15 March 2012

The Goddess and the Harlot

 “What is the relationship between the harlot and the goddess? I sometimes fear powerful women are untrustworthy as if they’re promiscuous-maybe a lot of powerful women are. I wonder if this is my own fears/projections or if there’s some truth to it.”

Thank you for voicing this. It is a common notion but because we are now encouraged to be so all-inclusive and non-judgemental, it slips into the covert of the culture, rather than being brought out into the light. So much can be written in reply – I hope I have gotten the most important bits here.

To begin: A healthy, unadulterated woman will naturally love or at the very least appreciate sex and sensuality, will likely be tactile and physically demonstrative, will love and trust the wild places both within the human psyche and without, in nature. She will be responsive, exuberant and have keen sensitivity. She will instinctively know that her body is a portal to the Divine and that the power that rises through it as sexual energy is good and wholesome and can be put to use for the health of her own organism and also the health of her family and the community where it can be directed into healing and creativity.

Your question demonstrates the associations that we have picked up from our socialisation, from our culture. The message within the patriarchal system which has dominated for the past few millennia is that the woman I speak of above is dangerous and must be controlled. In the past this has been done with a great deal of violence, particularly by religions like Christianity and Islam and is still in certain parts of the world. These days, within our culture, although it is starting to shift since the feminist movement, it is still very present in the covert attitude and such women are referred to bitterly with words like “slut”/ “harlot” / "whore". The word "Promiscuous" holds the association that for a woman to love sex is an evil thing (where as for a man, it is “normal”).

Can you imagine why such a woman would be threatening to anyone who was wanting to control a society… and why, by extension it was imperative to find ways to make such a one look dangerous? Slowly but surely the oppression of the feminine nature was so effective that even women started to believe that the only way that they could have any power was if it was given to them by a man. Thus, we even began policing each other and routing out those women who did not conform to the status quo, using the weapon of shame for having these very natural wholesome drives, to great and devastating effect, not just for women but for our whole society.

So, the relationship between whore and goddess is in the perception of the culture and also the perception the woman holds of herself. When she has bought in to what the culture has told her about being intrinsically powerless and weak because she is a woman, she may believe that she must manipulate to get power for her survival from the outside and one of her tools is seduction… so sex and intimacy deprivation is used as part of the deal making between men and women, operational within the illusion of scarcity and separation.
... that is when it is in its unconscious aspect. In the conscious aspect there is the ancient roll of the Dakini who's work it is to support you towards your full capacity for awareness, however that looks and whatever it takes, including the tools found within sexuality. 

If your idea of trustworthy is a woman who will consistently behave in a way that makes you feel safe within the illusions held by our culture… (such as those around how love should look) then you are quite right that such women cannot be trusted.

If, however, your soul seeks to awaken into the fullness of your own god-self, then you can  trust the direction of such a women to guide you in whatever needs to be done to shatter the illusions that keep you apart from this. Your fears are those of the ego (that in us which maintains the illusion of duality) fearing for its life and are a good indication of where to aim your rudder if you are ready to let it go.

for more on this topic, see:
under the heading “Tantric Practitioners: Dakinis And Dakas”
and one of my favourite pieces of writing:



  1. i love this image... enjoy.

  2. Hi Annwen,
    Another kind of take:
    The harlot and the goddess are simultaneous identities in that each identity is equal to itself and not equal to itself. It is an example of the Principal of Constraint. There is a tension that holds the harlot and the goddess together on a scale (as in say 1-100). Or better still, we can imagine it as a stick! We have a relationship to this stick in our personal cosmology and when we are not in balance we might picture ourselves more like the harlot or the goddess (more on one or the other end of the stick). Versions of ourselves are born of our culture, environment and our attitude. Through the intensity of constraint (the tension, between the two ends), you encounter “the Other”, the one you imagine you are least alike. So for instance, if one resonates as a goddess, the harlot could be on the other side of the stick (scale).

    The “Other” is the “not you”, the one who needs to be recognised in order for the “whole you” to emerge (takes a bit of work here :)great work you Dakinis and Dakas do). We can form a relationship. Often this is where the fear and mistrust comes in and we can find and make any experience to prove our “not a harlot” status. But we all have both, as archetypes within the greater cosmology of ourselves. We need to be able to integrate both whether we be man or woman. One could change this stick to the Magician and the Manipulator or Eve and Lilith. The this or the that.

    The Other is a reflection, it becomes “both” “and” (the place of Zero Point or where one can synthesize as Hollow Bone in Shamanism). This is not the Critical Point however; it is the point of Transformation eg. as in Complexity Theory.

    The brain works out its process through a binary process of a “this” or a “that” creating boundaries which will then describe ourselves.

    The fear and projection is always one’s own. What is recognised as untrustworthy and/or promiscuous is born through the descriptions of Self, our patterns of experience, intuition and insight.

    "Being a woman is knowing when not to be too much of a lady" as they say :).

  3. thank you Lyn! I love that last quote...

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