In the summer of 2011, I took a trip to Carcassonne in southwestern France. I was drawn to a retreat for burnt-out executives, run by a psychologist and his wife in the lead up to leaving my legal career.
I recently shared my experiences of the sessions with the therapist in my post F*ck Codependency. I Needed My Freedom yet there was another side to the retreat and life lessons I learnt.
Arriving at the retreat, I wasn’t disappointed. My home for the next five days was an old stone farmhouse in a stunning setting surrounded by lush, green countryside and fields of sunflowers dancing under the sun. My heart positively bloomed.
Aside from the counselling sessions, they provided home-cooked meals, walks in nature and great company. The retreat was the perfect place for rest and relaxation before I made any decisions on what to do with my new found freedom.
At dinner one evening, I brought up my interest in the Cathars, a religious group who lived in the area in the 13th century. Their religion could be considered to be the feminist faith at the time as they treated women as equals in many respects; certainly more than other religions of that period.
The Cathars had a stronghold in the area that peaked in the 13th century and many of their sites are still standing. My host promised that we would take a trip to Montsequr, the cliff-top castle which was the last stronghold of the Cathars. They were wiped out by the bloody crusades at the hands of the Catholic Church. Indeed, the occupants of the castle were put to the fire if they refused to recant their faith.
We visited Montsequr the next day and began the climb up the steep hillside; the path lined with wildflowers as blue and yellow butterflies fluttered all around. I’ve long been captured by the symbolic meaning behind the transformation of a caterpillar to a butterfly, but I can be honest and say I had a tendency to flinch if they came too close for comfort.
My squeaks and squeals accompanied us until my host stopped me and suggested that it was time for me to overcome my fear; to stand still and let the butterflies settle.
So, I stood still with my eyes closed and waited. As I felt the flutter of wings close to my face, I opened my eyes to see a butterfly perched on the tip of my nose, staring me in the face, gently fluttering its wings. Holding in a squeal, I stayed perfectly still until it fluttered off.
With our attention on butterflies, I noticed that many, but not all of the butterflies, had beautiful markings on their wings while many were plain without any markings. I made an assumption that the plain butterflies were male and my guide told me, no. The males were the pretty ones and the females were plain.
Oh yes, as I remembered my biology lessons from my childhood. I felt the hairs go up on the back of my neck as I watched two of the males fluttering their beautifully marked wings against each other in front of the plain female butterfly.
As we carried on our climb to the top, my mind trying to keep up, I remembered that lions are the ones with the glorious manes; the lioness is quite plain in comparison. Peacocks are another example; it is the male who preens and shows his bright blue plumage when in the company of a female who appears quite bland with her pale cream or brown colouring.
As the hairs continued to prickle on the back of my neck, I remembered a very simple yet profound truth. One that stares each and every one of us in the face every day. A truth that women ignore, again and again.
The female throughout the natural world truly wears her diamonds on the inside. In the wild, she has no need for markings; it is the male who must look attractive to capture her attention.
The reason why she wears her diamonds on the inside is her inner sensuality. Her ability to create and sustain life inside of her through her feminine energy.
She is creator.
She knows her worth and it has nothing to do with how she looks.
The males of the natural world bow down to her for this reason.
A female in her natural state is not meant to compete with other females and certainly not for the attention of a male.
We only have to look at society today to see how we have been derailed from the truth. I’m not suggesting that women should stop looking after themselves, cut their hair and wear dowdy clothes yet society gears woman to look outside of themselves for their self-worth by perpetuating the beauty myth through how they look, their size, their clothes and their possessions when a woman’s beauty is worn on the inside. She is meant to bloom from the inside, out.
When a woman engages with the beauty myth, it only serves to detach and block a woman from her vital feminine life force as she looks outside of herself for her worth. The beauty myth encourages women to be in competition which is the male’s dominion.
When a woman disengages from the beauty myth and blooms from the inside, out, she hums with her own power, my friend, because she absolutely knows her worth.
My experiences in France greatly inspired my own journey to grow wilder. To focus on blooming from the inside, out, instead of engaging with the beauty myth. To no longer fear growing older. I wear my diamonds on the inside, my friends. I know my worth and I hope you do, too.
(c) Samantha Wilson 2019. All Rights Reserved.