The Yoga of Light
The Path of the Priestess

Growing up in Baltimore, Sharron Rose was enamored of fairies and princesses, characters she explored as a serious student of dance and theater, her sights set on Broadway.

But along the way she traded bright lights for the pursuit of inner light, and immersed herself in the study and practice of goddesses, a calling she now shares with other women.

The Los Olivos resident has spent more than 25 years studying and taking part in goddess culture, mythology, sacred dance and spiritual practices, a personal journey outlined in her new book, “The Path of the Priestess: A Guidebook for Awakening the Divine Feminine.”

Now on a national book tour, Ms. Rose will return to Santa Barbara next week to share her insights on “Awakening the Divine Feminine” in a free lecture and discussion (with music) from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum, 21 W. Anapamu St. A workshop will follow on June 1.

Ms. Rose’s work offers an intellectual survey of goddess culture and mythology, and it explores the rites, teachings, stories and mysteries of feminine spirituality in a variety of religious traditions. It also contains a stinging critique of the patriarchal and technological aspects of modern culture, which she says have caused women to forget their innate sense of divinity and their power to heal, to nurture and to love the world back into a sense of balance and wholeness.

It’s a message that women are eager to hear, judging from those who have flocked to Ms. Rose’s book signings in search of a way to make their lives more authentic and meaningful.

“there is this wave of women, real women, who are opening up to one another and sharing their insights, and to me it’s like a dream,” she said this week, in a phone interview from the East Coast. “I wrote the book so that women could understand who they are, and to join together with their sisters, and they are starting to weave the sacred sisterhood, and they are bringing their daughters.

“It’s not like the women’s groups of the 1960s, when women got together to bitch about men. No. This is about women really waking up to love and support and nurturing.”

A longtime feminist, Ms. Rose is opposed to the Western concept of womanhood, which she believes has been manipulated and distorted by a consumer culture that worships male-oriented concepts of success, leaving women bereft and confused.

The evidence of this can be found in all the women who strive to obtain fulfillment and self-esteem through plastic surgery, starvation diets and pharmaceutical drugs, she believes.

“With the rise of patriarchy and disappearance of women’s rites, women were left floundering in a man’s world with no one to help them understand their true natures, capacities and purposes in life.” she writes “Separated from their ancient female heritage and living lives dominated by fear and repression, women no longer even knew that it was their task to create and maintain the psychic-energetic landscape in a positive, harmonious way. The result has been increasing disorder and chaos.”

An accomplished dancer as well as a Fulbright scholar in world mythology, religion and sacred dance, Ms. Rose voyaged into the realm of the goddess while studying in India in the 1980s, with her young son by her side. (As a young scholar, she had trouble being taken seriously because of her beauty and her lithe physique, another problem women face in modern culture, she said.)

In India, she became the first American disciple of the legendary Kathak dancer, Sitara Devi, and was initiated into the sacred tradition of Indian tantric arts that had been handed down from teacher to student for thousands of years. Kathak dancing involves expressing the myths and stories of Indian goddesses through movement.

Her goddess world view was further shaped by an esoteric collection of experiences and study into Tibetan Buddhism, Gnosticism and ancient Egyptian practice, as well as from the Hebrew tradition into which she was born. She also studied trance and psychophysical techniques with researcher Dr. Robert Masters.

It was during her travels as a student and teacher, seeker and dance performer, that Ms. Rose met her husband, Jay Weidner, a hermetic scholar who shares her interest in the study of spiritual traditions.

The pair plan a second book together, for men and women.

Her book introduces the reader to various female goddesses and the characteristics they represent, as well as giving specific instructions on techniques for entering the goddess mindset via visualization and meditation.

There are chapters on “Discovering Strength and Power,” “Exploring Sensuality,” and “Experiencing Love and Compassion.” with segments on attaining majesty, passion, humility and divine love, among other traits.

The primary goal of the exercises “is to offer insight into the Divine Feminine, an experience that will enable you to do more than just see the Goddess in the inner dimensions of your mind or visualize her standing before you,” she writes.

Through the process, “you will begin to re-attune yourself to the radiant light of her divine current and like the priestesses, yoginis, and wise women of old, once again weave the psychic-energetic, emotional landscape of our world in a truthful and loving manner.”

Modern women who fear that they will be unable to locate their inner goddess need not despair, said Ms. Rose.

“If you have had no training in the ways of old, in the power of meditation, prayer, song and dance, it does not mean that the doors to the sacred inner sanctum of the goddess are closed to you. You need only knock, and the Goddess will answer.”

email: rparks@newspress.com