05 August 2015
The Wise Woman Tradition
“The Wise Woman Tradition is the oldest tradition of healing known on our planet, yet one that is rarely identified, rarely written or talked about. A woman-centered tradition of self-love, respectful of the earth and all her creatures, the Wise Woman Tradition tells us that compassion, simple ritual and common herbs heal the whole person and maintain health/wholeness/holiness.” ~ Susun Weed, Healing Wise
Our society insists on duality. There’s an either/or paradigm in mainstream culture, and even in much of the “alternative” sensibility and New Age spirituality.
It’s all about the “light,” and a predisposition to shutting out what is mysterious and “dark.” That tends to include the Earth—which remains untamed despite all efforts to master her—and woman, whose body and its great mysteries are intricately intertwined with Earth’s body.
The prevailing paradigm tells us that we need to overcome our connection to our bodies and to the physical plane in order to achieve a high level of spiritual “purity.” It calls us to answer to a “higher authority” that dictates strict codes of behavior, telling us that we are, essentially, dirty and flawed; in need of being saved. It negates so many essential parts of our experience as human beings and as women.
When we move from a perspective of either light or dark, to a configuration of both light and dark, we move away from this striving to transcend our bodies--away from a perspective where the divine is something outside of us.
In the Wise Woman Tradition, we understand our bodies as sacred and we trust her as a source of inner guidance. Often, we are so steeped in the cult of duality that the Wise Woman Tradition concept of wholeness is difficult to understand or accept.
Still, there’s a deep resonance that many women experience—a cellular memory of a way of life and a belief system that embraces a spiral that includes both light and dark, just as the natural cycles of our world constantly move through day and night, from dark moon to full moon, from winter to summer, from youth to old age and death.
As Wise Woman Tradition expert Susun Weed reminds us, our planet is always half in darkness! Constant light is an unnatural state for the Earth and for all beings.
Women of various religious traditions today are coming back to the realization that in order for spiritual language to truly apply to women, there needs to be focus on the embodiment of our spiritual experiences, in both our own physical bodies and in the earth’s physical form of plant and tree, rock and water--the sacred that is around us and within us.
The Wise Woman Tradition embraces the Earth, local plants, deep nourishment and self-love. Our relationship with our bodies shifts when we look through this Wise Woman lens. We go from perceiving ourselves as unclean and in need of purification, to recognizing the intrinsic perfection, interconnectedness, and wholeness of our body and our spirit.
We honor our natural cycles—our ebbs and flows. As we turn our attention away from fixing or rejecting our physical selves and toward nourishing ourselves physically, emotionally and spiritually, our bodies respond by moving towards optimal health.
As women, we recognize this way of life as familiar; the Wise Woman path is a process of remembering much of what we already know. We may recall it as “folk wisdom.” We may have heard our elders speak of rituals and remedies that were passed on to them from their foremothers.