The Tangled Hedge: At home in the numinous wilds

An animist & spiritual naturalist Hedge Witch explores feminine spirituality... the hunter emerging from the numinous wilds to gather with her sisters.

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Gather With The Women

As I birth this blog on Mother's Day, I begin a journey into the numinous wilds on a path I'm only partly familiar with. My spirituality has never really focused on gender or sex, though they have sometimes been connected to it, here and there. I have been aware of the more feminine side of spirituality, but have not yet asked to enter the circle of women. I've been on a more solitary path, communing with nature and spirit, getting comfy with my metaphorical hermit cottage near the hedge.

I am a woman, and a mother, as well as a sister/daughter/etc. but due to a disconnection from the insular religion and culture of my birth, I have also been disconnected from my circle of women relatives and the community and friends of my youth. It is a lot like I have gone to live in a different world, and I need to integrate into a new community and form a family that includes the mothering and sisterhood I find myself yearning for. I hope to do so with wise women who aren't deprived by patriarchal forces of their own power, their own mind and spirit... women I could build something with... meaningful action in the world.

In studying anthropology, I've been learning about matrilineal and matrilocal societies where lineage is traced through mothers, and men marry into the clans of their wives, rather than patrilocal systems where women marry and go to live with or near to their husband's family. These societies have strong female networks of family and community that you probably sense an echo of in Western culture despite the exclusion of women from positions of community authority for so long. (Thank Goddess it's changing!) There are still networks, a community of women who hold sway over domestic life, at least. Mothers and grandmothers always held some authority in family life. The matrilineal/matrilocal societies tend to be more egalitarian and less legalistic. They tend to be foraging or horticultural societies, where women are the primary or equal subsistence workers, and benefit from stable and cooperative networks with each other. There are no known examples of a matriarchy – a society in which women exclusively control descent, inheritance, and social and political power. I don't think women have ever needed or wanted that extent of control. We tend to the egalitarian ways.

I consider these ancient ways to be part of our human heritage. It is now thought that rather than the stone tools for hunting or making hunting tools, the first tools were probably invented by women... baskets or containers for carrying food and infants, tools used to dig up plants, and tools made of plant fibers that did not last in the archaeological record like stone does. I would guess fiber snares and weirs were also early tools that may have been part of women's work. Bipedalism is being said to have developed because mothers had to carry their infants, after changes in foot structure when we left the trees no longer permitted infants to cling to mothers who were also evolving less body hair to grip. Bipedalism began millenia before stone tools were being made.

The suppressed historical record of women is something I'm very interested in, along with bringing back our heritage from it, and integrating a post-patriarchal wholeness and sustainability for humanity from the healing of such rifts and societal illnesses.

As Jean Shinoda Bolen put it, “Urgent message from Mother: Gather the women, save the world.”

I look forward to this blog giving me the impetus to explore this path and gather with the women.

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Lia is an Anthropology major, & mother of two daughters, in the Western U.S. Spiritual influences tend toward the ancient and indigenous, with a future-focused hope to return humanity to sustainability.

Comments

  • Ashley Rae
    Ashley Rae Thursday, 26 September 2013

    I studied anthropology ten years ago and had very similar thoughts on this topic. It has had a powerful influence on my development as a parent, a woman, and a spiritual being. :)

  • Lia Hunter
    Lia Hunter Sunday, 06 October 2013

    I would love to hear more about that, Ashley. :)

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