CrossCurrents: The CIIS Blog "Women Rising!—and Making Waves"
The Women's Spirituality Program celebrates its 25th year with a dynamic gathering.
We all form part of a uni-verse, a collection of individual notes in one continuous song; the song that sang all life into being.
—Sherri Mitchell, from Sacred Instructions: Indigenous Wisdom for Living Spirit-Based Change
Co-creating a visionary culture and activism that promotes a plurality of voices. Honoring every person's innate divinity. Sharing audacious dreams for creating a more just, equitable, and humane world. These are but a few strains of the potent song raised up at Women Rising! New Visions for a Post-Patriarchal World, a dynamic two and a half day day conference held at the California Institute of Integral Studies, October 12-14, 2018.
Sponsored by the Women's Spirituality program, now celebrating its 25th year, Women Rising! gathered about 200 visionaries, artists, scholars, caregivers, activists, and changemakers together to share new and traditional systems of knowledge for building a post-patriarchal world from the ashes of the burning world of hierarchy and oppression.
Underscoring these and other key tenets of Women's Spirituality, keynote speaker Sherri Mitchell, indigenous rights lawyer, author, activist, and founding director of the Land Peace Foundation, called upon us to honor our ancestors and future generations, while calling out the harmful effects of patriarchal systems on all living beings, including the Earth itself. In her keynote address, Mitchell, who asserts that everyone "possesses the ability to shed their illusion and see the world as a unified whole," stressed the inextricability of social justice and spiritual practice, emphasizing that is incumbent upon each of us to embody love, compassion, and empathy, tools critical for enacting transformative global change and healing all Creation.
It is a theme reflected throughout the Women Rising! conference weekend, which included more than 40 breakout sessions committed to sharing tools and strategies for dismantling all oppressions. Women's Spirituality-rooted themes included: Healing, Reconciliation, and Transformation; Sacred Mysteries, the Arts, and Imagination; Earth-Based Ethics and Relationships; Spiritual Activism and Liberation; and Goddesses, Female Deities, and the Divine Feminist.
Among the many highlights:
Women's Spirituality core faculty member Arisika Razak commenced closing ceremonies with a powerful Spirit Dance to the music of "Spirit Dancer" (composed by Carolyn Brandy and sung by Rhiannon) that embodied sacred artistry, the Divine Feminine, and love. Vocal activist Melanie DeMore continued weaving these threads, leading an exultant closing Song Circle, igniting every soul in the room to raise up her/their voice in song. With a refrain of joy, spirit, solidarity, and love, the chorus formed a song that, in Sherri Mitchell's words, sang—and continues to sing—all life, and a post-patriarchal world, into being.
Women Rising! continues to make waves, including at the CIIS Laurance S. Rockefeller Library, which will soon house 200 titles for a Women's Spirituality 25th Anniversary Library Collection, chosen for the first-ever Women's Spirituality Book Awards. The list can be found on the conference website. Plans are underway to make clips of plenaries and performances available on the conference website.
Kris Malone Grossman, MFA, is a PARW doctoral student.
Photo credit: Gaby Esensten Photography. Esensten is a MA student in Women, Gender, Spirituality, and Social Justice (WGS).