Those of us who called ourselves “radical feminists,” which among my friends meant “lesbian feminists,” back in the 70’s, felt that we were living at the end of an era for sure. We were talking about a macroevolution – the transformation of one species to another. I remember actually feeling this, feeling like we were becoming a new species, it’s hard to describe without sounding like I thought we were evolving into a superior being or something. It wasn’t like that at all. In fact, although it was an exciting and meaningful time, there was also a sort of sad feeling. Like you realize you live in a different world than people you’ve known for years. But I never felt this was “happening to me,” that I was being swept up in an evolutionary process or apocalyptic ending. I was convinced that WE, mostly women, were active participants, and that we were choosing to evolve along with other sentient beings.
Adrienne Rich expresses this sentiment in the following lines from the poem Transcendental Etude in her book, The Dream of a Common Language.
. . . there come times—perhaps this is one of them—
when we have to take ourselves more seriously or die;
when we have to pull back from the incantations,
rhythms we’ve moved to thoughtlessly,
and disenthrall ourselves, bestow
ourselves to silence, or a deeper listening, cleansed
of oratory, formulas, choruses, laments, static
crowding the wires. We cut the wires, . .
No one who survives to speak
new language, has avoided this:
the cutting-away of an old force that held her
rooted to an old ground.
Finding New Ground
In 1966 I was hospitalized after trying for the second time to kill myself. This time, instead of taking pills, I ran my car into a parked car in the middle of the night. I remember trying to wake up following the crash. I couldn’t remember who I was or where I came from. I could not see; there was only darkness. I could not move. I was falling through space. I struggled to remember where I was and suddenly I remembered running through tall grass with other young girls and all my fear and pain left me as I felt the grass against my face and heard the laughter of my companions.
It was dawn; we were running uphill in grass that grew over our heads. The light filtered by the flat tall stalks was blue, the air smelled of lemon. Suddenly the air filled with sound. It was as though the wind had a voice and was calling to us. I was overwhelmed by a sense of tremendous urgency. I ran as fast as I could and arrived just as a meeting was beginning at an outdoor bowl sculpted out of the side of a hill. Women sat on blankets and chairs in a large semi circle. Three elders stepped into the center space as I found my place. They were wearing brightly colored clothes, their eyes sparkled, and there was an aura of wisdom about them.
Although I have elaborated on these first memories over the years and written several stories about a group of women coming to Earth from a place at the galactic center, what I actually experienced after the auto accident was very brief, but intense and full of meaning.
I had the sense that I participated in a meeting conducted by three elderly women whom I have since come to call Crones. The meeting was basically about how our relatives on Earth were calling for us to help them. There was much discussion about what should be done, but in the end it was decided that a group would be sent to Earth and I volunteered to go.
When I first woke up to the reality of the hospital room, I knew I was not the same person that had been in the car wreck. The memories of the “other place” gradually faded but my life began to change dramatically. My world became increasingly women-centered and woman-identified; I discovered I was lesbian and eventually became active in the Women’s Movement. I had a strong sense that my life was guided by a purpose I was only dimly aware of. I found myself in situations with women I had never met before, but whom I recognized as sisters on the same journey. My interest in philosophy shifted from logic and the philosophy of science to metaphysics. Although I had studied philosophy for many years, it wasn’t until this time that I realized that the true philosopher was a lover of Sophia, and although I had no idea of who Sophia was in the Gnostic or Christian traditions, I intuitively knew it was Sophia guiding my life.
According to Carol Parrish-Harra, founder and Dean of Sancta Sophia Seminary, Sophia represents the hidden aspects of the female psyche that emerge from time to time and must be intuited or subjectively realized. In order to find Sophia we must have faith in ourselves and confidence in our own subjective knowing.
Sophia has been ignored in patriarchy but the women’s movement and the new consciousness emerging globally through women is giving momentum to the next step in the evolution of humanity. The next creative advance in evolution involves leaving behind dualistic patterns that polarize men and women, humanity and nature, spirit and matter, and mind and body.