Letter from South Africa
by Yvonne Taylor

Last Thursday, 9th August, was a public holiday here, Women's Day. Marie felt it appropriate to celebrate with a special ceremony at last week's meeting, to honor the feminine energy, women, and "mother."

As always, she created a delightful altar—first a silvery cloth, on which was arranged a piece of pink chiffon draped in the shape of a heart. Within this heart were some candles and rose quartz crystals. To complete the picture were two little "woman" figurines and a spray of blossom. The whole display was one of softness and love.

We began with the usual smudging. Instead of using sage Marie decided to smudge with a gentle feminine essence. Meanwhile she played some music from the same CD used in our eclipse ceremony, but this song was called Mama Afrika—a beautiful blend of African rhythm and voices, celebrating the powerful part that women play in this land, and the enormous energies held in the soil itself.

Marie shared some interesting facts about the African cultures, which hold women in high regard. Although, sadly, the age-old cultures are being eroded by "civilization" and city life, many who live in their villages and continue in the old way of life still carry on their ancient traditions. Honor and respect for women is a very important part of this. Even Credo Mutwa, our greatest prophet, zanussi and keeper of ancient knowledge, has to play second fiddle to his wife! When he visits her, he has to sit outside; only if and when she leaves the hut, meets him outside and kisses his forehead, may he enter her home. If someone gives a gift to Credo, he immediately passes it to one of the sangomas who travel everywhere with him—they decide where the gift will go and what will be done with it.

After the smudging, Marie read passages about mothering, caring, honoring our feminine side. In a quiet moment we were asked to bring to the surface any painful emotions, hurts and thoughts that might have intruded on our mother-self. Also we silently thanked our biological mothers, in whatever dimension they may be, for all they had done for us and given us. This was done while listening to the song Amazing Grace.

One of our group is pregnant, and as she is a beautiful example of woman, mother and the creation of new life, Marie chose her to pass round a small bowl of delicate little flowers so that each of us could take one home. She played Ave Marie while this was going on. We closed with thanks and gratitude and the statement of respect and honor for women, their powers and even the land itself which supports us and provides our needs.

It was a delightful, gently nurturing hour for us, full of warmth and love and caring—and for me, rather special in that we did this ceremony in Cape Town, which is known as "the mother city."

Interestingly, over the weekend I watched a TV program about an annual award ceremony for The Woman of the Year. There were 6 or 7 categories like Media & Communication, Education, Health, and Community Service, with three finalists in each. What really made an impression on me was the amount of work going on behind the scenes by black women.

All we hear about via the media is crime, horror, rape—all by men—seldom anything positive done by women. This program opened my eyes to some astounding stuff that's happening in SA. One black women is head of her own textile factory—she started with nothing and now is in charge of hundreds of black women who make clothes. Another has turned a vast expanse of dusty land into a flourishing vegetable farm, with hordes of women working for her. All the stories were similar—the women here are becoming enormously powerful, behind the scenes.

I have a fantasy, which could even come true one day, that these women will eventually become so powerful in their own right, they may be able to oust the idiots (male, of course) who are destroying this country. It's not beyond possibility that women will run this country in the not too distant future.

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