Goddess

HeForShe and SheForHe: Healing Our World Together

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This week marks the two year anniversary of the UN’s HeForShe Solidarity Movement for Gender Equality. HeForShe invites men to join and support women in the fight for women’s equality and strives to reframe feminism from its man-hating stigma to a movement that seeks to benefit men and women alike by embracing the feminine side of our humanity.

My soul responds to this initiative and its mandate with a big yes! In the many seasons of my life — from my academic studies of feminism, gender issues and Goddess theology, my work as a gender equity consultant, my perilous healing journey with my own woman’s story in a misogynist world, my travels with the Goddess into the mysteries of the sacred feminine, and my Path of She writings — I’ve been on the trail of the lost powers and ways of the feminine elements of our humanity.

Together we can reweave our world into one that is inclusive and respectful, where we can live and express our whole humanity from the bigness and beauty of our feminine and masculine natures.

In my journey, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: what ails humanity, men and women alike, is the degradation and repression of the feminine half our nature that holds not only our nurturing and emotive capacities, but also our anchor in Mother/matter: our bodies, the natural world and the mysteries of the Divine feminine.

HeForShe may not speak of our disconnect from Goddess, the Earth and our bodies, but it acknowledges that men and women share the wound of patriarchy and asks men to reach across the gender gap in solidarity with their women kin.

I would add that we women have to reach back, SheForHe, so we can heal our world together.

Walking in the Other’s Shoes

The saying goes that we can’t understand another person until we walk a mile in his/her shoes. This most definitely holds true in the case of men and women. Only by actively increasing our awareness of the other gender can we begin to understand the world through their eyes and experiences.

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Walking the Path of She: A Personal Story

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A circle of candlelit faces gather around the center altar at a community ritual. We each speak our vows to the Goddess. I say simply, “I vow to be myself; to show up naked and unafraid.”

The path that led me to this vow began after a wake-up call many years ago. I was in my mid-twenties, totally lost in the mainstream culture, with a business education and a corporate career, living a material, achievement-driven life that neither fed my soul nor gave me joy.

After years of travels with the Goddess, I’ve come home to the vast depth and power of my Self, and it’s a quiet, simple place where I know that I am beautiful and worthy as I am.

My wake-up call was not gentle: a collision on a ski hill that fractured my skull and cracked my world open. I woke up four days later with a facial palsy that severely disfigured the right side of my face. For the next eight months, I found myself on the fringe, exposed to the ugly underbelly of our social order reserved for those deemed unworthy and undesirable; a place where strangers felt at liberty to cruelly ridicule, harass and repulse me.

As odd as this may seem, the experience was tremendously freeing and empowering. I had been roughly pushed out of the safe world that I knew into a harsh and abusive one, and I found that I was unafraid and undiminished. The stripping away of my outer beauty made me consciously aware of my inner beauty and strength, and of the profound circle of love and support of my family and friends.

My travels with the Goddess had begun. Like the tales of Inanna and Persephone, my awakening soul led me inward and downward, into the mysteries that underlie everyday reality and the shadowy recesses of my psyche. Layer by layer, I was stripped bare of my waking world masks, conditioning and wounding. Change came, constant and unrelenting. Anything that stood between me and my soul-based essence, what I came to know as my Deep Self, had to go.

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Ancestral Feminism

I was a feminist doctoral student in a business faculty when I first stumbled upon the Goddess and women’s history/herstory. But I couldn’t finish my studies; they did not take me far or deep enough. My feminine ancestors had other plans for me. Shortly after quitting the doctoral program, I had a dream that called me to do my PhD in women and leadership. I  woke up to a voice telling me to go to witchcamp.

There I went, to the coastal forests of California, not knowing a soul, and not a thing about magic or ritual. But no matter, those ancestors had arranged everything. I found myself co-organizing a ritual on the burning times — the most horrific period of our women’s history where an estimated 40,000-100,000 people accused of witchcraft (mostly women) were brutally persecuted and murdered. There amidst the slashed and burned shells of grandmother redwoods, with vibrant daughter trees growing from their ruins, I opened myself up to be a voice for my restless feminine ancestors.

And this is what they said: “The wisdom of the ancients still sings in your cells —below the desecration and the horror, below the fear and the forgetting — we are there. You are the waking witches. We call you to embrace your grief, step past your fear and walk our path of feminine power once more. We have never left you. We have been waiting for your return to our ways and knowing.”

So began my deep studies of women’s power and leadership, and a feminism beyond and below that of my academic studies and my thinking brain understanding of these things — an ancestral feminism still living and breathing in my body and yours.