By guest blogger, Joey Walters.*
It’s no secret that we are living in a time of extraordinary upheaval and transition, climate change perhaps being the most significant expression of the all-pervading flux in which we find ourselves. Our compromised environment and the related breakdown of political, social and economic structures, have brought us to a doorway, inviting us to let go of isolation and conflict and rediscover the essential wisdom of our interconnectedness.
Prophets and wisdom teachers have spoken of this momentous transition as ‘The Great Turning’; a time when humanity would shift from independence to interdependence, re-turning to living in harmony with the Earth and with one another, as many of our indigenous ancestors did. Joanna Macy speaks of the Great Turning as ‘the shift from industrial growth society to a life sustaining civilisation,’ reflecting the same evolution of consciousness from ‘I’ to ‘we’.
The Great Turning was also heralded as a time when women would ‘lead’ our world into this new era, such prophecies being an affirmation of what many women have long been experiencing. Climate change, starving nations, political chaos, devastating terrorist attacks and continuing bloody wars have been opening our eyes and hearts to the harsh reality of the world we inhabit and stirring women to take action, individually and collectively – not simply re-action, but action that is grounded in feminine wisdom and values, restoring balance to our fractured, patriarchal world.
Environmental lawyer, Polly Higgins, who is leading the global legal movement to enact laws prohibiting ecocide, speaks of women rising as ‘Voices for the Earth.’ We are inspired by Polly and other environmental women leaders like the late Wangari Maathai, who established the pan African grass roots Green Belt Movement assisting women to plant millions of trees; and Vandana Shiva who is courageously committed to feeding our expanding population without harming the Earth.
Many of us are finding the courage to take a stand for our future, not just in the environmental field but in unique ways that are authentic expressions of our feminine gifts and values, working consciously towards Macy’s life sustaining civilisation. But this heart-led call to heal our destabilised world environment, is not just an altruistic impulse to affect change in the world around us. It’s accompanied by a deep, soulful yearning to express, more fully, our authentic feminine nature and power as women.
Over the years of my own journey and in my work with women leaders from all walks of life, I have sensed this ‘call to leadership’ as an invitation from the Earth to rediscover the feminine wisdom known to our ancestors that has been so suppressed and dishonoured by the patriarchy of the age. This ‘re-awakening’ of our innate feminine power brings with it a whole host of conflicting experiences from profound heart-expansion, spiritual epiphanies and creative inspiration, to intense fear, rage, grief and longing for wholeness. Women are trying to make sense, often in isolation, of this tumultuous experience – isolation, of course, being a core facet of the fragmented culture that we can no longer tolerate.
However, we are not as alone as it seems. In this Great Turning from independence to interdependence, we are part of a growing collective movement to heal the disconnection between the out of balance masculine and the feminine that has been suppressed, misrepresented and devalued for generations. Of course, this rebalancing starts from within, hence the emotional turbulence so many of us are experiencing. Beginning with re-embracing the feminine within ourselves and revaluing the natural gifts of our womanhood, I believe we are growing our capacity to re-instate a balanced feminine/masculine world.
Although many passionate men are also waking up to this non-gender based integration of feminine and masculine energy, I’m curious about the potent rise of feminine leaders taking place globally that might, as the prophecies suggest, play a crucial role in fostering a thriving, climate-responsible, life-sustaining future. Women perhaps are one of the greatest untapped resources on our planet.
The question we might ask ourselves individually and collectively as women is: ‘What is my/our role in co-creating a new ‘culture of care’ for ourselves and our world, and how can I/we resource ourselves to play it?’ (This is an essential inquiry we are bringing to The Women’s Council in October this year; see Notes, below.)
It’s helpful to look back to our indigenous ancestors for guidance. I have always been deeply moved by the stories of Earth based communities who honoured the feminine through their respect and care for women, the Earth and all her inhabitants. In the lineage of Earth Wisdom that I was taught by RainbowHawk and WindEagle of the Ehama Institute in New Mexico, there were ‘Two Sacred Laws’ that embedded this respect for the feminine in their culture:
1. All things are born of woman.
2. No law shall be passed that will harm the children.
These were fundamental ‘laws’ of feminine wisdom, rooted in their understanding of the interrelatedness of all life, that sustained their communities over many generations.
Kurt Kaltreider wrote in Conversations with Chasing Deer:
“Indians know that the strength of the tribe resides in the strength of its women. Did you know that among the Iroquois it was the women, the grandmothers, who decided if war was to be waged? They decided if the lives of the young men should be put at risk, and only if they could see the benefit seven generations into the future did they allow the conflict to occur. It was only right that the givers of life should be given the decision that might destroy it. The grandmothers were also given the power to ask a chief to step down.”
Many indigenous cultures throughout the world, recognised that women, through their wombs, held a ‘Sacred Container’ though which life could flourish. They expanded the presence of this life-enhancing container beyond child-bearing, to leadership within their communities, particularly as guardians of the land but also in political and spiritual roles. They were profoundly connected to and guided by nature and her cycles and received their ‘authority’ from the Earth. Quite simply, women were deeply respected and valued for their embodied feminine wisdom. Likewise, the Earth and nature as a whole were honoured as feminine ~ as the ultimate bearer of life. Throughout the world, women also nurtured their connection to one another, re-Sourcing themselves in Women’s Circles and Councils where they shared their stories and honoured their collective feminine wisdom.
Alongside the impacts of Climate Change, we are recognising the loss and trauma humanity has suffered as a result of these Two Sacred Laws being broken. The suppression of the feminine that has taken place through the dishonouring of women, the Earth and the indigenous cultures that knew how to steward her, has had a profound impact on our well-being (men alongside women) and on our capacity to sustain life.
However, though the consequences are painful to acknowledge, we must remember that this wisdom has not been lost. It was suppressed and, in this Great Turning time, it is beginning to rise again ~ through us. If we are willing to be an open vessel through which it can be re-awakened, then perhaps our primary work as women is to remember how to fully feel and receive, so that we can emanate this authentic care for life, once more, though our leadership.
We may be at a crucial and challenging turning point in our history but we are also at an exciting juncture where we have a choice to continue to feed the status quo or open ourselves to discover a new way forward.
In the words of author, Anais Nin: ‘And then the day came when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.’
Perhaps, if we have the courage to blossom and hold a nurturing space for the profound transformation we are in, we can put our roots back down into the Earth and re-claim the wisdom and resourcing of our ancestors.
To be continued with Part 2.