Women have been banned from most high offices in all areas of life except Motherhood, for over 5000 years. In America we still have never had a female president. In the Mormon church women don't go through spiritual initiation into the inner-mysteries of the church, only the men. And it wasn't until the last few decades that women could be initiated into Ifa, in the Ifa-Orisa tradition from Nigeria, and that only because those who wanted the "rule" changed acted differently. Women have had to "fight" for their rights to answer their spiritual calling, many facing being burned, hanged, drowned, beaten, tortured, etc, rather than give up.
Today - we Women can answer our spiritual calling. We can be initiated into our own unique power. We can serve our people as spiritual guides and healers and mystics. We still can't wear the mantle of the Catholic priest/cardinal/pope, nor lead within other large religious organizations, but we can speak out our truth everywhere we go.
The power of the word is not to be taken lightly. Generations of people were told they didn't have it, that only intermediaries had it, such as male priests. If you wanted to talk to the divine, you had to go to a priest. The politics of power have been enacted for so long on this planet, how can we know when it began?
Today - we Humans can reclaim our voices and thus our responsibility to each other and the planet. Our voices are stronger when we sing together in chorus. The time of looking outside ourselves for validation is over. Validation must be an inside process. We must be willing to see the truth of who we are and value that 100%.
As a woman, it is up to me to validate my truth, my voice, my spiritual calling. Others may see my light and encourage me, and that is wonderful. Some may see my wounds and attack me. In the end, it is I who must choose to own my life or not.
For most of my life I couldn't own my calling to be a priest, which I was aware of when I was 8 years old, because the Catholic church said I couldn't be a priest. I looked other places. I found myself in ceremony out in South Dakota with native people. I initiated as a Pipe Carrier and I sun danced and began leading sweat lodges for my community. But even here, there was so much oppression of the feminine. I asked one native young man on one of my trips to Yankton, "Where are your medicine women? Do you know any?" He looked at me with shock and replied, "There are no medicine women. There never have been." I didn't argue with him, though I knew he'd just spoken propaganda that had been ingrained in him. I had read of several powerful Lakota medicine women, their lives briefly documented in the late 1800's by anthropologists before the changing of the tides was complete.
What does a woman do who is called, when there is no one validating her calling? And the organizations welcoming her have a structure that is limiting, as if to control her mystical nature. (See the life story of Juana Inez de la Cruz: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juana_In%C3%A9s_de_la_Cruz ) What I finally came to realize is that it is only I who can validate my spiritual calling, and then, even without elders, an organization or church behind me, live my calling - live my priesthood - everyday.
One major wake up call for me in this arena was Barbara Tedlock's book, "The Woman in the Shaman's Body". In her true to life writing of her accounts with women shamans from all over the world, and her research on women and shamanism, one thing became illuminated for me. Story after story seemed to paint a picture of women who were "called" spontaneously and they answered the call in a very personal way. It was a personal experience. Spirit was calling them. Their ancestors were calling them. The plants were calling them. The Great Mother was calling them. And they answered and their training began. Their training happened through dreams, visions and revelations. Some training with elders, but mostly through nature and spirit realms. And their faith and humility was the key to their medicine being able to help the people who came to them for help.
Perhaps this isn't such a huge realization for every woman, but it was gargantuan for me!
I finally claimed my power, my life, my path, because I realized that it wasn't serving anyone for me to devalue my gifts in fear that others would judge me or think I was crazy.
My dreams, my visions and my experiences traveling between the worlds.... these were and had always been true for me and what guided me. Call me whatever title you want... but I had to start validating my medicine and begin helping people. And so I did.
I did eventually initiate as a priest! I stumbled upon the Ifa-Orisa tradition - Thank Olodomare!! - and was initiated on an Orisa priest in 2011. Still a patriarchal structure, but with movement in the right direction, and based deeply in nature wisdom.
I am writing all of this because I am invested in Women Answering their Calling!! And in women Validating their Visions!
And so, I bow down to the women mystics, priests, healers, visionaries and rabbis who pushed through the obstacles and lies, and answered to the greater truth. Love and praise to our Ancestors who didn't give up, wouldn't shut up, or hid the mysteries to keep them safe!
May the way we walk in our lives honor your sacrifices and names.
Thousands of women from around the world representing millions of women will converge on New York City beginning Saturday, March 2nd for the United Nations 57th Session on the Commission on the Status of Women. Never in the history of our planet has the need for women’s leadership been greater. Women who have not been involved in the United Nations are attending this year to help stop the escalating violence against women. Housewives, students, concerned women, community organizers, governmental officials, corporate and religious executives will carry out global and local actions to meet today’s crises.
Ann Smith of Naples, Florida and Jean Shinoda Bolen of Mill Valley, California have a delegation of 55 + women coming from England, Peru, Africa, Pakistan, and throughout the United States. Dr. Bolen, author, Jungian analyst, psychiatrist and activist is giving away two thousand copies of her latest book, Moving toward the Millionth Circle: Energizing the Global Women’s Movement Advocating a Global Conference on Women.
The United Nations receives very little attention but this year will be different. The millions of women who relate to millions of women’s circles and organizations are stepping out of the media shadows into mainstream attention.
Barbara Thorngren, Gather The Women representative from New Hampshire, the only state with all women legislators, will share the information throughout the state far and wide.
Laurie McCammon from Maine has co-authored with Ann Smith the book Enough: The Rise of The Feminine And The Birth of the New Story. Enough gives the history of the UN Four World Conferences on Women and the importance of the Platform for Action document signed by all governments to improve the status of women and girls. Enough is filled with stories of grassroots women and girls who are doing amazing work.
Margaret Auma is the founder and director of Spring Ministries from Kenya and through her African networks will spread the word. She has been on national news and received many awards. Alice Garrick, director of the Anglican Women’s Desk in Pakistan, works with churches and secular women’s networks to empower women and girls. Susan Stanton from Hawaii represents Indigenous women’s networks bringing their wisdom and courage and along with Idle No More have a large network of networks in the US and Canada. Idle No More started by Indigenous women of Canada are mobilizing to stop violence against women and the land throughout Canada and is spreading to other countries. The Valentine’s Day Billion Women Rising Campaign is mobilizing women around the world to stop violence against women.
The UN Commission on the Status of Women meets yearly for governments to report their latest findings and for governmental and non-governmental organizations to develop policies and actions. This year the focus is on Violence Against Women. Sex Trafficking, domestic slavery and violence against women are the key issues to be addressed this year. The UN meetings allow for non-governmental organizations and grassroots women to participate in parallel events during the two weeks of governmental sessions. The following is a list of our delegation’s events that are free and open to the public.
Saturday, March 2 6-8 pm.
Toward the Millionth Circle: a party, a circle, a book launch, a grassroots effort to create a groundswell at CSW for 5WCW with Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D.,
Food and Refreshments served. The Affinia Shelburne Hotel. 37th and Lexington
Sunday, March 3 10 am - 3 pm
UN Consultation Day. Advanced reservation required. Armenian Center. 35th and 2nd Ave.
Monday - March 4 4:30-6 pm
Religion, Culture and Violence Against Women. Co-hosted by Women of Spirit and Faith and the Women’s Task Force at the Parliament of the World’s Religions.
Guild Hall. Armenian Church. 630 2nd Ave.
Monday, March 4 5:30-7:00 pm
The Heart to Lead Film followed by circle discussion on women’s leadership with producer Cheryl Gould . Co-sponsored by Imagine The Good, Circle Connections, We Are Enough. Quest Book Store, 240 E 53rd Street
Tuesday, March 5 8:30 - 10 am
Women as Spiritual Leaders: Transforming Violence. Circle conversation.
Co-hosted by Women of Spirit and Faith and the Women’s Task Force at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. Grumman Room, 8th Floor. Church Center
Tuesday, March 5 8:30 – 10 am
Degradation of the Environment and Violence Against Women and Girls: Panel with Jean Bolen and Donna Goodman. Sponsors: Earthchild Institute, Bioneers, Pathways To Peace, Millionth Circle Initiative, International Public Policy Institute
Church Center, Drew Room, 777 United Nations Plaza
Tuesday, March 5 6:15 – 7:45 pm
Grassroots Activism and a Global Women's Conference – 5WCW. Zainab Salbi Jean Bolen. Sponsored by Pathways To Peace, Women's World Summit Foundation, Millionth Circle Initiative, Peace X Peace, Women's Perspective, and Earth Child Institute. , Armenian Conference Center. 630 2nd Ave.
Wednesday, March 6 8:30 to 10:00 am
We Are Enough: To Stop Violence. Interactive replicable workshop to empower women and girls to organize locally and globally in stopping violence. Sponsors: International Public Policy Institute, Circle Connections, We Are Enough, Gather The Women. Salvation Army Auditorium, 221 East 52nd Street
Wednesday, March 6 10 am – 11:30 am
The Little Banana: Moving the Immigrant Child from the Violence of Cultural Uprooting to the Empowerment of Creative Expression. Panel with Jean Bolen. Sponsored by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. Church Center 10th floor
Wednesday, March 6 12:30 – 2:00 pm
Time 4 Peace: Ending Violence Against Women and Children. Panel with Ambassador Chowdhury, former UN Under-Sec-General., Jean Bolen, Dean Peacock. Sponsors: Pathways to Peace, Intl Public Policy Inst., Circle Connections, Millionth Circle Initiative. V-Hall, Armenian Center, 630 2nd at 35th
Wednesday, March 6 7:00- 9:00 pm
Women’s Sacred Circle: Dreaming Together. Sharing dreams for CSW and beyond. Co-hosted by Circle Connections, Women of Spirit and Faith, Millionth Circle, Gather The Women, We Are Enough, Anglican Women’s Empowerment, International Public Policy Institute. Episcopal Church Center, 815 2nd Ave, Between 43-44th.
Maria Owl Gutierrez