Throughout the ages women have gathered to share their personal stories and spiritual/creative wisdom. Circles of women have met in secret attic rooms, church basements, on wind swept beaches and in one another’s living rooms. The intentions for “sisterhood” circles are as diverse as the women themselves. In today’s world circles of women (spiritual sisters) meet to listen, learn, and most of all witness for one another what it means to be a woman of wisdom and prayer in the 21st Century.
During the Middle Ages, the Beguine movement (an independent spiritual sisterhood) spread throughout Northern Europe, particularly Belgium, the Netherlands, and Germany. These were courageous, creative, and deeply spiritual women that made the choice to live independent, beyond the rule of the established Church. My historical novel, Ink and Honey, was inspired by the Beguines’ way of life.
The story of Ink and Honey depicts the prophetic medieval pilgrimage and spiritual journey of the Sisters of Belle Coeur as they make their way to Chartres Cathedral. Like the Beguines, the Sisters of Belle Coeur were midwives, visionaries, and mystics who lived outside the boundaries of Church rule. They were creative and spiritually inspired women who chose a radically independent way of life for the 13th Century. This was risky business for their day and they paid the cost.
In 2013 in response to requests for spiritual community from many readers of Ink and Honey, I founded the sacred order, Sisters of Belle Coeur. Since that time twenty-three women have completed the Way of Belle Coeur formation program. We follow four paths that lead to Belle Coeur (the Beautiful Heart). The pathways of Spirit, Sacrament, Sisterhood, and Service inform our journeys to Christ at the center and we are held within the circle of the Sacred Feminine.
The Sisterhood of Belle Coeur is a vital and growing community for contemporary times. Sisters of Belle Coeur are sacred life-artisans, grandmothers, women retired, beloved aunties, widows, partnered, married, and single. We are women professionals, homemakers, clergy, women in transition, students of life, and seekers of the holy. We most certainly are pilgrims on life’s journey and we come together in sisterhood circles to learn, grow, pray, and share our wisdom.
There are days when the news of the world feels little different from the Dark Age that birthed the creative feminine spiritual movement of the Beguines. Sisterhoods are forming all over the planet. It is time to reclaim our sacred wisdom and our rich heritage as women. The path to Belle Coeur is available and the pilgrimage has begun.