What She's About -
This Snake Woman represents transformation, awareness and healing, and a large part of this transformation is around sensuality. It has even broken her skin with a fang, delivering its medicine; she is one with its energy. She is a confident, alluring, sensuous woman, very alive and at home in her outer and inner beauty. What I see in her that is sensuous has to do with her expression and the way she is holding herself. Simply put, sensuality means taking pleasure in our physical senses, but many of us also take it to mean that it involves a certain alluring, powerful and seductive quality as well. While painting her, I didn't have any idea this was coming through on the canvas, but in stepping back and seeing her I felt intrigued and also taken aback. It was her sensuality that was unsettling for me, so much so that I could not finish the painting for several months. She sat there on my easel waiting, but I wasn't able.
Beginning early in life, many of us are taught that the wonderful, sensuous part of us is something not entirely wholesome, and some of us are even taught that it can be the cause of others wrongful behavior toward us. We may have learned to hide our sensuous sides out of fear or maybe shame. Maybe we were taught to see our sensuality as a fault - it is wrong to embrace it. Our sensuality can be used against us; we are teased, ridiculed, called names. We may experience harsh judgments, and physical and emotional harm because we have a sway in our hips or a curve on our lips or because we feel ourselves empowered by our ability to respond to life standing in our own bodies and owning that, feeling it all. Lots of people out there aren't comfortable to see us feeling good about ourselves.
To be at ease with sensuality is to take up the space in your body, to be conscious of its many gifts. Feeling acceptance and love for your body - how it responds to sensations - its strength, its tenderness, its warmth, as well as its ability to experience sexual pleasure. It is about taking joy in your physical body, loving it and honoring it as The Temple of your Soul, the Temple of your Self.
Fear of Being Sensual
The gift in doing this painting only became clear to me through a process of going deep within. By working with my dreams and going to the canvas I became aware of how I had held on to the fear of my sensuality, unconsciously believing it had caused bad things to happen to me at the hands of others, a belief I had never questioned, for lack of awareness. When I was able to listen within, I began to understand the wisdom this Snake Woman held for me. My gaze fell on her, and as I looked, it was as though her face changed before my eyes. All of a sudden she had the expression of complete innocence, she seemed to glow with it. I heard the word “Innocent” and felt a wave of grace pass through me. Tears came, because deep within, I, myself, had not felt innocent and had unwittingly assumed responsibility for the wrongful actions of others. I had blamed my body, believing that it was the cause of my physical and emotional pain, shame and harm. I was adept at shutting off and letting go of my body's innate wisdom, its flawless sensations. I hid my sensuous nature from myself and others, intent on staying safe. My mind took over, closing the windows and doors (though for a time, this too can be a gift), and not very much got through the cracks; I never knew. This gift of awareness has helped me to see clearly how I've hidden away my sensuous nature unconsciously for much of my life. Being aware now, I can take steps to realign and tell myself the truth. It’s transformative.
As I am coming back home to my body, I have gradually become aware of what is present, beginning with ordinary, everyday things, like paying attention to what I experience as I take in a deep breath. Or what the grass really feels like when I walk barefoot, and consciously, purposefully take it in. These are simple things and yet it has been revolutionary. As I open to the experiences of physical sensation, I also feel my emotions so much more exquisitely, even those that were frozen so long ago. I wasn’t expecting this! There is a deepening and this puts me closer in touch with my authentic self, which includes sensuality. It’s our birthright, to own what is “me”.
But I am in this for love and for being Real. It is a lifelong journey and one that takes me on deep dives into knowing the darkness and the light in me. Shifting, transforming, rising, falling and going back in for more.
By looking within and seeking awareness, we heal. Through opening ourselves to what is true for us, we begin. One of those truths being that the part of us that is sensuous is also innocent and pure. It is powerful and it is complete goodness. With grace, mindfulness, and patience, we learn to embody our body, our temple - with love.
With deepest respect, love and abiding faith in this journey,