Americans had some high expectations for the recent solar eclipse: It would turn day to night, make pets act crazy, and serve as a much-needed distraction from the on-going national nightmare in Washington, DC.
There was one thing, however, that most people didn’t expect it to be: A feminist rallying point.
But that's exactly what self-proclaimed “witches” Anna Toonk and Kara Kinsey believe it is.
“Women are ruled by the moon!” Ms Toonk exclaimed on a recent, sultry summer evening in New York. “It’s a really powerful, magnificent energy that’s always available to you.”
“And guess what?” she added. “It’s affecting you regardless. So you might as well figure out how to work with it.”
Ms Toonk and Ms Kinsey had just finished leading a workshop on doing just that: using the power of the eclipse to reconnect with their feminine might.
Surrounded by candles, oils, and rose petals, they explained how the eclipse – when the moon briefly passes between the earth and the sun, blocking out its light – magnifies the power of the moon “to the nth degree”.
“With the solar eclipse, the power of the new moon amplified a thousand times,” Ms Kinney said. "And for us as women in today’s world – this political climate especially – it’s important for us to really own who we are as women, and to feel powerful and strong in that rather than feeling.”
She added: “We’re powerful; we’re strong; we’re connected to something bigger. And I think it's a very beautiful space to be in and work with, this moon energy.”
On Tuesday night – one day after the eclipse crossed over New York – Ms Toonk and Ms Kinsey spread that message to a small group of women gathered in Manhattan’s trendy Soho neighbourhood. In their workshop, “The Power of the Eclipse: Pursuits of Pleasure", they taught women how to “harness the energy of the solar eclipse and new moon to reclaim our feminine power”.
Together, the women participated in a guided meditation, imagining glowing orange light emanating from their wombs – also, coincidentally, the location of the “second chakra,” thought in certain circles to be the centre of emotion, creativity, and sexuality.
As the women lay on their backs, legs splayed in the butterfly position, Ms Toonk passed by, tapping their pelvic region with a long-stemmed rose – or, as she playfully referred to it, “tuning up the p***y chakra”.
The evening definitely did not shy away from the sexual: The witches lectured on “sex magic”, extolled the power of masturbation (apparently, sex toys made out of crystals are now a thing,) and revealed how Virgos are actually the “undercover freaks” of the astrological world.
“The most powerful thing a woman has is her sexuality,” Ms Toonk told the class at one point. “That’s why everyone wants a piece of it.”
Participants were also encouraged to give each other hand massages, underscoring the importance of “non-reciprocal touch and sensuality”. They concocted body scrubs with ingredients like hibiscus flower and damiana, known for boosting women’s libidos. At the end, they set intentions to carry out in the light of the new moon.
This idea – that the eclipse can have a powerful effect on women – is not a new one. In ancient Aztec and Indian cultures, pregnant women worried that eclipses would injure their unborn fetuses. Some Native American cultures even prescribed special ceremonies for pregnant women who caught a glimpse of the eclipse. To this day, women report the eclipse having a marked effect on their menstrual cycles.
Modern science, however, hasn’t exactly backed up these theories.
"We don’t have scientific evidence to prove that there is influence over your menstrual cycle when there’s an eclipse," women's health specialist Kristen Burris recently told Allure. Others pointed out that the alignment of the moon and sun during the eclipse isn’t actually all that different from its alignment during a standard 'spring' tide, which gets much less attention.
But for Ms Toonk and Ms Kinsey, the evening wasn’t just about the spirituality or “magic” of it all.
“Things like what we did here tonight – just being able to be here together as women and create a safe space; harnessing the power of the moon; touching back in with those emotionally creative and sexual experiences – [helps us] go back out into the world that much more connected to each other and to ourselves,” Ms Kinsey said.
She added: “It’s helpful for us to support one another and lift each other up.”
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