About love, sexuality, feminine power and gender prejudices
Estera Saraswati, Tantra and sacred sexuality teacher in interview with Magda Wielgołaska, women and LGBT rights activist.
Magda Wielgołaska: We live in time saturated with sexuality, sexuality is everywhere. Nudity and carnality jump at us from billboards and television. We have internet, colorful magazines, and yet I feel that modern person is very much cut off from their body, and a modern woman is most certainly cut off from her power.
Estera Saraswati: We do in fact have a lot of sexual content in the media now. However, it is a picture of pathological version of sexuality. This is not a natural expression of sexuality, but its suppression. This is a paradox. This phenomenon occurs in countries where religion plays a very big role, but religious conditioning is hidden. We can talk about progressive secularization and atheism, but it still does not change the fact that Poland is a Catholic country. You can see it in politics, media, and social conditioning; it includes how we think and how we raise our children. Many people are, for instance, atheists, Buddhists, etc., but continue to think in a Catholic way. The education and culture in which we spend our childhood play an important part in how we think as adults. We are immersed in Catholic doctrine and morals. What do I mean? For example, that we are cut off from our bodies, we live on the level of a “head” from the concepts and doctrines. We stop following the natural instincts of a body, feeling less sensations, forgetting about the only pleasure for which we do not have to pay. Spirit is separated from matter as is sexuality from spirituality. It results in depriving women of their natural power, which is closely related to physicality and sexuality. Some people follow these imposed moral code, some people rebel against. Just because you rebel, does not mean that you are free from it. When you do rebel, you feed energetically what you are rebelling against as energy follows your attention. The solution, is to go beyond the rebellion, and instead find a new solutions. Creating a new paradigm and a new world is the answer.
M.W.: But when rebellion is noticeable, we need to notice what we disagree with and want to change it. What does rebellion look like for you? What motivates you to cut yourself off and change your way of thinking?
E.S.: I come from a Catholic family. Currently, I do not identify as a Catholic, even though I was brought up in this system. I know how much it determines the way a person thinks and acts, as all religions are. I know how much, even unconsciously, this moral code directed me. I am speaking of such issues like being ashamed of one’s own body, or dressing in such a way that you cannot see the body, or sexuality being portrayed in a very specific framework. We are told exactly what sexuality is and for what purposes we use it. I automatically tried to fit into a box imposed on me, which was created by someone else, which was not congruent with my deep desires.
M.W.: You are a Tantra and sacred sexuality teacher, what kind of couples come to you? Do stereotypical couples of a “Polish Mother” (“Matka Polka”) and her life partner, show up at your doorstep? Since, we do not have a “Polish Father” in our collective consciousness.
E.S.: No. I haven’t yet crossed paths in my work with such a couple. If we talk about stereotypical pairs, then usualy men in such relationships contact me. Men start to break the barriers, they want to try something different, and deepen the relationship. From my experience, women in such relationships are more suppressed with the traditional approach to women’s bodies and sexualities. It is challenging for them to look outside the box. It could be that the change is too big, psychologically, that it does not fit the norms in which they were raised. Many women find it challenging to look themselves deeply in the eyes to get to know themselves truely. Their husbands can be alcoholics, abusive, emotionally absent, but as long as they play their role of husbands, let them be. Still in traditional couples, it is better situation than not to have a husband. Maybe if they would look within themselves they would have to redefine their lives. They would realize that what they have is deeply unsatisfactory; they would have to start their life again. I think that women unconsciously know that if they checked under the carpet, they would notice the piles of dirt. They would not be able to stay indifferent to this.
M.W.: To what extent do you think the Polish Mother’s sexuality is conditioned by a Marian reference in terms of real development of the realm of sexuality? Mary, the mother of Jesus, sits atop the pedestal in terms of femininity, humble, eyes downcast accepting the burdens of life.
E.S.: Also, note that Mary is presented as the one that ascends. She does not stand on the ground, she is detached from reality. On top of this imagery, a devision between Mary and Mary Magdalene was created. There is Divine Mother Mary – a woman who is a mother, herself immaculately conceived without sin, pure, perceived as asexual, and her child was conceived with the spirit. She is presented as very ethereal, as the one who always gives while having no needs of her own, except to be a mother. In my opinion, this is where the destructive pattern begins for women. Mary Magdalene, the second archetype of a woman, is the “fallen” and carnal woman. She is sensual and sexual, portreyed at Jesus’ feet on the ground, opposite heaven, excommunicated by society. These two models govern women’s psyches a lot. It highlights the gap between the role of a mother and a lover. Being a mother and a lover do not go hand in hand, especially in Poland. Often, when a woman becomes a mother, she ceases to be or even think of herself as a lover. Occasionally, women take a short break in their role of mother, to be a lover, but that is a small fraction. These two roles are not integrated in our psyche and consciousness. A lack of sexual awakening leads to women being sexual only to fulfill their biological function. Because the woman did not awaken her inner sexual energy, when a child appears, her superficial sexuality fades becoming dormant as it was in fact. And when I speak of sexuality, I do not mean sex; I mean an awakening of a woman’s inner vitality and sensual, creative juice. A sexual mother is a type of woman that has a good relationship with her body; she knows how to take care of her body and recognize her body’s needs, she is able to feel the pleasure just from body sensations, as well as provide it to herself. To put it simply, she feels sensual and she enjoys her embodied sexual being. She does not need another person in order to experience that she is a sexual being.
M.W.: Having another person to feel sexual and experience pleasure is a concept that is deeply rooted in our psyches.
E.S.: Many people create co-dependent relations basing on the myth of two half’s of the apple, also in Poland. Perceiving themselves as a half and a partner as their other half. Thinking, “I suppose to be a feminine woman (whatever that means to them, usually gender conditioning), you suppose to be a masculine man”. I, as a woman, need your masculinity and you, as a man, need my femininity. Therefore we complement each other. Two halves come together to make a whole. This concept often leads to a full-on suffering co-dependent relationship, where one person can only define themselves as part of a whole. People in same-sex relationships also apply this kind of a two-half’s-relationship old paradigm. Defining oneself in relation to someone else undermines their sense of personal safety, which leads to a need of controlling the other person to feel safe again, e.g. one needs to know where, what, when “the other half” has been doing. We rely on the other person, not on oneself. This Hollywood myth is extremly harmful for true love to flow and to create mature, healthy relationships.
M.W.: So we throw away the fairytale story of two halfs and instead we have two healthy wholes that can create a mature relationship?
E.S.: We are a whole anyway. When we meet another person, two separate worlds come together overlaping partially but still there is a part that is private to each partner. And great! Let it be. When we aim for fear based merging into one, our lust for the other person falters and sexual desire fades away. There is a strong tendency in patriarchal world to ‘own’ or even posses another person. Everything has to be shared, open and known. ‘I need to know all your friends and your secrets, because if I do not, it means that you do not love me’. These are very immature relationships, along the lines of a parent-child relationship – knowing that there is someone who will take care of me, who will tell me that I am important, and who will provide me love. But when this reassuring stops, either verbal or physical, anxiety about ‘what is wrong with me, because the love faded’ comes in. This is why we cling to our significant others and look for confirmations of their love. Everything looks fine outside, but there is fear inside. There is no longer room for love. Relationships based mainly on survival and fitting into social models are actually very fragile and prone to destruction. Culture plays a large role in it like movies about love. We have been comparing our relations to idealized, romantic patterns of love, hardly trying to build an ideal relationship. We end up in builing sand structures without a strong base that is in the core of our being, thus collapsing into other person.
M.W.: What is your opinion of mature love in that case?
E.S.: Love is a state of heart openness. Not only for another person, but general openness. This type of contact does not have to be sexual. We need to learn how to develop a deep and intimate contact, to uncover oneself, stay without masks in front of another person, discovering the ability to be truely naked. I do not mean physically naked. I have noticed a common anxiety of intimate contacts. It is a paradox because we cling to another person out of fear that we will lose them. More we are attached, more the other person tries to free themselves as lack of spaciousness suffocates them. Then we try to catch them like two bunnies chasing each other. Sometimes one from the couple runs away to stop and become available again. In this case, the chaser is disoriented as one is not really ready for intimacy and begins to retreat because the other person is too close. Paradoxically, despite the declarations of building close relation, the chaser wants to continue chasing because with the chase-ee, they are accustomed to perpetual dissatisfaction. In reality, the chase-r and chase-ee, are not ready for intimate relationship. Sexuality ties in with this dynamic, which starts to look like a trade relation. Sex is for the purpose of exchange of safety, having a relationship, feeling attractive, important, worthy, etc. Sexuality helps with gaining certain things. These are examples of what an awakened sexuality is not. In fact it is a creative force within ourselves which energizes the entire world and is not subdued to fulfill mind goals.
M.W.: You already spoke of what characterizes sexually conscious mothers. Say something more about femininity that is not necessarily tied to maternity. What does a sexual woman mean?
E.S.: A sexual woman is a woman, who does not need external validation or stimuli to feel internally alive, even electric. She feels her body how it pulsates and moves with internal, sensual, spiral movement. She feels juicy, full, vital and creative. Sexuality is a juicy, luscious and passionate creation! It is an alchemic concoction of pure fire and water elements, fueled by air and stability of earth element. Sexuality is born of polarization between an awakened, internal essence of masculine and feminine, no matter what sex or gender one is.
M.W.: What you describe is rather extinguished in women from an early age. It is bad and immoral.
E.S.: Yes, children’s sexuality is quickly extinguished. In short: we feed a division between a lively and active boy and a polite and modest girl. This is changing very quickly now, thanks to feminist movement in Western world. More and more girls are more and more independent. It is amazing to watch these new girls, which are becoming more self-confident. They are not as shy and fearful anymore. The girls often come and take, they speak and express their needs, and they get what they want. I have a feeling that big changes are coming. Although gender conditioning from early childhood is still on going. They linger in mainstream educational divisions. There is a clear notion that girls suppose to do certain things, and some don’t. As children, we are not fully aware of what is coded into our minds. Later in adult life, it is very important because it conditions our relationships with others, and most importantly with oneself. It seems to us that as adults, our decisions are personal choices. We think we are free. Not necessarily. Even if we consciously negate family codes, still there are social, religion and ancestors codes hidden in our uncosciousness. As social animals, we do not want to be outside a pack. At the tribal level of our brains, being excluded from the pack means death. At one time, humans were unable to survive alone. They had to belong to a group for food and protection. Now, we still want to belong, but on a mental and emotional level. For example, how many people now have no conections with the Church anymore, but they do baptize their children, take them to communion, because they do not want to be different than others.
M.W.: How an empowered sexualy conscious being confront with social codes?
E.S.: A sexually awakened person is independent of social groups, family and religious codes. You can see this conditioning within you, you see what other people do and what is required to belong to a particular group. You recognise a mechanism of control that is suppose to keep you as a member of this group. These control mechanism is fear, guilt, shame, judgment. There is an entire system of very efficient ways to place people back in the line. A sexually awaken person is insusceptible to such manipulative behavior. There is nothing to latch on to. The awakened sexual energy connects us with our core that such external attacks cannot break. We embrace our true power while being connected to our core and we are no longer susceptible to be controlled by external powers. I am talking about a direction of self-development. We usually move along a continuum and step-by-step certain social codes have less and less impact on us. And this is the reason why sex and sexuality is fortified by all religions with a codex of strict moral values. Sexuality can be a space of true freedom, independence from systems and concepts. Conscious sexuality is extremly important for the emancipation of women. It is essential to know which values have been controlling our subconsciousness. All these cultural, religious, family, social codes determine our sexuality. Women’s sexuality has been strongly conditioned for thousands of years. Once we are aware of these values or codes we can begin to evolve into people who take self-responsibility for own body, life and decisions. This is the first step to regain true freedom.
M.W.: Everything that you say, shows how important sex education is at a young age, when all these behavior patterns start to exist in our coding.
E.S.: Yes. Although, I feel that when we talk about sex education, for example from the kindergarden level, it is already too late. We should start with education of adults who decide to conceive children. The earliest years is the time that a child soaks with everything that is around. Too little is said and taught about conscious sexual pleasure. We teach and speak about pathologies, diseases and potential risks. No one supports the development of wholesome, innocent, healthy and mature sexuality. Educating a child is already the next step. The education must be adjusted to the age of the child. There are opinions in Poland claiming that sexual education is ‘pure evil’ that awakens the child’s sexuality in an excessive manner. This is not true. Humans are sexual beings from the moment of conception. Scientific data shows that children still in the womb of the mother, touch their genitals intentionally and repeatedly, giving themselves pleasure. Children spontaneously become interested in their bodies and look for ways to find pleasure from their bodies. It is rather a question of what information about sexuality will reach them. Is this about a consciously experiencing sexuality – one that will support their development, or something such as pornography from the Internet? We are not able to avoid a process of acquiring knowledge about sexuality, it will be happening still. Lack of sex education will not erase their sex drives, they will continue to be interested in their own bodies by nature! Everything just goes underground and takes a pathological form, which we hear about now. Extreme example of suppressed natural, primaly innocent sexuality is women in burqas. When they showed a small part of their leg, inner shadow demons would be awakened in men. There are many statistical data on the correlation of reliable sex education for teenagers and children, leading to a peaceful society. In my opinion, the best sex education at this moment in Europe, is the education in Holland. They have the lowest percentage of teen pregnancies, rape, STIs and sex-based crime. Why would we not go along with this?! Who a free, sovereign person is a threat to? Who is afraid of powerful, sexually awakened women, who know what they want and reach for it without a fight or struggle?
Estera Saraswati – Tantra and sacred sexuality teacher. A visionary, pioneer, activist, advocate of natural birthing methods. A devotee towards a peaceful society. Supporting women in self-empowerment through sexual awakening, disregarding orientation or relationship status. Mother of two boys. Founder of the annual International Reunion of Sexuality and Consciousness conference in Poland. Advocate of new paradigm of living in a free society that includes all spheres of life, from conscious conception and natural birth to conscious death. A lifestyle based on clear and transparent communication, committed and transparent relationships, and a conscious sexuality as an important sphere of life, both public and private. Estera’s homepages: www.narodzinydozycia.pl/en, www.houseoftantra.eu, www.s4love.org/en
Magda Wielgołaska – A feminist, volunteer and activist for such organizations as Tolerado, the Tricity (Gdańsk, Gdynia, Sopot) LGBT right organization, and Feminoteka, a Warsaw-based women’s rights advocacy foundation.
May 2015, Warsaw