Seasons of the Diva


The words I hear most often from a woman who is starting belly dance are, “I finally decided it was time to do something just for me!”

When we start belly dance, it’s often because we have a feeling that there is a “something different” quality that we want in our lives. Something that is not part of our daily mindset. Something different from duties, chores, and all of our commitments and responsibilities.

At our deep wisdom level, we intuit that this art is not just the dress-up and costumes, the sensuality, and the complete range of feminine expression. Even if our feel-sensing is very tentative, we know that belly dance is a path, it will connect us with something more.

So when we start belly dance, it is as though we know that there is something inside us that we are trying to bring out; it’s just that we can’t see it or describe it very clearly. It is as though that something is “veiled” from our direct perception.

So how do we go about this inner unveiling?

This is where belly dance comes in. I’m not talking about “unveiling” in a seductive sense – although we use our veils to play through a great range of our emotions. But belly dance is a very visceral way to connect with our bodies. And this is the path to knowing ourselves.

“A young [female] rabbi told us, ‘Throughout Jewish history there have been sacred places for men to study, called yeshivot from the words to sit. But we women don’t need a place to sit, like dead weights! We need a rikudya, a place to dance the energy of the holiness in ourselves and to bring through our boides the sacred feminine Torah.'” (from The Feminine Face of God, see reference below, pg. 19)

Do You Want to Change Your Life?

In a sense, belly dance can be for women what martial arts has often been for men; a “path” for personal growth and transformation. Many of us enter into belly dance when we are ready for a “new life.”

When we go through this kind of transformation, we “burn off” our outer core and become something different. But “burning away” of our “external layers” can be both beautiful and awesome, as is shown in this picture of the M2-9 nebula, which is a “normal” star burning off its outer gaseous envelope to become a white dwarf. Don’t the “butterfly wings” on this nebula look a lot like our dancing veils?
NASA photo of a the gaseous nebula M2-9
Click here to go to the NASA site and learn more about the M2-9 “Butterfly Nebula”.

We know that part of what we desire has to do with connecting with our earlier girlhood sense of playfulness, of fun and fantasy. This is our inner child speaking to us. And it has to do with connecting with our body wisdom, a sense of “knowing” that has nothing to do with what we learned from books, from our professional identities, or from any of our (typically male) time and life-management gurus. Instead, we know that listening to an inner source of non-verbal guidance and wisdom. This is our inner wise woman.

It took me a while to realize that I was on this journey. And then it took much longer to learn and integrate anything.

One lesson is that this is not something that we learn from books. That is, it is not something that we learn from our our “cognitive selves.”

But books are wonderful and even essential in one specific way: They let us connect with our many sisters who are on the same path, and who are sharing through their books. This next section is devoted to books that we’ve found helpful and interesting.

I – and all of us here in the Alay’nya Studio – wish you joy and happiness as your inner journey unfolds. Write to us and share. We’ll be starting a blog soon, and will publish up some of what you send. (Send your emails to me at alaynya @


The Inner Unveiling: The Sacred …
The Feminine Face of God: The Unfolding of the Sacred in Women by Sherry Ruth Anderson and Patricia Hopkins.

What better place to start? This book came to me near the start of my journey, about twelve years ago. Please do read it – get it from a library, even interlibrary loan if you must – I believe you will find this so wonderful!

Click on Feminine Face of God: The Unfolding of the Sacred in Women
Feminine Face of God: The Unfolding of the Sacred in Women
This book was pivotal for me when it came out in 1992.
Have you used dance to connect to your “sacred self?” Email: alaynya @

… and the Profane

As pivotal as The Feminine Face of God was for me some ten years ago, this next book has done as much – and maybe more. Flamboyand and outrageous, it is the best soul-therapy I’ve encountered for when I’ve been too stressed and too serious. The emphasis here is on giving yourself pleasure first and foremost. Once we have pleasure – and know that “the power of pleasure” is our way to create reality – then we have a totally new framework for being. Not to mention having a much more wonderful day!

Think about it. In our society we are typically driven by two very powerful and simultaneous influences. Together, their sum effect is to disassociate us from self-knowing. We are first taught that our role as women is to sacrifice ourselves in the service of others. Then, when we try to break free of that conditioning, we too often succumb to the “masculine mystique” that teaches us that we should be cognitive, focused, and goal-oriented. When we buy into this mindset, we lose connection with our inner wisdom, with our own sense of self.

So all to often, we wind up living in the “worst of all possible worlds.” (And then well-meaning psychiatrists would care to characterize certain women as being “borderline disassociative personality disorder.” How, may we ask, can any woman associate in the face of the societal and maybe even genetic pulls?)

There is an answer. Focusing on ourselves – and moreover, on our own pleasure – is a radical and freeing step.

And less you think that this is too far from the “sacred” approach above, read “The Feminine Face.” Most women who have followed their inner path to self-knowledge have had to fight the same radical internal battle of putting themselves – and their needs – first.
Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts by Regena Thomashauer.

I heartily recommend this to all my overstressed sisters, or as Mama Gena would have us say, to our “Sister Goddesses!”

Click on Mama Gena’s Owner’s and Operator’s Guide to Men
Mama Gena’s Owner’s and Operator’s Guide to Men
to go to the Barnes and Noble website to order this book.

Email your thoughts on this book to:

(Yes, of course to Miss Kitty! She’s the one who is into pleasure, right? The one whose mantra is “More!”)
I Am Diva! Every Woman’s Guide to Outrageous Living by Elena Bates, Maureen O’Crean, Molly Thompson, and Carilyn Vaile

Once you’ve gone through Mama Gena’s Guide (and while I do encourage you to at least consider all the steps she suggests, I’m not too sure you’ll really do all of them), this book is definately my next suggestion. In contrast to Mama’s Six-Week Program, I am Diva has 52 chapters – and makes for a realistic year-long course of Diva evolution. Which, very serendipitously, is the theme of our November Show (Viva la Diva!.

Click on I Am Diva!: Every Woman’s Guide to Outrageous Living
I Am Diva!: Every Woman’s Guide to Outrageous Living to go to the Barnes and Noble website to order this book. Recommedation contributed by Maha Najeeb.
Email your thoughts on this book to:
Wear More Cashmere: 151 Luxurious Ways to Pamper Your Inner Princess by Jennifer “Gin” Sander

A bit of hammering the point home. But sometimes, we just need the extra reinforcement.

Click on Wear More Cashmere: 151 Luxurious Ways to Pamper Your Inner Princess
Wear More Cashmere: 151 Luxurious Ways to Pamper Your Inner Princess to go to the Barnes and Noble website to order this book.

Are you wearing more cashmere? Are you doing ANY of the things suggested in this book? Email to:

(Mmmm … yes, I did notice that the ratio of “profane” to “sacred” was 3:1 … and your point is???)