“A woman armed with ancestral wisdom is a powerful force. You’ll find her powers come from within, she is in tune with her spirit, and the magic of the universe. She trusts, values and follows her intuition.”
What is Matriarchy in the modern sense? How can we bring it back to a sacred time-honored role?
When the role of Mother begins to wear on you, or you question your ability to be the best parent for your child, and you feel alone, and frustrated and maybe a little scared, feel into the moment and know you are not alone, that there are so many other women out there in the same moment feeling just as you do.
Mama, you are not doing it wrong, you have been wronged.
It is hard to live in a world where your sense of things, and your priorities don’t align with what you see in the world around you. It is difficult to find role models because the dominant culture has turned its back on motherhood and matriarchy as the sacred roles that they are.
Being a mother and leading a family is hard work, and some days you might feel like giving up. The current world order does not support strong women, it does not love mothers, or children. It does not respect women’s bodies, hearts, and minds. It does not support the needs of mothers and growing families, or the ways of our elders and ancestors, it does not delight in difference or revel in intensity nor relish strong emotions or connection to the natural world. It does not acknowledge the mere fact that we all were born of a woman. Period.
In the Western world, long gone is the respect for women as life givers and nurturers. Long gone are the days of community and village life, a built in support system where women guided each other in matters of life, and death; where grandmother taught mother, who taught daughter and so on down the line. Where women laughed together, created together, held ceremony together, grieved together. Long gone are the everyday rituals of connection with the earth and nature, the reverence of the divine feminine, for our ancestors, and the prayers for our young ones.
Yet we can become the women we long for- the leaders, the strength, the inspiration. The fires of our peoples need tending right now more than ever. This is where matriarchy is needed, the arena in which our voices long to be heard.
When the world seems to be spiraling out of control it can help to hold fast to our roots for stability, like trees swaying in the wind. Many of us don’t have direct wisdom from our grandmothers and their grandmothers before, in an unbroken line, but we can still attain it by learning what their lives might have been like, how they survived to bring forth life, and apply some of those sage components to our lives, and families.
What is Modern Matriarchy?
Matriarch is a title - a role some of us embody.
For me, this is what Matriarchy is. Looking back at the unbroken line of women that extend from me to the beginning. I take inspiration from what their lives were like. It is hard to be sure how these women lived, but by looking to cultural norms, and traditions, I can find beauty and strength, and remembrance. The blood and bones remember. If I am alive today, it is because a long line of mothers fueled with traditional wisdom survived to bring forth the gift of life.
What did these grandmothers feed their children? What stories did they tell them for navigating life? Which ceremonies honored various stages of life? How were the ones with special skills to help the community nurtured? How did they honor the land which nurtured them? What did they learn, and therefore teach about seasonal changes? Who did they look to for strength and grace and wisdom? How did they thrive?
Matriarchy is setting an example for the ones in your care. It is waking up each morning resolved to shine your light all the brighter, to be a beacon, and to be of service to the ones you love. It is setting a foundation of strength, compassion, love, respect, and self sovereignty for your family, be it of blood or other bonds.
Matriarchy is being a Jill of all Trades. I used to hate knowing a little about a lot of things but not having one skill I was known for. But then I realized in order to run a household, to do the little things I do everyday without even thinking about them, to care for loved ones, to teach them about the world, to be a matriarch, knowing a little about a lot is vitally important. The more I learn, the more I can advise, and support.
Matriarchy is teaching, learning, role modeling, and being open to the wisdom of the young ones. It is remembering and honoring the past wisdom of our elders, and choosing to make it a part of the future. It is training for becoming a well and respected ancestor, a wellspring of knowledge and help for the generations yet to come. It is waking up each morning with new opportunities for growth, love, and understanding.
As mothers, it is our voice in the ears of the next generation. We often feel powerless, but we hold the power to support or tear down lives with our voice.
Why There Aren’t Enough Women Leaders
In today’s climate people see strength in rigidity, in a person who has all the answers (or appearing so), and who refuses to change their mind no matter what the evidence shows. There is no room for vulnerability or the knowledge and change that it brings. The focus is on being right, instead of placing value on all perspectives and learning from each other, or simply being honest and saying “I don’t know” and erring on the side of caution.
We value perceived knowledge over integrity and intuition, when we should see them as 3 parts of a whole. We are not comfortable in gray areas, we like our little boxes. This is a struggle for women especially because we are expected to be so much, but if we rise to the challenge, then we are often described as “too much”, or wanting too much.
I struggle with perfectionism. Due to experiences in my life, I have an unfortunate belief that people see me in one of two ways, either as not doing/being enough, or by being or wanting too much. As a people pleaser, it is like being a rock in a hard place. I want the people I love to be happy and I have often taken responsibility for their happiness. So, despite my own inner wisdom, when they aren’t aligned with me, and my plans, I’ve often found myself trying to explain myself, our family, and my choices in an attempt to prove myself and my integrity, and I find that despite my sincerity, people often don’t understand, and it breaks my heart.
But that is what the world asks of women today – we are supposed to do everything – parent, care for the elders, take care of the house, feed people, care for loved ones when they are ill all the while making an income, and having free time to nurture relationships and creative endeavors…all while constantly being interrupted. It is a losing battle set up for failure, and often the guilt eats us up, which crushes our power and strength, taking our energy with it.
My Matriarchy Story
A family draws its strength from the differences within the unit. It requires vulnerability, and open heartedness. Sometimes it needs someone to say “I don’t know how to solve this issue, but I love and respect the individuals that make up this unit so much, that I will not give up on it and we will find a way to work it out”.
I’ve too often based my own feelings of worthiness on others’ good opinions of me, and on my family. Sometimes people have given up on us, on me. I now know I am still worthy of love and respect no matter what others think.
I have my daughter to thank for that.
Supporting our daughter and her special needs as a highly sensitive and highly spirited child, an old one returned, has been the greatest and single most demanding aspect of my life. It has changed the way I live. It has shaken our family to the core, and brought up so many feelings of inadequacy, and failure. There have been moments I have felt not up to the task asked of me, feeling so alone and without proper support to function. An imposter Matriarch, undeserving of the family I have. Not enough.
But I have held fast to my daughter’s strong sense of herself, and her right to be herself, here and now. Her self sovereignty has given me pause to look at my own life, and the places where I’ve let my own sense of self die. I promised I would never let her inner fire diminish. This promise has become the guiding light for my own life – how to support and love my daughter and keep her strongly intact sense of self in a world that wishes to homogenize everything. You can read more about that story in my post What’s in a Name?
Tend To Your People, By Tending Yourself.
Our children deserve to have a place to call home; a place that always calls them back; a place full of love, and strength and rootedness, where they feel safe and protected and cared for. All of our children are unique and possess their own gifts to give to the world, gifts that are badly needed. As matriarchs we support their unique voices, we teach them to tend their inner fire, and support them doing the things that light them up, so they can influence the world around them.
We do this for them, by doing it for us. This is the great lesson my daughter, the fearless one has taught me about being a matriarch – that if she is to keep her sovereignty intact, if she is to feel safe giving voice to her dreams and desires, if she is going to stand up for injustice and be a good caretaker of the world around her, if she is going to be bold, and strong and bright… then I must do the same.
I must accept her fully for who she is, right now, understanding that her challenges are gifts to be decoded, skills from the place beyond dreams that she has come here to use for good in her lifetime. If I believe that about her, I must believe that about myself. That my challenges are blessings, that my dreams and desires, are not wanting too much, but are who I am, are my work in this world. I must forgive myself for not accepting myself, or for feeling shame over wanting to live the kind of life that lights me up. I have to live in a way in which I am aligned with my true self. I need to model that behaviour for her.
If this post speaks to you on any level, tend your fire. Tend to your people. Tend to the land around you. Tend to the seen and unseen ones. Remember your ancestors, and the love and strength they had going all the way back in time to ensure your existence. Honor their existence, and their culture, because the choices they made and who they were is the reason you are breathing here today. Remember that children come to this world with knowledge, and we can either uphold and support it, or rip it out of them in the name of conformity. If you relate to children at all in your life, whether as a mother, or auntie, or a teacher, therapist, or coach, be a matriarch, and uphold their inner truth and light.
I am so grateful for this beautiful life and the precious ones I share it with. For everything they have taught me about unconditional love and acceptance. What could have broken us has made us more grateful, our relationships deeper, and our resolve stronger in working toward building a life of truth, of connection, close to the land.
Motherhood is sacred work, and sacred work is not always easy breezy. It is not easy magic, nor is Matriarch a fluff title. Often the small everyday wins are hard won through many trials, but with a thread of unconditional love flowing through.
I feel most alive when living in community with other animals, plants, and the unseen ones. I feel like it’s my soul’s work in this lifetime to build a home for my family and the ones that will come after, a physical legacy where our children can feel safe to grow and thrive and live up to their fullest potential as human beings on this earth. A place that demonstrates my love for sharing a life with nature and all its inhabitants. A true home that will be there for generations and generations, each one building on the projects, and dreams of the last. A home that is a well of love, and tradition that my descendants can drink from in order to be refreshed and rejuvenated. One day we will have that, it’s what drives me and keeps me going on the really hard days.
What is that one thing for you, that lights you up and keeps you going? Do that. The world needs it. Our children need to see you lit up while doing it.
In this new decade I resolve to love myself, once and for all, as I am. To fully embrace that which keeps my fire burning. I will be more present for my family. I have spent too long believing I don’t have what it takes to raise my daughter to be the person she needs to be so that her light can shine its brightest. In this decade, I will acknowledge my worth to parent this magical being. I will know I am exactly the right mother for her; that I have everything it takes.
Several events at the end of 2019 and the first week of this decade were a wake up call for me, a call from the universe and my ancestors that said, YOU GOT THIS, mamma bear.
This decade I will help my children to dig deep to find who they are, and to support the best versions of themselves. They will know they are cherished and honored. I will honor and respect them as the miraculous beings that they are, and I will do the same for myself. I will only allow in what is truly in alignment with who I am into my life, and if people don’t understand, I’m going to be ok with it instead of letting it tear me apart.
I feel called to share my experiences with others through the written word, using various topics as inspiration because I believe that life needs to be well rounded. There are so many ways to draw on that need for connection, groundedness and rootedness to the old ways, our birthright. We are not all one size fits all. I express the love I have for the land, and the old ways in a variety of styles, from practical skills, to folklore, and straight up stories. I believe that knowing our past, living in relationship with the land, and setting a strong foundation for the next generations is our birthright and that of our children’s’.
Who are you?
I am the daughter of the Stag King and the Deer Mother with the strength of the Bear and the grace of the Swan. I stand tall with Birch, Oak, Yew, Hawthorn, and Rowan at my back. I am blessed by relating to roses, and nettles, St. John’s wort, and chamomile. The bracken waters of the sea and delicate snowflakes are my blood, the mountains are my bones, and the forest earth is my flesh.
The blood of the ancient grandmothers and grandfathers flows in my veins, their words and dreams murmured in my ears. Some were warriors, and bow makers, others forest guardians, and healers; others, common folk, farmers, naturalists, shoemakers, and shepherds.
I am the dream they dreamed, and my children and their children are mine. We are an unbreakable line of flesh and bone spanning all parts of history, steeped in traditions, rooted on this earth, speaking many tongues, blessed with all the gifts they bestowed, and the spirit of the ones who came before.
Who are you? From where does your power come?
We are not alone in this world, we have our people, and traditions, and languages. We have the lands our people fed and which in turn fed them; we feed them still.
Old Ways for Modern Days
This is the tagline for this blog. I want to share with you my experiences of honoring the wisdom of the past in this modern age as a way to try and create a healthier and more connected tomorrow for the next generations.
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I will be sending a poll out in a few days to get your opinion on how I can best help support you in preserving the old ways in this modern life.