" Grandmother, where do I begin? What thread begins the yarn? What story begins the weave?"
"Begin at the center, begin at the center, in your own dark center, begin." Gwendolyn Endicott
At this opening in time near Hallowmas, when the veils between the living and the dead are thinnest, I hold both joy and sorrow. The joy - celebrating the 24th birthday of the Center at the Women's Circle November 1st. What began as a dream was real-ized as the first woman walked through the door. I remember the passion in answering what was truly a calling all those years ago when I decided to teach in a different way and become an independent feminist scholar. I included lots of art, poetry, meditation, music, and scholarship in my dedication to the goddess who often appears to me as Kwan Yin. She is the goddess of love and compassion who also carries the sword of discernment to cut away what no longer serves us. We followed and celebrated earth's cycles through seasons of change in our lives - the one constant, our sisterhood.
I offer gratitude for the many blessings I have received along this journey - gratitude to the incredible, courageous women who have joined me on this path and become soul sisters. Their strength fortifies. Their wisdom comforts. Their trust amazes. They do the work of change. We do it together.
I feel great sorrow that 24 years ago, when I first envisioned the Center, I thought it was the time of a flowering anew of a very ancient way of seeing the world and acting in it. I was thrilled with the multitude of thought-provoking books I read and shared pieces from, and discovering sacred music to deepen the experience and make our spirits soar. And I shared much art, which tells her-story most compellingly; such a rich tapestry of beauty, soulfulness, and nourishment. I have deep sadness that 24 years later, patriarchy is embodied and embedded in the figure of a man who terrorizes us and our freedoms and makes me aware again how important this work is. To teach women about the goddess, to provide strong role models for growth, to consider that every act is a vote for the world we want to live in, to know that we are the ones we've been waiting for; these are no small things. On days when it seems hopeless, the words of Dr. Clarissa Estes support me, "Mend the part of the world that is within your reach."
And so, in the tradition of women since Neolithic times, I take up my yarn and weave her story, the story of a peaceful world where there was no war. No fortifications were built to intimidate on the isle of Crete, a land of beauty in every way. Rereading The Great Cosmic Mother, by Monica Sjoo and Barbara Mor, I remember:
Crete was the last full flowering of matriarchal culture...the imagination of the Greeks came from Crete....The Cretans appear to have been gentle, joyous, sensuous, and peace-loving. From the evidence of ruins, they maintained, like the Maltese Islanders, at least one thousand years of culture unbroken by war....There was an era, before the patriarchal revolution took effect,where women and men cooperated in equality; producing and creating and worshipping together....Wherever the worship of the Great Mother occurred, ritual emphasis was on the sacredness of all life....Patriarchy is based on secular, not sacred relationships, and on property possession, which utterly excludes the experience of ecstatic communion. It is also, of course, based on the sexual passivity, weakness, and dependence of women.
Sitting in circle, I am struck by how very different we all are, yet sisterly respect, lovingkindness, and joy abound, as well as deep sorrow and plentiful tears. There are no expectations here, no need to disguise who we really are. Instead, we encourage each other to be fully embodied, to reclaim our bodies and our voices and our author-ity, the ability to re-write our lives. There's a hole in the world, a crack, a tear in the fabric of life that only the sacred feminine can fix. There is also a hole in our hearts where humanity's best feelings of kinship with the earth and each other is gaping open. We mend it by coming together in circle, each sister with our different strand, to weave into it and reweave the world:
Weave and mend
Weave and mend
Gather the fragments
Safe within the sacred circle
Sisters weave and mend
Weave and mend
Oh women, weave and mend
-Anne Cameron, from Daughters of Copper Woman and adapted into a song by MotherTongue, "Old Woman"
I offer immense gratitude to the women who have accompanied me on this journey to wholeness over these 24 years, from when I was 40 and my daughter was entering 1st grade, to me at 64, spending those wise women years with all of you and discovering how simple things like holding space, listening and witnessing, speaking from the heart, nurturing the spirit, learning together, be-ing together, enables us to thrive rather than just survive.
I am thankful for the sacred vocation that challenged me to create something entirely new, to commit to showing up and serving the goddess even if I was the only one there (no worries in that area!). It also involves being a weaver who takes all these threads of women's herstory, goddess archetypes, energy work, and seasonal themes and weaves them into weekends, days, evenings of story, song, meditation, altars, rituals, deep healing in safe and sacred space.
Hallowmas is the perfect time for rituals to honor those who have gone before us, to celebrate those who have passed on, to continue to weave connections across time and space. Our ancestors whisper:
You who are living.
Restore us, renew us.
Speak for our silence.
Continue our work.
Bless the breath of life
Sing of the hidden patterns
Weave the web of peace.
-Judith Anderson, "Re-member Us"
At a time when the world is a challenging place, I am grateful to have created spaces and places that I can go to and be with women. To be vulnerable. To be strong. To laugh joyfully.To cry mournfully. Acceptance. Encouragement. Strength. Power. Reweaving the web in beauty. Blessed be.