Taya Mâ

immerse in embodied reverence

shekhinah stone

Ten years ago, one of my private students invited me for lunch with her husband and son. I didn't want to go, because they lived on the other side of the bridge and because it would complexify our sessions. In time it became clear how much me meeting her family mattered to her and the particulars of our work, so I agreed. A few days after the lunch, I received an e-mail from her husband, a phenomenal stone-worker, asking if I would model for him to sculpt Shekhinah. His work, which I saw the day of my visit, was remarkable, and I was flattered to be asked. When I felt into saying yes, all I saw were idols being smashed, You shall not have graven images! Even though I had such images on my own altars, becoming one was another story. I said no. He pleaded. I told him I didn't want to pose for hours. He reassured me his wife would be there in support, which she confirmed. Again, I said no. He offered to donate the sculpture - which would be worth thousands - to the retreat center where Kohenet is. I imagined a naked Shekhinah me in stone at our Jewish retreat center home. I simultaneously loved and hated everything about this offer. He tempted the siren in me so good. As juicy as it was, I just couldn't find a yes. I palpably remember my relief and grief when he eventually let it go. There would never be a graven image of me as a Goddess for the world to see. #HighPriestessProblems. I forgot about all about this story until recently, when something reminded me, and I bemoaned that the particular body of me then was not set in stone. Any likeness now would be deeply different ... curvier for days, more lush, more solid, less purposefully seductive, a more mature me. I thought hard to remember his name and searched online to see if he ever did sculpt Shekhinah. Nothing but gorgeous headstones by him to be found. I open email today to a message from one of my past students, a wise woman elder who I haven't heard from in ages. Will I send her a full body photo of me? She is doing a painting series and wants me as her model for Lilith. I love everything about this. I will find just the photo she needs and welcome and trust whatever wild depiction comes forth. I watch the difference in my response, in what I attract and project, deep ambivalence versus clear yes, stone versus paint, longing husband versus creative crone, Shekhinah / exalted feminine versus Lilith / primal righteous demoness. I sense my no to ShekhinahStone was about fearing fixity in my body and my murky crave-resist of The Male Gaze as much as it was cellular memory of the attempts at annihilating Her. The ways my musing (and being awesomely mused) continues to morph are surprising me and so welcome. So much more nuance to discover and to be.

© 2017 Taya Shere

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