Like many WITCH readers and writers, I am always on the lookout for powerful information that will help women (and men) to re-discover their innate feminine powers.
I am acutely aware of how many layers of shame and repression the divine feminine has suffocated under, due to the extremely polarized societal values that we have long endured.
In my youth, my initial responses to this repression of the divine feminine were misguided rebellions and many attempts to find empowerment through actions that still prioritized and prized only the most masculine aspects of the psyche, including: violence, competition and force.
In my late teens and twenties, I developed a bombastic intellectual ego, pushed myself hard towards radical politics, and became extremely self-destructive.
Think of how many times you have wanted to improve yourself or heal something by “whipping yourself into shape”; “publicly protesting”; or “making the grade”.
No matter what your intentions, these are all very masculine responses to life experience. For example, standing up for women’s rights in political protest is a masculine expression of energy.
Though there is nothing inherently wrong with masculine qualities, (solar-action) there is an unhealthy imbalance in the value that is placed upon masculine principles, which ultimately makes women (and men) afraid of their innate feminine powers. (lunar-intuition)
Think of the first time you meditated and how uncomfortable it was to be doing nothing!
The anxiety produced from merely meditating might drown you if you are exclusively operating through your masculine energies and principles. This is why we must seek balance and honor the quiet creative power of the feminine.
On my own quest to discover a path of harmony and internal alchemy, I have picked up many tools and practices. I have studied neo-paganism hermeticism, taoism, buddhism, and gnosticism. (Some of you may even know of my work as a professional astrologer.)
My insatiable curiosity in regards to learning about paths of self-transformation finally led me to a woman named Tanishka, a prolific author and Tantric priestess who devotes her life to teaching Sacred Women’s Mysteries which revolve around the symbol of the Holy Grail and the Sangreal (Sacred Blood).
With her writings, classes and workshops, Tanishka seeks to heal the imbalance of feminine and masculine in both women and men, knowing from first-hand experience how crippling the ignorance of feminine power is for every individual and the whole of society.
Regarding her inspiration for following this esoteric path, she said,
“This work came through in response to my desperate plea to the Universe 20 years ago for female role models. As a result I received teachings to understand & heal the feminine psyche.
Ultimately I feel if we’ve incarnated into a female form, we have a soul contract to help heal the wounded feminine in the World Soul through healing & empowering it in ourselves.
However, the feminine is also wounded in men. So we aren’t going to heal the old empiric paradigm of ‘rule or be ruled’ until men also heal & empower the feminine within them.”
This pain and suffering is not how people should have to live. Along with the reclamation of magic, it is up to witches and priestesses of all kinds to seek initiation into ancient knowledge that can heal these collective psychic wounds.
So what is the Holy Grail? The Sacred Blood? You are probably familiar with at least some aspects of the legend of the Holy Grail, which recalls stories of chivalrous knights who journey for many years to find a sacred Grail that is hidden from all but the most holy of men.
These stories of chivalry and adventure are compelling in their own right as narratives, but the mysteries revealed within these stories describe the Western tradition of initiation into spiritual transformation through sacred sexuality. Yes, this is the Western form of Tantra, and it is therefore a tradition that worships the feminine.
The Holy Grail is the Divine Mother’s womb, filled to the brim with life force, with eternal love, and with the sangreal. (the sacred blood)
Therefore, in the Grail Mysteries, it is a High Priestess who is responsible for initiating men. How’s that for a polarity switch?
It is often said that the Holy Grail is the cup from which Jesus drank at the Last Supper.
But for those who are in the know, like Tanishka, the symbolic meaning of this legend is that Jesus was in fact an initiate of the ancient Grail Mysteries.
This indicates that the compassion and wisdom of “Christ Consciousness” is rooted in devotion to the divine feminine. Historically speaking, Jesus, and all other initiated men, would have received their knowledge from a priestess called a Magdalene.
According to Tanishka, “[The Magdalene] was a title given to the High Priestess in the ancient world who governed the Grail Mysteries, the Blood Mysteries. Mary the Magdalene was one of the Magdalenes.”
Though the origins and legends surrounding this knowledge all seem very archaic, us post-post modern people have not lost their need for ritual, initiation and wisdom.
In fact, without spiritual vision and ritual structure, we lose our ability to master our emotions, face death, and transform our ego identity into spirituality.
The great 20th Century scholar of religion, Mircea Eliade, described humans as innately religious beings (homo religious) and as symbolic beings (homo symbolicus) that necessarily seek out experiences of the numinous and the sacred in order to feed the desire to experience profound changes in consciousness.
Tanishka teaches that in order to change the world, it is women who must take the lead in their spiritual growth.
“The old regime will be overthrown by a shaktified woman. When women remember their power and use it with integrity, the old regime will crumble and very quickly.”
In order for women to grow in wisdom and become more dynamic in their character, they must begin to honor the lunar cycles, honor their menstrual cycles, and have communion with other women who are doing the same work.
This is the purpose of the famed “Red Tent” societies. The sacred blood mysteries teach women to remember that all life and all healing have their source in the womb and that sex, birth and menstruation are a sacrament.
“It is so important girls, in particular, are initiated once they start cycling with the moon because that’s when our psychic gifts turn on and we are powerful during our moon time and it is because of that power that the patriarchy made it taboo…
Basically, this work is a form of activism to honor our moon time and our psychic gifts.
As a Mum, I feel that it is so important for girls to learn how to use their clairvoyance, their clairaudience, their intuition and their clairsentience.These are our greatest tools for self-protection in a predatory culture.”
I was struck when Tanishka said this, because of how truly taboo menstruation still is.
Rather than experiencing a celebratory initiation into the gifts of womanhood, at age 13 when I began to menstruate, I felt a shattering loneliness descend upon me.
This sad memory of my own initiation into womanhood began to mingle with visions of society’s ideas about menstruation.
I thought of the myriad of tampon advertisements, showcasing skinny adolescent girls in floppy sweaters, looking fearful about “where they are supposed to put that thing.”
I vividly recalled the sickly sweet petroleum scents infused into those “sanitary products” intended to mask the dirty truth about girls who are bleeding. (the horror!)
And I thought of the time when my friend avoided getting arrested for drug possession by telling the police officer that the bag he was about to unzip was where she kept her tampons. (an ingenious Witchy trick on her part!)
Instantly paralyzed by the thought of touching tampons, (gross!) this law enforcer immediately let her go without further investigation.
I realized that Tanishka had a very good point about her work being a form of activism.
The simple act of removing a woman’s shame about menstruation, and all other aspects of her sexuality, defies so much about the world I’ve grown up in without any direct confrontation, arguments, or ultimatums.
Rather than with street fighting and protests, imagine a cultural revolution that has its roots in the creation of community, the transmission of magical wisdom and the restoration of sacred sexuality.
“It is so important for girls to know and honor their bodies as temples and to be around older women talking very openly about sexuality and their experience so they are not just forming their understanding of human sexuality based on these distorted images in glossy magazines which play into the expectation that girls should almost be like performers, who are only concerned with finding out what men like in bed rather than finding their authentic truth about what feels good and what doesn’t feel good. There is nothing like authenticity for electric love-making.”
Tanishka believes it is important for women to develop and honor their masculine aspects, but that to operate out of that polarity as a primary source of energy leads to emotional imbalance which creates a continuum of self-destructive behaviors, including misguided sexual acts, comfort eating and substance abuse.
She teaches women to practice sitting in circle with one another, being authentic and sharing individual feminine experiences, “releasing the hurts of our past and seeing each sister as a mirror and a teacher.”
The ancient initiation into the mysteries must begin with re-introducing women to the divine feminine. However, Tanishka’s work is equally embracing of men and does not discount their essential role in this spiritual evolution/revolution.
“I am so passionate about initiating young men into the blood mysteries because without that they unconsciously seek out a blood rite to define their manhood, such as acts of violence and war.
So we will continue to live in a war-based culture until we restore the Grail, which is the ultimate initiation rite for young men.”
Tanishka explained further that men’s initiation into the Grail is an opportunity for them to face their ultimate fear, which is the fear of the dark, the void, the feminine.
Unless they face that fear through ritual, they will not make the psychological shift from boy to man and they will continue to rebel against the feminine, by inflicting rage, violence and betrayal.
The wisdom of the Grail serves the Great Mother and it enables men to make a commitment to honor and protect the Sacred Feminine.
That is the shift that needs to happen in the psyche and that is the power and the purpose of these ceremonies.
In other words, if men and women do not seek initiation into higher consciousness, (appropriate to their development) and go through proper rites of passage, then the unconscious mind takes over.
In this state, much of life is lived under the spell of the shadow, which repeatedly pushes one into negative situations looking for that initiatory catharsis.
Physical and spiritual growth is natural and innate, but requires ritual acknowledgement of transformation in order to foster healthy development.
This is what is wrong with both men and women in the world today. The way that Tanishka sees it, there is simply no proper initiation in our society that marks the transition between adolescence and adulthood. Therefore, the average person is an eternal adolescent.
Tanishka describes human development through seven year cycles of kundalini energy rising through the chakras, activating corresponding levels of consciousness. In this view, adulthood begins when the passage of the kundalini energy transitions from the Solar Plexus Chakra into the Heart Chakra.
This happens between the ages of 21 and 28, meaning that this is the natural time when the heart is meant to open and develop its ability to become a truly compassionate being who can act as a parent, a mentor, and a lover of wisdom.
“What happens in a culture that is unconscious and has no rites of passage is that everybody gets stuck and stunted at the inner teenager because they have not been put through any initiation to acknowledge that they are making the shift from teen to adult.”
I think it is pretty obvious that there are not enough grown men or women who are ready to take full responsibility for the power of creation that flows within them.
So if we are to follow Tanishka’s sage counsel, we must develop community, attune to natural cycles, and design potent initiation rituals for ourselves that demarcate the major transitions and transformations in our lives.
Like Mircae Eliade described, we are symbolic beings, and therefore it is in our best interest to create rituals in our lives to signify the shifts in consciousness that we are journeying to experience.
Without ritual of any kind, life is filled with entropy and stagnation.
If you feel that your life is in a state of entropy, then create your own meaningful initiation ceremony!
This might make all the difference in your magical work if you have grown listless and drained. Acknowledge that you may need an initiation into higher consciousness and open yourself up to the opportunity to grow.
As Tanishka put it, “Ritual is basically any physical act which allows us to anchor into our somatic body that a commitment to change is being made.”
If you can’t go to Tanishka’s events in person, but would like to learn more about the Grail Mysteries, she offers comprehensive online courses for both men and women, which teach them to sit in circle as a monthly practice and attune to natural cycles.
All WITCH readers can receive $100 off of the summer sessions if you sign up for her courses before July 1st, 2016.
Use codes RTWITCH for Red Tent Online Course and BLWITCH for Brotherhood Lodge Course.
My last question to Tanishka was simple. I wanted to know what drove her to share this long hidden esoteric knowledge with the public.
“Once I discovered a framework for the feminine psyche I was so lit up I wanted every sister on the planet to have access to this birthright because I knew that if someone had told me this when I became a woman my choices would have been very different and I would not have contributed unwittingly to my own abuse.”
The thought that more and more people are being initiated into the Grail Mysteries leaves me feeling awestruck by a new vision of the future.
Rather than attempting to force an external change upon society through law suits, street fights and rallies, this ancient wisdom of sacred sexuality is changing the internal world of untold numbers of people.
Perhaps without any fighting at all, the reclamation of these sacred teachings will initiate lasting social change. The wisdom of the Sacred Feminine is so beautiful in its simplicity. This revolution begins by opening up to the infinite blessing of real heartfelt relationships: in sisterhood, in brotherhood, and especially in intimate love.
<3 Aeolian Heart <3
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