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Old Woman Wisdom

They say women used to be wiser, and I think maybe that's true. I could light a candle and look into its smoke, drum my hands against earth, sing to the moon, and that old woman wisdom would sing and drum back on through my bones. I've done it and I know it's profound. Only, it doesn't help me with the dead cricket in my kitchen sink.

I've always been an introvert, and when I do spend time with others I tend to get on better with men than women. But even I want and need a connection to the communal spirit of womanhood for the sake of empathy, mutuality, relatability. There's really nothing quite like it. Put a few fifty year olds together in a room and watch how quickly the conversation turns to menopause. Sure, you can read about the subject in books and on the internet, but stories of real life experience, shared with laughter, are invaluable not just as information but to feed a woman's sense of belonging, her identity and security within womanhood.

I see everywhere women yearning to be in womanhood. To know they are not alone. To say #metoo.

And I see one response to that is a realigning ourselves with the wisdom and sacred practices of our ancestral mothers, such as natural medicines, menstrual rituals, meditations, special diets, ancient prayers. It's a wonderful, beautiful thing to do. And yet, I also think it maybe comes from privilege -

The privilege of unencumbered youth ... or wealth (essential oils may open your chakras and connect you to the goddess energy but that's useless if you're almost out of toilet paper) ... or having time ... or belonging already to a group who can share experiences and resources for sacred ancestral wisdom and soulful living.

Not being in such a place of privilege doesn't make you bad or lesser than. It just makes you busy, committed to other things, focussed on the practical, prioritising differently, or needing something else. I myself take little recourse to soulful practices at this particular time in my life, although I have done so before. You see, there are crickets - not frightening, but just another small hassle at the end of a long day. And there are small hassles, long days. If I'm going to connect with a source of wise womanhood, it will be with someone who can recommend a great moisturiser and nod empathically when I whisper my fear of going to yoga class. (My wise ancestress might tell me to bend my body and soul into the lotus position and feel the goddess spirit flow through me, but she never had to do it in a room full of young women wearing skin tight lycra.)

Not so long ago, feminine communities were stronger because women stayed in a limited sphere alongside mostly other women. We don't want to shrink our lives again, but I do think we benefit from women's groups, women's blogs, women's politics, and simply women friends, to support our uniquely feminine experiences. For some, learning and reconnecting with wise, wild, sacred practices is deeply healing. And for those who need to spend their money on groceries rather than immersion workshops, and are too busy or worried for luxurious self-care rituals ... even though they might like to do these things and would benefit from them ... it would help maybe to know that the ordinary everyday of today is sacred also. 

This here now - scouring your kitchen sink, letting a friend cry over the phone, going out of your way to help your grandfather, endlessly picking up children's toys, trying to figure out how they got crayon marks so high up on the wall, making a diversity of meals from half a dozen eggs - all of this is womanly wisdom. Honour it, share it. We need your real, right-here-now voice.


  1. Replies
    1. sorry, that symbol ended up as question marks after I posted.


  2. I've moved to a new area and my female friends are far away. I enjoyed reading this to feel like I'm not alone. Thankyou for a lovely post. ♥

  3. i definitely think women benefit immeasurably from the regular companionship of other women. i know that i do, introvert though i am! and i have been profoundly alone at times in my life, longing for the company of other women and worse off for not having that. but i like your reminder at the end of the post about finding sanctity and affirmation in one's everyday life. we need the company of women and the wisdom and sacrality of female ancestors, indeed we do---but we also need to remember what has long been devalued and denigrated: that 'women's work' is immensely valuable, worthy, wise, and yes, sacred.

  4. I went to a party last month, something I always dread a little bit. But I ended up sitting on the floor talking with a few other women in their fifties and sixties for hours. And yes, there was talk of menopause and much laughter...and it was wonderful.

    And I do understand about the yoga. If you get the chance to attend a class of "gentle yoga" you might find yourself surrounded by older folk in very unshiny clothing, as I have. Also, you might enjoy Yoga with Adriene on youtube. She is kind and funny.xo


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