The human body is designed to utilize all senses. We, human beings, have drifted away from our natural state through which, at one time, we engaged with all of life through our natural senses, including the intuitive. This change has come about through our active, stress filled lives in which we seldom slow down to even appreciate what is around us. We have ignored much of our sensory ability due to a change-over from right brain functioning, which is more imaginative, creative and intuitive, to left brain functioning, which is linear and analytical. Two of our senses are developed out of proportion to the others. Many people grow up in an environment lacking in exposure to the natural world. With television, computers and video games we have become residents of an indoor and often sedentary world.
In early civilization, humans and all other animals depended on finely tuned sensory awareness for survival. We walked the Earth, using those senses for protection, to find food and to move around. We did not just see and hear our way around but we felt, touched, tasted and smelled in order to survive.
We were at one time a right-brain functioning species but over time, with the development of written alphabets rather than those based on pictures, and a fast paced, artificially constructed environment, we have gradually become mostly left brained in our approach to life. This keeps us in our heads and out of touch with our bodies as we move through our lives. This in turn, can leave us disconnected and out of touch with the sacred. We are meant to be sensuous creatures and were not designed to live out our lives with only our mental bodies.
It is my belief that with conscious practice of the use of the five sensez as well as all of the other subtle ways in which we experience life, we can return to being fully functioning beings with a full body appreciation of the oneness that we share with all of life. Through diligent practice we can develop an appreciation for nature, in fact, can return to nature. Awareness of our inclusion within the web of life will be the result and the benefits of becoming more attuned with nature and thus, the sacred will return. It is my belief with that a return to nature with opened and developed sensory awareness, a greater appreciation for the value of peaceful co-existence will become clear. Engaging in full-body awareness with all of life will broaden our appreciation of the “whole” and our inter-connectedness to the web of life.
As human beings we are capable of having fully “sensing” bodies. We come into this world as infants, somatic in nature – all sensory awareness – without cognitive process – all feeling. Our parents, in their care for us, serve as the cognitive part of our worlds until we reach a certain stage of development then able to move from our full body awareness into our cerebral functioning and thinking processes.
Some of us, out of pure need for survival, developed very quickly into thinking beings, leaving behind completely, our somatic selves, because it was not safe to be in the body. We were in situations where our cerebral functioning was necessary to survive.
Because so many of us grew up in troubled homes, we have few memories of being children. Many of us have very little awareness of being fully alive, expressive, and in our bodies. Many of us left our child self behind, and our task now is to retrieve her, to find that child of feeling, the one who experiences pleasurable sensation all throughout her body.
If we are to fully embrace living a magical life it is important to remember how to live in our bodies comfortably and safely. If we re-awaken all of our senses, our awareness is expanded and our perceptions clarify and develop. Without this, our magical life will not develop as it could. Our enjoyment of all that is Sacred will be impeded as if walled in and separated from all that is possible.
When I was a child and I needed to remove myself from what was to me threatening, I found solace in nature. I grew up near the Pacific Ocean and was, from an early age, like Child to Mother, fully attached to the Sea. Even today, just standing with my feet in Her blessed waters, I am relieved of my sorrow and stress. Swimming in her, my body finds total freedom.
When I was no longer near the Ocean, I discovered trees. I climbed them to the highest places to rest my body on their branches and be comforted as no human ever comforted me.
And finally, when no escape was possible other than my room, I had my music. I have always used music to comfort, to heighten, or to fully experience any emotion that I might be having. As a child, I lay on my bed, the music playing next to me. I felt it course through my body much as I sense energy today, feeling it move, dancing it with my hands, all over my body.
Twenty-five years ago I suddenly became aware how I had lost that sensing, feeling child and how much work I had in front of me to find, heal, and restore her. I was so linear in my thought processes, so cut off from my ability to express emotion, sometimes feeling and yet unable to express: those feelings so long stifled within needed to be opened and embraced. I knew I had to find a way to get out of my head and back into my body.
Over the last 25 years and in the process of finding my senses again, I have served in the community of women as a Priestess of the Goddess. When I bring a new woman in to assist in her spiritual growth, within our Sacred Circle, these words are said to her,
“I, Bendis, daughter of Danu awaken the power within you.” (I move my hands over her head and face and say) “These are the senses we have abandoned.” (I press my thumbs to her eyes and say) “To see with acuity,” (I now place the palms of my hands over her ears and say) “to hear with clarity,” (I brush her lips with my fingers and say) “to taste with purity,” (I lightly brush her nose with my fingers and say)” to smell with intensity,” (I then run my hands down her arms to her hands and say), “and to touch with sensitivity.” I then place my hands over her third eye and say… And now as since the beginning of time, from mother to daughter, from Danu to Her own, “Danu, Bless your daughter. Open her wisdom eye that she may join with us, in a line forever unbroken, Danu’s daughters.”
From this point we begin our journey, walking together engaging with all of who we are, fully embodying the divine, one with the Earth. Be-ing in Her embrace.
Deanne Quarrie is a Priestess of The Goddess, and author of four books. She is an Adjunct Professor at Ocean Seminary College, teaching classes on the Ogham, Ritual Creation, Ethics for Neopagan Clergy, Exploring Sensory Awareness, energetic Boundaries, and many other classes of the uses of magic. She is the founder of Global Goddess, a worldwide organization open to all women who honor some form of the divine feminine, as well as The Apple Branch – A Dianic Tradition where she mentors women who wish to serve as priestesses.