Once upon a time, all women were healers. We had to be. There was nothing else. We sought out plants to staunch bleeding, to minimise infection, to combat the symptoms of diseases that had no names. We supported our sisters, our nieces and our daughters through pregnancy and childbirth. We shared our knowledge, their joy. We held their hands through suffering and pain. And when there was nothing more we could do, we closed their eyes and held the broken people left behind.
The role of healer is not just about the curing of symptoms, although it can be that, too. It is about the healing of ancestral wounds, broken systems, the fabric of society, the soul of the world. It takes more than intellect – it demands intuition, creativity, community and connection. It takes quiet courage. These are ‘feminine’ traits. This is our domain.
“Our our task as women in these challenging times is focused precisely on healing what ails us, both as individuals and as a culture.”If Women Rose Rooted Sharon Blackie
What is it that ails us? The answer to that question is as vast as the sky. Physically, we all have our own health needs, and as a culture we can see trends towards obesity, cancers caused by lifestyle and environment, and the frightening reality of a global pandemic. But here we are concerned with the emotional, the social, the spiritual. In that context, the list of what ails us is even longer: climate change, racism, cyberbullying, deforestation, poverty, depression, financial worries, unemployment, feeling dissatisfied/undervalued/lost/alone … everything that came out of Pandora’s box and more.
To even think about healing all that is an impossible task. So where do we start?
“Unless you heal yourself you cannot heal the world around you or help another sister, mother or daughter in need.”Conversations with the Womb Giuditta Tournetta
It all comes down to this, in the first instance: what ails you? Where are you out of balance? How are you hurting? There are a thousand ways, and it is often a case of the more you discover, the more there is to find: it is the work of a lifetime.
What you have to heal and how you heal is entirely personal. There is no map that shows the way back to yourself, because no one has ever been there before. You can be inspired and encouraged by books and podcasts and conversations with other women, but always remember that they are stories of their own return. You can listen and learn from them, but ultimately your journey is your own.
“One thing: you have to walk, and create the way by your walking; you will not find a ready-made path. It is not so cheap, to reach to the ultimate realisation of truth. You will have to create the path by walking yourself.”Osho
What is certain is that the more you heal, the more connected you will become to yourself and to others. You will start to see that what is hurting you is hurting so many more people – that there are deep wounds in the collective unconscious. As you become more connected to the Earth, you will also begin to feel the pain of what humankind has done to the world on a deeper level. How could you not, as you begin to understand?
“What happens when people open their hearts?”
“They get better.”Norwegian Wood Haruki Murakami
Be open, be honest, be vulnerable – even if it’s only with yourself at first. You have the knowledge within you that you need to start your journey, and there are many people who can help you on the way.
You may need qualifications to practice medicine or midwifery, alternative therapies or herbalism, but for this type of soul work, no papers are required. You don’t need to study or take an exam. You can start this process purely with intuition, an open mind and the willingness to create space to listen to yourself. And to hear.
EDIT: I wrote this more than a year ago, before I actually had a blog to post it on, but recently I came across a wonderful meditation on Insight Timer which perfectly compliments what I’m trying to say here. Insight Timer is a free app which you can download to your phone, and the meditation is by Ghadi Tayeh. It’s called Journey to to Healer Within: A Story of Your Personal Power and it is utterly beautiful. I really recommend it.