This summer I had the joy of co-facilitating a Work that Reconnects retreat for Shelter, a French ecofeminist association. While I was familiar with the concept of ecofeminism and what I had read about it made a lot of sense to me, I was definitely in for a surprise being immersed in a 100% ecofeminist gathering for 2 weeks …
Ecofeminism is a movement linking the oppression of women, minority groups & indigenous culture & the degradation of the environment as consequences of capitalist patriarchy.
It is impossible to describe in words and in a short post my experience but let me begin by saying it was intense and I came back from it a changed woman.
The ecofeminist gathering was in beautiful nature in the middle of nowhere, a hidden refuge nestled in the hilltops of the Aude region, the landscape a mix of pine forest and what they call “la guarrigue” locally. The place we met is a sanctuary for women, men aren’t welcome there. Initially I had quite some resistance to this, it felt really polarising to exclude men. If we want to build a more harmonious future, surely we need to do this together.
But I had signed up for this experiment, co-hosting with my dear soul sisters, so I just let go and saw it as an exploration of something new. And I certainly wasn’t disappointed, what an experiment in letting go of layers and layers of conditioning…
It was special to be in a land that had only been touched and walked upon by women and witness how little had been done to the land. There were a few wooden cabins, built by lesbian women who had lived there from the 70s onwards, completely crooked, imperfect and absolutely charming. There was no electricity, no source of water and “the shitter” wasn’t the place you want to hang around. We would collect water from a source at the village nearby, we needed to drive there and carry it by foot for the last meters up a hill during the summer heatwave. The whole symbolic of women carrying the water was special and the appreciation that stemmed from enjoying it for drinking or a rudimentary shower was immense.
I didn’t miss any of the comforts of modern life though during my time there. I discovered the joy of sleeping under the stars every night, of seeing the sun and moon rising and setting. I became really connected with these rhythms, it felt like all was in place and after a few days and would not miss one. I discovered what it was like to be in total darkness in the forest and how surprisingly safe and comfortable I felt especially knowing there was not any male presence or dangerous animals around, I didn’t feel like prey. It was so magical not to have artificial light for those weeks and no sign of civilisation anywhere close, how precious to see the night sky clearly, to experience and enjoy the darkness. I enjoyed sisterhood like seldom before, in profound and deep sharing in circles filled with words of wisdom and truth, hugging, tears, love, softness, fierceness, pain, power and rage. It was raw, moving, intense, peeling of layer after layer.
We were naked in every way, also physically, it was so hot and there were no men, so clothes were mostly superfluous. Initially as a retreat co-facilitator, I had some resistance being half naked but after so much intimacy and depth in our sharing, I felt totally comfortable in that nakedness. I never thought I would be facilitating a grief circle in my underwear with 18 women but it just happened and I completely surrendered…
I discovered what it was like to walk through my days without the male gaze, how suddenly it was totally safe to be completely naked. Being around this special group of women and without men gave me so much more space to be, so much freedom to express my sensuality, all of me. I experienced a freedom I had seldom experienced. It was blissful…
We had long walks under the moonlight in nature, walks in silence, singing songs, telling stories, laughing and howling with the wind in our hair and on our bare skin. I treasure images of our half nude bodies walking for hours in the moonlight and bathing and singing in the river down below.
I experienced the wild woman in me I had longed for, dreamt of, had glimpses of here and there. And the whole experience felt so sensual, playful, soft and powerful, with ann intense, feeling of aliveness and intimacy with nature. It was so liberating to be me so fully in this magical place surrounded by beautiful women and a couple of my dear soul sisters to share this experience with. Most of these women were healers, mothers, massage therapists, dancers, writers, artists, activists, etc.
It gave me a glimpse of what it feels like to be completely safe to be free, to be in a symbiotic state with the Earth and with a community of women. I carry this experience preciously in my heart and it motivates me to create and contribute to safe places for women to show up in their full power.
Do you walk through life with deep appreciation and awareness of everything that sustains your life? The Earth that carries you, the air that fills you with life energy, the soil that nourishes you, the sun that warms you, the trees that offer cool, fresh air, timeless beauty and wisdom, your numberless ancestors laying the foundations on which you rest, billions of years of evolution weaved into your body, brain, nervous system. Who we are and what we do today as a species will determine the foundations on which future generations lay on for better or worse.
Imagine if we actually evolved daily with awareness of and reverence for this interconnectedness, the world today would look pretty different… it is time to integrate this knowledge and let it be our compass as we move forward in these chaotic times.
Here’s a meditation to integrate awareness of this interconnectedness inspired by Joanna Macy’s amazing work.
Live with the world inside of you, appreciating the rich heritage you inherited simply by being Human now and create conditions nurturing the well-being of future generations.
Marjorie Lumet on Instagram: “The Web of Life meditation Inspired by Joanna Macy – The Work that Reconnects This meditation invites us to sense deeply our…”