I’m going to begin this post by saying what’s true for me…
Gathering with women is my passion and can come more easily to me than others.
I am an extrovert, meaning I derive energy from social interaction with other people. I was known as a social butterfly growing up—easily cultivating friendships in my various jobs and school activities. I have a regular practice of gathering with women in my community and often post joyful pictures of these gatherings on Instagram.
You may be thinking…”Sure Becca, good for you. But this sisterhood thing is really HARD for me.”
I hear from a lot of women in my work, who share just how painful their relationships with women have been. They say they prefer male friends because women have always been catty, bitchy, territorial, and backstabbing in their experience. They have chosen to trust women and have felt betrayed and judged, so they now choose to keep female relationships on the surface with a fiercely guarded heart.
They have found women to be jealous, hateful, and mean-spirited. And, even though they know these women are hurting on the inside, it’s still overwhelmingly hard to connect with anyone who engages in this kind of malicious and hurtful behavior.
The kind of sisterhood I hear these women are craving is the kind where they can be raw and open and trusting in a judgment-free zone.
I, too, have felt the betrayal of women. And I have played the role of the one who betrayed.
I have been gossiped about, and have also told a woman’s secret that wasn’t mine to tell. I have felt full on rejection by a friend group, and have also been a part of the group that cast away another woman and told her she didn’t belong.
All of these experiences with women have informed the woman I am today—one who is taking a stand for healing this wound that has festered in communities of women for generations.
We, as women, used to commune in another way.
There was a time when living in community was vital to a tribe’s survival. Women depended upon each other and thrived in sisterhood.
They helped birth each other’s babies, heal each other when they were sick, nurse each other’s children, and feed each other from their own harvest when a sister’s food store was low. They would bleed under the new moon together and needed to only look into each other’s eyes with deep knowing of the great mystery that bound them to the earth and each other in the beautiful web of life.
How did we go from living in bonded community to a society where women compete and betray each other?
The root goes back several centuries to a time when the rising powers of patriarchy and the Christian church systematically tore communities apart through terror campaigns that had neighbors turning each other in for being healers, midwives, seers, and wise woman and calling them witch.
This was known as The Burning Times, and millions of women, children, and their male allies were brutally murdered to encourage the submission of the people to a new way of life—a system of empire where their connection to the great mystery and each other was severed.*
Fast forward a few hundred years to the industrial revolution—a time of economic prosperity (for some) that also encouraged communities to disperse and live in their own homes, isolated from each other. Women have felt this isolation the hardest, particularly when becoming new mothers or going through a sickness or depression and feeling the pressure to muscle through it alone and not need any help or support…when the foundation of a healthy community has always been through help and support.
*I teach a lot more in depth about the history and context for the sisterhood wound in my program Gather. If you’re wanting more than this high-level overview, consider joining us there.
We have forgotten how to sister one another, but we are also remembering.
We are remembering that together we can accomplish so much more than when we are apart.
Because we are all yearning for it—for deeper connections with each other. To go past the surface and say what’s really going on in our hearts. We ache to be understood, and finally feel safe with each other, to not feel judged to scorned.
This hunger is what I believe to be the process of remembering. When we have the hope that it can be different, we can be courageous and work to heal this wound of sisterhood that’s been pervading our culture for hundreds of years.
And in order to heal, we must be willing to practice it. We must be willing to show up, just as we are, and circle with women to share our true-est selves. Circle in a way where no one sister is above or below any other sister.
We must be willing to face our fears of betrayal, feel the sting of judgment, and have the difficult conversations so that we can remember the power and salve of sisterhood in a woman’s life. It isn’t always easy (I still experience tension and frustration in sisterhood), but it’s absolutely worth it to keep practicing.
If you are looking for a place to practice being seen exactly as you are by a community of compassionate and creative women, Hearthfire may be that space for you.