For four years I had the honor to meet with a very special circle of girls. They were fourteen young women, and we started to meet when they were in sixth grade.
The story that follows is about a practice we did together the first time we gathered.
One of the girls, Anna, had expressed to her parents and to her class that she often felt left out by the rest of the girls. She didn’t get invited to birthday parties, and she often felt that the girls were talking about her behind her back.
Anna is a girl who speaks up if something is not right, so she expressed this in our afternoon session as well.
“I want to know why you stop talking when I come into the room and give each other looks. Do you think that I don’t notice? How would you feel if you never got invited for a play date?”
Some of the girls supported her by sharing that they wouldn’t feel good either about being treated like she was, but the girls that had been most active in excluding Anna were silent. At this point, I decided to tell the story of the Spider Woman, a goddess of the Navajo Indians (this is my free interpretation of the legend):
“In the beginning of time, the Spider Woman was sitting in the center of the universe, which otherwise was completely empty. Out of nothing she created the planets, the suns, the stars and the moons, she created heaven and earth, she created light and darkness, and each object she created was connected to her with the threads of life. She was a Spider Woman sitting in the center of her web, spinning out life from herself. She was creating human beings and birds and animals and trees, and she was blowing life into all these forms with her breath.
If you have seen a spider web, you know that there are threads going out from the middle, but there are also threads crossing. In the same way, as human beings, animals and everything else started their lives, threads were created that went between them all, and so everything in the world was connected. The threads of life permeated everything. If one part of the web was touched, the whole web was shaking.”
“Can you see that each part of the web plays a very important role?” I asked the girls. “If you take away one part of the group, it will be a different web.”
The girls nodded, and I noticed that they glanced around the circle. Maybe they were starting to see their little group as a web, too.
“I love to travel around the world meeting with women,” I continued. “Women and girls have such immense powers and beautiful gifts that we can give to the world. But there are also other habits that are typical of girls and women that sabotage our gifts. They even disconnect us from the web, from our feeling of connectedness. I am talking about our habits of gossiping, talking behind each other’s backs and of competition and saying, ‘She is more beautiful than me’ or thinking, ‘I want all the boys to like me, not her.’
We were all giggling at this point. The girls said they could recognize this in themselves. I opened the space for them to continue the conversation. Susan, a girl who often speaks what the other girls are afraid to voice, went first. “I really want you all to know that if you have anything to say about me, I want you to come directly to me, and not talk behind my back.”
The other girls joined her in this demand; they all wanted to have clear communication.
By this point all the girls had a lot to say. I encouraged them to share things they had withheld from each other to clear the air, and especially to express what needed to be said to Anna. One by one they shared how they sometimes had been hurt by each other, shared their apologies and shared their appreciation of one other.
Whether Anna was invited to the next birthday party or not I do not know, but it was clear that what happened in this meeting laid the groundwork for a healthier relationship among the girls.
Powerful healing is made possible when we come together, committed to speak face-to-face, and abandon our habits of gossiping behind each other’s backs. The trust between women is deeply interconnected with our trust of the feminine itself. As we move closer to the divine feminine, we are ruthlessly challenged to face all our judgments and criticisms of the feminine in ourselves and in others.
In the Awakening Women community, and in the soon to be open virtual Women’s Ashram we take a stand for a conscious way of being women together on this planet.
Together we can heal and transform the old ways of competition and gossiping, and return to a relationship of celebration and empowerment.
The guidelines below are the back bone of our community.
Awakening Women Sisterhood Manifesto
– I commit to be honest and direct with you
– I commit to take responsibility for myself
– I will ask for support when I need it
– I will ask for alone time when I need it, and it means nothing personal to you
– I will not try to fix you
– I will listen to you
– I will keep what you share confidential and not gossip about it
– I will not speak negatively about you to others
– I will celebrate your unique beauty and gifts
– I will not hold myself back to fit in and I will support you in doing the same
We don’t have to wait until we are perfect or until we never again fall into unconscious habits. Love is right here embracing it all. Totally, with nothing left out. All that is needed is a yes.
Yes, that is important. Yes, that is why I am here.
:: You can creatively engage and learn more about the Sisterhood Manifesto at our Women’s Temple Group Facilitator Trainings.
Photo Credit: Mikaela Larm