Women are Medicine – Men are Magic

Another beautiful piece on our retreat by Bev Reeler

Something happened at the end of the year in our Women are Medicine workshop at Kufunda.

Well many, many things happened………
but the story that stays with me at the end was about the men.

Some of the Kufunda men said they wanted to be part of this workshop
so they offered to cook for us……………………

A group of young men and boys from the youth group
gathered in the kitchen every day
chopping and laughing and singing to loud music
a different harmony

It was the best food we have ever tasted at Kufunda
and for 4 days, we were nourished by their extraordinary care and generosity

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On the closing morning we invited them into the circle
and they stood in the centre
in a circle facing outwards

We welcomed them with a Hopi Indian salute
and the women spoke to them of the gratitude they felt
for the nourishment and care they had given.

Their eyes shone
one of the younger boys shot his fist into the air
‘YES’

Then we asked them to teach us aikido
(for they have been doing it for years now)
to ‘make the cut’……..
to draw our swords and cut our place into the present
cutting away what was no longer helpful and bringing our power into being

Young boys teaching their sisters and wives and grandmothers
how to draw our swords
bringing, with deep focus, our intention in the world

When we were ready we came back to the circle
and as each woman made her cut
there was a young man holding our back

They brought their warriorship
fed us
held the babies

IMG_0240As I drew my sword
a young man 50 years my junior stood behind me
it was an extraordinary experience
some new meeting of energies
combining into a powerful force

Something magic happened
Something that we have never touched
in all years of gender circles
about equality, abuse of women, rape, wife beating
some new energy shifted into place

as they made their cut into the centre of the circle
to ‘hold our backs’
bring their support to this co-creation of feminine and masculine energy
and a new possibility opened up

roll on 2014

Gogo Bev
Gogo Bev
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Women are Medicine Retreat.

By Bev Reeler

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Elder, wise woman and wild soul, Bev wrote a piece on the magic that entered our field during our recent Women Are Medicine at Kufunda in December. I have chosen to include it here. I hope to write more about our time together, but for now this touches the deep spirit of what moved through us during those few vast days,

How does one capture the stories of those few days?
What we witnessed was just a seed
a small drop of magic that danced the surface of our being
but as time lends depth to the ripple
it moves out in ever widening circles.

What we spoke of, what we danced, what we shared in a sacred way
Echoes back into our lives
carrying with it a growing energy,
a fresh authenticity,
an old/new wisdom reactivating.

We were working at a new edge
we had an agreed intention – to empower the feminine
but no plan
we worked in an organic spiral
willing to change direction
to take the risk
to follow spirit
and dance it into being.

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We met together with the forest
on the newly moistened earth
trees and plants bursting with abundant life
the greening earth an endless display of patterns
and clean-washed, ancient rocks
gleaming old colours.

We are part of a dream.

Love to all of you
and in deep gratitude for what you taught me in our few days together
we will meet again.

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Women Are Medicine

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I am returning from a journey. A journey into the mystery and magic of life. I travelled with 25 women (and two children) who all long for a life that is more connected to Mother Earth, to Soul, to the Feminine.

Four of us had called the gathering. Our sense was that our gathering would allow the feminine impulse to manifest through us, allowing the rising feminine an embodied access to our world. Of course she is all around all of us already – but it is our experience (and that of many others too) that she is now seeking to enter the world of humans more fully once more, to inspire and invoke a different way of relating to the world – after centuries of patriarchy, dominion over nature, and an overriding experience of the universe as one massive clockwork.

In coming together as a collective with the specific intention to open to, and express the sacred feminine, we felt that we would throw wide open the gates, allowing more fully what is already flowing through each one of us.

And it feels like this is what we did. It feels like we became a portal for a wondrous power – that is accessible to all humans, but perhaps more easily accessible by women at this time – because it is a deep reconnecting with the mystery, with the earth, the moon, the elements, the flow of life – which all reside in the feminine, whether we inhabit a male or female body.

We danced and swam and laughed and cried – just as we had said we would – and it was a truly magnificent experience.

We hosted the group with the intention to share its gifts fully – and they did. Our time together became a co-created beautiful dance with some offering bio-danza, five rhythms, yoga, voice work, astral travel, body painting, story-telling… and much more and all of us offering our questions and themes for exploration ranging from sacred sexuality, making a life doing what we love, the role of our monthly cycles, and more.

It was powerful, potent, beautiful, magical, mysterious, joyful, sensuous, ceremonious, ordinary and utterly delightful. All those together. It was one of the most healing and fulfilling gatherings. We did not gather to heal, but in how we came together this followed naturally. I gathered with a desire for vision or clarity and I quickly let go of any agenda – realising that it was simply the Is’ness of how we were with each other that was my lesson, the deep imprint on my soul. I know now that we can live a different way and that we can live a different world into being. I saw that if we could simply come together in these ways, deep wisdom would become available to us.

It seems that it is time to stop running so fast – even with good intentions for feeding the hungry and cleaning the rivers… This is not where our salvation lies – faster, more manic attempts at resolution. I saw that to build the container out of which wise action can arise may be one of the most important things we can do at this time. Not as single stand-alone events, but as growing webs of community living, gifting according to each of our gifts, and each of our needs, learning together, and allowing natural rhythms, natural time, spirit, nature and soul to enter us and to work through us.

I felt that if we could live like this – together – we would be wise beyond any of the challenges currently facing us. Trying to solve them all, from this place of mess is such a sad delusion. Perhaps the most radical thing we can do is to stop and to regather ourselves in sacred community, out of which will surely spring wisdom, clarity and the capacity to respond well to the challenges we have wrought for ourselves.

I could share some of my conclusions and insights from the retreat, but i think these are almost arbitrary – I think it will serve more for me to share how we flowed together, the simple structure we followed and what we did as a lesson for new (or ancient) ways of gathering that allow for flow and wisdom and healing.

Stay tuned more to follow…

The Women are Gathering

I have recently found myself in several gatherings of women. It has felt like a coming home to a larger family that I have been absent from for too long. As I look back over the course simply of a week, I am left with the sense that we, the women, are coming back together. As Arundhati Roy so eloquently said, ‘another world is not only possible, she is on her way, and on a quiet day if you really listen, you can hear her coming.’ Perhaps we are coming together to listen her forth.

Most recently I went to join an old friend who had invited a group of us to her place to re-engage with a practice called the four-fold way, and to be in an inquiry of ourselves inspired by the practice. It works with the four energies and archetypes of the directions – the Warrior, Visionary, Healer, and the Teacher. We went through different movements to connect us to earth, sky, fire and water. After our session we had a circle sharing why we had accepted the invitation to this group, which would be meeting weekly. I surprised myself by finding myself moved to tears as I listened to each woman, and finally spoke myself.

I am one of those people – and I know there are many of you out there – who in my work in particular, has allowed myself to become the strong one, the one that keeps going (even when she is exhausted), the one that others can rely on and come to. Sitting in the circle I realized how lonely that is, and how hard it is to keep going, trying to make my little piece of the earth a better place, in many ways on my own. I need a community of peers. Trying to be strong for others all the time is a very tiring place to be.

Sitting with those women I viscerally felt that we can find strength in community.

I realized just how I had missed such a circle of women and the experience of community that they bring. We can be, for each other, a waterhole, and a place to come to for nourishment and sustenance. In community, we the weavers of many webs, reminded each other that we can come together and strengthen our capacity for the work we are each doing in a myriad of ways.

No offence to the wonderful men in our lives, but it felt soooo good to be in a group of women holding a sense of reverence for the sacred and for each other. What becomes possible as women learn to support each other in slowing down, and reconnecting with our inner quiet, truth and our wisdom? My sense is that as we take time out, together, from the madness, we can create moments of alternative possibility. Small but critical openings.

Creating Openings

This leads me to my other recent gathering of women. I think it can best be summarized as a ceremony hosted by another friend last week on February 2. As she described it in her invite:

February two is one of the great cross-quarter days that make up the wheel of the year. In the north Feb 2 is Candlemas (halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox). Being in the south it is called Lammas – the time for the first harvest. It is a time to traditionally give thanks for the abundance we have in our lives. By celebrating Lammas, we honor our ancestors, acknowledge and give thanks for what we have inherited, where we come from, and where we are today.

We gathered as women to give thanks. We each brought a harvest (from our gardens, or a bread baked in our homes). Again I found myself in a place honouring the sacred cycle of life. So simple and yet so gratifying – to connect ourselves to the web of life and to each other. We went one step further and learnt a simple but potent practice of giving blessing – not just as an appreciation of our bounty, but to bless all – the good and the bad. And so we learnt to bless those who have caused harm in different ways to this beautiful country, to hold them in love and to bless them fully. In that we also blessed those who have suffered most, and those of us whose only role may have been to bear witness.

It was incredibly powerful. In that moment of offering blessing to those who have caused harm to others, we create a ‘clean’ moment. We access a ‘space of emptiness’, where  reality can unfold differently and from which everything is possible.  In blessing them we also release ourselves from their hold over us, which in a large part comes from our clinigng to them with anger, blame and judgement. In that moment, and only then a different future becomes possible because we have ended the blame game, that keeps us in the role of victim, a victim which does not – cannot – take responsibility for herself.

I could viscerally feel the freedom that came from opening my heart to them and sending love, in that brief but potent moment.

As our host reminded us, blessings are not an act of doing, it is about staying: Staying open-heartedly with what is… connecting to our feelings as opposed to running away from them, like we all generally do.

This I realize may sound like a cop-out to the activist soul, but as we keep reacting, working to right wrongs and injustices, I am beginning to realize that we are in fact contributing to creating more of the same.

If we can release ourselves entirely from ‘reaction’ and act from a place of genuine blessing of what is, that is a clean pure place that allows for something entirely new to emerge. And this is not why we do it. We do it simply because it is the right thing to do, and it connects us with the full cycle that we are a part of. We had women there from Europe, a German and a Russian German woman in particular who spoke of the scars of their wars, scars that have not been released, in part because we cannot bless the perpetrator, and so the victim and perpetrator remain bound up with each other, prisoners of the part. This is true for Zimbabwe as well, and so this felt like a sacred gathering of women learning a new language to begin to release some of the pain and suffering that is in our lineages and in our country.

The women are gathering.

Another friend of mine is engaging me in conversation to begin a circle of young Zimbabwean women, many of whom have returned home from years abroad, eager to be here, but returning to a land which the time away has meant that we return to, in part, as strangers. The circle will be one of exploring questions of identity. What does it mean to be Zimbabwean today, and what is my role here as someone who has returned with a different perspective?

I guess there could be men in all of these circles, and yet the women are naturally gathering. We spoke of who might the men be, were we to invite them to the group on identity, but then realized that it would be forced – the women were literally popping up on our radar, whereas the men remained invisible. And I believe that the fact that we are all women will bring different answers and insights, than if we had been a mixed group. Insights that are needed at this time. I believe that we will find courage to listen to the little dissonant voice (dissonant to the broader society), and to give her more space to grow and to inform how we show up in our world, and how we therefore affect our world.

The women are gathering. Perhaps we will be a part of a great turning in this beautiful country. In fact I know we will – and men it is up to you to step up and join us, for now we begin the journey.