Rising up in me is the woman on the right, with her arm resting on the ledge. My maternal grandmother. The woman who made her daughter and granddaughters never feel good enough. The woman who taught me about place settings and napkin folding and the importance of appearances. The woman who never felt good enough herself, coming from small, poor yet deep roots. The woman who’s first child died in childbirth. The woman who loved me and my sister and our mother so fiercely and wanted so much more for us. The woman who wanted us to fit in and not feel like imposters. I feel the roar she never released, the howl she held back. Rising in me are the lessons of where she succumbed to the expectations and ideals of others and left who she was behind in the name of love and motherhood and acceptance. I feel her pleading within me to do it differently. To bare my skin. To wail and howl and moan. To hug and hold and squeeze so tightly they almost can’t breathe. To be the mama and woman and wife she so desperately wanted to be and couldn’t because of time and circumstance and history. She is rising within and soon the world will feel her roar.
Those are the words that came out, stream of conscious, on Instagram this week (thank you to Liberated Lines for the writing prompt). I’ve been feeling this woman rumbling within in. This women who created and birthed half of my DNA. This woman who talked proudly, though so rarely, of our Native American ancestor (her grandmother or great-grandmother I can’t remember which). I wonder why she would talk of this woman with such pride (and in hushed, conspiritoral tones) when it was just “us girls” and never mentioned her once (that I recall) around my grandfather.
It has left me wondering what other pieces of her Self she kept hidden. Her secret prides and sorrows. Was she ever allowed to grieve the son she gave birth to who died before he could take his first breath? How did she dress him for his funeral? Did her husband blame her for his death? Did she blame herself?
Who was her first husband? Did he go on to marry and have children with another woman? Though he is no blood relation of mine, he lives in me too as he was part of her, part of what made her who she was by the time I was born nearly a half a century later.
It is a tangled path, a labyrinth in and out and around and around, this wandering wondering of our ancestors. They all, each one, live in us physically in our DNA and in our mind and spirit. They are a part of what makes up our very ways of being. My sister and I have been told over and over that we have our mother’s laugh, which begs the question of where did she get it? Not from our grandmother, who I only ever heard politely chuckle, nor my grandfather who had a soft heart and hard exterior who rarely laughed at all. Perhaps her laugh came from that Native American woman who left (or was stolen from) her tribe generations ago.
In many ways I will never know the answers to all my questions. In many ways this doesn’t matter at all. In many ways the facts are irrelevant because I am here today and I am who I am and knowing each detail of every day of every ancestor’s life wouldn’t change any of that.
And yet there is a need to connect to the feminine lineage I sprang from. Knowing names and birthdays isn’t important, and connecting to the core of who they were, and what I am made of, is.
In the Unbecoming Quest, during our second module, I provided a walking meditation called Walking Your Womanline (I also sent it out in my most recent newsletter). It is an incredibly powerful meditation, connecting us back through time to our Source Feminine, meeting each woman and gathering and passing on gifts from each as we move back and forward again through time.
And that is the answer. The facts sometimes aren’t relevant for our own personal and spiritual growth. Yes, all the pain and trauma has been passed down through the generations, and all the strengths and power have too.
As I consider my own womanline, and allow the details of my newest circle to emerge, I keep coming back to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the episode(s) where she connects with the First Slayer. Buffy is as much a part of my womanline as my blood relatives, as are Wonder Woman, Black Widow and even Mary Tyler Moore and the Gilmore Girls. They each formed me culturally and socially and they are each archetypes that live within me (and all of us).
How we relate to these fictional characters parallels how we relate to our own ancestors and to our Self. We see pieces of Us in Them. We see their strength and power and wit and intelligence and it resonates deep within us, the same traits that we have been passed down through the generations. Wonder Woman’s need to always get her self unbound is a story of women’s lives in general: how we must break free from the chains and ropes of the patriarchy, of our misogynistic culture, of our own family history. We must break free of it yes, and yet we must also dance with it (as Wonder Woman is tied up again and again). Buffy must always fight demons in the night, and if this is not a prime example of dancing with our (Jungian) Shadow self (every night, over and over) I’m not sure what is.
We see our history, our “real” history in these fictional characters. And these characters live in us, and our ancestors.
To find the connection between the two, to know our roots, to feel our connection to our womanline and the Feminine Divine, to heal the generations of mother-wounds that have encouraged us over and over to forsake the feminine and our feminine self… That is where my work is going, that is what is rumbling within, that is the roar of my grandmother that will shake the world.
Would you like to join us?