Women Dancing

Mission & Origin Story

MISSION

Amrita Institute is a women-led organization devoted to reviving the Feminine Spiritual Experience through curated programs and events.

Our Origin Story

Amrita Institute emerged so serendipitously that I’ve often wondered at her evolution, feeling it nothing less than miraculous. Initially, the vision for Amrita came in response to my personal frustration with what I perceive as an inadequacy in the current mainstream, “new-age” spirituality—  a tendency to spew narratives of purity, white light, and worldly transcendence while simultaneously diminishing the entire aspect of divine manifestation that displays itself as immanence, embodiment, and the darkness which not only implies the shadows of the living world and the human psyche that are no less sacred and holy than their polar opposite, but also our deepest capacities for inwardness and courageous self-reflection, without which, maturation into a fully integrated human being is simply impossible.

A spiritual narrative that only gives voice to aspects of reality represented by metaphors of light while ignoring, marginalizing, and even silencing the voices bearing metaphors of equally fundamental and essential darkness, felt specifically misrepresentative of my personal experience as a woman. My spiritual practice is about tending to, not bypassing, the flames of my inner desires; it is about nurturing the internal chaos from which creativity arises. I am met with the awareness that passing through these inner landscapes leads to an unbounded sense of liberation while supressing, denying, or avoiding them has left me, and indeed leaves most of us, truncated or cut off from the full dynamic range of our humanity and vitality.

The dominant “new-age” narratives, crying for “peace” and “light,” seemed to ignore the essential journey of descent required for attaining the very depth of integration and realization which give birth to the all-pervading peace and vital radiance that these voices themselves are defending.

Speaking in intimate discussion with the soon-to-be members of Amrita about my frustrations, it became clear that I was not alone.

The questions that kept arising:

Where are the stories told by women about our relationship with divinity?  Where are the stories of mystical experiences in childbirth, or ecstatic revelations received while making love? Where are the stories where the power of feeling together transforms even grief and loss into an experience of ecstasy? 

The majority of religious and spiritual texts we know of today reflect only the experiences of men, who, for the most part, were absolutely terrified of feminine sexuality and dubbed it as “sinful” and “impure” as justification for their temptations to merge with its irresistibly seductive and radiant magnetism. These narratives about female sexuality have been perpetuated for thousands of years, and have been deeply ingrained into our collective cultural psyche, contributing to immeasurable harm towards women’s sexual sovereignty. Only until I began the arduous work of deconstructing these harmful beliefs from my own psyche did I begin to learn just how deeply spiritual and powerful my erotic embodiment really is, eventually feeling inspired to share my discoveries with other women so they too can re-kindle their relationships with their own spiritual/sexual power.

Even though women’s stories and experiences have been severed from the mainstream spiritual narrative, they are certainly not lost or forgotten. Our stories live deep within our bones, our wombs/womb-spaces, our hearts, and our souls… They have persisted… They have persisted and are longing to emerge from millennia of silence and oppression. They are longing to emerge in ecstasies of rage and ecstasies of celebration. They are longing to emerge in ecstasies of feeling so vast, so complex and diverse, that only the diversity of Creation itself can adequately express our voices.

It is through our bodies that we learn from one another how to access the wisdom that is innately ours. These body-to-body transmissions occur in the form of community ritual, song, dance, and prayer. Through our eroticism and sexuality, our creativity and embodiment, our chaos and our darkness, our yearning and our despair; through our relationship with nature and the elements; through our capacity to feel without seeing, to know without knowing, and to give birth to new life and come out on the other side still whole and intact yet completely transformed— these are our spiritual experiences, and it is time to recover them. It is time for our voices to rise up from the holy darkness. It is time for us to be heard.

Welcome to Amrita Institute.

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Nina Lombardo, Founder & Director