I Am a Courtesan
There are many things in my life that I never thought I would ever do. Like raise a child, by myself. Or run a business. Teach in Copenhagen. Do a TEDx talk about the Pleasure Revolution. Be single, now, for three years. Or organize a Christmas dinner, for my mom, her brand new boyfriend, my daughter and the 97-year-old ex-migrant worker who raised me. I never in a bazillion trillion years thought I desired to do any of these things, alone. But, here they all are — the contents of my life, my days.
Now, I — like you — could choose to be cranky and complain about any one of these things. And don’t we all have our list of nearly overwhelming challenges that we each face, every single day? I mean, I never really wanted to run a business — I just wanted to be the Queen of Pleasure. And raising my daughter was never something I imagined doing as a single parent. I thought I would share that experience with a partner. And then, this year, when I was handed the responsibility to organize Christmas to celebrate the holiday with my people; I was overwhelmed. I mean, come on — now I gotta cook a feast, on top of everything else? For my whole spoiled life, it was my mom or Wilma who cooked for the family. I ate. They cooked. Not this year.
Sisters, here is where an aspect of what defines me, inhabits me, and orients me, surfaces, winds around my being like wafting perfume, paths a direction as count-on-able and numinous as the North Star, and encases me in the delicious erotic elixir of the exquisite essence of the woman I am.
I am a courtesan.
Yeah, you heard me. A courtesan.
Whatever do you mean by that, Miss Mama? Have you taken on a new part-time job and not mentioned it?
No, Sisters. It’s actually a full-time job, being a courtesan. I am redefining the courtesan for the 21st century. I know, I know, it is a loaded word in our culture. But let me clarify what I mean when I call myself a courtesan.
And what, pray tell, is that, Miss Boldly-go-where-no-woman-has-gone-before?
The word courtesan has very deep, sacred and ancient roots. It is a combination of three words that the Italians put together as a noun. Here is how Dr. Anne Davin defines the word:
Co = two, when two things that are separate (like the spirit and the physical world) come together
Court = a place where the royals dwell; higher order; a place where law and order is upheld
Artisan = a person who possesses a special skill, a craft; a creator of beauty for the senses; one that tends to the aesthetics
In other words, a courtesan is a woman who brings the spirit into every aspect of her physical world. She lives in a higher order, a court of her own design, as she creates beauty wherever she goes and with whatever life hands her. Every challenge is her opportunity to make her life into a work of art.
When the whiney cranky side of Yo’ Mama lashes out and asks, “I have to run a company, raise this child and get dinner on the table?”…
The courtesan in me comes to the rescue.
She sails in like Cleopatra on her golden barge, inside me, knowing her next opportunity for mischief and sacred merriment has just arrived. Mama Cranky slinks away, and the courtesan takes over. How can we weave this tale of overwhelm into a fantastical, sexy, sacred adventure? Music! she decides. I create a playlist, with favorite songs to serve the soul of each of the guests. A ravishingly beautiful table setting with rose petals at the door and on the table! Costumes! I buy red polka dot flannel jammies for every guest. (Not your typical dinner party gear, but it feels celebratory and whimsical.) And I acquire all the trappings for a southern dinner, including the brown paper bag and the flour for frying, so I can prepare this special recipe I was raised on.
I have enlisted the services of my daughter to help me through some of those intimate moments with foods I’m no longer all that familiar with. (A courtesan knows her capacity and lives within her limitations.)
According to my colleague, Dr. Anne Davin, the word “courtesan” was a recognition of an eternal truth that our Western culture ignores and devalues. Davin says, “In mother cultures (antique or indigenous), humans saw the holy in all things, especially nature. They felt it was their role to literally keep the holy alive in our world by seducing it with eloquent speech, courting it through acts of beauty, feeding it through ritual and ceremony, and embodying it as sensual beings. There was no separation between the erotic and being human. You were not fully human unless you were living your erotic nature. Every initiated man and woman was seen as courtesans of the divine. And, it was their union with one another that called forth the greatest presencing of this divine encounter.”
I am a courtesan. I take a challenge and turn it into a triumph by insisting on beauty, by finding the sacred sassy fun in every moment of the creation and presentation of the holiday meal, and by charting a new course of celebration as I lead my small dinner party in loud, ebullient song and dance, and redefining what it means to be a woman in service to her pleasure, as she serves her sacred feast. I am a courtesan. Redefining woman. Redefining freedom. Redefining what it means to truly celebrate and serve.
Do you wish there were one radical step you could take to turn any frustration into your own gratification? THAT is what we’re going to unleash in Mama Gena’s newest Intro Class: The Radical Step That Changes Everything. Join her and your fellow Goddesses in NYC on February 9, 2012. Details here.
Photo credit: Kirsten Skiles