powerful and perhaps the only source of direct experience for me is my own body. My body is my teacher. I vibrate and I celebrate the universe through my body. I vibrate and I celebrate the Goddess through my body.

It was many years later before I was able to experience the intensity of this sexual/spiritual channel with a partner. The process required an opening of the heart that went beyond all boundaries I had known before. In this place of expansion and trust, I felt catapulted into space and came face to face with the Goddess. She told me that her name was Aija and I stood at her feet in awe and wonder. At that moment, I felt that she possessed me totally and called me into her service. She told me that she is the Goddess who says “Yes.” She says “yes” to life. She says “yes” to the body and she says “yes” to sexuality. She says “yes” but that “yes” requires that I be awake and aware and know the consequences of my actions. This “yes” requires me to listen to the place where she lives in me and not to the external law. She promises unknown worlds and demands total commitment to truth and essence.

It was surprising to me, once these new spaces were opened within me,

that they did not close down when the lovemaking was ended. This awareness seems to have become a permanent part of my internal landscape when I am not actively making love. It is as if I experienced the Goddess flowing through me with such extraordinary power that I know the reality of her presence in the same way that I know the presence of the sun’s warm rays on me or the cool water of a lake or the delicious taste of a wonderful meal. She is no longer a spiritual idea but a concrete presence. It feels to me that the distinction between the sexual and spiritual no longer makes any sense to me. In my body they are truly one.

I did not understand what was happening or why, but something in me knew that this process was bringing me back to my essence. My body went through months of opening to prepare for the Goddess’ work. I watched my body become transformed in my lovemaking. When I felt the sexual energy move through my body, I became acutely aware of the places where it got stuck and I was moved to find ways of breaking through the barriers to free up the energy. I felt a need to crack open my chest, my heart chakra, my throat, release my jaws, and stretch my body. I heard myself utter new sounds as I heard my body find its voice. There was pain and there was pleasure. Every part of my body called for life and motion. Sometimes the violence of the opening frightened me and made me want to retreat into safer territory, but something kept pressing against the boundaries that held me in. I felt that the Goddess was throwing me into the fire, tempering me and shaping me.

Through all the experiences of ecstasy and wonder, through all the explorations of new worlds, I found myself shaking my finger upward in what seemed to be contempt or derision even while I was calling out the Goddess’s name. My partner asked me why I seemed to be addressing the Goddess in such a derogatory fashion. It took me some time before I realized that I was not addressing the Goddess but the old bearded God on the throne. Finally I heard the words that accompanied my defiant gesture. I heard myself saying, “Never again! Never again will I submit to living out a “No” to life. Never again will I betray my body. Never again will I feel that my body is anything less than a sacred altar at which I can celebrate the Goddess and her creation. I no longer belong to you. I have come home.” The Goddess calls and I must answer her call.

My path has helped me realize that my definitions for spirituality and sexuality were much too small. The old definitions created tiny separate categories that limited the worlds that they could encompass. I believe that deep spirituality is being wide awake and utterly aware. It means being fully present in the body, in the senses, in the heart, and from that vantage point, celebrating whatever is being experienced. From this point of view, a sunset could be spiritual, or listening to great music, or petting a kitty cat, or making love, or even eating a ham sandwich. The crucial point is the showing up in one’s fullness. Similarly, one could also say that if you really show up in your body and your energy is flowing and your senses and chakras are open, then everything is a sexual experience. Communing with a starry night or feeling the deep vibrations of a Beethoven String Quartet could be just as sexual as making love with a lover. The real union between the sexual and spiritual does not come out of sexual activity or practice, but out of being fully present in the body. The separation of sex and spirit is an unnatural disjointing resulting from the separation of the body from the mind and soul. When the body is whole, sexuality and spirituality flow together and are one. The Goddess Aija calls me to celebrate her in my body and in my life. She calls me to guide those who have lost their bodies back home. She calls me to teach that living deeply in our hearts and bodies provides a healing connection to the earth.

And so I sing



This writing appears in the book, Sex, Love and Marriage in the 21st Century: The Next Sexual Revolution by Timothy Perper, Martha Cornog, Robert T. Francoeur