Do you know who you are? the shaman asked. A thick silence filled the short distance between us. ‘Do you know who you are?’ she repeated, her eyes locking mine so forcefully she might as well have put her hands on either side of my face.
Responses were racing through me like the reels of a slot machine. But I remained silent as huge tears started to slide down my cheeks. I knew who I was, but I had no idea how to express it. I didn’t know how to mirror on the outside the truth of who I was within.
I had come to the shaman because I ardently believed she could flip a switch and change me. I believed that I would meet something or someone outside of myself – the right word, a wise thought, a sacred text, a spiritual master – that would touch my soul, and that would be it. Boom. I would be aligned with the truth of who I am. I would again be connected to that sense of love and freedom I knew without question as a little girl.
Derailed by fear
I was in my early 20s, and I knew what my life so far had cost me. I was afraid, not all the time but often enough that I allowed fear to dictate my choices. Fear derailed me in all kinds of ordinary ways nearly every day. And I wanted freedom more than anything. I wanted to find a way to turn inward no matter what my external circumstances or how much fear I was experiencing, and know what is true for me, the actual rock of who I am. Not the smoke and shadow the ego emits, but a source more stable and constant. I wanted to know God, intimately. I wanted a personal experience of the Divine. I wanted to meet what is most sacred, not just one day a week or on holidays or on special occasions like weddings and deaths. I wanted the Divine to infuse every part of my life, every day, every breath.
Just as medicine – and later, psychology – were grounded in the male body and the male experience, the liturgy and spiritual practices of most of the world’s religions were codified and created by men. I marched out of my Unitarian church at age ten after reading the Bible for the first time and realizing that women’s voices weren’t a part of the story. I have wondered since then what a spirituality would look like if it were created with women’s experience and perspective in mind.
I wanted to be spiritual in a way that allowed me to be as at home in my soul as I am in my skin. Separating my sexuality from my spirituality didn’t work for me, because it wasn’t true to my experience. For me, it was only by winning back my body – by daring to really be present to all I was feeling in my body – that I finally began to connect to what is eternal in me. The body then wasn’t an obstacle but, in a way, the goal.
I have spent the majority of my life gathering stories of the Divine Feminine. Through the stories of the Divine Feminine in Christianity’s Mary Magdalene, Catholicism’s Black Madonna, Hinduism’s Kali Ma, and Buddhism’s Green Tara, for example, I began to see that I wasn’t as much of a spiritual misfit as I had thought. There was a red thread that became visible to me. It ran through many of the world religions, especially through their mystics, relaying that the way to find the Divine is to go within. And, that our potential to be transformed by going inward is exactly the same whether we are a man or a woman. The real barometer of our spiritual potential is not our sex, but the commitment of our desire to encounter the Divine.
Getting spiritually naked
In divinity school and seminary I came across early Christian writings that are not well known in the mainstream, such as The Gospel of Mary Magdalene and the Pistis Sophia. These are texts in which the Divine isn’t out there, above or beyond us, but rather within us. And the central figures of these texts are women. These were the voices that as a little girl I sensed were missing from the Bible. But what I really wanted to find was a text that helped me go within. I loved the metaphors of what happens by turning inward: the mystical union, the sacred marriage, the alchemical uniting of opposites. That all sounded so intriguing, so alluring, but I had no idea what any of it really meant or how to get there.
What I lacked most and longed to find was a sacred guide to the inner terrain. I needed help in navigating that unknown inner world, a person who could light my way through the darkness. This, I found, is who I am.
To me being spiritual is less about learning something new and more about remembering what I have always known. Being spiritual is a process of stripping down to what is authentic for me, for my life. Getting spiritually naked is about having the courage to be radically open about the truth of who we are with no exceptions and no apologies, to reveal ourselves without
judgment or shame. The more we reveal of ourselves, the closer we come to unveiling the soul, to reaching the Divine.
I want you to know that there is a way through fear. You are not crazy for wanting so much more out of life. You are not selfish or greedy either.
You have been initiated.
From Reveal © 2013 by Meggan Watterson, published by Hay House.
REVEAL Meggan Watterson
After a revelation at a sacred site of the Black Madonna in Europe, Meggan Watterson realized that being spiritual for her was intricately tied to her view of her body. Rather than transcending the body, denying or ignoring it, she found that she must accept her body as sacred. Only then could she truly hear the voice of unfaltering love inside her – the voice of her soul. Meggan, a Harvard-trained theologian, was on a mission to uncover the hidden voices from traditional religion: the voices of women. But her pilgrimage around the world revealed not only the many stories, images and voices of the Divine Feminine across traditions, but also her own spiritual voice, the one veiled beneath years of fear and self-doubt. Her realizations led her to connect with many other audacious, fiercely loving and fearless women from all sides of the spiritual spectrum. Join her as, with passion, humour, poetry, and raw honesty, Meggan provides what religion has left out – a way to lift the veils of your own fear and self-doubt to find the soaring power of the Divine Feminine within.
224pp, 16mm x 216mm, softback, 2013, RRP £10.99
Code: 230506, Cygnus Prices: 1 copy £7.99, 2+ copies £7.49 each