I just returned from two weeks in Italy where I attended Satyana Institute's two-part event Cultivating Women's Spiritual Mastery. I first participate in a three day conference in Turin with three spiritual women teachers: Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo (Buddhist), Swami Abikananda (Hindu) and Sister Lucy Kurien (Catholic) and then traveled up into hills to the rural village of Vidracco for a five day retreat with 27 women to explore the theme of women's spiritual leadership more deeply.
I am still integrating all of my experiences and learnings. Among the things I am contemplating:
~Our group of spiritual pilgrams seemed more interested in Women's Spiritual Mystery than in 'mastery'. We kept surrendering to the unknown throughout our journey together and often found our deepest experiences in the spaces between the scheduled program.
~Women seem to thrive in the cracks between the defined religious dogmas. When both Tenzin Palmo and Swamiji stated strongly at the conference that spiritual seekers must chose one spiritual path and dig deeply, it stirred up waves of disagreement. Women expressed later that this felt patriarchal and dogmatic, that it was not congruent with their own experience as women who have historically been forced to find spiritual legitimacy outside the confines of traditional religious practice.
~We visited the Sanctuary of the Black Madonna at Oropa. It seems appropriate that there is no single explanation for the appearance of these powerful 'black' figures of the Mother and her Holy Child, that she too seems to live in the cracks between the official church stories.
~I met wonderful women from the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia, South Africa and Europe and will carry them in my heart forever.
My heart is full and I am still digesting all these experiences and more.