Women and Power – Wisdom Learned from Omega Institute’s Conference



Labyrinth at Omega Institute

This past weekend, I was very lucky. At this point in my life, I can see how blessed my life is. I have so much, not necessarily as material things, although I don’t lack there, but more importantly in opportunity. Over the past years since my late-husband’s death, my life has changed dramatically. His death, and some other life-changing experiences that I’ve written about before, catapulted me into a life of longing and searching for something I thought I needed, something I thought I did not have already. Sometimes, it takes searching out there to discover what you were searching for has been here all along.

This search has taken me to so many beautiful places and lands. It has allowed me to meet many wise people. I’ve been able to take in many words of wisdom, words that somewhere I already knew, but had no access to. We all have this within, yet sometimes we need guidance to find that which already resides in our own soul.

I share this sense of blessedness, because I know along with it is a responsibility to embrace what I’ve been given and offer it back to the world. Nothing is really ours. Everything is a gift, a gift to in turn be given again.

This past weekend, I once again found myself in a place where much wisdom was offered, much emotion was shared, and so much courage was modeled – Omega Institute’s Women and Power conference. Women such as Sister Joan Chittister, Sally Field, Eve Ensler, Isabelle Allende, Elizabeth Lesser, Jennifer Buffett, Majora Carter, Loung Ung, Pat Mitchell, Chung Hyun Kyung, and so many others, shared deep life experiences and the wisdom they’ve discovered from living them. There are so many things I soaked up over the weekend, so many AHAs, that it’s hard to resource it all into one post. But there are some moments that stood out for me.

Eve Ensler

Eve Ensler spoke of the multitude of atrocities perpetrated on women and children that she’s witnessed. In her words, “There is no word. I have not come close to finding the language to describe what I have seen.” 

She also spoke of the Cassandra myth, and how it is a curse that keeps women silent because we are considered lunatics when we tell the truth. {I will write more about this later}. Eve went on to mention the ways we break spells and curses:

1. We have each others’ backs. We stand with each other. We speak out immediately if we see a woman being labeled in such a way for speaking truth.

2. We create communities of love where we can tell our stories and be held, cuddled and loved. She shared The City of Joy in The Congo as an example.

Eve also mentioned that a part of the curse was this… She was waiting to be honored, loved, valued and approved of by the Patriarchy…and then she would would win…and she then wondered, win what? This was an AHA moment for her, and she realized there was no winning, but more importantly this was preventing her from living as ‘her full crazy self’.

Elizabeth Lesser

Elizabeth Lesser, author of Broken Open, spoke of the one thing she’s found from sitting with so many wise, alive people who’ve come to teach at Omega. She shared that no one person has the answer, no one can handle idolization, and it is our shared core humanness that has sets us free. She also shared how destructive it is when we “indulge in the habit of comparing”, and that, “No one is living the life you think they are.” She mentioned that Eve Ensler told her, “Everyone is just making it up, including presidents of countries. Everywhere I go, its just people making things up. You can do it, too.”

One last thing Elizabeth Lesser shared is her experience that “when you fully occupy yourself, vast reserves rush in to fill the space that was filled with self-doubt.”

Sister Joan Chittister

Perhaps the most amazing talk for me was the conversation between Pat Mitchell and Sister Joan Chittister. Sister Joan had an amazing transmission, so much that I, and the two women I was sitting between, had tears streaming down our faces through most of what she said. At one point, the woman on my left and I just turned to each other simultaneously and hugged each other. There was so much truth in Sister Joan’s words, as well as passion and fire, that my soul and heart just opened right there.

Her call to us was a call to speak up, to make others feel uncomfortable every time we speak, and to not stop speaking out. She shared with us the falsities of our current day, offering that the culture is not the place to look for truth. Her words, “Religion tells us who we are, and the media tells us who we are supposed to become.”, served to let us know to stop believing these sources of so much false cultural conditioning that does not serve women or anyone.

Insightful comment posted on the sharing board.

My takeaways?

Power, the power spoken of at Omega is the power of life, the power to serve life, the vast life force that is within each of us. Our power as women is to serve life, to serve the life that permeates all of existence, and to know that all of existence is sacred.

Our power is not like that which has been wielded over others to dominate and control. Our true power, the power that flows through us when we are embodying the feminine principle is the power to serve, and it is inclusive, holding, and connecting, and it weaves life together in a supportive bond.

Over 500 women sat in that hall over the weekend, women who are all vibrantly wanting to be part of this healing wave that women must step up to offer to the world. We, you and me, are not alone, sister. We are not alone.

What do you trust in so deeply within yourself that allows you to step out and speak out?

For me, I trust in my own creativity, my own sacredness, my own ability to be with whatever arises because I know that what I am IS the ability to respond to life with love. And, now I know I am also part of a global sisterhood that is rising. We are rising.




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10 Replies to “Women and Power – Wisdom Learned from Omega Institute’s Conference”

  1. Wow. I have been listening to Terry Tempest Williams latest book, When Women Were Birds. It’s all about Voice and it’s beautiful.

    We are a part of a Sisterhood that is growing and speaking the Truth. It’s about time!

  2. Namaste Julie,

    You paint my world with your powerful words. Thank you so much for this.
    I am from India and sadly women power is neglible.
    I am 29 years old and single. Why?
    I am confident.
    I am talented.
    I am creative.
    I am free to do what i want.
    I am financally stable.
    I belive in equality of genders.

    In my country, a successful life for a woman is to be married. Whether its her wish or not.
    Thats how it goes in this modern age. In this century.
    Woman like me are despised by other woman which makes it more sad.
    Apparently something is wrong with me. Mental or physical or simply i am a bad person.
    I am a bad person to follow my heart?
    People like me are repressed and depressed by my own gender.

    Thanks for your post.


    P.S. My name means Unity, which is so ironic right now.

    1. Namaste, Ekta,

      Your name is beautiful, including its meaning…and, yes, considering your circumstances, ironic.
      I love reading that you are all those things. That is powerful. To know yourself as confident, creative, talented and such, is to truly love who and what you are. I sense you are a leader, and leaders are sometimes very alone. That must be so difficult when women treat you that way. So difficult. You are not bad to follow your heart, you are being a leader, showing what is possible.

      Know that you have many sisters in solidarity all over the world who would, and do, applaud your self-love and self-assurance.

      I know we are many miles apart, but this sister celebrates you, Ekta!

      With love, Julie

      1. Namaste Julie,

        Thanks for your powerful words and encouragement. Yes it’s very difficult when my own gender criticise me including my own mother. This is heart breaking. She knew i was a “unique” child. I tried fitting in during my teen years. I couldn’t survive and ended up hurting myself. The same things i did when i was in relationships. It gets very lonely. I look for companion ship sadly i fail every time. My books and journals are now my companions and they are very loyal 

        P. S. Apologies for the spelling in my earlier comment.

  3. Dear Julie,
    Once again your words are on point and in synch. Last week while you were at Omega, I sat in circle in the golden aspen prairies – an experiential learning experience I called and 16 other remarkable women – representing the decades from 20’s to 60’s – accepted, together with our wise elder-masters of the practice, Christina Baldwin and Ann Linnea. Several times, I referred to my personal Cassandra experiences – exactly the phrase I’ve used – with that corresponding feeling of lunacy. Several times, I mentioned feeling broken open this past year, and reference was made to Elizabeth Lesser’s book of the same. And many, many times I step into and accept Sister Joan’s “call to speak up, to make others feel uncomfortable every time we speak, and to not stop speaking out” – albeit with anxiety and unease. Your post helps quell the “inner critic on steroids,” as you so aptly described a while back. Thank you, again and again.

  4. Rape is non-consensual, forcible seuxal relations or other seuxal activity. Is America becoming a rape culture as part of a growing culture of violence? There is a growing tolerance for rape and violence particularly aimed at women. Rape is often referred to as a seuxal assault, a less offensive term. Rape is a serious crime, a life-altering, traumatizing event and needs to be taken seriously by our society or any society.In Eve Ensler’s Over It? she repeats the words I am over twenty-six times. She conveys a true sense of frustration, confusion and desperation when reading through her essay. We live in a culture where far too many people lack respect for themselves or others. A culture where intimidation is used as a tool to violate and destroy lives. According to a National Women’s Study, one in eight adult women have been a victim of forcible rape in their lifetime. These statistics are alarming. Ms. Ensler’s conviction to change the rape culture is heartfelt. Her words inspire each and every one of us to take rape more seriously.When females are referred to as bitches , the media won’t talk about rape, focus is put on the damaging effects of rape on the perpetrator rather than the victim and attitudes that victims are responsible for their own rape by virtue of their appearance, we live in a rape culture. Further proof is the music and music videos which are increasingly violent. They include songs that advocate rape. Violent lyrics promote hatred against women. According to a report, 21% of R rated movies between 1996-2006 had rape scenes and 35% had characters engaged in seuxally violent scenes. What messages are we sending daughters, wives, mothers and sisters or more importantly our sons, husbands, fathers and brothers?RAINN is the nation’s largest anti-seuxal violence organization. According to RAINN, Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, the effects of seuxal assault are: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Substance Abuse, Self-Harm/Self-Injury, Stockholm Syndrome, Depression, Sexually Transmitted Infections, Pregnancy, Flashbacks, Borderline Personality Disorder, Adult Survivors of Childhood Sexual Assault, Sleep Disorders, Eating Disorders, Body Memories, Dissociative Identity Disorder and Suicide. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder alone leads to feelings of anxiety, stress or fear. Victims of seuxal assault are 6 times more likely to suffer from this disorder. When 1.3 women in the United States are raped every minute, we live in a rape culture that is gravely affecting our society.Rape is legally classified with murder and robbery as the most serious of crimes. Rape is too serious to be overlooked. It happens too often in our society or in any society, as addressed in Ms Ensler’s essay. Women should be honored, respected and truly loved. Women in the United States have made much advancement over the years. But, when the U.S. Department of Justice reports that rape in the United States is seven times higher than in Europe, it is time to unite and fight to destroy this rape culture.

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