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Published: October 30th 2008
The morning after the AUM meditation, I can’t speak. I have lost my voice. Completely. I can’t even croak. ‘This happens to everyone here sooner or later’, says community member Mala sympathetically. I am fated to converse in sign language or through eye contact and writing notes. It’s an interesting place to be in, this enforced silence, asking me to communicate and relate to others in an entirely different way. I become aware of just how much I rely on words to connect.
My new muteness is especially inconvenient because tomorrow Osho Leela have planned a Pleasure Day, and Lalitya, one of the community managers, has asked me to lead a welcome ritual in the afternoon. Doubtfully, I point towards my throat. I can’t talk, can I? But, I’m a priestess, and part of a travelling priestess’ job description is to priestess as I travel. I have no voice, but Hari Om, as my dear teacher Yogi Vishvketu would say, let’s just get on with it anyway. Somehow I will manage, and it will be an interesting and challenging experience.
With sign language and written instructions, I recruit a spokesperson, the lovely Dhiraj, and an assistant, my CEP buddy
Sarah. Lalitya tells me that there’s an outdoors labyrinth at Osho Leela, so I decide to lead a ‘ritual journey into pleasure’, to kick off the pleasure day nicely. The labyrinth is made of hedges in beautiful autumn colours, with a Buddha statue at its center, representing the head, and a more feminine womb space in the middle. A small spider has woven a delicate web across one of the lanes, reminding me of the myth of Ariadne. It’s a glorious sunny day, and I set off to find some drums, rattles and other props. I convince Sarah (well, it doesn’t take much convincing, really) to play the part of the bountiful Pleasure Goddess, and dress her up in a dark red velvet dress, wig and headdress. To complete the outfit, she has two pink wands to bless unsuspecting members with, one of which has a pink plastic penis attached to it. I figure we can get away with it on a Pleasure Day at Osho Leela. ‘This will put Osho Leela’s reputation back a decade’, sniggers Sarah as we make our way to the labyrinth. We decorate the womb space with plastic flowers that have mysteriously appeared in a
The participants arrive, and Dhiraj talks them through the ritual. We take some time to think about what pleasure means to us, and what pleasures we would like to experience during this weekend. We write these desires on a piece of paper, and begin to process through the Leela Fields to the labyrinth with a mixture of drums and rattles. With the trance-like rhythm of the drums guiding us, we walk and dance into the labyrinth in silence, taking time to focus on the elements and our senses. When we reach the centre of the labyrinth, we form a circle at the Buddha’s head and place our desire cards into a crystal cauldron, before proceeding to the womb space, where the luscious Pleasure Goddess awaits us. She feeds us delicious chocolate and grants us our desires by caressing us with her wands. When we journey outwards again, a large kestrel appears and circles right over the centre of the labyrinth. Magical. After Dhiraj and the other participants have left, I return to to Pleasure Goddess and together, we ritually burn the cards containing our desires. The Pleasure Day continues with sessions of Biodanza, Hawaiian Massage, a Dance
Party, a Thai feast, and other beautiful events. After a late night, the pleasure carries over into the next day and resident singer Tarisha’s birthday party.
On Monday night, I am invited to facilitate a women's group in Tarisha's cosy pine cabin home. It's a welcoming nurturing space after the intensity and excitement of the past week, taking some time to go inwards, listen and be still. I take the women on a guided meditation journey, share my experiences and photographs of staying with the Kalash tribe in Pakistan, and together, we do a Dark Moon fire ritual outside Tarisha's cabin in a beautiful circle of young birch trees. It's a truly magical moment, connecting to the earth with Tarisha's 'Deep into the Earth' chant in the crisp autumn air with a million stars sparkling brightly above us. Women have met and connected in circles like this for thousands of years, and it feels so important to keep creating a safe place in which to share our journeys, support each other, and bring a little bit of magic back into our lives.
I leave the next day after a rich and inspirational week. The Osho Leela crowd works hard and plays hard - it is a great place for creativity, growth and joy. I’ve had a fantastic time here and hope to return soon. Thank you to all of the Community members who have been so welcoming and lovely and made my stay very special - you've created a wonderful vibrant space!
I’m staying in South-West England for a little while longer, making my way to Devon and Somerset next for the upcoming Samhain festival.
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