We should respect the cultures and traditions of the communities we visit, except when those mores and beliefs break down humanity.
In 2002, my friend Nila and I lead a group of women to Kadavu, Fiji, for a Goddess retreat. We planned rituals to honor the four faces of the Goddess: Maiden, Enchantress, Mother and Crone, so that each woman would learn how to embrace the Divine Feminine within themselves and other women.
We were the only Westerners at the small resort where we stayed for one week. The resort owner explicitly told us that we must not “over-socialize” with the native Fijians. They would show us their school, welcome us to their kava ceremony and lead us on hikes. But there was to be no deep human connection, lest our Western ways leave a sour taste with the native peoples and inspire them to leave their island and their culture.
That seemed ethical.
But one of us had an affair with one of the native men. This shouldn’t have been a problem, per se, as this gentleman was well-versed in English and had many opportunities to leave Kadavu if he wanted and remained on the island. Except that the resort owner was also having an affair with him. The young man found his voice and discovered how to stand up for himself.
We were not allowed to tip the native help, lest we provoke jealousy. Then we learned they had not received a raise in many years and so the same woman who had the affair began a scholarship for the children to pay for secondary school. Every woman who came on the retreat adopted a child’s education as their responsibility.
We had a lusty ritual for the Entrantress which provoked two native cousins to have an affair and created quite the scandal and hardship for the woman. We didn’t know they were watching us dance topless in the ocean. For this, I am truly sorry. I don’t know any details of what became of the child. I do hope some women began to understand a little more about the power of the pussy and wield this power as their true sovereignty. I hope we sprinkled some Divine Feminine upon this village.
However, I am most proud of breaking the stigma on sexuality. During the Mother ritual, Nila provoked a conversation that forced me to admit my bisexual tendencies. I liked kissing girls but saying it aloud was literally ground-breaking. My admission drew me to an effeminate native who wore pink every day. I taught him how to give a massage based on the techniques I had learned at the Mueller School of Massage. I later learned that his bisexual nature had ostracized him from his small island community who believed he was an inherent sinner (based in large part by the mission-installed Christianity). With his new skill, he left Kadavu and found work and a new, empowered life on Viti Levu, the main island.
Lesson learned. Don’t accept bold, sweeping statements without looking first at the Divine humanity and the individual Light.