Review by Martine Verweij
This book was given to me by a friend two days before I left on a trip to Scotland. Rationally, I shouldn’t have brought it. It’s a heavy book and I was trying to limit the amount of luggage. But I did bring it. And devoured it along the way. Opening it, always exactly at the right chapter, in relation to where I was physically, emotionally and spiritually.
If women rose rooted is a book about the current unbalance in the world, when it comes to ways of knowing. Feminine wisdom, which becomes stronger the more we can relate to place, to physical, natural cycles and patterns, has long been suppressed. And the evidence is strong, that this suppression is narrowly related to the current state of the planet.
The book is the personal story of the author, infused with research the author did on the subject. Her hypothesis is that women have a unique responsibility to play in the world – we are to find back our rootedness and rise op like trees. ‘If we do so – we might not only save ourselves, but also the world’ (pg 19).
How to get out of the Wasteland?
The author uses the metaphor of ‘the wasteland’ for the current state of our society. If we follow not a heroes’ journey, but a heroines’ journey out of the wasteland, we can restore the current unbalance.
“The Heroine’s Journey is a journey out of the Wasteland. Each of us has our own unique set of stories to tell. The story of the years we spent in the Wasteland, the story of our own awakening, and the story of the path we took out of it. Telling those stories helps us to understand ourselves – not just the place that we’ve come from, but where we might be heading” (pg 60).
The place of women in Celtic traditions
The author herself is heavily inspired by Celtics myths and stories to find her way out of the Wasteland. And by landscape and places in the Celtic landscape. The mythes and stories helped her to reconnect with her native lands. And it showed her an image of what it might be to be a woman.
In Celtic traditions women played a very different role than in current society. Their power was highly valued. And it was a different kind of power.
“The power to create, to guard, to transform (pg 83). The female-body wisdom and instincts are unparalleled. But ‘we lose that power to the Wasteland. In many ways. With threats and violence. Or we follow the wrong path in life, a path without heart. We leave behind what sustains and nourishes us. We turn our back on the plight of the planet, out of fear, or out of ambition, or out of a refusal to see the situation for what it is’.”
The Call to Life
“Sooner or later, we are called to change, to wake up and to see” (pg 83). This is what the author calls, a Call to Life. To a full authentic life.
The call happens when circumstances change. The end of a relationship. A child leaves home.
In my case, it was the bankruptcy of my 7-year employer Squarewise. That woke me up profoundly. And more recently it was the break-up with my partner Marijn. Both episodes helped me take further steps to find the path to regain my feminine power.
The cauldron – a chaotic phase
The time that follows after the calling, can be tough. It is a phase of not-knowing. Of chaos, rather than control.
“It is a phase in which we are forced to go deep into ourselves so that we might discover what it is that we must accept, know, and above all lose before we can find out what it is that we might become” (pg 115).
“When we have given ourselves over to the dark, allowed it to work on us; when we can no longer think, reason or manage our way out of the crisis we find ourselves in – then what we are left with is instinct, the soft animal nature of our physical bodies, the songs our senses sing (pg 120)”.
“The transformation is about shape-shifting. About remembering that we are two-legged animals. Learning a new way of being in the world, a new tuning-in to the rhythms and seasons of this planet” (pg 120).
The disintegration process of the old social self – might feel like the onset of madness. A madwoman might break out. Many Celtics myths are about that as well. They tell us that it may be okay – at some point in our lives – to let ourselves break.
Finding the path
And then – it’s about finding the path again. In spite of our good efforts, it is very likely that we will see ourselves repeating the same patterns, until we learn our lesson. The author shares quite a bit of this. But things slowly turn out for the better.
“Slowly, spending more and more time outside, focusing on the wisdom of my senses rather than on what was going on inside my head, I began to weave myself back into the fabric of the earth” (pg 212).
Uncovering the buried feminine, leads way to strong revival of creativity, according to the author. Creation, the act of giving life, nourishing and enhancing life.
Bringing into balance
“Once we have uncovered and embraced the feminine energy buried inside each of us, the next stage of our Heroine’s Journey is to bring ourselves into balance – to integrate and harmonise the masculine and feminine qualities we all possess.
“The qualities of the female principle, the anima, are the instinctive, feeling, relational qualities traditionally associated with the heart and the soul; the qualities of the masculine principle, the animus, are the active, rational, goal-oriented, structuring qualities traditionally associated with the intellect and the spirit.
The harmonizing of the energies within ourselves, is a prerequisite for the work to restore balance to an outer world, which has lost its equilibrium.”
“Until creative energy (the feminine principle) is impregnated with consciousness (the masculine principle) it is lacking in knowledge, disordered and aimless. Creative energy alone can produce nothing; consciousness bestows upon it content, form and direction” (pg 229).
Women have a unique role to play
In the last sections of the book the author shares what she believes to be the truly unique role of women. In her words;
“The gift we can offer to the healing of our Wasteland. We are the carriers of the wisdom of our native places, the knowledge of the plants and the animals, the rich intelligence of the cycles of life and the seasons.”
The eco-heroine’s journey is one that helps us regrow our own roots.
The point the author tries to make with her own life as an example and the Scottish, Irish landscape as inspiration is that the journey women must make, out of the Wasteland, is one that takes us out of our heads. “Weaving us back into the shimmering web of life”.
It is this particular point of the book, which I find both compelling and unique. Also; far-fetched for some of us, who lead highly ‘intellectual’ lives.
But I’ve come to notice that my own path is similar. I spend more and more time outside. Beginning of this year a dog walked into my life. End of last year I committed to take care of a horse. These wise animals help me find my roots. If I’m not fully present, they will make sure I am.
I have not found my place yet and have much to learn about plants, animals and cycles, but it’s a path I believe is indeed deeply connected with our inner restoration, leading also to an outer restoration.
Men are just as well called to restore their inner balance
The only thing I’m still not sure about, after reading this book, is why women would get such a special role. I believe men are just as much called as women to develop their intuitive way of knowing. To rebalance their ways of knowing. The author does mention this, but she still mentions that we should fight the patriarchy and the way some men treat women. The word fight is used a lot in the book. I wonder: is this really what we need to do? If so; what kind fighting?
The book has left me with many questions as well. Questions I hope to explore in the near future. Please join me on this exploration on events such as this one.