Amanda Young is Goddess of the Week!

"There has been such a history of misogynistic spirituality where women have been viewed as dirty, unholy, as the temptress, or barren. All that makes a woman powerful and juicy has been stripped away from her. I want to encourage women to take that back.  Not in a shadowy, manipulated-for-male-pleasure kind of way. But in a way that lets a woman know it's okay to feed her appetite for pleasure. To be big, beautiful, and to take up space."

-- Amanda Young, founder of Urban Goddess Health; Urban Goddess Chocolate; and Urban Goddess Retreats

Amanda Young is on a mission to help women become their most juicy, radiant, abundant, confident, sensual and awakened self! A former actress and current certified holistic health and nutrition counselor, Amanda is the founder of Urban Goddess Health, Urban Goddess Chocolate, and Urban Goddess Retreats. She is a Divine Goddess healer who is committed to helping other women discover and liberate their own inner goddess to create true vibrant health at all levels! She lives in New York City and is continually growing the community of Urban Goddesses. TB: How did you first connect with the Goddess?AY: When I was a teenage girl – actually even younger than that -- I can remember seeing "Clash of the Titans." That was my introduction to Greek goddesses. I think that was the first time I saw the Divine Feminine represented. I was obsessed with that movie. I just loved seeing Aphrodite and Athena. I looked up to them and thought they were really cool – kind of like Wonder Woman.I can also remember reading The Mists of Avalon when I was 15 – reading about the fairy kingdom and Morgan le Fay. I liked seeing that in order to be powerful, she didn’t have to become more masculine. A woman could be completely feminine and be equally powerful.Recently I read one of my first journals -- I started it when I was about 15. On the first page of it I wrote, “I am a daughter of the Goddess Mother.” Then I went on about how I have this power inside of me, and I compared the feminine to the masculine. It was really striking to me to find this journal and read that. At some level at that young age I connected with the female concept of the divine.TB: Tell me about your company name “Urban Goddess.”AY: The concept of "Urban" Goddess came to me out of the particular challenges that modern society places on connecting to our natural rhythms and cycles. Living in the city, you’re lucky if you can ever see a star in the night sky, feel your toes in the grass, or catch a glimpse of the full moon peaking from behind a building. Those moments of connecting to nature, reconnect us to our inner goddess. But the truth is, it could just as easily be "Suburban" Goddess too because the life in the suburbs is just as artificial, if not more in some ways, than life in the city. We live in very controlled environments.TB: You live in New York City. How would you describe the Urban Goddess community in New York? AY: The community in New York is made up of women usually in their mid- twenties to early 40s (although Urban Goddesses are a diverse group) who are independent, creative, career-oriented, and are starting to wake up to the fact that there is more to life than a great pair of boots, being seen at the right hot spot, or making it up the next rung on the corporate ladder. They are women who are starting to feel the stirrings of their soul, and are craving more depth.My next step in cultivating the goddess community is outreach. I am aware that most of the women I work with are privileged with a certain income level, level of higher education, and certain advantages. I am passionate about working with them because when they start to change, they are in a position to make impactful change in society and have the resources to give a hand up to those not as fortunate.But at the same time I have been burning to bring this work to young women who don't come from a privileged background. True Urban Goddesses. Young women who have suffered from the worst underbelly of New York City. These are girls who truly don't get to leave the city on weekends and see the green spaces, and live in neighborhoods that don't have health food stores, or fresh produce, and they understand far better than me the true meaning of urban life.TB: How will you reach out to these Urban Goddesses? AY: My vision (which may be a few more years down the road) is to create a healing garden and kitchen space for urban teen girls, along with empowerment groups. I am just starting to work with an organization in the city right now to do some workshops with the girls, and see where it goes from there.TB: How can others helps you manifest this vision?AY: Thanks for asking this. In the new year I'll be looking for investors so I can get space for a kitchen and create a garden.TB: You were an actress, and now are a holistic health and nutrition counselor. What inspired you to do the counseling work?AY: My inspiration really came out of my own process. Nutrition and health were fundamental explorations for me in my own journey into womanhood in my twenties, and continues to be a constant discovery ground.When I was younger I was in a state of suffering with low energy, depression, chronic infections - just not feeling my optimal self. I believed that I deserved to live a better life. Yoga, herbs, Ayurveda, holistic nutrition, and philosophy were all powerful tools in my own healing. The shift that I experienced from diet and yoga alone were astounding. I realized that simple daily choices could profoundly affect my whole experience of life.TB: Tell me about some of the things your clients experience as a result of working with you? AY: One of the most revolutionary radical acts you can make in our culture is to shift your diet away from processed foods toward a whole food, real food diet. When you shift away from the junky food, your antennae are so much more clean and clear. You become more conscious and aware of what you take into your body, mind and spirit on all levels. It expands into other areas of your life. You lose your tolerance for junk food media, junk food relationships, and work that doesn't feed your spirit. Healing your body through changing your food is the starting point for everyone.Once my clients start making these little changes, it opens the door for deep, deep transformation. There are a lot of psychologically complex issues, which influence our food and self-care choices. To make the switch towards true nourishment, these need to be unraveled and looked at. It's deep work!A lot of my clients laugh at the notion that I am a nutritionist. The work we do is so much more powerful and deep than they ever imagined when they first came through my office door. They thought they were going to learn some nutrition tips, but little did they know their whole life was going to be turned upside down. Many women find they quit their job, go in a new direction in their career, move, end or start relationships after working with me. It is such an honor to be a witness to this process in my clients.TB: An aspect of your mission is to create a safe haven for women to connect as a community. Why is this important?AY: I have always been passionate about female relationships and community. I have gone through so many ups and downs in my life, and it has always been my friendships with women that have helped me through. When women bond and support one another, in an empowered and loving way, there is an incredible strength that can be derived from that.Most of the women that I work with one-on-one begin to feel a little isolated from their current communities when they start to shift their eating habits, and raise their consciousness. They find that they can no longer tolerate the level of unconsciousness in their current social and work communities. They often realize that their bonding has come from a place of mutual complaining and keeping each other down. Bonding in their disease -- meaning getting together and complaining about men, complaining about the city, complaining about how they can't make it to the gym, or how they hate their bodies...Many women start to feel alienated from their social network when they start to shift into a new, healthier version of themselves. Their friends, family, and co-workers are still in the old patterns. They have a hunger for a community of women that are going through similar shifts in consciousness, who also want to bond from a place of strength and supporting one another around self care habits that support them in resonating at their highest vibration.TB: Does this always work?AY: The truth is that female relationships can also be very complicated. I certainly don't exclude myself from this. We can easily fall into lower vibrations of competition, gossip, catty-ness, compare and despair. It is important to consciously acknowledge these habits, and strive to create a safe container where we can lay that down and come from our higher vibration -- embody the goddess in each of us. I am very humble in this process because I am also working on healing these same places within myself. I certainly don't pretend to say I have figured it all out. I just want to acknowledge it and consciously create the space for us all to move beyond it, and come from a mutually supportive, loving, and goddess inspired place. TB: A major aspect of your mission is to empower women to live their most powerful life by connecting to, as you say, “that juicy, sexy, ferocious goddess within.” Why do you think connecting to the goddess is so important for women? AY: When I talk about connecting to the goddess within, I am really speaking to women about accessing the truest part of their nature -- the part most connected to source. The divine part of ourself.The reason that I feel it is important to talk about this as her inner goddess, rather than god, is that there has been a tremendous imbalance for thousands of years in the west, where we have personified the divine only as male, as a father.  Of course the divine essence is nameless, faceless, genderless, and beyond our every day level of comprehension. But as human beings we need to have words, and images to connect to the divine, that take it from something so abstract, into something we can relate to. But historically that has been exclusively a male role.

"There is an imbalance that needs to be redressed so that we can have a more full connection to this divine love. It's like the yin and the yang. We need both. I am certainly not saying that there is no value in connecting with the divine through a male face, through the father, but I am saying, Hey, I feel like we forgot about the mother. She is really important too!"

Sometimes you want to talk to your father about certain things in your life, and he is going to give you the support you need. But sometimes you really want to talk about something with your mother. We want to have a full, well-rounded relationship to source.It can be very healing for women (and men) to connect to the divine through this face. And for women to bring the divine within -- so that the divine is not something different, something separate from self. Your breasts are goddess essence, your thighs, your vagina. All of you is sacred and divine. That is the juicy, sexy ferocious part. Understanding that you in your womanly magnificence are holy and sacred. TB: You have an Urban Goddess Retreat coming up in Costa Rica. Tell me about your retreats.AY: I do one-day workshops, and week-long retreats. This one coming up in Costa Rica will be a week-long retreat. Essentially what we are going to do is explore a few of the major archetypal faces of the Divine Feminine: The Warrior Goddess, The Sensual Goddess, and the Compassionate Goddess. In each of those archetypes we will explore a few of the goddesses that are associated with that archetype.It’s about becoming personally connected to these goddesses. I am really a fan of allowing women to have their own personal experience of that goddess energy -- so it’s not so much about learning what she is supposed to be about or represent. While I bring an element of what she means in a culture, it's more about bringing in a story and images and allowing women to start to share and talk about how those things makes them feel. There is a lot of discussion on the retreat and  women sharing their stories.Then I also have certain exercises and meditations that I have developed that allow us to access a particular goddess energy. For example, we might discover that one woman at an early age really started to define herself as an Aphrodite and build a persona around it – getting male sexual attention. But then we might find that she is missing some of the warrior goddess energy.So we’ll look at: If you want to connect with that goddess, what are ways you can connect? How can you draw her in? The exercises and meditations I have developed allow them to start to have a way that they can channel that goddess energy and use it, to have a relationship with that goddess and find her within herself.So that’s one aspect of the retreat.I believe that we need to get things into our body so we're not just doing mental exercises. I have brought on a woman who has created this incredibly cathartic and healing dance form called JourneyDance. and an amazing woman who teaches yoga. It will be an incredible week of yoga, dance, meditation, goddess rituals, fresh healthy foods, surfing and relaxing on the beach.TB: Are there any aspects of the Goddess that you have struggled with connecting to?AY: Honestly I would say all of them. I think that each aspect has a certain shadow. A certain part that is scary. I feel like I am constantly moving through the whole spectrum of the different goddesses.In the last year I had a huge awakening with Durga – the really powerful warrior goddess from the Hindu religion. To me, she is really about truth. She has this sword of truth that cuts through any illusions that you have about yourself. I can kind of put Vaseline over the lens sometimes when there are things I don’t want to look at. I think Durga was the one that was hardest for me because … for most of my life I think I dumbed down and I played a little more into the coquette. I always had a strong Artemis/Durga independent warrior part of me, but really I don’t think I fully embodied it. I wanted to be accommodating and make people feel comfortable. When you are embodying that warrior Durga energy, it’s all about moving through really uncomfortable truth. That’s why she looks really scary with all of these weapons and things. It’s not a comfortable process and you don’t always make people feel comfortable.In my work I realized I’m not going to make myself very effective if I am just making people feel comfortable. They are not going to grow. Now I go in there and help them look at things that are uncomfortable. It has been a huge shift for me to take that on.TB: How did Urban Goddess Chocolate come about? AY: From my very first workshop I always included some chocolate. To me it was like the sacrament of the goddess. Or the "prasad."  Women have always loved chocolate. To me it just didn't seem like a goddess event if there wasn't some chocolate present.I would bring chocolate truffles from different chocolatiers, but being that I was a health and nutrition coach too, it felt a little incongruent to be serving something that had refined sugar in it. So I started to make my own -- for my own pleasure, and to share.I have always loved using my hands to make something precious and special and delectably edible for other people. Every time I make a batch of chocolate I have some of that special feeling of creating something from my heart, and my hearth to share with the world. I also find it very meditative (in a goddessy way). I play inspiring music, get into a zone and usually am dancing around the kitchen in ecstasy while I dip the chocolate. I get so excited at the unique beauty of each rose petal as I unfold it from the rose, or place it perfectly on the top of the truffle. Each chocolate is a work of art to me. TB: It seems like more and more women are being drawn to the Goddess. Are you finding this? AY: Yes! It's been accelerating in the last year or two. I came up with the Urban Goddess name in 2006. At that time I didn’t see or hear a lot of people talking about Goddesses. But in the past two years, I feel like everywhere I go I am meeting women who are referring to themselves as a Goddess, or referring to a Goddess Circle, or saying “Let’s get the Goddesses together.” There is something that is happening right now where women are waking up and walking into this power.

"So many women are waking up and are part of this powerful healing that is taking place."

Whether they use the term Goddess or not, I am meeting so many powerful women. There are just so many female healers on the planet right now. There is something extraordinary that is taking place. Whether it’s 2012 or this paradigm shift that is taking place, we can all feel it. There is an unspoken way we just know we are a part of this powerful shift.TB: If you had a loudspeaker that could reach women and girls around the world, what message would you want to impart?AY: You are perfect and beautiful as you are.I think what we all suffer from the most is thinking that there is something wrong with us and that there is something we have to fix. We think there is something we have to do in order to become valuable. I think the most profound healing that can take place is to recognize that all you really need to do is reveal the truth of who you are. Each and every one of us is a goddess. We are Divine.

***

To learn about Amanda’s upcoming Urban Goddess Retreat in Costa Rica, Jan. 29 – Feb. 5, visit www.UrbanGoddessRetreats.com. To learn about Amanda's holistic health and nutrition counseling, visit www.UrbanGoddessHealth.com.To learn about Amanda's raw, vegan and organic chocolate truffles, visit www.UrbanGoddessChocolate.com.Tabby Biddle, M.S. Ed., is a writer, editor, and reporter dedicated to amplifying the voices of women changemakers. She is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post on women's issues, and organizations and individuals empowering women and girls. Her work has been featured by The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, NPR, Current TV and other national media. She lives in Santa Monica, CA.