Tribe: A group of people united by time and place, needs and goals, essential values or a shared spiritual practice.
Sisterhood: The gift of our actively and intimately reaching out to one another, simultaneously serving both the authentic self and the health of the whole.
Women — we are truly a tribe! . . . a Sister Tribe with roots grounded in the ancient past, and branches extending out to every existing community. We are connected not only to each other, but to living Gaia and all her creatures, connected to a long lineage of place holders and dreamers, maidens and wise women and crones dating back to the very beginnings of humankind. We may no longer share a common cave, but we still share a common planet — and a common, passionate dream. We are united, not just by the sensitivities of our gender, but by a glad and purposeful mission.
Even those of us not blessed with having other women on our land or in our homes, find we are members of a tribal sisterhood founded in love for Mother Earth and every child and creation of nature, in the respect and honoring of all life and a commitment to inspiring the greatest possible integrity in all our relations.
The word “integrity” is a derivative of “integral” — meaning that every part is necessary for the health of the whole. And so, the integrity of any tribe is dependent upon the nurturing of wholeness in each being, and each being’s fealty to the greater good. And so, Sister Tribe: A primal and primary weaving, of purposeful women’s hearts on a mission of personal and global wholeness!
Women from all over the world are consciously interwoven, manifesting art and beauty and ritual often focused on celebrating the Goddess and paying homage to Gaia. All-women bands and dance troupes, poetry and women’s groups. Magazines and publications like Sagewoman and We’Moon, created by sisters living and working closely together as well as at a distance through the mail, creating forums for solitary sisters to join in the sacred circles of prayer.
Sister Tribe. I have nurtured this vision more tangibly since I started leading Wild Women’s Gatherings and Workshops at my precious canyon home. We spend a whole week camping at the foot of intensely powerful cliffs, co-creating sacred space: giving each other and the land our loving attention, listening to each others’ most powerful stories and songs, and braiding each others’ hair.
Asking questions of one another. Tending fires, baking breads, and stirring pots of soup. Dressing up in pretty clothes or running around totally naked. Noticing every detail of the land, its moods and rhythms. Coming together in the powerful rituals of the sweat lodge. Coming together in all our intensity, tears and laughter. Being there deeply for each other, challenging one another to go ever deeper!
For the women I end up keeping in touch with for years afterward, these gatherings are a microcosm of the way we wish the world could always be, and the ways we wish we could always be as well, sharing everything together in a place of awesome beauty, learning about ourselves and each other in the process! Giving all we are at all times to the magic of our sisterhood, giving our whole selves to loving the Earth, and receiving the most beautiful and meaningful gifts in return.
Of course we all have obligations, and it can be hard just to commit a week to participating in a women’s workshop, festival or gathering. But there are ways we can continuously cultivate that same sense of Sister Tribe, the sharing of our hearts, our goals, our love of magic, and our commitments to that living Earth of which we’re each a sensual and responsible part.
Here are a few, and I invite you to add to the list!
1. Fully own our power to create sacred space at every available
opportunity. With our selves, with the earth, with each other.
There are many different levels of sacred space, as there are of depth and connection, commitment, gratitude, enthusiasm, and so on. The more we recognize and own our powers and abilities as priestesses, the more we can go about our everyday life creating sacred space and sacred moments of connection with the mundane and even profane realities that surround us.
The groundwork for being able to create sacred space is all about knowing and loving ourselves deeply, being so grounded in our connections to all the parts of our selves and to the earth that we always have something to give in any interaction, be it with a stone, a tree, the lady at the checkout stand, our lovers . . . or a dear sister we’ve been meaning to call, to write, to visit!
We’re constantly being handed opportunities to connect with and serve the sacred, as well as to receive the sacrament of wholeness that resides in each of our hearts, albeit sometimes buried under layers of fear and denial. We can keep reminding ourselves, there’s something precious here that is of the heart. What is it, and how can we better touch and open and serve it?
We need to practice becoming more aware of these opportunities and acting from our hearts, from our guts. Practice honoring our sisters and other beings, while honoring our own truths. Giving as much as possible, while being careful not to let our tendency to give dishonor our spirits in any way.
Practical ways we can create sacred space with our sisters that honors the feminine in particular, even when there’s only two of us: Taking long walks in nature, savoring beautiful music, dressing beautifully, gathering around a fire, or lighting candles, trading massage.
Sharing any form of sweet physical attention such as brushing or braiding hair, hugging, cuddling, or washing one another’s feet with hot water! Cooking with or for each other, and eating slowly. Checking in on each other’s hearts and feelings.
2. Share purposeful prayers and goals. What do we really have in common? Let’s find out! We need to talk about what our common hopes, dreams, and challenges are so that we can give each other support in living our dreams! If we have opportunities to get together, we should make time to address these things, and figure out what we can actually and immediately do to help birth our visions, and make our dreams come true.
3. Challenge ourselves, challenge each other! We’ll always encounter obstacles that seem insurmountable at the time. We can help each other see where there are cracks in the imprisoning walls, ways we can shapeshift our realities with each other’s help. Finances, children, unwilling partners? We must not let anything get in the way, and where there’s sufficient will, there’s a way! Let’s open ourselves to all the help that’s available, avail ourselves of the Earth’s active instruction, support and assistance.
4. Honor the land and serve the land, together.
The voice of Spirit is heard best through the land, and women’s land-based communities are cropping up all over the place! Become affiliated with one, start your own, or commit to prayer and service together at a special spot in your local park or on a dead-end road. Create altars, songs and dances inspired by the spirits and beings of these particular places. We can find out about native and invader species in our bioregions, and by spending a little time every day actively healing the land, we contribute to our own healing as well!
5. Honor each other as teachers.
What are we learning from each other? We can honor those lessons and gifts, by remembering them and putting them into visible practice. And we need to give our sisters all the credit they deserve for all their efforts or accomplishments, for every way they’ve served as an example or inspired us. And we must be sure to tell them so!
6. Be an inspiration to our sisters in every way we can.
Make the time to get to know every aspect of our selves, and to love and be true to that self. To be with Nature, and receive her knowledge through our focused presence. Enjoined.
7. Don’t take each other for granted.
Show as much appreciation of each other as we possibly can at all times, even if it means getting up an hour early to make it happen! Especially when a sister has gone out of her way to make time to serve us in some way in the midst of her own busy life!
8. Communicate our hurts, and be equally willing to apologize and
It only weakens our relationships, if we keep things bottled up or swept up under the rug. Sisters must be able to be honest about what offends them, to admit where they have gone wrong and make efforts to right those wrongs, and for any wronged party to acknowledge these efforts and make the effort to forgive.
9. Don’t be lame.
We shouldn’t be slackers when it comes to our sisterhood! If we’ve promised someone we’ll write or call them, or do them a favor, we need to avoid making excuses and just do it!
10. Share the work as well as the play.
Instead of thinking we’re too busy to gather with our sisters, we can invite them over to help out with mundane tasks. We’ll have a lot more fun and probably get a lot more accomplished if we do our chores together! If mothers have children who make focusing on things like sewing or home repairs difficult, they can come together to take turns getting things done and giving the kids attention!
11. Resist the urge to compete, or to compare.
Bodies, jobs, boyfriends, partners, children — we women have a bad habit of endlessly sizing each other up and figuring we are the lesser or greater in any given situation. How about accepting that we are all special and beautiful, with our own unique contribution? If we think we have a “funny-looking nose,” imagine being able to love its uniqueness so much that we teach our sister how to love her chubby belly!
12. Bring the Sister Tribe together.
We need to own our power to make new connections happen, by posting flyers for each other, sending out the pertinent e-mails you get to every woman on your list, staying alert to great opportunities and available connections that might not be timely for us but perfect for a beloved sister. We can take responsibility and help create major transformations in our sister’s lives!
13. Practice giveaway — gifts that make a difference.
We all have things in our households that don’t get enough attention, or that could be useful, or even serve as tools of deep magic and connection for a certain sister of ours. We can give from our own “things” that we intuit will be meaningful and purposeful in the hands of our sisters, such as fabric we’re not using, candles that will remind our sister of the loving glow we feel when we’re together, gifts of food from our pantries . . . anything real, beautiful and nurturing could be a good thing to pass along.
We can bring to our gatherings the clothes or jewelry we don’t wear enough, bottles of condiments, or lotions we’ve made. And of all the many possible gifts, the most powerful of all are the drawings, weavings and poems that touch a sister’s heart, invoking each other’s presence in our everyday lives.
14. Teach the children together.
Mothers all over the world are joining together to home-school their children! And even the kids who go to public school can come together afterwards or on weekends to learn how to cook, draw, knit, sew, dance, do yoga, sing prayers to the trees, and so forth. Sisters can inspire their kids to discuss essential subjects together like the importance of loving ourselves, the benefits and challenges of being whatever age they are, their goals, prayers, dreams, and feelings about what is God or Goddess.
I can feel it, this Sister Tribe . . . purposeful hearts weaving, reaching out to each other to join hands across the lands, and across the seas. Touching each other in our most vulnerable places, like a river we’re blessed to submerge in, touching us everywhere at once.
In my most challenging of times I hear my sister’s voices, as I hear the spirits of the ancestors that inhabit this sacred canyon. They whisper in my ear, reminding me to bend down low to the ground, to notice the glowing stone and the magnificence of the spider, to slow down and thank the first flame as I light my wood stove fire.
They join me in this magic purpose of reconnection, this dance of deep feeling and delight. Together we feed the fires of our connection, joining with the Mother Earth herself in celebration of our magic mission: our common tribal song.
Loba lives on an enchanted riverside sanctuary and ancient place of power, hosting women’s quests, wildfoods workshops, and the annual Wild Women’s Gathering (usually held in June). For information on her events, writings and special resident apprenticeships contact: The Earthen Spirituality Project & Sweet Medicine Women’s Center, Box 509, Reserve, NM 87830. Also please see www.concentric.net/~earthway
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