“She never smoothed her wild edges. She never stopped writing new chapters. She fell. She rose. She danced. She unraveled. She let go. She evolved. She was a tangled mess. She was strong. She was fierce. She was brave. She was a badass. The ocean was her therapy. Grace was her religion. She lived like there was a fire in her veins. e. Forgiveness was her freedom. She lived like there would never be enough time. She lived like there was fire in her veins. She lived.”
I realized that in spite of the very helpful healing work I had done in the past, that as a woman, the modern Western and even ancient spiritual techniques that served me before fell short of fully addressing my physical, mental, emotional, energetic, and spiritual nature as a woman. And how could they, for they were created by (and generally made for) men?
For example, while the Vedic and Buddhist meditation techniques I learned helped me observe my pain from a place of detachment, they guided me away from delving into my pain—to feel and own it. The Goddesses, however, showed me that as a woman, it was vital for me to fully feel my pain before I could heal it. Another revelation was when I realized that instead of just talking about my feelings to process them, that unleashing them through physical movement, sound, or sacred ceremony profoundly elevated my experience of release.
And so it wasn’t until I re-discovered the buried ancient mysteries and wisdom teachings of the Goddesses that I was able to truly heal and flourish on every level as a woman. At first, embracing the Goddesses of the underworld led me to uncover the deep-seated lack of self-love, self-worth, and self-value that was mirrored back to me in my outer patterns.”
-Syma Kharal, Goddess Reclaimed: 13 Initiations to Unleash Your Sacred Feminine Power
“The world which men have made isn’t working. Something needs to change. To change the world, we women need first to change ourselves – and then we need to change the stories we tell about who we are. The stories we’ve been living by for the past few centuries – the stories of male superiority, of progress and growth and domination – don’t serve women and they certainly don’t serve the planet. Stories matter, you see.”
The Spaniards came to our village in 1524, but they couldn’t get anybody to go to their church, so they demolished our old temple and used the stones to build a new church on the same site. (This was a common practice.) But the Tzutujil people are crafty. They watched as the old temple stones were used to build the new church, and they memorized where each one went. As far as the Tzutujil were concerned, this strange, square European church was just a reconfiguration of the old. (When I was learning to be a shaman, I had to memorize where all those damn stones were, because they were all holy. It was like being a novice taxi driver in London.)
The Catholic priests abandoned the village in the 1600s because of earthquakes and cholera, then came back fifty years later and found a big hole in the middle of the church. “What is that?” they said. By then, the Indians knew the priests destroyed everything relating to the native religion, so the Indians said, “When we reenact the crucifixion of Jesus, this is the hole where we put the cross.”
In truth, that hole was a hollow place that was never to be filled, because it led to another hollow place left over from the temple that had been there originally, and that place was connected to all the other layers of existence. For four and a half centuries, the Indians kept their traditions intact in a way that the Europeans couldn’t see or understand. If the Spaniards asked, “Where is your God?” the Indians would point to this empty hole. But when the American clergy came in the 1950s, they weren’t fooled. They said, “This is paganism.” And so, eventually, they filled the empty place with concrete.
I was there when that happened, in 1976. I was livid. I went to the village council and ranted and raved about how terrible it was. The old men calmly smoked their cigars and agreed. After an hour or so, when I was out of breath, they started talking about something totally unrelated. I asked, “Doesn’t anybody care about this?”
“Oh, yeah,” they said. “We care. But these Christians are idiots if they think they can just eradicate the conduit from this world to the next with a little mud. That’s as ridiculous as you worrying about it. But if you must do something, here’s a pick, shovel, and chisel. Dig it out.”
So some old men and I dug out the hole. Then the Catholics filled the hole back up, and two weeks later we dug it out again. We went back and forth this way five times until, finally, somebody made a stone cover for the hole, so the Catholics could pretend it wasn’t there, and we could pull the cover off whenever we wanted to use it.
That’s how the spirit is now in this country. The hole, the hollow place that must be fed, is still there, but it’s covered over with spiritual amnesia. We try to fill up that beautiful hollow place with drugs, television, potato chips — anything. But it can’t be filled. It needs to be kept hollow.
“I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king.”
Even a woman as great as this, of such astounding achievement and wisdom, felt driven to compare herself, to measure herself with male metaphor. Deep in the psyche even of great women, there has not been a female metaphor for greatness, for strength, for the wisdom which they themselves embodied.
The female Deities had been so slandered, so stripped of essential integrity. Yahweh is after all God, Medusa is after all merely a goddess. We can forgive Yahweh his crimes … this is not myopia. The millennia of patriarchal narrative has left our minds locked up, unable to grasp the Female Metaphor … that she may stand sovereign, not as greater than, but in and of herself: so that, when a woman or a man desires to express greatness, nobility, strength they are able to easily reach for a female image.
“When winter comes to a woman’s soul, she withdraws into her inner self, her deepest spaces. She refuses all connection, refutes all arguments that she should engage in the world. She may say she is resting, but she is more than resting: She is creating a new universe within herself, examining and breaking old patterns, destroying what should not be revived, feeding in secret what needs to thrive.
Winter women are those who bring into the next cycle what should be saved. They are the deep conservators of knowledge and power. Not for nothing did ancient peoples honour the grandmother. In her calm deliberateness, she winters over our truth, she freezes out false-heartedness.
Look into her eyes, this winter woman. In their gray spaciousness you can see the future. Look out of your own winter eyes. You too can see the future.”