The Healing Power of Women
In the heart of every woman beats the longing to sit with her sisters, to crack open, connect deeply and share her vulnerability, her joys, fears and her dreams. In ancient times the unfettered magic of the sacred feminine flowed freely. Her abundant fertility and creative power was in harmony with the principles of nature and flourished.
For over 2000 years, the dominant paradigm in our world has been the masculine impetus. This has caused suppression and wounding of the feminine force in both women and men. With all the advances of today, women are still secondary, in decision making, in influence and in terms of their access to power. Yet, women shape the generations to come, women have tremendous creative power to generate new life, to heal communities, create peace and so much more.
While sisterhood is rising and becoming a powerful healing force, many women are still healing their own wounds. Like most women, I have had my share of feminine wounding. I come from an ancestral heritage of splintered and wounded femininity. Adopted at birth, I have a dual lineage of birth parents and adoptive parents and in both of these families there is the tremendous loss and alienation from giving up children for adoption and the rupture of the primal bond between mother and child, which is so core to wholeness and the feminine mystery.
My own journey with sisterhood has been interesting and not always easy. But so much of my healing has been through sisters and learning to receive feminine nurturing and be present to my own femininity and power. Being adopted left me with feelings of abandonment, low self worth and trust issues. I’ve spent years restoring the dislocated feminine in myself, healing my heart and my ability to love myself and others and learning to create strong bonds and relationships. Much of this journey has been through the passage of motherhood. I have four young children, three of them daughters and with each pregnancy and birth I healed more of my own pain and disconnection from myself. I feel a sacred responsibility to initiate my daughters into sistership and to give them a legacy of whole female relationships and feminine power. Healing the female line and freeing my ancestors has been an important initiation in my life and women have been vital in supporting this journey. The more I’ve sat in circle with women over the years, shared my vulnerability and opened my heart in trust, a kind of entrainment has helped heal the wounds of abandonment.
Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much. – Helen Keller
Women are created to be together, to collaborate, to support each other, and to be a sacred community. These special moments lift the spirit and melt the heart. And science has shown that sisterhood also has wonderful benefits for women’s health.
Ancient Sisterhood Traditions
The magic of sisterhood fills the longing for authenticity, deep connection and the expression of our wildness that was expressed so freely in ancient times. In some indigenous cultures, this tradition is still alive and increasingly it is being revived by women across the world. Traditions like the Red Tent, honouring rites of passage, healing circles, fertility rituals, and other indigenous women’s business nourished women and kept the whole tribe strong.
The Red Tent provided a place for women to recalibrate, incubate, dream, slow down and reconnect, during their moon time. This monthly cycle is far more than just a physical cycle, it is a cycle of transmutation, offering the potential for rebirth each month. It is a time of renewal and letting go.
Spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle has long said that the pain body is more active just before a woman menstruates. According to him your pain body is a kind of reservoir of accumulated pain, a field of negative energy. It can be both personal and collective and is made up of all the energetic residues of your pain from childhood. The pain body can either be dormant or active. When it is active it can take you over and feed on pain, which could explain the blues during or just before your period. If you approach this time with awareness you can stay present to emotions that intensify and see it as a healing opportunity to dissolve the pain body and heal past traumas.
At this moon time women would retreat together, as their cycles would be synchronised and they would sit in the tent together, being nurtured and cared for by the other women as they went through the healing process of shedding their womb. A woman is more psychic and the veil is thin between the worlds for her when she is bleeding. Taking the time to be still she can easily open to higher inspiration and dreaming at this time.
Sister, open your heart, fling your hopes high and set your dreams aloft. I am here to hold your hand. – Maya Angelou
In the old spiritual traditions women were the keepers of the ancient wisdom. They maintained harmony and balance in the natural world and their communities. Due to their emotional openness and connection to their instinctual nature, their vision and ability to tap into higher wisdom was revered and used for the advantage of the whole community. Women’s bodies were seen as sacred alchemical vessels of creation and transformation. And in many traditions, women were the personification of the Goddess on earth, channels who could bridge the worlds with sacred rituals.
Traditional ways women kept their bonds strong were through honouring the rites of passage in a woman’s life, which were linked to her sexuality and fertility. In the Native American Tradition and many others, the onset of menstruation in a young girl was celebrated with a ceremony of huge significance that welcomed her into womanhood. These rites of passage were a major event and to celebrate a young girl becoming a woman, or when a woman entered motherhood, as well as the passage of a woman into her crone wisdom at menopause, were shared with their sisters.
In Indigenous cultures many of the activities of daily life were shared. Women gathered the food and cooked together, while singing and sharing. Women, like the ancient Maya, created textiles, clothes, spinning and weaving together, and were also responsible for tending to the spiritual aspects of day to day life. Australian Indigenous women cared for each other’s children, as if they were their own and the children often didn’t know which woman was their birth mother as these bonds were so close. In today’s fragmented society, some women feel alienated and alone, longing for this connection with other women that was such a natural part of everyday life.
Women also gathered in circles on the Full and New Moon for ceremony and rituals to heal and support one another. Many feminine traditions included the honouring of the earth and the Goddess. In Europe before Biblical times and the suppression of women, these traditions celebrated fertility and the power of the Divine Feminine.
In the temples of India, Egypt, Greece, Rome, Sumeria, and ancient Europe, women were taught to develop their powers of perception, intuition, and how to refine the powerful energy of emotion. They learnt how to awaken nurture and enhance their feminine gifts. Today, women are reclaiming their spiritual power and innate wisdom, creating community and taking up leadership.
So what is sisterhood?
Sisterhood is not an exclusive group, or an anti-men symposium. It is a way of being. It is a celebration of all that is gloriously and potently feminine. It is foremost a choice to be alive and luscious in your female mystery, and it is a path of the heart. There is sisterhood between friends, between a mother and a daughter, a grandmother and her grandchild, a teacher and her student. Sisterhood is a movement of kindness. It encompasses all women, no matter what their shape, nationality or beliefs. It is an energy that encompasses men too and is healing for the planet.
Help one another, is part of the religion of sisterhood.– Louisa May Alcott
The archetypes of the priestess, the crone, and the goddess runs deep in women, but is buried below the crushing responsibilities and daily demands women put on themselves along with the taut dictates of society: to be the perfect mother, or model wife, amazing lover, and career woman. When women come together, this falls away and they create magic, an atmosphere that is potent and transformative, and a field that is magnetic.
Sacred aspects of True Sistership
The circle of life and the circle of sisters represents the innate value of each being. There is no elite, no division, but a warm acceptance of all the colours, shapes and sizes of our sisters. Sisters are different flowers from the same garden. Each is unique and important to the whole. As we appreciate and support each other in our individuality, in beauty, body shape, dreams, life choices, or parenting choices, we create incredible freedom in ourselves and others.
Sisterhood supports the expression of our full power as women. It is a supportive journey of mastery over our deep instinctual nature, our thoughts and our physicality. As we mould our inner world, we discover the power to manifest our dreams in the world around us.
The feminine principle is receptive. In stillness we open to inspiration, we connect deeply with ourselves, so that we are able to hold space more deeply for our families, children, and communities.
Sisterhood is a path of honouring our sensuality, and our beauty as women, of self acceptance of whatever that form of beauty takes, and of loving the unique divine expression of our bodies and faces. We have a responsibility to care for and love ourselves. When we honour ourselves in this way, we can honour our sisters and families in a deeper way. The true nurturing potential and power of love is free to flow to everyone when it comes from a well of potent and integral love for yourself.
In each womb, there lies the creative potential of the universe. While we have the ability to birth new life, women also have the capacity to bring their dreams to life out in the world. We have a sacred responsibility to express this creativity, be it through creating a family, a connected community, harmony, works of art, dance, music or anything of beauty. When we create we keep our feminine energy balanced and the unfettered flow of creative expression stems the tide of competition, jealousy and comparison with others. It ensures our relationships with our sisters are alive and happy and our creative urges are fulfilled.
Now more than ever these sacred principles are needed if women are to shine and impact the world around us.
Our own family trees are filled with teaching situations and with tragic examples that may have blinded our own Ancestors to the values of truth as it is found in love. Now, the destiny of wholeness of the human race falls to the Sisterhood because all things are born of woman.
When women are no longer lost, asking others to tell them what they should do or how they should live, there will be great changes in our world. This is not to say that the friendships and bonds of women are not to be used; on the contrary, the support of other women who have walked the same path is paramount. – Jami Sams, The Thirteen Original Clan Mothers
For our world to heal, each woman needs to rediscover herself, find her light and shine it out into the world. We need to guide each other home and now is the time.
© Azriel ReShel 2016. This article was republished with permission of UPLIFT.