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with Lorraine Lafata, MSW, LICSW

What this page is about:
We invite you to tell us your stories of healing and bellydance. Lorraine Lafata, bellydancer and licensed therapist (M.S. W., L. I. C. S. W.) will facilitate an interactive monthly column here devoted to this subject. Send us your questions, insights and stories of How Belly dancing has Been a Healing Dance In My Life, or the Life of Someone Close to Me. Each month we will post one story from readers, as well as post Lorraine's commentary on a requested topic or question. The goal is to expand our understanding of the bellydance, and its potential.

Lorraine has been a therapist for 20 years. A founding member of "the Goddess Dancing," she is currently a collaborator in "Sacred Source Bellydance". Both are women’s dance collectives in Boston, dedicated to furthering the empowerment of women through dance and ritual. Lorraine has been working with women in class rooms, in private practice, and in prisons and institutional situations. Her life is dedicated to helping women heal their woundedness and celebrate their wholeness. For many years she has combined the traditional practices of her professional training with the personal relationship with her art. She has found that belly dance offers us much more than fun, physical exercise and fantasy. In fact, women everywhere report their interest and experience with the dance has made a powerful difference in their lives for mental, physical, psychic and spiritual healing.

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July 2003, Column #6:

The Embracing Aphrodite Series

In this column, I share the course description of a four-part workshop series I teach in Boston. If you are interested in sponsoring this series in your area, please contact Delilah and she’ll forward your request to me.
— Lorraine

Portrayed in myth and popular culture as a shallow, vain and vindictive creature, Aphrodite is amongst the most misunderstood and devalued of goddess archetypes. Guardian of love, sex, passion, pleasure and beauty, she is the initiator of all of life’s most basic and vital forces. Without the erotic impulse, that is at the core of the Aphrodite experience, nothing changes, nothing grows, and nothing gets born. Yet, in our culture, we alternately trivialize and demonize Aphrodite, and her energies. Given this cultural overlay, it's little wonder that for many of us, the Aphrodite areas of life, are all too often fraught with conflict, confusion and pain.

In this series of workshops, we will look beneath the surface stereotypes that surround Aphrodite. Using group discussion, movement mediation, visualization and ritual, we will explore the life energies that are Aphrodite's province; reclaiming our right to passionate relationship, authentic action, self enjoyment, self love and self adornment. Working together in circle, to create safe and honoring space, we will affirm the true nature of Aphrodite within ourselves, and within the world.

Workshop 1
Flowering, Fruiting and Seeding: Aphrodite Throughout the Life Cycle

Aphrodite is a goddess, with many associations and many meanings. As a springtime goddess, she is often understood to be a goddess of youth and beauty. Yet, young women in our culture have had very little initiation into, or support around, the positive uses of Aphrodite energy. Bombarded with societal images of how to look, and how to feel, young women are mostly left to their own devices, as they negotiate, the truly complex task of developing a healthy sense of self, and a healthy means of relating to others.

As the women move into motherhood, the messages around Aphrodite continue to be confusing and contradictory. Can you be sexual and motherly at the same time? Should you be? Is self adornment a self indulgence, when you're nurturing other little beings? Is it even possible? Can spontaneous passion be scheduled into the few, free, moments of the day, when you're not exhausted and over extended? Do you even want to try? Many mothering women struggle with these and other Aphrodite questions, alone and without community, to bear witness and mirror their experience.

As we age, and move into middle life and beyond, we are urged to buy products that preserve and protect the illusion of youth and beauty. Yet, at no time, are we given real information about the great potential available to us, as we let go and release, into the ripening and deepening of the Aphrodite force in our lives. We are told that sensuality and eroticism are behind us. And, we are left on our own to reconcile society’s dismissive stance with our own inner reality. A reality which may find us, finally, strong and adventurous enough to claim and explore passion, in new and extraordinary ways

In this workshop, using group discussion, movement mediation, visualization and ritual, we examine the changing and shifting nature of the Aphrodite impulse throughout the life cycle. We will create safe space in which to speak our truth about our experience of Aphrodite in our lives, and seek creative solutions to the challenges of living an Aphrodite inspired life, in a non-Aphrodite world .

Workshop 2
Embracing Aphrodite: The Path of Beauty

Beauty is every women’s birthright. Yet, bringing oneself into the right relationship with beauty seems a daunting, and sometimes impossible task. In our culture of mass consumerism and rigidly proscribed body types, we often end up experiencing beauty as a trap. The trap snaps shut, holding us captive and forcing us to measure ourselves against a standard that’s not our own.

It’s time to take beauty back into our own hands. In this workshop, using rhythm, visualization, group discussion and movement meditation, we refashion beauty in our own image. Imagine, beauty as a doorway, we can walk through. When we open the door, we find our sisters waiting there to greet us. We see our own beauty mirrored in their eyes. We know that our beauty does not detract from their beauty, but rather exists in connection and support of it. We are most beautiful when we are beautiful, together.

Workshop 3
Embracing Aphrodite: Empowered Sexuality Through Belly Dance

Belly dance, in its oldest and purest form, brings women together in shared community to exchange knowledge about birthing, self love, self adornment and sisterhood. The dance's deepest intention is to liberate the pelvis, free the belly and open the heart.

Using visualization, group discussion and the movement vocabulary of belly dance, we will reclaim our right to embodied, empowered sexual expression. Working in safe space, we learn to trust the power of our flesh, embrace our individual beauty and become fully loving and present in our bodies.

Workshop 4
Embracing Aphrodite: Passion and Pleasure Reclaimed

In the” Charge of the Goddess,” Starhawk writes, “All acts of love and pleasure are my rituals.” By reclaiming our right to take part in loving and pleasurable acts, we fly in the face of our driven and deadening culture. We have so many prohibitions against pleasure, and yet, we yearn to make space for it in our lives. In workshop, we explore and expand our relationship to food, fun, sensuality, shopping and all other creative forms of self love.

If you would like to ask a question or submit a story of your own, email it to us at:


It's best to include your story in the body of the email. If you must include it as an attachment, please save it as a Text file (rather than a file from a specific progam) before attaching it, if you can.

Article Archives:

Healing Through Belly Dance, Column #5

Belly Dance to Inspire Healing, Column #4

Embodied Sexuality and Female Power, Column #3

Belly dance as Storytelling Art, Column #2

Belly dance as Healing Dance, Column #1

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