Today I met a warrior. She had braids in her hair and magic in her fingers. She brought me healing just as a shaman would, but she also showed me the path that a warrior walks. She stretched out her palm, as I do to you now, and asked me to join her. Backs proud, strides strong, we will walk together with our heads high and our gaze sharpened, on the watch for danger as a hawk eyes her prey. It is our sacred duty to protect. We protect first ourselves and then our circle. The birth of my daughter drew up something fierce and powerful from the earth beneath my feet. It spiraled up my calves through my gut and circled my heart before flowing down my arms to my fingertips. I am her protector. This will be my role until she can do the job herself. I will protect her from harm, both physical and psychic, which means I will, at times, have to protect her from myself. I must protect her right to be, to stand strong and alone, because that is her future.
You, who are reading this, you already stand alone. It is your responsibility, yours alone, to protect yourself. No-one else will because no-one else can. It is a force that draws up from inside you and shines out with the strength of a star. It is a balance each of us must find for ourselves, that conflicted place between surrender and fight. Some of you forge ahead, bold from birth, and learn as you age the power of softness, of reaching out across dissolving barriers. This is not me. I stand in awe of these women who hold their ground firm and unwavering. I see it in men too, the warrior-like strength that helps them force their unique path into a world clustered with agenda. But these words I write to warrior women, because our image has been shadowed and tarnished by history and expectation. We are told our value lies exclusively in softness, in surrender, in the pretty and the gentle. Where is the praise for courage in women, for feist and fight and nerve? I call you to join me in a celebration of the warrior in women. We will seek it out and nurture it in our daughters like an unfurling sapling. We will look for it in the women beside us and cheer and applaud as they brandish sword and shield. This is how we will bring balance to ourselves and to society.
Nature and nurture placed me as an outsider. I am the one who looks in, sees the fire licking in the grate and weaves a world of understanding from stolen glimpses. My personality is wound up in writing and expressing, in being a seeker of knowledge. But growing involves moving ever towards the edge. To become the person I am meant to be, I need to learn when to grab the war paint. If I stand out in the open, complacent and naive, I will be trampled by those passing through, leaving my spirit bruised and limp. I cannot be the wife, mother, friend, artist, lover, worker, woman I want to be if my gate is endlessly open. What about the lumbering cows who wander in and eat the tuft of lemongrass in a single mouthful, and crush the strawberries beneath their hooves? The damage is no less devastating for being unintended. And then there are those who, in envy or pain, wreak havoc with blows well-aimed. They will come, and they will look for a way in if they can. The only chance we have of keeping our daughters safe and whole is to teach them to fight for themselves.
Colleen of the Midlands House of Healing is my braided warrior and the sponsor of this post. Her healing sessions show me the way towards strength from within. She affirms my right to stand strong. She taught me to protect my home with smudge sticks and scatterings of salt. She told me how to carry protection with me as I travel to the four corners of the world, by placing rose quartz at the four corners of my bed, and hematite under my pillow, to trail wafts of sage and incense smoke, and drops of lavender and eucalyptus to cleanse. She is currently working on the design of women’s workshops, to foster a sisterhood of strength and beauty. The first workshop is scheduled for April 2016. Call or message her on 084 603 0604 for more details of the workshop or to book your own healing session at her bucolic abode outside Howick. Follow the link in the sidebar to like her Facebook page for updates.