Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gender & Search for Spirit

I spent years - oh, at least a decade - focused intellectually and personally on a search for understanding spirituality as profoundly shaped by gender. I'm currently teaching a course initially developed in the late 1980s on Women and Religion, and the class just viewed two videos made at that time and distributed widely (through being the PBS pledge drive give-away for a couple of years, as one means), the first outlining a story of the lost peaceful and egalitarian goddess-revering cultures preceding Western patriarchal dominance, and the other tracing the history of 300 years of witch burnings. I know that these histories haven't held up to scholarly scrutiny, but as modern myths of how life could be lived differently, they still have power. One class member, shaken by the account of witch-burning, said, "Oh, now I get why women hate our bodies."

Last semester, a young woman who described herself as an intuitive, felt impelled to relay a strong perception she had about me, that I had some issues related to being a woman, which would cause abdominal illness. Today, my stomach is acting up - the reflux I've had off and on for some time. Hmmm - putting it together - might I be back in the work-sickness place, driven and self-hating?

I had planned out a blog entry on self-hatred, S.A.D. and the dark night, but now late in January, the light is growing stronger. Glancing through _Conscious Femininity_, a collection of interviews and short writing by Marion Woodman, I was reminded again of what I have known for years to be the link in my life between my workaholic driven-ness and this self-hatred - but I've recently been seduced by fears for my job with the University downsizing to think that the only solution to my distress is to work even harder. Of course, I'll sabotage myself if I do.

The answer? I need to find a middle way - meditation? Writing love letters to Mother Sophia?

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