“Shakti Rising is a social change organization transforming the lives of women, girls, and the larger community. Their mission – to empower women to uncover, rediscover, and reclaim their whole selves.”
Shannon Thompson, Birth mama (Founder) of Shakti Rising, explains in more detail the fundamental concept, the formidable achievements, the vision and the dream of this game-changing movement.
What inspired the inception of Shakti Rising and why the particular focus on women?
The real vision of Shakti Rising originated in waking dreams and visions that started when I was a teenager.However, I was unaware of this at the time. I was an awake, aware and in tune young person, living in a checked out, mainstream culture. It was confusing, to say the least.
After a few tumultuous years spent in the abyss of drugs and all that entailed, at 18 I made a decision to commit to my dreams and visions, and from that point on there was no turning back. The more I followed my trajectory and committed to what was calling me, the clearer my path and guidance became. The vision showed me what to do, including the fact that I needed to work with young women.
Shakti Rising blossomed from the discipline of me listening to serving the soul of the world. I have dedicated my entire life to social activism, community transformation and integrative healing. By far, the most important discipline I have cultivated is my ability to listen deeply and to be used and attuned to the seasons, the moon, our intuition and our ancestors.
I mentor women leaders all over the world who are seeking to lead the kind of life affirming changes in their communities in a variety of fields; from food to healthcare, from education to corporations. Shakti is about lifting women up and equipping them to build their own integrative systems. I am COMMITTED to the path of liberating women.
Shakti Rising received non-profit status in 1999. How has the organization evolved since then?
Shakti Rising was created and organized in the model of an international NGO in the understanding that it was about raising villages of leaders who were equipped to work within their communities and multiple systems and sectors. These women need to be leaders themselves, and also to embrace systems, processes and ways of organizing and working with everything from formal structures to businesses.
There are systems and ways and structures of being that are co creative and collaborative locating us back inside within the ecosystem that we live in, aligned with nature – and not against, affirming of diversity and cultural awareness and offering true sustainability.
Our most impactful work is through the Shakti Feminine University which has been going for 22 years. Our ultimate goal is to educate and to heal – we raise up leaders capable of guiding us into a new future.
What has changed since the beginning? Everything…the day of our inception we committed to being a living laboratory of feminine leadership, bringing new systems and structures that actually equipped people to change the good old way of business as usual. Shakti is committed to being a living experiment.
Is Shakti Rising solely US based or has it spread its wings across the globe?
We are global. However, I would like to say that we have a lot of work to do here in the US which is long overdue.
Very early on, when people learned about Shakti, they could see how differently we worked from others and that we were not stewarding ego or a Western dominated culture. We were subsequently invited to work all over the world, in places with many diverse cultures and peoples.
I was initially very cautious of this as there is an entire phenomenon of American philanthropists who have gone off to try and ‘save’ the world leaving behind a pile of unfinished business here on our doorstep. Being aware of this dynamic, I took things very slowly.
I am very forthright and honest with new partners and always make it very clear that we are all about learning together and discovering how we can create new pathways that can uplift women and children on the planet. This is by no means saviorism in any size, shape or form.
What can you tell us about your three programs: Transformational Recovery Program, Education and Community Wellness program and Leadership Development Services?
The Transformational Recovery Program is at work right now and we are currently doing a lot of consulting to other organizations and communities about what we have developed, designed and modeled over the last 20 years – it is trauma informed, women centric, sustainable, creatively based around a holistic community and is leadership oriented.
Our entire framework consists of putting healing back into the hands of the community where it belongs, and to break the trend of individual narcissistic systems. We do this work with women around the world, and women leading that work around the world, and to equip them to take this, in appropriate ways, into the settings they are working in.
The Shakti Feminine University is the largest umbrella of our work, as I mentioned earlier.
We have also focused a lot on financial resilience – teaching women to unpack economic assumptions on a micro and macro level and to address various aspects of money including money trauma, scarcity, challenges, definitions of success, equipping women to grow resilience and to unpack the idea that they can not challenge the system as it is.
Education on financial resilience is not too common, so we are working on expanding this, increasing accessibility and partnering in different countries and locations.
We offer leadership development and we also do consulting and coaching to other organizations and leaders in profit and non-profit around the world.
Visionary = Leader?
Not necessarily. I think there are plenty of visionaries who are terrible leaders, and I also think that there are many wonderful leaders who are not necessarily visionaries. When I refer to ‘vision’ – it lives and exists on a different level of understanding and knowledge. It is a different energetic imprint and is BIGGER than you. This is what I mean by visionary leadership. You KNOW the work you are doing is much longer than your arc.
To be both a visionary and leader in this world requires extraordinary commitment, spiritual practice, humility…and a healthy ego. Being responsible for something that is so large is quite a burden to carry…
I think that there are a lot of visionaries who are gifted with the ability to contact in that realm but who are not necessarily able to translate this into leadership just as I think most leaders operate in the realm of mental constructs.
Is money empowering when shown respect?
Money is like food or drugs. In some ways, it is value neutral. I would ask the more pertinent question of what your relationship is with money. As humans, there is great dignity and importance attached to making contributions – and women have worked and traded since the beginning of time – herbs, spices, medicine…the question is what are we doing it for?
Are we honoring life? Do we understand that the universe pays us in a thousand ways? Do we know what we value? Do we know the difference between our innate value and what we charge? – Human lives are invaluable.
Of course, money can be empowering, but the question is, do you want to take ownership of your experience, your life, integrity and values and be really clear on how you exchange energy, time and money?
What sums up your personal journey, Shannon?
I have chosen to become an alchemist of the impossible and am probably one of the best guides into the underworld. Part of the reason for this is that I have so much joy and grit in the work I do. I know what is good and true and whole. I want our daughters to have different problems to ours. I want things to evolve so that dignity and humanity reign.
I have lived this very ordinary, yet extraordinary life and it came from a conviction that there really was something more. I have refused to live anything less than that.
How do you see the future of Shakti Rising?
I am mentoring in the sunset of my time at the helm. I understand more today than I ever did about why I was chosen to birth the vision. I am faithful and am 100% committed to this vision and to being the hollow bone that the Universe sings its song through.
Shakti campuses around the globe are like acupuncture points – they are much needed. This village belongs to the future and the past – not me.