A COMMON RITUAL occurrence at pagan festivals is that of the men’s and women’s mysteries. Men’s and women’s mystery rituals generally revolve around things like menstruation, childbirth and menopause for women, while the men’s ritual (I’ve been told) generally revolves around hunting, strength and protecting. Basically, they are rituals that explain and celebrate what it means to be male or female, and how it affects a person’s role in the greater community.
This year at Summerland Spirit Festival, I had the opportunity to be part of a community women’s ritual. The day before the ritual, a workshop was held to find out what the women would like to experience. It seemed that there was a desire to do a ritual for claiming our power beyond traditional roles that no longer serve us and to engage in an activity that offered a visceral experience.
The ritual theme became one of sacrificing our wounds in order to claim our power. At one point during ritual, each woman had the opportunity to step forward and speak out loud what she was sacrificing. Almost all the women expressed a wound around one of the following topics: sexuality, rape, abuse, poor body image, and/or bad relationships.
Later in the night, a friend of mine remarked how all the women of the group not only had similar wounds, but they also had the same issues that the feminist movement had sought to alleviate. She said the women of her generation had thought that the fight was over, but the ritual made her realize that it’s not — that we are all still suffering.
In thinking about this experience, I contemplated how sex is related to the root chakra. The root chakra is all about home, family, structure, instinct and biological drives. So it should come as no surprise that many of the women expressed issues related to their sex. It forms the core of our identity. Then it hit me — what if the reason we have so much rape, abuse and broken homes is because the whole of society is wounded at the root chakra?
By looking through the lens of the chakra system, and healing at the root level, perhaps we can start the healing process and shift beyond defining what makes us different — men, women, transgender, married, single — and look at what makes us the same. For example, no matter what the circumstances are, we all want to belong and have healthy relationships. Humans are social creatures and connect through common experience.
Furthermore, while the feminist movement sought to overthrow male dominance, the end result is that everyone is now competing with each other. Did we ever stop to tell the men what we wanted from them beyond their jobs? While there has been an upsurge in groups that honor the Divine Mother, what are we doing as a society to penetrate the dark places of our collective psyche to teach each other about respect and community?
Can we call a truce in the “battle of the sexes” and instead find strength in sharing our vulnerabilities?
While thinking about healing our cultural roots, my mind keeps returning to nature. Plant roots grow underground, in the dark. No one would ever call a carrot evil for its nature. When will we stop seeing the root of ourselves as baser, lesser and grosser? Will we finally see an end to issues like rape when we finally embrace our roots as equal to our minds, deserving as much attention and cultivation?
With everything that is shifting in our society, it seems we are beyond women’s and men’s mysteries. It is now time to shine a light on human mysteries. I’d like to think that the more we give a voice to the darkness within our human nature, and show compassion for each other without judgment, the closer we will come to finding that oneness we all desire. We will never be whole until we embrace all of ourselves, on a personal as well as societal level.
The human mystery is that voice that says: “That which thrives in the dark is not inherently evil; it’s just woefully misunderstood.”