Interview With Linda Savage Ph.D., Psychologist And Sex Therapist

August 15, 2009 by  
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An interview with Linda Savage Ph. D. (www.goddesstherapy). She is a professional speaker, licensed psychologist and sex therapist who has been exploring the mysteries of sexual healing for over 25 years. She is an AASECT* Certified Sex Educator, a Diplomat of The American Board of Sexology and a member of The Institute of Marital and Sexual Therapy. Dr. Savage specializes in working with couples on a variety of sexual issues. She teaches at National University and lives in California with her family.  She is the author of “Reclaiming Goddess Sexuality.”

What inspired you to write Reclaiming Goddess Sexuality?For fifteen years I had been treating couples and individuals with sexual issues and had been amazed by the sheer numbers of women reporting that they have little desire for sex in their long-term relationships. Clinics like Masters and Johnson estimate that fully one out of three women in long-term relationships are distressed by lack of desire. Boredom in the bedroom appears to be like the common cold and we are all trying to find a cure.

After researching the impressive data from ancient matrilineal societies, (I call them “Goddess cultures”), I discovered that they had a totally different view of sexuality that has great value for contemporary women. These people, who worshipped the Divine Feminine, understood a great deal more about women and sex than we do. I decided to work with this ancient knowledge to update it to apply to our current sex problems. I believe that there is potential for a truly revolutionary model for transforming sexual relationships in this new Millennium.

I was also inspired by a powerful dream I had 20 years ago, in which I participated in the ancient ceremony of the Great Marriage.

 
 
     
What is the Great Marriage?The Great Marriage was a ritual enacted during many important festivals throughout the year. The union of a specially selected male and female took place at a sacred site (a temple, sacred grove or cave) in a private bower prepared for them. The ceremony was believed to bring renewal to the earth and balance to universal male and female energy. It was also a reminder to the people of the mystery and power of sexual energy. The participants in the Great Marriage were seen as representatives of the Goddess and her divine consort: usually the High Priestess and a chosen male who was, in later times, a temporal lord or king. The reverence accorded the sexual union of God and Goddess gave a whole different meaning to sexuality. Sex was truly sacred, not a sin. They were enacting the sacred will of the divine in this powerful spiritual/sexual union. The whole community celebrated the occasion with feasting and dancing. Many couples privately enacted their own spiritual/sexual union during the festival. Their spirit was one of joyful thanksgiving in appreciation for the Great Mother’s loving gifts.    
 
     
You mention that many contemporary women have disowned their sexuality. What do you mean?Women have been conditioned to disown their natural sexual desire for a very long time. After the nomadic invasions of the relatively peaceful agrarian societies (roughly eight thousand years ago), most women were forced into loveless marriages, raped and bartered as possessions, and generally treated brutally. Women were severely punished for freely expressing their sexuality because society needed a reliable way to pass on property to male heirs. Females with high sexual desire would result in unclear “bloodlines.” Patriarchal institutions repressed women’s “carnal lust” so successfully, that by our Common Era, few ever experienced orgasms in their lifetime and avoided sexual involvement except as their marital duty required. Only 100 years ago, medical texts vehemently refuted the “perverted” notion that any woman could ever have orgasms!

It was not until Masters and Johnson, in 1970, proved that all women were capable of orgasms with stimulation of the clitoris, that the myths of frigidity were put to rest.  However, not much has changed in the last thirty years with regard to female sexual development and most women reach adulthood or enter marriage with significant repression of their natural sexual desire. Open and free sexual exploration for women still carries the heavy label of “slut” or “whore.” In contrast, males reach adulthood with lots of encouragement to explore their sexual expression. Most of what goes on with so-called female “promiscuity” is competitive performance to capture or keep prized male attention. Once the relationship becomes committed, women’s desire succumbs to repressive conditioning and lousy conditions for romance.

   
 
     
What are some of the most important conditions to awaken female sexual desire?Women need both a positive psychological “set” and a highly sensual setting for awakening their natural desire. Young women need a sense of permission to explore sexual pleasure and abundant time to feel physically ready for intercourse. They also need a setting which makes them feel safe from abandonment. Women who have become mothers need a sense of communion with their partners and the sense of surrender to their bodies, especially with the demands of a busy life. They often complain that they want more romance. Therefore, they need a seductive setting in order to genuinely respond.  Often, they have lost their early enjoyment of sex and submit to duty sex, or avoid it all together.

Older women are still too often seen as beyond sex, when this could be the most sexually pleasurable time of their lives. They are free from mothering demands to pursue the healing and consciousness expanding qualities of sex. They need to be psychologically empowered and feel honored by their partners in order to access what I call intentional sexual desire. With each stage of life, the previous conditions for sexual desire need to be mastered in order to move on.

   
 
     
What are these three life stages for women that you mention?They are the three faces of the Goddess: Maiden, Mother and Crone. These are the ancient yet still relevant phases of female life, divided by the three “blood mysteries” of first blood, childbirth and menopause. Each stage has a central task to be mastered: discovering creativity in the Maiden Stage, taking responsibility in the Mother Stage, and sharing wisdom in the Crone Stage.  Unfortunately, the word Crone has come to mean something dread and ugly. It conjures up images of dark, disfigured old women,  feared for their maliciousness. In the Goddess cultures, these were the wise women who were respected and revered for their great contributions to society. Some of them practiced sexual mastery, which is the task of Crone Stage sexual development.    
 
     
Who were the Sacred Virgins who practiced healing and sexual mastery?The Sacred Virgins were called “temple prostitutes” by the early archeologists and Biblical scholars, who read descriptions of their practices from earlier Roman accounts. They were prejudiced by the patriarchal views of women as property and were horrified by the idea that any woman could be freely sexual, unless she was a prostitute. That was the only reference they had to identify the role of these women in the temples of the Goddess. Actually, the term “virgin” originally meant “a woman unto her own” without any obligation to a man, thus: unmarried. Only in later patriarchal times did the term virgin become associated with an intact hymen.

The Sacred Virgins were women trained in meditation and other consciousness expanding techniques and physical fitness. They were priestesses of the temple and thus spiritually attuned. These women, who were free from any marital bonds, practiced healing techniques, including sexual healing, with those who came to the temple for help. They also participated in the Great Marriage ceremony as the earthly representative of the Goddess, when needed. The High Priestess might be what we call an older woman, yet she was very fit and possessed mature erotic beauty.

   
 
     
What is mature erotic beauty?Mature beauty stems from woman’s sense of personal authority and the richness of her life. The mature erotic woman possesses the quality of inner harmony that communicates a sense that she is at ease with herself. Obviously she cares about her health and good grooming, but she has clearly found a style that suits her. She exhibits a flair for vibrant and sensual colors, and the cut of her clothing compliments her feminine curves, but does not scream, “look at my body parts.” Most importantly, mature erotic women glow from within. It is this luminosity that is so enormously attractive. Crone women who have continued to grow and are following their personal path of power are truly luminous beings of great worth. This is the promise of mature erotic beauty.

In the new millennium the good news is that Crone women are refocusing on overall good health as the central issue of aging, rather than stereotypical images of beauty. When they target health rather than aging, they are more likely to appropriately resolve the loss of the twenty-something looks as their ideal. Many older women are discovering the joys of walking, healthy food preparation, and herbal remedies. They have revived the ancient healing arts and merged them with modern health knowledge. The revitalization of the image of the older woman to include mature erotic beauty is the great news of our times.

   
 
     
What do you see happening with sexual relationships in the new millennium?We desperately need a new blueprint for human relationships to replace the current arrangement which has prevailed during the last five thousand years. We will need to discard the whole panoply of unrealistic expectations and unfounded assumptions upon which traditional marriage continues to exist as a conceptual ideal. Even with the relatively new emphasis on “romantic love” as a prerequisite for marriage, it does not provide lasting conditions for female sexual desire, nor does it ensure commitment. Our culture is already in the process of change, partly due to the re-emergence of feminine values of cooperation, nurturing and sensual pleasure. In facing new times, we must find a more flexible model.

We can choose new and diverse options that take into account the radical social, psychological, and spiritual changes in the new millennium. Since men and women in conflict cause serious damage to their individual psyches, their families, and their sexuality, there are significant benefits in balancing the equation of male and female energy in relationships. If we want sexier relationships, we must not limit each other’s sexual expression. It no longer makes sense to deny the spiritual dimension of our sexuality, as if we had “lower,” physical urges and “higher,” spiritual functions, disconnected from the body. Since sexual energy is the source of our connection to the Life Force, the benefits to physical, emotional, and mental health are obvious. Exploration of spiritual dimensions of sex would increase women’s interest.

There exist a growing number of couples exploring expanded sexuality and more satisfying sexual relationships. The change required involves partners negotiating. It takes an application of communication skills that allow for both male and female needs, interweaving sensual and sexual activities from each other’s desires. There would be room for exploration of new behavior, in a fun-filled, mutually satisfying adventure. When sex is well negotiated, and the sexual equation is balanced, relationships will take whatever creative form both partners choose, based on mutual trust and understanding.

The playful child in all of us can discover new delights, as long as there is a sense of permission and safety. Boredom from repetitive sexual patterns, rigidly followed, will be replaced by the exploration of uncharted territory. It will include opening to a wider range of sexual choices. There will be plenty of discussion, and feedback, keeping an experimental attitude. Each couple would create their own rules, incorporating growth into their system. Many experiences may harness the qualities of sexuality that are both healing and consciousness expanding.  There is truly an endless supply of loving sexual energy. Consequently, there are unlimited playful moments, pleasure and contentment, more than most of us can ever imagine. Let us hope we can create such new and more satisfactory ways to express adult sexual love in this new millennium.

   
 
     
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