On Saturday, the Urban Zen Center was transformed into a stunning, sacred sanctuary of Divine Feminine revelations for the REVEAL 2011 conference. It was an inspirational event that brought together emerging female spiritual leaders from diverse traditions to present their wisdom and fiery new perspectives on religion, spirituality and the body to women of all ages. It was an amazing opportunity to connect with a large, vibrant community of women who were hungering for information, services, and support for their spiritual well-being, health, wellness, financial empowerment and advice on how to become agents of change in the world.
There were so many deliciously Divine moments that we could share with you that would encapsulate the day. We could talk about Dawn Copeland’s Red Temple, Alissa Vitti‘s keynote address, Latham Thomas‘s symbolic moment of gratitude, Joanna Lindenbaum‘s powerful storytelling, or Gabrielle Bernstein‘s groundbreaking workshop. While we could share with you a multitude of powerful moments, there was one soul-gripping moment that truly captured the spirit of the day: Meggan Watterson‘s speech.
Meggan is the founder and executive director of REVEAL and she possesses an amazing ability to string together a series of words to create an almost-magical experience for the listener. She speaks from the soul and connects to the heart and we are honored to share with you here, the words that she spoke on Saturday.
You remember her. She looks just like you. She has fire in her eyes. She is filled with adventure. Her imagination has verdure no forest can ever compete with. She loves without conditions and without boundaries. And her presence is so fierce simply because she is unafraid in her own skin.
She is just a little girl. She is the little girl you were before some event or series of events separated you from her. She was you before you began to fear her vulnerability, her fragility, her wild and wide-open heart. She was you before you forgot that she is the most powerful aspect of you.
Imagine for a moment- a picture I have of my fiery, little irreverent girl-self. I’m 9 or 10, pre-boobs. I am the most intensely physical and uninhibited creature – this is clear at first glance.
I am at the ocean: it’s behind me. My hair is stiff from dried seawater and wild looking. I clearly don’t care. I have my swimsuit yanked down to about mid-body with my hip thrust out to one side and a crazy wide smile across my face. I am entirely me. I am entirely free. And my body is entirely my own.
My soul is flush to my skin like a comforter is to a duvet cover.
This was the wild girl-child I was before my friend’s older brother sexually abused me, before I let fear settle deep into my bones, creating a devastating distance between my body and my soul.
The word apostasy refers to the act of renouncing one’s faith. At age eleven, I left the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland in a red-faced rage after encountering the way in which the sacred texts of Christianity told stories about women but did not include their actual voices or perspectives.
I sat on the curb of the church parking lot with my skinny arms wrapped around my knees. And sobbed my eyes out. The anger that had forced me to leave my Sunday school class as we were reading the Bible had revealed itself as fear. Pure fear.
With little girl-clarity, I knew that my sexual assault was not random. I knew that my silence about what had happened that night and his wrongful belief that he had a right to my body had everything to do with the fact that “God’s word” had left women’s voices out of the story.
I say, “I knew,” but it was more than simple cognition, it was visceral. I knew, as if in blood memory that women’s bodies had been written out of the divine equation.
I was the sex not considered sacred. So what was one more girl-child abused? Who would ever care? And how would it ever stop?
If my body could have a door – that door would be in my heart. And if I could describe that moment to you at all, I would tell you that I opened the door in my heart just then and walked right out.
This to me was apostasy – not leaving church – but abandoning my own body.
The path of the divine feminine for me has required that I reclaim that effortless state of embodiment I had as a little girl. I have had to go on a pilgrimage to recover that unfaltering love I was – that wildly free little love-creature who never abandoned her impulses, and who was entirely at home in her own body.
Here’s what I’ve come to tell you: Nothing good can ever be lost. Contrary to everything you’ve been told or taught, she is your knight in shining armor, she is the one you have been waiting for. She is the most important person in your life. And contrary to everything you’ve been told or taught, she is within. She is not that next job, that next love, a marriage, a child, a trip to a bikini-clad land.
What will save you is inside of you. What you long for most, you already contain.
Rather than looking up, praying up for the light to break through to you, as more traditionally religious texts and leaders might suggest, this journey to find her again, to REVEAL your soul, is about going within. It’s about daring to enter your own dark to unveil the obstacles that have separated you from her.
The path of the divine feminine is a path of turning within to find that treasure of the love you are and have always been. This is the path of reclaiming the love that is your birthright, the love that gives us the fundamental and ultimate freedom to walk this earth beloved, and unafraid.
But so, how do we do this? How do we find that uninhibited, wide-open-hearted, vulnerable girl-child who was fully embodied and who heard and heeded the voice of the soul without pretense and without hesitation? The process of founding REVEAL has given me the privilege of meeting with so many tremendously blazing and brilliant young spiritual mavens that make up the next generation of spirituality.
Over the years, gorgeous red threads have woven together to form a cohesive movement – a REVEALing movement of women daring to meet with their soul and to make their lives about that union. Through over a decade of deep listening to what women have to share about their experience of the divine, I have discerned three core areas of empowerment that serve as the key to re-membering that soulful girl-child, to reclaiming that blissful state of embodiment, and to reconnecting to that deep love and wisdom we can only know from within.
I refer to these three core areas of empowerment that allow you to REVEAL your soul as FIERCE, FEMININE & DIVINE: Before we can hear and follow the voice of the soul or the voice of the unconditional love at our core, we have to reclaim our bodies as sacred.
This demands us to be FIERCE. The next generation of feminine spirituality is concerned to bridge the distance that women and men have been forced to endure from knowing that the attributes of the feminine are divine too- but even more importantly- the distance they have had to endure from trusting, honoring, and respecting the female body as sacred.
Helene Cixous, French Feminist and philosopher claims, in “The Laugh of the Medusa,” that there are still so few texts of women’s experience in the course of human history “because so few women have as yet won back their body.”
What does it mean to win back the body? To me, it means becoming fierce enough to never discount or abandon the truth of our physical experience. It means listening when the body is speaking and having the audacity to voice the wisdom the body contains. Culture may want you to do one thing as a woman- but what does your gut tell you? Reclaiming the body as sacred means going with your gut even when it seems crazy to. It means acknowledging without reservation that the female body, your female body is the matter of an unbreakable holiness. And perhaps most importantly, reclaiming your body as sacred means daring to give back to ourselves from toe nail to split ends the love we ordinarily only give to others.
I recently heard Eve Ensler speak about the founding of V-Day at an intimate gathering in the Russian Tea Room here in NYC. She entered the ornate red room wrapped in a gold dress with impossibly huge peace signs dangling from each ear and an entourage befitting a rock star. Eve is REVEAL’s version of the pope.
She said after doing the initial Vagina Monologues she had a clipboard where women could sign up to meet with her in her apt and talk about their vaginas. Women came in droves. And when she went on tour, women everywhere wanted to tell her stories about their vaginas. The vast majority of the stories unfortunately were not about multiple orgasms and sexual bliss but stories about sexual abuse, fear, torment and torture. Worldwide. V-Day’s mission is doing for women’s vaginas what REVEAL’s mission aims to do for women’s souls.
My passion for women and religion and my own spiritual journey has made me a She-magnet for women’s soul-stories. I have heard from mild restlessness to deep suffering the ways in which women’s spiritual experience is not mirrored, acknowledged or included in the rituals, practice, or liturgy of their more traditional places of worship. And that, women’s direct experience of the sacred has no place, no platform, and no voice. This is why REVEAL was born.
A crucial way for us as women to reclaim our bodies as sacred is to honor and acknowledge the moments we experience and encounter the divine in our lives. The current VDAY international sex slavery statistics are staggering. For example, in the Philippines, an estimated 100 thousand little girls have been forced into prostitution. Here in the US, the FBI estimates that there are well over 100 thousand children and teens being trafficked – most of them young girls, some as young as 9 years old.
How is this related? The way young girls are perceived and treated in our world culture, the way that the female body young and old is still abused and assaulted, has every thing to do with the collective imbalance of forgetting the capital H HER, the divine she, the divine feminine, however you want to refer to the still hidden, silenced other half of the divine- She must be remembered. She must be honored again so that young girls can retain their innate knowing of just how divine and love-filled they are, they can mature into women who own their bodies fiercely, and who trust the voice of their soul above and before anyone else’s.
It starts with you. It starts with us right now. Today. When you claim your body as sacred, the divine feminine is remembered. REVEAL’s mission will be complete when every girl and woman in this world knows she is sacred simply because she is female.
The second area of empowerment is about cultivating the feminine spiritual art of going within to connect to the unconditional love the voice of the soul contains. This demands us to be FEMININE. [You] have a direct connection to the divine.
The next generation of spirituality REVEAL represents is open to learning from respected spiritual leaders, priests, imams, gurus, rabbis, and ministers and, yet, never more so than hearing and learning from the voice of wisdom we can only find from within. Sera Beak refers to it as The Divine Spark, Gabrielle Bernstein calls it The ~ing or inner guide, Joanna Lindenbaum calls it Woman Wisdom, and I refer to it as The Soul Voice. Call it by any name that resonates, but it’s that aspect in all of us that touches to and is mysteriously a part of what is timeless, and eternal within us.
I recognize the soul-voice in meditation because it is the most tenacious when it comes to truth-telling and, yet, never insists on its own way. The soul-voice can challenge like no other voice inside me. There are no sharp-edged certainties or cut and dry answers to hang onto. There is just this vast, overpowering, and delicious sense of being wildly alive when the soul-voice reminds me that I can always choose not to fear. I can choose to love instead. The soul-voice offers every kind of encouragement. The soul-voice suggests, never demands, that I trust myself enough to face what terrifies me in order to taste freedom. The soul-voice is simply, profoundly the voice of unconditional love that lives at our core.
Fear strengthens our connection to the soul-voice because fear gives us the opportunity to choose love. Every time fear surfaces in our life, it’s the equivalent of picking up a barbell to strengthen a bicep. Sometimes the fear is a five-pound weight and sometimes it’s closer to what the heavy weight champion of the world alone could lift. Fear and love live within us for an equal amount of time for most of us throughout our lives.
Yet, here’s the grace: fear and love cannot co-exist inside us at the same moment. Fear is far more convincing than the voice of love that the soul contains.Yet, the truth of love knows itself completely. Truth doesn’t need to convince you of anything. So in comparison, fear sounds like a used car salesman- fear is not truth and knows it – so it has to win you over- it has to destabilize you from the truth of love that is rooted in you like a tree.
We all have daily fears- and we all have our more massive life-teacher type fears – like speaking in public- really letting loose on the dance floor- or in my case- getting on an airplane.These fears are like kryptonite to the soul-voice. These fears come like a rowdy gang inside you and crowd out that one voice you want most to listen to- and to follow.
But so how to choose- how do you find love when you find yourself encircled with fear totally freaked out and terrified – fully convinced that the fear is real? You become feminine – you become more feminine than you have ever been – men and women have always been born to do this.
Surrender. Surrender over the used car you’ve just bought, surrender over your tears, your trembling, and all that you’re now certain will come to pass, ie. the plane is going to drop in a ball of flames. Become feminine enough to realize you have simply closed the door to your own heart, in fear, you have even locked it shut. Become feminine enough to feel the hinges creak and then break
Let your heart break wide open in the fear and you will suddenly hear with unmistakable clarity the most love-filled voice you could ever imagine- your own. The voice of your own soul will give you every ounce of love you need to face that singular fear that has stood in the way of your freedom. Men and women in this way, when we dare to be fearless enough to become feminine again in the midst of our greatest fears- our greatest temptations to close ourselves off from love- will collectively connect and reclaim the very real way in which the divine is feminine.
After years and years of following the soul-voice, I know that this is what happens when I dare to go within and to go where love asks for me to go. I enter into a place of pure magic. I live life in total alignment. You will have to figure out what journey, pilgrimage, or spiritual practice will forge a meeting with the soul voice inside you. You will have to go through your own discernment process to know to your bone the voice of fear from the voice of love within you.
For some discernment may come in an instant that leaves you intimate with the soul voice from then on- in childbirth or in a life-death situation. Or sometimes it comes from a spiritual practice of facing that singular thing of which you are most afraid. And for some it will come after spending years and years on a mushroom shaped meditation cushion watching thoughts like clouds until the incessant inner dialogue is interrupted by the crystalline quality and unmistakable tone of the voice of the soul.
Why is this so important? When we remember this love, our own, we know that it goes with us no matter what happens in our lives- no matter what pain or suffering- no matter what fears real or imagined- we have the love of our life right here with us, within us, beaming a course for us to realize our potential and to fulfill our deepest desires which are also the world’s greatest needs. A REVEALer’s greatest tool is her capacity to become feminine to be led by the voice of love within her so that the dreams she has for herself and our world will never be derailed by fear.
The third area of empowerment is the courageous act of following the soul voice to become an agent of change in the world and then gathering spiritual community around us for soul-stirring support. This demands for us to be DIVINE.
When you have heard and connected with your soul-voice, when you have felt again the unconditional love that lives within you, you cannot help but move that love into action. It’s inexorable. It’s a sign that you have in fact connected to the voice of your soul. You will be inspired to share your love and unique gifts in the world whatever they might be.
Spiritual community is as essential as air to help support you and spur you on as you do the work your soul longs most for you to do. The next generation of spirituality of REVEAL has received the wisdom of the generations of powerful female spiritual leaders who have come before us who knew that when women are together it’s easier for us to remember the truth. When women are together it’s easier for us to remember the truth that our bodies reconstitute the world. Our bodies repopulate every country and every nation. Century after century. We remember that we are not a minority but an incarnation of the divine feminine.
When we come together like this, as a community, as a long lost brazen band of soul-sisters, priestesses, miracle workers, healers, of financial divas and femmepreneurs, we can remember with as little effort as an exhale, that it is a sacred imperative to honor that powerful little girl within, to cherish her vulnerability, her vast capacity to love, and her unfaltering faith that absolutely anything is possible. For me, when I am surrounded like this in a warm bath of lady love- I remember that the most powerful place for me to be, even if sometimes terrifying, is fully in my body with the door to my heart blown wide open. This is when we are not just human but also divine- when we dare to fully embody the unconditional love that we truly are and have always been.
Here’s what I’ve come to tell you: Nothing good can ever be lost. No matter what has happened- there is hope. No matter how far away you are from your own body, no matter how distant that sacred little girl you were seems to you now- she is still within. She is still waiting faithfully for you to claim her magic and truth. What is within us is outside us. If she is not being revered as sacred from within us all, then she will continue to not be honored in the world around us.
Lets us turn the tide right here and right now- claim Her as sacred. She is you. I remember her. You remember her. The path of the divine feminine asks a woman to quietly, triumphantly, turn within and, as Jungian Analyst Marion Woodman relates, “to be in love with her body… from the soles of her feet to the top of her head.”
I remember her. I am that little love-creature REVEALing her soul (and her very flat chest) fearlessly before the wide-open sea. And this act of remembering the unbreakable holiness of the body, of the soul is not just about our own lives. When each one of us reclaims that sacred soul voice within, we make the path for our sisters and for girls everywhere that much lighter and well-lit. We claim our bodies as sacred by remembering that she is the key to our greatest source of healing not only for ourselves but also for the world. She is that part of us, both personally and collectively, that is unafraid to break open with love. She is that part of us that trusts our indignation and demands justice for the voiceless and victimized. She is that courageous, resilient part of us that chooses love at all costs.
The female spiritual leaders, the freelance mystics, and the blazing hot torch bearers of the next generation of feminine spirituality who are going to change your life and REVEAL your soul are not just up here on the stage today- they are sitting right beside you. You’re going to meet them today- the ladies who will help facilitate the single most imporant shift you can make in your life- the shift of choosing love over fear every step of the way.
But no one is more important for you to meet with today than Her. You – the most love-filled you. Remember Her today, and your soul will be REVEALed.