In 2012 I discovered Harvard trained scholar, Sera Beak on YouTube and fell in love with her mystical vibe and down to earth personality. She is a the very definition of a Transformation Goddess.
Late in 2013 I invited Sera to join us for a conversation to discuss her fabulous new book, Red Hot & Holy: A Heretics Love Story.
She said Yes!
By the time I finished Red Hot & Holy, I’d bookmarked 17 pages of talking points. There is so much juice in this book and this week it’s available in paperback!
Ready to be inspired by a modern day mystic? Read this book! In Red Hot & Holy, Sera shares her mad love affair with the divine feminine and invites us to come along for a daring adventure. I promise you will blush, howl and cry.
Enjoy our Sizzling Conversation by listening in now or reading the post below. You can also find our interview on iTunes.
Our conversation will inspire you to step into the fire and explore a deeper relationship with the divine feminine.
Sera Beak – Red Hot & Holy – Interview
You describe Red Hot & Holy as a Permission Giver. Please describe what you mean?
I think that when ever any of us begin to speak our truth, no matter how messy, or eloquent, or strange it might sound, it gives others permission to start speaking and living their truth.
This book was a real test for me and a real challenge on so many different levels, to reveal myself. I chose to share much more of what was going on for me personally in my spiritual journey.
When I read something or I see a woman do something that I know is my edge, it gives me that much more confidence, that much more energy, to go for it in my own way. So that’s what I hope this book does. If I go there, if I dare to go there, it’s just a reminder that other women can go there as well and that they’re not alone.
How did you come to trust your inner Divine Feminine?
Through years of practice. Years of doing some deep self-inquiry work around my relationship with the feminine. I started off not really having a strong relationship with the feminine. I was kind of raised Catholic and then really got involved with different spiritual studies around the world, but it wasn’t until my college years that I really started connecting with the Divine feminine through my studies in religion and through some of my travels.
That experience was more like an awakening. More of a Oh My God there is this whole other aspect to the universe. A whole other aspect of the divine that has not been given the spotlight. I experienced a huge surge of joy and awakening around finding her again.
And then, (which is sort of the second part of my book) I had to really go into a deeper relationship with her and begin to see all the parts of myself that were blocked from her, or that felt negatively about the divine feminine. Most of these parts were unconscious. If anybody was like, ” Sera, you have negative feelings about the Divine Feminine,” I’d be like, “Get out! I’m all about the Divine Feminine. Go Go Goddess Girl!” But underneath, unconsciously, there was a lot of really strong resistance towards her, some really strong anger towards her, fear of her. A whole host of negatives that we often attribute to outer memes, like the outer forms we attribute to patriarchy. I was definitely hosting. I would venture to say we all host these feeling because the divine feminine has not been treated well on this planet in any shape or form and that’s a part of us that we hold inside.
My relationship with her really had to go through the ringer. I had to face these aspects in order to get closer to her. It’s like any intimate relationship. With anything, with a human, with life, we have do some of the deeper work to draw in closer. It took me many years and I’m still in process.
My sense of the feminine (and this is through my own perspective and experience) is that if we’re really wanting to know her, wanting to know this feminine force of the universe that is inside of us and outside of us, there’s usually a courtship phase. It’s kind of flirty, you get all lit up. Where you’re like Goddesses, cool!. Then after some time she’s going to bring us in deeper for a tighter hug. This is when all the parts of us that have been resisting her, or are unfamiliar, or are in the way of owning our own divine femininity are going to get pushed out. I see that as part of her work. I see that she wants up to be embodiments of our own divinity. She wants us to really own it and know it. In order to do that, It’s a process. She guides us through all of this which is great!
You mention in Red Hot and Holy that we’ve only been taught half of the divine story. Which ties back to this process. Tell us about the other half.
Very much so. Yes. Exactly. Here is a way for me to be with all of this information and what I was feeling. I began to notice that there are two faces of the divine. The first face is more traditionally related to a masculine face and it has characteristics like enlightenment, calm, emptiness, equanimity, God realization and merging into oneness. That’s what most of us have been taught to think, that this is spirituality or being spiritual. A lot of the practices that go along with this are most of the traditional religious practices like prayer, meditation and even most forms of Yoga. We’ve all been sort of taught that this is spirituality.
But then there is also the second face of the divine which is equal, it’s just a different face. This face is more about passion, eros, creativity, life force and movement. A lot of the practices that activate this face within us are dance, voicing ourselves, being in our body, exploring our desires and our emotions. Allowing each to be present instead of just trying to meditate them away or cover them with positive affirmations.
So there’s these two faces…
Coming to know them, really feel them and suss them out in my own body was a very important part of my journey. And it made me realize that nobody ever told me that when I was dancing like a wild child in my living room that dancing was just as divine, connected and as serious a practice as sitting trying to calm my thoughts in a lotus position. Most of us need both, but because we’ve all been taught the first face, a lot of us have to work a bit harder to sort of re-develop and re-awaken and re-welcome the second face aspects into out lives.
There were all these times that I would go to these spiritual retreats and I’d be going crazy, crawling out of my skin and sort of beating myself up. Thinking to myself that I’m just an egocentric, individualistic westerner who can’t do this. Some of this is really true but what I really was trying to express was my authentic divine feminine nature, She wanted to express herself. The retreat environment wasn’t the right environment for her. Sometimes it’s the right environment and sometimes it’s not. It’s just beginning to notice things like that. It’s also part of giving myself permission. I’ve run into so many women in my life that our like yeah, I just don’t feel very spiritual because whenever I go into meditation or whatever, I want to do something else.
With the second face you’re actually allowed to really be your Self. The divine feminine to me is allowing your life force to move through you. I feel like that’s her call. To bring all of us back to life. To really push us into our own aliveness. And that’s going to look different for each of us, each day. For a lot of women, just because of our bodies, the way our brains are and the way our emotions flow, we’re more in alignment with the second face. Men have it too but it’s a little bit more of a release valve for women when we know that aliveness is just as freaking divine stillness.
Belly Dancing is a Feminine Super Power!
Shann: Shared her first experience belly dancing and the Crone Goddess she encountered in class.
It’s so refreshing and joyful to witness a woman being in her skin and fully enjoying her full womanhood no matter what it looks like. It’s mostly about what it feels like. That is what I think really turns us on. In like a capital T and A capital O. It reminds us of what is possible.
I don’t know about you, but for me, a lot of that was really tight and contracted in my life while growing up. You weren’t supposed to walk around shaking your ass and you weren’t supposed to let your belly do its thing. Being able to participate and appreciate those experiences is like a divine feminine transmission. Being around that, being in the class and feeling it in your body. It’s juice to juice. The good stuff.
How else can we awaken our feminine super powers?
I think by following your passion. By following what feels exciting, what excites you. What lights you up. There’s tons of ways.
One thing that is happening right now, which is great, is that there is a huge surge of feminine books, workshops, tele-classes and wonderful things like what your offering the world with Transformation Goddess. Everyone is just starting to wake up to this. It’s paying attention to that and an obvious thing like just being in nature.
I also think it’s important to consciously invite your feminine super powers to come forward to invite your relationship with the divine feminine to become that much more intimate. You have to say it and feel it. You have to say: I want to know you more because I want to know myself more. Allow those pieces to show up and to start paying attention to your body, your dreams, the messages your getting, divine winks and synchronicities. Just doing this and paying attention is activating one of your major feminine super powers – intuition.
The examples you’ve given like belly dancing, painting in your living room and eating food that feels nourishing to your senses. Hot baths and things that make you come alive in your own skin are some of the main ways I find that are a direct route to awakening our feminine super powers. Yeah.
Tell me about your experience meeting Marion Woodman.
She’s an important part of my life. So important that I actually refer to my life as before Marion and after Marion. So, BM and AM. Before Marion, I was definitely on a feminine journey and having some profound experiences with the divine feminine. I was studying her, writing about her and talking about her and all of that. I was creating a feature documentary film about the divine feminine movement and Marion Woodman, (who was a jungian analyst in her 80’s and someone I’d been reading since I was in high school) was someone I really wanted to interview and luckily we got an interview with her.
Right when the camera started rolling and I asked her the first question and she answered, I just started crying. It was very silent, but the tears were just streaming down my face because I realized that even though I had been around really strong, inspiring and spiritual women my entire life, she was the first woman I had ever sat across from that actually embodied her soul.
That divine feminine part of her, that real divine essence that individual essence was really in her body. She wasn’t talking form her head or outside of herself. She was really connected to her belly. You could really feel the work that it had taken for her to do this. It was so human. It was so honest. There was no spiritual fluff around it. Marion was a really alive and present woman.
What I recognized during that interview was that I had not embodied my soul. Even though I was very attracted to the feminine and I was passionate and had done all this work around it, I had not actually learned to know her in my own body. I knew how I was supposed to know her in my head, but the reality was I wasn’t actually settled into her, in my own skin.
Marion really was an example of divine feminine embodiment and there was no other way for me to get that. I’d read all the books! This experience was like a body-to-body transmission. Here was a woman who had something that I didn’t. This realization led me to a pretty dark and intense time period of inquiring why I hadn’t embodied my soul. Marion played a really important role for me and I’m really grateful. I’m so grateful for the work that she’s offered this planet because she was doing so much valuable feminine work. As popular as it is now, or sort of accepted as it is now, she is a pioneer in this field.
In your book you share that human beings grow in two directions; the spirit path and the soul path. What do you mean?
Spirit and Soul are related to the first face and second face of the divine. Marion and a few others like Bill Plotkin have really found a distinction there, where spirit is more transcendent. More of a path or an essence. Sort of an upward timeless union with God or the Universe. Spirit is real transcendent.
To be honest I would say that most spiritual practices and teachings and even main stream spirituality like what we see on Oprah, most of them are based on a more spirit path.
The soul path is more about going inwards and down. More of a descent where we come to know the core of our individual divine essence. And it’s also where we face our shadows. We face the parts of ourselves that we’ve repressed or the unconscious aspects of ourselves that are still fully functioning in our life, but we don’t know it because they’re unconscious!
The soul path is a muddy, bloody, crawl, where the spirit path is, let me put on my angel wings and float above it all. Both of them are equal and both of them are incredibly important…
But again, in general, I’ve found most people tend to be (if they’re some sort of spiritual practitioner) focusing in the spirit direction. So much so, that Marion is fully saying that soul loss is at an epidemic proportion. Soul is a word that people use a lot but I think the definition is really loose.
Marion and her mentor Carl Jung found it interesting that people will do just about anything to ascend, but most won’t go within and meet their own soul.
It was a huge thing to realize that I was doing all of these practices, even connecting with the divine feminine on more of a spirit level, more universal in nature which is wonderful. Getting to know the essence of Kali and Aphrodite and all these wonderful goddesses was great but I wasn’t actually knowing my own essence. I wasn’t taking the time to really go in and know who I am. That’s the soul journey. Those other things can help, they support each other, but more often than not, we sort of bypass the soul in order to go for spirit.
So many people will go to a spirit guide before they ask their own soul! That’s what I see right now, It’s an epidemic and it’s everywhere. I was a poster child for it! That’s why I can speak to it!
You talk about Reaching Out and Receiving In. What’s the difference?
It’s a part of my work after Marion. I went through a 3 and 1/2 year period of going into the red tent. My own form of a red tent. Pulling back from about 95% of my professional and personal life. In the red tent is where I began to develop that feeling that was really based on the guidance of my soul.
When I’m reaching out for something, when I’m reaching out of the red tent (a physical and spiritual cocoon where I can be with myself and be with my soul). When I’m reaching out for the latest workshop or the new best selling spiritual book, or because a cool new teacher’s in town, or a great tele-class is available; when I’m reaching out, I’m coming from a place that feels like I’m lacking something. Like I need ‘that’ in order to be more confident, more sexy, more conscious, more divinely feminine. I find that if I’m doing any of that, it usually doesn’t end up serving me in the best ways that it can.
When I stay in myself. When I stay in the red tent and receive, something might show up like a workshop, like a teacher, but it comes from a place where it’s actually being drawn or magnetized toward me from my soul. It’s not coming from an ego place or from getting caught up in the marketing copy that someone sent me. It’s coming from an actual soul place from a place that this ‘thing’ is actually appropriate for your next step. It’s a somatic sensation. It just takes a little bit of practice to get to know this form of expression.
I know I was used to coming from a place of reaching out and it’s very different when you just stay with your own being and allow things to come towards you that are in alignment. I say this because it’s actually really tricky these days. It’s pretty subtle out there. Especially when it comes to the feminine work and spirituality. We’re being offered so many things!. We need to become aware of our own sort of things that hook us where we’re like, “Oh yeah, I totally want that!” That’s the part of us that gets hooked and we each have several of those… Just becoming aware of how we get hooked helps for sure.
You said that aligning our ordinary life with our divinity is a path of fire. You burn, you grow and it just continues.
Each of us has to grow comfortable in a fire if we’re actually really on Earth because we want to know and be ourselves and we want to unleash ourselves. When we say we really want to be an embodiment of the divine feminine and know my own distinct femininity and my soul. You have to go through fire.
Most of us have to go through the light and dark aspects of ourselves and it’s a burning. I talked about this recently in a talk that I gave that most of us have to be reduced to ashes and be re-birthed in the flame in order to hold this much of her love and this much of her truth and this much of her power.
It’s just part of the process. I know if my life (and I’m sure in yours and for the women listening) there are natural ebbs and flows. Sometimes I get this little grace period where it feels like a vacation, but I know that the vacation is temporary because I’ve made the choice to be in the fire, to be with myself, and to be with my soul. It’s not an easy choice.
On the soul path there are no guarantees.
The spirit paths tends to feel a little bit easier and lighter for a lot of people. Which is why so many are drawn to it, especially if we’re going through a heavy situation. This soul path has a lot more of the Grrr. The growling is present in every moment.
Yes, I think that every woman on the soul path needs to remodel her ideas of what comfort is and learn how to get comfortable in the fire. Ask yourself, ‘How do I start living my life in away that doesn’t take me out of the fire but keeps me thriving and nourished in here.’ Figure out how to stay and thrive in the holy heat. It’s like ultimate acts of self-care. It is a way of living. It’s a lot different than the spirit path.
The great thing about soul work is that It doesn’t require all of these crazy techniques, practices and teachers. Those can come in at certain times when they are received and in alignment. The great thing about soul is that it’s permeating everything in our life. Every conversation, every relationship, how you tie your shoes, how you’re talking to your body each day. It is everywhere trying to get you to know yourself that much more. It is showing up, reflecting and visible through our projections. It’s everywhere trying to awaken our consciousness to allow the teaching that is life to really come in continually. That’s sort of it. Asking yourself what does today want to show me, paying attention to it and then you just keep going with it.
How can we begin to create a more conscious relationship with our soul?
I always suggest beginning with an invitation. It can’t come from the ego part of you. It has to come from the heart. The reality is that most of us are not as close to our souls and we can be. Like I feel we were created to be.
To me soul loss is behind everything from the perspective that lack of connection with own inner divinity creates dis-ease which causes us to do everything else in our lives. Find that other relationship, find that next form of enlightenment, find that next great book, find that next great activity that’s going to fill us up but not really sink me in.
When we start to say I want to know myself because I can feel that ache in my heart that’s been with me forever When we feel like we want to start to heal that ache, the only thing for us that fits in that slot is the soul.
When we start to invite that knowing, get really serious and say this is it! I know that I can’t actually be living the full extent of my own truth if I am not living with my soul and I’ m going to make that a priority and I feel it in my heart. And from your heart, that invitation, that’s just like “I want to know you,” please turn up the volume in my life.
Then start to pay attention to how she shows up in your life. Look for synchronicities, books that fall off the shelf, just the feeling your having in your body. Your dedication and invitation has to be extended daily. For most us, we kind of half extend it, But for me, I hit that point that I realized I couldn’t go on living without my soul.
I gave up everything to reestablish my relationship with her. Now mine was sort of an extreme case because of the work I’m doing here. My path required that particular level of what I needed to experience. It looks different for each of us. Nobody has to go through what I did to find their soul again.
But I do want to say that It has to become that serious, that palpable as your own heart. That longing for your own soul has to be present. It’s about Feeling your heart. Doing what it takes when she starts to show up more and more. And it will happen very organically, there is nothing you have to force. It’s just paying attention to that feeling and allowing that feeling of wanting her.
That feeling of wanting her will draw to you what you need and will guide you.
Thank you for joining us today Sera! I’m honored you made the time to share your wisdom with us.
Thanks for inviting me and thank you for all you are doing for women to help them transform their lives. I’m glad to know you now.
Sera Beak is a Harvard-trained scholar of comparative world religions who spent years traveling the world studying spirituality – from whirling with Sufi dervishes to meeting the Dalai Lama on her 21st birthday; from taking the host from a Croatian Catholic mystic who had the stigmata, to having life-altering visions with shamans (and everything in between). The New York Times named Sera one of the new “role models” for her generation.
Get a copy of Red Hot & Holy now available in soft cover at Amazon.