What happens when you stop giving your power away? A Barbie doll massacre, a neon crucifix and gold leaf flakes over all of my life forevermore…

Lovely humans

I am feeling especially creative. As if I could transform my universe with nothing but an orange felt tip pen and my fertile imagination. As if my fingers leak glitter, birdsong and gold leaf flakes in every moment I am forced to be present to a task that does not lend itself, naturally, to creative expression.

Perhaps I can assign the joy this brings outside of myself to the full moon, to a teacher, or to the fascinating book I am reading by an extremely clever man. I find that I do not want to do those things, though. And that feels like progress.

I’m working on not giving my power away. On noticing when I do. The more I do this, I find, the more creative I feel. The more I have to give. The more clarity I find in what it is that I should channel my energy into. 

Becoming Dangerous…

The less power we give away the more dangerous we become. It is a practise of summoning our own salvation. And we become dangerous to the ‘shoulds’, to the expectations, to the systems that we exist within that do not want us to know how powerful we are when we can bear to be present enough to notice all that we give away.

Giving our power away… we all do it. Mostly unconsciously. When we allow something ‘they’ said, how ‘they’ looked at us, feeling left out, something horrid (I find, often about animals or children) that we read in the news… there are a million things I could list… but when we allow these things to tarnish any moment… to take us out of presence, to create contractions in our bodies and make our thinking short and fast… this is giving away our power. Our potency.

I have been robust in my insistence that my power should not be my own. Eyes darting around constantly, frantically, for anyone who will take it off my hands when I become aware that I have such a commodity in any aspect of my self.

At least now I am aware.

Something that has enriched my life enormously over the past 18 months, since I began teaching Kundalini Global, is to observe how my creativity inspires the other. The energetic exchange this facilitates is phenomenal. I find, again and again, that being aware of any creative endeavour I played a part in inspiring, in turn, inspires me a thousand-fold. Which, perhaps, inspires something else in another again…

I was touched to receive something in the post this week that was inspired by a practise from one of my classes. Touched is an interesting word isn’t it? It is for me, as I have always said I don’t like being touched. Perhaps I do. The etymology of the word ‘touch’ is telling in this… from the old French tochier which meant “to touch, hit, knock; mention, deal with” and from Vulgar Latin *toccare “to knock, strike” as a bell (source also of Spanish tocar, Italian toccare). I particularly like the concept of being ‘touched’ to be like a bell being struck. That feels correct, to me.

Anyway, I digress (something I am good at…) this post, this artwork that landed on my doormat at a moment when it could not have been more welcome, it inspired me.

It inspired me musically. In terms of picking up my flute. Which I have fallen back in love with after years of neglect. And in terms of finding myself in need of the comfort and inspiration of the music I love.

These little earthquakes…

I’ve written before about my love for the utterly fabulous Tori Amos. Next year her debut album, Little Earthquakes, my favourite album of all time, turns 30. This week, as I played the record on repeat, I smiled as I realised that it never, ever, stops unfurling for me. The emotion it releases, the ways in which she inspires, the pain it brings… it moves with me. It’s like every song speaks to me in the moment, whether than moment exists within the bright yellow bedroom walls of my teenage years, adorned with stencilled stars and moons, carpet burnt by incense sticks as I sit on the floor applying black kohl liner badly, or as it blasts out from an Alexa in my airy kitchen as I cook a meal for my children, patio doors open to the summer heat…

I love this album with every fibre of my being. And I decided this week that I need to create something from this love.

This led to a whole host of incredibly fun and inspiring moments, and the world’s most peculiar ever Amazon order.

And this is how, last night, I found myself massacring a ‘Made to Move’ Barbie with a breadknife by candlelight whilst covered in gold leaf flakes.

My children think this is fabulous.

I know… I know…

Why do we, crucify ourselves, every day?

I started, what is to become a bigger project, by creating something inspired by the first track on Little Earthquakes. A song called Crucify.

You can listen to it. I will embed a YouTube video here, although I fully recommend you check out the remastered version via Spotify or similar on good speakers to feel it fully. 

Crucify is a song about abandoning ourselves. Yes… about giving our power away.

It’s a song that makes me sad and empowered in equal measure. I must have listened to it 100 times this week. As I wrote not too long ago in an Instagram post, sad feelings evoked by music are pleasurable to us when sadness is perceived as non-threatening, when listening comes with psychological benefits such as emotional regulation and when the sad songs bring recollection of/reflection on past events that bring feelings of empathy.

I believe this to be true when I look at my relationship to Crucify. It evokes empathy for me. For my self. It evokes other emotions too. Rage, fear… but in a safe way. A way that facilitates release.

And if that release comes with the death of a Barbie doll? Well, I don’t judge myself. I’ve given up on that too.

You really can feel Tori’s rage in the piano in this. And her lyrics, as always, are incredible. Incredible.

Tori’s father was a preacher and has recounted how, when her father held prayer meetings she masturbated upstairs. Crucifiy is, I suppose, about freedom from the religious dogma imposed by her family and in society. Freedom that she looked for by abandoning herself on the ‘dirty streets’ and beneath ‘dirty sheets’ but ultimately found only within herself.

If you’re easily offended you may not want to see what I created. I don’t make such things for anyone else. I just, on occasion, find I have to make manifest how I feel in the form of something that makes me horrified, and hysterical (in the positive way) in equal measure.

Here it is, if you would like to see… it’s probably not finished. I am not too good with endings because they make me cry and crying… let’s just say me and crying have work to do.

I hope you all have a glorious day… week… month… life… until we meet again.



Making The Ordinary Sacred What Is Sacred Space? And Do Spaces Have A Gender?

At the start of every Kundalini Global class you will most likely, and most definitely in my classes, hear the teacher state that we will begin by opening a sacred space.

What does that mean?

I can give you my own explanation, but I’m very interested in what it brings to mind for you? What does the term sacred space bring up? What does a sacred space feel like? Look like? Sound like? What is its purpose?

For me, on first hearing the phrase, I believe my mind went to designated places of worship. Last year I read a really fascinating book called Violence and the Body: Race, Gender, and the State which explored how when we look to places of worship we will often find buildings designed and built by men with male form and geometry. It gave me pause to consider if a space was to feel sacred to me, did it require male form? And upon entering a sacred space did I feel the male gaze? Was the masculine an aspect of my relationship to the sacred? I believe it was, but that experiences I have had over the past 12 months, including attending two series of Prayer Workshops with Carolyn Cowan, have challenged, taken apart and begun to reassemble that relationship in ways I am finding extraordinary.

Take Me to Church?

If we think of rituals performed within mosques, churches and other religious buildings we will likely believe, and largely rightly, that they are most often performed by men.

Our mind may visualise a male figure when we reflect. Plus, of course, women’s access to such spaces has often been limited by rules imposed by men. Women in Islam, for example, do not lead prayer and, in larger mosques, where women are welcome, they are usually segregated, sitting at the back or out of sight entirely.

Mormon women are, to this day, expected to wear skirts or dresses to worship services and inside temples and, until recently, India’s Sabarimala temple banned women and girls of menstruating age from entering at all.

Forgive me for speaking in the binary during this post, by the way, I do not mean to exclude anyone on the basis of gender identity, and ultimately what I am interested is how the divine feminine, an energy that transcends gender, comes to play in sacred space but in general terms it’s tricky to avoid talking man/woman when we look at the concept of sacred space though history (and I, for one, hope that is something that changes!)

Women can and do create sacred spaces and always have, be they more subjective than, for example, a Gurdwara, which we may assume most would consider a sacred space, if they of Sikh faith or not and regardless of if they experience it as sacred upon entering in to it. My perception is that women’s sacred spaces, or perhaps ‘feminine’ sacred spaces, may not have the boundaries of manmade walls – they may be universal. They may be invisible. They may not have real permanence and they may move with the individual who considers them to be sacred (for example, a yoga mat).

Through time we can look at endless examples of women not as passive occupants, forced to the back of man-made sacred spaces, but as the creators and holders of them. From the home, as a place of self expression and reflection, and altars placed within them, to sites of protest, to nature itself, the feminine sacred space is an area with great potential in bringing forth positive change. At this moment in time, with the women’s movement, from #MeToo, to the Everyday Sexism Project, to the rising discourse on the topic of male privilege and through climate change, which we may consider a manifestation of the destruction of the feminine by a masculine, consumerist, society, we have an opportunity for the creation of the sacred space on an individual level, to become mainstream, and for feminine space (even ‘Mother Earth’) to be not just created, but reclaimed.

Whilst I was on my Kundalini Global Level One Teacher training I became fascinated by the concept of feminine sacred space: what it may look like, what characteristics such spaces may share. For me, with the enormous popularity of yoga worldwide, considering the role yoga teachers could and do play in the creation of sacred space and the amazing opportunity that presents is powerful.

Again, I can speak to my own experience: that I create sacred space, both personally, and for classes I teach, with the goal of facilitating safety, stillness and connection for myself, as an act of self care, and for those who choose to come and join me in class and gift me the ability to hold the space – to allow them, potentially, a new experience of themselves.

On a binary level, looking at ‘space’ we can see gender being assigned certain characteristics in polarity as male or female, to give a few examples, public or private, built or natural, heaven or earth. Despite the patriarchal histories of modern religions, and women’s lack of agency woven in to them, it is easy to see many recurring methods employed by women to create sacred space, to ‘make a home for the spirit,’ that each share characteristics that differentiate them from traditional, male dominated, worship space.

By exploring the concept of sacred spaces through a gender lens, and looking at the divine feminine manifest within them, we are able to consider such space not only from the physical, boundaried, perspective, admiring the stained glass windows in a Catholic cathedral, but to take a more fantastic, visionary and abstract look at the architecture of space. My own view could be described in part as the creation of, and stillness in, sacred space is done as a means to make manifest the indescribable. What opportunities does this present to us, then, if the space itself is beyond description too?

By embracing the feminine in the realm of sacred space we can be powerful in a movement to untie the concept of physical homes for the divine beyond the realms of organised religion into unboundaried, empowering environments that allow a stillness for experiencing the divine within us.

Making The Ordinary Sacred

By claiming or perceiving what may be described as ‘the ordinary,” Sacred spaces created by women often display characteristics that make them easily distinguishable them from male/masculine created worship space. Many could be considered subjective, considered sacred to the individual, and not outwardly so to everyone (or indeed anyone) else. Such a space can therefore be contested (“what’s the problem with me stepping on your yoga mat with my muddy boots?”) whereas, as I said at the start of this post, most traditional worship space may be more broadly respected and considered sacred by all (“of course I will cover my head and take off my shoes”).

Feminine sacred spaces is often not confined to rooms within walls, and whilst they are often physical, e.g. the home altar, they can also be transient and unmeasurable, like a connection with another person and what happens in the space between you or when you come together. The feminine sacred space is often immeasurable. The internal connection to the divine, and the space inside that allows that, may well be considered to be sacred, but can, if she chooses, exist in every place and in all time for the women who find it.

As discussed, patriarchal societies have regularly made problematic women’s occupancy of traditional, religious, sacred space. However, this appears to have allowed for attention to go inward to find space for the spiritual. Yoga is a good example to make a case for how, over time, such gendered power inequalities have led to increased female participation in spiritual movements, where the separation of the sacred and secular is not confined by doors. The explosion of yoga in the West since the 1960s, recognised (not always but often) as a spiritual practise distinct from religion, has coincided with the women’s rights movement. So women’s lack of agency within traditional sacred space, combined with their growing autonomy, has caused the sacred spaces which they created, appropriated and visited to become ‘a womb for their spiritual development’.

But even such movements are not free of the dogma inherent in male dominated religion. In Yoni Shakti, Uma Dinsmore-Tuli makes a powerful case for the empowerment of women’s yoga practise through ‘explortion, welcoming, open sharing, honouring and recognition’. This partly in response to countless stories from yoga studios of disempowerment, disrespect and disregard for the feminine. One story, for example, looks at a case of several women on a male-led retreat not feeling safe to share they were menstruating, and therefore not having an opportunity to take part in practise that would soothe their experience.

Beyond that, stories like that of Bikram and Yogi Bhajan, powerful men who played powerful roles in bringing yoga practise to the West only to abuse that power and the women who they taught, only furthers the disconnection between yoga practise facilitating a stillness that allows inner connection, and the spaces offered by those in power in which to practise, which appears to have often been far from either sacred or safe. In a practise dominated by women at a rate of 9/1, it is important to consider how a space can be made both sacred and safe for the women entering in to it. It is true, as Dinsmore-Tuli, states, that for many women the freedom to practise the yoga that nourishes their awareness can be beautifully experienced within the boundaries of a traditional hierarchy, just as many women have found connection inside themselves within the walls of religious buildings, but many women undoubtedly feel their own consciousness is stifled by structures, sexual abuses and power imbalances within the lineage hierarchies.

It feels quite justifiable, to me, to consider that anyone facilitating yoga practise for others should reflect on women’s empowerment and how to create spaces (physical, e.g. an altar, or ethereal, e.g. the offer of accessible alternative postures for peri- post- and menopausal women) that welcome it.

Another idea that Dinsmore-Tuli explores is the disconnection inherent in contemporary yoga, which is reflected in the physical spaces classes occupy, often located in a studio or gym, but traditionally taught within ‘sacred philosophical frameworks’ in the context of the temple, or, very interestingly, the forest hermitage. As she states, ‘many yoga centres feel more like a health club than a temple or a forest ashram’. But does this matter when women have long created their own spaces to name and experience as sacred? I would argue that yes, it’s very important because the power of women coming together to practise yoga creates a unique opportunity to create a safe, sacred space in which all students can explore self-inquiry through a feminine lense, with 90%+ of teachers and their students identifying as female, why should the space not be created after deep reflection on the feminine, and on how to create sacred space in which it can be expressed and explored, rather than allowing in the same dogma and walls that have the ability to stifle it. As Dinsmore-Tuli succinctly puts it – we have created forms of yoga mirroring our own disregard for our inner guide. I would argues the same has sometimes happened for the spaces we practise in.

But how do we make a change?

Many wonderful yoga teachers and women make efforts to create and sustain the sanctity of a space before, during, and after class. It will ultimately always come down to the practitioner to listen to their own inner teacher to consider what steps can be taken to best support safety, connection and empowerment for the space they are holding. But we can look to other women, and the spaces they have created too, we can discuss, deconstruct and start anew. If we free ourselves from the bricks and mortar idea of the place of worship, the possibilities for how feminine sacred space can look become infinite.

If we consider climate change as opportunity to reclaim mother earth from the clutches of capitalism, we can so too consider the increasing number of accounts of sexual misconduct, and abuses of power by men in hierarchical yoga traditions as an opportunity to reclaim yoga as a sacred and safe space for women. In an article published in 2019, Miss Rosen makes this powerful call to action: “Mother Earth, like the sea, are historically considered feminine entities – a telling truth in a patriarchal world. What Western society has sought to exploit and oppress, perhaps William Congreve said it best in 1697: “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” But why wait until it’s too late?” and just like the invitation, published in the Kundalini Global Level One Training Manual, to ‘get altars in every home…to have a place in our own world where we anchor ourselves and take stock. Where we turn inward and meet out soul. No rules, no regulations…’ it feels the time is now to truly reflect on how such practises could create massive shifts in energy for everyone. If we let the feminine sacred space thrive, free of dogma, free of walls.

Calling in the Divine Feminine: why it is important for yoga and for life

In Kundalini Global yoga classes, calling on our Divine Feminine energy is a key element in what makes the practise exceptional.

Exceptional in its kindness, in its openness to all humans and in its ability to really allow ANYONE practising to connect with themselves.

Whilst I feel that the binary language here (indeed all binary language) can be problematic in allowing us to open up to the idea of Divine Feminine energy it is important to say that it is not exclusive to women. It represents our connection to nurturing, to intuition, to collaboration, to creativity, to empathy, to sensuality… to so much magic and this is REGARDLESS of your gender identity. 

Every single one of you magical creatures reading this holds huge armfuls of feminine (and masculine) wisdom and energy that you are able to connect with consciously to use all parts of your unique magic in different parts of this peculiar human life.

The Divine Feminine is a sacred energy – it is one of two aspects of  consciousness under the esoteric thought that our consciousness is divided up between the masculine (right) side and the feminine (left) side.  The Divine Feminine is your intuition, your empathy, your creativity, your sensuality… 

Over thousands of years, this energy has been continually disregarded as we have been collectively (and individually) trained in to living lives regulated by masculine energy.

Masculine energy dominates our existence. Our systems. THE PATRIARCHY! Large capitalist organisations, mostly organised by men, God in the ceramic model referred to as  a “Him”, men dominating politics and leadership etc. It has also, often, dominated hierarchical, Guru lineages in yoga.

Women are required to be slaves to the system, drawing on their own masculine energies as they compare themselves against each other to evaluate how well they are slotting in to being ‘good’ enough, beautiful enough, young enough etc. It is material, ‘logical’, ordered, and out of whack (as it has been, largely unchallenged for a long long time) masculine energy is controlling, materialistic, egotistical, and obsessed with looks. All of this goes in to a massive melting pot of horror resulting in greed, corruption, war, materialism, abuses of power… 

Men are not victorious within this system either, so incredibly discouraged to explore and disconnected from their Divine Feminine aspect that they may be totally enable to express their thoughts, feelings, emotions. And is undoubtedly a huge part of why the biggest killer of young men is suicide.  And it needs to change.

I do not believe the divine feminine could ever have been totally lost, but beaten down. Even the act of childbirth, where a woman should be perhaps most in tune with her divine feminine powers of creation, has been systemised as something to fear and heavily medicalised Women are encouraged to be disconnected from their own intuition and are often left feeling powerless in the entire process. 

We can bring it back. I believe we ARE making the first steps. 

We need to stop, quite literally, buying in to the expectations of what a woman (and men, and those who identify as neither) should be. We need to let go of constant comparison, we need to reconnect with and respect our physical bodies as sacred and not OBJECTS. We need to let go of the need to be good. And to be chosen. 

My own classes, and Kundalini Global as a collective, strives to reconnect everyone who comes to class to this Divine feminine aspect of themselves as we invite you to connect to the ‘Divine within’ and show you how to nurture yourself, choose yourself, be gentle with yourself and find presence. We are also reclaiming the Divine feminine, Kundalini energy from the clasps of male dogma and rules. 

What do you think? Has the divine feminine been lost for you? Do you feel connected to these parts of yourself? Can you think of ways that your intuition, creativity, empathy, has been beaten out of you by the male dominated systems you’re encouraged to bow to?