"DeShannon Bowens contributes to the much needed dialogue concerning the sacredness of sexuality, cultural influences on responses to sexual abuse and the important role of family in providing healthy sexual education. This collection of interviews will leave you thinking more deeply about your experiences, thoughts and feelings regarding sexuality. The stories told in Hush Hush can inspire readers to make more informed choices in the ways they approach intimacy, parenting and mental health."


Dr. Thema Bryant-Davis

Author of Thriving in the Wake of Trauma: A Multicultural Guide


DeShannon enjoys increasing awareness and changing lives by sharing information with others. While her preferred artistic expression is writing, she enjoys being interviewed on topics of sexuality & spirituality for podcasts like Unapologetic with Ebony and Janis as well as discussing African spirituality in Interfaith forums like United Palace’s Open Heart Conversations series.

DeShannon believes connecting with people on as many platforms as possible is the best way to facilitate change. Please enjoy some of her work below.


In this revised and expanded second edition of Hush Hush, DeShannon Bowens revisits her insightful interviews with the Peterson family. Bowens makes a compelling case that intergenerational healing from sexual abuse cannot happen in Black communities without releasing shame-based sexuality narratives from the past. Hush Hush, stresses the importance of empowered sexuality narratives and communication within families as a key component in preventing and ending child sexual abuse.

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A Road Less Traveled

By DeShannon Barnes-Bowens

This paper offers a glimpse into some of the author’s life experiences as an African American Ifa priestess and interfaith minister who finds meaning working in interfaith education in spite of the intersecting dynamics of racial and religious bias that often go unnoticed. It explains which religions were present at the first  Parliament of  World  Religions gathering in  1893,  who was excluded based on race and religion,  and how the history of that event may influence who we consciously or unconsciously see and value in interreligious and interfaith spaces today.

State of Formation

Articles by DeShannon Barnes-Bowens

The State of Formation is an online blog under the Journal of Interreligious Studies (JIRS). JIRS is a program of the Betty Ann Greenbaum Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership at Hebrew College and Boston University School of Theology.

ICNY interviews DeShannon about Sacred Sexuality

By Petra Halbur

The reconciliation of sexuality and spiritually – body and soul – is a struggle for many people. Yet DeShannon Barnes-Bowens, a psychotherapist and an orisa priestess in the Yoruba/Ifa tradition, has found that these two facets of identity are not only compatible but inherently linked. In her clinical work with survivors of sex­ual abuse, and through the organization she founded, ILERA Counseling & Education Services, Barnes-Bowens draws on psychotherapeutic and spiritual models of care to help people of all faith traditions bridge the sometimes painful gap between sexuality and spirituality.

Africa’s Love Supreme

By Corydon Ireland


A conference on April 11 at Harvard will examine varieties of “Love Supreme” in the faith traditions of the African diaspora. Scholars, students, artists, and elders will investigate and celebrate practices that, more often than not, were scattered through the world on the dark wings of the slave trade.

The World As Sacred

By Corydon Ireland

“Divine Space and Sacred Territories” sounds like something you find in church. But this felicitous phrase was the name of the inaugural conference of Harvard’s African and Diasporic Religious Studies Association, the only such group in North America.