The first wave of feminism did us all a disservice in some ways. The first wave of feminism told us to get out of the kitchens, get out of our aprons, and into the working world. Dishes, diapers and vacuuming weren’t worth our time and energy.
First, this message completely ignored the reality of women of color who, for the most part, had always had to be in the working world— usually doing the dishes, diapers and vacuuming for white women AND for themselves. Second, this message told us to leave the domestic sphere behind because there was no value in it, instead of teaching us to demand that the domestic sphere have value.
The domestic sphere, including foraging, farming, dishes, child rearing, sewing, cooking, cleaning, etc., has been the realm of womxn for . . . forever. In every culture there was a time when this sphere was the hub of community life and it was a respected and revered part of the life. (This does not mean it was always easy, fun or enjoyed. I have no idea if it was.) Most cultures have also experience a point in their history, for some it’s been several thousands of years ago, others more recently, when the realm of womxn became a convenient source of slave labor for the patriarchy. This could be literal slave labor or slave labor in all but name. Women have been confined to thankless hard labor in repeatedly bearing and raising children, doing all of the cooking and the cleaning, tending the vegetable garden, washing clothes (and for most of history this has been without the aid of washing machines) and were expected to selflessly tend to the emotional and physical needs of their men and their children. For many many womxn the domestic sphere also became a place of violence. A place where they were unsafe and even abused.
While having the option to enter the “Working world” is important and valuable, it’s also important and valuable to not dismiss the domestic sphere altogether. Yes, it has been abused and used as a place to define and confine womxn. Yes, it has been an unsafe place. AND. It has also been the place where women’s magic has been born and can still be accessed.
I am by no means suggesting that womxn get back into the kitchen. That they stay home to raise their babies themselves. Not. At. All. I’m a house and farm wife and half the time it drives me bananas. The other half of the time I’m grateful for the internet and the outlet it provides me to socialize, learn and to express myself.
I AM suggesting that we begin to value the domestic sphere. That we begin to consider what a world might look like where womxn are compensated for staying home to raise healthy and stable families— if they want to. That we begin to think about what sort of social and personal support systems would need to be in place for womxn to thrive in the domestic sphere.
I AM suggesting that we remember the magic, ceremony, ritual and blessings born from this sphere. The hearth magic. The alchemical transformation of food into medicine and story. The safe space to pass on womxn’s mysteries and wisdom. The household spirits (elves, brownies, pixies, etc.) that women conjured for protection and aide.
My new offering, Rooted Here, is going to help us do just that. The program runs May through October. Half of that time, June, July and August, we will be exploring and remembering the magic of the domestic sphere. In June we will learn how to connect and work with the spirit of your house as well as household spirits, if you want to take it that far. July is all about the alchemy of food and ritualized cooking and in August we’ll talk about The Sacred Table and how hospitality laws and taboos have shaped modern society and spirituality— plus how to bring more sacred hospitality into your own home.
You can learn more and register for the course here. We begin this Sunday, May 6th, and the course will not be offered again until next May.
I have a theory about spiritual practices and lifestyles. First, I think having one (a spiritual practice and/or lifestyle) is a time-honored way of being in and experiencing this world. It’s just that spiritual practices and lifestyles have taken different forms and expressions under patriarchy, empire and organized religion. Second, when you come down to it, I think that all spiritual practices and lifestyles are just expressions and personal paths to finding and feeling like we belong. To a tribe, to a culture, to a land.
I suspect that for most of us, this desire to feel seen, to feel like a valuable and unique member of a community and for an overall sense of connection and belonging, stems from the Immigrant Wound. If you are reading this in the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa or as a first, second or third generation immigrant in another country, chances are pretty high that at least one of your lineages contains the Immigrant Wound.
I am an U.S. American and an enrolled tribal member (but in Canada! Ha! Can’t pin me down, can you?). I have the blood of the colonizer and the blood of the colonized in my veins— I hold both of those stories. I’m also a willful emigrant, living and raising my family in Costa Rica with a first generation Costa Rican partner.
Needless to say, I’ve had a lot of time and experience to think about and shape this theory.
When our ancestors immigrated to the Americas, whether by force, choice or in desperation, there was a spectrum of trauma involved. They were leaving their tribal lands for an unknown world and knew that it was extremely unlikely that they would ever step foot in the homelands, or see the family they left behind, again. They also knew that their descendants would have a missing link in the legacy passed down to them— cast forever as insider-outsiders, belonging to the mother land by blood but not by culture, custom or shared experience.
This is part of the Immigrant Wound.
We’re All Just Trying To Belong
Our immigrant ancestors set to work trying to create a sense of belonging and rootedness in their New World. They took over land and natural resources. In some cases the only way to satisfy their deep urge to belong was to “go Native” and surrender completely to the tribal ways of being on the land, with an actual tribe. Others needed only to possess a Native woman, by force or by consent, to feel rooted to the land, knowing their seed was being sown into deeply rooted soil. Still others had to inflict violence on the Native people, shedding the blood and decimating the numbers of the truly indigenous so that they’re own claim of belonging had room to grow.
In this day and age, however, the unhealed Immigrant Wound is much more likely to manifest in a spiritual practice or lifestyle. Those with this unhealed wound are looking to spirituality to find their sense of belonging. They’re copying or unknowingly parodying spiritual practices from Indigenous cultures— whether they are near or far. Feathered headdresses. Using words from languages they don’t speak to punctuate prayers— when actual native speakers of the language or discriminated against and penalized in English-speaking worlds for using that language, wearing bindis, and other outward expressions of “spirituality” that lend to their overall appearance/vibe but neglecting to take up the deeper practices that aren’t seen, heard or witnessed by anyone else. (This is cultural appropriation, just so we’re clear).
The Immigrant Wound may also perpetuate itself by spiritual appropriation through spiritual travel. Traveling to this culture and that country. Taking this international yoga class and that one too! While I myself love traveling and learning, there is an element of slippery territory if we are subconsciously traveling for the sake of finding somewhere — anywhere! Anywhere but where we are, that is— to feel rooted.
And while I find all of those above examples to be annoying, if not offensive, in practice, I also hold a lot of compassion for those just trying to find their way, trying to find their sense of belonging, just trying to be Rooted. Here.
It doesn’t matter if you once constructed a spiritual practice that was entirely based off of cultural appropriation. It DOES matter that you’ve since course corrected or at a place where you’re willing to open your eyes and consider how you can course correct.
For the next couple of weeks, I’m going to be publishing a series of articles on how we all can begin to feel more Rooted. Here. I’ll begin by discussing ways we can root into the land we live on and the home we live in and then we’ll move forward into discussions about how food roots us, how and why engaging in intentional hospitality is one of the most rooted and sacred things we can do and finally, we’ll look at ways we can begin to feel rooted (and safe and loved) in our own bodies.
In the meantime, this article series goes hand-in-hand with my newest offering— Rooted Here: Tending Our Ancestral Connections To Food, Home & Land.
Enrollment is now open and space is limited! I’m capping this class at 30 participants so we can get really intimate and deep with our work.
You can learn more, and register, here.