I have been facilitating women’s circles in Europe since 2006. This has involved years of deep, challenging, thankful, and fun teaching and learning. During that time, I have collaborated with different facilitators in the fields of art and spirituality and connected with different cultures, experiences that have reinforced a vision of SISTERHOOD.
Let me clarify that in no manner am I excluding men from these reflections. On the contrary, I believe that many dysfunctional and suffering men have been shaped by women who haven’t managed to stand up for themselves. They harm their children through manipulation while not directly challenging an oppressive system out of fear or a need to feel accepted and to belong.
My students and I are going through an important transition. Most of us come from parents who have spent their lives seeking material possessions, safety, comfort, and success in terms of competition enforced through harsh discipline. Then we moved to the other extreme: we have a reactive attitude towards the previous patterns that is manifested as procrastination, avoidance of tasks that involve responsibility towards ourselves and others, being too permissive, confusing freedom with doing whatever feels right at the moment, and so on.
Many -though not all- of sisterhood communities are, to a great extent, influenced by this second model which for me is not effective any more. I honestly thank all those women who have reacted against the deeply oppressive patriarchal system. It can seem a necessary and natural step to go from one extreme to the other before harmony is established, but it´s time to move on.
For this to happen, it is essential to awaken the mother aspect in us. Up until now, it has been considered having the same vision as others enough in order to join, collaborate and create a joined action. However, in most cases I know, this is not enough. It is one thing to have a vision and a completely different thing to manifest it. When differences emerge, deep listening is essential. The encounter of souls in a genuine relationship cannot happen instantly. That’s why collaborations that have started impulsively and felt right at the beginning, have ended up in friction. If you really desire to meet your true fellow travelers and establish significant connections that will give you fulfilment and spread kindness in the world, then you need to learn to listen.
The sacred space that is created through deep listening is nonjudgmental: it harbors no expectations, and it does not assume expressing your opinion is necessary. Listening space is sacred and can be healing in itself. Just BE. Nonjudgmental listening creates an energy field that includes the participants, making them feel at home.
So, if you want to enter that field, put aside expectations. You will economize energy and time and permit the healing process to start.
Here are some attitudes that sabotage sisterhood:
- Expecting to enter a circle where you will be the center of attention by imposing your presence without respecting other´s right to share too.
- Expecting that others will assume the responsibility of your life and heart: wounded children of 30, 40, 50 years old and more, need to stop considering the family, society, men, etc.. as responsible for their “bad luck.”
- Confusing unconditional love with lack of boundaries. Saying NO when your gut feeling dictates, is an act of supreme love to yourself and others. In doing so, you respect your soul´s boundaries and you offer others the opportunity to know you as you are.
- Being too informal: formality, including coming on time and respecting guidelines suggested by facilitators on the basis of their experience with groups is a way of honoring the attention the others have given us. Spirituality is not just about letting it all hang out, it is also about learning the art of respect for all those who do the hard work of grounding the vision that you claim to be sharing.
- Over-idealisation of the vision: if you obsessively or naively stick to your vision, you will not be able to see it manifested, and if you do, you will be too exhausted to enjoy the result.
- Expecting everything to come together quickly. Recognize that it is hard to genuinely connect if you are still on survival mode. We all carry wounds. Give yourself time and honestly ask for help so that all the crust accumulated around your essence melts. And do the same for others.
And here are attitudes that create and reinforce sisterhood:
- Honour your vulnerability. It is a gate to healing from wound. Re-connect with your feelings and let them lead you to that point where pain becomes a purifying force that reignites the warmth of your heart.
- Stop playing victim: the moment you blame others for your misfortune, it is a sign that you are still in the victim mode. Of course, the acts of some people have hurt you, but if you concentrate on that, you give them power over you. No matter how hard this may be, use all the tools and power you can to shift your focus towards the energy that will uplift you to your genuine self.
- If you are a healer or priestess or facilitator, bear in mind that you also are a human being and you also need support, healing and love. We are not perfect (thank God and Goddess) and accepting our imperfections, can make us more compassionate towards ourselves and others.
- Speaking about priestesses, don’t call yourself one until you really are one. You don’t become a priestess by wearing robes and jewelry. The archetype of the priestess is reviving in our times because it´s a medicine that brings together polarities. A true priestess teaches us how to live between heaven and earth, healing the wound that has been created by the polarity between patriarchal control and the reactive “emancipation.”
- Show your physical support to those who need it, if you can, not only by just sending prayers and blessings; human touch is equally important.
- Support the strong spine of principles that your gut feeling dictates to you. Find spiritual/creative practices that suit you, take good care of your body, and find nourishment in a community of fellow feelers, thinkers, and doers.
- Beware of the pseudo-gurus. It is one thing to learn from teachers who inspire you towards your freedom and another to become prey of a narcissist´s desire to gain followers, power, or money.
I write this in deepest hope that we can move gracefully towards a more substantial and mature Sisterhood.
Eirini Delaki is an actress, drummer, sound/energy healer, teacher and lifelong student. She uses the disciplines of Spiritual Theatre, Kundalini Yoga, Ritual Sound/Percussion and Poetry to create sacred experiences and performances. Her work is inspired by the ancient priestesses of the Mediterranean area and her homeland, Greece. Eirini has been developing the concept of Spiritual Theatre (a fusion of theatre with spiritual practices) since 2006. This proposal has been warmly supported by institutions like the University of Valencia, the Manipal University Hospital in Nepal, and several international theatre projects of the European Commission. For the last 3 years she is one of the artists in charge of a ritual performance for the Greek-Roman Theatre Festival in Spain.
6 thoughts on “Insights on Sisterhood: An Offering to the Great Goddess by Eirini Delaki”
I am in the Green Party Greece and we have a similar problem with a larger group. Many of the members are still reacting against hierarchical control. Thus they don’t want leaders and many have difficulty accepting time limits when they are speaking. And they have resisted attempts to initiate structures that will enable time for everyone’s voice to be heard. So what happens? Mainly the same people raise their hands to speak and the others sit and listen.
If we look at egalitarian matriarchies such as those discussed by Heide Goettner-Abendroth, we will find that “participatory democracy” does not mean no leaders and no structures–rather it means that there all well-established STRUCTURES to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard and taken into account when decisions are made. I note as well that in egalitarian matriarchies decisions that affect the whole group are not generally made by one individual but by councils of elders.
In my groups in Crete, I am the facilitator and through my experience set “rules” or establish “structures” that ensure that everyone’s voice can be heard. If I relinquished my responsibility to facilitate and establish structures, it is likely that some people would not talk while others would take up the space available to them.
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Carol, you speak with genuine wisdom born of your experience – and what you say here is so important… so many of us still don’t get it.
Wonderful article. Well said. Thank you.
Your points of sabotage and support of sisterhood are excellent. I’m sure we’ve all, as they say, been there, done that. Many thanks for both lists.
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“Then we moved to the other extreme: we have a reactive attitude towards the previous patterns that is manifested as procrastination, avoidance of tasks that involve responsibility towards ourselves and others, being too permissive, confusing freedom with doing whatever feels right at the moment, and so on.”
I was struck by this second list because I grew up in reaction to the first and sad to say manifested some of these qualities as a young adult….
When we are in reactive mode as adolescents or adults and don’t recognize it we are simply reversing the script – ending up back at the beginning.
Thanks for spelling these points out so clearly.
Funny how we cannot mention sisterhood without immediately apologizing and reassuring men that we are not lesbians nor man-haters. When men speak of brotherhood, we all assume they include women.
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