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The Sex Talk

~Jumana Sophia

This is a response to many threads, concerns, and questions in the private facebook group for Her Mystery School. For obvious reasons, female sexuality, orgasm, right and wrong, safety and sexual ethics are way up. Seemed relevant, and perhaps it will be clarifying for any of you who may join us next fall. 

The general question is what is my background, how do I, and how does the school then, hold sexuality? 

I've had experiences all across the board. Transmutation, restoration of virginity, ecstatic sexual union, spirit lovers, calling down the rains for Beltane with my king, touching the angelic realms with a guardian priest lover, cultivating my sexual energy for nourishment, cycling it, having orgasms, not having orgasms, unifying my heart and womb, discovering the nectar of amrita orgasms, the holiness of cervical orgasms, creating and birthing a baby, using all of that sexual energy to nourish my heart and raise him, feed him, and rise up in love through the teenage years. I've created this school, a water temple, a goddess temple and most of my offerings through the current of life and sexuality that has been so strong in me from the beginning. I dance it, I pray with the longing of it, sometimes it goes quiet, at times the longing has been agony, it opens, it closes. I am a priestess of the sacred marriage by nature and as such sexuality and union have been woven with my experience of the divine from the beginning of my awakenings.

What I'm picking up on is a wonderment about where I sit with sexuality, and an even deeper wonderment or even concern about the right way to be with the female sexual current. It's clear I'm sure to most of you that although I acknowledge Her presence and beauty living somewhere in most things, I am not in alignment with practices that insist upon, or place an absolute value upon, celibacy, retention, or transmutation of sexual or orgasmic energy into something "higher." There's no question that cultivation practices and transmutation are powerful and very appropriate for some of us at some times, or even as a lifestyle. That has to do with constitution and the nature of each of our souls and bodies, not some generalized concept of what should be happening with sexuality, what is higher, what is denser, what is best. Nor am I in alignment with the emphasis on recklessly expressive or "free" sexuality that has arisen as the pendulum swings away from discipline and discernment around sexuality.

You're going to be drawn to many different things, each of you, and now that the doors have opened wide in the global world to connection with a wide spectrum of traditions, esoteric practices, and disparate long term beliefs about sexuality, you will be able to find most things, most perspectives strongly represented.

What you are going to get woven through the entirety of your experience of this school are a few fundamental understandings.

1. No one outside of you knows what you should do with your sexuality, how you should hold her. She is a mystery and she rises from the ancient place before time that created life and sustains love and union.

2. Woman in general and the female sexual current and the power that it carries through women has been so vilified, controlled, feared, and misunderstood, for so long, that most traditions, even esoteric ones, even ancient ones, have gaps in their wholeness. Be very cautious about traditions that source from a root that excluded women, or the broader female experience, even if they now include women. Not because men are bad or there is no wisdom there. It just isn't complete. And if you look towards breaks in integrity that come in those traditions they almost invariably center around sexuality and the misuse of sexual charisma or power. These breaks in integrity in such traditions, which I have been part of and witness to for two decades now, are very confusing and can be deeply damaging.

3. You can't really fuck this one up. It's an exploration. Partly because it always is an exploration, partly because we are in a long term process of recovery and redemption that orphaned us from the true and natural holiness of female sexuality (and male sexuality for that matter), the gift of pleasure, the arts of union. If you are going to look outside of yourself for practices, inspiration, ideas, or guidance, please please please keep your eyes wide open for hypocrisy or very subtle power plays that make you feel like you can't trust your natural unfoldment. This is all here for YOU. Not the other way around.

4. Your sexual current is your own and you and only you can cultivate enough intimacy with her to know how she will unfold. Trust her. Listen to her. Follow her and tend her. Learn from her directly. With all practices including the ones in this school, pay attention to the fruits of the practice in you. Are you gathering greater trust and intimacy with yourself and with the One who made and sustains you?

5. If you're concerned about energetic/psychic safety and integrity, just stay with the fundamental vow: I steward this power for the good of all and in harm to none. It's not direct relationship to your sexuality that will bring you the integrity to keep that vow. It's self-knowledge, poise, deep listening, purification of your heart, and wisdom. The sexual current is a force, a nectar, and a substance. The vessel you carry her in will shape her expression and her integrity.

6. If "should" is in your inner conversation with your sexuality in any way, take a pause. There is no external right or wrong here. There is natural law and I believe strongly that if you listen deeply to your sexual current, your capacity for receptivity, marry your sexual power to your heart and your loving, she will not lead you astray.

7. There is nothing evil or dense or inherently untrustworthy in female sexuality, orgasm, or sex. She is beautiful, she is untamed, she is also very very wise. She will bring you to the heart of the matter.....power and vulnerability woven into one thing. This is where I strongly personally diverge from quite a few esoteric and traditional teachings. There is the transcendent face of the Mystery, which can be accessed through inner union, restoration of virginity, conscious celibacy. There is the immanent face of the Mystery which is touched when you touch another, when you pour forth your pleasure in the touch of another, when you receive love deeply into your body and let it take you to your secret places. Both are holy in Her.

8. Female sexuality is a current that shapes and moves and is life. We have been conditioned to focus on orgasm and explicit sexuality as the expressions of her, but she is so much more than that. It is a disservice and a misunderstanding to put her in such a tiny box. She is one of the currents that our destiny rides, and she holds an essence that expresses life, feeling, creation, desire, wholeness, all of it.

These are my thoughts this morning and it's the tip of the iceberg. I love that there is such alive discussion and exploration on the page. This is the richness of sisterhood and safe expression. It's amazing to witness. AND when it comes to your own sexuality, I invite you to consider something. When does talking about it, writing about it, thinking about it become an avoidance of simply listening to her, trusting how she is unfolding in you, and gathering your own wisdom? I encourage you to stay as close as you can to the art of revelation, allowing her to emerge and illuminate you, to change and grow as she will. Treat her like a mystery of the soul rather than a force to be tamed and "made right" and she will be so.

I Love Men

~Jumana Sophia

I love Men. That’s what’s on my mind this Valentine’s Day, as for the first time in a very long time I don’t have a “Valentine.” I have always enjoyed a certain somehow almost miraculous ever-renewing love and adoration for men close to me, particularly my son, particularly my lovers. Women have become my rocks, my weave, my wise counsel, and ever present inspiration. But pivotal men have been keys in secret doors of my being that I never would have known existed, and could not have opened on my own, or with my sisters.  


I wish I could write an epic enough hymn of praise for Men, what I’ve witnessed, what I see, and what I hold true. There is so much awareness, especially in my world, of the emergence and reclaiming that is so alive and necessary for womankind at this time. But it’s the same and often less visible, less articulated, for men. We all lost our way together, and we’ll have to find it together too. I feel into the millions of men who have lost their lives on the battlegrounds of other men’s wars, the struggle for nobility and self-knowing that so many men I know are doing their absolute best within, all of the ways men have been abused or objectified sexually, pushed and pulled and drained of vitality by a pornographic culture, all the gestures of giving and love and service that go unrecognized and considered to still, or never, be enough.  


When I served in the water at Harbin, probably 80% of the people who came to be held in my arms were men. It was a rare, intimate time. In the silent, subtle surrender that’s possible in the water, the unveiling of all that lies under the surface, what was revealed time and time again was the exquisite sensitivity lying dormant in so many of them, waiting much like the heart of woman does, to be met with a reverence that invites it forward. And then they would, literally, blossom. As men opened to their own ecstasy or wept in my arms, sometimes within moments of each other, I understood through witnessing just how deep the weave of emotional vulnerability and sexuality is within men, often hidden, denied, and ultimately just fiercely or unconsciously protected.


I suppose it has a lot to do with having raised a son almost to manhood. It’s impossible for me to not see him somehow in every man, and to now really understand what it is that boys face and must navigate as they become men, whatever that ends up being for them. Sitting in countless circles of women, one amazing truth is that even within expressing frustration, heartbreak, desperate pain, what almost invariably emerges out of women is the yearning to know and feel the nobility, shelter, and beauty of men. There is ultimately a deep seeing, and such a call of the heart. It feels ancient.


I love you, men! You’ve been my son, my father, my brother, my guardian, my husband, my lover, my healer and my sometimes selfish, lost and emotionally dangerous sparring mate. You've cared for my son, and so many times you've given generously of all that you had to give. And the deeper I move within my own being as a woman, the more I love you. Sometimes with adoration for your secret majesty, sometimes with a reluctant compassion for your fuckery, which most of you have inherited as fairly as I’ve inherited my own. 


Interestingly, the more self-resourced I become, the more I have the courage to admit that I need you. 


There are places I can only go with you, certain magics that only respond to you, and aspects of my being that wait for your alchemical touch, your capacity to shelter what’s precious, your simple presence, your friendship, your lightness of being and your innate nobility. I wish for you every blessing of the Good.


You rock. Happy Love Day 

Living with Death as the Companion to Life

~Jumana Sophia

A year ago I was taken closer to death than I have ever been. Either through the terrifying physical and spiritual collapse I experienced or by my own choice because I felt I just could not face what I was being asked to live into, to see. I so wanted to go home, the big Home. I “knew” somewhere in there that I was being initiated, and that being forced to face my demons, all my hidden fears and illusions, all at once would make me more True, but the nature of an initiation is that it is total - the comfort of perspective is a very rare glimpse. My community and my family saved me. I understand now what it really means for a priestess to be of one heart with the community she serves. I owe my life to the ones who loved and protected and held me, so many of you, and so in the deepest way, we are woven.

So for me now this is what it’s like to live with death as a companion for an even more honest life. I confess, I don’t know what I thought it would be to be more intimately initiated by death, but I may have imagined it would leave me feeling more…….awesome? Mostly it’s very present. My most cherished fantasies have been annihilated and I know how deep the fear on either side of the present moment can be. It doesn’t ask for me to be anything special. It asks for me to be brave. And to pray. A whole lot. 

As I’m approaching the beginning of the third cycle of Her Mystery School, I wonder why I feel irritated when I’m referred to as a successful “fempreneur” and almost strangely unseen when what I offer is referred to as “women’s empowerment work.” These are meant to be compliments. 

But this is not my business. It’s a calling. In a way that I mostly love and sometimes fear, it’s not about me living “the life of my dreams.” Her Mystery School not about being a powerful woman who always knows what to do. It’s about the reality that we live in a Mystery that can be as devastating as it is ecstatic, and we often don’t know what to do, and we are often tragically isolated and alone in that experience. It’s about recovering the lost wisdom of a deep feminine ancestry that supersedes even ancient culture because it precedes culture. It lives in the female body and teaches us how to sit down in the power of whatever is upwelling in the moment and become one with that power. It can be grief, the ecstasy of the sexual fire, devastation, inspiration, it is everything. She is everything. And the way She moves, touches others, restores peace, and calls us forward is a kind of salvation that is not simply false hope. 

Her Mystery School isn’t just for women either. At some point we’ll create offerings for men as well, but that’s not what I mean. Woman in the fullness of what she was created to be stewards life and the power that lives in her for the good of ALL. Anything happening out there that creates separation may have a measure of value and truth but it lacks its root if it emasculates, criticizes, generalizes, or fails to uphold and call forward the beauty, heart and generosity that lives or is hidden in most men. 

When I came home from my pilgrimage last year barely able to walk, my spirit wandering way too far from home, and my heart in agony, my community could only hold me so much. I had to learn how to hold myself. So I joined Her Mystery School as a student. She met me in my aloneness, in the intimacy of my own very difficult and private relationship to what was actually alive in me. If I had to name one of the great gifts given through this whole experience, it’s that I had the supremely rare journey of being returned to intimacy with my own soul, to my incorruptible feminine current, by my own voice, speaking true mercies to me that I didn’t even remember ever saying. 

This is not a marketing plug for my “spirit based business.” This is me saying I’ve poured everything good and true I’ve ever been graced to receive into this school, and I will continue to do so. I’m not going anywhere and neither is She. It’s on a sliding scale donation basis because I will never gentrify this work. Ever. It’s now or never, all hands on deck if we are to find the mercy of life’s intimate beauty while the world all around us becomes increasingly bewildered by its own transformation. I want all of you who are called with me and beside me, and the bullshit of socio-economic distortions has no place here. Her Mystery School is a ministry, with the greater intention of raising a donation based temple where trustworthy priestesses can continue to offer the soul sanctuary they’ve offered for millennia. 

Please don’t ask me what happened last year. This is Facebook. It’s a rarity for me to share anything that is this personal here anyway. I survived, I will continue to recover, I am still very held. But I guess this is what happens at 4 in the morning when my cat wakes me up with a poor little squeaky mouse offering (don’t worry I saved him) and I read Alex King-Harris gorgeous sober writing about death and my heart gets moving. I just want you to know that I’m with you and that Her Mystery School is here for you if you want to take shelter and draw strength from Her. We are five pillars strong now - Deonesea La FeyJamila SuzanneJasmine PattenCynthia Sophia and myself, - and there are women of heart woven in all over the world, some of them entering their third year with the school. 

So, that’s my Her Mystery School testimonial. The teachings, the practices, and the women restored me to life and kept me anchored when I had lost all sense of myself, all peace, all orientation to anything familiar. I love Her.

Am I a Playboy Bunny?

~Jumana Sophia

Yesterday, I was referred to as "a playboy bunny, a hole for men," in response to the photo below (taken by Scott Belding - it has become the foundational aesthetic for Her Mystery School). The email conversation went like this:

Her: It is insulting to women that we are told what our bodies should look like- because NONE of us measure up to the image shoved down our throats. SO this image below- it is toxic. It is woman as playboy bunny, hole for men. Just saying. Why put forth an image like that in any attempt to empower women? Please put forward images of real women, real sizes, diverse woman, that image below actually on the whole hurts us, our daughters, our sisters and our mothers. Not to mention what it does to boys and men. Peace to you.

Me: Hi.
Well, having gone through massive journeys with insecurity and body image myself, I can hear you. That woman, the one you call " playboy bunny, hole for men," is me. 

I was terrified to have my photos taken because I couldn't imagine them coming out beautiful. More to the point, in order to not have to pay for art or license it, I chose to have it created of myself. For me, this image captures the sensuality and subtlety of A female form that is anonymous but archetypal, elegant and natural. I experience it as a very healing antidote to the usual over sexualized portrayals of female embodiment. 

In my time in circles of women, particularly tantric dance circles, I have been gifted the opportunity to witness women of all ages, sizes, shapes, you name it. And every single one of them divine and stunning. 

The images I use are of me because this is my work and my voice as well. I'm beautiful in my way. Believing that requires a choice every day, and it's not always possible.
I wish I could see you because I can tell you right now I would celebrate and see every nuance of beauty that you are.

Her:  
OMG that is you? LOL no way?? you look like a model- Raquel Welch or something. thank you for your response, what trip this life/experience is. I am trying to think what the lesson in this is for me :) I am never the type to shoot out a message like that and WOW. It surely is related to my current struggles with body acceptance and giving up the whole"I am not beautiful enough" trip, although I am beautiful physically just not in the popular weight range. 

I am sincerely so sorry if I Hurt or offended you, making that comment about the body in the image, your body!!! At first I wished I looked like that and then I thought- Hail No- this woman who sent that email is in trouble and I am going to let her know right now!!! Never in a million years thinking the image had a heart and soul.

What a bad mistake I made- but I wonder If it means I need to love the sizes that are traditionally considered beautiful in our culture, as well as larger sizes. In a way trying to love myself 25 pounds overweight included rejecting what I could not be, what I could not diet down to, a slim body. Yikes, I don't want to do that at all.
Thank you for showing me yourself, your thoughts, your response. I feel honored.

May you be blessed to love your body exactly as it is

Me: I feel like we're sister-friends now!!
I totally get it.
Thank you for your blessing, and may it be returned a thousand thousand fold.

Her: Thank you my precious sister. 

Now. That's a conversation that could have gone a lot of different ways, very few of them ending up in a sincere and unexpected alliance. This is what's underneath of the dynamic that I think people like to call "woman-to-woman misogyny" or whatever else. The true heart of Womankind wants to love Herself, in all her forms. I just learned so much from this amazing woman. She became a balm and a source of strength, humility, and honesty for me. We can turn this tide, my friends - we're made for it.

Are "HER" Mysteries for Christians?

~Jumana Sophia

In response to the following inquiry:   I feel a little awkward asking, but you have to start somewhere! I know your teachings and curriculum are open to all paths and spiritual practices, but coming from a "Christian' background, I was wondering if you could tell me if you have women in your groups who subscribe to Christian beliefs, as I do. So much of it seems contrary to what we regard as "Scripture' and yet in other ways, it really doesn't. I'm a little confused at this stage of my journey, so just thought I would ask if you have Christian women in your groups or mentorships. Thanks!

Dear One,

 

I am so happy you reached out.......your question is a really relevant one and I can see how it would seem potentially contradictory or confusing, depending on how it is all held.

 

I do have women in the school from many religious as well as cultural backgrounds.  Some are Christian, some Muslim, some gnostic, some Jewish, Buddhist, pagan, undefined.  Really it's quite a range, and they have all felt enriched in their traditions rather than put into conflict with them.

 

I believe that this is for a few reasons.  First of all, though I am not identified as exclusively Christian, I have a deep love and respect and connection with the living Christ.  I also spent several years with Islamic sufis, and found a deep love and respect for Islam.  I would say in many ways actually one of the greatest attributes of the school is that it acknowledges and incorporates the Abrahamic faiths rather than reacting to them as too "patriarchal" or I don't know.......not "Goddess" enough. :)

 

Her Mystery School brings women on a journey into the authentic truth of the deep feminine that lives and moves in each of them.  In a way this deep feminine current, you in your power and joy and knowing as a woman, is a gift you then bring to your chosen tradition.  In the way you pray, the way you serve, the way you embody or relate to scripture.....all of this can be deeply enlivened and brought to light in such an incredible way for you, the more intimate you become with who and how you thrive as Woman, as God made you to be.

 

During the nine months we do consider some more ancient pre-Christian texts that praise feminine divinity, but this is as exploration.  We also consider some aspects of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity......one whole month is dedicated to the Heavenly Mother (Mother Mary) and the immaculate conception, and also Jesus himself. 

 

I think Her Mystery School, since it is so focused on facilitating personal revelation, rather than presenting "how it is," would actually be a very well suited place for you to clarify and grow on this part of your journey.  Though we touch into various traditions, the primary focus is on authentic personal revelation, and self-sourced truth.

 

I would be honored to have you join us.  I think with your background and devotion to your tradition you would bring a level of richness and gift to the school that would be wonderful for me and for every else. 

Are Trans Women Welcome in the School?

~Jumana Sophia

In response to the following inquiry:   Hi, I  wanted to ask about the polices around the inclusion of trans women in your courses/schools/etc. Some women's groups exclude trans women, & while I'm not trans myself, many of my loved ones are, so I make a practice of only supporting women's orgs that aren't trans-exclusive. I couldn't tell one way or another from your website so I wanted to check. Thanks!

Dear One,

I am so grateful you reached out with this question because it is definitely something worth clarifying. First would be to say that trans women are absolutely welcome in all that I offer.  The only requirement for participation, particularly with the longer 9 month mystery school, is authenticity and respect and a true deep desire to understand what "woman" is, in and as each of us.  In many ways, all of what I've created, and particularly the journey of Her Mystery School, seems to me to be a place that would be incredibly rich and supportive to the trans gender experience, since that experience is all about really understanding and aligning with what it truly means to step into fullness as a woman.  

 

Not to mention the very unique and illuminating perspectives trans women would bring, having had to gather a whole other incarnation of courage and sense of womanhood.  It's such a brave and authenticity-demanding journey.

 

The only thing I think is worth noting is that for trans gender women there would be varying levels of needing to translate some of the content.  When it moves into ovarian or womb-based practices for example, trans women would need to really embrace the reality that the organs themselves are less the point than the particular qualities of feminine  presence that dwell within.  Totally possible to cultivate even if the organs are not present, but it would require a subtle shift and what I would imagine would actually be a welcome awareness that Woman is much more and beyond the bodies we're born with.     

 

I hope you and/or some of your trans wise women friends will feel called!  It would be an honor and a source of real inspiration to have you join.

 

Bless,

Jumana

The assembly is filled with fragrance

at the mention of Her,

and every tongue utters Her name.

~ Ibn Arabi