Why Red?

Photo by Loïc Fürhoff on Unsplash

Since the Kali dream, red has become more than just a color to me. Now it is charged with far more meaning. It represents the sacredness of the body, birth, and sexuality. It represents the generosity of a broken-open heart that radiates unfaltering love like an uncapped fire hydrant. Red represents the kind of love that reaches the places where we are most broken and most vulnerable. Red is the color of Mary Magdalene’s cape, the goddess Kali’s tongue, and Dinah’s tent or menstrual hut, in the Torah. With the Kali dream, red, for me, became a sacred reminder of the truth I had been converted to– that the Divine is also feminine. -Meggan Watterson, Reveal

Once again, at risk of sharing more about myself than propriety would encourage, my relationship with red began in 2015, when I read The Pregnant Virgin: A Process of Psychological Transformation by the great Jungian analyst Marion Woodman. The book contains anecdotes from Woodman’s work with some of her female analysands over the decades. Many of the woman were becoming ‘virgin,’ in the Woodman sense, not in the biblical sense. Think virgin rain forest-virgin, not never-had-sex-virgin. They were becoming one unto themselves, undivided, allowing their bodies to work through ancient rage, and coming all the way out the other side, as full, individuated women. It is a process of soul-making, soul-finding or soul reclamation. One woman stated that, in the midst of this process, she returned home from buying groceries after a day at her typical, breathless clip, blustering through her seemingly frantic daily activities, and after the door closed, she dropped the grocery bags and dropped to her knees, and stayed like that for a while. When she picked herself back up, she began to move around the house slowly, holding herself with complete reverence, like a priestess, she said. Often, profound dreams accompanied these processes of transformation, and all kinds of reclamations.

As I read, I felt myself entering the kind of process described in the book. In the midst of profound dreams, a deeper level of embodiment than I’d yet known, and all manner of synchronicities, I found myself craving the color red as if it was a nutrient I’d been deficient in my entire life. I had always identified as a ‘cool-colored person,’ if there is such a thing. Red was a profound reclamation for me. I wanted to be wrapped in it– I wanted red sheets, I wanted a red tent. I had no idea, still, what it all meant, but this process felt precious, even sacred, to me.

After the initial influence of this book began to wane, I was listening to Tami Simon’s podcast, Sounds True, one day, and I stumbled upon a recording that I hadn’t heard yet. The nerves in my legs felt electric when I saw the title: Red, Hot, and Holy, an interview with Harvard-trained theologian, Sera Beak. It felt like another synchronicity, another wink, another indication that maybe I had been “onto something” with my red kick.

I immediately gobbled all three of Sera’s books, The Red Book, Red, Hot and Holy, and Redvelations. I learned of Saint Sarah, or Sara-la-Kali, or Sarah the Black, the apocryphal daughter of Jesus and Mary Magdalene (whose nickname, as it happens, had been Red), patron saint of misfits and outcasts. There is a shrine dedicated to her at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer in southern France, where Romani people make pilgrimages each year and carry her effigy, in her red cape, down to the sea, where it is said the three Marys arrived on a boat as asylums after the crucifixion of Christ.

Whether you believe these stories are literally true, or just allegories, I feel an ancient and holy resonance through them, as if there is some lineage I can feel in them, and my soul knows that lineage, or hungers to return to it. It feels like a sacred feminine lineage. And I do not choose the word ‘feminine’ as a way to exclude anyone from a sense of this lineage on the basis of gender, as I believe we all contain the energies that might be described as ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’. It’s just that the feminine side of divinity has been excluded from the Western tradition for the last two millennia. Red became a reclamation of vitality, and my yes to life, all of it, as profound and as difficult as that can be.

Then, as fate would have it, I found the work of Meggan Watterson, a scholar of Divinity and Theological Studies. She has dedicated her life to unearthing the soul and the meaning of the buried Gospels of Mary Magdalene, and the meaning is feminist, it is beautiful, and it could not be more revolutionary. (Note: Her latest book, Mary Magdalene Revealed is beautiful, and red.) To put it very simply, the central teaching of those (literally) buried gospels is that no one needs any institution, other “more holy” person or intermediary of any kind to access the divine. It is right here, all the time, in the human heart. You can see why this was buried.

Meggan’s sense of red representing the kind of love that reaches the places where we are most broken and vulnerable is perfectly in line with the way I work in my practice. I lean much, much more into depth-oriented approaches than approaches geared towards excising what is unwanted. My approach treats the “problem” areas, the unwanted aspects of ourselves, or whatever we have relegated to shadow, as holding the key to our salvation, so that what seems to be in the way is the way. Meggan calls it healing all the way back and all the way through. It is an integration-oriented approach, an approach designed to help people become undivided, and able to love themselves all the way to the ground. Click the link below to call me for a free consultation and find out more.

Schedule/Reschedule Here

Published by annaliseoatman

I am a heart-centered, trauma-focused, licensed therapist with five years of experience working with traumatized, system-involved children and youth, adults moving through addiction and recovery, and older adults in skilled nursing facilities with HIV/AIDS-related health struggles. I earned an Oxbridge Masters in Philosophy (Mental and Moral Sciences) at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and a Masters in Social Work, with a concentration on mental health and direct clinical practice, at the University of Southern California. I love empowering, and healing trauma, and doing soul work with passionate, free-thinking, creative women, or anyone who has ever identified as having the female experience. My approach is warm, empathic and grounded, and I integrate an attachment perspective with a somatic and depth approach to healing trauma.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: