The fight for my feminine soul
I need to rethink my life as a ‘man-made’ woman. To take back my soul. [Sue Monk Kidd].
Did you notice my new blog category? Feminist Spirituality. Just writing the words, and I’m shaking my head not quite believing what I see.
Feminism – it’s not a term I thought I would ever use in conjunction with spirituality or God. Never in a million years. I’m a bit of a coward. A closet sympathiser. A secret fist pumper. Cautious about attaching myself to the word ‘feminist’ in any sense, let alone place it side by side with spirituality. I’m scared of the backlash and outrage that occurs when old, or new ways, are challenged or questioned. A hostile response and I’m easily silenced. But no more. I’ve been silent far too long. Hopefully, in the future, I’ll be able to change the words ‘Feminist Spirituality’ to ‘Feminine Spirituality’, but at this stage. I am just at the start of my fight – the fight to get back what has always been mine – my feminine soul.
How did this come about? Well, I live near a beach. The soothing, comforting sound of the waves, has a calming effect on my longing and yearning, and when I inhale the splendour of my surroundings, the noise and clamour of life dims, and I find myself entering the territory of my soul. And so there I was on New Year’s Day, on the beach wandering and pondering. Thinking how weird it was that I feel so anxious about going back to the church. You would think that given my love for the Divine, going to church would be easy, but to be honest, the dread, the anxiety, sweaty palms and heart palpitations have long been my church companions.
‘Why do I feel like that?’ I asked my soul.
‘Because your soul is wounded,’ came the reply.
I allowed myself to look at my woundedness. And I caught a glimpse of a mutilated, abused and raped soul. ‘There really should be a #MeToo for the soul,’ was my first response. But something didn’t feel right. The #MeToo label was too narrow a term for what I was feeling. It was important, but something told me it was just a representation of something much greater. Bigger than religion or church. I just didn’t know what.
I had an image of me being in prison, behind bars. It was like a cage. I noticed I had the key, so I unlocked the door and opened it as wide as I could.
‘I am setting you free,’ I said, and I moved my arms in the movement you do when shoo-ing someone out of the room. I continued my walk along the beach feeling quite pleased with myself, even though I was not quite sure of who, or what, I had released from the cage.
Later in the day I started reading a book I had been meaning to read for a while. Little did I know just how connected it was to my morning ponderings. I first read the book twenty years ago, but to be honest, I understood very little of it. I was bewildered by the excitement and attention surrounding The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd (SMK). I couldn’t see what everyone was raving about. The only thing I remembered about the book were the words, “In the beginnings of Christianity, church fathers debated whether women had souls at all”.
Funnily enough, although I am utterly outraged by those words now, back then, they did not register as something important for me. But because the words have dogged and jogged my memory over the years, I decided to re-purchase the book and check it out. I settled down to read.
I only got as far as the introduction before my world as I knew it exploded. This is what I read.
”I was going along doing everything I ‘should’ have been doing, and then unexpectedly I woke up. I collided with the patriarchy within my culture, my church, my faith tradition, my marriage, and also within myself. And this collision changed everything. I began to wake up to a whole new way of being a woman…” [SMK]
I could not go on any further. My morning ponderings, my wounded soul, the yearning, the longing collided. It was like a blurred picture coming into focus. I’m still a little bit like a ‘stunned mullet’. As I write I am reminded of author Paulo Coelho’s quote, “If we seek something, that same thing is seeking us.” Well, we finally found each other. It was me in that cage. It was me who needed to walk out. And when I did, I walked straight into the arms of my feminine soul.
From the moment of conception our lives are shaped by others. I was born into patriarchy. Strictly Catholic with strictly authoritarian parenting. We were an affectionless family where anything remotely emotive was considered ‘namby pamby’, crushed or repressed. Love was a topic avoided altogether. The flame in my feminine soul was extinguished long before I could meet her, and I have traversed through life a sanitised version of who I was created to be, living the patriarchal dream. But no more. There is no patriarchy in Love.
I will be writing a lot more on the topic of feminine spirituality. It’s too big, too wide and too tall to write in one blog. I don’t know where my feminine soul is going to take me. My insides feel so disorderly – scared, amazed, wondrous and revitalised. I’m in awe of this sacred moment. I don’t really know how to be a ‘spiritual feminist’.
Let me finish by completing the quote that started this journey.
“In the beginnings of Christianity, church fathers debated whether women had souls at all. Later the issue became whether or not a woman’s soul could be saved.Today the issue is one of women reconnecting with their souls.”[Sue Monk Kidd].
Who wants to come with me?