Originally published December 5th, 2016
My fascination with Catholic nuns, my ever-on radar for nun-news, comes not so much from having grown up with them all around, but the fact that they are going extinct. (If someone knows of a Catholic nun revival surge, please point it out to me.)
It is the fact that we are alive to witness the extinction of a twelve-hundred-year-old tradition that is fascinating. It is the fact that they ‘stood by their men’ through some pretty egregious happenings that suggests extinction is inevitable, perhaps even karmic.
As a child educated in a Catholic school, I had to swallow some pretty bizarre concepts, presented to me as ‘truths’. The pope is infallible. Purgatory is a place. The Holy Ghost is a thing.
Recently, I heard a modern-day Catholic nun tell a news reporter that the white habits they wear represent being married to God. She said they put on their wedding dresses every day to celebrate their anniversary of marriage. The nuns I grew up with wore black, so I never heard of such a thing as the habit being a wedding dress!
It got me to thinking. If no-one objects to the rather bizarre notion that nuns wear their wedding dresses daily, to re-live their marriage to God, then certainly people can wrap their heads around the concept of a Sisterhood of women who work with cannabis plants, make home-made tonics and tinctures, and support themselves through their own labors and without need of alms?
Our earth family should be able to accept the fact that we wear the gowns to honor our ancient Beguine fore-mothers, that we put them on to show respect for the plant and Mother Earth, that we put them on to remind ourselves to make our sacred ancestors proud, that we wear them to announce our presence to the people, as regalia, to honor them, whenever we are among them. Yet, word on the street is that our local officials can’t wrap their heads around this concept. Yes, word on the street is that they are fine with our cannabis business, but not with our uniforms. So I can only assume that if we claimed to be married to God, if we claimed our uniform was a wedding dress, then it would be ok?
Actually, try as they might to make it about something else, we know too well why they object. They object because there are no men in charge here. They object because there is no male-founded, male-run, male dominated church here. There are men here, of course, but they don’t run the show. Furthermore, our order is ‘self-formed’ and, as ‘weed-nuns’, we are self-declared, which makes us empowered, and the old grey-haired white dudes running the central valley of California find that to be frightening.
In case you hadn’t heard, we are leaving a two-hundred-thousand-year-old period of male energies ruling the planet and are entering the age of feminine energies ruling the planet. We are leaving our ‘conquer all’ mentality that formed our civilizations and we are entering an age of preservation, nurturing, nesting. Of course, female energies must now rule, if we want to keep our people inhabiting this planet. (Never mind Trump, Brexit, Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen, and the others of their ilk, they represent the last gasp of a dying paradigm. You didn’t think the conquerors would go down without a fight, did you? But worry not -- hate is not a sustainable political platform.)
Before we bought our farm, we checked the history of the land to make sure no blood was spilled here. We purchased as ‘near virgin’ land as is possible in these parts. No animals were caged or slaughtered here, no one was ever hurt here, and we made a big upset in this place by putting a digger in the ground and splitting a line through the property diagonally, to lay electricity for lighting. We had to do a special healing ceremony for the land, to repent for the cut we made. The split in the land upset the energies of the property and made people who love each other quarrel and bicker.
In the same manner that we checked the land and the house before offering to buy it, to make sure that the energies here were right for the women and the work to be done, we would not reach for a spiritual practice or religion that had blood on its hands. If murders and pedophilia and dark plots lurk there in the history of the enterprise, we don’t want it.
We are starting anew.
Our holy trinity is S.A.S. Yes, because we are political activists, we do ‘give sass’ (now and again), as Brother Emery calls it, but no, the acronym stands for Service, Activism, and Spirituality. The most important part of our ancient-wisdom medicine-making is the environment the products are made in. Therefore, we sought a pure place. An untarnished little farm, a little closer to the gangster-town than we might have preferred, but the land, all the same, is clean.
We would not do our Activism, if it required blood or harm to anyone. Burning fuel to get to our events is harm enough, and we pray for forgiveness and try to double up. We yearn for solar powered cars, but what we have is fossil-fuel-burning carriages.
We approach our activism and perform our activism with pure hearts, good intentions, and would not go where dark forces gather. The intention of our activism is to inform, educate, elucidate, where the media machine would rather you remain ignorant.
In service to the people through the cannabis plant, we are working in a space of ‘no harm’, because try though they might, no-one has ever died from an overdose of the Cannabis medicine.
And finally, our spirituality. We are Beguine revivalists.
The Beguines pre-dated Christianity and though they lived together, dressed alike, and prayed together, their mission was not to spread any kind of dogma. Their mission was to rescue women from poverty and give them independence and property (wealth). They were very good at it.
They were so good at it that during different times through-out their history, they were persecuted by different religious and political groups – mainly because the products they made were of such consistently high quality, and because their work had garnered them such loyal followings. The attacks on them were for jealousy of their success, and because the Beguine mission was to empower women. Our research indicates that in medieval times in Europe, many towns had Beguine villages within their castle walls and many travelers came from far and wide to purchase their products.
Eschewing Christianity is not because we are ‘anti-Christian’ – we are not. It is simply that our practices identify with our pre-Christian mothers, those early enclaves, whose stories and practices were largely lost to history because they existed before books and written records. Because of the lack of information, we must use our own imagination and intuition to build something akin to what their lives would have been.
This Yule Tide Season, I want a book on the Beguines, and more importantly -- time to read it. But I am interested in the ancient Beguines, not the ones that recorded history is most likely to discuss – the Catholic Beguines.
The first Catholic nun didn’t come about until the late 800’s, and I am interested in the enclaves of our Beguine mothers before that, because I am pretty sure that their conversion to Catholicism was coerced. And that this move to Catholicism actually accelerated their extinction (just a personal theory at this point).
Because Christianity (widespread) happened when the first books became distributable, one might falsely come to the conclusion that our Beguine mothers were Catholics. That would be un-true. The Beguines were around long before Catholicism became mainstream. The Beguines thrived during the dark and middle ages, when daily life was not so well documented, but just because it isn’t written, doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
It’s not a surprise that the first book mass produced was the Bible, because the man who developed the printing press was Catholic. I have to say I’m a bit surprised and pleased with the blunt Wikipedia entry on the history of the Bible (and the added apology to Catholics).
By 500 A.D. the Bible had been translated into over 500 languages. Just one century later, by 600 A.D., it has been restricted to only one language: the Latin Vulgate! The only organized and recognized church at that time in history was the Catholic Church of Rome, and they refused to allow the scripture to be available in any language other than Latin. Those in possession of non-Latin scriptures would be executed! This was because only the priests were educated to understand Latin, and this gave the church ultimate power… a power to rule without question… a power to deceive… a power to extort money from the masses. Nobody could question their “Biblical” teachings, because few people other than priests could read Latin. The church capitalized on this forced-ignorance through the 1,000-year period from 400 AD to 1,400 AD knows as the “Dark and Middle Ages”.
Pope Leo the Tenth established a practice called the “selling of indulgences” as a way to extort money from the people. He offered forgiveness of sins for a fairly small amount of money. For a little bit more money, you would be allowed to indulge in a continuous lifestyle of sin, such as keeping a mistress. Also, through the invention of “Purgatory”, you could purchase the salvation of your loved-one’s souls. The church taught the ignorant masses . . . Pope Leo the Tenth showed his true feelings when he said, “The fable of Christ has been quite profitable to us!”
Editorial Note: Let us state at this point, that it is not our intent to offend or “bash” Roman Catholics. It is unavoidable that every historical account has its “good guys” and its “bad guys”. Just as it is impossible to accurately tell the story of World War Two without offending the Germans and the Italians who were undeniably the enemies of world peace at that time… it is equally impossible to accurately tell the story of the English Bible without unintentionally offending those who continue to revere the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches.
The Beguines thrived during the dark and middle ages. They were focused on helping the women. Their methods and order and spirituality drew women of all classes. They built housing and many devoted their lives to the enclaves and when they died, left their wealth to the enclave so more unfortunates could be brought in, taught a trade, put to work, given honorable lives. They didn’t live in the same house, but clustered their homes. They owned businesses and houses, grew their own food and hemp and made clothing for themselves and to sell. They made medicines for themselves and to sell. They made jobs. That was their mission. That is ours.
Right now, this planet has a lot in common with the dark and middle ages. Just like back then, women and children suffer the brunt of the poverty stick. Just like back then, there is a certain hopelessness that sickens the spirit, when people cannot have gainful employment. There is a malaise that happens when the deck is stacked against you – born poor, die poor. We are re-living that again. I call it the castle syndrome. But we, the descendants of the Beguines, intend to occupy the castle, as our ancient mothers once did.