PART 1 of 2
Recently, Maranda Pleasant, editor of Mantra Magazine asked me to choose one of my heroines to interview. Marianne Williamson is at the top of that list, so I was thrilled when she said “Yes!” Here’s the first in a two part series of our radically eloquent dialogue (Marianne is never anything less than sublimely articulate) on women, power, aging, fertility and our duty to save this planet and all of Her children.
Ashley Turner: It’s such a pleasure to see you again! As you know, I so admire your work and especially your recent Congressional campaign here in West LA. Thank you for always pushing the boundaries of consciousness, inspiring us to continually rise into our full potential and paving the way for so many of us…especially women. Congratulations on a well-fought, groundbreaking campaign!
I’ve been turning a lot of my attention to work with women, launching my Women Ignite conference and a Urban Priestess School – focusing on reclaiming the power of the Divine Feminine for men and women. Your book A Woman’s Worth was pivotal in my life and an absolute turning point in my own consciousness.
I was just reading a little passage from A Woman’s Worth:
I just turned forty. I’m getting gray hair, I see wrinkles appearing and all of this is really in my face…feeling an outer shift in perception of worth and really taking my inner practice to a much deeper level.
I’d really love to hear what you have to say on aging, fertility, and women’s worth and empowerment. What are the ways that women in particular can empower themselves?
Marianne Williamson: Well, first of all, I want you to remember that in European countries and all sane countries, the forties are the years of full blossoming.
AT: That’s so much what I feel. I was talking to Sianna Sherman about this. We feel like we’re just hitting our stride.
MW: I think that’s true; a woman begins to hit her stride in her forties. I believe that the primary role of the feminine is to care for future generations. I think that the big mistake of what some call feminism in the last few decades has been centered on us as women sometimes at the expense of our mission as women. Our needs as women should not come before our missions as women, and when we put our mission first, our needs are more quickly met, and our mission is to mother. That doesn’t necessarily mean biological, but it means to nurture, to give birth to that which is new, to nourish that which has just arrived, to see the tending and mending of relationships as the glue that holds things together by providing greater meaning. So whether it’s taking care of an animal or taking care of a baby, taking care and always taking care of that which is beyond, not simply ourselves, is the feminine impulse.
A lot of that has to do with taking care of our sisters, being there for other women who are facing the same struggles as we are, voicing our hearts in environments where the voice of our heart is not necessarily appreciated. An example of that for me would be the way you and so many from a very feminine place, in that sense, supported me during my campaign. It was a most beautiful example and expression of sisterhood, which I did not necessarily feel, interestingly enough, from a community of elite feminists who externalize the sense of a feminist movement but do not necessarily live it on the level of the gut.
I think that, too often, not only in political feminism but even in the more spiritually oriented feminism in the last few decades, the need of children has been underemphasized. We have in the United States the second-highest poverty rate of all advanced nations. We have on the planet seventeen thousand children who starve to death every single day. If the American woman alone were awakened—and, yes, awakened spiritually as well as socially and politically—this would not be happening.
And that’s what I mean. You cannot, in my opinions, separate the expression of the feminine from the fierce behavior of the feminine when she senses a threat to her young, and that is evident in any advanced mammalian species when you see the fierce behavior of the adult female, whether expressed by the tiger or the lion or the bear, when she senses a threat to her cub. The hyenas are a matriarchal species—who knew?
They are female-dominant, and adult female hyenas encircle the cubs while they are feeding and will not let the adult males get anywhere near the food until the cubs have been fed. Now, surely we can do better than the hyenas. We can dance under the moon and we can chant and we can wear flow-y robes and we can drink green juice all we want, but as long as there are children starving on our watch, we have not yet embraced a fierce dimension of the feminine without which the feminine herself is dejuiced.
You were talking about my book A Woman’s Worth. In that book, I talked about how the goddess goes by many names, but the most beautiful name of the goddess is your own.
The goddess is not activated unless she’s channeled. As long as the goddess remains an idea hovering over the earth, then like any other divine source, it is without manifest potential in any way that is truly meaningful. I’ve been amused by some men whom I have heard expound ad infinitum on how much they love the goddess, but the more I listen to them, I realize that while they might love the goddess, they have a problem with real women, and I think that’s a temptation for women as well. Surrendering our lives to the goddess means surrendering our lives to all aspects of her being on earth, and when it comes to lack of care and neglect and harm of children, she is fierce, and so should we be.
AT: What are the most necessary practical steps that a reader can take in their own life to create real change in their world?
MW: Meditation and forgiveness. The Dalai Lama said, in order to change the world, we must have a plan, but no plan will work unless we meditate. And to me, that’s true both individually and collectively.