Pilgrimage

16 06 2008

Reading Women & Spirituality I noticed that Carol P Christ runs what she calls ‘Goddess Pilgrimages’ in the Greek islands. This seems to be an opportunity to travel to one of the great centres of spiritual religion since time immemorial, to drink in a little of the sacred air and to take time amongst like-minded women to feel your strength as a woman, and to explore issues and ideas. It looks, frankly, wonderful stuff.

Since I’ve begun using the net, becoming a regular on sites and blogging, I’ve met so many unique and amazing people, women particularly; and to me this is immensely special, because I generally find women very difficult. I wonder if I will be misunderstood for saying that.

Women embody all that is difficult for me in my relationships. With a very few exceptions men are not so problematic to me; I do not mean to imply that I have the species cracked or anything so shallow! Simply that I relate far, far better on a daily basis with men than I do with women. I feel collaborative with most men, competitive with most women. I think this to be a childish and ingrained reaction.

What being out there blogging, talking and learning has taught me, over and above facts, is that there is a type of woman I am attracted to intellectually and emotionally, who thinks, who talks and can elucidate an argument, who feels and is able to express the feelings she has. Recently Seshat’s Voice has been holding a discussion on compassion and empathy; neither of these are solely a woman’s province, but those with this gift in my experience seem to be uniquely successful at taking in difficult feelings from others, holding them and reflecting them helpfully to the person who has projected them, without first, absorbing them themselves and second, without altering or in any way seeking to mitigate the feelings, to diffuse them or make them ‘safer’.

Men have this gift, and some of the best counsellors I know are men. However, I’m finding the experience of discovering this gift among the women I’m meeting a thrilling and inspiring one.

There are several courses I want to attend, several places I want to visit and stay at. I’m already booked on Mercian 2008, hooray. Tess’s Enneagram course looks fascinating. Dillington House always has something for the likes of us! And these organised courses apart, there are visits to be made to friends, mini pilgrimages if you like, for learning and sharing and just having fun.

Essentially, what I mean to emphasise is that I want to be out there more, not sitting in my ivory tower blogging and reading. I love doing this, it’s the peace and serenity in my day in many respects, but there’s more out there.

It occurs to me that we don’t need to go all the way to Greece to perform essentially the same offices as Carol P Christ’s Goddess Pilgrimage; in fact, it would be better for many of us if we stayed right where we were, at home with our lives and  our distractions, and our worries, and our daily minutiae, and tried to learn how to do the separation of mundane and spiritual life. Being able to go away and effect a physical separation from all the distractions is a great luxury; I simply don’t know that it wouldn’t be better to grit our teeth and try to get the same results from the home patch.

 

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21 responses

16 06 2008
Tess

Oh, it would be great if you were to come on an Enneagram course, I’d love to meet you in real life! Interestingly, although the courses are open to both genders, we always have many more women attend.
I have some similar issues around women and men.
Until quite recently, I found men “easier” in many ways but that was partly because I found them less complicated. In reflecting on that, I realised I was not allowing relationships with men to go deeply for various reasons and I was actually not allowing myself to see them as equally complicated and fully human beings.
As for women, there is a type of woman I cordially dislike and I’m not sure I can describe this without sounding condescending. There’s a very funny book by Florence King called Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady, in which she uses the word ‘malkin’ to refer to what we might think of as ‘girly’ women. I can’t lay my hands on the book right now but I think her definition is women who are afraid of their own femininity and, by extension, exaggerate it.
To me, these are all those women who are more concerned with high heels, handbags and the latest celebrity gossip than their own giftedness and using their brains. Malkin is apparently an Elizabethan term for serving woman.
As far as non-malkins are concerned, I love the company of my women friends and don’t feel any sense of competitiveness with them. I do, however, with women I work with.
Hmmm, sorry to go on so long, this is almost a blog post!

16 06 2008
fox

Dear lady, you are in very good company with your ability to get along better with men than with women. That has been a difficulty all my life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could bring into our physical lives what we live on the internet every day? How amazing would those experiences and conversations be? It would definitely guarantee that Depends would be in high demand at the very least! 😀

16 06 2008
The Green Witch

Tess, it strikes me that I should read this book by Florence King – I feel a patented GW yelp of recognition coming!!

I’m so glad you take the time to post your thoughts in longhand… please keep doing so! I’m interested by your assessment of the way you treated men – I think there’s a lot of truth in this, that we sometimes don’t give them credit for being whole people.

It’s something that is working itself out through the generations. Our generation expects more from our boy children in terms of emotional engagement and practical housework and team work, and the next generation will go further down this path. This is one of the important ways in which we have negated men in the past – keeping them as ‘children’ and incapable while we whisk about being housewives and supermums. Now that women work, just as long hours if not more so than men, we need everyone to help us keep the boat afloat. I think it can only have a positive effect.

16 06 2008
The Green Witch

Foxy, I can imagine us all in a large cabin in the Grand Tetons with a u-haul full of Depends in the yard and a months’ worth of food and booze – what a blast!

To everyone who is wondering what the hey I’m on about – 🙂

16 06 2008
Mereth

There was a time I felt more comfortable in the company of men, but that has changed as I have grown older. I think that it has been me maturing rather than anything external and when I was younger I was always such a ‘daddy’s girl’ too, that I think it had an effect. It has taken a while to understand some female psychology as I have such a male attitude to many things (so I’m told).

Don’t totally dismiss the malkins – I have met, in recent years a woman who looks and sounds the part totally, with girly voice and coyness, handbags and all sorts of other paraphernalia galore. When I first encountered her I was ready to paint her with all my prejudices and dismiss her, but circumstances threw us together. I have known her for five years now and count her as a good friend. She has a mind like a steel trap, huge compassion and she is one of very few people I know who genuinely take people at face value. This woman has taught me huge amounts, all unwittingly, and my understanding of people would be the poorer for not knowing her.

She taught me that you don’t have to be as tough as old boots to get things done; sometimes it’s ok to be girly and helpless, or at least ask for help, and that has been a huge lesson for me to digest. So, though I grant that there really are some superficial, vacuous malkins out there, don’t always judge a book by it’s cover!

Oh, and by the way TGW, even though I’m no intellectual and don’t fit the mould of the female friend you paint, you and Mr TGW are still welcome here for a weekend… 😉 😀

16 06 2008
Sarah

I can relate to a lot of what you said. I work with all women, and they are all immature and have no deep thoughts whatsoever. I can get along with them fine, but I can’t see myself developing a deep friendship with them. There is only one who seems to be able to connect with me on an intellectual and even spiritual level. Because I’m only just discovering the Goddess and trying to connect with the feminine forces in nature, I have no desire to be around girls who think of nothing other than their boyfriends, their nails, and the last time they got drunk. 😀

16 06 2008
The Green Witch

Try and keep us away! July 26/27, wasn’t it?! 😛

Books and covers are my worst thing… at least I know I can’t do this sort of snap judgement, that I’m crap at it. Give people rope, see what they do with it, is my idea. When I remember!

And you do fit the mould; precisely.

16 06 2008
The Green Witch

Sarah, that’s a problem indeed. I do think Mereth’s right, though – the strangest things happen if we’re open to impressions. I’ve met some extraordinarily shallow people in my day, and been humbled when my opinion of them proved to be incorrect in some fundamental way. You just never know what’s bubbling under the surface.

I wonder if you’ve been ‘put’ with these people at this specific time for a reason? What do you think?

16 06 2008
Mereth

Date is correct and judgement… dodgy!

Sometimes, the people who seem most shallow and like a right waste of oxygen can turn out to be amazing – it’s just about finding the right trigger to make it happen in them when they are in a dynamic with you. That said, I’m a grumpy old curmudgeon and can think of ten people who get on my wick for every one I’d warn about a poisonous spider about to bite their bum.

17 06 2008
Tess

I also agree with the books and covers comment – good call mereth, I’m certainly also guilty of snap judgements!

17 06 2008
Abdur Rahman

Peace Green Witch

An interesting post. As a man, I naturally feel easier in the company of women. Perhaps it’s something to do with opposites attract?

Pilgrimage needn’t be physical. Within the Shi`a tradition of Islam, piligrimage to the tombs of the Imams is very important – but it’s not something that need be done physically – it is more about orienting yourself internally to the one you intend to ‘visit’

Abdur Rahman

17 06 2008
Andy

I agree that we should never judge a book by its cover, life has taught me that so many times. Gender is important, but we are also more than our gender. Our gender is an influence, but we are more than that.

I belonged to a local Goddess Group for a while, made up of mainly women, and some of them were terrifying! Whilst I dislike patriarchy, it was clear to me that some of these women were simply men haters, and tarred us all with the same brush. Some of them stereotyped men, just as some men stereotyped women. It was awful.

Then one of the leaders husbands started a mans group, and here we were to learn how to be even more stereotypically male! I hated it and left! May be I left because as a gay man I simply didn’t fit into their required and predefined mould for me, or perhaps I left because I value individuality and spiritual community for me is about enabling people to be who they are, not turn everyone into clones of each other!

As a gay man, some of closest friends have been women, I’ve also had some lovely straight male friends who have always greeted me with a kiss. Let’s get behind the label and embrace the real person!

18 06 2008
The Green Witch

Mereth – exactly. Bringing others out. That’s also about caring enough about them even when there’s no need to to make that effort at drawing them out, isn’t it?

Tess – who isn’t! 🙂

Abdur – Salaam, and I am very interested by your words here. Internal pilgrimage – orientation. Plenty to think about.

18 06 2008
The Green Witch

Andy – how right you are that we are more than gender. And it’s interesting to read of the acculturated imbalances that we put on top of our gender bias… I’m working up to a big spiel on this topic and related ones.

The men’s group sounds especially intimidating. Not so much a forum for growth as a club within which to conform. Not of much benefit!

Quite right, get to the real person. Simple is best.

18 06 2008
Mereth

Oh, this topic splits into two fascinating facets: internal pilgrimage and the worth of people! How much poorer would my days be without you all to read?

Andy, you’re right. Gender is a physical attribute and not one that should prevent us from seeing the person behind the labels. While it is a physical attribute, I don’t think it follows that it is an attitudinal attribute. I was about to type that attitudinally, I’m more male than female, but then that led me into thinking about the fact that I was about to utter a whole load of stereotypes – what belongs to maleness and what to femaleness?

Yup, I think setting all that aside is the best, and easiest, policy so that we get to know the whole person.

Abdur Rahman, I had not heard of an internal pilgrimage before, though I suppose that much of what we do with meditation and visualisation touches upon it. It’s a fascinating and intriguing concept and one that I should like to know about more.

18 06 2008
The Green Witch

Abdur, so would I.

18 06 2008
Abdur Rahman

Then, as the Arabs say, ‘Labbayk wa sa`adayk’

Here I am, at your service/happiness!

Insha Allah, I will put something together soon

18 06 2008
The Green Witch

I think we’d all be very grateful. Thank you, Abdur! Blessings!

18 06 2008
Mereth

Well, I shall look forward to that with eager anticipation too!

Barak ‘llahu fik Abdur 🙂

18 06 2008
Andy

I seem to be echoing this on a number of blogs lately, but what is important is individuality, seeing people for who they are, not what we think they should be or expect them to be. We label people so freely, and then get confused, offended, upset and intimidated when they fail to perform according to the ‘type’ to which we have pigeonholed them, simply because we don’t feel safe.

We are who we are, not what anyone or anything expects us to be. Individuality scares people, because they cannot predict. We like people to conform, not go into free fall!

We have all chosen to incarnate in this place and time, as we are, for a reason. If only we could embrace the wonder of that and celebrate the fact!

18 06 2008
The Green Witch

I know that I’d like to be able to work totally outside the construct of labels and boxes for people, but I think we have to accept that sometimes, we don’t even realise what it is we’re doing.

Letting people ‘be’, just to be them, their own irrational and incomprehensible selves, is really difficult, and as you say we’re constantly letting ourselves be disappointed when people ‘fail’ to live up to the person we want to think they are.

There is also the argument about conformity as a safety net for society – but that might be a discussion for another day! Suffice to say that the tides of conformity and rebellion are finely balanced within a society. People demand conformity to make themselves and the society feel more secure. Does that have to be the case? I don’t know.

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