Introduction from: Urgent Message From Mother: Gather the Women,
Save the World by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D. (© held by
Jean Shinoda Bolen, reprint permission: Redwheel/Weiser Publishers.
Boston. Pub date 9/1/05)
Urgent Message From
Gather the Women, Save the World
by Jean Shinoda Bolen, M.D.
the women" is a message to her daughters from Mother Earth,
Mother Goddess, Mother archetype. The words evoke an intuitive
recognition, a wisdom whose time has come. It is a call from the
Sacred Feminine to bring the feminine principle into consciousness.
It is time to "Gather the women"-- for only when women
are strong together can women be fiercely protective of what we
When I first heard the words gather the women, the words struck
a deep emotional chord. I am one for whom the message was meant,
as you may also. It is an urgent message from Mother to Her daughters--that
will not be heard by women who are allied with patriarchy, whose
identities and value comes through their relationships with men
and male institutions. Women who respond have a sense of sisterhood
with other women and react with maternal concern to pain and suffering
especially toward those who are vulnerable and powerless.
There is collective bigger story about being a woman in the twenty-first
century, when the fate of the earth and all life upon it is at
risk. Coinciding with this, here we are, women who have been the
beneficiaries of education, resources, reproductive choice, travel
opportunities, the internet, and a longer life-expectancy than
women have ever had in human history.
If you heed the message gather the women, the first step might
be a discussion with friends, the calling of a circle with a spiritual
center, or a bringing of women together. Energy may come from
a mix of outrage, despair, deep love, and a calling to make a
difference. When people find themselves at a crossroads or in
a crisis, to move forward toward health, reconciliation, and life,
the challenge is to let go of an outmoded attitude, idea or perception.
Individually or collectively, a shift has to take place, a tipping
point is reached, and then the phenomenon of "there is nothing
so powerful as an idea whose time has come," kicks in.
Twice before, American women have changed their world and been
an influence on the world, through collective action. The first
was "the women's suffragette movement." Political equality--the
right to vote was the goal. The second has been simply called
" the women's movement." Social, personal, lega; and
economic equality were the issues and goals. I believe a third
movement is stirring below the surface of collective consciousness
and is gathering momentum. The intention is to stop violence against
women by involving women in prevention of violence, resolution
of conflicts, and restoration of peace. Patriarchy is toxic to
peace. Domestic violence, schoolground violence, street violence,
terrorism, and wars have the same origins in a need of aggressive
males to dominate, and be predator instead of prey. The antidote
to patriarchy is the acknowledgment of interdependence, which
is feminine wisdom Until women collectively become involved in
creating a culture of peace to stop violence begetting violence
in the human family, women and children will continue to be the
primary casualties, and the Earth itself at risk.
In January 2003, I was the recipient of the Woman of Vision and
Action award, gave a talk at a Friday evening banquet, and stayed
overnight. At breakfast the next morning, I first heard "Gather
the Women." This was an internet project inviting women to
create gatherings on or about March 8, 2003, International Women's
I felt the power of the words gather the women as soon as I heard
On checking my calendar, I saw that I would be in Ireland at a
Jungian conference on the day. At the conference, I spoke about
the Gather the Women project and asked if anyone were inspired
by the idea to organize something. The evocative power of the
three words had an effect. There were volunteers and a ritual
was planned for early in the morning of March 8. All those interested
were invited to assemble outside the hotel which was on the edge
of Galway Bay.
A storm arose during the night that had not abated by morning:
the wind was fierce, the waves of the bay now had whitecaps, and
there was a driving rain. I wondered if anyone would go out in
this weather, but having instigated the ritual and wanting to
support the women that had planned it, at the appointed time,
I ventured out--my head down into the wind and rain, toward the
huge rock that emerged like a round breast close to the shoreline,
around which we were to meet. Others were hunkered down when I
got there, and more would emerge in ones and twos from the hotel,
until there were perhaps as many as twenty-five of us, four or
five of whom were men, gathered around the rock. A song was begun,
but as sound was taken up by the wind, only fragments were heard.
We each had found a stone on the rocky shoreline, which we placed
on the huge mother stone with our intentions or prayers, none
of which could be heard by anyone else.
This experience supported my intuition that the words gather the
women would have an evocative power on others as well. That men
also came was an indication that there are men who recognize the
need for women to take a lead and will be there to support what
we do, even when storms arise.
When I returned home, I learned that our huddle of windblown and
drenched people who celebrated International Women's Day in Ireland
were one of four hundred and five gatherings in twenty-three countries
and thirty-eight states who registered their event.
Each gathering was organized at the grassroots level. Grassroots
is a descriptive adjective that refers to something that grows
from the bottom up through the concerned efforts of ordinary people.
Something neither ordered nor organized from above, and as humble,
unremarkable and unnoticed as very small emerging clumps or individual
blades of grass might be in an immense field. Women with concern
for humanity and the environment carry within them, seeds of compassionate
activism. The response to this simple invitation to do something
expressive, was a small indication that women all over the world
share concerns and are connected.
A wider perspective came from being at the United Nations when
the Commission on the Status of Women meets. These annual meetings
held the first two weeks in March, brings together an international
community of women in non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that
focus on women. A series of events that began when I wrote a book
The Millionth Circle, led to me being at the UN with an organization
of the same name. I had my consciousness raised by the readily
available information, which is virtually ignored by American
mainstream media. Reality on the ground comes through hearing
about the scope of preventable suffering that affects women and
children, coupled with indifference and exploitation by those
in power. I was inspired by women who are on the frontlines and
back offices, making a difference. And, I learned of the UN resolutions
and agreements that are already in place, that if taken seriously
by the governments that signed them provide concrete steps toward
ending violence and achieving peace. In the United States, legislation
has been proposed for a Department of Peace, the adoption of which
would be a significant step toward this same goal.
The seed idea for this organization was The Millionth Circle:
How to Change Ourselves and The World--An Essential Guide to Women's
Circles. "The millionth circle" is a metaphor for the
circle that added to the rest, brings about a critical mass that
ushers in a new era. The idea of such an organization was germinated
in Geneva by Elly Pradervand, and Peggy Sebara. I first heard
about this from Peggy when she returned from Geneva and called
to ask if the name "millionth circle" could be used
and if I might come to a meeting in Northern California to explore
the idea of forming an organization. Twenty women who had worked
with circles and felt an affinity to the idea came to discuss
the possibility and after a second meeting at Mother Tree retreat
center, Millionth Circle--the organization, formed in 2001. Through
a series of gatherings held the following year in New York state,
Glastonbury and London, England, in Wales, Findhorn and Iona,
Scotland, links were made with women in those areas and others
who came from Africa, South America, Europe and India.
In the process of forming any new activist organization, there
is a need to clarify the intentions and to model the principles.
A small working circle crafted an intention statement out of the
discussion and sent it out via email for comment. The result was
a shared vision, which included involvement with the United Nations.
encourage connection and cooperation among their members and inspire
compassionate solutions to individual, community and world problems.
We believe that circles support each member to find her or his
own voice and to live more courageously. We intend to seed and
nurture circles, wherever possible, in order to cultivate equality,
sustainable livelihoods, preservation of the earth and peace for
all. We intend to bring the circle process into United Nations
accredited non-governmental organizations and the 5th UN World
Conference on Women, and to connect circles so they may know themselves
as a part of a larger movement to shift consciousness in the world.
Every circle that considers themselves part of the millionth circle
vision is linked through their intentions. PeaceXPeace links women's
circles in the United States directly with circles in other countries,
focusing especially where war has taken a toll. In Europe, The
Millionth Circle inspired the formation of Circles of Compassion
for men and women, and November 2 was designated as "The
World Day of Circles of Compassion" as part of the millionth
circle vision. There are probably thousands of organizations and
millions of people who are unknowingly affiliated in their hearts.
There are also countless men who feel that men cannot bring peace
to the world and hope that women will somehow get the message,
and do so.
Save the World
Women are experienced in looking after the children and fragile
elders, cleaning up after, setting the house in order, being frugal
with resources, putting food on the table, maintaining peace in
the family, and staying on good terms with the neighbors. These
are the same tasks that need doing on a planetary scale.
Grassroots circles raise consciousness and support its members.
In sufficient numbers, they contribute to a critical mass to bring
about a change in perception, attitudes, and assumptions that
can become the new way if there is also leadership at the top.
For there to be a gender effect, at least thirty percent of those
in influential positions need to be women. Involvement in anything,
including saving the world, is the result of individual acts of
commitment and courage.
Women who meet together encourage and support each other through
difficulties and transitions. They also are midwives and godmothers
of each others creative work and larger visions of themselves.
An infusion of a larger vision and an adventure and education
will come if local circles go as a group to a Fifth United Nations
World Conference on Women--provided there is one.
There was a widely held and mistaken assumption (based on previous
conferences in Mexico City, Copenhagen, Nairobi, and Beijing ),
that ten years after Beijing there would be another in 2005. As
of 2005 , there was nothing even on the drawing boards. Each conference
is three years in the making. A world conference of women by the
end of first decade of the twenty-first century will happen only
if women in sufficient numbers to make a difference, make this
known to their elected decision-makers. Information can be shared
and connections made through emails, website-aided conference
calls, websites and links, online chat rooms, listserves. Women
at the confereence could communicate daily with circles of women
at home. With the communication power of the internet, this would
be the most influential gathering of women ever held.
To the Reader
message from Mother is a call that can be heard and heeded anywhere
on the planet. Wherever women with a sense of sisterhood and maternal
concern gather, the message will be received. My words were written
for you, if you need the words to go with feelings you already
have, if you need support to believe that you can do something,
or if you need inspiration or a strong nudge to act on the "assignment"
that you know is yours to do. Or you may need information about
gender differences, to learn that women have qualities that would
best serve humanity. Now.
Disclaimers may be helpful at the beginning. This is not about
replacing patriarchy with matriarchy. I do know that women can
be as power-oriented and as unempathic as I am saying men as a
gender are, and that there are lots of men who are nurturing and
empathic, as women are supposed to be. I am well aware of complexities
and individual differences, which Goddesses in Everywoman and
Gods in Everyman, specifically addressed as archetypally based.
Having said this, the position I take here, is that women as a
gender--as a whole, not every woman, but women generally--have
a wisdom that is needed. It is time to "Gather the Women,
Save the World."