By Theresa King
Women’s spirituality. Not too long ago the words would have been considered an oxymoron. Spirituality – like religion, politics, and commerce – was the domain of men, appropriated and held in patriarchy’s unyielding fists for thousands of years.
In the late 70’s when I was researching women’s spirituality for one of my books, The Spiral Path, religious leaders and teachers of major traditions assured me, sometimes acerbically, that spirituality is one, its principles long established, its symbols secure. The sacred had already been named, and it was male.
But it is only when women see themselves mirrored positively in mythology, ritual, scripture, art, and in the very face of divinity can they see the sacredness of everyday life. If women’s bodies, work, thoughts, art, and symbols are thought to be unimportant, commercialized, ridiculed, how can the earth be sacred? How can God have any meaning at all? Spirituality is life. We are multifaceted beings; we have layer upon layer of symbol and need and meaning, and spirituality must incorporate and infuse every aspect of our lives.
Slowly and painfully over the last quarter century, women have taken back their power to name. The sacred has emerged with a new face. Women have researched the “forgotten” scriptures about their gender, theologized over their foremothers in stories, reinstated the ancient worship of wicca and the Goddess, reclaimed female wisdom from native shamans around the globe, and made rituals meaningful to their lives— rituals for bleeding, birthing, feeding, losing, creating, divorcing, befriending, loving, grieving, pleasuring, angering, healing, aging, dying.
Women now can look in the cosmic mirror and see the sacred reflected back at them surely and truthfully. We can more easily realize our places in the great spiral of chaos/cosmos that we call the universe, and perhaps even begin to feel comfortable in that place. This is, of course, the aim of all the searching and exploring: to answer the question, “So what?” in the face of reality and know, really know, that we belong there, with a connection that no one else is capable of making.
Spirituality leads inevitably to self-transformation. It is always concerned with transforming our narrowness into full awareness, transforming our social struggles into community, transforming our fears and self-loathing into vitality and power. It does not so much make the mundane sacred as it lets us realize that the mundane issacred and that the sacred should be very familiar.
Women’s spirituality always leads back to the most practical of goals: happiness. And that, of course, means mine, yours, ours. Spirituality makes the world better because we realize we are truly part of one another. Peace and justice are inevitable ends of meditation and introspection, Care for each other is the natural byproduct of altered states and vision quests. Respect and tolerance result from sharing stories and prayer. Basically, spirituality is about love. It is love of self and love of others, love lived now and love searched for, love as being and as becoming, love as person and as the universe’s all-encompassing power.
Through women’s spirituality we bless all that is sacred in ourselves, each other, the earth, and that which is yet to unfold in the chaos/cosmos of life.