Throughout my life, there have been three consistent messages:
Stay small, stay quiet, stay hidden.
My parents told me I could be anything–as long as I followed their rules.
My teachers told me I could accomplish whatever I set my mind to–as long as it was in their curriculum.
Society asserted that I could look like anyone, fill any role, and topple the patriarchy–as long as I was conventionally attractive, found that role within the establishment, and upheld masculine values.
I starved myself, apologized for everything, deferred to experts, fell in line.
I bowed to men and to the women who stood in for them.
I kept myself small in every way, non-threatening. I traded my power for conditional affection.
There are rites of passage which mark initiation into new states.
Puberty, menarche, birth, menopause…
The way we treat these experiences speak volumes about how we live our lives.
But without ritual, we have only secular initiations to rely on. Pale imitations of ceremony which seek to cram aeons of wisdom into material moments.
This feminine initiation left me wanting. Modern priests in white coats proclaimed me too ripe, shamed me for taking up too much space. My first bleed occurred in scared silence. I hid it for days until a few drops betrayed me. My mother quietly taught me how to hide better. I talked about nothing. These were private experiences. No one needed to know. Not even me.
I recognize now that these initiations only transferred generations of trauma from my foremothers onto me.
Suppress your power.
Keep it secret, even from yourself.
This is the only way to be safe in this world.
Without true rites of passage we remain in a state of compliant protection.
When I found out I was pregnant I knew everything would change.
The maiden in me wanted to remain small, quiet, invisible. I joked about hiding away in giant sweaters and disappearing until I held a baby in my arms.
Secular pregnancy is yet another ritual of disempowerment. We’re told to submit ourselves wholly to authority, to those doctor priests who know our bodies better than we know ourselves. We’re told to remain wholly in the daylight world of masculine productivity until the moment we check ourselves into the hospital, where we pull the next generation into these same grand traditions of silence and smallness.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
We can break the cycle.
Once, we knew our bodies. Once, we knew ourselves. We had distinct sets of rituals and responsibilities to steer us down the winding river of life. Our manifold mysteries were the basis of feminine initiation, the source of power–not pathology.
I don’t want to raise compliant children, caught in the perpetual cycle of stunted meekness.
I don’t want to raise small, pretty girls who know how to stay safe.
I reject the coping mechanisms we’ve developed to exist in a society of truly toxic masculine materialism.
I want to raise witches and warrior queens.
I want to raise women who stand larger than life, with voices like thunder.
And it begins with me.