Decades ago, I was invited to perform a Winter Solstice Ceremony on Baker's Beach in San Francisco. I was a visitor in town on my own without my usual network of celebrants. So, in preparation for this event I held a meeting at the women's bookstore to stimulate interest and to gather a central tribe of facilitators to help set up and drum in the ritual.
After my presentation, a tough looking woman stood up and asked in an overtly belligerent manner, "Are men allowed?"
"Yes," I answered. "The Winter Solstice is a global holiday, a universal event, which is not just for women."
"But men always take over," she replied angrily.
"Well, why do you let them?" I countered.
In all of my 40-plus years of leading rituals, I have never had one experience of a man trying to usurp my leadership or sabotage a ceremony.
As far as I am concerned, any man who honors Mother Earth and the female forces of the universe, who can chant, "Reverence to Her" with earnest intentions, is very welcome in my rituals in celebration of what I call "Celestially Auspicious Occasions."
Now if this were to be a Blood Rites Ritual, a Queening Ceremony or a Sister Spirit Support Group, obviously not. There is a very legitimate place and a deep need for women-only space, but a cosmic occurrence is not one of them.
In these rituals, the power of the Feminine Divine is palpable and women and men alike fall into Her thrall. This is true power. Not the sort of bully power that is expressed through anger, nor from the need to dominate others. But power that wells up from deep within and connects us with the Holy Source of Life.
As overtly assertive and confrontational as that San Francisco sister was, she clearly saw herself as a victim, helpless in the face of perceived male domination. But, it is too late and the world conditions are too dire for us to hold on to a self-image of being weak and powerless. We are definitely not the weaker sex. Slower, maybe, but certainly not weaker and definitely not helpless.
Men are not really the problem. The patriarchy is the problem. This hierarchal power system, based on insatiable greed and the need to control executed by aggression, domination, exploitation and terrorism, is the problem. And it is the problem of women and men alike. Moreover, it is the problem of every living plant, animal, person and resource on this planet. It is a threatening, dangerous problem for Mother Earth, Herself.
I firmly believe that women, especially women of a certain age, will be the changing force of society, and that we possess the vision, the wisdom, the experience, and the wherewithal to lead the charge for change toward sustainability, sanity, and peace. However we cannot do it alone.
All people -- all people -- need to be involved if we are going to truly transform our attitudes and cultural ethos. Making the world a better place has got to be a fully participatory project if we are not just dreaming or talking through our hats.
But we women have to see ourselves as leaders. We need to stand in our center, embrace our power, and be willing to use it. We need to speak our truth, walk our talk, and model our intentions. We have to accept and exercise our own authority. That is, we need to own the authorship of our own destiny. The responsibility is no one else's. It is ours.
The patriarchal powers-that-be have created a complete mess. Clearly, it is up to us women to roll up our sleeves and get busy putting life back in order again. It might be too late, already, but I fervently believe that if there is any hope at all for healing this planet and all who live upon it, that hope is us.
Personally, I do not think that it is a coincidence that just as the planet teeters on the very brink of destruction, there comes along generations of fiery, accomplished, clever, competent, ambitious women at the height of our supremacy to whip it back into shape.
And the sheer enormity of our numbers means that we can actually achieve the critical mass necessary to make a real and lasting difference. Let us harness our impressive energy: our purity of purpose, our passion, our heartfelt compassion, and our enormous power, and let us direct it toward creating a safe, sane, sustainable, sublime, and peaceful world for us all. The future is in our very capable hands.
I hereby call on women everywhere to take a stand and use our vast stores of wisdom, experience, creativity, and chutzpah do something positive, each in our own unique and inimitable way, toward creating a better future for us all. Not out of a misplaced sense of duty, but because it is a joy and an honor to do so. Because we can do no less.
What in the world are we waiting for?
If not us, who? If not now, when?
If the first woman God ever made was strong enough
to turn the world upside down all alone, together
women ought to be able to turn it right-side up again.
- Sojourner Truth