As previous posts have explained, I am in the process of reclaiming my femininity; so it is natural for me to work with the archetype of Empress within the tarot. In the major arcanum of the tarot, the empress is the third person the protagonist encounters in his life journey and she teaches him about the divine feminine. She is traditionally portrayed reigning over the material world with sensuality, fecundity and prosperity on a physical level. She delights in all her senses and births gifts from the earthly realm. In the dictionary, ’empress’ is defined as a woman who rules in her own right. I like that.
That meaning rings true to how I am choosing to live within my female body these days. I used to be at war with my physical body and I also used to cater to the physical needs of others over my own. This is an area I still struggle with but am making progress. Aside from the basic agreement of no harming, my recovery incorporates physical activity and healthful food choices so that I can enjoy my physical self. I am also allowing innocent feminine attentions for my inner young girl who skipped the whole sweet coming of age time period of life. That is a bittersweet process and one that feels foreign.
Sexually, the empress is a satiated woman who delights and appreciates her lover(s). Like her, I delight in an active sex life, although a life partner and love still eludes me. But unlike her, I am not quite as competent with receiving pleasure from my lover. Until recently, I found stimulation and pleasuring me to be emotionally untenable and I usually made my lovers happy by saying” don’t worry about me, let me ‘do you'” I know this started from early childhood experiences with my grandfather, who would try to get me “into” his sexual interests by trying to pleasure me; but it just left me numb to my clitoris and freaked out when a man wanted to explore or pay attention to me intimately. It mirrored what he did in his perverted seduction scenes. Luckily, years of recovery left me open to a man who was patient and persistent enough to get me to allow him to break down my defenses and now I am on my way to reclaiming that part of my sexuality. But I mourn the lost years of my abandoned sexual center frozen in trauma.
I used to fear I was abnormal for being emotionally and physically numbed out to clitoral stimulation. And why I would feel as if I was going to crawl out of my skin if a man or woman wanted to lay me down and shower me with amorous attention. I later (close to 50!) realized that it was reenacting my incestuous grandfathers actions when he tried to make me his lover. I had compartmentalized it and tucked it away , never seeing the obvious connection until I was ready and safe to do so. Now I can acknowledge that happened and had consequences remembered by my body to this day; I devote a lot of energy on romancing my sexual self and re-associating appropriate seductive actions from a chosen lover and even with myself. I am learning what I like and am patient and soft in my exploration.
And I am learning that I am not so odd in this regard. This self-imposed sexual form of anorexia is not so uncommon. Earlier this week I was talking with a woman who confided that she had never achieved orgasm in her life and felt certain that “I will die never having had an orgasm”. This coming from a grown women, married with adult children. She disparaged herself as frigid and too much of a control freak to allow herself to orgasm. I felt honored that she shared something so private and I met her in that vulnerability by letting her know about my recovery in this area of my intimate life. I do not mean to infer that this woman had similar sexual experiences as I did, but I do believe that our culture has lots of women stumbling by with less than satisfactory sexual lives and we are not abnormal. We’ve just been hurt and need a little help. Things cause these associations and reaction. It take patience and kindness towards ourselves to get to the root of all sexual performance issues. I hope all women celebrate their sexuality and if they have challenges , that they find the recovery support to help them blossom. Meanwhile our inner Empresses lie in wait for us to discover her; a sensual odalisque, full of promise.