By Jessica Green
I grew up without faith, without a belief system. I didn’t pray. My parent’s answer to, “what is God?” was, “it’s up to you… when you are an adult you can decide for yourself.”
By the time I got to my teenage years, there was one thing I was pretty sure of, there was me and maybe only me.
I was completely unaware at the time, but I understand now that I was beginning to notice mySelf, my divine consciousness, my vibration and my energetic contribution to this world.
Instead of religion, I had radio. From the age of seven, I had a radio of my own. At night I would listen to Elvis and music from the 50’s and 60’s. On Sundays I would sit by the speaker waiting for my favourite songs from the Top 40 to come on.
L7 played on The Word and then Riot Grrrrls arrived in the UK. This was my generation speaking directly to “the man'”and “my Self”. I became a love child of the 60’s and 70’s rock and punk music that represented the political and social activism of the feminist movement and an aggressive response to male dominated music industry.
I will never forget the excitement, relief and comfort that I felt when at 17, I discovered Blondie and the goddess that is Debbie Harry. I found my first deity.
These are my elders, wise women and visionaries (there are many more, but here are my go-to girls):
- Poison Ivy (The Cramps)
- Joan Jett (Joan Jet & the Black Hearts)
- Big Mama Thornton
- Patti Smith
- Janis Joplin (Big Brothers Holding Company)
- Siouxi Sioux (Siouxi and the Banshees)
- Kathleen Hanna (Bikini Kill)
- PJ Harvey
- Karen O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
- Shannon Shaw (Shannon and the Clams)
- Kate Bush
- Debbie Harry (Blondie)
- Aretha Franklin
- Nico (The Velvet Underground)
- Sarah Vaughan
- Nina Simone
- Etta James
Listen to my Rock Goddess playlist here.
These Women we/are noisy, angry, offensive, rebellious, passionate, demanding, dominating, violent, honest and beautiful.
They took the lead in rule breaking, fighting oppression, speaking their truth and moving from their heart to whichever way they are called.
They paved a way for others to be bold enough to speak their truth.
When I look back, I see my freedom from faith and the lack of restriction in my early years meant I could just play and be whoever I wanted. It was later, when adolescence arrived that the impact of society and social judgements, conformity and gender prejudices did two things to my juvenile spirit:
- I stopped speaking out so freely.
- I began to believe I needed to be a certain way, more masculine perhaps, and other than myself, to be free from oppression.
I love to wear jeans. I have a brother. I was always surrounded by men — and there is nothing wrong with that, the lack of feminine energy wasn’t their fault. The impact of patriarchy (God is a man, etc.) meant that all the above women, and the rest, had to fight their way through (your can hear it in their voices and words). I was embracing my masculine side and under-nourishing my feminine side, and this is something at 39 that I have only just recognised and have still not entirely healed. I am still not completely comfortable wearing a dress, and I often feel too vulnerable in a skirt.
Now, during Autumn, there is an invitation to listen to the wisdom inside as the light of the year decreases, the shadows lengthen, and the night dominates the day. I now welcome this invitation to look deeper inside, and music helps me cope with what I see and feel.
It is not all sweetness. There are shadows and light in us all.
It is named in the music of these goddesses in all of its parts. I have a deep relationship with shame. For years its grip over my life was completely suffocating. There is also a load of regret, guilt, fear, jealousy, lust, unexpressed anger, greed and pain.
These are human emotions we all feel, sometimes all at once, sometimes overwhelmingly. I struggled with shame, as I felt it wasn’t OK to express so much of what I felt. Crying, for example, is not appropriate in public and no one likes to know you feel bad. These women feel all that and do it anyway, some had to fight hard to be heard and some still do.
This season and this music is an invitation to recognise these aspects of yourSelf (that was a big challenge for me because, as I said, I was “OK” for so long not having words for my feelings). I now observe my feelings and allow them to surface. ‘I listen and know they are not the sum of my parts.
From deep inside the dark cave of my heart I celebrate the freedom in the songs of these Goddesses in rock, punk, pop, soul, blues and jazz form.
I am so grateful for their voices they share.
So it is no wonder, I am obsessed with the music I play in the classroom when I teach yoga. As a teacher, and a student, I am aware of the connection between each Self in the room and something that is greater than I can explain. At this point in my life, this is where my faith lies.
Join Jessica Green in Leyton Yoga on Saturday October 29 at 2pm for a 2-hour workshop to celebrate this practice.