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Goddess in the Flesh

August, 2018

It is almost impossible to meet every beauty standard. It is almost impossible for the beauty, diet and medical industries to “approve” of your body, skin, hair and eyes. In a world that deliberately shifts the “should’s” and shames that attacks and blames, loving yourself is an act of rebellion.

What is reviled in one country is celebrated in another. From skinny shaming to fat-hating what stays the same is the entitlement of male-gaze, the disgust and ownership of the female form. The idea that women are objects for public consumption is at the root of both modesty and pornography.

My mum was a fat hater and a fat-shamer. So was my dad. This meant that while I was “not pretty” I had the good grace to be thin and clever. I prized this things because both came easily to me. I can’t tell if I was an exercise addict, someone who coped with anxiety through exercise, or just very active. I would roll at of bed at dawn and do 30 sit-ups, until about the age of 17. Exercise makes me feel good, helps me focus and is something I really enjoy, though I can’t do much, if any, these days. I didn’t diet, far from it I ate a huge amount, but as a dancer I knew plenty of girls who ate tissue to not be hungry. Girls who didn’t eat for half of the school week to be “thin enough” to go out on a Friday. Fat was a mystery to me. A softness I was scared of. Still find frightening on occasion.

Fat was “weakness” and was far too vulnerable to the rough grabbing hands. No I wanted to be hard, strong and never weak. Of course I hated myself plenty. My wonky nose, crocked teeth, my ginger curly hair. Once I stopped dancing I grew breasts quickly. They came as something of a shock to me. I went from a B to a D cup in a very short time and they had their perks I was sort of mystified by this fleshier body.

As I got older, and then had children my weight was the first thing my mum would comment about.

You look fat, and not the jolly kind.”

Oh you lost weight, your face looks better.”

You are thin enough now, much skinnier you’ll look ill.”

Of course my mum was a much better feminist than I was because I had “given myself over to the yoke of motherhood” instead of doing something “more important”. My feminism was “too soft” and far too feminine and far too fat for her.

I have been all different sizes, shapes and tones and while I was more desired by men when I was thinner and more toned I have rarely been happy with myself. Rarely felt self-love or safety in my skin. I fear the toxic seep of this self-loathing for my daughter. I wonder what seeds I have sown accidentally. I have been working on loving myself for years and sometimes I feel I get there.

So how do we create real change? How do we dismantle huge industries that promote self-loathing as self-care? How do we dare to be soft when it hurts so much? How do we find our strength in body, spirit and mind? I think we must make Goddess figurines. Thousands of them, millions. Ones that are like us, as we are, not as we wish to be. Some with huge voluptuous breasts or none to speak of. Some with long legs, or no legs. With curly coils, or no hair. With lines and scars. With powerful thighs and big arses. So that we know our flesh is powerful and beautiful and important. That we are worthy, fat, scarred, skinny and all. For in reclaiming our image as beautiful, as sacred art maybe we will love ourselves just a little bit more.

Going Shamanic Radio

July, 2018

 

Going Shamanic” is hosted by Jennifer Engracio on P.A.G.E.  Media Project’s blogtalk radio each month. The show focuses on how to integrate shamanism into every day life. Instead of relegating the spiritual aspect of ourselves to Sundays at church or weekend workshops, this show will support listeners in weaving ritual, prayer, magic, alignment with the Spiritworld and the Earth into their lives to enrich their experience of living.

This Month’s Topic: Sister & Brotherhood Circles with Lori’ and Phil Nelson

On this episode, Jen welcomes Lori’ Black Cave Dreamer and Phil Eagle Song, both certified shamanic practitioners.

There is a need in our society for women and men to gather with others of their same sex to share and to learn more about what it means to be a whole man or a whole woman. This show talks about what the differences are between women and men and why Sisterhood and Brotherhood Circles are such an important support for communities on the planet.

Going Shamanic is hosted by Jennifer Engrácio, about how to integrate shamanism into everyday life.

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About the Author:

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic practitioner, Reiki Master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’S Shamanic Journey into Healing

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

The Naked Goddess III

April, 2018

I’m part of a lot of spiritual groups and on one of them someone posted this.

Well I had a lot to say, because I feel like that gender (which is more complicated than a binary) is absolutely important to talk about. I am never comfortable when someone says we should talk about something. Silence has a very specific power.

My main issue with this is one group or part of the gender spectrum have had the power, privilege and control of everything, including spirituality for thousands of years. We cannot “white wash” this out of spirituality. When you fail to acknowledge this privilege, the differences, difficulties and discrimination that happens, you add to it. There are more than two genders. Yet pretending gender doesn’t have a bias, that wider societies and cultures doesn’t hugely favour one over everything else is wrong. You are ignoring the problem. I liken this to when privileged white people (like me) say “I don’t see colour”. It effectively erases the thing about a person or group you have and historically have issues with. It is literally removing the part of a person or groups identity. It also allows passive discrimination, bias and abuse to occur.

Spirituality can never be divorced from society. The body politic, if you will. That is why privilege always comes in. We cannot ignore the bias towards certain groups or genders. Ignoring what is happen in a larger cultural context doesn’t make it more spiritual. Spiritual is an expression of the sacred authenticity of people. It always has a cultural context. In real life terms this means folks whom are non-binary, trans, LGBTQ+ or female are going to suffer more discrimination, abuse than those not. From harassment to income, to insurance and medical care, one group significantly is more secure, more safe, and better off.

This has an effect. From spiritual courses requiring money and travel to not having a bathroom you can use, it will have an impact. This totally removes the right of those suffering to say anything if there “is no gender”. It robs them of their identity and silences them to the difficulties and joys about their lives that make them unique.

We, spiritual and pagan people should care and recognize gender, in all its diversity. We should care because we should be advocating, creating spaces and being aware that being different is beautiful and a strength.

Spirituality is not passive or weak. Kindness and inclusivity is a strength, it is courageous.

I don’t know, what I don’t know. However I am open to listening. Listening to trans, non-binary and gender fluid people as well as the scores of women around me.

I am aware that the patriarchal hangovers and wider social norms creep into our lives often without us seeing them. There is a darker more insidious message in this short post though. Setting up the Christian dichotomy of “spirit as good and body is bad” that has been used to torture and abuse millions for thousands of years. This body verses spirit things exactly plays to these problems with body politics and gender issues. It robs people of their loving divine connection to their bodies and lives. It villainises healthy sexual desire, normal bodily function, and the power of the physical world. It divorces and stigmatizes the powerful animal instincts that dwell within.

The “animal” within is not a malign influence that must be erased or destroyed or caged. Doing so removes a deep and divine force within. If it is respected and held in balance it is wise. If it is repressed or caged it reacts like any caged wild animal would. Of course if it runs riot we become less, diminishing any part of the whole makes us less. We are instinct and intellect. We are our desires and our ability to wait or let them go. We can dwell within desire, be it sexual, hunger or rage, acknowledge them and not act. Yet unless you learn to respect and listen this animal side will act out. Repressing parts of ourselves (usually out of shame) is deeply damaging and not spiritual.

It might look like it from the outside. It might look saint-like and perfect but it just isn’t authentic to a whole person. Now some folks are wolf-spirited, some are more like deer, or lions or elephants. It is not my place to tell anyone what their inner animal must be. Or their gender. Or sexuality.

Yet I will honour them. I will make space, and listen, most of all listen. I will acknowledge my position of relative privilege as a white bi-sexual female that people are more understanding or accepting of me in certain places than people whom are differently gendered. I will speak up and stand up to the injustices and intolerance. I will bridge my ignorance with kindness and recognition.