Painting by Tamara Adams

To be a woman is to navigate a world of violence. Violence seeds itself in our flesh, hearts, and mind- thus, it takes a lifetime of discipline and practice to pull out the new shoots while struggling harder to dig out the deeper roots. Sometimes the growth is so interwoven within our own being that it’s all we can do to learn how to see ourselves as separate from the oppressive weight and structure of the leafy, fibrous mass. Sometimes it appears that without the shape of violence we’d be nothing but a heap of nothing. As if the rigidity of trauma is the only thing holding us up.

So we spend our lives pulling, digging, cutting, hacking away. Sometimes we harm ourselves in the process and sometimes we manage to set ourselves a bit more free.

This dance of struggle and ease is done SO much quicker and easier when we work alongside other women. Their diligence strengthens our own. Their experiences of freedom and liberation feed us-even when we are still so strangled in shadows. Especially when facing the threads of violence that have grown across generations- so deeply entangled in DNA and spiritual lineage that it moves through us with each monthly pouring of blood. Only through the collective work of women are we able to make an impact against such a legacy.

It is this power and potential that makes us dangerous. We are weavers of creation just as we tend the garden of history that grows within us. It is our work to destroy that which needs to be recycled back to the earth just as it is within our lineage to create and manifest.

With such promise, dear sisters, why do we continue to strike each other down? Why is so much of our energy spent in defense against each other? We MUST work to identify the ways in which we are nurturing the exact strands of violence that tie us to our wounding. We MUST understand that we harm ourselves when we harm each other just as we must understand we harm each other when we harm ourselves.   You are me and I am you. Our struggle binds us together just as our empowerment sets each other free.

It is for both you and I that I venture into this world wearing armor.

I circle my eyes with eyeliner to emphasize the power of perspective. May I see the truth in a world of distraction and chaos. May I see the value of each of us in a world that tells us our values lies in our commodity and exploitation.

I wear big earrings and necklaces with stones and symbols to call upon the power of my ancestors. May they line up behind and beside me as I walk this world. May I continue to hear their wisdom and guidance through the noise of systemic violence and self-doubt. May they help protect my heart and connect me with my integrity.

It is for both you and I that I use movement and ritual to strengthen, cleanse, and nourish.

I smudge my spirit and my space to help move and remove the clinging threads of daily trauma and negativity. Offering smoke to vibrationally feed my ancestors while reinforcing my connection to spirit.

I move my body to the music of breath to transform stagnation into vitality. Healing and transforming body and spirit with the dance of cultivation and surrender.

I honor the sun, moon, and plants. They remind me to connect to something bigger than myself. They remind me to pay attention to audacious beauty and resilience during moments of destruction and struggle. They remind me to be humble and accountable during the modern era of materialism and convenience. They remind me that journeying through paths lit with fire and venturing through the dark mysterious unknown are both equally important and valuable.

It is for both you and I, dear sisters, that I promise to continue to show up. I will continue to show up to weave, weed, recycle, celebrate, and transform. I will continue to challenge my edges and strengthen my foundation.

I will continue to return to our garden of struggle until there is nothing left but the glory of our love and liberation.