Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves.
Life is my Teacher - my Guru - my Council. It has brought me here like a River. I am Living my life beyond my Wildest Possible Imagination. What has met me on this journey, and what it has taught me is incomprehensible. Everything - every single happening, occurrence, phenomenon, and those involved in it have contributed to my being here.
From the traveling nomadic life of an Army Kid to the Kendriya Vidyalaya student life to my decade long professional career of a Computer Engineer to Falling in Love to Moving and Living in United States to Being with A Guru on a Spiritual Path to entering Women's Spiituality M.A at ITP to Meeting the most Diverse Community of Friends, Teachers, and Elders to Re-membering way to my Ancestors to Getting a Divorce and Separating to Returning and Re-anchoring my life in India to Discovering the extensive inroads of my own Trauma to discovering the Wisdom of Trauma to Being Opened into the Dark-Light Cyclic Wisdom. Along the way initiating She Stands Tall Project and the Ordinary Human Project - it has been a Full Cycle, and it continues.
I am slowly arriving and settling into my Life rhythm while it continues to carry me. I surrender to its flow.
Take me with you. I am here. I am Ready.
Photo Courtesy @augustarosephoto
My Body is The Gift of my ancestors. It anchors my Soul’s incarnation on Earth as a Wom(b)an. I arrived into this knowing only through movements of my Adult life.
While I was born in my mother's village of Cherukunnu (Kerala), I grew up away from the Land, Life and Lived Body of my ancestors. At 36 years of Age, this distance from my ancestors fully manifested as alienation with my physical, and psychosomatic body and sexuality. It brought me to doorstep of Women's Spirituality Masters of Arts program at Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (ITP) in California. I had already quit my engineering career, was shifting out of a marriage, and becoming present to the inherited culture of body alienation, emotional negation, and spiritual bypass of my Indian Body, and Heritage.
The organic soil of my M.A program gave me the opportunity to inquire into my origin story - the Matrilineal, Matrilocal, Matrifocal past of my Ancestors, my roots of belonging, and Being a Woman. I questioned everything—gender perceptions, cultural and social conditioning around gender, the “do”s and “don’t”s of feminine identity, the age-old dogmas defining womanhood, the shame, disgust, and silence surrounding body and sexuality, and most importantly the direct and indirect influences of mother-centered and father-centered cultures in defining a woman’s relationship with her body and sexuality.
As part of my M.A thesis, I engaged in conversations with my mother and several grandmothers on their lived experiences of female sexuality within a matrilineal family structure. I discovered an earth-based spirituality bereft of shame that for centuries had celebrated menstrual blood, the feminine body, and her erotic sexuality through female-centered rituals, and ceremonies. It had a gender-egalitarian witnessing lens that my modern cultural context had taught me to negate, shame, and consider primitive. I also, became present to the collapse and breakdown navigated by my grandparent's generation - from maternal and mother-centric community life to an overtly patriarchal nuclear way of living. It gave insight into my own trauma map. I discovered inroads of fear, grief, anger, shame, and also, disconnection, dismembering, and absence held in my body. In making space and getting to know it, I discovered the road map of my Body.
The academic, transpersonal psychology-based, self-expression-infused, ritual-informed, and elder-supported curriculum of the M.A program supported me to locate, reclaim and stand tall in the feminine process that is part and parcel of my womb biology. It is of getting pregnant with an inquiry, descending into the Dark waiting chambers, making room for the organic metamorphosis leading to birthing oneself (and sometimes another life), then slowly emerging out while nesting growth, and rebirth. Then getting ready to begin all over again. In opposition to the masculine linear path, the feminine lens is organic, cyclic, and Rhythmic. It is not instant. It involves slowing down, waiting, and letting go. This knowing supports me to find my way out of the unidirectional Masculine reign or rule within my own self. Through She Stands Tall Project, I support Women in reclaiming their own feminine process, standing tall in its guidance, and allowing it to include all of Who They are, and Re-member the intact Wholeness within.
One of the most profound somatic experiences of my life is of Menstruation - Bleeding. From the first day I sighted my Blood's arrival at 13 years of Age in my Grandmothers home in Cherukunnu (Kannur, Kerala), life as I knew it before ceased to exist. My bleeding wouldn't stop. It was like being in a flood for months. Blood often graced my white school skirt, and even, kept me away from school and social life because I bled so profusely. Several Ob-Gyn prodded and explored my body. Some even suggested a womb removal. Within a year, I was put on pills (that I learned only in adulthood to be contraceptive pills). It artificially regulated my flow for many months. Then when I got off the pills, my monthly bleeding was regular but now was accompanied by excruciating pain to the point of passing out and losing consciousness. Since I was never introduced to pain killers, these pain gateways also, facilitated out-of-body experiences resulting in somatic relief, comfort, and pleasure. That is the first time I discovered the polar interconnections of Pain and Pleasure. I also, observed that the blood’s arrival was often entrained with rain, shifts in lunar and seasonal movements, the remembrance of the goddess, a significant ritual or festival time, death and grief, and bleeding of other women. It brought vivid dreams, erotic experiences, and mysterious happenings. It even, revealed answers to complex mathematical problems I was struggling in school with. In many ways, I experienced My Blood as an Alive Companion who knew and listened to me.
It was during my time at ITP within the Women's Spirituality Master's program that I got to explore, study and research Blood mysteries in-depth - its relevance in the shaping of culture and community, descent - death - birth myths and origin stories connected to it, the Wild instinctual Cyclic Nature of Blood, its lunar entrainment and attunement with other women and their wombs, the cyclic interconnectedness with Earth Rhythms, the energy of the mother - maternal - matrilineal, and the passing down of intergenerational trauma through and of blood. For me, the most powerful gift of Bleeding is the Spirituality of Menstruation. It carries within it the Interconnected Whole (as depicted by the Wheel) and connects wombs with the rhythms of the Sun, the Moon, and the planets of Solar System. This Life-Death Womb Rhythm in-forms the Inner intuitive navigational compass inherent within every female, and her womb. It influences the ebbs and flows of her physical, emotional, psychological, relational, creative and spiritual knowing. She is forever Changing on the Wheel of Menstruation. She inhabits the Body of the Earth. She wears Prakruthi (Nature). As a human female situates herself on this moving wheel, learns to attune her life within the waxing and waning of her womb biology, and allows it to carry her and do its work, she slowly starts moving into her own center of knowing from where she is free to Begin Afresh in every cycle. This Wheel came to me through my own process of integration. It has supported me to better understand the teachings of the tribal primitive Earth wisdom traditions. I continue to offer this knowing so we may learn to navigate our Ordinary steps on Earth within this Extraordinary Rhythm.
One of the knowing I have had to explore, process, and integrate is patriarchy. In my own work, I have realised that Being raised Father's daughter in this world, and walking under his Sphere of Influence into Adulthood while experiencing rejection of and/or from the mother and matriliny in-form the roots of patriarchy in a Wom(b)an. In the same way, Being raised as Mother's son, and being under her Sphere of Influence into Adulthood while experiencing rejection of and/or from the father and patriliny in-form the roots of patriarchy in a man. In other words, our warring conflicts with our mothers, and fathers plays a key role in perpetuating the cyclic birth of patriarchy. Across generations, we have had to in-habit and inherit an inner war of unimaginable proportions. The outward war may merely be a reflection of this inner war. Of course, it is not The Truth But there is truth in it.
I am beginning to see patriarchy as a deep split in the psyche - a dis-ease that perpetuates a growing disconnect from the body, encourages an unnatural inorganic way of life, exerts larger than life relevance on the linear hierarchical reign of the masculine ego, and negates the interconnected cyclic changing all-permeating uniformity of the Maternal within the bodies of human males and females to the point of absenting.
Maybe it was the unique circumstances of my birth and fate, or maybe because I was the eldest of two daughters - whatever maybe, I was guided more as a boy and as a male to have career-oriented independence in the world. I was my father's daughter and followed his linear compass into the world while struggling to inhabit my womb. Later in life through a relational breakdown, I had to find my way back to my body by learning to integrate my mother and the matrilineal within to gain entry into my intuitive cyclic womb biology. In that process, I almost negated my organic connection to my father because of the patriarchal wounding from the boys and males I met on the way. I carried a lot of rage towards men and males for "not seeing, honouring, acknowledging me as a wom(b)an."
As I began to recognise, process, and integrate my own trauma map through Women's Spirituality resources, Systemic philosophy of family constellation, and in the most recent times Compassionate Inquiry training, I am beginning to see the mirrored outward projection of my inner inability to see and inhabit my matrilineal feminine womb biology in my rage with men. Over the last decade, as I have returned more and more to the matrilineal acknowledgment of my womb by stepping into the sphere of influence of the matrilineal while honoring my father in me, my in-sight has shifted. My rage has subsided.
I am beginning to see men, males, females, and patriarchy. I recognise the web of in-formed patriarchy everywhere - woven into the bodies of civilized men and women, and also, in everything we have created and call cilvilisation. We cannot destroy patriarchy without having to destroy ourselves. A better way would be to return to the systemic cyclic womb rhythms of the Great Maternal Mother, locate the rhythmic tribal primitive whole in our own inside, and live it. Then patriarchy simply rests. It ceases to be for It has no role to play.
The Great Mother energy permeates, in-forms, and is woven into every aspect of life. She is Supreme.
Her love permeates all.
To Her, I bow down.
I came into the World of Other through her.
She is my first Home. Through her, I stand with, include, and allow the Feminine and Maternal to meet me.
I bow down to the Wisdom of Grandmothers - Crones - Elders - everywhere. We need their nearness, their guidance. Seek them out. Sit with them. Listen.
I am forever grateful to the Infinitely Compassionate Holding mirrored by my Wom(b)en's Spirituality M.A Co-Directors, Faculty, and Peers at ITP.