There are a lot of workshops out there. There are a lot of workshops (and retreats, and programs, etc.) focused on women’s empowerment. There are a lot of workshops that teach in some way how to bring the sacred into your life, whether that is through ritual, wilderness sojourn, poetry, song, etc. I don’t know if what I offer is in any ultimate sense better or worse than anything else that’s out there. I do know that I offer what I do because it grows out of the ways that the sacred has stirred and stirs in me.
I am a woman, and I have grown spiritually largely if not entirely within the context of women’s groups. I speak the language of women connecting with women.
I also speak the language of ritual, because ritual calls to me from deep inside myself and from deep out in the world.
I am interested in rites of passage because I have experienced a hunger for them. I have wanted significant moments of my life to be spoken to, to be mirrored by those who can help me acknowledge their reality, who can look into them with me and help me translate their joy and their confusion into word and action and art. I have not wanted to move blindly and senselessly through my life. I have wanted to know myself at each stage through the steadying framework of the naming of things, the telling that even on foggy ways that appear to double back on themselves landmarks can be known, the divulging that others have walked similar paths, and it’s okay to walk here: what feels like death isn’t necessarily killing.
In bringing something alive for myself, I bring it alive for others. I’ve heard often that we teach what we need to learn. I am learning all the time, and it is my joy to share what I learn.
It is also my vision that we each do this. In each time, in each place, in each circle, whether composed of five people or five hundred, we each tell and we each name what we offer.
I offer workshops where women may gather to speak about their own journeys, the terrain they have been shaped by and that has been marked out by their feet. I don’t know what resolution, if any, will come. I see in my heart’s eye girls who grow up knowing that rites of passage are a real thing and that they will move through many of them, and that they can do this with intention. I see women who never knew they could celebrate their lives finding ways to celebrate. I see women spying direction and finding ways to take aim. I see healing of the narratives that tell us our most direct experiences of the world don’t matter, that we didn’t feel what we felt. We did, and a rite of passage that was missed can be re-made at any time. Parts of the self that have lagged and been locked up can return.
These things will happen differently each time, and different things will happen each time. (Examples: we may dance in a circle with a piece of string. We may sit quietly on the floor. We may perform a spontaneous play. We may build together with flowers someone has brought.) What remains always is the passion for this work, like a heart beating at the center, and that is what I offer. I am one person among many, but I speak for the importance of women’s rites of passage, and those who form circles with me may hear this and experience what it is for themselves and then may, if they choose and desire, enter into other circles and speak for their own experience, which others will hear…and so it goes.