If you travel back far enough in your memory, I’ll wager that you can recall the exact moment when your voice was silenced. There was a pivotal point when someone reprimanded you for speaking your mind, and you recoiled a little, questioned the validity of your argument, doubted your worth, and learned that silence and quiet submission won approval from the adults in your world.
This happened to me at a Bible study when I was about nine years old. My parents and several of their friends had begun meeting weekly at each other’s houses, having recently left their church over a dispute that I never fully understood. They were like wandering nomads in search of a home, and no other church would have them. The stain of breaking off from another congregation was too great in a small southern town that lived and died by family ties and tradition.
Thus, I found myself in the midst of these outcasts, huddled together in someone’s mobile home on a winter’s night, listening to their views on the Apostle Paul’s letters. They were reading the King James Version, believing it to be the exact and unquestionable word of their fierce, punishing, and distinctly male god. I was quite bored with it all, until this verse came up for discussion: “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” (1 Timothy 2:12)
I was a budding feminist even then, and I could feel white-hot flames building up within me, spirals of energy that were wrapping around my solar plexus and rising up into my heart and my throat. If I didn’t say something, I would spontaneously combust right before their eyes. So the fire transformed itself into words, and I uttered: “But that isn’t fair!”
I was a nine year-old girl telling a group of adults that their beloved book contained bullshit. The men most likely viewed my challenge as proof that women absolutely should be silent. They were accustomed to being the authority at home and everywhere else in the world, so Paul’s model suited them just fine. The women knew deep in their core that I was right, but none had the strength to stand with me on this issue. Their inner fires had been doused long ago, and I felt betrayed by their lack of support. The discussion moved on to a less controversial topic, and the parental units reprimanded me later for speaking out of turn and embarrassing them.
So many women have stories like this one. The details and circumstances may be different, but what we internalize is the same: our thoughts and feelings on a topic don’t matter, it’s okay to be seen but not heard, and the way to avoid potential shame is to remain silent.
In my local Wise Women’s Circle, we counteract our cultural programming and open up our voices by practicing council sharing. This comes from the Native American tradition of using the talking stick, or speaker’s staff, which is passed around from one person to the next in the circle. Whoever has the talking stick has the floor to speak without interruption. Rather than using a stick or a staff, we use a special bowl or a smooth stone, which has more feminine qualities. While a woman is speaking, the rest of the circle holds sacred space for her and listens actively without needing to respond or offer advice. We just listen. She may be crying, stuttering, shaking, or raging, but we keep listening as long as it takes for her to speak her truth. There is healing and freedom in expression, in being supported, in feeling loved. This is a gift that women can give back to each other. We can heal our voices, one story, one circle at a time.
Freeing the voice also involves intense work on the Vishuddha chakra, the throat center, which is where “the thoughts and emotions of the heart convert into audible sound. When Vishuddha is activated, the voice takes on a profound power and beauty, penetrating and vibrationally transforming the hearts of those who hear it” (Redmond, 63). Imbalances in this chakra can show up as physical symptoms, such as:
- chronic sore throat
- mouth ulcers
- thyroid problems
- neck pain
- speech defects
There are also non-physical symptoms related to a fifth chakra imbalance, such as:
- difficulty in expressing yourself
- social anxiety
- saying things you later regret
- talking others into the ground
- difficulty in telling the truth or telling white lies
The goddess I associate most with the throat chakra is Athena, particularly for women who are having trouble with finding their authentic voice. As a wise, assertive warrior queen and patron of the arts, Athena helps us stand up for our beliefs, surmount our fears, and bring imaginative concepts into reality. Working with Athena and her associated symbols (owl, golden shield, spear, spindle, etc.) is one approach to healing.
Other simple methods that can help are:
- Gemstone Therapy: Meditating with blue lace agate, chrysocolla, and angelite have been helpful to me personally.
- Daily self-treatment with Reiki
- Vocalization: Chanting the vowel sound a as in game or chanting the bija mantras for all seven chakras. Humming or singing anything is healing, especially when you aren’t concerned about how it sounds to others.
- Affirmations: Write some personal affirmations that you can truly believe in, and repeat them upon waking and shortly before going to sleep. Example: I speak from the heart and let the truth be my guide.
- Journaling: Sometimes it’s easier to “speak” on paper, which is something I relate to quite well as a writer.
So, what became of that little nine year-old girl? I grew up and found my voice (despite the church’s attempts to suppress it), because you are reading my words right now. I am slowly getting better at allowing my inner teacher and wise woman to speak to groups. If you put a guitar in my hands, I’ll write songs and sing my heart out.
And I still work on expressing my truest and highest self all the time.
Can you recall the exact moment when someone stripped you of your voice? How did that one incident affect your self-expression and creativity? What did you do to heal yourself? Please comment below if you’d like to share your story.
Redmond, Layne. Chakra Meditation: Transformation through the Seven Energy Centers of the Body. Boulder, CO: Sounds True, 2010. Print.
Copyright © 2016 Jennifer R. Miller. All rights reserved.
6 thoughts on “Freeing Our Feminine Voices”
Most ancient texts like the bible were written by men for men.
In grade school, I was a singer in the chorus, and good enough to be chosen for solo, and in musical. My parents were rarely supportive of my education that I can remember, I wanted to be a singer, an actress, or a famous artist…seven years of singing and recalling the abuse in my childhood, and some neglect, I was a ‘loud mouth’ child. The Goddess put the fire in my belly from the start. It was a gift, a gift I began to punish myself for…manifesting root canals at age five, mono at age ten, from tonsil stones, and many dental caries into my early adolescence. Affecting me, an addictive personality, addictions to television, tobacco, alcohol at times, even running around the streets with other young adults partying, and entering into ‘dangerous’ situations. I had hardships, and almost lost my life on occasion! By the time I married my spouse at age 21, we were both toxified, yet, something kept me so close to nature, as an alchemist, a lover of my home cooking, a desire to grow, and stay grounded. I gave up smoking, partying, and traded it in for herbalism, a daughter, and some peace of being in partnership. It was not easy, I didn’t keep quiet, I would not settle, I tried to give in and surrender at times to keep myself safe. I wanted communion with God, I didn’t really ‘know’ the Goddess, yet. SO, when my spouses family told me meditation, yoga, my prophetic dreams, and abilities were of the “devil” I went to their pastor for him to confirm what they had said. It was a huge wound, I wanted to heal, I spent about a decade thinking I was damned or something wasn’t right with me…finally after manifesting more symptoms and spiritual afflictions I went to a healer in 2012. It was the major turning point that got me back on the path that I knew I was destined as a teen. During the first several years of my marrage before getting to my life’s work, I was ignored sexually, and refused certain affections that I craved. Without telling the whole story, I was really down, and about on my last thread. Flower essences, energy medicines, shamanism, and sexual/kundalini awakening with in myself saved my life. Connecting to my higher self and learning from the past made me see the beauty again, my purpose and connection. I began to sing again. I still have scars of being called many names, and punishment, especially being called, ‘a loud mouth indian’ I will never give up or give in again to something less than pure unconditional love. All the negative voices, and stagnancy will continue to be cleared and transmuted. I am here for Her, I am here for Us, I am here for divine union with t he masculine/feminine. Everyone is worthy of pure passion, and bliss to find what lights them up from within, and to repel all else from entering the sphere of influence. To be able to laugh off or bounce off non-beneficial thoughts, beliefs and others opinions! I know what it feels like to have little to no boundaries and to ‘take in’ names, and opinions of others that made me sick, ill, and mentally compromised. I am grateful for all that has brought me to now. A woman of strength, ability, and service. Still working out a few things, but I give myself the time to integrate and adjust. Thank you for shaaring your story. I did not realize when I fist started my comment it would turn in to this, so, thank you again dear soul sister. xx Love to you, from Brandie
I think the greatest healers often have the toughest childhoods. Family members end up serving in the role of antagonist, attempting to snuff out the light before it really has a chance to shine. Would we be as powerful if we had faced no resistance? Do our spiritual muscles get stronger for having climbed up a steep mountain? It’s something to think about. Your story is an inspiration, so thank you for sharing it here. You found your way back to wholeness, and then you used everything you had learned to help others. That is how the world heals–one person, one family, one village at a time. Much love to you, divine sister.
I read this at our Women’s Circle tonight, and then we passed the talking bowl.
This was forwarded to me by Carla Sanders & finding voice feels vitally important.
I so enjoy your blog.
Thanks so much for your story & for your voice!
I’m honored and delighted that you found this piece helpful to your circle. Thanks for reading!