It's Mother's Day, and I am brooding. Perhaps, I am just expecting too much: a little breakfast, a little hand-made card, a flower picked from the garden? Nope, nothing. "You are not my mother," my husband said. True, but I am carrying his child, and caring for his two-year-old. This is my day. Mother's Day. But I am not feeling very honored or even especially loved.
That said, there is also a lot of chaos and change going on in our home. We just made the big move two states north to Indiana a week ago. There are boxes to be unpacked, endless social calls to return, friends to see, and a billion and one things we need sort out.
I do have one special thing planned today though. My friend Holly is hosting a "women's group." I have no idea what it is, or what to expect, but I do know that I am going to get a break from being a mom and wife, and get out of our up-turned home. Whoopee!
Holly lives 20 minutes out of Bloomington, at a sweet house on a hill with acres to roam. When I arrive, Holly and Rachel are down at the teepee. Trudging through the brush, making my way over to the teepee, I can't help but think this may be a serious spiritual gathering, and I can't help but to dread it. I have been through so much the last week, including narrowly escaping flooded Nashville. I just want to laugh and have fun with my girlfriends.
Within minutes, I am deeply focused inside the teepee making prayer ties with Holly, while Rachel is outside singing Lakota prayer songs while attempting to light a fire. I instantly serrender to the sacredness of this moment. I realize, that in fact, this is exactly where I need to be. This, is what I have been missing back in my "old life" in Nashville.
Holly has created a sacred space in the middle of the Teepee, including rocks and little trinkets important to her, as well as a picture of India's living saint "Amma," who is known as the mother of India. Cedar and sage are flowing, and just approaching the teepee I could feel the sacred power she intentionally created.
Eventually the women of this circle converge within the circle of the teepee, making five women, all mothers. Holly sings the beautiful Lakota song invoking and thanking the sacred four directions. This song sung amongst my sisters, instantly transports me back to my earlier days, sitting amongst 20 women in a sweat lodge. Years ago, with Hollie by my side (another newbie), I was being introduced to the Lakota ways at the Saltcreek Sundance.
I remember being completely overwhelmed by the immensity of being surrounded by such strong female energy in such a sacred, pure, and real manner. Sweats are intense. They are hot and make you suffer, and bring you directly in touch with the great spirit, should you wish to open up to it. There is a sense of connection with the others you sweat with. When they sing or speak, you don't see them, but feel their souls flowing as they sing or pray with their entire being. Something wonderful happens in there.
As a society, we are constantly bombarded with male energy. Men are typically stronger. By nature they are more aggressive and externally focused.
Female energy, in contrast, is more subtle and internal. "Some people confuse such subtlety with weakness; in truth, it is stronger than the most aggressive physical force imaginable. True human dignity does not shout; it is a strong, steady voice that speaks from within. The nature of a woman, while subtle, is not weak. And the nature of a man, while aggressive, is not brutish. For man and woman to be complete, they must each possess both energies."*
As a female, in a man's land, it is tough to stay solid and true to yourself. I have been sweating and praying with my own family, and other friends, which naturally is dominated by men. Not to say that I am not thankful. I am very thankful. I have learned so much about the native ways from my husband and his male teachers. But, hearing the female voices lift up and join together in Lakota prayer songs, it instantly put me in line with the divine mother, and her very powerful energy. Flowing in that teepee was the Divine Mother, as well as all those great female forces that did Her work, and who are doing Her work:
Athena, Ceres, Demeter, Devi, Durga, Gaia, Ha Hai-i Wuhti, Hecate, Ishtar, Isis, Juno, Kali, Kuan Yin, Lakshmi, Mother Mary, Persephone, Sarasvati, Shakti, Tara, and Venus. Goddess forms are many and beautiful.
As women, as mothers, we joined together today, Mother's Day, to honor the divine mother, as well as honor the divinity within each of us. We told her of our struggles, gave her our heart-felt thanks, and made prayers for ourselves and our loved-ones. We are connected by our human struggles and efforts to find our way through the daily muddle. Sometimes we forget the way, or forget that we are wise and holy, and possess that divine spark from the Mother within ourselves. We forget what an absolute beautiful, powerful creative force She is!
Coming together in this way helps us women to remember. It helps to keep us humble, but helps us to remember our own inner strength and essential power.
We pray to the Spirit for help in creating a stronger feminine alliance to balance the male-ego-dominated native gatherings happening around our area this summer. Without the female energy to balance, we are worried about the "tornadoes" that may be released from the imbalance.
As a mother, I can't help but to think of how I want my children to have something pure and holy left to "hold on to" in their lifetime. Keeping the native ways alive and pure is seems especially poignant today. Not just the native ways, but any other way that we connect to our spirit and to the Great Spirit/Void.
From personal experience, no one "way" has been perfect for me. They have all taught me so much about myself, about this world and how to connect with spirit. It is only because others have perservered their ancestors ways, that we can benefit from the power of ritual and tradition, and from the wisdom.
I am pregnant, perhaps with a daughter, and am reminded about how much I would love to have special female rituals to pass down to her. I would love for her to feel empowered to be a female, and embrace it. I want her to have strong female role-models that are not just power-hungry-corporate-super-moms, or cookie-baking-stay-at-home-soccer-moms. I want her to be surrounded by multi-faceted, creative, emotionally and mentally intelligent females who are passionate about bettering themselves, their communities, and the world.
How wonderful would it be to surround a growing girl with such female gatherings as today, and make her realize the struggles that may come with being a women, but how ravishing and important it is to be female at this time and place. I would love to honor her first monthly menstruation cycle, and spend time with my sisters, in a fun and creative (but sacred way) teaching her all it means to be a women. How wonderful for her to be around elders trying to become better people, better wives and mothers; women who hold high respect for each other, and honor each other.
I have already learned that you cannot always expect to get the respect and honor from the men in our lives. But we can come together as women and honor ourselves.
Women gatherings are important.
Today's gathering is especially important for me. It has reminded me of where I came from and where I am going. I am thankful for the opportunity to give thanks out loud to the Great Spirit, my spirit helpers, my internal divine, and my "sisters", for a successful transition to my new home. It was perfect way to shed my "old skin" and transition cleanly into my new one.