Radical Shakti at the Modern Women Festival

Written by Peter

How tapping into our feminine essence is changing the world

Sweet. Powerful. Gentle. Surrendered. Inspired.

These are some of the words that I heard from my female-bodied peers when describing the Modern Woman Festival. I kept trying to put my finger on what was different about this festival from the many other Ubud events. Why did I feel so at ease and relaxed, just basking in the sweetness? Oh, right. No men. I didn’t think it would feel so tangible, but it made a big difference. It felt like a rare and unique experience to share so deeply with such a diverse group of women. So why is it so important for women, only women, to gather? 

This. Is. Radical.

I will paraphrase a speech made by Maha Laxmi Grace, a key Ubud figure known around town as Cosmic Grandma. She has been on earth for a few decades longer than most of the rest of us at the festival. Here is what she had to say about the festival. “This. Is. Radical.” 

If you spend time in Ubud, or in conscious communities globally…

…you may notice a wide variety of offerings that bring women together in sisterhood. There are safe spaces for us to be real and wild, to embrace our femininity and our sexuality. We see it so often that sometimes we take it for granted. What we forget is that our mothers did not have access to these kinds of offerings. Even those who lived in activist communities in Berkeley, California (like my mom), were just beginning to explore female empowerment. I will ask my mom for details, but I sincerely doubt that they were sharing taoist practices for energetic orgasms, yoni gazing or talking about best practices in sexual health in LGBTQI communities. 

As Cosmic Grandma pointed out, it wasn’t until the 1970’s that the United States passed key laws protecting women’s rights. I recently discovered a law that was passed as recently as 1981. It overturned state laws designating a husband “head and master” of the house, and any jointly owned property or business ventures. As a woman who owns a business with my husband, this is unthinkable to me. A lot has changed in my lifetime and for this I am very grateful. 

Change begins with me.

Besides the radical political act of coming together as female identified, potent inner shifts occur at an individual level. In safe spaces, we finally dare to step out of the limiting boxes created around feminine identity. Whether it be social, cultural or psychological, our identity as female is highly conditioned. But there is no box big enough to contain the vast and diverse forms of feminine energy. If we view femininity through the lens of the yogi’s, Shakti, the feminine principle of the universe is simply energy. That’s it. Moving, shifting, creative and ever evolving energy. When this is suppressed or neglected through imposed roles, we lose vitality and enthusiasm for life. It’s no surprise that so many modern women find ourselves exhausted. 

It doesn’t have to be this way. The more we gather, share, reflect and elevate each other, the more we re-awaken our feminine life force energy. And it doesn’t have to end after the festival finishes either. We can take these explorations home with us. A practice of self-inquiry can help us to find the roots of our suppression and conditioning. Self-love practices and shadow work help us to bring light to the dark parts. Then we no longer feel like we have to hold them back. Sure, it takes time and dedication, but it’s so worth it. Whenever we desire the support of our sisters, we have access to amazing teachers in the field of femininity . 

How do I keep the connection alive?

For those interested in exploring femininity work at Samyama, we offer ‘The Feminine Way’ – a tantra and yoga therapy retreat for women. Come for the beginner module, the intermediate module or the full immersion. We will radically gather in love, solidarity and sisterhood. We will gather without judgement or competition, to support each other in finding our own unique, authentic and dynamic expression. 

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