A woman stopped me on the street near Union Square in New York City last week offering to save my soul.  She wasn’t your ordinary missionary.  In addition to bringing Jesus into your heart, she said it is also imperative that you give yourself fully to the Divine Mother. This is new.

Being a woman devoted to the reclamation and integration of the divine feminine into our individual lives, relationships and culture, I loved that She (the Divine Mother) was being included in the conversation!

However, things quickly took a darker turn. We’ve all heard it before. She threatened that if I did not fully accept Jesus and the Divine Mother into my heart, my soul would be trapped in the depths of hell, possibly for eternity.  Then she asked, "Would you like me to share with you how you can save your soul?"

I decided to engage. I dropped down into the deepest part of myself, deeper than my bone marrow, and said something along the lines of, "I’m very grateful you stopped me today because it gave me the opportunity to realize that I feel really comfortable with the state of my soul right now. Everyday I practice communing with the divine spark in me through meditation, yoga, dancing, Qoya, loving and engaging with life and everyday I look at everyone I meet and everything I see and imagine the divine spark in them too. As convenient as it would be for the answer to everlasting life be as easy as agreeing with you and doing what you say, it just doesn’t resonate as truth. From what I can tell, one of the best parts about life is being able to dance in the mystery, in the not knowing.  And I don’t think you proclaiming that you have the answer is really helping people on their journey. I think you are playing on the part of each of us that is scared of the unknown and I don’t appreciate you trying to scare me towards God.”

She appreciated my sincerity and actually agreed with everything I said. Interestingly, she then decided to take the afternoon off and think about our conversation. This whole scenario really got me thinking about the gratitude I do truly feel for being at peace with the mysteries of life and also the deep connection that I feel to spirit. Qoya as a movement practice has also become a consistent way that I feel I can tap into those feelings of bliss, interconnectedness and joy so easily and it is my wish to share that with everyone who is interested.

In Qoya class this morning, our theme was practicing feeling comfortable with the mystery of life by leaning into community and seeing that we are all in this together.

As we are all in this together, there are also some amazing women leading the way. I am inspired by these particular women who have taken the culture they were born into and the traditions that were passed on to them, tried them on like an outfit and then were willing to let themselves becomes a seamstress making something that fits more to their tastes, that is more expressive of what they feel as their true nature, rather than trying to fit into someone else’s clothes. In some cases, this may even involve taking off some clothes (wink).

These three women come to mind. First, a woman I have long admired as we run in similar circles of goddess studies both at the School of Womanly Arts and through NIA is Dara McKinley. She has a beautiful blog at Volvernow.com where she inspires men and women to source their exquisitely powerful feminine juju in order to restore health to the world. She has a degree from Naropa in Contemplative Psychology (Buddhist psychology) and in the midst of her passionate expression of the feminine and intelligent study of western and eastern psychological theory, she also has a beautiful mother who is a devout Catholic. I love how she takes all of these influences and puts them through her filter sharing her unique light. I was honored when she asked to interview me and here’s a link to what we talked about and the blog post on her site. I hope you enjoy!

Another woman is the oh-so-divine Kitty Cavalier. She just launched her new website today and let me tell you, this woman has my heart. The way she stands for women embodying their divinity through sensuality and burlesque is something fierce. Check out her testimonial about Qoya here and then I couldn't help but put in a quick clip to one of her burlesque performances I recently had the pleasure of being a witness to.

Qoya Testimonial with Kitty Cavalier from Rochelle Schieck on Vimeo.

Kitty says in her testimonial, "In Qoya, I don’t feel like I’m going to an exercise class, I feel like I’m going to a temple." To me, that’s really the whole deal. Claiming your body as home. Honoring your body as the address of your soul in this lifetime. Going beyond the obligation of staying “fit” and instead reveling in the pleasure of moving your body just because it feels good. Strong and flexible muscles, a good healthy sweat, increased balance and coordination, as well as overall health are a rocking by-product of this dance party called Qoya, but the intention is joy. Joy and pleasure first. Fitness second.

Just a few days later and a few blocks away from Union Square where I encountered the previously mentioned intersection of dogma, fear, truth, faith and love, I also saw one of the most soulful singers named Stormlarge perform at Joe's Pub. Thank goddess for technology, so that I can share this beam of light that comes through Stormlarge’s soulful voice from her performance.

Qoya Loves Stormlarge. from Rochelle Schieck on Vimeo.

My desire is that each woman feels their deepest truths in their body. Whether that is through Qoya, burlesque, singing, making love, swimming in the ocean or taking a nap. I desire for truth to be not something you read on a page, but the sensation of your breath going in and out right now. We are all so strong. Our souls are all so strong. We are all in this together. And we're doing a really amazing job. Let's celebrate. Let's dance. Let's start acknowledging that divine spark in us and others more and more. My theory is: if you really identified with your divine spark, you would probably be having a much better time. I hope you are inspired to have a beautiful weekend filled with pleasant surprises and delicious soul food.

Please note- as of Monday, Qoya is going on tour! I will be teaching during the Shamanic Women’s Altar retreat in Park City, Utah led by Marcela Lobos the first week of April and the Qoya Retreat at Blue Spirit Retreat Center in Costa Rica April 16-23, 2011. I’ll miss you New York and look forward to our next rendezvous in warmer weather.

Also, in-between blog posts, Qoya classes and retreats, I am working day and night to create the most amazing online Qoya studio.   It will be a reference for all the ways that each of us can embody and enjoy the wise, wild and free parts of ourselves. Stay tuned.

I am so grateful to you and look forward to our next dance.

Be the light, Rochelle

P.S. If you're looking for a simple and pleasurable movement as a way to feel more present in your body, please check out a previous blog post from last month all about Dancing with the Sacred.   Enjoy!

P.S.S. Just for fun, the song Soulshine by the Allman Brothers