In a previous post I wrote about my mother’s reference to me as a sister as being perhaps her way of inducting me into the clan of women. This past Wednesday, a circle of women celebrated my youngest daughter’s transition from childhood into adulthood, a celebration of her journey on the woman path.
It was beautiful. I wrote the ritual, at least enough to give us all some structure to improvise and be creative with our blessings and gifts. I audio recorded it, and Brhiannon said I could transcribe it and share it. I will share an edited version so as to protect and honor the sanctity of the ceremony. Did I say it was beautiful?
What does it mean to be inducted into the clan of women at this significant juncture of one’s life? I have no idea, except in my head. Because that is where I met the women of my clan. There were no grandmothers, no aunts, no older cousins, no sense of family ties, just loss and an overwhelming feeling of not belonging anywhere.
But through books, I discovered and met Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman doctor, Florence Nightingale who revolutionized hospital care and procedures, and Madame Curie who was held up as an isolated case of a female scientific mind, when in fact, she was representative of woman’s great reservoir of intellectual inquiry and insights.
These women had long since passed, but they were alive to me, and I hungered for them and more like them.
How would my life have been different?
I don’t know. I can only imagine, but you know, Brhiannon doesn’t have to. Our daughters and granddaughters don’t have to. The media and makers of products do not, not even their peers, get to be the new clan.
We are the clan. We, the elders, have a responsibility to the young ones to be engaged, to connect. They don’t need us to lecture or scold or dictate. That’s separation, a class division. Neither do they need us to invade their space and become like them. We don’t step into their world. They step into ours, but only if we welcome them into it — as equals…with just a little bit less experience…for now.
There are many in the clan of women. In the circle, I brought my mother and sister, both who had passed away some years ago. I blessed her in their names. The ancestors, those living, the lives of those recorded and those not, and those yet to be, they were all there.
That night, her Coming of Age ceremony, my youngest daughter stepped into the oldest clan. She belongs.
And so do I.