Episode 107: ANCIENT ROOTS OF FEMININE EROS with Max Dashu
ANCIENT ROOTS OF FEMININE EROS with Max Dashu, who founded the Suppressed Histories Archives in 1970 to research women's history internationally and understand how systems of domination established and perpetuate themselves. She has built a collection of some 15,000 slides and 100 shows.
In this episode, Max depthfully shares the lost vital principal of life & how to reconnect to the nectar of the body. Recover what becomes possible with reverence, & honor of the inner pulse & rhythms of the spinal column. Reclaim the healing energy of the ancient & indigenous Sacra Vulva. Delight in the invocations, stories & nourishing mythos from around the world.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome to Sex, Tantra and Kama Sutra: Bringing You The Soul of Sex. I’m your host, Francesca Gentille, and with me today is Max Dashu. Max is the founder of the Suppressed Histories Archive. She founded them in 1970 to research women’s history internationally and to help us all understand how systems of domination have been established and perpetuated themselves. She has built an amazing collection of over 15,000 slides and over 100 shows. And if I could, I would be at all of them because she’s so knowledgeable. And I’m extremely excited to have her here with us on the show today. Welcome Max.
Max Dashu: Thank you so much Francesca.
Francesca Gentille: You know, it’s a delight to have someone as knowledgeable as you who about the suppressed histories of the feminine. And before we go deeper into exactly what has been suppressed and what needs to be revealed in a sense, for our listening audience, why is this important? Why is it important to reveal or bring to light this kind of lost history of the feminine and the divine feminine?
Max Dashu: Because this is the basis of our existence and it’s something that, you know, in the industrialized world, in modern society, people have gotten so pulled away from the basic vital principle of life. From the principle of harmony, just the love that exists in nature and pours through our veins. You know, the nectar that we have coming out of our glands in our bodies that is the true essence of being. And this is something in history that has been conolized. It’s been violated. We see that happening to the land all around us now and we see a lot of turbulence coming up because its been going on for long enough that violation cannot be allowed to stand. And so Earth herself is reacting. And so we need to be able to reattune ourselves to who we really are, men and women, internally, and to be able to honor the divine female principle, which has been so locked down, so bought and sold, thieved, raped, violated and taken. And so we need to come back around to what is the true nature of reality, attune ourselves to nature. And as females, those of us who are female, to realize who we really are without all the cultural layers. And for men to understand lovers, mothers, daughters, sisters and to be able to related in respectful and harmonious ways.
Francesca Gentille: So there’s something really important that you’re pointing to, is that we have a world that’s out of balance, that’s, you know… I think we see it everyday, that isn’t self destruct in so many ways – the toxicity of the air, the allergies, the, you know, autism and asthma in our children, that, the global warming – that really there’s something out of balance. And what I hear you point to is that the more indigenous people and some of the more ancient people had a way of living that was in a much greater harmony with the earth and there was something important about this with regards to how they viewed the feminine or the feminine principle, we might say. And what is that? What is that, you know, more holistic or more harmonious way? That has been lost? What are some of the key pieces of that?
Max Dashu: Well you could say honor and respect, but I think it even goes deeper than that to really love. You know, to be able to love that. To be able to love the feminine and not to use it, not to try and colonize it. And this is what, you know, people are building hydro electric dams, they’re doing that to the earth. And when you’ve got, you know, the magazines and the media that we have all around us portraying this very narrow a spectrum of the female, then you have a restraint that’s laid down, and women look at those airbrushed pictures and they say, “I’m supposed to look at that, look like that and I don’t, so something’s wrong with me and I feel bad about myself.” And that way, the natural power, the life force is turned against the self, it’s turned against the body, and you’ve lost that honor and you’ve certainly lost that love. And so there’s something really primal that we’re then missing because we’re always looking to feed the longing and the appetite in addictive ways. We replace addictive patterns with the natural flow that we should all have, you know, the natural connections through breath and blood and all the things that are part of our bodies, part of our beings - and sexuality is part of that as well – gets lost. It gets taken in many cases. People are buying it and selling it, but it’s not something that we are really inhabiting. We’re not inhabiting our bodies.
Francesca Gentille: This is big. There’s this, something that you’re pointing to, you know, where it’s, we have an opportunity to really land in a very sourced relationship with the earth, with our bodies, with one another’s bodies, that has this sense of honor, that has this sense of mutual honor, mutual respect, mutual, you know, love and adoration, which the ancient peoples really had or the indigenous peoples still have, and when we lose that… what I hear you saying is that when we lose that we get so disconnected that we become very compulsive or addictive. It’s like we’re empty, it’s like how can I get more and more and more of something that’s never going to feed me because it’s like how can I get more of advertising. Well advertising’s not going to feed me, you know. How can I get more, you know, picture food on a page? Well picture food on a page is not going to feed me. And yet we become addicted to these habits that give us a little high, a little jolt in the moment and don’t really nourish us fully. So given that that really is kind of our world today and this world of, you know, more, more, more, what can we learn from the ancients and the indigenous and can you give us some examples or some stories that help us ground into the ground? You know, into the much more embodied connected way of relating?
Max Dashu: You know, what you’re saying reminds me there’s a proverb of “That which does not satisfy, there is never enough”. I think that’s so profound….
Francesca Gentille: Oh, it is.
Max Dashu: Yeah. For me, I think that just reconnecting with earth. I like to lie out on a sun washed boulder and stretch my body in different directions. It’s like, you know, we always sit right angle in computer chairs or wherever. How we live is so off the land, and I like to be able to stretch out, open the tendons, receive sunlight or let moonlight wash into you, either way, plunge into rivers, the vital force that’s in natural flowing water. The Hebrew’s called it (unintelligible) and that was what the (unintelligible) was all about; every month after your bloods, you would immerse and immerse again and immerse again into vital water. And it would, it’s an opportunity not only for the body but also for the consciousness to flush yourself and allow yourself to be washed over by freshness and by essence. And so that’s one practice that I see as part of, you know, you could call it the animist world view, which is the idea, anima meaning spirit, which is present in matter. You know, it’s not this separation; matter over here, spirit over here, matter bad, spirit good, but an integral complementary system where there’s this constant flow of spirit into matter and then back again. And so those are the cycles of life and death. And we have all these cycles in our bodies. We have all these circadian rhythms. We have the pulse – there’s actually a tide that they talk about in cranial sacred therapy that goes between the base of your cranium and, you know, the foundation of your kundalini, you know, the bottom of the spine. There are, in your spinal column there is a fluid column that goes through there of tide washing back and forth. And so that gets interrupted when we become traumatized or violated or in some way pain is inflicted on us, just like we hold our breath and we stop, we stop the rhythm. And so we have to find ways to restore that. And so in traditional systems you have (unintelligible), you have Yoga, you have trance dance, you have circle dances of entire communities where we’re uniting our energies and we’re going in natural ways. We’re moving our bodies rhythmically, we’re chanting, we’re moving to drums and these are all ways of restoring that flow that we’re all seeking. You know, that’s really what we’re after when we fall into addictive behaviors is that nectar.
Francesca Gentille: And that nectar what I’m hearing is that natural flow, that sweetness that when we’re literally in tune with and supported by the flow of the cycles of life in our bodies, in the earth. And this is so tasty. I want to talk more about this and go deeper into how we do this and how the ancients and indigenous people have done it and what’s been suppressed and we get to express, when we come back from a break and a word from our fabulous sponsors, who we encourage you to support so great shows like this and Max can keep coming to you. And we’ll be right back.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome back to Sex, Tantra and Kama Sutra: Bringing You The Soul of Sex with the very amazing and historically well based Max Dashu, founder of the Suppressed Histories Archive. And we’re talking about that, the nectar of how energy flows and the ways that we reconnect, that indigenous and ancient peoples knew to do and many cultures still do. And when you, when you’re tuning into that, becoming aware of that, being in your own flow of that, Max, what feels like it’s the most important for our, you know, listening audience to know and the precious and sacred time that we have together about continuing to deepen or reclaim that healing connection?
Max Dashu: I think reverence is a really important part of it and devotion. You know, if we bring reverence to anything we do in life, but that also applies very much to sexuality… Given what we have to overcome in the culture that surrounds us, approaching it with reverence is a way to really enter in it in a deep way. And there’s some amazing pieces that, like I have a little bit of a chant here from Australia that is about the Jongle Wolf Sisters, that talks about the journey of, that they made with their brother from the spirit land across the ocean. And it invokes vaginal and uteran symbolism in the context of the sea, they’re talking about the female secretions that smell like the sea. And so they talk about the salty smell, the roaring sea and its foam, it’s wide expanse behind this. Sounds from our sacred Namara map, and that’s reference to the womb, is that Namara map is the womb. Noise as the waters surge around it. Yes, that basket is drying from the foam, which splashed at the spirit land across the sea. All its feathers are shining, drying. Quietly she opens her legs, only a little, opening that basket, our basket, with its feathered strings and pendants, which were spread out in carefully to dry in the suns rays. For the foam splashed up on them, staining them. So this foam that comes from the female sexual secretions is something that pours forth like the ocean. And we have references to this also in Taoist Chinese tradition, where they’re talking about the nectar that’s secreted by the aroused woman curing the one hundred diseases. So there’s this potential that we have within us, that you know, the essence that we contain as part of us has healing power, it can grant visionary power, dreaming power. There’s all these aspects to it. And so the symbolism that comes out of nature and out of our bodies is something that really is speaking to underlying realities. The nature of being, the nature of our bodies that come out of being, that come out of the great mother.
Francesca Gentille: Mm, and I love this sense of, I feel so lost, this sense of reverencing our bodies and being approaching one another with the sense of true awe and devotion, of the potential healing power of the nectar of energy that we can bring to one another. I love that you keep using the word nectar, that’s why I’m grabbing it – because it’s, you know, what if my beloved is just the most precious being and when their breath can bless me and their hands can bless me and their eyes can bless me and mine can for them, and that’s what I hear in these ancient text and these indigenous, you know, teachings, is a way of looking at one another in our world that has just completely been lost in, like you said, the comodification, the bought and sold, the nature of nature, you know.
Max Dashu: Yes, and what you’re bringing forward is this connection, and that connection, I mean there’s that flow back and forth, you know, that actually augments as it goes back and forth and it circulates between the beings. And it can be two beings or it can be a thousand beings, chanting in a circle, that that’s something that is really, it grows. It increases. And so there’s another piece where the goddess Innana, this is from ancient Iraq, southern Iraq in Sumeria. And she, there’s this poem, this song where she calls her vulva ‘horn of the dipper’, the great dipper, right. And she calls it ‘slender boat of heaven, new moon crescent, vulva moist in the flood lands.’ And then she says to her lover, “Plow them, man of my heart. Holy water bathe loins.” And I love that, the ‘holy water, bathe loins’, ‘cause again, it’s this idea of this great flow that comes out from us. And, you know, in the context of lovemaking or just in the context of any experience, deep experience of beauty, music, great art, dance, that flow, we connect with that flow, we connect with the pulse of all being.
Francesca Gentille: And I’m just taking a moment to breathe that in because it’s so gorgeous and it’s nourishing to just hear about these things, it’s nourishing to share the ancient stories and to really recognize or embrace that there’s another possibility than the current world that we’re living in and that we can create something new through these ancient teachings revealed again through these suppressed histories being expressed. And I want to learn more about these and perhaps even go deeper into the sacred vulva herself, when we come back from a break and a word from our fabulous sponsors. We’ll be right back.
Francesca Gentille: Welcome back to Sex, Tantra and Kama Sutra with the amazing and so well informed, deliciously well informed Max Dashu. And we were just on the sacred edge of Innana dipping into the sacred vulva. And is there more? I mean today the vulva we see plastered in pornography and it’s, you know, it’s so – I’m not even sure what to call it. It’s, you know, especially if you’re a woman, gentlemen that are reading this or hearing this, is that to feel that there is a part of you that’s, you know, as a woman that’s just been splattered everywhere, devoid of a heart, devoid of a soul, devoid of a body, and is just, you know, kind of, you know, disincarnate in away. As a woman that feels really awful, and I’m guessing I’ve heard some men say when they feel that they’re a walking wallet, that a woman’s just looking at them in some way to protect her or to financially take care of her and that he’s not being seen as a whole human being. So we want to reclaim this wholeness and the holy whole that connects to spirit, so could you tell us more about that?
Max Dashu: Yes. Well one thing I wanted to say is there’s also this aspect of healing, which is that the things, the violations we’ve all undergone, I mean whether it’s a humiliation or some other trauma, that there’s actually a story that they tell about Demeter after her daughter has been abducted, raped. She’s grieving. She’s walking the land and she’s grieving and mourning and searching for her stolen daughter. And there’s an old crone that comes to her named Biambi, a servant woman. And she tries to get Demeter to drink and Demeter refuses the drink. She’s just basically fasting, she’s not drinking, she’s grieving. And so Biambi, who’s also called Balbo, does this dance. And she pulls up her skirt and she displays her vulva while she dances joyfully making jokes, and basically a humorous kind of a dance with the vulva. And so then Demeter laughs watching this, with the dance of Balbo. And there’s this verse some a orophic poem, “Then smile the goddess, in her heart she smiled and drank the draft from out the glanching cup.” So she accepts the drink, she drinks the water of life through something that’s been restored to her from this vulva dance. And there’s exactly parallel story like this that’s told in Japan, with the goddess Amaterasu, and also you’ve got this kind of crone figure who’s doing this vulva dance on an upturned tub and pulls her blouse up so her breasts show and she pulls her skirt up so that her vulva shows and she does this dance and all the assembled spirits laugh in joy. And so Amaterasu, whose taken refuge in a cave after a series of violations that have happened, pokes her head out to see what’s going on because the world can’t exist without her light. And so all the commie spirits have to get her to return to the world. And so how they do this is you’ve got Uzumi doing this vulva dance. And so she comes back out. And so these are all restorative to us and I think it’s important for us to know that because very often people become caught in their pain and they think “That’s it. You know, I’m just going to be like this. I’m going to be screwed up”, and there’s all this healing and regenerative power that exists. And… Go ahead.
Francesca Gentille: We don’t have to be. What I hear you saying is we, male and female, we are wounded by our culture, sometimes, male or female, we are wounded in a sexual way by the way our genitals have been treated or our bodies have been treated. And that there’s, what I hear you saying is that indigenously and cross culturally throughout time that there is this healing journey and that there’s something about Eros itself, the dancing, the dancing vulva. You know, there’s something about that life force itself that’s turning to us and a blessing that can happen when we are newly touched or – by story, by picture, by another human being who can bring us that reverence and devotion.
Max Dashu: Yes. And by music, by things that have juice to them, you know. And it’s not only our bodies that are wounded, it’s our souls, our minds. You know, we get caught in these patterns of thought and, you know, our awareness is not pouring through our veins. It’s stuck. You know, you get these energetic cysts. And so this is what we’re all trying to be healed from. But on the other side of that, I would like to share with you a tantric invocation of goddess who abides in the first chakra, the base of the spine where the kundalini dwells. In it rains Pada, which means the supreme, the awakener of eternal knowledge. She is the omnipotent Kala who is wonderfully subtle to create (unintelligible). She is the receptacle of the continuous stream of (unintelligible), which flows from the eternal bliss. By her radiance it is with the whole of this universe and this cauldron as a woman. So this really is showing the indwelling of divinity inside the body and in the energy centers that exist in our body. There’s this restorational promise if we can only just bring our memory, our consciousness. Our day to day consciousness gets so trapped and we have to almost like remember breath, remember flow, remember to stand up and move and just like I’m going to stand up right now… that there is this always present essence that exists in all of us. We all have it. We’re all part of her. And so there are all these manifestations of her. They’re constantly cycling around through life and death and this movement of spirit is happening through everything like a dance. And so we have to just, our task is not to forget that. Because we do in daily life, we forget. We’re stuck somewhere in some mind nightmare and we’re forgetting the fluid brilliance, this radiance that is us, what we really truly are.
Francesca Gentille: You know, may we continue to find, recover, discover the ancient wisdom, indigenous wisdom, through stories, through song, through dance, through beautiful art, such that we can return to that, the sacred ways and the sacred blessing of being for ourselves and our world. And how might people find you? I just have to tell you, you want to find Max. Her website, her artwork, her information is important and relevant to all of us today. How do they find you and get a hold of you Max?
Max Dashu: There’s two websites. One of them is www.suppressedhistory.net. And you can just also Google Max Dashu, but no C in Dashu. And that’s the, there’s a lot of articles on there, there’s video clips from my DVD, Women’s Power and Global Perspective. And then the other site is my art, and that’s a lot more about this dancing slow that we’ve been talking about today. And that’s www.maxdashu.net. And you can explore around there, there’s a lot of goddess images, but also shamanic themes in my paintings.
Francesca Gentille: And people can also contact you to come and give presentations for them?
Max Dashu: Oh absolutely, yes. And you can contact me through my website. And the other thing that you might want to look at is the Chakra Vulva poster, which is on the Suppressed Histories site, actually on both sites. I have a couple posters that are really global in spectrum that show that these types of, these symbols and these stories and these realities are something that were celebrated on a planetary level, and still are. But, you know, we’ve lost some ground, we’ll say that. But check out the posters, there’s a lot of interesting links on those pages as well.
Francesca Gentille: And I totally, I completely recommend that you do. So I’ve had a peak and I encourage our listening audience, and I want to thank you so much Max for joining us on the show today. It’s been truly a blessing. And I want to thank you, our listening audience, for being on this journey with us. And if you want to find out more about Max, see her picture, connect to her website, her biography, and if you want to find out more about me, see my picture, connect to my website, my biography, my services, you can do that at www.personallifemedia.com. That’s www.personallifemedia.com. Sex, Tantra and Kama, Sutra: Bringing You The Soul of Sex.