We are told in so many subtle and not so subtle ways that the world is a dangerous place for women, and that trouble will surely follow when women venture in the unknown. There are many great myths about men and boys having adventures, but girls are usually in a supporting role. Many myths actually start with the trouble that has happened because a woman stepped out of the boundaries that her family and culture set.
The reality is that women need adventures just as much as men do. The problem comes from negative cultural views of a woman spreading her wings and soaring on her own, for her own reasons, following her own passion. Women and men need both bounding and solitude. Women and men both thrive when meaning and purpose is infused into their lives. The cultural norms are not in place to protect a “weaker” part of society. The norms are in place because powerful women are frightening.
There is a Cheyenne saying that tells us the importance of women. It is said that "A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women are on the ground. Then it is done, no matter how brave its warriors nor how strong its weapons." When women are trapped, unable to listen to their hearts, unable to reach deep into their souls and awaken the dreams that sleep there, the nation is conquered. When women cannot touch the stars, the stars will go out.
One of my medicine women teachers told me that men are frightened by women’s power to bleed and not die, to create and bring forth life, and to age into wisdom. In fact, women are not considered completely in their power, true medicine women, until they go through menopause. Once they are no longer serving the planet by bringing forth life, they inherit all their power.
In the Jewish tradition, which most people consider profoundly patriarchal, women are considered closer to G-d than men. Women have substantially fewer commandments, and none that are time based, than men because women do not have to work as hard to be close to spirit. The same is true in aboriginal cultures that hold warrior sweats, sun dances, and intense vision quests. Women are not excluded because they are weak; women are not required to participate in that level of physical intensity to be spiritually connected. Women are already connected.
Women living fully can be seen as treacherous and an act of betrayal. There was a time when women were only supposed to feel completed by taking care of others and through acts of sacrifice. And while these acts might fulfill the hearts of some, it is by no means the only way that women bring their gifts to the planet.
A woman brings light into this world when she lights her own heart, listens to her own passion, and remembers her true self. There is a Jewish saying that “no woman is required to build the world by destroying herself.” Women are spiritual beings entitled to walk their own path and create their own life. And ignoring our passions, our craving for adventure and yearning and wildness will destroy us.
Dorothy ended her story by saying that her heart's desire must be in her own backyard, but really, it was the adventure to OZ that her heart craved. Without this adventure she would not understand what is was to live. Alice had to go down the rabbit hole to understand her power. It is the adventure that makes us strong.
It is adventurous women who change the world.
Dr. Elisa Robyn, a modern-day Renaissance educator and leader, is the author of The Way of the Well, a spiritual romance, and Pirate Wisdom, lessons in leadership. Her eclectic career positions include geologist, Dean of Arts and Sciences, Vice President of Academic Affairs, Futurist, and Innovative Mojo Coach. Currently, Elisa is an executive director at Regis University. She holds a Masters degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Her most current writings can be found at: http://elisarobyn-blog-blog.tumblr.com/