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The Jefferson Journal is JPR's members' magazine featuring articles, columns, and reviews about living in Southern Oregon and Northern California, as well as articles from NPR. The magazine also includes program listings for JPR's network of stations.


“We are at the threshold. We are going to see change.

If we can create the vision in our heart, it will spread.

As women of wisdom, we cannot be divided. As bringers

of light we have no choice but to join together.”

—Agnes Baker Pilgrim

Every person needs to develop their voice. Sometimes I have to force myself to think this, like when my daughter screams. She is normally methodical, almost too precise for a seven year old, mature and balanced in her days. But sometimes her own grief overtakes, her anger expresses in fits of unconstructed rage. They are so rare I marvel. They are so necessary, I allow. Her little life is sweet and joyous, full and bifurcated, divided between two households, two cities and two parents she loves with all her heart. Sometimes she needs to cry. Sometimes she needs to scream. I welcome it.

I have, at times, been in a position to permit other people to scream. I have taught myself to scream, my own rage and grief surfacing against the wash of information that is, in the words of the writer Starhawk, el mundo malo. The bad reality. This bad reality exists alongside el mundo bueno, the good reality. They are two sides of the same. Physicists are investigating the probability of parallel universes (see Terry Gross’ interview with physicist Brian Greene for more on this consideration), and these good and bad realities are, I think, possibly, as close as my untrained mind can get to wrangling this topic. Parallel universes influenced by our attention and perception. El mundo malo is where we are silenced. Where we cannot speak our pain and thus cannot heal. Where we think we are alone, in our experiences and longings. Where the masculine and the feminine are separated and gendered, instead of representing qualities we all embody. In el mundo malo, there is no balance. There is only value and devaluing. It was in el mundo malo that I, as a young girl on the school bus, in the classroom, in the world, was told to be ladylike, meaning not loud or active, but silent.

A quick root check in the online etymology dictionary, one of my sworn true loves, will tell us that scream is a word of questioned origin, the filaments of its history mean to terrify or frighten. So maybe I am wrong in saying I teach others to scream. Maybe I am wrong to say my daughter screams. It is not terror or fright that opens our mouths and lungs to this expression, but the release of a power that is a rallying cry, Valkyries on the battlefield, the athlete at her fullest expression, the operatic, the top note, the beloved pitch in a well known song.

And that song is the song of a world becoming. Our voices and stories, discovered, uncovered, brave and strong. It is el mundo bueno, this world revealed by our unity of voices. A song of balanced expression without limit, where the people may demand representative government in the macro and my friend Tami Lynne Kent’s book Wild Feminine is picked up by a major publisher in the micro. El mundo bueno is co-creative, not simply reactive, and that darker side, the bad reality, is part of the conversation. When we engage it, without fear, in that expression is transformation of a culture. When we build culture as a song of many voices, when the masculine and the feminine are balanced and vital in each of us, when our daughters may scream and our sons may weep, modes of expression are possible that did not before exist. From this, the good reality, we may—and must—act, and speak, and open to the fullest potential of our voices in our families, in our world.

Three years ago I started a business called Moon Divas with my dear friend and fellow SOU alum Deva Munay, an organization aimed at building teaching-learning communities where women could weave webs of support for their individual voices to be heard and valued. Work with women’s voice is important for everyone, as patterns of heritage, history and lineage are present still, and any glance at televised programming will illustrate the importance of continuing to work for a post-feminist society. We are not there yet, and because of this Deva and I are still learning what Moon Divas is, our role in this work and what it means. The work evolves as we do. It is an organic motion, and its beauty stuns me, its simplicity holds me rapt and eager for what is next. For all that may be.

And it is my own voice that awoke one afternoon in the company of our first Moon Divas students. The day was light June warm, the sun bright. We had spent the day in mythwork, storytelling, writing and spiritual bathing. It was time for our closing ritual. We gathered in a circle on a grassy knoll. Our student Sally brought a skein of yarn and bound it around each of our wrists, symbolically tying us together. The women, all of them, were radiant, nourished, comfortable in their bodies. Megan and I had, the night before, in a grinning moment over salmon and wine, developed our tagline: Love your body, Love your story, Love your life. As we cut the cord, knotted our independent threads, we each stepped into the circle, sung into being by each other. And in my turn I gave a cry, so deep and clear I didn’t at first recognize it as my own. I have never, except perhaps in childbirth, released my voice in such a way. And it was not a cry of anger or frustration or fear, but one of freedom. Of joy, of heart, discovery, renewal. We all laughed, collapsing into the light filled grasses, rolling over our ideas of who we were. For in that moment, in the good reality, we are all exactly as we are supposed to be.