Six of us girls lived together at university. We shared laughter and secrets, rites of passage and madcap schemes.
By the time we left university we were free to be and do whatever we wanted but we still felt like girls playing at being women.
We didn’t know what it meant to be women.
It became something of a joke. We had endless late night conversations debating what makes you a woman.
“Having a very responsible job.”
“Wearing wide cut pants.”
“Working in an art gallery.”
“Having a pet.”
“Having a lodger.”
“Sleeping with the lodger.”
“Running your own business.”
“Hosting a dinner party.”
“Eating cereal in a bowl, not from the packet.”
Christmas 1995 Sam sent me this recipe book (it’s splendid, I still use it a lot).
But despite the recipe book and using it to make an elaborate Christmas meal (technically hosting a dinner party) I still didn’t feel like a woman. I had cats too. Clearly it was going to take more than dinner parties and pets.
We weren’t sure what would make us feel like women. We kept checking in with each other over the years, and even in our early 30s we still felt like girls. Two had got married and still didn’t feel like women. Two of us had children and we definitely didn’t feel like women. Turns out professional success doesn’t necessarily make you feel like a woman either. Or eating cereal from the bowl.
We were at a loss. Would we ever feel like women? Would we want to? What did it mean to be a woman? Looking back, I wish I’d known a wise elder to invite me to a women’s circle but I’m not aware they even existed then – not in our society anyway. I’m so glad that’s changing with the red tent movement and women’s circles.
Women need other women to teach them what it means to be a woman, and to recognise that being a woman is something to welcome rather than resist!
Three summers ago I stood waist deep in the woodland grave I was digging for our much-loved cat. Knackered, shovel in hand, tears pouring down my face, determined to dig it deep enough to keep him safe from foxes. That’s bloody deep by the way. I googled it.
Our beautiful boy was wrapped in his favourite blanket right beside me, looking like he was asleep. There were so many butterflies that day – darting around us circling his grave. I talked to him as I dug deep into the woodland earth beneath the oak tree, sharing memories from his kittenhood and thanking him for 19 years of unconditional love.
I’d stopped for a breather. I was feeling empowered and brave, emotionally and spiritually attuned to his death and humbled by how right it felt to be honouring his life and his death so completely. “I’m definitely a woman now” I told him. Because I was. His burial was a rite of passage, earthy and deep in so many ways. It represented all that womanhood means to me.
What Does It Mean To Be A Woman?
For me being a woman means having the strength to be vulnerable. Knowing my power to do certain things on my own and not being afraid to ask for support when I need it.
It’s beginning every day consciously attuning to the sacred. Being fully present with life and death, meeting it all without fear or resistance.
Listening deeply to the rhythm of life and my own energy levels. Following the flow of what feels heart-good and easeful instead of pushing to make things happen (because things never work out when I push from sheer use of will).
It’s remembering to replenish and nourish and nurture myself so I can love and create and share with abundance.
Sometimes it’s being powerful and badass and saying no when people push my boundaries. Sometimes it’s letting myself crumble and surrender and admit when I’m not coping.
It’s always about listening deeply to my inner rhythms and letting my emotions be felt and flow through. Being creative and intuitive and wild and mischievous and wise and deep and playful and loving.
It’s been a long time coming, this embracing of my womanhood. Up until recently, Western society hasn’t really celebrated what it means to be a woman, so it’s no wonder we were floundering to grasp a concept of what it means to be a woman back in the 90s.
Thank goodness times are changing. Thank goodness for women like Lucy Pearce.
Lucy is the founder of Womancraft Publishing, which publishes transformational books by women, for women. She is passionate about sharing empowering women’s resources on thehappywomb.com. She blogs on creativity, mindfulness, motherhood and world changing over on DreamingAloud.net.
I just finished reading the second edition of her bestselling book Moon Time: harness the ever-changing energy of your menstrual cycle. It’s the missing piece of the puzzle. It’s the book I needed to read 20 years ago. It’s the book every woman needs to read.
“In order to reclaim our full selves, to integrate each of these aspects through which we pass over the course of our lives, we must first learn to embrace them through our cycles.”
If I hadn’t fallen in love with Lucy online, I would never have picked up a book about menstruation because my cycle doesn’t cause me any problems and I thought books like this were only for women who had either had difficult periods or wanted to enhance their fertility. I’m so glad my limited understanding of the power of our menstrual cycles didn’t put me off reading this book. Moon Time IS about menstruation and it’s full of practical insights, empowering resources, creative activities and passion to put women back in touch with their body’s wisdom.
But really it’s a guide to becoming a woman.
It’s the book that my university flatmates and I were looking for all those years ago without realising that was what we needed.
I particularly love what Lucy shares about the archetypes of Virgin/Maiden, Mother, Wild Woman/Enchantress and Crone representing different phases of our cycle and her brilliant creative prompts to get in touch with each of these energies within you. I made these quick intuitive paintings on Sunday to get in touch with the archetypal energies of my cycle and it was so creative, nourishing and transformative.
I’m really excited about exploring this further in the coming months – I’ve plotted out the phases of my cycle in my diary so I can plan my months around when particular energy is at the fore. I’m just moving out of Crone energy into Virgin/Maiden energy just now so I’m expecting to be full of energy and potential over the days to come with lots of enthusiasm about developing new ideas. I actually do feel that fresh energy beginning to arise within me. I feel like I’ve been initiated into a women’s mystery school after reading Moon Time and it feels wonderful to dive deeper into the energy of my wise womb. You can get your copy of Moon Time here.
I’m thrilled that Lucy is our guest teacher in The Soul Sanctuary for July, starting on 1st July. She’s sharing a delicious audio teaching about aligning your creativity, sexuality and spirituality – Lucy’s voice is like warm honey so even just listening to the audio makes me feel more womanly and sensuous! Join us for The Soul Sanctuary in July if you:
- Are feeling creatively blocked and want to nourish your creative spirit.
- Would like to connect more fully to your feminine qualities and experience life in a more sensual creative way.
- Know that you need to heal your relationship with your emotions, femininity, female power and/or your mother.
- Want to clear and cleanse your lower chakras so you can feel more embodied and experience your womb wisdom.
Moon Time + Soul Sanctuary membership for July = a potent recipe for a month of embodied femininity, creativity and sensuality. I hope you’ll join us!