Early this month (March 2013), I gave the opening keynote at the First Eco-Feminism Conference, “InSpirit: Reviving Our Communities, Our Spaces, Ourselves” put on by the Women’s Resource Center at the University of Utah. A task force of several women worked for a year to conceptualize and realize this conference, in response to their own questioning about what feminism is today and where it is going. In preparing for my talk, I loved wrestling with the question of “what is feminism now?” As the task force of women intuited, I also felt that ‘feminism’ had expanded in its definition and scope and was inextricably tied up with our relationship to the earth. Thus the term ‘eco-feminism.’
The talk that came out of me was my own story of coming into awareness and connection in my own life. I found that my own story was indeed a story of this most current incarnation of feminism. Feminism for me, and I think for many, is now coming to be about the primordial energy of the Feminine; the receptive, creative, moving and magnetizing force of the universe which is expressed in all things — the Feminine that is relational and requires deep connection—with self, others, place and the earth.
It’s difficult to make an ‘ism’ out of something so big!
When we define the Feminine in this way, it does not polarize, but include. We move beyond victimization (acknowledging fully all that has been historically done and continues to be done to contain, control and subdue the Feminine) and into a more powerful place of acceptance and integration.
After I spoke, the entire audience and I gradually moved into a giant circle where we continued the conversation. The circle was somewhat ceremonial in that we used a talking piece, a big backbone of perhaps a cow or bull, and spoke sparingly but strongly from our hearts. It was a risky thing to attempt at a public gathering, but may I say, it has been a secret dream of mine for years!
I was completely blown away by the depth and wisdom of the group. People spoke of their own connections to nature. They spoke of their sadness at the losses of natural places and the hope and exquisite beauty of creation . . . of the amazingness of the moon! An 84-year-old woman spoke of her first circle, in 1965 in a consciousness-raising group. A woman sitting next to me, whose life is dedicated to spiritual consciousness, wept . . . she herself was born in 1965. A man spoke of his questions about evolution and the environmental movement. A young woman asked for the group’s blessing as she embarked upon her education in environmental law—with the intent of bringing the Feminine to her practice in a big way.
And for all the beautiful words, what I remember most powerfully was the energy of the group. There was a profound presence, a deep connection of heart amongst all 50 or 60 of us, all of us listening with our whole being, each of us feel each other’s true nature, each of us giving our attention and authentic caring.
I felt both my uniqueness and my utter embeddedness simultaneously. This is what it means to be in community. Communing-in-unity, while holding and respecting our diversity. This is how the greatest wisdom is accessed—the wisdom of the whole.
May our cultural swing toward the Feminine and the earth embrace the Masculine and all that we’ve created in the last 5000 years . . . and may we sit in circles and circles and circles together.