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The Lineage of Women
By Cornelia Powell

LaCour

"A woman is the full circle of life. Within her is the power to create, Nurture, and transform."
~ Diane Mariechild, 20th century American Psychotherapist

Courtesy of Donald Clay JohnsonIn villages and tribes all over the world, women sing the songs of their mothers and grandmothers as they prepare a bride for her wedding ceremony:1 applying henna to her hands and feet; combing and arranging her hair; perfuming her body with herbs; draping her in shimmering jewels; or meticulously dressing her in the finest garments available for the family. These interactions carry on ancient rituals in the lineage of women, and they provide emotional support for the woman next in line to join this formidable sisterhood of brides. The old-world wedding traditions define a community and become a source of consistency in a rapidly changing world.

In all parts of the world, weddings offer a creative stage for families and communities to come together and tell the story of their heritage. The portrayal of each inherited ritual reveals something precious—connecting past, present and future. Women play the leading role in this essential pageantry; not just with their talents, but with their passion and energy—which gives these rites of passage the power and essence of life itself. Women have learned to use this life force to affect their world in many subtle as well as profound ways.

LaCourAccording to philosopher Joseph Campbell, the main theme in ritual is the linking of an individual to something larger than their own physical body—something outside of what one knows life to be.2 The rituals from indigenous cultures prepare a bride for her new role in life. They are a connection to this type of transformation and are skills women learn from their rich ancestry. Arranging an intricate hairstyle or draping a bride’s silk sari as it has been done for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years are all rituals that become a reverie for both giver and receiver, moving one outside of the physical into a lighter, more spiritual world. In this prayerful mode, a woman is not only creating exquisite artwork, she is putting her love, intent and energy into the spirit of the process, encouraging and blessing another woman’s life—continuing the vibrant lineage of women.

1. Cynthia Becker, “Gender, Identity and Moroccan Weddings: The Adornment of the Ait Khabbash Berber Bride and Groom,” Wedding Dress Across Cultures, (Oxford, England: Berg, 2003), 195.
2. Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth, (Doubleday, 1988), 125

© 2004 Cornelia Powell, all right reserved.

[This is an excerpt from Cornelia's book-in-progress, Weddings of Grace: The Bride You Want to Be, The Woman You Become—the inspiration for this online magazine.]


As Featured on Weddings of Grace