Shamanic Wise Women,
This blog subject came about over the past New Moon Circle of Sisterhood. A time for women celebrating Universal Sisterhood, and gathering worldwide and the challenge that women who live away from society, far from cities and community, living isolated from socializing. Or, in small country towns, that often profile people and shun those who are different.
First, it would be good from my viewpoint to define Rural Women and then this perspective may be understandable. Rural is distinctive to very limited regions which are not necessarily representative of other rural communities. The definitions of rural and urban can be different, as urban has a population with more of a community. Common elements of rural life are low population density; distance from large metropolitan areas; isolation; concentrated social networks; a culture of self-sufficiency, and fewer economic and labor resources.
Besides the distance, the rural woman often suffers from work overload. Women often work more than three shifts (P. 11 THE BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE NEEDS OF RURAL WOMEN), housework, childcare, working outside the home, and farm work. This leads to a decreased opportunity to meet with friends, and socialize.
The wise women/elders of the community at one time would help women with family chores, and childcare, although, their social lives were still lacking. Women would depend on the village shaman for medical, and midwifery, to sustain their female needs. The midwife (or shaman), with their ability to commune with the nature spirits, work with the elements, and practice isolated from the negative energies that other locations can hold. Midwives and shamans also learned the use of herbs for healing. For some, living rural can be attractive, with a life of solitude, not feeling deprived of social contact. However, this life has also labeled the shaman and the midwife as different.
Women living in rural communities can experience feelings of being alienated by the community, especially when their spiritual path is different, or they enjoy the isolation. Small communities are all from the same school, same churches, grew up together, and know everyone’s business. New blood in the community is fair game.
According to the NRHA, these women living away from society on farms, (or in areas that are isolated) with only their husbands and possibly children, have little contact other than their immediate family. Many of these women lack access to social services, health services, and disease prevention, OB/GYN services, and senior services.
Rural senior women are more likely to be disabled, widowed, older, and poorer than urban or suburban senior women are. They also lack access to many of the human services available to their urban and suburban counterparts. This can impair the care, well-being, independence, and quality of life of older rural women. For example, senior women experience more health issues that affect their ability to drive than men.
Rural areas face challenges such as higher poverty and lower rates of health insurance coverage. The NRHA, suggests that current research identifies in rural communities has a higher rate of domestic violence, more abusive, in comparison to urban domestic violence. Being “isolated” in the country for most homesteads can mean miles to the nearest neighbor.
If a rural woman seeks help, she will often go to friends, neighbors, or coworkers rather than social services or medical professionals if they can. Many rural women lack job skills, childcare, and/or transportation. “It is common for rural female workers to be ‘discouraged workers’, jobless, employed part-time involuntarily, or working for poverty-level wages Lichter DT (2002)”.
The internet has made it possible for women to connect and form a web to grow stronger and more powerful. Blogs, Social Networks, and Email are creating connections and community for women to unify, share, and support each other.
Forming groups or circles of women helps women to cope with everyday life giving them a sense of family, or sisterhood. Sometimes women’s circles are organized knitting groups, sewing circles, study groups, bowling leagues, bunko groups, and similar circles.
“When women come together and make a commitment to each other to be in a circle with a spiritual center, they are creating a vessel of healing and transformation for themselves, and vehicle for change in their world (Bolen, J.S. 2016)”.
As women meet in circles, they heal, and make it possible to feel accepted. Starting with a small group of women, where there is safe harbor, women can tell their stories without feeling vulnerable. This may be the first time for this woman to feel power, the power to be able to speak her story without judgment, or ridicule.
Women’s circles with a spiritual center will move women away from religious dogma that devalues them and submission to male authority. The right to define one’s own spiritual experience can come from being in a women’s circle where it is safe to speak about personal mystical and sacred experience and be believed. For women to discover that they are inherently spiritual is to feel divinity within, which is a source of meaning and mattering. (Bolen, J.S. 2016)
Looking back at becoming a shaman, I look at my past, and outline what has happened in my life and what shaped my path of transformation, and then how that spark became the fire in my head.
Changes take place, as the veils of the universe lift, revealing new worlds. While others see the person differently and think, what “she does” is not a social norm. However, as a shaman “I experience love, at its core – love so intense and so selfless; touching upon it makes me want to burst”.
Moving forward with my life, I was moved to search out a new home, somewhere rural that became Southern Ohio. The transition of life was almost overnight. The place, Appalachia where people in the hills are Appalachian, and if you live here–you know what I mean.
Hearing the land calling to us, needing attention, healing, and love, the choice to move was instantaneous. I am here now living as a shaman within nature, and with the nature spirits. The call was sooo strong that it was not to be ignored, after being here, the spirit came to me in my sleeping hours as well as my daytime hours.
In choosing to move from the city, the door on social and cultural diversity closed, well nearly closed. Like others who live in rural situations, it is no longer easy to walk next door for coffee, or go to dinner at the Indian Restaurant. All the things that are available within minutes are now hours away. The grocery store is an all day trip, starting at 9 AM, and traveling over hills is not like driving the interstate. It takes an hour to travel 30 miles to anywhere, this includes socializing with like-minded friends.
Spirit, talks to us and we listen what more can I say. If you are supposed to move to the back woods and live in a cabin shamanistically, well this is what I did.
Back to reflecting on Rural Wise Women, it is obvious there are many like-minded women who would benefit from a circle to connect and share with others.
Yes, I am responsible for being out in the middle of nowhere. However, Rural women do not have to be alone without the friendship of like-minded women. The time is now for women to come together to form community locally, or even virtually. Today there are more and more online circles and groups forming than ever before. There is no obligation or price to pay to be a part of these groups or to start you own. There are also more women who are spiritually practicing diverse forms to connect with spirit.
In my search for a sisterhood of diverse women in a local rural community, it was obvious I would have to begin a circle if there was going to be a place for women like myself. Spirit is always giving me challenging projects! This one has been hard, because I find it difficult to go out and make that social connection of like minds. Ok… So here goes… I am putting it out there for you. Now it is up to you to connect with me.
References and quotes came from:
Bolen, J.S. (2016) THE ANTIDOTE* http://www.jeanbolen.com/articles/antidote.html
Kevin J. Bennett, PhD, John E. Lopes Jr., DHSc, PA-C, Kathleen Spencer, MS, MLS, Saskia van Hecke, BSc, (2013) “National Rural Health Association (NRHA) Rural Women’s Health”,
Journal of Rural Studies
Volume 5, Issue 2, 1989, Pages 199–208
Lichter, D.T. (2002) The underemployment of American rural women: Prevalence, trends and spatial inequality, Department of Sociology and Population Issues Research Center, The Pennsylvania State University, U.S.A.