a wild feminine baptism
We are born of the dark and the mud. The waters are grimy - full of nutrients, full of mica like broken stars, full of the memories of our grandmothers and all the roots, bird hearts, sorrows, they ate.The waters slid through forests where women journeyed and men dug. We are one-third muck, one-third myth, and one-third wonderment.
And through skin light shines, opening our eyes. And when we are born air flows into us, changing everything.
I remember when I was younger, and walking alone through a city far from home, far from my mother, I thought perhaps now I can call myself a woman. But I wasn't certain. Even after I too became a mother, I wasn't certain. I supposed it was a culture scar across my heart. But now I wonder if infact it was instinctive acknowledgement that I had not fulfilled the maiden spirit in me. Perhaps a woman can not feel herself a woman until she has been enough of a girl. A poet or a dancer, a nonsense-speaker, a leap of flame, a flower-scented gust, a rollick of light on the surface of the river.
Perhaps she doesn't get the chance for it until her children are grown, or her bones are old: until the men have finished talking and the parents don't care what you do any more. Perhaps she was a crone long before she got to be a maiden.
It doesn't matter of course. There's never really been anything linear about any woman. (Or any man, either.)
What I think is that sometimes, to grow, a woman must go back to her Mother. She must kneel down in old water, with the moon reflecting like horns in her wet hair, and she must delve into her amniotic mud for what belongs to her but she hasn't yet played on - tendrils of weed, sinew, love, choices, that grew around her, over and over, until they made her bones and heartbeat, and that can be plucked like harpstrings to make a self-song. I think sometimes a woman must get herself thoroughly dirty with the muck and myth of life. That's the wild feminine way to baptise yourself.
And when the woman arises again, the windswept light will dry her until she shines.
Photographs by the amazing Michelle Gardella, who is possibly my favourite photographer ever. She has previously given me permission to share her work.