When the ancient Greek hero Hercules engaged in mortal combat with Antaeus, the son of Neptune and Terra - Ocean and Earth – he almost lost the battle. Every time the body of Antaeus came in contact with the Mother Earth, his strength was mysteriously renewed. Mighty Hercules slew Antaeus only because he managed to wrestle the giant’s body from the land, lifting him away from his source of strength, his very source of life.
When I moved from our small ranch in the Bearlodge Mountains of Wyoming, I felt as if I, too, had been torn from the earth. Severed by a Herculean destiny from all that sustained me – from our beloved Border collie, from the horses and white-tailed deer, from the raucous blue jays and red-tailed hawks. For me, like for Antaeus, the loss of emotional, spiritual, and physical strength was sudden and dramatic.
Human beings have historically been strengthened and renewed by an intimate connection with the earth – in sync with its rhythms, regenerative power, and instinctive wisdom. For many women, our deepest sense of feminine energy comes from this connection, from knowing that we are an inseparable part of this grand, chaotic design.
So why do many of us lead lives where we feel estranged from this source of renewable energy? Why do so many of us feel estranged from the earth, from the feminine? Why do we so readily adapt a competitive paradigm when crossing the threshold between our personal lives and our professional lives, instead of a cooperative paradigm more intrinsic to our nature?
We are a part of the natural world. The natural world gave birth to us, just as it gave birth to the gazelle and the giant sequoia. Our businesses evolved from natural prototypes. We feel this connection when we stand barefoot at the edge of a river with a coffee cup in our hands, or when we bury our fingers in the cool, coarse hair of a horse’s mane in the early morning. We even feel this connection when we grind our coffee beans and inhale the deep aroma of the rich soil that grew the beans. Perhaps that is why it feels so natural to rise in the early morning and sit beside a river, or gaze at horses grazing in a meadow. Even the feel of pen sliding across paper rekindles this organic connection.
“I often think of the warm brown river;” wrote Barbara Bolin, “the silty water soft on my skin, moon light shedding shadows across the campsite, voices undulating with laughter and tears, the incredible power of written words flung into the space beyond the canyon walls. Women need to be more the challengers and change agents for the world, such as we were on those rafts floating down that powerful river.”
I love to bring women on retreats – whether to an ancient river, or a gentle mountain, or a ranch in the wide-open spaces of Wyoming. Grand vistas encourage grand thinking. I love to watch a woman run her hands over a mare’s muscled chest in the shade of an old barn, or watch us wind our way up a meandering path. How amazing – to relax into our passions! I love this falling back in love with ourselves, and back in love with life. I love how this renewed Sense of Self goes back out into the world.
What a blessing – to be part of this transcendence, to feel myself transformed each time by the women I meet, to be engaged in a hopeful future. What a blessing to create opportunities where we come together and reconnect with our own innate wisdom.