Purging the Patriarchy: It’s Not What You Might THINK.


When I was pregnant I marveled at the wisdom of The Mother working through my body. Myriad processes were initiated without my conscious knowledge. I never had to *think* about any of it, and still it happened. This awareness dawned early when I tried to look to books for reassurance––an old habit of using the mind to understand and control natural processes that feel wilder and bigger than us. Oh, we hate to feel overwhelmed, don’t we? Study. Read. Google it. The books were useless (for the most part)…My blossoming belly was in charge; the process itself was my guide. I needed merely to surrender, to follow the deepest cues happening within me.


Watching my daughter grow has also been a marvel. Again, The Mother doing her work in the body: baby fat disappearing, teeth falling out, growing pains, lengthening legs. You turn around and your baby has become a child. There’s nothing I can do to slow down her steady progression towards adulthood (nor do I want to, we treasure every moment). And there’s nothing she can do either…


The other day, after a discussion at school with the nurse about puberty, my daughter said to me, “I don’t want to have a period.” I asked her why not and she said, “Because it’s blood! It’s disgusting. I wish I could shed that stuff another way.” I worked for the next half hour to fill her with the wonder and magic of the feminine body and to explain periods in ancient ways we’ve forgotten. This is the miracle of life! I told her. Menstrual blood is a sacred fluid and was once used in ritual and magical rites. Our periods synchronize us with the moon, the great cycles of life. Our feminine bodies are our deepest connection to God and the Natural Laws. She listened skeptically at first. I told her I would be there every step of the way and finally saw the horror behind her eyes change to something much softer: curiosity, intrigue, and eventually…pride.


Yes, we are eternal souls, but life on this earthly plane is impermanent and changing. It is the feminine domain that rules the cycles of birth-death-birth that are ubiquitous from the minutia of a day to the sweeping trajectory of a life fully lived. From moment to moment we are born, die and are reborn. And it is the same in the macrocosm. Just as individuals are shuttled through the cycles of life by the wisdom of the goddess, so are cultures.


This morning I experienced a hot flash. It’s been happening for a few months now. I believe it’s perimenopause…I googled it. But, little good that did standing in the kitchen with the refrigerator door open to cool my burning face. Whatever it is…these changes have once again brought me into that relationship of wonder with my body.Aging and menopause are not something I can wish away or manage with my mind; though it immediately jumps to attention — too much caffeine! too much wine! Not enough rest! Lay down! Cool compress! Breathe through it! Hide in the bathroom! And just like my daughter’s clinical introduction to periods at school, the culture does women a huge disservice by not seeing menopause as an initiation into the most sacred and intuitive time of life. Whatever my relationship to it — sacred or profane — still the prickly heat comes, lasts about ten minutes, and then goes. Once again, the invitation is to appreciate and surrender to something beyond my small self. This is one of the gifts of life in a female body. And I am now old enough and wise enough to enjoy it.



Of course, as mysterious and awesome as they are, we expect the changes that come with life processes related to growing up and aging as individuals. We know intellectually what happens during menopause, even if the lived, embodied experience of it is something very powerful and inexplicable. Something quite intimate for each woman.


As a student of the feminine principle, the sacred feminine, the feminine dimension (I do feel the need to disclaim here that what I am talking about now is not gender-based. We all have the primordial energies of the universe coursing through us in their feminine and masculine extremes and everything in between.) I have an intellectual understanding and a deep, embodied reverence for the power of the feminine to shape whatever that happens on this material plane. She is the dynamic force that animates matter. She is the current of electricity that runs through each one of us and our ability to connect in relational fields. Intimacy between two people…coherence in a group…these are evidence of the presence of the feminine. I should say…She is always present; this is evidence of her activation and benevolence. This is Her blessing us.


I’m just now digesting the idea (from my head to my heart and belly) that there could also be epic and visceral cycles we experience individually and collectively as we grow into the next phase of human life on this planet. As we go through this evolutionary moment, what will the evidence in the body look like? What will the symptoms of the change feel like? In some circles, we talk about this being a time of labor, of contractions…that we are in the birth canal and we feel the non-linear process of growth happening systemically…We feel the contractions as highs and lows culturally. We can also see evidence of Mother’s hand in the ecological shifts currently underway. Yes, much of the disaster is man-made (I refuse to cite statistics here). But, her response and her attempts to correct the situation are equally evident. Some of the symptoms of the climate crisis — illness, storms, drought — are effects of the causes that were set in motion long ago. Some are also corrective mechanisms…attempts to awaken us, to initiate a healing cycle.


Now there is another great embodied mystery happening in me and I wonder how many of us are experiencing this: A purging of the Patriarchy!


(I notice my urge to disclaim the word Patriarchy for fear of ruffling feathers or upsetting someone…actually, if I’m honest…it’s a deep fear that if I stand against the system it will eject me or worse, persecute me. This is not an irrational fear, it is generational…but this is JUST what I’m about to get into.)


It feels to me like The Mother is now beginning the process of cleansing our bodies of the toxic effects of this patriarchal system we have fully ingested, digested, and assimilated for thousands of years (even those of us who have fought it). And she is doing it with the same wisdom that governs all natural processes. It’s something within us and simultaneously way beyond us. Yes, I recognize we’ve been on this journey towards equality, equity, partnership, etc. for a long time now. I have been integrating the feminine dimension within myself for over a decade, if not longer. But, what I mean is that potentially, we’ve just leapt into a new phase of the process: one that is less intellectual, less abstract and more visceral.

“In the Crowd,” by Schuyler Brown 2018

Last week I attended a conference on wellbeing at work. It was a well-intentioned event, but it just couldn’t find its footing because presenter after presenter came at the topic from the head not the heart. Mostly I ignored the content on stage and spent my time talking to the individual humans there, which was much more enlightening.


At one point, I was standing in the reception area and decided to peek through the curtains at the presenter who was representing the advertising agency where I once worked. I was curious about where they now were with improving what had been — in my day — a highly toxic, extractive, and sexist culture. I pulled the heavy curtain aside and stood there at the back of the room with my body half in and half out. Uncommitted. About 75 people sat politely focused the screen where a large and well-designed Keynote slide shouted something about “Meaningful Brands.” I reserved judgment, but something in my stomach shifted.


The young man handling the presentation looked confident…even arrogant…about his content. He was performing the role of conference presenter and he felt he was nailing it. The audience was also performing their role of conference attendees and giving him their polite something-like-attention. Everyone was doing “a good job.” But, what I could see through my empath eyes was that he felt like a phony and was dying for people to love him and buy what he was selling (what a good career choice he made). And the audience was completely numb.


Then, he advanced the slide and began explaining in great detail the proprietary algorithm and research process his agency had developed to measure meaning in brands. Measure meaning. Measure meaning. The words ricocheted through my body like metal pinballs. It actually hurt me physically to witness those words used together in this way. My body was responding as I tried to reserve judgment, but it was too late. Outrage exploded in my stomach like a bomb and suddenly I wretched loudly, violently there in the back of the room.


I did not puke. At least not tangibly. But what happened was a full energetic expulsion from my system. A purge.


I was able to close the heavy curtain as it happened so that the sound was neither fully in the presentation room nor in the reception area. It was somewhat muffled, between worlds. But, I had felt it…been shocked by the power of it, and my inability to maintain polite demeanor. How is that? I thought. I’ve become so good at swallowing my anger and rage in moments like this! I’ve had a lifetime of practice.


That was it: everything I’d swallowed that day and millions of times before was coming up.

Magically, the only person to hear me — or indicate that she’d heard me — was my business partner. She was on the way back from the restroom and heard the wretch from across the room. She hurried to my side with wide eyes, “Are you ok?!” Both of us looked around and felt surprised to see no one else was concerned. I was mostly shocked, but I was more than ok. I felt relieved. I felt I’d crossed a new threshold. I felt cleansed.


The experience resonated within me that day. By evening a familiar and accusing voice (my sweet wounded self who needs desperately to feel safe but is often quite a task master in the pursuit of that safety) creeped into my head to try and talk me into a story about how that had been appalling and unfair to the presenter and how I really need to learn to have more patience with people, etc. etc. I was about to swallow that, too, as I climbed into bed, but some deeper knowing in me persisted. No, it said. You didn’t have a choice. The action overcame you. It was from beyond you.


By the next morning, I was no longer thinking about the incident. At work, I was on the phone with a dear friend about a project we’re working on together. She and I have developed a deep relating in our shared journey to own our feminine power. We started a full moon women’s group together; and frequently meet to hash out life’s questions. She is a dream expert, a tarot interpreter extraordinaire, and a profound being on a spiritual warrior’s path. In the past we have frequently aligned on a soul level in dreams and waking visions. We’ve experienced too many synchronistic events to ignore. She is a sister.


She told me she was feeling grumpy and that she hadn’t slept well. We carried on with the conversation, which had a practical purpose, until she eventually shared, “I had a really disturbing dream last night. I think that’s why I am out of sorts.”


She described the dream. In it, she was attending a reunion at her graduate school. The scene was formal and austere. Very academic…very…patriarchal. Men were in positions of power. There was a lot of measuring happening; sizing up of people and accomplishments, awards, that kind of thing. My friend felt judged, not worthy, like she didn’t fit in. And then she began to feel angry…and sick.


“I threw up into my hands!” she told me. “I went to the bathroom and was trying to clean myself up with the cold water…trying to pretend it hadn’t happened. But, I vomited into my hands.”


How magical.


I told her about my dry heaving at the conference the day before. The very day she’d gone to sleep and had a dream about vomiting into her hands. The meaning was clear to us both…we are puking out the patriarchy. We sat in stunned silence for a moment. Both of us wondered if other women are feeling this, too? If two women wretched simultaneously and spontaneously on that night…aren’t the odds good that many others did, too? Are wretching this very moment?


We didn’t need to contact the “meaning expert” at the advertising agency to do a study. We were certain: this meant something.


I’ve been carrying these questions with me for the last few days and also beginning to grasp the enormity of the implications. What if? What if there is a process beyond our small minds that is underway to finally relieve and rebalance the culture? What if The Mother HERSELF is doing the work that needs to be done and there’s nothing more for us to do than to receive it? To stop fighting it and trying to control it?


Once again in this life, confronted with Her enormous, unfathomable power as it courses through this material plane, through our bodies and systems, I feel humbled. She is awesome. And there is no man or system of oppression that can stand in the face of Her might. None. Like puberty, pregnancy, menopause…like HEALING itself. She is working through us. And all there is for us to do is bow down, fall to our knees, praise, feel her glory and be grateful. Because She can get us out of this mess.


Steady on. We must persevere and recognize the sacredness in what is happening. We may not like it in moments, but it is natural and leading us to wholeness, completion.


I received further confirmation this morning when another sister witch friend texted me about the beautifully romantic dream she had about a potential lover. After sharing that she told me she’d also had dreams about confronting men two nights in a row. In one she had told some random guy to get his hand out of her shirt “in an effective way.” She’d felt proud of how she’d handled that reclaiming of her body. And in the other she had confronted her father who was trying to forbid her from doing something. I responded to her that it feels like we’re finally expelling the patriarchy from our systems. Then, I shared with her the coincidence of my friend and me patriarchal puking. She agreed that they were related.


“This is really an uprising!” she texted.


“I’d say it’s a cleansing,” I responded more tentatively, wanting to temper what I feel as the radical revolutionary impulse that is prevalent these days, “We don’t yet know how we’ll feel when this toxic shit is expelled.”


I choose to interpret my experience as evidence of a deep extraction of the effects of the patriarchy. This feels different from an extraction of men or of men in power or white males. This is a purging of the deepest roots of the system we were born into. A system that integrated itself into our own nervous systems while we were still in our mothers’ wombs (all of us, not just women). We were born into a system that has robbed us of our deepest gifts — our birthright to be in cyclical connection with Mother Nature and her endless wisdom — and changed our chemistry to be more compliant. I don’t know why this has been true on Earth and in this moment I don’t need to place blame. Right now, I want to celebrate the idea that it might be possible to rid ourselves of these deep roots. To actually live — in this lifetime — without the ingrained and ingested effects of a patriarchal model!


Hallelujah! I could literally jump for joy. This is extraordinary news! I never thought I’d live to see it happen…didn’t even know I longed for it.


Because not only is it a liberation for women…it’s a liberation for all of us. A deep purging could lead to a liberation from the conflict dynamic we have been bound up in within ourselves and with each other for so long we barely recognize it anymore. Once enough of us are rid of the effects of patriarchal oppression in our systems, we will see that so much of what we’ve accepted and called normal is NOT (beyond the obvious indignities and injustices that was can already see). And so much of what has made us angry and rageful (Spellcheck, how is rageful not a word?) may be drained of its power over us.


It’s like what happens when you have a relationship of conflict in your life with a family member or spouse. You finally come to the realization that you are responsible for yourself and you begin to do your work. You surrender to a process of healing. As you shift and lose your attachment to the conflict or your need for it to be different, you slowly notice the other shifting and your relationship changing. The conflict itself has nothing to cling to anymore. The thought, “When I step into my power I will really give this person a piece of my mind!” comes from a place of disempowerment. When you really do step into your power, no such thought even occurs. It’s different than you could have predicted and always, always more peaceful, more loving, and compassionate.


So, this is the gospel I bring you today. We are doing it. Or rather, it is being done through us. My deepest heart’s hope was that SHE had a plan for us. Now, I am convinced she does. Are you? I would love to hear any stories you’ve experienced of puking up the patriarchy. Whoever you are….I’m so curious how SHE is working to heal all of us in this moment, in these bodies.


If there is going to be a maturing in this culture (and there must be) SHE is going to be the one orchestrating it with her infinite wisdom of cycles. If we are to enter into a genuinely new cycle, doesn’t it makes sense that it would come with the epic, visceral, corporeal and material realignments necessary to put the organism in a new state? To give birth?! She is the essence of change, the master (mistress just doesn’t capture it) of time, and the one who knows without knowing what to do to heal what does not serve.


Let us open to the process unfolding within us with tenderness and wild abandon; holding each other and recognizing the mystery for all it is. This alone can save us.

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