The Eternal Feminine

Feb 17 art - 49 of 195

As women, I don’t think we’re meant to be alone. But I feel alone a lot of the time.

I have a wonderful husband and my gorgeous little boy is such great company, but I long for a network of women around me.

The hole in my life has become more obvious since having my son, Gabriel. Being a mum is hard. We’re not supposed to be living isolated as we do, let alone raising children this way.

I believe as a species we are tribal – we’re built to live in communities. Communities where every individual is working towards the whole, where tasks are shared, where it matters whether the woman next to us is struggling or making a contribution.

But we’ve moved so far from that. Economic growth and the path of ‘advancement’ has taken us further and further into individualism. We have our four walls, our preferences and our sets of desires. We’ve been taught to be in it for us, not in it for something bigger.

And in many ways I love the freedom that affords me… but I sorely feel the hole that not having a network of feminine wisdom and support around me has created in my life.

Women are supposed to be together. We are supposed to live together, to share, to do work as one, to pass down knowledge, skills and experiences, to help, to support, to empathise and to create an awe-inspiring body of feminine and motherly power.

There should be grand-mothers, mothers, aunties and friends sewn deep into the fabric of our lives. Strength in numbers sharing hard-won wisdom in the realms of mothering, householding, health, ageing and relationships along with making the practical tasks of living, cleaning, preparing food and childcare so much lighter than they seem to weigh on us as mums in this day and age.

It still happens – in places. I went to a wedding a couple of years ago and sat next to a guy with whom my husband went to university. His family are from Pakistan. He told me about how his sisters all live together, with his mum and her sisters, in houses next-door to each other. They and their children are surrounded by other women.

I felt such joy, longing and sadness as I listened.

Most of us would struggle to live so entwined with our families. Generational and even sibling gaps are so big these days. Families have their pressure points – we are all so different. Instead of growing up within our own tribe and all working towards the benefit of that tribe, our economic model has taken us away from the home to earn money, which has led to division. Historically, it was the man who went out and the woman who stayed at home, but now so many women are trying to be mothers and wives as well as working to bring more income into the family. It’s not an easy life.

And I feel as women we’ve lost so much. We’ve lost sisters in every sense of the word. Those who would stand by us through the mundane and the extraordinary. People with whom we could be sharing such a fundemental bond that we breathe what they breathe every day.

We’ve lost that communion; that closeness. And the wisdom of elders is drifting away with it too. Knowledge that would have been passed on every day is now restricted to ‘spiritual’ women who can bring communities together and faciliate such sharing.

I’ve been looking for connection –  community – since returning from Italy in 2013. I’ve moved around too much to let it gain ground in the past – but now I hope, having settled in Cornwall, we’ll stay for long enough to help me find a tribe. It’s not easy for me due to the very much off-the-beaten-track life that I live – I struggle to fit into alternative society, let alone standard society! But I know there are ways in which I can connect beyond what I eat or how I live.

My latest botanical sculptural piece, came from my yearning for women to connect. How much stronger we’d be, how much easier our lives could become, how much more wisdom, security and confidence we could house in our bodies. I know, from the few times I’ve really felt connected on a fundamental level to a group of women, just how transformative it is. I’ve felt soft as cotton wool, yet like I could do anything!

Feb 17 - 8 of 63One morning, out with Gabriel, I saw mounds of fallen fir branches under a large beautiful conifer. I knew I wanted to do something with it – its colour was so soft and autumnal; its sculptural strength so striking. I gathered up a couple of handfuls and took them home.

Thoughts of femininity in my head, curves drew themselves in my mind. I had some copper wire in my studio and started to bunch pieces of fir together and tease them into a curve, using the wire to bind. I had inteded to complete a circle, but when I saw my half-circle with its wild, tousled ends, I knew I had to stop there.

Feb 17 art - 33 of 195I made another 3 in the same way and then laid them on the floor, looking at how they interacted. When laid one across the other they transformed. My work seemed so much bolder, stronger and more beautiful.

The piece expanded to 6 semi-circles which I knew I wanted to form into the shape of a flower. Flowers signify such delicacy yet strength – just what I’d like to epitomise as a woman and something that I know I can do better with the support of others around me.

I bound the 6 pieces together to make a whole. Knitting together the individuals to make something physically and symbolically stronger and more striking. Just in the way I wish to be knitted to other, like-minded, women – creating something that’ll enhance not only our lives but the lives of everyone around us.

Feb 17 art - 47 of 195The piece is on my wall. Every time I look at it, I know where I’m aiming. I’m being brave enough to believe that the support of other women is out there for me and if I move intentionally towards it, it’ll slowly appear. My hope for every other woman in the world is that, when they are faced with a mountain of to-do tasks, a long stretch of childcare when they are exhausted, or a moment of wishing they knew someone they could ask for advice – that they’ll be granted such company.

As The Eternal Feminine has no match.

 

12 Comments
  1. 20 years ago, I did not have parents or a sister, only a brother living far away. I completely understand, and I know there are many other women feeling the same. When my oldest daughter was one, I finally made the friends of a lifetime. Continue to reach out to the women around you just as you are doing – they may not be exactly the right fit, but someone in their circle may be – magic will happen and you will look back at this time and celebrate how your life has blossomed! xo – from an almost empty nester – Cori

  2. I have felt this lack. I find some small recompense in my new slow stitch sessions, with that sense of companionship over a shared task. Division in this world can only be a bad thing and it seems to permeate. A good start is to try to form connections wherever we can and however superficial. I love your fir piece. The petals are yonis – the form of the Sacred Feminine. xx

    1. Slow stitch sessions sound great (what a tongue-twister that is!). Sharing tasks I think is the key – just like we would have shared tasks of cooking, cleaning, and work as tribal women. Thanks for your kind words about my piece…something feminine spoke to me as I formed it.

  3. A wonderful read, Alison. Yes, we have come so far away from that.
    Here in Sinai where I live since 8 years, I see how much the Bedouin women are connected and the children grow up with plenty of aunties and grannies around. I’m not saying their situation is ideal, far from it, but regarding women sharing and caring for each other and each others children they are still much more linked together and mostly living close to each other. It is beautiful to watch, and a joy to also bath in this togetherness with them myself every now and then. Thanks!

  4. I would like to ad that I’m sure your reaching out to women in this way will bring you the network you are longing for. Namaste!

    1. I imagine it’s wonderful to experience, Vimala. Thanks for sharing. It is so lacking in the West. We think we are advanced…and we are in some ways, but we’ve lost so much in others. I hope that step-by-step, I’ll get there. Sending love.

  5. What a wonderful piece and very heartening that my experience is shared by others. This has such resonance with me.I think it is a terrible loss and we seem to lead increasingly separate lives, pursuing individual concerns rather than being supportive and encouraging of each other. It makes connection in this way so valuable and important!Your work looks terrific too!

    1. Thanks Deborah. That feeling still drives a lot of what I’m doing (especially my podcast) and I think will do for the rest of my life. I’m glad I’m not alone, and that you like the piece!

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Alison faith Kay

I am an artist
who creates with
foraged nature,
natural pigments &
hand-made paint.

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