Relig-ish: A Withmate for the Journey

In the circles where I live and work and have my being, I hear the same three longings on endless, aching repeat.

  • A desire to have a spiritual practice that is genuine and authentic to the person practicing it.
  • A desire to include feminine ways of knowing and creative impulses into that practice.
  • A desire to not feel alone in that practice — to have a soulful tribe.

I believe that being withmates to one another can move us into places where we complete all of these desires.

What is a withmate?

“Withmate” is the gender-inclusive term I’ve come to use to describe what Margaret Guenther calls a “midwife to the soul.” In Holy Listening: The Art of Spiritual Direction, Guenther reminds us that, “The literal meaning of the word [midwife] is ‘with-woman,’ that is, the person who is with the one who is giving birth.” When you expand the metaphor of “birthing” to include giving birth to a new kind of spirituality, the idea of being withmates to one another resonates with possibilities.

What does a Withmate Do?

A withmate…

  • Is present to another in a time of vulnerability, working in areas that are deep and intimate, in a relationship of trust and mutual respect.
  • Does things with, not to the person giving birth.
  • Invites questions and takes time to engage with them.
  • Sees the event she is assisting at as a natural, normative event–not as a ‘crisis of faith’ or a sickness.
  • Notices times of transition and realizes that – even though painful – they are a sign of breakthrough and progress.
  • Encourages another when they feel out of control or that they have failed. Redefines progress, success, and failure in more functional terms.
  • Tells you when to push and when to hold back, when to breathe deeply and when to do something shallow.
  • Rejoices in the arrival of that which was working to get itself born.

What about you?

  • What might get born in your life with more ease and support if you had a withmate?
  • Who has been a withmate to you in the past? What did they do that was helpful?
  • Go on an imaginary journey where you are following a leader. Now go on a journey where you are traveling beside a withmate. What’s different?
  • Who has been a good traveling companion for you? What did s/he do that made them a good withmate?
  • Looking for a withmate? Who can you be a withmate to? (Pay it forward and watch the Universe meet your needs as well.)
Relig-ish is a new series at Magpie Girl dedicated to exploring a new kind of faith. Come along with us as we help each other find a spirituality that fits. Click here to read all the Relig-ish posts, and join the mailing list for additional musings on this (re)construction project. Thanks for being here today. Much Warmth, Rachelle
This article is cross-posted from Roots of She, where I am part of the writing tribe along with a group of fabulous, soulful women. Come on by!
Spiritual but not religious? Recovering Evangelical? Jill of all faiths? You might be relig-ish. Browse the posts to learn more, or click here to watch a video about our relig-ish community.

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