Could It Be Love by Black Venus

Could it be love, by Black Venus.

Part of the department of Unruly histories by Meera Shakti Osborne.

If mixcloud media player above doesn't load, you can listen here or enable cookies and reload this page.

Audio transcription:

Meera:This work is taken from a series of conversations between Venus and myself, Meera Shakti Osborne, exploring the ideas of catharsis. Could it be love is part of The Department of Unruly Histories, a project I initiated at the end of 2021.

**sound of rain pattering*** 

Black Venus: Hi, my name is Venus. I am a sex worker, a student. I am a martial artist. I am also a student of philosophy and politics and history and I am founder of Sex And Rage, which is an organisation led by sex workers, resisting stigma and shame through sex education

** sound of birds in the background** 

Black Venus: The body is the vessel for the soul. It is through our physiologies that we come to know the world in all its vastness and glory. We experience the beauty of nature through this temporary physical form, the wonders of the passing seasons warming then cooling the skin. Our bodies feel the rain and soak up the sun. Our bodies move through space and time, and sometimes they are very, very still. Yet despite the miracle of the living body, we can sometimes find ourselves in an unsettled space. Sometimes, the body is not always an inviting place. When the mind-body connection is disrupted, we can find ourselves mentally adrift, and physically exhausted.

At times we may find ourselves unanchored from our bodies. Through trauma, through fatigue, through shame, through the myriad different experiences that come to exhaust our senses. We may find ourselves with a sense of drifting, the feeling of existing somewhere between the extremities of our nerve endings and our psycho-physical awareness. 

**Sound of rain intensifying and fading away** 

Black Venus: So last time we met I think it came from a conversation about different groups responses to living in a time of crisis and how, how  communities have always kind of experienced um, suffering or lack of resources or some kind of, some kind of, um, marginalisation, are really good at coming together and fixing problems and finding solutions to things, and one of the things that interest me is the idea of catharsis and where that comes into our practices of community organizing and any kind of community activity. 

Meera: Can you define what catharsis means for you? 

Black Venus: For me Catharsis means **release**(sound is enhanced on release) either and that could be like, any kind of release, it could be physical, spiritual, emotional, psychological, I think it can be personal, it can be communal, it can be social, it can political, um, but for me catharsis means  ** letting go of things that have burdened you** burdened your community true catharsis should be outside the constraints of dogma or any kind of fixed idea of like how we should looking for um, a  way to let go of any stresses and I think it really changes, it depends on the person it depends on the environment, so catharsis for one person or group  will look very different to someone else’s. 

I think it’s about being in tune and in alignment to what you need and I think it’s about **honesty** about your situation and also a kind of direction of where you want to go 

**What do you want your healing journey to look like? ** 

**birds chirping**

Black Venus: How do we hold ourselves accountable in a world that is often cruel to us? 

Injustice can often feel very black and white. The power structures in which we involuntarily find ourselves can make us feel like everything is against us and nothing is for us. When we struggle to survive let alone thrive, it is understandable that those cycles of harm can often end up being perpetuated by our own hands. When those in power whether they are a politician or a parent, an employer or a teacher fail to stand up for us, it is only natural that we develop a sense of mistrust. Mistrust breeds fear, and fear feeds violence. 

Regaining confidence and love for ourselves as individuals means directly and positively feeding back into our own communities. Where we collectively fail we must do personal work to reinforce the cracks in our community that have developed as a result of being under-resourced and overstretched. Asking ourselves the hard questions - Why did we fail to our own shortcomings ? What harmful lie did I tell the perpetrator means that we can address the principle challenge we face as marginalised people, still reeling from the effects of generations of complex violent trauma.

Black Venus: I also think catharsis is about saying things that you have on your mind and having the space to do that and I think that’s important, I don’t think we do it enough, I think there is a lot of things that we left, that we leave unsaid because we are really worried about, we are really worried about how it’s going to come across, and sometimes we sacrifice our own spirit because of that. Healing shouldn’t be... It shouldn’t be torturous and we should not try and make it torturous for other people, it should be positive, it should be, there should be **as much joy as possible**, there needs to be that, otherwise, you'll give up. 

There is definitely a tradition of bringing importance and awareness to joy and joy as a tool for healing you know like Hercs’, Audre Lorde and more recently Adrienne Marie Brown, there is a tradition and a very strong tradition for Black writers and artists that’s about, OK actually we’ve been told for so long that your identity is about suffering and our identity is largely about suffering but it’s more than that, it’s about how ** we’ve overcome** everything to be here and that is the important thing, that’s that's just as much a part of our identity than the dark stuff,um.

Meera: And you can’t have just the dark stuff that’s impossible you know like..

Black Venus: No exactly yeah

Black Venus: I think it’s about looking at it in balance and that’s why the ancient symbols are a really good way of looking at balance yin yang and… the yantras and mandalas and the specific like, the Kali’s triangle, they’re about balance they're about the looking at the different aspects of a being and existence 

Meera: When you said balance I immediately thought of, cause obviously I have been to some of your self defense classes thinking about like, the physical balance that you get people to have in the space and how sometimes I find that the hardest thing to do

Black Venus: Yeah it’s like, it’s awareness of what you have been through, what you’ve experienced, and also of where you need to be, it’s like the past, present and future and then that comes together in the body in the present

Meera: Mmhmm yeah like, to balance to just like stand on our own two feet or just like to walk forward requires so much um, self belief.

Black Venus: Yeah it does and an awareness of what’s coming as well, you can’t just be like “Oh well I’ve done that one step now-cause there could be something coming up that could make you trip so you have to be focused ahead but you also have to be very present now 

** sound of insects**

Black Venus: The following is an extract from bell hooks’ essay -”Love as the Practice of Freedom.”

bell hooks

In this society, there is no powerful discourse on love emerging either from politically progressive radicals or from the Left. The absence of a sustained focus on love in progressive circles arises from a collective failure to acknowledge the needs of the spirit and an overdetermined emphasis on material concerns. Without love, our efforts to liberate ourselves and our world community from oppression and exploitation are doomed. As long as we refuse to address fully the place of love in struggles for liberation we will not be able to create a culture of conversion where there is a mass turning away from an ethic of domination. Without an ethic of love shaping the direction of our political vision and our radical aspirations, we are often seduced, in one way or the other, into continued allegiance to systems of domination—imperialism, sexism, racism, classism. It has always puzzled me that women and men who spend a lifetime working to resist and oppose one form of domination can be systematically supporting another. I have been puzzled by powerful visionary Black male leaders who can speak and act passionately in resistance to racial domination and accept and embrace sexist domination of women, by feminist white women who work daily to eradicate sexism but who have major blind spots when it comes to acknowledging and resisting racism and white supremacist domination of the planet. Critically examining these blind spots, I conclude that many of us are motivated to move against domination solely when we feel our self-interest directly threatened. Often, then, the longing is not for a collective transformation of society, an end to politics of dominations, but rather simply for an end to what we feel is hurting us. This is why we desperately need an ethic of love to intervene in our self centered longing for change. Fundamentally, if we are only committed to an improvement in that politic of domination that we feel leads directly to our individual exploitation or oppression, we not only remain attached to the status quo but act in complicity with it, nurturing and maintaining those very systems of domination. 

Until we are all able to accept the interlocking, interdependent nature of systems of domination and recognize specific ways each system is maintained, we will continue to act in ways that undermine our individual quest for freedom and collective liberation struggle. The ability to acknowledge blind spots can emerge only as we expand our concern about politics of domination and our capacity to care about the oppression and exploitation of others. 

A love ethic makes this expansion possible. …

Black Venus: I wanted to talk about catharsis, because I don't think we have enough intentional catharsis in spaces, not just of healing but of community spaces that is intentional in its expression of the multi-faceted ways of  how we experience things. So the complexities of experiencing of both like, love and affection in a space but also hatred, oppression, abuse and I think the reason why those things are perpetuated in a lot of the conversations that have come up recently in various spaces that I've been in, either facilitating or listening in or participating in or whatever capacity has been, people are getting really frustrated with community and what that means and I think there is a lot of reasons why we are in that space where we are experiencing some kind of crisis.

And I think, you know those crises happen all the time, in, you know because we are so under-resourced etc etc but there comes a point when we have to actually take a step back and think okay what is it that is preventing us from moving forward with our goals? And I think with catharsis is catharsis is seen as like, the thing with pleasure is that it’s not always pleasurable, like sometimes you have to do things that you dislike in order to get to a point where you can experience pleasure. 

Like pleasure itself is not just this nice thing that is handed down to you on a silver platter and you experience it, it’s a difficult thing to engage with but you have to know that , you have to physically, like, fully know that you are engaging in that practice and be prepared to do like, the difficult work.

**** sound of rain falling*** 

** reverb effect on voice** 

Black Venus: Desiring freedom , try anti-ideology. 

At the heart of every ideology is the desire and subsequent struggle for freedom, we perceive our ideologies as roads to freedom when in fact it’s liberty itself that is the road. The way we frame our understanding of freedom is always changing. 

With the ever evolving political and social climate through times of abundance and of slavery, our perceptions of freedom change. John Edgar Wideman writes on the opening pages of Stokely Carmichael’s autobiography that the freedom that matters most is how we feel about ourselves. Freedom is about choice, an attitude, a principle that operates perhaps more visibly in spite of resistance. 

Resistance then is the practice of countering any ideology that oppresses us. Sometimes that ideology is obvious: when we talk about doctrines such as capitalism, communism, non-secular governance, it is easy to see their side effects and much is made of lessening or removing these power structures in order to allow ourselves the right to express ourselves freely. However, in order to dismantle any maleficent forces and systems that preside over our lives, we must first look at the ways in which they subtly influence us, and begin a practice of questioning the ideologies that rest within our own minds. 

Dogma is not only religious. It can be political, scientific or social. It is any instance in which, because we hold a belief to be true, we do not listen to other voices or alternatives and cannot make sense of the ways in which we are limiting ourselves and others. All because we desire to hold on to a sense of what we believe to be the true essence of ourselves, when our beliefs are perhaps not essentially our own. This sense of limitation is set upon us by invisible forces and shape not only our privileges and , but our preferences, our prejudices and of course our ideologies as well. And one narrative is never ever the whole story 

** The sound of rain falling, fading away**

Black Venus: I suppressed so much when I was a kid and it has actually taken me a long time to come out onto the other side where now I actually have to like, reel it in. So I used to be, I used to get bullied a lot when I was in primary school and secondary school-secondary school I got bullied a little bit, I had like a few like interactions with people that were less than, erm, less than stellar but, yeah I had to like teach myself to get angry and to let that out and then, when you start doing that when you've always been quite insular, you start to notice how people change around you, and..

Meera: How do they change? 

Black Venus: Well I think like, the closest people around me, like a few friends sort of, freaked out a little bit, because they, you just get comfortable, people get comfortable when you suppress yourself, because, they can um, exercise their kind of *pauses* more agg-y bits? Parts of themselves? and then when I stopped letting them to do that, it freaked them out a little bit cause you realise that what you're doing is hurting someone and actually I don't speak to some of those people anymore, I think yeah, bringing it back to catharsis I think a lot of, being, allowing yourself to be angry and looking at that anger can teach you a lot about yourself. 

Yeah like, why do you suppress your anger in certain instances and then, who do you let your anger out to , cause sometimes as well if you suppress your anger you can actually end up being more harmful to like, certain people because you know they’ll just take it and I think that happens a lot, I know I do that.

There is nothing wrong with anger as long as you can, not even necessarily control it but you're aware of it and you can be accountable, like in the aftermath and you learn how to navigate and deal with it and tame it ))) *echoing*

It is the desire of most people to live without limitations, a life of true freedom in which all possibilities of love, life and death can be explored. Where we are close to nature and the nature of our true selves it is also clear as we have been told many times before, that if one person is imprisoned, then no one is free. The hard part is accepting that we cannot change other people, we can however change ourselves and inspire others to do the same and this can only strengthen our global community. Connectivity can clearly only be achieved if we align our desires succinctly and wholeheartedly, when we begin to draw more similarities and differences in a genuine and compassionate way, then the mental fortresses we have built so solidly around ourselves begin to crumble. 

Black Venus: I started learning martial arts when I was so young, I didn't really have any kind of, philosophical ideas about it at that age and also because I kind of resisted as well when I first started.. Well when I  first started training I was probably about… three, and started just doing my - 

Meera: Oh my god, you must have been so cute!!

*both laughing* 

Black Venus: I’ll find some photos yeah yeah, I’ll find some photos , um, but it was like, obviously like basics my dad was really obsessed with stretching so he would get me to like stretch and that kind of stuff, but then, when I was like seven was when I wanted to do, seven/eight was when I wanted to start training properly, and I was actually quite scared when i was a kid training, I was, I didn't like being here at all. So I didn't really see it as something cathartic, it used to be actually that it stressed me out.

So yeah it has become more of a cathartic practice in the last, ten years, it sounds like quite a long time but I think, that’s when I started having maybe more autonomy over like, my practice and my training because I was taking myself, I started taking, I found another art that I really like connected to and then I was like taking myself and going training and yeah so then it became about me as opposed to and what I wanted to do as opposed to just because I grew up doing something, grew up doing martial arts. 

So many martial arts schools don't have, *pause* don’t the emphasis on emotional discipline which is really important in order for, in order for like boys and men specifically to take those teachings out and use it in a like communal sense like, just because you can look after yourself doesn't necessarily mean that you’re going to be able to use those skills for good and like to protect your community or that it’s taught you the emotional discipline to treat women with respect or like, not just jump into fights, like, I know a lot of martial artists and there is a lot of ego, so I don’t think necessarily that they come hand in hand, at the same time I think people who are really interested in martial arts as a philosophical practice as well as a physical one tend to have a very, a much deeper understanding of the relationship between martial arts and like, healing in like a social sense?

So like, my Jujitsu teacher Dave Birk is very much aware and he has had like a very like, rich life but he has a very deep understanding of martial arts philosophy and how that can be applied to um, to daily life, and like your daily practice and my parents have, are like very well rounded individuals in the sense that they have like a lot of different interests and that’s always, so I was around like a lot of art when I was growing up, my mum was an art-my mum is an artist, she studied at Chelsea she has always been very like, artistically focused and my dad’s always, my dad also has an interest in like, both of them have an interest in like, film and philosophy and my dad’s a neuroscientist so there is always quite like, how does martial arts fit into all of those different area? So I think that kind of helped my understanding of the fact that martial arts is an art and how does that fit into the wider kind of scope of creative practice in general.

Black Venus: Yeah I would say there’s like two types of martial artists, there is one who is just focused on the sport and in, physical dominance and then there is the other kind that is, more focused on the spiritual journey and you can be both, obviously  like, you can be very, you know, you can be a fighter who, you want to win, but, they’re not mutually um, dependant or independant necessarily, you can be both and you can have like different, different focuses and also the focus can change depending on what you're, what you're going for.

To put too much pressure on yourself to sort of make changes without expecting anyone to also like, adapt to your growth, that doesn’t make sense, like, when you change everything else should change as well, like that’s that’s and vice versa, otherwise I think that means that you're not in alignment with your environment. So that whole thing of like, that, okay, well, I’m now expressing myself and my dissatisfaction more, if you're around people for example who suppress that, there is absolutely no way that you're going to grow and there is no way that they are going to grow either so that’s really a situation that, you should try your best to remove yourself from because, there needs to be that two fold kind of er, interaction and change happening otherwise it’s, you’re in stagnant waters and, yeah.

**Beautiful music playing, chimes**

**Excerpt plays from Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai**

The way of the Samurai is from death 

“Meditation on inevitable death should be performed daily. Every day when one’s body and mind are at peace, one should meditate upon being ripped apart by arrows, rifles, spears and swords, being carried away by surging waves, being thrown into the midst of a great fire, being struck by lightning, being shaken to death by a great earthquake, falling from thousand-foot cliffs, dying of disease or committing seppuku at the death of one’s master. And every day without fail one should consider himself as dead”

Echoing - This ))) is the substance )))) of the way ))) of the samurai )))) 

Black Venus: I think it’s important to think, because you're, the emotions change so much I think it’s important to think about catharsis when you’re in a really like, calm and loving and open state and I think it’s important to think about catharsis when you’re raging as well, because the catharsis is finding the opposite of where you’re in so when you’re like in a really calm state and you’re like “oh that doesn't matter”, maybe what you need is a little bit of rage to kind of repower yourself and think actually this is really urgent and just because things are OK now doesn't mean that they’re always going to be.

And then when you’re sitting in rage and things are like, fucking crazy, 

 **voice echoing and coming through an effect**  

Black Venus: then you need to be like “ okay my catharsis is finding the calm in this crazy storm”,

finding that place inside this. You know that’s a little bit more erm, even. So I think it’s just about finding the Yin to the Yang in whatever situation you’re in. 

** faint sound of waves crashing** 

Meera: I wanted to ask you, about erm, your recent move towards MMA fighting? Ermm, and within MMA, do you still hold this spiritual practice within your fighting and like, how does it work? Because obviously you're not as in tune with the same person because you’re not necessarily…

Black Venus: you’re trying to punch them in the face? 

Meera: yeah **both laughing** 

Black Venus: I think, I mean, I think it is a spiritual experience because it's still a communication and it’s still, the preparation and the mental space you have to put yourself in so going back to what I was saying before about these two approaches like a very sporty kind of approach and the philosophical, a more kind of like philosophical approach, I still think, that you kind of unwittingly enter this sort of strange space where you’re in like a very intense situation and you’re fighting someone

Black Venus: Also I have noticed that women I think in general tend to have a different approach to that sport in general, because there is just so many extra steps, like it shouldn't be so difficult like to be a female martial artist in the sense of this like, there's not that  many of us doing it really, and yeah it’s so difficult to like just get a fight for example it’s still so, it’s difficult to get sponsorship it’s difficult to be visible, like all of that stuff is like, incredibly difficult so 

Meera: Why, Why is that? 

Black Venus: Just because there is less interest, there is less interest, people don't really want to watch women's sports I guess and have less interest in, particularly in women being strong and fierce, like that, you know that aggression, I think, I mean women's MMA is like massively on the rise, like incredibly and there are some real superstars, yeah I think there’s just a lot of things you have to think about and you know, things, things like childbirth, if you want to have kids we spoke about a little bit before and you know, for a week every month you’re going to feel a little bit off-

But I just, I really dont see it as any different to like any other extreme sport really like when I look at like, snowboarders for example I’m like “fuck that shit I’m not fucking like, hurtling down a mountain at however many miles per hour” so I think it’s just also, it’s what you get used to and I’m used to like, close contact sports now 

Meera: mmmm yeah, 

Black Venus: I’m used to like, getting a little bit roughed up. 

Meera: For me I think of it as distinct because… I guess, and I don't know if this is just because I’m not a martial arts person or an MMA fighter, yet, is 

Black Venus: soon come, 

** both laughing* *

Meera: Is that it’s almost like it’s facing something that I’m afraid of in day to day life? 

Black Venus: yeah 

Meera: Which kind of isn't, maybe I’m a little bit scared of falling down a mountain but Im not, that isn't something which I’m very scared of but-

Black Venus: Cause you dont come up with a lot of like, downhill mountains!

Meera: yeah exactly, but I think that with fighting and with being like, you know that something which we come face to face with quite a lot? 

Black Venus: yeah, cause I’ve been, obviously I’ve been thinking about it more recently, and I think what is not ,the bit that is difficult, I mean obviously being hit is difficult and it’s that thing of like getting back up again that’s difficult and, it’s the vulnerability that it’s such a vulnerable feeling, like I know, you know, sometimes I’ve been in classes before and I’m like, I’ve just, something’s gone wrong like I haven’t gotten something or someone’s hit me, I’ve been on my period, everything’s very like intense and I have to go to the bathroom and just cry, cause it’s, you’re so exposed when you’re fighting, I think that’s the hardest thing

Black Venus: Is that if you show any kind of vulnerability whatsoever that can go against you in the fight like in terms of who was the more dominant one if you kind of wince or whatever that all goes against you, very vulnerable space and I think, it’s actually, you’re right it’s very reflective of real life because if, when you, when you’ve put yourself, if you’re having an argument for example in front of people, that’s a very vulnerable space, people are looking at you, people want to see what the outcome is, and you might potentially lose, so you have to, it’s the vulnerability I think that is so intense, cause you might lose a race, but it’s that one on one situation that’s so, yeah that’s quite unique, in martial arts

Meera: yeah 

Black Venus: If there is any moment of like, you’re not in alignment with yourself then that’s, someone could take advantage of that, so you have to be completely switched on all the time and intuitive and that’s one thing, that’s really, interesting about fighting is

 **sound of rain in the background**  

when you’re for example, evading a punch or a kick, or you’ve checked a kick, or you’ve blocked something and then you’re counter attacking, a lot of it is actually, watching the other person to see what they’re going to do, but a lot of it is also intuiting what they’re going to do which is, the hard part because you have to have fought so many people and practiced so much that you know, in like a short space of time you’re like, they could be doing this many things, but I know they’re going to do this thing and I’m going to move my head to the right so that the punch misses me and like this whole mind thing has happened in like, less than a second, so it’s 

Meera: and if you falter, your done

Black Venus: If you falter or if you’ve made, if you’ve intuited wrongly or you go against your intuition and say “oh actually I’m going to!” , then you’re fucked, you have to commit completely to everything.

Meera: mmmmm… Do you feel like this fighting helps you be more intuitive? Generally? 

Black Venus: yeah it does

Meera: It’s all we’ve got really isn't it? 

Black Venus: yeah, it is literally all we have and it’s like, that’s how you survive, there’s like, for example, certain things that we’ve been talking about and I’m like, sometimes I just haven’t trusted my intuition and i’ve just ended up in a bit of a situation so…

Meera: Sometimes I trust my intuition and then I go against it. 

Black Venus: Yes, why do we do that? 

** both laughing ** 

Black Venus: What is that, like? 

Meera: We should stop doing that!

Black Venus: Literally and then afterwards you're like, there was absolutely no reason why that should have happened! 

Black Venus: Obviously like Martial arts is the, is the metaphor that I use because that is my practice but I also don't think it is necessarily like, more or less of a practice than anything else, um, there is a lot of things that one can do that like, requires you know, physical things that requires balance, that require foresight and to not be complacent, anything that you do that’s physical, like I, I definitely believe that anything can be a practice, a hundred percent, any physical / um, creative practice can be your spiritual practice. It’s about the intention, I don't see it as any different to like, anything else that requires dedication

** music playing , chimes ** 

Black Venus: So first I think you need to identify exactly what it is that is causing you grief or anger or causing you the discomfort and be honest about what it is and not be sort of vague about it either like if it’s, if it’s your job for example, “Oh I hate going into work”, OK but why do you hate going into work? Is it that you hate the job itself? or is it that you hate someone who works at the job? Or is it that you’re being abused there? or is it that you know what is it exactly?? That is happening. 

And then I would say that the second thing to do then is to think about what you would need to do, how you could change, your approach to the situation and when I say approach I’m not saying blame yourself for what’s happening. What are the practical things that are at your disposal that would enable you to change your circumstances? Are you only in that job because you think it’s the only thing that’s accessible to you right now? Or are you only dealing with that person because you’re worried that you're in such close proximity, and then think what do you have to lose about changing that situation?


Because I think we, you know, when I get stuck in a situation I’m like “OK well, I’m angry at this, I’ve identified what it is now, but I’m scared about what’s happening”, I think giving yourself space to be upset about, even, even, like if it, even if it makes you more angry, Why can’t you change it? Who is stopping you? like, allow yourself the full depth and range and complexities of your emotions, first, and then you can you can start finding ways of expressing that, either if it’s, you know, whatever medium you have, like before we were saying that martial arts is just one of many practices that is a practice you know. 

Really focus on that in your practice and really find creative solutions to dealing with it, and visualise yourself changing the situation, visualize yourself speaking to that person and telling them to stop, visualise yourself leaving your job,  just visualise how you would approach that situation and if you’re the kind of person, who is, you know who really suppresses their emotions, that is a whole exploration in itself but I think that, you know, exploring that can sometimes bring up a lot, so I think sometimes just visualising yourself you know everyday, I visualize myself, OK if I’ve been assaulted, I visualise being attacked and then what I would do to respond to that I visualise myself having interactions with people and having discussions with cause I was never like that, I cannot explain to you people, I think get really shocked when I tell them how passive I used to be so it’s been like a real journey in terms of like getting to the point where I will scream at my landlord to her face

**breaking into laughter**

to change something, no but seriously it has taken me like a long time to get to that point 

Meera: I felt so comforted by you saying that just now because I do that too, I visualize things and I often, say if I’ve had like um, a most common time is if someone harrasses me on the street 

Black Venus: Yeah 

Meera: and I become obsessed with all the things I didn't say and I visualize what I would say-

Black Venus: Yeah yeah 

Meera: And I always think of it as a really negative thing that I do?  

Black Venus: No, not at all

Meera: But it’s nice to be able to think oh maybe this is actually a way to control the situation in my own terms.

Black Venus: Yeah, because also like, you can’t change the past but you can have some agency over what happens in the future, and things happen again and again, and you will have another opportunity to prove yourself and to do something that will, cause I think justice is important and it annoys me when people say “Oh don’t worry about it” Like, no, I am worrying about it, it affects my mental health, I don’t like being treated in that way. Of course you should worry about it, you should be like, you don’t deserve that!! So like, what do you-how can you change your future interactions? I think it’s really important to think about that.

** sound of rain falling ** 

Meera: Catharsis, to purify, to purge, release, relief, strength… oh no, release strong emotions 

Black Venus: I think my favourite synonym is purge, cause purify has kind of like, positive connotations, purge is just something that needs-purging is like, is not necessarily like a nice thing.

Meera: No, it can be disgusting.

Black Venus: It’s disgusting, yeah,  

Meera: And it can be-you can like, you can be sick everywhere. 

Black Venus: Yeah yeah exactly and indiscriminately and you’re like “shit! I didn't mean to put that over th-like to -

Meera: And you like, ruin the environment, you know what I mean?

Black Venus: Yeah! 

**breaking into laughter**

Meera: But you needed to do it, 

Black Venus: Yeah *laughing* 

Meera: And even though you’ve ruined the environment you kind of feel better?

Black Venus: Yeah exactly 

Meera: **laughing** 

Black Venus: and I think also that something that isn’t necessarily accessible to women is that purging thing and being lie *pause*  I’m a bit, you know that’s like, my favourite goddesses are like, the one like, Kali Na ))))) echoing  

You know that's the point of her, it’s not meant to be, she’s purging, you know, she’s not sitting there pretty and like, trying to make everything nice, no, you have to get rid of it and sometimes you don’t know where, you don’t know where the crap is going to land. You just have to… yeah you just have to commit to the purge and then, trust in the process, it is a process, it’s not just, you know won and done, it’s, you might have to revisit the disgusting bits. 

Meera: Yeah you might have to purge everyday, 

Black Venus: Yeah.

** sound of birds chirping, wind in a tunnel, people laughing in the distance **


Black Venus: I would like to invite you back to your body. 

Back to the centre of your Universe. 

Let us take some time to come back to our bodies, to move through discomfort, lethargy, or detachment and spend an intimate moment with your physical being.

 **sound of waves washing gently ashore, birds chirping in the background, throughout **

Black Venus: Take a comfortable seated position. 

You should feel comfortable yet alert. 

It may help to leave your eyes open. 

Take a few moments to become aware of how your body feels. 

Where is there pleasure? 

Where is there discomfort? 

Make some adjustments to your position if you need.


Black Venus: Begin by taking notice of your breathing. 

The simple, regular breath. 

Awareness can often make us change our habits, but in this initial moment, we only want to become aware of our normal breathing rate. 

Notice the texture, the depth, and the tone of your breathing. 

Become acquainted with your breath and its rhythm.

** gentle sounds of waves, wind, insects, birds  **

Black Venus: Now I invite you to actively modify the breath. When you are ready, inhale and hold the top of the breath for one count, then exhale and hold the bottom of the breath for one count.

Inhale 2 3 4 hold. 

Exhale 2 3 4 hold. 

Inhale 2 3 4 hold. 

Exhale 2 3 4.     

It should feel comfortable and flowing.  

Gradually allow the breath to integrate with your respiratory system so that, at this present time, it becomes natural and embodied. 

If you can, stop counting and simply feel intuitively the pace at which you respire. 

** gentle sound of waves washing ashore, birds chirping in the background, throughout  **

Black Venus: Now I invite you to bring your attention to the solar plexus. 

As we continue the same measured breath, we are now going to visualise a tiny golden ember appearing, like a miracle, at the point of the sacral chakra.

This ember is bright, as bright as the light of a thousand suns. It burns brightly, as you breathe with ease.       

As we continue to breathe, we are going to imagine the ember glowing brighter and brighter.      becoming larger and larger, glowing  brighter and brighter until the ember is a sphere the size of a football, gently heating your sacral area. 

With this warmth, we feel something shift within us.   

You begin to feel a sense of dawning awakeness and a sharpening awareness of the physical body. 

We begin to feel increasingly grounded and rooted in the physical body. We begin to feel centered, nourished and at home within this physical body. 

We are going to sit with this glowing orb illuminating our sacral space with this measured breath.

And as we sit with this energy we feel a growing sense of connectedness to our physical self, and re-embrace this connection with compassion, with ease and with confidence. 

This concentrated ball of energy that has manifested itself within the sacral space, now begins to diffuse as you breathe with ease, golden particles begin to percolate around the body, travelling up and across and down and all around your body. 

This light moves through you settling into the parts of yourself that are visible and parts that are hidden. 

You see yourself illuminated from the depths of yourself shines the light that you yourself have manifested.

Now I invite you with this vision still vivid in your mind, to slowly and gently open your eyes.     Keeping the lids heavy, the breath easy and the body still, we can see, feel, hear, taste and smell, this golden matter moving like wildfire across the body, this golden essence of the self.


** gentle sound of waves washing ashore, throughout** 

Black Venus: Finally, begin to become aware of your presence, a body brimming with golden light, you fill the room you currently occupy with the same radiance and bask in this radiance that emerges from within.

 I invite you to thank your body for it’s capacity to sit with itself, to come to terms with itself, without judgement and for your mind to embrace it  with compassion, with confidence and with love. 

When you're ready and in your own time you may end the practice.

**meditation gong chimes**

Meera: My name is Meera Shakti Osborne. I am the editor and curator of this work. I am responsible for the shape this piece has taken. Part of the process of creating this work has been exploring ways to tell stories, make an archive that feels generative and inclusive. Everything you have heard is what the participant and myself have chosen to share with you 

We welcome feedback and encourage you to visit, to see the rest of the archive and to get in touch with us. This work has been funded by Arts Council England Project Grant. Thanks for listening.

Audio mixed and mastered by Alex Sushon

Transcription by Hania Mariam Luthufi