Judith Seelig writes
A few years back I led a retreat at St George's in Windsor Castle for women in senior decision-making roles. My theme was Fire and the Feminine Principle, something which I doubt any of them had ever considered. We had an interesting, stimulating time with a few follow-ups, but in the end the bankers, the lawyer, the entrepreneur and CEOs went their individual ways, perhaps with an extra shot of energy and a short-lived residue of womanly companionship.
What would it be like if we could pool all their individual effectiveness? Not to merge, but to connect up each woman's knowledge, wisdom and personal clout without diluting any one part.
When people ask me who I work for I am tempted to reply "the earth". I experience this planet as sentient. It draws me to particular places and confounds my prosaic, rational self with extraordinary events like full-on rain in it-never-rains deserts, land that actually sounds (audible to passing tourists) and a good sprinkling of lone thunderbolts, one of which got me.
All our lives depend upon the earth and its cycles, and in that respect we're equal. What more neutral, ever-available field for togetherness do we have?
Women on Fire sprang out of a conversation with environmental lawyer Polly Higgins campaigning to make ecocide a crime against peace in international law. Polly set up a trust on behalf of the earth. Anyone can become a trustee of the earth. I had been looking at the difference between man-made law and what one might perceive as "natural law", the cycles of nature. Could women be more sensible to the cycles of nature? If so, do we in that way have the advantage over men?
The fire at the planet's core helps to create the earth's atmosphere, so it's fundamental to human life. There is also the mysterious fire at the base of the human spine, commonly referred to as kundalini. This fire is unforgettable when it roars into power, yet for the majority of us it's a dormant, unknown part of our make up. I wonder if it is present and enlivened in most vertebrates. Have we lost touch with something that's actually quite useful to us?
I've no doubt that risen kundalini greatly altered my life. I'd never heard of it when the base of my spine first roared into action. I was 37, juggling marriage, career, kids - all the usual multi-everything. Friends pointed me in the direction of Hinduism, where the fire is the feminine aspect of the divine or the whole. She rests as a sleeping serpent at the root of the spine until awakened. It's a very physical event: quite exceptional heat that progresses up the spine, touching the neural pathways that branch from the spinal column until the skull is flooded and your consciousness or your awareness altered. In the Hindu tradition the serpent is the goddess Shakti. When she reaches the crown she is said to unite with Shiva, the male form of the supreme whole. Risen kundalini brings you to bliss, a sense of disintegrating into a boundless sea of love. In those moments there’s no you and there’s no other. It’s a very affecting experience, possibly the result of chemical events in the brain. Shortly after it forged its way up my spine, the fire re-rooted itself in my throat. My vocal range spectacularly broadened to include masculine and feminine registers.
Following THE PRACTICE is not intended to raise kundalini. The practice always ends on the downward out-breath. Giving away or emptying means you are ready to receive again. The fire at the base of your spine is free to continue sleeping, or to awaken as it will. If you doubt the likelihood of an ungovernable force in the human body becoming active when it's ready, consider childbirth. Perhaps that is why Hinduism makes the fire at the base of the spine an expression of the goddess.