Once upon a time Prostitutes were Sacred Healers. Women were revered as the Goddess, men as the Warrior/Hero. Once upon a time our connection to love, to our earth, to our higher self and to simplicity outweighed our occupation with fear, pollution, base desires and conflict. Somewhere along the way we found ourselves lost and the Sacred Prostitute became the Whore, the symbol of all ill. For some, this fall is connected to the Garden of Eden and the Fall From Grace, though personally I've never been able to relate to a story that casts any god or ascended being as a punishing one (except maybe Kali who offers a kind of tough love!) nor to a story that suggests women's curiosity unleashes all manner of evils and suffering into the world. For me it's far more complex (and yet paradoxically simple) than that - we forgot. We forgot our divine essence, our holy nature, our true nature; the nature of love, compassion and innate wisdom.
The prostitute has become the symbol for the distortions experienced by women around the divine feminine. She* is the vessel into which we can literally empty ourselves of our own 'sin' - her body contains our desires, her spirit contains our fears, her soul contains our history. And we fell, through time from natural order into chaos, manipulated by ego, and by money, power and greed, people began forgetting the harmony and bliss of this union of the divine feminine and the divine masculine, both within and outside of ourselves and irrespective of our gender.
When I started the Sex Workers Speakeasy Project, I wasn't really sure what was driving me other than a personal recognition that I have been occupied with the Sex Worker Rights Movement for over 25 years now and I know that it's important to me. Having a voice is important to me. Offering a platform for marginalised groups to speak out in the face of great stigma and judgment is important to me, for how we treat the marginalised reflects upon how we treat the perceived 'small' in this world - the mouse, the shy, the timid, the humble. It reminds me how those with 'power' can misuse it, or can choose to channel it for great good. Sharing my experiences of being a literate, articulate woman with a wealth of stories to share allows me to envisage healing in this world which is another area of great importance for me, for if there was a Fall from Grace, for me it is in our forgetting to honour, deeply honour our greatest Mother; Planet Earth. Channeling my own courage, strength and integrity for the greater good, I began making an example of myself and my story to bring light to dark places, and I thankfully find myself standing beside others who have found the courage to stand up and share this stage, all of us speaking out for those who for many reasons cannot, and I salute them all, those who can and those who cannot, for in every story lies a history.
Going to Las Vegas to present at the Desiree Alliance Conference in July of this year really began to transform some of these stories, or at least how they live in me began to be transformed. Rather than holding them in shame and stigma, they began to emerge into light and into empowerment in sharing with others in a stream of positive and inspiring dialogue. The women and men who have so far shared their stories with me have touched me deeply, every single one of them. I'm inviting ongoing contributions to this project so please message me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would liek to contribute and get your voice out there.
We need to re-connect not just to the masculine/feminine divinity in us but to our hearts, to that which allows us to listen to the experiences of another human being without politicising everything. To remove the stigma and reveal the source. The video below is Terra Burns - with thanks.
Speakeasy #3 from Sex Worker Speakeasy on Vimeo.
*use of the feminine pronoun here reflecting my own experiences though this is not gender specific. The 'prostitute' can be any gender or gender neutral of course, and the divine masculine/feminine are in no way tied to birth gender. In this instance however the use of 'she' does refer to the overcoming of the 'feminine' and of women within many of our societies.