Sunday
Mar202016

* Foremothers of the Women's Spirituality Movement

The Divine Feminine began to gently enter my being during my early 20s. I didn’t even realize what was happening at the time, and yet I was guided to connect with Spirit as I never had before. I felt her loving presence in nature. The female form became a common motif in my artwork. I embraced my independence and felt joyful to take care of myself. Looking back, I don’t know where this influence came from. I didn’t know about women’s groups or have any “goddess” girlfriends. I hadn’t read any goddess-focused books. Now that I look back, I think I was tapping into the collective consciousness of women who revered the female aspects of a higher power and her many forms, and their own feminine presence on the planet. I was feeling the wave of the Women’s Spirituality Movement.

The Women’s Spirituality Movement emerged in the late 1970s, when a handful of women around the USA and Europe answered an inner-calling to share information about earth-loving, community-focused, goddess-rooted spirituality and new discoveries of ancient women’s history. These remarkable pioneers facilitated the experiences that helped the lay women to commune with the Feminine Presence. They taught us the value of feminine principles, and encouraged us to appreciate our own innate gifts as women.

By the 1980s, clusters of women around the world began to recognize the feminine face of God, and grew fearlessly and proudly into their own true natures as women. The consciousness of these goddess-inspired women spread as more and more women heard the voice, or felt the touch, of Goddess.

Today we honor these remarkable founders of the Women’s Spirituality Movement with the book Foremothers of the Women’s Spirituality Movement: Elders and Visionaries. Edited by scholars and authors (and Foremothers, themselves) Miriam Robbins Dexter (Wence the Goddess, Sacred Display) and Vicki Noble (Shakti Woman, Double Goddess), this anthology features articles from many of the most influential and studied teachers, authors, scholars, artists, priestesses and activists of this vital Movement. Contributors including Riane Eisler, Starhawk, Carol Christ and dozens of others, paint the picture of their inspirations, challenges and achievements. They take us back to an exciting time when women’s empowerment was on the rise, and when our culture began to shift as a result.

I began to discover some of the life-altering works of our Foremothers in the 1990s, after I was introduced to the female-honoring principles of Tantric Yoga. My thirst for information about goddess-focused cultures was intense, and I was blessed that many books on the subject were available. Many were written by these Foremothers. With each book I read and every woman’s circle I attended, I became more connected with a feminine Higher Power and learned of her myriad forms. I grew more and more appreciative of my own innate, womanly gifts and more proud of being a woman. My life was positively changed by this information, and I was directed to discover my purpose. I’m grateful for the work of our Foremothers to uplift women and save Earth.

Foremothers of the Spirituality Movement comes at a crucial time when feminine energy is still greatly needed to balance the masculine energy that dominates the planet. It reflects the gains of women over the past thirty years, and inspires us to continue to integrate feminine principles into our money-honoring, earth-abusing culture, so that we continue to grow as women and thrive as a species.

This book is a must-read for women of every age, including women who have been practitioners of women’s spirituality for years, and those who are just beginning to hear the call of the Goddess. 

Saturday
Dec052015

* Suffragette

I recently attended a screening of Suffragette, an important and excellently-produced dramatization of the early women’s rights movement. Based in early 20th-century Britain, the movie captures the dreary and limited life of working-class women. At that time, they had no authority over their own lives, or even their children’s, as men considered women to be inferior, feeble-minded, and too emotional to make sound decisions.  

The film focuses on 25 year-old Maud Watts, a wife and mother of a young boy who works long hours in the dangerous and toxic conditions of a laundry, with a sexually lecherous boss, in order to contribute to the family’s financial survival.  The female employees make 30% less than the men and work 30% more hours a day.  With no education, Maud has no career options. She, like most women of the day, accepts her one-dimensional life of exhaustion, poor living conditions and a bleak future. 

When Maude catches wind of the Suffragette movement, she is swept into the possibility of positive change for women with the right to vote. Suffragette Society leader, Emmeline Pankhurst, (the real-life Leader) encourages the activists to take aggressive action, like throwing rocks and detonating bombs, to make their statement loud and clear. Pamphlets and protests just aren't enough; militant tactics speak the language men understand. “I would rather be a rebel than a slave.” Emmeline Pankhurst exclaims. Empowered and inspired women, committed to in their mission to advance women, risked it all to push for change.

Scene from Suffragette

Protestors are beaten in the streets by police officers and many sent to jail. Maud is jailed several times. Subsequently, she leaves her job (after the boss rubbed up against her one time too many), is thrown out of the house by her husband, and loses her son, whom Maud’s husband adopts to a well-to-do couple. Still, Maud actively seeks equality and continues with the Movement by day, sleeping in a church at night.

Eventually, after years of meetings, demonstrations, hunger strikes and other activities, the Suffragettes of England see victory, and in 1918 women over the age of 30 are given the right to vote. Hallelujah! (Side note: similar activities were happening in the United States, where womens' right to vote was won in 1920.)

At the movie’s end, I felt a mixture of emotions: gratitude for our foremothers who so bravely and diligently fought (literally) for rights that we modern-day women take for granted, and great sadness for the agonizing sacrifices that these women made to help advance society. 

I ponder; how many of us today are as tenacious to see a cause through to the end?  Are we willing to sacrifice our comfort and safety to make a point and change a law?  How long would we hang in there until we accomplished our mission?

And even bigger question: has the story come to an end?  No, it hasn’t. While we American women think we’re on the same playing field as men, and we take for granted the right to vote, to work, to obtain an education and more, we are still lacking a truly equal footing in our society. Women make up 51% of the population, yet only 19% of Congressional members are women. Women still earn only 78% of a man’s salary, and women of minority groups earn even less than that. Domestic violence is still rampant, and beaten and raped women are often victimized by the court system.  Women’s reproductive rights are eroding at a dangerous speed. Discrimination still prevails. And sadly, many men still have the notion that women are inferior.

CNN reported on women in the world and the U.S.'s faltering on our quest for equality, and you may be shocked at our place in the world on equality, domestic violence, maternity leave and equal pay.  We are not the most advanced nation.  

Bettina Hager, Director of the Equal Rights Amendment CoalitionLuckily, new blood is stepping in to revive the quest for equal rights in the United States. Bettina Hager, the Director of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) Coalition, is breathing new life into the movement to pursue equality in every way. The ERA was first introduced to U.S. Congress in 1923, but the 1982 Amendment died when too few states voted to pass it. Bettina and many other young leaders are taking the torch to further solidify equality in our nation. CNN provided a story on Bettina's quest  “to help pass and ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, a proposed addition to the U.S. Constitution that would explicitly protect women's rights and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex.

Many celebrities, including Meryl Streep, supports the ERA and uses her visibility to an advantage to bring the ERA back into our consciousness.  In fact, recently many of Hollywood’s leading ladies have been advocating equal pay for women. Sharon Stone, Patricia Arquette, Jennifer Lawrence and others are using their celebrity voices to make changes that benefit all women (and their children).

If you're hearing the call to become an activist for equality – or for any cause - here’s what you can do.

  • Educate yourself and become aware of people and organizations that support equality
  • Become a member
  • Donate
  • Volunteer
  • Sign petitions
  • Join in on actions that strive to make a point. For example, modern-day Suffragettes gathered at the movie’s London red-carpet premier in early October to protest domestic violence.

If you hear a serious calling to become a full-time activist, WikiHow.com offers a step-by-step program on How to Become an Activist.

Most of all, hold in your heart gratitude for the many women in history who have made it possible for us to vote, go to school, choose our careers, choose whether or not to have children, and enjoy the many freedoms that we take for granted today. Let’s not forget the sacrifices these brave and tenacious women made for us.

Friday
Aug212015

* A Spiritual Experience is a Spiritual Experience 

I recently met someone who glowed with love, spirit and zest for life. He spoke about his many adventures of spiritual transformation, including sitting at the feet of his guru, a kundalini awakening, Tantric love-making rituals, and various consciousness practices. His out-of-body meanderings, paralyzing illuminations, and other phenomenal manifestations woke him up to the joyful person he is today.

I was captivated as I listened, and noticed small twinges of self-judgement as I compared my less-than phenomenal spiritual adventures to his. I’ve learned from many teachers, but haven’t been a guru’s devotee, and my epiphanies and realizations appeared less dramatically.

Thankfully, I do understand the signs of egoic self-judgement, and as it crept in, I slayed it with my inner sword. Of course my spiritual experiences were and are as real, significant and life-enriching as his, albeit less exotic. My awakenings and transformations have come through hikes in the wilderness, meditations, music, books, teachers, and listening to others.    

An epiphany or awakening is a matter of our ego recognizing our soul, and our soul merging with the Universe. In that moment of multidimensional expansion when soul and Universe connect, a secret of the Self and Universe is revealed. An answer is provided, a door is opened and information that enhances life’s journey is delivered. Life becomes much greater than body and ego, and instead becomes a meaningful gift through which the soul expands. Blissful feelings of infinite love, inner-peace and joy emerge. In an instant, we become a different person.

A Spiritual Awakening
In an outer- and inner-world of possibilities, the methods and forms of awakening are infinite and can occur when we consciously strive for it or spontaneously from out of nowhere. Meditation, prayer and gurus aren’t the only catalysts; a hard rock song, a sunset, a glance into a stranger’s eyes, a hug, even deep despair – any of these can spark a divine connection. Whether the feelings last a minute or several days, this flash will have a permanent effect on your outlook of life, and is a touchstone that you can return to again and again.

A Spiritual Awakening

Comparing your own spiritual development – or anything else, for that matter - to another’s is a dangerous path. No one’s journey is “better” than ours, and no form is more effective than another. Our individual paths are a unique as snowflakes, and like any road trip, can be dramatic or mellow, and can get you to the same destination of personal growth.

We can live a spiritual journey every minute of our lives, merely by remaining fully-present, observing our physical and spiritual worlds and listening to our own soul. And also by constantly appreciating ourselves, exactly as we are at every moment, and from striving to discover the deepest essences of ourselves and our place in the Universe.

The lessons here are to know that you are radiant enough, loving enough, spiritual enough. And that a spiritual experience is a spiritual experience, no matter what the form. Don’t compare yourself to others and their moments of insight, for yours are just as expansive and your personal journey is taking you where you need to go.