Sacred Woman – Queen Afua | Book Review

  reading time: 10 min

This is the first part of a new series I want to introduce to my blog: book reviews. Reviews on self-healing and self-discovery books, to be exact.

I have been on a path of self-healing for some time now, and there are a couple of books that have had a fundamental impact on me. In the hopes that they may also inspire you – and also to remind myself of their key messages – I want to share a brief summary and my thoughts on those books as we go along.

During my 2 week at-home Ayurvedic cleanse in February I first read the book Sacred Woman: A Guide to Healing the Feminine Body, Mind, and Spirit (2000) by the holistic health expert and wellness coach Queen Afua. It was one of the most inspiring reads of all time! My fiancé had gifted me this almost 500-page workbook for my birthday the previous year, and I immediately fell in love with this holistic (and plant-based!) approach on self-healing and "womb-an-ness" by Queen Afua.

Her writings are noticeably rooted in ancient Egyptian culture and tradition, and this book is written primarily for an African (Afrakan) or African American audience, which I don't belong to. However, if I understand her correctly, in Queen Afua's view Africa (Afraka) is basically the womb of the world, with "the First Mother" being "the sacred Afrakan woman", so I believe that this book is not just for black women, but for each and every woman or human who identifies as female. In fact, her book is dedicated to "the first mothers and healers of the planet, the Afrakan woman, and women globally who are in need of wellness".

So if you identify as a "womb-an" either in terms of sex or in terms of gender, and if you are in need of healing, be that physical, emotional or mental, then I say: feel free to read and benefit from this wonderful guide!

A Summary

In a nutshell, Sacred Woman is Queen Afua's holistic path to health, purifying the body, mind and spirit. It is a transformative textbook for women of colour and women globally who are out of tune, and who want to be in tune again. Sacred Woman uses hydrotherapy, herbology, diet, aromatherapy, and exercise to heal the feminine mind, body and spirit. It particularly follows the ancient way of life and spiritual practices from the Khamitic culture of the Nile.

This book contains an introduction to Khamitic Nubian philosophy and the 42 laws of Maat, anecdotes from Queen Afua's life, other testimonials, affirmations, recipes, a womb wellness chart, the daily rhythm of The Sacred Clock, and – one of my personal favourites – the 25 natural-living womb rejuvenation techniques, among other things. During the Nine (or actually ten) Gateways of Initiation, Queen Afua provides daily spiritual observances such as bathing, altar time, praying, practising fire breath, using herbal tonics and flowers essences. She also provides dietary practices and a seven-day transformative worksheet for each gateway / week.

"Heal Thyself" Philosophy and what a Sacred Woman is 
Prior to Sacred Woman, Queen Afua published a similar call-to-wellness book called Heal Thyself: For Health and Longevity in 1991, which apparently focusses on healing through a clean diet, eliminating sugar, salt, meat, processed foods, and alcohol, as well as fasting, using enemas, meditating, taking herbal baths, and exercising to live a more fulfilling life. While I haven't read that book, it has helped thousands of women to reclaim their health.

The "heal thyself" philosophy involves self-healing through purification, meditation,
healing foods, herbs, prayer, affirmations, visualizations, sacred movements, altar work, and aromatherapy to purify and rejuvenate the Body Temple in order to achieve harmony of the soul, body, and mind, and in this case, a disease-free vibrant womb.

Through healing ourselves, we can rise from a diseased, stressed and unhappy woman to a Sacred Woman.

Now what is a Sacred Woman?

I will quote from the book to give a true definition of what a Sacred Woman is:
"As you transform from a wounded woman to a Sacred Woman, you will evolve from a frightened, withdrawn state to a courageous one. You will move from confusion to serenity; from mistrust to trust; from spite to compassion and love; from weakness to empowerment; from being an unconscious woman to being a wise woman. You will move from a disturbed mind to a divine mind; from restlessness to contentment; from boredom to creativity; from a suppressed woman to an expressive one. You will rise from a deflated woman to an inspired woman; from a depressed woman to a joyful one; from a disease-infested person to a disease-free one; from a dishonest woman to an honest woman; from a follower to a leader and freethinker; from a pessimist to an optimist. Like a lotus in the sun, you will blossom into a radiant Sacred Woman." (p. 3 f)

In other words: A Sacred Woman is someone who dwells in their divine femininity, in their spirituality, in inner peace, full of love and grace. Someone who has healed themselves and can now spread healing amongst others. Someone who celebrates their natural beauty in all ways. Someone who uplifts and encourages others. Someone who is in their power (empowered), free, and in harmony with everything around them. Someone whose heart is as light as a feather. Someone who has risen to their full potential. Their Highest Self.

That is a Sacred Woman.

If you like, you can think of her as a high priestess of healing :-)

The Nine Gateways

In order to transform yourself into a Sacred Woman, you are supposed to grow, heal and evolve by passing through the Nine Gateways* of Initiation or Transformation. Gateway 0 technically doesn't fall under this category, but is listed under "Womb Wisdom" instead. I am mentioning it here anyway.
Gateway 0: The Sacred Womb 

Cleanse and heal your womb.
Gateway 0 guides you to cleanse toxic thoughts, foods, and attitudes out of your Body Temple to heal the womb on a physical, mental, and spiritual level. It teaches a natural approach to living food, as well as womb rejuvenation techniques, womb affirmations, and womb meditations.
Gateway 1: Sacred Words

Cleanse and transform your words.

In Gateway 1 you learn to transform and empower the words you speak, using affirmations, a talk fast, and reflecting on your choice of words. For example, rather of saying "I am tired", say "I need rest." Remember that words can heal, soothe, or hurt.

Gateway 2: Sacred Foods

Cleanse and revitalize your diet.

Gateway 2 teaches you to start using food as medicine, and also transform your kitchen into a sacred healing space. It encourages a plant-based, mostly raw vegan diet as well as regular fasting. After all, you are what you eat. Everything we consume literally becomes a part of us!
Gateway 3: Sacred Movement

Revitalize and harmonize your body.

Gateway 3 focusses on unblocking the emotional and physical body by using fluid movement to create harmony and flexibility in the body, mind, and spirit. This includes a sequence of physical exercises
called "Dance of the Womb" that is based on Khamitic / Kemetic yoga. Move forward!

Gateway 4: Sacred Beauty

Embrace your divine beauty within and without.

Gateway 4 is about meeting and healing your inner child, and to allow your natural inner beauty to shine. Bring harmony into every aspect of your life, and transform our world and everything in it for the good and the beauty of humanity. Shine your light!

Gateway 5: Sacred Space

Purify and transform your space.

In Gateway 5 you learn to
spiritualize the space you live and work in by clearing out clutter, and bringing your home and work space into clean order that will create balance and harmony within your life. This falls under the motto of "clear space, clear mind".

Gateway 6: Sacred Healing

Heal yourself and others.

Gateway 6 is all about healing, and gaining the knowledge and confidence to "heal thyself". It introduces a number of healing practices, such as breathwork, laying on of hands, channelling, healing crystals, healing herbs, numerology and pendulum work.

Gateway 7: Sacred Relationships

Purify and heal your relationships.

Gateway 7 is about going within and reflecting on lessons, as well as healing or releasing any toxic or dysfunctional relationships which will then energize your life. The extent to which you heal yourself is the extent to which you will be able to heal all your relationships.

Gateway 8: Sacred Union

Heal and harmonize your romantic relationship(s).

Gateway 8 will help you eliminate all blockages that prevent a fulfilling, healthy intimate relationship. It also explains the transformation from sexual intercourse to holistic lovemaking. By balancing the masculine and the feminine principles, you will come into harmony and as a result attract a divine soulmate.

Gateway 9: Nefer Atum: The Sacred Lotus Initiation

Bloom into a full Sacred Woman.
Lastly, Gateway 9 guides you through the "rebirth" as a Sacred Woman, the reflection or manifestation of your higher self.
Celebrate this transformation through a ritual such as chanting, prayers, smudging, spiritual offerings, and perhaps taking on a new "Sacred" name.
* NOTE: In the updated and expanded 20th anniversary edition of the Sacred Woman handbook that was published in 2021 there are twelve Gateways of Initiation instead of ten. The additional Gateways are Gateway 10: Sacred Time (rise at 4 o'clock, "wombnifest" from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., practice self-care between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., and recharge throughout the night) and Gateway 11: Sacred Work (live out your purpose, know your vision, your life's mission, spiritualize the service you offer).


Who Will Benefit From This Book
People who suffer from
irregular, absent, heavy or painful menstrual bleeding and clotting
womb infections
uterine/cervical cancer
genital prolapse
sexually transmitted diseases
inability to experience orgasm
hormonal imbalance
sexual trauma

People who are pregnant or are trying to conceive
People who underwent an abortion or experienced a miscarriage
People who are in unhealthy relationships
People who suffer from mood swings, depression, anger or self-hatred
People who lost their creativity and zest for life

People who want to re-connect with their own feminine energy
People who want to know more about divine femininity and women
So basically: Everyone will benefit from this book! ☺️

(This should go without saying, but this book is obviously not a treatment for any of the listed diseases! It's critical to seek the help of licensed health professionals such as a gynaecologist, fertility specialist, psychotherapist etc. in addition to undergoing the womb wellness program.)

Final Thoughts

There are definitely parts of this textbook that don't really resonate or work for me personally, such as: 
  • the raw vegan lifestyle – tried that a few years ago, but didn't work with my Ayurvedic constitution and the temperatures here in Northern Germany
  • taking a bath everyday – is not compatible with my environmental awareness, and I also don't have a bathtub currently
  • some of the required tools – such as flower essences, certain essential oils and crystals, plants, herbs, clothes etc. were unavailable where I live and generally a little overwhelming and off-putting
  • I also don't have a connection to the Egypt mythology that is often referred to, but the Sacred Woman lifestyle is adaptable for all religions luckily

Nevertheless, I would say that the general message and philosophy of this book was incredibly inspiring, empowering and helpful for me. I especially appreciate the detailed recommendations and the weekly transformative worksheet, the recipes for herbal tonics etc, the numerous tools, and just the overall volume of information. Oh, and I also appreciate the detailed index at the end of the book, which allows you to look up certain topics.

My favourite chapters to read were Sacred Beauty,
Sacred Healing, Sacred Union, Sacred Space, Sacred Movement, and the Twenty-Five Natural-Living Womb Rejuvenation Techniques (p. 96-101). But what I loved the most about this book is how much I learned to honour my womb and everything about being a woman – from doing vaginal clay packs to taking an "air bath" by yourself. I think it's even more powerful when reading this with a couple of female friends, or at least one other woman, to discuss it with.

This is a book that you can and should read several times, as it contains so much information!

Since I also underwent the actual 3-month Sacred Woman program that is suggested in the book, you can look forward to a blog post all about my experience with the program next week!

Until then, I hope you are well and perhaps find encouragement in this guide to healing the feminine body, mind, and spirit. I am rooting for you!

In the words of Queen Afua: "Now it is your time – the time to reclaim your self and unleash your power as a Sacred Woman."

Have you read "Sacred Woman"? What are your thoughts?
Let me know in the comments!