IF WE STAY ON THE SURFACE . . .WE END UP SUFFERING AND CREATING MORE SUFFERING . . .

I have been writing about the consequences of our staying on the surface in the outer world and not doing the deep work in the inner world from which what occurs in the outer world springs.

From the responses I’ve received, it seems to be such a difficult thing for people to look at, take in, acknowledge, and commit to working with. As a result, starting this month I am going to begin teaching in relation to a few arenas in our world where the interplay between the inner and outer is more obvious than others. This month’s theme is that of women.

Part 1:  Women

The efforts to make things better for women in our world have been widespread, courageous, and impactful. They are even celebrated internationally in March with International Women’s Day on March 8. And we need to be thankful for every woman – and every man – who has participated in helping women toward claiming and living their rightful places in society.

We also, at this point, need to do two other major things in this journey for women – two things in our inner worlds:

First, we need to grieve that in our world there even needs to be a journey toward women’s living as the equal beings they already are.

How can we only focus on the advancements and not also honestly look at the places we lag so far behind . . . even the places we have fallen behind once again (like right here in the US)?  In some places in our world the oppression of women is seemingly subtle; in some places open and blatant. In some arenas it is right out in the open; in others, behind closed doors. There are some locales in which the oppression of women is preached, advocated, and bragged about openly; and others in which it’s whispered, a hushed secret. In some areas that oppression is psychological and emotional; in others it is visible and physical in addition. In some localities it takes place in the board room; in some, the office; in some, the streets; in some, the living room; in others, the bedroom. There are places where the oppression of women is fought against; there are places where it is simply accepted; and there are places where it is fought against on the surface but simply accepted beneath the surface. In some places, the oppression of women is done under the guise of law; in some, under the guise of cultural custom; in others, under the guise of religion . . . and in some, under no guise at all.

That warrants our grief. That calls for our mourning. That insists upon our taking seriously the bereavement that is within and amongst us. And if we deny this, we are only harming ourselves, our families, our communities, and our world.

We may have a lot to celebrate in terms of our progress. But just like everything else that we refuse to really grieve, the lack of a true, full grieving process ends up haunting us and holding us back from the kind of progress and success we could really accomplish and create. When we avoid what’s within us, like our grief, we may do some good things in the outer world, but we create unconsciously from the inner world we turned our backs on. This is a common theme in our world. This is a common theme in our country. And as a result, this is a common theme in my writing. For example, I have written numerous times on the consequences of our failure to grieve after 9-11.*

Even some of the leaders of the feminist movement in the US have acknowledged this in their own way. Recently, in a documentary on Gloria Steinem, she acknowledged that … “being a social activist can be a drug that keeps you from going back and looking at yourself.”**

Think of all the activism that is taking place today all over the world – but especially in the US both during and in the aftermath of the 2012 elections. The activism that is occurring against women – known during the election process as “The War Against Women.” And the activism that is occurring in behalf of women . . . by more and more women, more and more men, and more and more belonging to all political affiliations, as a result of the bizarre, cruel, and out in the open efforts during the campaign to deny women their rights. It sure makes a conscious, reflective mind and heart wonder what inner issues these men and women were revealing – without being aware of it themselves – when they said things like no child would be conceived during a ‘legitimate’ rape, an invasive transvaginal ultrasound would be required before an abortion,  states should be allowed to ban all contraception . . .

In the field of healers – medical, therapeutic, and energy alike – a foundational guideline is “physician, heal thyself.” Unfortunately that is not practiced by enough healers. Too many go out to heal others instead of healing themselves, with dire, destructive consequences. Nevertheless, the guideline is filled with wisdom and necessity . . . not only for the healing professions, but elsewhere, as well. For example, still, in the US, there is no Equal Rights Amendment. In our country, our supposedly civilized country, time ran out and women still do not have equality under the Constitution. Women still do not have full equality in America. We go all over the world claiming to help others have equality – women with men, citizens with rulers, one faction with another – but where is the equality at home? There is no equality of women with men . . . among many discrepancies in equality. No matter how much progress we’ve made . . . no matter how far we’ve come . . . and no matter how equal women truly are to men . . . we need to grieve for the lack of full equality legally and culturally in our country. And the grief is mammoth!

If we don’t grieve what has occurred and not occurred in the outer world . . . we miss a huge piece of the puzzle. If we only grieve what is visible in the outer world and don’t grieve what occurs and doesn’t occur in our inner worlds . . . we miss another gigantic piece of the puzzle.  By doing so, we tie our own hands in the journey.

Grief is a cauldron of feelings that gets stirred up within us when we experience a loss of some kind – any kind – including the loss of our basic rights as human beings . . . the right to our dignity; the right to respect; the right to be taken seriously; the right to be viewed as an equal human being, not an object and not a toy; the right to fulfill our true potential as human beings; the right to equal pay for equal work; the right to equal protection under the law . . .

So as I said above, we also, at this point, need to do two other major things in this journey for women – two things in our inner worlds: The first we’ve just explored . . . we need to grieve that in our world there even needs to be a journey toward women’s living as the equal beings they already are.

The second, women need to connect with themselves within . . . and they need to reconnect with themselves in the places they’ve split off.

In the oppression of women, keeping them from connecting to themselves and staying connected to themselves has been both a tool or weapon in the oppression, and also a consequence of the oppression. In some families that starts very young. Think of the cultures in which girl children aren’t wanted, and those in which men are so glad they have been born male. How do you think the females in those cultures and families feel? How connected do you think they are to themselves?

Think of the societies in which females are thought of as objects – objects for the use of the males, however subtly or blatantly, however unconsciously or consciously, however intended – with or without harm. How do you think those females in those families feel – about themselves and about being female? How connected do you think they really are to themselves?

If women – and the men who help them – keep fighting only on the outer level . . . the changes will happen only on the outer level. And then even once the changes have occurred, they will disappear again because they haven’t been rooted within. If they aren’t rooted in our inner worlds, they cannot possibly be sustained in our outer world.

Let’s use the example of the U.S.A. Changes in behalf of women and their rights were fought for and won throughout the Twentieth Century. First the vote for women in 1920. Then the right to choose what happens to their own bodies – Roe v Wade 1973. Then the efforts to put in place the Equal Rights Amendment. How many of the women and men fighting for those rights were conscious of the need to not only be activists in the outer world, but to also be activists in their inner worlds?  How many of those women fought not only to determine what happened in their wombs, but also to be deeply connected to their wombs?

Not very many. I can tell you that for sure. How can I tell you? Because in the late 80’s and the early 90’s one of the ways I was helping people connect to themselves was by helping women be connected with their cycles . . . their menstrual cycles, their menopausal cycles, and their wombs. It was such a new and such a strange idea to so many people. Many women were (and still are) afraid of the work I was offering. Many just wanted to stay in the outer world as activists or in their heads as intellectuals and do women’s work from there. But the women who came to work with me on their own very personal connections to themselves through their bodies, their wombs, their cycles . . . discovered wounds to their beings that were calling out to be healed, and in healing those wounds became more and more deeply connected with themselves . . . and more and more empowered in their own lives.***

I witnessed firsthand some of what happened with the women who were afraid of the womb-work. At what could have been an amazing crossroads in their lives, many moved more and more out of their connections with their female bodies and their female selves (perhaps re-enacting early responses to early wounds) and into their minds alone (as a defense). They became less and less aware of the roots of the activism that had taken place, and took it more and more for granted. And even if only by example, they taught the women in their lives to do the same.

I also witnessed firsthand so very much of what happened with the women who committed to their womb-work. They became more and more connected with themselves as women. They more and more healed the wounds to themselves as female . . . wounds that began even in their early childhood. They more and more helped to untwist the distortions to the female in their lives and in our world. Out of that healing and undistorting came real contact with who they were as women, what their true inner power was, and how they could claim and live it in their world.

If in the 50’s and 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s even a large number of the women in that time had done their inner work . . . the eating away at the rights of women to choose what will happen in and with their own bodies would not be occurring in these times, at least not nearly to the extent it has been. Of course there would still be a backlash, but even that would be different. Once people do their inner work, the outer is created from within in a different way. A different way from just doing the outer activism and being haunted by what hasn’t been tended to on the inside. A way that helps sustain what has been created consciously through healing from the inside out.

March is one of many times for honoring women and all we have created in our journey to wholeness.  Let’s honor women and our journey this time with a commitment to do the inner work now . . . so we can sustain the changes we create from the inside out.

© Judith Barr, 2013.

* To learn more, visit
http://judithbarr.com/2010/09/10/when-will-we-ever-learn-2/
and
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/judith-barr/911-anniversary_b_956015.html

**http://www.hbo.com/documentaries/gloria-in-her-own-words/synopsis.html
Interviewed in the early 90’s when she wrote the book Revolution from Within, Gloria Steinem  said …”being a social activist can be a drug that keeps you from going back and looking at yourself.”

***To read more about this . . .

My book, A Menstrual Journey: Through the Old & the Dark to the New, the Light, & the Possibility & The Goddess Has Many Faces (Judith Barr; Jan 1, 1990) available through Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Menstrual-Journey-Through-Possibility-Goddess/dp/1886264007/ref=sr_1_14?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1361108232&sr=1-14

My audio cassette, The Call of My Blood Mysteries (Judith Barr; Apr 1990) available at my website at
http://judithbarr.com/shop/ (Click on the “Audio Tapes” tab)

The Wise Wound: The Myths, Realities, and Meanings of Menstruation (Penelope Shuttle and Peter Redgrove; Nov, 1988)

The Wild Genie: The Healing Power of Menstruation (Alexandra Pope; Dec 31, 2001)

*****

WHAT YOU CAN DO
TO HELP MAKE YOUR AND OUR WORLD SAFE . . .
FROM THE INSIDE OUT

As we approach International Women’s Day and go through Women’s History Month . . . take some time to explore your own relationship with the feminine.

If you are a woman . . . how truly connected are you with yourself as a woman? With your womb and with your cycles? Are you doing the inner work to truly heal your relationship with your own feminine self, on all levels – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual?

If you are a man . . . have you explored your deepest feelings about the feminine in all aspects of your life? Are you doing the inner work to explore and heal your relationships with the power of woman? And . . . have you explored and healed your relationship with the powerful feminine aspects within yourself?

Whether you are a man or a woman . . . Explore within yourself your feelings about women in general. What feelings come to you when you contemplate the women in your life and in our world? Can you trace those feelings back to your early experiences of and about women in your past?

We have much to be thankful for this International Woman’s Day and this Women’s History Month . . .  and much work left to be done. We, of course, need to work in the outer world . . . but we also need to do our own inner work if we are to make lasting sustainable change in the status of women in our lives and across the globe.

“THE WAR AGAINST WOMEN”

Election 2012
The big picture. The deep picture.

All through the 2012 election process – which began months and months and months ago – evidence of what is being called “the war against women” has been coming more and more out into full view. Of course it was there long before the election. It’s just been building and building  again and now coming out into the open. This “war against women” has deep roots – in the history of our world.

In a short blog post, I won’t even attempt a summary of world history. Instead, I will start with recent history in the U.S. as a lens through which to look at this issue and the deep concern for us all globally.

The women’s suffrage movement in the U.S. culminated in 1920 with the passage of the amendment to the constitution – the 19th amendment – guaranteeing women’s right to vote.

If you don’t know what it was like to get to that point, it would be informative and enlightening to find out.*

How women were treated in the process of the movement towards women’s voting – even by our president – was horrifying. They were jailed and abused mercilessly for protesting, revealing the hatred and fear of women in the process.

Jumping ahead to the 1960’s . . . feminism came out into the open in full force. Women claiming rights, their rights, to their own decisions, their own choices, their own power. The right not to wear a bra. The right to wear pants, not just skirts and dresses. The right to not be objects or possessions of men. The right to be in control of their own bodies – to choose when they would have children and when they would not. To choose when they would have sex and when they would not. The right to not be raped or abused in any way. The right to not be limited and controlled at home, in the workplace, in the government . . .

And Helen Reddy’s I Am Woman supporting so many women to claim the right to a self.  A self with her own thoughts, opinions, feelings, decisions, choices, power.

Unfortunately at times this movement had its own distortions – most importantly:  (1) children who suffered when their mothers suddenly left to work or got divorced and left to go out on their own; and (2) “man hating,” “man bashing,” a backlash from the way men had treated women. Both of these distortions caused pain. And at the same time, they were an expression and a continuation of the struggle that needed to be resolved to the root. 

The issue as it still appeared at that time: Who has power?  How are we going to decide who has power? And how are we going to achieve what we decide?

Instead of the issue
as it truly needs to be held:
How are we going to make sure we all have power?
How are we going to share our power?
How are we going to make sure we all heal our wounds to our power?
And how are we going to make sure we all use our power well, healthily, and for magnificent good?
Not the good of some, but the good of us all. 

So . . . women were claiming their power, coming into power in families, business and government, and even in some religious arenas. Women claiming themselves spiritually led to a resurgence of history and practice related to the Goddess.

And women developed within themselves, with each other, and in their power in the country, as well as elsewhere in our world.

Meanwhile, there were those who felt threatened by the power women were reclaiming. Those who felt, believed, and had decided that you could either have power or not have power, and who felt threatened by the women in their part of the world having power. This is true in the US in those times and even today. And, of course, it is true all over our world.

Those who felt threatened started working – secretly and not so secretly – toward the movement back to patriarchy – men, the father, controlling women, having power over women,  possessing women, having the right to decide what will happen to women. They did this sometimes outright and other times under a guise . . . of law, of what’s best for the woman (or girl), of love, of God.

Of course there would be a backlash to all the movement and progress made toward women living from their own power.  Of course! Many of us knew it would come. Even so, it is painful. Many were blind to the inevitable. Many took for granted all that women had worked so long and deeply to create, and as a result, let go of the fruits of our labors.

But here it is.  We’re in the midst of the backlash and we need to continue our work to empower women . . . and men.

Here are some things that might help you in your holding what is going on:

The patriarchal grab for power, the patriarchal hatred of women – known as misogyny – the patriarchal attempts to control women – both long ago and today – is really based on two things:

  • A fear of being vulnerable and even powerless. A fear of being, in other words, defenseless.  What we’ve done out of our fear of being defenseless, is to become ever so defended.  You can see this in individuals and you can see this in countries, especially our own. To once defended, keep building more and more defenses.  Defenses against, at the root, our own feelings, our own fears.  One of the things I teach people with whom I work is that through the healing process, we can become undefended, but not defenseless.
  • A fear of the power of women – particularly the power mother had in relation to us as little children, whether we were girl or boy children. A woman can be as misogynistic as a man. A woman can be as patriarchal as a man. We all need to do our work with this. ** Every single one of us.

Many years ago, I published an audio cassette tape, originally inspired by a client who was working with me to create a ceremony in honor of her 50th  birthday. As she talked about her intentions, she gave voice to a profound and powerful truth: “Everyone’s afraid of the power of a woman come to her Self. Even the woman herself.” She knew this passage she was making in her life held in it her need to heal her fear of her own power.

And I knew her statement was a truth that needed to be voiced not only by her, not only in private, but way out into the world we live in. With her permission, I utilized her statement as the title of one side of my tape. *** My work with the use of power was already well out in the open even then. And my understanding of the fear of women’s power – by both men and women – was crucial to share.

People are afraid of the power of women – men and women alike. It is up to us as women to heal our own fear of our own power. And to heal our misuse of our own power, wherever we do and wherever we might misuse it. And it is up to us as women to help men heal their fear of the power of women. Of course, it is up to the men to take the responsibility to do their own work with their fear of woman’s power . . . and with their fear of their own, too. Because believe it or not, someplace deep in his soul, a man who misuses his power is just as afraid of his own power as he is of a woman’s power . . . maybe even moreso.

Remember, the issue as it really deeply needs to be held is this:

How are we going to make sure we all have power?
How are we going to share our power?
How are we going to make sure we all heal our wounds to our power?
And how are we going to make sure we all use our power well, healthily, and for magnificent good?
Not the good of some, but the good of us all.

Those who are threatened by woman’s power are responding as if they are really in a war.
As each of us responds we can choose to fight this “war against women” as though we are actually in a war
and are truly enemies . . .
of each other and enemies of ourselves.
Or we can see this “war”
as the deep call it is to heal our use of power –
within ourselves, with each other, and with our world itself.
We can only see the call
if our intention is to truly resolve our use of power
at the very root
within us and amongst us.

*Iron-Jawed Angels, is an HBO movie telling the story of this time and  process.

** To learn more about  healing the wounds of the patriarchy and misogyny inside and out . . . there’s a wonderful book that can help with this. Dance of The Dissident Daughter, by Sue Monk Kidd (HarperOne,2006):
http://www.amazon.com/Dance-Dissident-Daughter-Christian-Tradition/dp/006114490

***”Everyone is afraid of the power of a woman come to her Self. Even the woman herself” is one side of an audio cassette entitled Woman, Come To Your Self, still available through Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1886264023/qid=1007738534/sr=1-9/mysteroflifew-20
or by going to http://judithbarr.com/shop/.

You can also purchase the cassette directly through me, if you choose, by emailing me  JudithBarr@PowerAbusedPowerHealed.com .

© Judith Barr, 2012.

“WHO NEEDS A PERIOD?” – A POLITICAL CONFLICT

Recently, I read an article on CNN.com* that explored the use of birth control to suppress a woman’s monthly period…and the startling fact that 72% of women said they “did not like having a period” and  40% of women would prefer never to have one!  And now birth control pills are being utilized to avoid our periods almost completely. 

My heart cried out as I read this article, and the words of women quoted in it who, consciously or unconsciously, thought of their periods as a curse or a burden. In response, I wrote the post below, in the hope that it will put some perspective on the sacredness of menstruation, and why our monthly period is so crucial . . .

In a world where misogyny is rampant . . .
In a world where, even with the advances women have made, women are still treated horribly . . .
In a world where, perhaps because of the fear of the advances women have made, women are being treated worse than ever . . .
In a world where, if the abusive, cruel treatment of women were done to Jews, African Americans, Gays, or some other minority, the actions would be called hate crimes and prosecuted . . .
For women to suppress their menstrual bleeding, a natural part of their being, a crucial part of their innate, inborn power . . .
is tantamount to colluding with the patriarchal attempts to discount, diminish,  control, and have power over women.  It is the equivalent of an alcoholic’s spouse enabling or colluding with the alcoholic.

A woman’s period is not simply the mechanism through which she is able to conceive and give birth to human babies. It is also the cycle that helps a woman be truly connected to herself — her body, her mind, her heart, and her own soul — and to root herself more and more deeply with her own instincts, her own knowings, her own strength and courage, her own gifts. 

To suppress or give that up . . . is to give herself and her inner power away!

To suppress or give that up . . . is to be seduced into believing her menstrual bleeding is a curse.
Or at the very least to not have been taught the powerful truth about the immense possibilities of menstruation  . . .
by a mother who grew up believing her period was a curse.

To suppress or give that up . . . is to give herself and her inner power away!

This is not just a personal choice and action. This is a communal choice and action and a political choice and action.

We will be shocked and horrified, if we continue this blind trend, by the dire consequences of our actions  –
in the actions of men toward us, in the actions of other women toward us, in our actions toward other women, 
and in our actions toward ourselves.

Who will help us if we continue?
Who will help us if we don’t help ourselves?

* http://www.cnn.com/2010/HEALTH/05/06/period.monthly.menstruation/index.html?hpt=C2 

NOTE: If you would like to learn more . . . here are four sources I can recommend. The first three are books, the fourth is an audio cassette: The Wild Genie, Alexandra Pope; Her Blood Is Gold, Lara Owen; Mysteries of the Dark Moon, Demetra George; The Call of My Blood Mysteries, Judith Barr

(c) Judith Barr, 2010