Maiden, Mother, Crone – The Silent Eye Weekend Part 1

When you’re accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.’

I should have expected it, really. It was, after all, a Silent Eye weekend, and I knew from the previous one I’d attended that the themes and ideas would reveal themselves gradually, and in different ways. Last time, for me at least, it was all about emotion – Joy, Sorrow, Awakening. This time, on a weekend entitled Maiden, Mother, Crone, I thought that the energy I’d feel would be feminine. But it was interesting how this seemed to spill beyond the stones to everyday life, to a larger question that is becoming more relevant in our current society – the role of women.

I am a feminist. Of course I am. To me, feminism is about equality. About women having equal access to the liberties and choices afforded to men. Equal pay, equal rights, access to education, to birth control, to travel, to liberty. To a balance in society where each gender is given the chance to reach their full potential, whatever it may be. For so very long now, women have been relegated. To wife of, daughter of, sister of, mother of, as though our worth were somehow intrinsically bound to the men in our lives. Women go to the same universities, take the same degrees, chase the same qualifications, work at the same companies as men. Yet, somehow, we are lesser. We are expected (regardless of whether we want to or are able to) at some point to give it all up to have children, to ‘just get pregnant and leave’ as though recovery from the rigours of pregnancy and childbirth while caring for a tiny helpless child is some sort of lifestyle choice, the ultimate expression of our womanhood and all we are destined for.

I realise, too, that I speak from a place of privilege. That I do have choice in most things. However, there are many others who do not and so, while such imbalance exists, it is up to us to speak out. Our voices are louder now than they have been for thousands of years and with that, perhaps, comes hope. Hope for change, and for balance, another theme revealed on the weekend which, even though I’d only been in Scotland a few hours, had already begun to work its magic.

When I arrived at my hotel in Inverurie I was very early; far too early, I thought, for my room to be ready. But the cheerful woman at reception was more than happy to help me, bringing me a drink and telling me I could get into my room in about fifteen minutes. Having been up since 4:30am to catch my flight, this was welcome news. I had a small amount of time before I had to meet the group, so thought I’d have some lunch and a rest before heading out.

A sleek grey pamphlet caught my eye. ‘Room Twenty One’ it read. It turned out to be a small spa in the hotel and, when I was informed I got a discount for staying there, I decided to book a short massage to relieve the tension of the flight and, also, let’s be honest, as an indulgence.

The young woman who massaged me was friendly and talkative and, I discovered, the best friend of the woman who had checked me in, who turned out to be the daughter of the family who owned the hotel. She was also a single mother and had been offered the job by her friend, enabling her to work around school hours. (Later I heard them talking, her friend asking if her children were all right to be collected from school, her concern gentle and genuine.) Our conversation soon moved to the larger idea of women in society, and how difficult it was to find meaningful work around school hours and childcare, that businesses were missing an opportunity to give educated committed women a chance to work again, even with reduced hours. She spoke of her sister, who had two degrees but was working in a corner shop while her children grew up. She said she was wasted there, far too intelligent, and that she hoped she would get to write the book she’d always wanted to, now her children were getting older. I said I hoped she would too.

When the treatment ended we both expressed how nice it had been to talk, and she wished me a pleasant stay in Inverurie. I went back to my room, got myself ready, and headed out into the grey afternoon to meet the group. I dressed in wet weather gear, carrying spare boots and an extra jacket. We had been promised ‘an introduction to the weekend’, but beyond that no one, except our guides, knew what to expect.…


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28 thoughts on “Maiden, Mother, Crone – The Silent Eye Weekend Part 1

  1. Only Running Elk knew what we should expect… a joy for us, as we too could experience the workshop in a new way.

    These weekends throw up so many unexpected links and questions, don’t they? They start before we even get there… as soon as we begin to ‘tune in’ … and can continue for a long time afterwards too.

    I am of a generation who saw mothers consigned to kitchen sinks, in spite of education and many social freedoms coming into play. I have seen the movement to bring feminine energies to dominance too… and that also is imbalance. Equality should not favour either side…it should not need ‘sides’.

    1. Absolutely! Equality should be just that, a balance in energy, without taking sides. So while I felt the focus on the weekend was on the feminine, it didn’t mean I disregarded the masculine, nor do I ever. Both are needed, each bringing their own strengths and weaknesses to the table.
      And yes, it was so interesting, looking back, to see how even the things I experienced before the weekend officially ‘began’ were linked to what we saw. And I do think I’m still processing it, too 🙂

      1. The ancients accorded importance to both sun and moon, patriarchy flipped the balance there and it needs to be redressed… but not toppled too far the other way 🙂

        We had that too…and we’llbe processing for a while. Even the December workshop came to life on the way there 🙂

  2. Yes, we saw what happened at that one circle, when the balance was taken away – interesting how the energy still reverberated…

    And that’s so cool! December workshop already 🙂 it was a pretty powerful weekend, that’s for sure.

    I can appreciate that my sentiments here may seem fiercer than those I usually share on my blog, but they have been the words burning in my mind since the weekend, and it felt right to get them out before writing up my summary of the rest of the weekend. Those posts will be more in the vein of the Circles Beyond Time ones. Interestingly, the book I was given has echoed many of these thoughts – it’s been a bit of an ‘a-ha!’ read so far 🙂

    1. Thanks Alethea 🙂 I think I’m still processing it all, but this post seemed to need to be written first. I’ll hopefully get the rest out in the next week or so. It was an intense, if rather rainy, weekend…

    1. Yes! She was great, a real kindred spirit. She said at the end it was a shame I wasn’t having a longer massage, she had an appointment right after me, otherwise I think we would have continued talking. It was lovely 🙂 And thank you, glad you liked the post – hoping to get the next instalment done shortly…

  3. It’s wonderful reading of the gathering’s adventures from different perspectives … although I do see a similarity between you and Sue’s ‘cliffhanger’ post endings. 😀

    I do hope that book gets written.

  4. I’ve only recently started to appreciate some of the challenges women have really faced. In part, that’s because most of my family life was dominated by women – my dad left my mum when I was 10, which meant I was in a house with 4 females (I have three sisters). Each of those women has been a strong influence on me, and has, in their own way and on their own terms, gone out and forged a path for themselves in the world. I’ve taken this for granted, and over the last few years have begun to realise it isn’t all like that, and that’s largely down to male dominated families and assumptions (completely alien to me) that the males come first.
    So your theme is striking a chord, and I’ll be interested to see how the weekend developed.

    1. Thanks, Graeme, both for sharing your experience and your thoughts. It was a really interesting weekend – like you, I’ve always been around strong women who’ve forged their own path, and it also took me a while to realise it wasn’t that way for everyone else. The theme of the weekend was of interest to me because of a book I’m just starting to write, but the theme presented itself in all sorts of interesting ways, playing with the idea of balance and of coincidence, and also connection. I am writing it up but, to be honest, am not sure if I’ll be able to completely do it justice! 🙂

  5. I am doing a module right now on Feminist, Gender and Sexuality theory, which has been really eye-opening, and so I can really relate to what you’re saying. I love the quote at the top of the post… it’s so true that many men see women’s bid for equality as an attempt at oppression, when it’s nothing of the sort. This notion of dominance is so hardwired into our culture. I could go on and on… but won’t! 🤣 Moving onto the next post now…

    1. Yes, me too! In terms of being able to go on and on about it, that is. I was speaking to a male friend today about being a feminist and he said ‘Oh, I’m an equalist.’ And I looked at him and said, but that’s what feminism is, at least to me – bringing women back up to the level of men, so that we are equal once more. And he got it, then, I think. It’s a voice that’s becoming louder for me as I age…

      1. Yes, I think I have as I got older too. I think having Carys forced me to notice inequality which I had previously ignored or not understood. What you said about your male friend is a perfect example of men misunderstanding feminism as a desire to oppress men rather than be counted equal. Young people today look to women like Beyonce as role models for powerful women, but although they demonstrate ownership of their own sexuality, in my view they are reinforcing the viewpoint of women as sex objects. I’d rather see women showing power in fields that matter, like medicine, politics, science, and the arts, for example. Those women tend to get overlooked, for some reason… not enough glamour and sex appeal, probably!

      2. I agree with you on all of this. I work now with women who are in STEM and they are amazing, intelligent and wonderful to be around. Let’s hope our voices continue to get louder! 🙂

  6. A great idea for getaways. I agree that women should be seen and treated as equals whatever the workplace. There is still a lot of work to be done on this front.

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