Yesterday the most transformational experience of my life came to its natural end. I know, that sounds super dramatic, but bear with me…
Back in October I signed up to be part of Lisa Lister’s She Power Coven; a five month programme based on Lisa’s book Witch.
Now I’ve worked with Lisa before and love her – I recommend her book Code Red to pretty much every woman I meet, I find the wisdom she shares and the circles she creates massively resonant and now, a couple of years after sending her a majorly fan girling email, I’m honoured to call this wise lady a friend as well as a guide. And since this Coven sounded AMAZING, I pretty much leapt at the chance to get involved and help hold space for the other powerful women who signed up.
I expected the five months to be loosely based on Witch and the five archetypes of feminine power that are covered in that book (the Force of Nature, the Creatrix, the Oracle, the Healer and the Sorceress) and knew I’d learn and understand a lot more about myself through that – although I’m not sure even I was prepared for the sheer scale of that!
What I really didn’t expect though was to learn the true meaning of sisterhood.
I mean, I have lots of good friends, and a number of wonderful women in my life I know I can call upon for anything and everything who will listen without judgement, advise without bias for anyone but me, and be there to support at any time of the day or night. And if you’d asked me five months ago what sisterhood was, I would’ve pointed you to those relationships and told you how fortunate I was – how fortunate I still am.
But it turns out that wasn’t the truest form of sisterhood. Not because those relationships weren’t enough, but because I – and we – weren’t ready for it.
I’ve written before about what Lisa and others call the “witch wound”; a deep fear and almost resentment of other women that’s carried through our culture as a hangover of witch trials, and a symptom of the culture we find ourselves in even now.
It’s why offices populated largely by women can often feel so bitchy, it’s why magazines continue to sell based on whatever photos they carry of female celebs looking fat and/or tired, and it’s what media like the Daily Mail have built their entire women’s agenda on.
But while those things all make me sick, I didn’t realise how much of a culprit I was – and I guess so many of us are – until I found myself in this circle space.
You see, this programme involved a lot of delving into the very depths of yourself… then the advice was to head into circle and share.
Over the past five months within that circle I think I’ve shared every single emotion possible – with a group of women all over the world that, as of September last year, I didn’t know at all. And they’ve done the same.
It’s shown me the things that I wasn’t comfortable sharing – the parts where I felt stupid, where I was uncertain, where I was angry and thought I should keep quiet – but because I felt safe in that space I pushed through those fears and shared anyway. And what I found was support. Sometimes that support came with advice, requests for clarity, or even disagreement; but always it came with acceptance, warmth and love.
As I experienced those responses, and witnessed the other women sharing their truth too I realised that I could accept and support all of them too with the warmth and love they deserve – the warmth and love we all deserve.
That included the women who initially triggered me because they were older, wiser and more experienced in life than me – I found that there was so much I learned from those ladies… but also that they were learning from me too, just as I was continuously learning from the younger women in the group too; it included the physically gorgeous women that in the past I’ve felt inferior too – because I realised that we are all gorgeous in our own ways if only we accept that and choose to embrace it; and it included the women who reached out to give me direct support when I needed it, which made me feel sticky initially because wasn’t my role here to support them?! Yes… but support can and should be a two way street.
In short, it allowed me to be wholly and completely myself with no barriers, no censure, no armour and to recognise that I was still accepted in that space no matter what happened.
And the beauty of that acceptance is that it breeds two things; love and growth.
Seriously, I have said and typed the words “I love you” more in the last few months than I have in the last few years combined! And for someone who was told about 18 months ago that she’d closed her heart (that’s a story for another day), that was a huge release. Particularly since everytime I’ve used those words I’ve meant them completely; and what’s more I’ve felt the wave of love back too, which is a powerful and beautiful thing to experience.
Then there’s the growth… wow, the growth. The journeys we’ve witnessed in each other have been the stuff of life stories and heroine adventures! And for me, this five months has illuminated all the places where I wasn’t showing up, allowed me to confront my fears head on, and given me the support to make changes and take leaps that once seemed totally impossible.
To put it simply it’s changed my entire mindset – about myself, my work and my life; and although the programme itself has been awesome, those changes are entirely down to the sisterhood and the support I’ve experienced. Because the real power of sisterhood is in the transformation that takes place as a result of it.
So now that my She Power Coven experience is over, what comes next? Well a big adventure for starters… it’s time to put this change into practice out in the wide world. But also, for me, it’s time to spread that sisterhood far and wide by carrying it forward into my other relationships; and that’s something I’m encouraging you to do too.
It means going into those female friendships and other relationships with people you know you can trust and rely upon and being entirely yourself – with no shame for your breakdowns or censure for the things you think they might not like.
It means looking at the women and experiences with other women that do trigger you and asking yourself why? If the answer is because that person doesn’t have the same core values as you or goes out of their way to make you feel crappy then yes, step away from them; but if the answer is because it highlights a fear of yours then own those fears and, when the time is right, consider doing the work to heal them and reclaim your power from them. And if that’s something you’re struggling with then give me a shout – it’s the work I LOVE to do.
You know me, I’m all about being the hero of your own life. But the truth is that no hero was meant to stand alone; and the power of sisterhood is in knowing that you have the wisdom, love and support of the whole of womankind at your fingertips, if only you have the courage to reach out and take their hands.