As Ive been researching this project, Ive been thinking more and more how women do need their own spiritual path, or tend to organically develop a path quite succinct from that of their partners/male friends and family. The reasons for this are manifold, however, the importance of establishing a woman-centred path cannot be played down.
Many of us in Ireland have been raised in a very Catholic environment. Women are excluded from advanced spiritual practice from birth. As we grow, we are taught that GOD has a male face, his son is our saviour, the only true followers (apostles) are male, and the only pure woman is a virgin.
There unattainable goals often privately alienate women on a deep level. As they listen to the priest speak about parenting and motherhood, they secretly know he cannot understand these things.
Women are beginning to want to become visible in their spirituality. A women-focussed spiritual path brings us speedily into the world of participation, rather than passivity.
We begin to regard our bodies as sacred sites, not as dirty. We see the power of creation is at our fingertips. We can begin to accept the flow of the stages of our lives, rather than denying it. The power to be gained from these revalations is not to be underestimated. Power is something women are unfamiliar with. Power is something we shy away from, we fear. It is a taboo for a woman to be powerful. But when we deny our power, we deny life. Following a woman-centred path is an unmistakable fast-track route to our power.
Ill include some links to interesting pages about womens spirituality, goddess worship, meditation, paganism, feminism etc for those interested in learning more.
Quote from the beautiful Ani Di Franco
Oh to grow up gagged and blindfolded
A great big mans world in your little girls head
The voice of the great mother drowned outIn the constant honking haunting
the car crash up ahead
Oh to grow up hypnotized and then try to shake yourself awake
Cause you can sense what has been lost
Cause you can sense what is at stake
Yeah it took me a few years to catch on that those days I catch everyone's eye
Correspond with those nights of the month when the moon gleams like an egg in the sky
And men are using a sense they don't even know they have just to watch me walk by
And me, I'm supposed to be sensible, leave my animal outside to cry
But when all of nature conspires to make me her glorious whore
It's cause in my body I hold the secret recipe of precisely what life is for
And the patriarchy that looks to shame me for it is the same one making war
And I've said too much already but I'll tell you something more
To split yourself in two is just the most radical thing you can do
So girl if that shit ain't up to you, then you simply are not free
Cause from the sunlight on my hair to which eggs I grow to term
To the expression that I wear, all I really own is meI
mean to split yourself in two is just the most radical thing you can do
Goddess forbid that little adam should grow so jealous of Eve
Xaviere Gauthier, a French feminist, succinctly puts forward the desirability of the image of the witch:
Why witches? Because witches dance. They dance in the moonlight.
Lunar, lunatic women, stricken they say, with periodic madness.
Swollen with lightning-like revolt, bursting with anger, with
desire, they dance wild dances on the wild moors. Witches can
fly for they are light — they submit to no law least of all that
of gravity… Why witches? Because witches are alive.
Because they are in direct contact with the life of their own
bodies and bodies of others, with the life force itself…
If the figure of the witch appears wicked, it is because she
poses a real danger to phallocratic society.
Feminism and spirituality are seemingly poles apart. I was always very spiritual, at a very young age I would meditate and do yoga, but then I became a feminist. Or rather realized I was one. The act of awakening to the struggles of patriarchy and the plights of womanhood was called in the 1970’s second wave of feminism, Conciousness raising. No accident that there is a spiritual accent on many feminist activities, most women are, by one degree or another, spiritual beings by nature. The art of conciousness raising involved groups of women, getting together and sharing knowledge in a supportive environment. I immediately began to be consumed by feminist literature, seeing myself being reflected back in the words and feelings of sisters who went long before me, or walked very different paths. The comfort in solidarity was amazing. Spirituality, however, took a backseat in my life as I was consumed by the exclusion of women in so many of my spiritual paths. That is, until I found feminist spirituality. Why do we need a feminist spirituality, I asked myself? I was immediately turned off by the exclusionary nature of women-only covens and goddess worship. But slowly I began to be taken by the idea, or rather, the goddess began to be taken with me. Everywhere I turned, she seems to follow me. Her image gazed back at me in everything I did. I could no longer avoid her presence in my life, so I turned to face her one night in a shamanic journey. The revelation I experienced was life-altering and profound. The silver women who arose from a lake and presented herself to me appeared to be the embodiment of the Tao, the ineffable energy that permeates every living being. She was the embodiment of life itself. It was not some God-head who simply took on female form. This was one reason I had previously rejected goddess worship – I felt a castrated male God taking on female form would do no more to empower women spiritually that her male counterpart. I heard the delicate whisperings of Bridgid, Ariadne, Diana… and felt a strong overwhelmingly liminal comfort - a comfort I had never before felt. A part of me awakened.