Oh, what a joy that the brave and amazing Malala Yousafzai has won the Nobel Peace Prize!
She shares the prize with Indian children’s slavery activist Kailash Satyarthi, and together they portend a shift in the global temperature regarding gender and youth: Girls—their health, their well-being, their contributions to the world—matter.
For millennia and in so many places still, girls have been shoved aside, denied education and treated as property. When Taliban can send a gunman to kill a schoolgirl and terrorists can still steal hundreds of innocent young women from their families, Malala is both a symbol of the death of the poisonous patriarchy and hope that humanity might get it together after all.
Her victory means even more as Little Yenta Girl and I just returned from Southeastern Women’s Herbal Conference, a yearly gathering of sisterly camaraderie and classes in the gorgeous mountains of Western North Carolina, where the trees are just beginning to flash their fall colors.
I’ve been attending since 2007 to deepen my understanding of natural remedies to nourish my family and to spend time with like-minded sisterfolk who dig a good drum circle. Over the years I’ve learned and implemented the medicinal uses of honey, how to prepare a poultice for a bee sting, the herbal pharmacopia used by slaves and a thousand uses for lavender. This is where I get tips on how to sneak more astragalus into the soup and how long to boil down bones for the best broth. It’s where I take in big breaths of unconditional love for my one precious life.
I used to bring along Yenta Boy until his *ahem* britches got too big and began wrinkling his nose every time I said the word “vagina.” I sure hope the knowledge he absorbed stays with him as he forges his own life in the Instagram era. Now my lil’ girl has finally come of age to be initiated in the wise woman ways.
Even though we live in a country where women are free to drive, go to school and wear what they please, our society is still sick with rape culture, inequality in the work force, sexualization of children and Nicky Minaj. Girls and women (along with boys and men!) receive so much negative conditioning about their bodies and social roles, but so terribly little about their inherent gifts and those of the planet itself.
It feels like a very big deal to be a mama to strong, beautiful girl right now, and and I am so grateful she had the opportunity to supplement her education in the following ways:
She sat in the Red Tent with her Soil Sisters (aged 10-13) learning that when her body becomes activated by the moon, she is powerful, not dirty.
She learned that the Earth and its plants are allies for our own health, and the best medicines can often be found growing right outside our front door.
She saw women of all shapes and colors and ages, learning that womanhood is expressed in a kaleidoscope, not a scale.
She helped build a mandala out of flowers to honor the sacred feminine element within all of us.
She ate and danced and drummed with no one telling her “too much, too loud, too wild.”
She was validated and valued for being a girl, that she can and will participate in the healing of the world, including helping the boys and men embrace their own sacred femininity.
What could the world become if every girl received the same sacred education?