April 1, 2015 § 1 Comment
Six months of dreams and applications, and six weeks of intense preparations and discussions culminated on this weekend past with two Crafting the Sacred Yoni workshops held at the Seven Sisters Festival.
It was my first time attending this festival for women. Over 1500 women converged in a wild and somewhat remote location south of Melbourne. When my companion and co facilitator, Yia, and I arrived, we emerged from the car to a frigid and powerful wind that made setting up my little tent tricky, and had us both wondering how we would manage to craft successfully in such conditions.
The energy of this gathering gradually gathered us up in its movement and by the time of our first workshop the weather was all but forgotten. Forty women came, crafted and left with their own unique Yoni. I always suspected this workshop had the potential to be both powerful and healing, but I was deeply moved by the depth of creativity and journeying that each woman took in the ninety minutes we spent together.
I found it extremely interesting how the Yonis were influenced by both which life cycle stage a woman was in, as well as a more subtle influence of her monthly cycle point. By the time of our second workshop, the last time slot of the entire festival, the process felt deeper still as the participants seemed more deeply opened to themselves through other workshops and events they had attended.
Yia and I facilitated just over eighty women crafting their own Yonis this past weekend. It was exhilarating, exhausting, deep, tender, raw and so powerful. Not sure what is next for this little workshop idea but I am already so filled with wonder and gratitude for the journey so far.
And now, for some snapshots…..
March 16, 2015 § 2 Comments
In my burgeoning professional life, I wear many hats. I run a Playgroup, craft groups both for children and women, make and sell items for women and children, and blog for http://www.mothering.com as well as for this humble personal blog.
An increasingly large part of my role as Craft Teacher for women has been the project depicted above: Crafting a SacRed YONI! Yes, Yoni refers to the vagina. Yes, this project is about crafting a vagina art piece to hang on one’s wall at home.
Really, this project is the perfect fusion of my crafting skills and passion for women’s mysteries and empowerment. It began as one humble Yoni fibre art piece, made for a dear friend for her Harvest Ceremony. I don’t really know why I chose the Yoni, it just seemed relevant for this Wise Woman and mentor in the realm of women’s cycles. Of course she loved it and soon another wonderful woman asked me to make on for her.
And so something began.
Like all good ideas, the idea to make this art piece into a workshop was one that simply floated into my consciousness one day. I needed a co-facilitator, and Yia, for whom I made that original piece, excitedly stepped into the role. We have been fastidiously gathering all the elements needed to make the Yonis unique and creative. Pictured above are some of the results of the trial run we did for this workshop at a Red Tent event last week.
Now we are ten days out from the Seven Sisters Festival, held in Melbourne, Australia, where the workshop Crafting a SacRed YONI will be experienced by up to one hundred women. To say I am nervous is rather an understatement. I know I will rise to the occasion and that the workshops will be a success – the nervousness has many levels, from leaving my children for four days, worrying about how they will manage without me, to wondering how I will manage by myself, in a totally new setting and experience. I am sure there will be lots to write about when I return!
June 1, 2014 § 4 Comments
As a young feminist at University, I vowed that my future life would be immune to stereotypical ideas about ‘women’s work’ that devalued the role of mother and home maker. I drank in all that I learnt in Women’s Studies: the subtle and not so subtle ways that women’s roles are presented as less important, and the loss of identity and prestige that can occur once a woman becomes a mother.
Within two years of finishing my degree I found myself with a baby. And since then….four more babies over ten years have provided ample time as a mother and home maker to put my ideals to the test.
As a younger mother I revelled in creating a beautiful home and raising my children. I used my crafty skills to decorate my home, I spent hours cooking healthy yummy food, and played with the kids, took them to the park, painted with them, read to them. I think back to those days: with one, two, three children and see them as golden days – where my energy was inspired and mothering was my purpose, my vocation, and I was good at it.
I reconciled the fact that I was suddenly living a ‘traditional’ role by asserting that it was my choice, and feminism is about choice, after all. From time to time I would dream about possible future achievements, or experience some day to day frustration about the sometime mindless repetitive nature of motherhood, but I channelled this energy into my daily tasks.
When I look back to try to pinpoint when things changed, I think it is around the time Zara was born (my fourth). We had moved from Queensland back to Sydney, but were living with my mother. Suddenly I had no control over my physical surroundings: the ability to create my beautiful home was taken away from me. And the limitations of our living environment also brought unwelcome influences to how I could parent. I felt a loss of control in that area too.
For the time that we spent living with my mother, until Zara was one year old, I packed away large parts of myself. There were benefits to that living arrangement, but I did not feel free.
Another turning point came when Robin (our fifth) was born and then was ill in hospital. Again, another prolonged situation where I experienced a deep loss of control, and restrictions on my movements and freedom. But this brush with mortality had another effect on me: it prompted me to seize the day and go for some of my long dormant goals. Suddenly being a mother was not enough. Or maybe it was too painful.
Since beginning all the projects I currently do: blogging, running craft workshops and selling craft items, I feel I have become more and more entranced with the ‘outside world’ – making money, building a reputation and body of work, creating something substantial. And as financial pressures have increased in the last few years, I have wanted to contribute to the family this way, as well as feel important and valued outside the realm of the home.
But as my activities in this so called ‘outside world’ have increased, I notice that my respect for myself as a mother has decreased. I no longer think of myself as a great mother – every time I do one of these activities ‘for myself’ I feel I am taking my energies away from my children. I simply have no time to sit and play long games with the children now, as I once did years ago when there were just two or three children. I no longer think of myself as a great home maker: meals are as quick as they can be, and I would rather do a thousand other things than tidy up and clean all day.
And the greatest irony of all: the one thing I excel at – mothering, and bringing authenticity and awareness to the role – the one thing I have experience in and wisdom to share about, this one thing is something I could make money from, but inside I run screaming from the idea. Why? Because I feel like it is not glamorous or meaningful enough.
I feel like the biggest hypocrite in the world right now. I’ve turned into the very thing I had vowed to avoid: someone who does not value raising future adult human beings as the ultimate vocation. I’ve been saying the words for years, but now I wonder if I ever truly felt it, deep in my heart.
April 2, 2014 § 2 Comments
A while ago I was asked by a friend to make a special pillow for her. She lives in England, and was starting a Red Tent for her local women’s community.
I thoroughly enjoyed creating a special pillow, featuring the colour red and a vagina, for such a gathering of women.
I attend a Red Tent myself here in Sydney, and cherish the deep sharing, acknowledgement and connection I receive from a group of women who honour the seasonal and sacred that is woman.
My favourite part of the pillow is the lace. As I was creating it I knew there was something missing. I have long wanted to work with lace as a subtle act of subversion. This 100% cotton lace met all my criteria and has become the star of the piece in my eyes.
October 22, 2013 § Leave a comment
’cause some guy designed
these shoes I use to walk around
some big man’s business turns a profit
every time I lay my money down
some guy designed the room I’m standing in
another built it with his own tools
who says I like right angles?
these are not my laws
there are not my rules.
Ani Difranco, I’m No Heroine.
When I was at University in the 1990’s, it was at the height of a new wave of feminism and the popularity of Women’s Studies. I completed some amazing courses: Feminism and Sex, A Critique of Modern Romance Fiction, Women in Advertising, and lots of 19th Century Women’s Fiction from both Canada and England.
When I journeyed to Canada in my final year for a semester of University in Montreal, I reached a turning point. Maybe it was that I was alone in many ways: I lived in a typical north American ‘dorm’, with people all around me, but essentially I knew no one in Canada, and as a 20 year old I was not as forthcoming as I am now, not as open or quick to form connections (part of the reason for this was that I left behind a partner in Australia, but that is another story for another time….).
Maybe it was the lifestyle I got into…..staying up very late into the night, only to sleep in and surface for lunch. As the days trickled into Fall, I was only exposed to 3-4 hours of daylight a day, most of which was spent at lectures. Maybe it was the few friends I did find….women, like me, having their eyes opened for the first time to the deep and far reaching tentacles of ‘the evil Patriarchy‘!
Toward the end of my eight month stay, I found myself walking down the street one day in Montreal, only able to notice the brash advertising around me, the busy road full of cars that ‘men’ created; I realised that men designed buildings with sharp edges and square windows, and in fact were responsible for lots of the problems of the whole world. It was crushing.
Even more crushing was the realisation that I was not happy thinking about the world this way. I was becoming a victim.
Was this worldview really serving me? A worldview that focused on the wrongs done to women throughout history. That focused on present day inequalities and approached all men with white hot rage, just because they were men (either men were conscious perpetrators of misogyny or they were unconsciously acting it out – there was no third option).
I could continue being angry at the way buildings were designed, and the way the world turns, but how exactly is that empowering? I don’t think that basing my identity on my politics or on anger helps make the world a better place. I don’t think it raises other women up.
Hating men is reductive and oversimplifies the real issues. I’m so dismayed that Feminism is now a dirty word amongst younger women, probably due to that hard-line view that was popular when I was at University. (An example: I remember reading andrea dworkin, who would not use capitals in her name as they were a patriarchal construct. Her view was that heterosexual sex could almost never be anything but violence against women, due to simple differences in anatomy.)
After that day on the street in Montreal I changed my worldview and my personal definition of feminism. At one level, it is about the right for self determination over one’s own body, equal pay and freedom for women. On another level it is what I mentioned in my previous post: a balance of masculine and feminine energies in the world. A unity that promotes mutual respect, harmony and peace.
Feminism ain’t about women
No, that’s not who it is for
It’s about a shifting consciousness
That’ll bring an end to war
Ani Difranco, Which Side Are You On
I now live in a boxy house with sharp corners, but one day soon I will build the strawbale home with rounded walls and intelligent nature-enhancing design. For now I give thanks that I have a house. I choose to focus on the good things in the world. I choose to further my own growth and development in a positive way, and I believe this has the most positively powerful and healing impact on society as a whole.