Women’s Temple as a Spiritual Practice
by Author Ashleigh Kramer-Walthall, MA, LMHC, PsyD candidate.
The Women’s Temple is a sanctuary for the feminine where participants resonate with their empowered selves in joy, freedom and desire. Participants gather in circle to awaken Feminine Love & connection.
I have been attending Women’s Temple for 2 years now with Dr. Melanie Hernand, who serves as a powerful guide and mentor in my life. I remember feeling so intrigued and elated to be a part of this movement and these ceremonies as I wanted to have a place to safely explore my feelings, curiosities, depth, connection and perspective with other women.
Dr. Melanie Hernand : Dreaming Themes and Channeling the Divine Feminine
My good friend and colleague, Dr. Mel, who specializes in women’s health and wellness, breathwork, meditation and women’s temple practice, started facilitating Women’s Temple in Santa Cruz. Dr. Mel recognized that she felt called to start organizing one for the women’s community in Santa Cruz.
Dr. Mel says that she often dreams of the themes, or that they simply appear during her meditation practice and that she operates more as a channel for the Divine Feminine. Dr. Mel focuses on cultivating love and consciousness in her life. She makes decisions that continue to support her happiness, her growth, and her wellness. As someone who models the wisdom she shares, when I am in her company I often notice that I feel more aware of my feelings, my needs, my body sensations, more confident, and connected to love and thankfulness .
Ashleigh’s Experience: Staying Wild
My own experiences at Women’s temple have been insightful and powerful. One of the earlier Temples focused on devotion and how devotion shows up in our lives. We were paired up with another woman and each asked to be in the place of the Goddess to receive the devotion, as well as the devotee who offers our worship.
Both roles evoked great emotion for me. As Goddess, I was able to let down my insecurities and deeply open to my worth as a divine entity. I could experience love in every cell of my being.
The experience as devotee to have my Goddess in material form right before my eyes, left me weeping, overflowing with gratitude for this inspiration, this guide, this unconditional supportive force. I was able to weep, bowing down before her and continuously offer my voice and expression of love and appreciation. I actually brought this practice into my relationship with my learning partner, and we continue to devote time to creating ceremony toward deeply honoring each other’s divinity and preciousness.
This most recent Women’s Temple was centered on “staying wild”. This felt in alignment with the ferocity, anger, dynamism that we as many women in the U.S. have been feeling and functioning with since the outcome of the recent presidential election. This theme of staying wild also taps into my rage about the oppression and disparagement of women figures in religious history.
I love that we celebrate Kali and Durga, powerful Goddesses who represent surmounting fear, creation/destruction and tenacious boundaries. These feminine figures who are revered for their intrepidity and audacity encourage me to feel more comfortable to use my voice to stand up for myself and what I believe in without feeling as though I need to apologize for my needs or ideas. To have a space where I can unleash my fury and my confusion, where it is understood, and welcomed is invaluable to me.
Women’s Temple creates a container for me to make better sense of what is happening internally for me as well as externally. There is so much safety, wisdom, virtue and fortitude cultivated in our times together. Women’s Temple continues to change my life for the better and I am forever grateful for getting to dance and love in this life with these divine women.
Interview with Dr Mel
1) How would you describe the Women’s Temple?
Women’s Temple is a sanctuary for the feminine where we meet from that holy place in our hearts. A practice of embodied spirituality with movement, prayer, connection, and respectful touch. A place for you to be celebrated, seen, and deeply nourished–all of you is welcome here. It is a community of conscious sisterhood.
Together, we create a safe and sacred container to dive deeply into practices that bring us face-to-face with our feminine essence, opening us to the insights we need to live fully awake in this modern life, and support us to relax into the knowing that we are not alone–that we do this together.
2) Is the Women’s Temple a spiritual practice for you? If so can you elaborate?
Yes, for me, Women’s Temple feels like home. We are alive & passionate women awakening our hearts with emerging Feminine Rising. We are part of a worldwide current moving, when we gather together, a powerful field is created. We experience our Feminine essence & awakening in devotional practice where all of us are seen and loved. This circle fulfills the deep longing that hungers for connection, love and awakening.
Chameli Ardagh, founder of awakening women, writes:
“An awakening woman is a spiritual rebellion engaged in a glowing and embodied, nothing-held-back love affair with the great mystery. She moves in the world with fierce compassion, grace and freedom, and is passionate about truth, rest and real love. She is fluent in angelic, diva, and in Kali roars. Earth is home and so is infinity.”
Women’s Temple is a spiritual practice where we meet beyond the mind to practice embodiment practices to open the divine feminine essence within each woman. We use meditation, breath, dance, movement, respectful touch, voice, writing and sharing to go deep within and awaken our hearts. All of who we are is welcome in this space and this work heals our relationship with the divine feminine inside and out. It is powerful, nourishing, and deeply fulfilling to the feminine spirit.
Each gathering focuses on a different theme. In this “Stay Wild” Women’s Temple event, we were working with the energies of goddess Kali Ma & Durga (empowerment, creation, annihilation). Our focus was on breaking thru shame, unworthiness, lack, and disempowerment. We are building strategies to recognize our divinity and reclaim our power, while maintaining our feminine essence in the world.
3) How has The Women’s Temple influenced/benefited you?
In essence it has helped me to plant my roots deep down into Her soil, into my body, into the soul food of sisterhood. The Women’s Temple nourishes me in the ancient, timeless magic that sparks when women gather together in ritual until I overflow with a wisdom that speaks as purely as the pulsating Earth, as the tides, white blossoming lilies, falling ash, the rushing river of my soul. It helps me to tune into the subtle rhythms of my body and listen deep for the reply.
4) How do you hope The Women’s Temple benefits others?
We gather to worship and honor the wild, ruthless, soft, luscious, deep, mystic, achingly beautiful feminine root of existence that speaks Life into being. Steeped in beauty, rooted in a wider perspective than the day-to-day, we gather to mirror each other’s immaculate hearts; to remember with every cell that our bodies are miracles of nature; to clear the dust and debris so our true nature has space to seed and sprout as our very lives.
I hope for us to awaken to there being endless love, endless connection in our letting go. The only direction is IN. The Women’s Temple helps us to explore where our fuel is, deep diving, and using all the available fuel at this potent time of our transformation to break thru and let go. The intention is to encourage us to dive into this sacred time together to do our deepest inner work and open to the next greatest version of ourselves. The world is waiting for this movement, the world is waiting for us and our gifts.
About Dr. Melanie Hernand
Dr. Mel holds a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley and a Doctorate in Chiropractic from Life Chiropractic College West. She has a passion for helping people create new strategies for reducing pain, dissipating tension and adapting to stress. She effectively helps people connect to their bodies, open up their ability to feel, heal and transform. For the past 17 years Dr. Mel has helped thousands of people transform and awaken to more meaningful and purposeful lives. Dr. Mel specializes in women’s health and wellness, breathwork, meditation and women’s temple practice.
Since 1975, the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology at Sofia University has continued to be an international leader and pioneer, moving humanity forward in the areas of transpersonal research and transpersonal education. training clinicians, spiritual guides, wellness caregivers, and consultants who apply transpersonal principles and values in a variety of settings. The Sofia educational model offers students not only a solid intellectual foundation, but an extraordinary opportunity for deep transformational growth and personal experience of the subject matter. How does Sofia University accomplish this? The university builds upon its strong, whole-person psychological foundation to give students a greater understanding of the human condition.