As we celebrate International Women’s Day, 2013, let us reclaim what it is to be a whole women. There are aspects of womanhood that have been dormant during these times of patriarchal ways, yet we are now in times of remembering these ways. Let us guide each other back into living the wholeness of womanhood.
We’ve all (men and women) been well trained in the ways of the masculine mind. It’s the basis for our school systems. We’ve been trained to believe in, and be good at, black and white thinking, linear problem solving, and rational decision-making. We’ve been taught to value bullet points over poetic imagery, clear thinking over murky emotions, and rugged individuality over interconnectedness. While helpful in some areas of life, in reality, as a way to live life, this training hurts us all, and it especially hurts women.
The linear, rational mind that’s been conditioned to believe it has all the answers, can control and dominate life, and should be the master over feeling and mystery, is not very good at navigating life.
Life is inherently messy.
Life is unknowable.
Life is full of a multitude of experiences.
Life is always changing.
When the conditioned mind believes it is omnipotent, we make decisions (really important decisions) based on ‘hard facts’ – numbers, data, and rational reasoning. We forget we have hearts and bodies. We forget we have souls. We forget we are connected to the web of life. We forget we have an intuitive capacity that is far more intelligent and capable of living life and than our rational capacity could ever hope to be.
We begin to believe we are our thinking patterns and emotional tailspins.
As a young girl, I was wildly energetic and vivaciously in love with color and creation. I remember how it felt – so much beauty, so much feeling, and so much joy. But as I got older, it became clear that the logical, rational mind was king, and everything not logical was to be distrusted. And as I got older, our home became more chaotic, with a deep sense of impending doom. As life became crazy, I longed to have something to gauge things by. Good grades, following rules, being polite became important ways to feel in control and good about myself.
So women’s consciousness can hold many things in relationship all the time. But what happened in the last centuries is that as women became educated in schools and colleges designed by men to teach men how to think in a masculine way, they absorbed this masculine consciousness. They overlaid their feminine relationship understanding with a masculine mind. And because they wanted to succeed in a man’s world, they focused their energy on this masculine way of thinking. But it doesn’t fully work for them – it is not in harmony with their real nature…
~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, The Return of the Feminine and the World Soul
Goodness in this culture is evaluated in a hierarchical, black and white way…the very essence of the conditioned masculine mind. I learned that wildness and abandon were at the bottom of the scale, ways of being to push away, while a good grasp of math and science was near the top, with obedience to rules (for girls and women) at the very top.
The chaos I felt as a child became manageable if I could find something to hold me, something rigid and knowable, something that felt like structure, and so following the rules gave me a sense of rigidity that allowed me to let go and breathe. Well, not really – it actually caused me to be tight and only breath down to my neck, but then the mind is good at making up fibs…big fat fibs.
When the nuclear family isn’t so nuclear, we long to feel something is holding us. And when we grow up in a culture that only values the nuclear family, we find we don’t have a village to hold us, and we don’t have an understanding of interconnectedness or how this interconnectedness might already be available to us through life itself.
To a certain extent, most of us in the west have been trained to not trust these things, so we neither create them, nor do we look for them. We’ve been taught to believe the earth is dead, so we feel no sense of belonging to something larger than this culture that is hell-bent on women following the rules.
Hence, I internalized a hunter, a predator. This hunter would track down anything too wild, too out there, and too far from the top of the chart of goodness and kill it, and then toss it into the shadow regions to decay. In the wild girl’s place, a good girl was born that was rigid, had to be right, and most importantly had to be polite and nice – although those things don’t really go together do they? Having to be right isn’t really truly nice, is it? It’s funny how none of this is logical at all.
I don’t know about you, but I do know that everything I’ve been taught about the ‘way things are’ is being blown apart by the very clear recognition that nothing is the way it seems to be.
Over the past two decades, I’ve been breaking free from this internal hunter – the one that learned that safety comes from figuring things out, from knowing what is good vs. bad, from being nice and polite and hiding all the juicy, delectable parts of that wild child. This breaking apart has come in chunks, sometimes it comes in big chunks that leave me a bit lost and befuddled.
Deconstruction of the mind is a funny thing. The more it deconstructs, the more I see and know the lack of any kind of solid structure. Yet, what I have found is the heart, the heart and soul that are so beautiful at living a life that is mysterious by nature. While the conditioned mind loves rigidity and structure, the heart knows something the mind could never know – it knows truth, and it knows the soul, which also knows wildness and abandon.
The soul calls us home, and like a wild animal, it leaves a scent as it moves through the brush. But this scent is not a scent the hunter can find. The soul is wily this way.
No, the hunter has no business in this soul brush, so the soul leaves a scent that only the wild child can find. I’ve had to get down on all fours, nose to the earth to discover it. I’ve had to walk barefoot through the mud again; I’ve had to dance until the sweat pours off me and then dance some more; I’ve had to paint large swaths of yellow paint across the paper to remember what this wild child loved; and, I’ve had to leave relationships that I used as structures of seeming safety rather than openings to soul.
I’ve had to come to see that there is no safety, not the kind I longed to know as a child.
What there is instead, now that this child is older and wiser, is a deep belonging to the earth, a belonging that cannot be denied by political positioning, nor laws that don’t honor this woman’s body.
I’ve come to know an autonomy that can only be found within the realm of the soul. I’ve come home to a longing for the divine that can only be traversed through the deepest, most interior chambers of the heart.
Coming home to the soul is the coming home we’ve longed for our entire lives. May we come to remember that we are held by the earth and by the web of life, and may we remember our responsibility to the children, to this earth and all of her creatures, and to each other, women and men.
This post was originally written for and posted at Roots of She.
On the 4th of July, Independence Day in America, we celebrate our independence and the birth of our country. In the spirit of independence for all, I want to celebrate the fire and passion of the soft power and green revolution in Iran…as well as in all places where people are fighting for their right to vote, their right to speak, their right to freedom of expression.
Soft Power is a term that’s been in the news since the Iranian election and the protests in its wake. In PeaceXPeace’s blog, Week X Week, Mary Liston Liepold’s post of July 1, Peace The Soft Power of Iran’s Green Revolution, describes soft power and the velvet revolution in Iran:
“Governments aren’t good at soft power; their feet are too big. It’s exactly the right size for citizens like us. Our Sudanese friend Dalia Haj-Omar reports seeing these words on a protest sign: “Calmness, Hope, & Patience: The Keys to a Green Revolution.””
Along with calmness, hope and patience, I would suggest determination, fire, wisdom and heart. Soft power is fueled by the deeply profound outrage and determination found in women, when they reach the point of “Enough is enough”. And, women all over the world are reaching this point.
In the patriarchy, women have been conditioned to be afraid to cross the line. In her incredible book, Healing Through the Dark Emotions, Miriam Greenspan speaks of this line that women dare not cross.
“Fear for women is not an enemy to be conquered but a warning track that says: Go no further. It is the demarcation line that points to the bounds of possibility and permissible behavior. If you’re a woman and you don’t use fear to limit yourself, there is an implicit threat of violence.”
The “powers that be” (in Iran and all over the world) don’t want the status quo upset, and women are conditioned to not upset the status quo. This has kept us in line, or I should say “behind the line” in the past. However, the women of Iran are no longer behind the line. The women in Iran, and many other parts around the world, are fighting with soft power every day. They have decided to cross this line of demarcation. They are willing to upset the status quo.
Here’s the question I am holding: What does it take to push us past the point of fear, past the point where we are no longer stopped by this conditioned implicit threat of violence? What does it take to say, “Enough is enough”?
Women’s second-class status here in the west is not as obvious as it is in many other cultures. It’s easier to keep a blind eye to it here. In Iran, and in other places where women have risen up to fight against their lack of rights, it is much more obvious. And, it’s obvious to women here in the West that other women around the world face much more serious, and consequential, attacks on their personhood.
How can we develop the solidarity necessary in order to galvanize us to stand with our sisters? How can we link with each other across the miles to help us to know we stand united? What kind of infrastructure do we need to support our solidarity?
I’d love to know how you feel about this and what vision you might hold for sisterly solidarity in the service of birthing a new, profoundly loving and compassionate consciousness.