Vesta: Being a Holy Whore

flames_hands_open_sacred_vesta

{Note: Recently, I've become aware of how much a woman's sexuality and her ability to create a business are intertwined. As women, we can't separate our personal selves from our professional selves just as we can't separate our sexual selves from our everyday selves, they are one in the same. It is our erotic self that gives us energy and makes us good at what we do. So, while I don't normally  write about any  "sexcapades" (and I don't usually have any to write about) I am making an exception as I wanted to be vulnerable enough to write about my sexuality and how the erotic energy continues to lead me closer and closer to all the things I desire.}

“Take off my clothes,” I whisper to him breathlessly as he kisses me. I know it is wrong to see him again, but it always feels so right. He always seems to be in town just in time to relieve my "dry spells" and open me again with love. This has always been his gift to me--the way he expresses love to me through his body. And while we aren't compatible as a couple, we work well as lovers and I treasure our connection deeply.

As I lie down on the bed, I glance out at the city lights as a tear rolls down my face--the view is so beautiful and being with him I feel so beautiful. His touch reminds me of the way I deserve to be touched. With him, my body is adored, honored, and safe. With me, I feel all his worries and disappointments disappear as he revels in my feminine form. I fall asleep with the smell of his skin on  my skin and the the taste of him on my lips and I feel like the most powerful woman on Earth. He heals me and I heal him and I can feel how undeniably sacred our sex is.

But it isn't like this with everyone, my body chooses my lovers and is very picky.  I used to think there was something really wrong with me because I didn’t like sex (or many men). I was a virgin until I was 23 and when I did start having sex it overwhelmed me so much I would then avoid it for months (or in many cases years). Sex was something I couldn’t handle--it demolished me energetically, physically, and emotionally. So I gave up on it and clung to a dull, asexual part of myself. It took me a while, but I realized I can have sex, but just not the way everyone else does.

My sensitivity can’t handle the intense stimulation and I either disassociate or pray for it to be over. Instead I crave a deep penetration of my being one that honors my depth and isn't about an end goal (aka climax). It seems there are two types of sexual experiences that I understand intellectually, but am only now understanding with my body: one focused on reaching sexual heights and the other goes into our depth. Most of my sexual experiences have centered around stimulation or hot intensity, when my  being more often craves soul connection with intentionality and warmth. Writer Michael Mirdad explains the differences as:

“The heights of sex stir us to quickly remove the clothes of our lovers before having sex. The depths of sacred sex encourage us to dress them afterwards. The heights draw us to kiss them numerous times on the way to orgasm, but the depths stir us to kiss them afterwards. The heights stir us to reach for their genitals, but the depths encourage us to reach for their hearts.”

For me the best sexual encounters alternate between the two experiences, but start with the depth… otherwise I quickly feel overwhelmed. Sex for me always has been and always will be sacred, I don’t know how to experience it any other way.  Over the past year I have been exploring my sexuality through reclaiming virginity, healing the virgin-whore split, and owning the whore in an attempt to understand the mysterious erotic feminine that I hold in myself.

Yogic traditions call this energy Kundalini and it is the Shaktified/feminine energy of the God Shiva. In Sanskrit it means, "snake" or "serpent power," because it believed to be at the base of our spine a place where a dormant serpent lies.   Until it is woken up of course, which seems to be exactly  what mine is doing...This erotic/feminine energy has been feeding and deeply nourishing my soul. It creates the desire for everything I love and makes my hands tingle and my body warm with bliss.

kundalini

Kundalini-type descriptions and references are found in almost every esoteric and ancient teaching  including Egyptians, Tibetans, Chinese, some Native Americans, Kabbalistic, Hermetic, Rosicrucian, Plato and Greek philosophers, and the Kung bushmen of Africa. This energy was never awakened during the years of  Kundalini classes or meditation, it wasn't until I started an OM practice and having slow sex that my  serpent came to life. Now this energy is what fuels my being and power in the world...especially my business. I cannot leap into action and intensity all the time, because my  business mirrors my inner landscape I require the depth and vision of the feminine more than ever.

This erotic exploration has revealed to me a deep identification with the sacred prostitute, or holy whore, archetype. She is who makes sex sacred and represents the eternal aspects of the divine feminine. She is a woman united in body and mind who connects to both the earth and the heavens (heights and depths).  The holy whore is not the false feminine often seen in the media who uses her sexuality to attract attention and objectify herself in the process in order to please the other.

Instead, sacred prostitute combines the desire of the whore and acting on what she wants with the virginal quality of self-containment and freedom. She is both virgin and whore, sacred and profane. However, there is a fine line between sexuality and sexualized, one that I often struggle to express in myself (see image of me above). As this archetype is missing in our current culture, it is difficult to find inspiration. However, she used to exist everywhere in the past.

Mythologically, the goddesses Roman Vesta and Greek Hestia are my inspiration for this post and to me a shining example of the sacred prostitute archetype throughout Western history. Etymologically Vesta’s name evolved from Sanskrit vasati meaning “to dwell or stay” and vas meaning “shining.” She was goddess of hearth and home and remained an unowned virgin choosing not to marry Apollo or Poseidon.

vesta

Pre-Hellenically Hestia was a sacred harlot, giving of herself to honor the goddess through sexual union. As warriors returned from battle near Sparta her female worshippers had sex with them to integrate them back into society and heal them with the divine, sacred feminine. These virgins were unmarried, but not without lovers. However, it was the famous Vestal Virgins of ancient Rome who kept the sacred fires burning and honored her by being chaste. If any of them were caught having sex they were buried alive outside the gates of Rome. Throughout the process of patriarchy and Roman rule, Vesta became more and more associated with the pure virginal version we think of today.

Astrologically, Vesta was discovered in 1807, and is classified as a dwarf planet. She was recently in the news because the satellite Dawn just completed its orbit around her for the past several years.  In our charts Vesta represents what is most sacred to us. In Asteroid Goddesses, Demetra George describes the four major asteroids (Ceres, Juno, Vesta, Pallas Athena) as expressing different expressions of sexual energy of Venus as the feminine principle in men and women. Vesta represents the spiritual and sacred dimension while Venus is the erotic element and Juno is the creative.

Sacred comes from the Proto-Indo-European root sak- for “sanctify” which also evolved into the Latin word for sacred sacrum. The sacrum is said to have been named because it was the bone and part of the animals that was offered in ancient sacrifices.

However, here are some ways to awaken and explore your inner sacred prostitute/holy whore/Vesta without animal sacrifice:

  • Practice sacred sexuality (my favorite is OM)
  • Have really slow sex, where you can really connect and feel every place of penetration
  • Sit in front of a fire--especially with other women
  • Fire DANCE!!
  • Take a Dakini or Daka course
  • Light a bunch of candles and dance naked (a personal favorite)
  • Read some juicy sacred prostitute-esque books such as: Red, Hot, and Holy by Sera Beak, Dancing in the Flames by Marion Woodman, The Sacred Prostitute by Nancy Qualls-Corbett, Reveal by Meggan Watterson, or Slow Sex by Nicole Daedone
  • Learn or read about Mary Magdalene
  • Celebrate Vestalia June 7-15 by baking a cake, decorating your home with flowers, or some sort of fire ritual. In ancient Rome, during Vestalia the inner sanctum of the Vestal Temple was open for all women (not just the Vestal Virgins) to visit and make offerings.

The sacred prostitute archetype calls on us to integrate above and below with the eternal femininity of empowerment and love. She asks us to bring sacredness to the Earthly realm of matter and become the fully integrated women we were meant to be. In a simple: a sacred prostitute is integrated within herself—sacred and profane, masculine and feminine, mind and body, matter and spirit.

“For the Aphroditic woman, her spiritual life, or, as Jung would say, her ‘individuation,’ might be linked to her sexual life. For this type of woman, sexual encounter is the most profound of human experiences, a revelation of her own depths. It is therefore not only a source of joy but also a path of inner knowledge.” - Ginette Paris,  ”Aphrodite’s Daughters” by Jalaja Bonheim

Thousands of years have passed since the days of Vesta’s worship and Mary Magdelene's time with Jesus; however, the time of the sacred prostitute seems more relevant than ever. Ultimately of course, the sacred prostitute is all of us, or anyone who strives to bring spirituality to sexuality. Though what I love most about being a holy whore is having hot sex that nourishes my soul...and is good for my business.