I am totally delinquent posting this book review since I read a preview copy from the publisher a couple of months ago during my Summer of Memoir. I'll be honest, I've had a really hard time writing this review because Cheryl B., the author of My Awesome Place, was my friend and she is dead. This is not a spoiler alert, it's in the first line of the foreward by Sarah Schulman. "Cheryl Burke died of medical malpractice in June 2011 at the age of 38."
Cruising Twitter one day in early April hero and mentor Barbara Carrellas tweeted that we should check out the new book from her friend Meggan Watterson. I plunged into the internet rabbit hole, learning that this book was about delving inward for spiritual fulfillment, something I have been yearning to develop. With Barbara’s recommendation and my curiosity piqued, I was ready for it. Hay House Books sent me a review copy of Reveal: A Sacred Manual for Getting Spiritually Naked.
The book is part memoir, part self-help manual, part spiritual overview, with a distinct focus on the Divine Feminine. I learned so much about world religions and spiritual practices I didn’t already know.
The author travels on two different pilgrimmages to Divine Feminine sacred sites in Europe and tales of those journeys are part of all of the awakenings in the book. She trumpets many times that she went all that way to find something that was inside herself the whole time.
That’s what was most captivating for me reading this book. I wanted to find a way to not get so rocked to my core every time something happened “to” me or someone in my life left. I’ve done a lot of this work, through building my self-esteem and self-worth, but I know there’s something in my spirituality leading me to that solid, unshakeable core as well. That is the ultimate destination in the relentless pursuit of my joy.
From the book: “The fierceness of Kali’s iconography is a symbolic attempt to capture the intensity of her force. The complete transformation Kali’s unconditional love demands feels as terrifying as her appearance. It’s a love that is powerful and paradoxical, trasformational and frightening, because it asks for nothing less than complete surrender.” Kali is a goddess for those of us who have been called “too much.”
Meggan talks about her intense fear of flying that she was able to overcome with an integrated spiritual practice, ultimately learning how to replace her fear with faith. By the end of the book she mentions dancing down the aisle of the last commercial flight she was on. A stark difference from the white knuckled grip of fear she used to experience. I think a lot of folks can relate to wanting to unlearn fear that holds us back from our destiny.
The book is organized in seven main steps to “Reveal” the sacred truth within. For those out there interested in body liberation activism, her chapter on REVEAL: Your Sacred Body will especially resonate. Getting into your body and seeing it as sacred is essential work to living wholly integrated. She also talks about returning to the body after a childhood sexual assault and I thought it was a great chapter about embodiment.
I’m also particularly curious about how one listens to their soul-voice–that still, small voice that creates impressions or straight-up talks to you from the inside, telling you where next to go. There’s a whole REVEAL: Your Soul-Voice chapter.
I really enjoyed Meggan’s tale of meeting “the hugging saint” Amma, who literally hugs every single person she meets. I was so impressed–what a heart-open way of connecting with people. Amma’s website claims she has embraced 32 million people. That’s like more hugs than anyone gets in a lifetime. Looking at Amma’s photos I see so much of my step-mom in her it’s actually really mystical.
I’m also always ready to find cissentric language in things that talk about “women’s” whatever, but this book wasn’t gender essentialist. It talked extensively of the bond women share, the sacred feminine, but made very little reference to how womanhood is embodied or created.
From the book, discussing her first visit to the Black Madonna of Notre Dame de Vassiviere, pictured above. “The Black Madonna is black not just because of her relation to the Egyptian goddess Isis but also because ‘she has literally or figuratively been through the fire and has emerged with an immense capacity for love and understanding.'” That is how I always want to emerge from pain.
Bonus for all of you R. Kelly fans out there–she met him on a ship once.
Books like Reveal are necessary because so much of feminine energy and women’s bodies are erased, ignored or subjugated from modern-day spirituality. I learned so much that piqued my spiritual interest. One of the signs of a good book is that it keeps sliding into my everyday conversations. Like talking to my roommate about my interest in the Gnostic Gospels, turns out she has a copy and it’s in my living room waiting for me.
When people talk about what was edited out of the Bible it makes me so annoyed! My mom, who declined to raise me Catholic though she was raised Catholic and now attends mass every Sunday as an out Lesbian in a gay-accepting church, always said she was suspicious of any book that deleted the voices of women. I wish I had spiritual teachings like Reveal growing up!