Years of patriarchy and masculine domination, rapid technological advances, exclusivist religious dogma, separation from nature, materialistic attitudes and the daily course of our busy lives have left women (and men) largely disconnected from their essential primal feminine energies. We get so caught up in all these “doings” that we fail to tend, nurture or even recognize the primal part of our self that is essential to our being. Women from all walks of life are seeking ways and means to connect back to their core, primal feminine self. But who is she really? Moreover, how do we connect to, or awaken her?
There are many theories as to what our Primal nature is, or what our Primal instincts are, and whether they still exist in modern humans. The term instinct has various definitions. Biologists and psychologists over the centuries have come up with numerous and contrasting explanations. In biological terms, according to Amanda Spink In Information behavior: An Evolutionary Instinct (2010), “instinct is generally understood as the innate part of behavior that emerges without any training or education in humans.” In other words, unlearned behavior. In psychology, ‘instinct’ is less commonly used. Rather, terms such as ‘distinguished behavior’ are preferred. Some psychologists, such as Abraham Maslow go so far as to say that humans no longer have instincts. He accounts these kind of ‘instinctual’ type behaviors in modern humans as ‘strong drives’.
When I speak of ‘Primal’ I am not just referring to our nature or to our instincts however, but also something that is left in its original state, such as a forest or a mountain or the ocean; any place that has not been modernized by humans. It is this primal natural world that we have also lost touch with. We have put up barriers, internal and external. As a result we have cut off the line of communication with the energy of the planet. Primal in this sense, is energy. Raw energy. Vital. Powerful. Universal.
It’s that kind of energy felt when in a forest, swimming in the ocean, basking in the light of the full moon or standing atop a mountain. You know that profound moment that comes over you when you actually feel the connection; you stop and exhale; every cell of your being becomes alive. There is an overwhelming sense that you are one with all that surrounds you. Your body feels as though it could just sink into the earth on which you stand and your consciousness feels as though it is expanding into the atmosphere. All your senses are on high alert. For me, these moments are when I feel closest to having some idea what life is all about.
This Primal energy which in spiritual terms is sometimes referred to as Prana, Shakti, Kundalini, Chi, Ki, or Life Source can be awakened in many ways. While I recommend regular visits to primal places, it is not a pre-requisite to experience or awaken this energy. Since the beginning of time humans have found practices that seek to connect individuals with their deepest self, with nature and with their primal instincts/energy. Such practices include dancing (and other forms of movement and exercise), singing, drumming, meditating, trance states, visioning & mark making.
The common thread that links these practices is creativity. Thus, our primal energy is ultimately creative energy. It resides within us all. It has been said that “Creativity is the most primal instinct of humankind, without it we would not exist” (Jones, 2009). Creativity therefore, is essentially the key to the door of our Primal Power.
For me, painting is a direct tool that can be used to access this primal part of myself, my innermost soul, the core of my being. For some time however, I have had the burning desire to dance; and not the kind of dancing you do at the club after a few wines with the girls, but really shake my stuff. I tried Zumba and belly dancing but it didn’t get me ‘there’. While I enjoyed them thoroughly, I found there were too many steps to think about, and I just wanted to do it instantly.
A girlfriend in the states told me about blindfold trance dance & drumming nights held on Californian beaches, I was intrigued. No one can see you, and you can’t see them, and there are no steps to learn! It is free, unhibited and wild. I got thinking about how I could combine dancing and painting and set out with the intention of accessing and harnessing this primal energy and then taking that energy from the dance and let it become a painting. A wild painting of blobs, splats and all sorts of marks that could, following a process, unfold as its own symbolic story.
“No one teaches us how. Mark making is our language instinct. Initial scratchings, tentative lines and dots, spirals and circles help us organize our brains for our evolutionary birthright. They are marks of significance.” (Susan Sheridan, 2000)
The paintings shown here were created as part of my ‘Primal Painting‘ workshops that incorporate trance dance and painting. The intention is to invoke and unleash our primal energies through ritual and dance and then through an initial process of mark making. The idea is to allow a story or a vision to come forth out of what appears to be chaos. It is a real test in trust and letting go of fear and control over the process. The story is then developed using symbols and patterns inspired from those universally used by the ancients. Our Primal Feminine Self then emerges. This process is alchemical, for we are fashioning the ‘core’ of our primal energy and turning it into something tangible and valuable.
The story here is my own creation story and it reads from left to right. The lake feeds the womb below. It then feeds the people dancing whose tracks lead back to the lake where they gather to fish. The lake is fed by the waterfall behind which then stretches far left over the mountains to the ocean. In the centre of the woman’s dress are two lovers in the dance of life. The spiral wheel to the right represents the drumbeat/heartbeat and the wheel of life. Intuition is a very poignant part of this process and often if we see and listen close enough all sorts of wonderful things appear out of the marks. There are a number of things that appeared here including a wolf pup face. Can you see it?
So, who then, is a woman connected to her Primal Feminine Self?
She is a woman connected to her deepest self, her authentic self; connected to the root of her being. She experiences the world around her deeply, intuitively, profoundly and with a sense of wonder. She experiences the awesomeness of the natural world and is in tune with the cycles of life and the cycles of her own body. She is aware of her potential, of her power, and of the possibilities that exist beyond the physical shell of her body. She is connected to HER source of power, within and without and she has likely been on a long and arduous journey of self-realisation.
“We, as women, need to dig through the bones of lost woman to find our primal selves. Find her, find her innate wisdom and being. Bring her forward; let her bloom. This is soul work. Hard work. We need to reconstruct ourselves into ourselves. I believe the future evolution of earth depends on it.” (Judith Bayless)
Maslow, Abraham H. (1954). “Instinct Theory Reexamined”. Motivation and Personality. New York: Harper & Row.
Spink, A. (2010). ‘In Information behavior: An Evolutionary Instinct’, Leicestershire: Lorborough University, p. 59.
Jassy Watson, who lives on the sub-tropical coast of Queensland Australia, is a mother of four, a passionate organic gardener, an artist, teacher of the Colour of Woman Method, and a student of ancient history and religion at Macquarie University, Sydney. She runs a small business Goddesses Garden and Studio to keep women’s sacred circles, art, music and gardening practices alive. Jassy teaches regular painting workshops based around themes exploring the feminine. Jassy’s latest workshop offering is ‘Primal Painting’. You can see more by visiting this you-tube clip https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uYRDcCufU3A