A Reader’s Perspective on Womyn’s Land
A couple of months ago I mentioned that I was spending time on Womyn’s land in New Mexico. At the time, I said I would share my experience in a later post (that’s this one!) but I kept mulling this experience over in my head trying to figure out what was the message my experience gave me. I think I have figured out what about this experience resonated with me.
I’ve mentioned it several times, and here it is again, but I was inspired to find Womyn’s land after reading Gerri Hill’s novel After the Summer Rain. If you haven’t picked this up yet, I highly recommend it. There was something about this story that spoke to me. It wasn’t just that it is land that is inhabited only by women, but that these women are independent in almost every way possible. They have created their own family amongst the women living there and created a safe space. Of course, there is a fantastic love story mixed in which adds to the wonderfulness of the story. If after reading this story you aren’t at least a little interested in spending a week on Womyn’s land I would be surprised.
So I spent three week on Womyn’s land in New Mexico. Land that was created for women, by women. It started off amongst a time when women were rebelling against second class citizenship and it created a place where they did not need to depend on a patriarchal society because they created a self-sustaining community. There was land for a garden, there was a community center, there was a community kitchen, there was a water well, there were solar panels, there was a windmill, there was everything that might be needed to shelter and feed women. This is not a resort by any means but it is a spiritual retreat. The land is overseen by a woman who has been there for over 40 years. A woman who has seen this land through many changes and it is these changes that finally sunk in after reading and listening to a couple of stories and understanding what I was experiencing while on the land.
It all solidified when I finished reading Cheyenne Blue’s Party Wall. Two women’s lives are intermingled when they find their shops next door to one another- one being a sex shop. (It is a great premise and was part of theme of stories published by Ylva.) What I absolutely loved about this story is how these two women both experienced loss and with each other found ways to make that loss relevant. Freye, especially, made it relevant for me. She elevated her loss to a spiritual awareness of self. An awareness that created a strength through independence from need. When you finish reading it, you will understand what I am saying better- I’m trying not to give away any spoilers. However, as a woman, she was able to guide and inspire other women to move beyond the stereotypes of expectations for women. It was a very powerful passage when she shared the reasons and motivations for turning in this direction.
In my last post (check it out here if you want) I mentioned the stories I was currently listening to and reading. One of the stories I mentioned was Eliza Andrew’s To Have Loved & Lost. Again, a powerful story that I highly recommend. One of the most powerful messages in the story, was that if these two women had not experienced the losses that they did, they would never have been brought together. It was through loss that taught them both how to live. It taught them how to revive their own lives. And it taught them how to elevate their thinking to a new level of love and understanding of how fragile life is but how when embraced it is a wealth of amazing.
That is what this Womyn’s land in New Mexico is- a wealth of amazing. Everything is still there but it’s almost as if this land has been in a hibernation. It has suffered a loss because it was forgotten but now it is being given new life by giving life itself. It needs to be elevated out of a period of neglect, a period of near death and that is happening now. As our world keeps sliding into crazy, this is a place where women can not just survive but thrive. We can leave our grief and embrace a power and self-awareness that this land offers because it only needs love and attention. It is ready and waiting for women to plant a new garden, fix windmills and build new houses. It is ready to embrace a community of women sharing meals, sharing herstory, sharing strength. The library is absolutely stunning in its offering of womyn’s herstory, womyn’s movement, womyn’s land and breaking free from the society that pushes us down and makes us second citizens. Reading selections ranges from how to build a house to journals on the power of joining a lesbian commune. This land is ready for women to revive their own lives while at the same time reviving the land. And that is what I find amazing. This land exists and is safe. It is FOR us, built by us, sustained over the years by us. Help if you can. Visit if you are able. She needs us so that she remains for the needs of generations of women to come. This is Outland.
All you wonderful readers out there, what stories are giving you hope? What stories are inspiring you and showing you a path through this crazy time? I would love to learn more LesFic stories that explore this amazing.
For more information on Outland, follow this link to the New Mexico Women’s Retreat.