HORTONVILLE, NY — Feelings of isolation may have increased as a result of the pandemic, but they have also existed before it. The Sullivan County Sisterhood is here to ease that burden, its …
HORTONVILLE, NY — Feelings of isolation may have increased as a result of the pandemic, but they have also existed before it. The Sullivan County Sisterhood is here to ease that burden, its organizer said, and to connect local women to something bigger than themselves.A sisterhood is “a very deep connection and bond with other women… to help humanity shift out of greed and competition and be more heart-centered in alignment and unity,” says Amanda McCormick, founder of the Sullivan County Sisterhood.
McCormick moved to Hortonville in 2021, after growing up between Texas and Virginia, attending college in Pennsylvania, and then 10 years in New York City as a professional dancer.
She had dreamed of living in the city since she was a child, and after achieving that goal, began to feel pulled in a different direction in 2019. “Living in NYC is very masculine-forward,” she says. Feeling the need to leave the city and be closer to nature, McCormick embarked upon a solo trip to India and Bali in 2019, where she reconnected with her feminine side. “The divine feminine, sisterhood, and women supporting women all became prominent themes with the people I was in orbit with,” she said.
Since moving to Hortonville, McCormick has been impressed by the diversity of women she has met in the area. A conversation with her aunt, who leads a small sisterhood group in Florida, inspired her to open up the idea for one here. McCormick expected maybe 12 responses, but within an hour, received over 100 responses of women who were interested.
“There’s this really intense desire to connect; I think that’s the underlying thing for a lot of women, is just not wanting to feel so alone,” says McCormick.
This issue is “soul-deep” for women, she says. The need to gather as women comes from a “cellular yearning from our ancestors for when we used to gather like this.”
“In society, we’ve been taught as women to not speak up, to not use our voice, to not express ourselves,” explains McCormick. This group is here to “heal the feminine from the inside out and the ground up,” for women to “support and celebrate” each other, transforming insecurities into empowerment. In the group, women can “express and love themselves and feel safe doing so,” she says.
McCormick believes in the value and beauty of every stage and age of life. She has an arm tattoo that represents three phases of the moon, as well as three phases of womanhood: maiden, mother, crone. “There’s something special and unique about each of those phases, not one is better than the other,” she says. “We have been conditioned as women that [as you age] you’re an old hag, there’s so much beauty and wisdom that comes with age.”
Women in the group range from 19 to 68 years old, and come from a range of places—Wisconsin, North Carolina, Buffalo, New York City, lifelong Sullivan County locals. They are artists, entrepreneurs, educators, farmers, builders. One woman said she would like to join after recently having lost her sister, and many others say they are looking for friendship and connection with others, whether they are new to the area or have lived here for years.
The Sisterhood had its inaugural meeting on January 11 over Zoom, and began with a meditation. The women introduced themselves and reflected on what they wanted to release from their lives and what positive things they wanted to call into their lives. “I reached out to the community out of my own desire for something like this,” said McCormick, who emphasized that the meeting was a place for the women to feel “witnessed,” seen and appreciated for who they are, able to speak honestly and openly. “There is no need to apologize,” said McCormick, “women say, ‘Sorry’ too much.”
With now over 350 responses to the group, there will be plenty of potential new friends and supporters to meet. In addition to meeting online, there are plans to start a book club and for women to share offerings and projects they are working on with the group. There are already offers from women in the group to host their yards as a gathering place in the spring.
McCormick sees herself as just the beginning guide of this process, and acknowledges the group as an evolving entity much larger than herself. With so many women interested, she is hoping that there will be ample space for them to organize among themselves to make smaller, more intimate gatherings based on where they live and on common interests.
She and her partner also have visions for developing a wider wellness and community center on their 30 acres in Hortonville. The property glows in the evening sunset with a path winding along a stone wall through the forest up to an open hilltop field, where McCormick envisions building a potential place for people to stay. McCormick would also like to connect younger and older women in the community in mentorship roles. “Some of the women are in construction,” she said, explaining the variety of role models for girls and the breaking of gender stereotypes.
The Sisterhood’s first Zoom went from a quiet space to an outpouring of gratitude from the participants. Like a small blade of green peeking through the icy snow, the group founded this winter appears to have a feeling of hope and strength—the reserves to weather the cold and to blossom with new energy come the next season.
“No matter what age in life you are, no matter if you have kids or don’t have kids or your kids are grown, there’s something special about where you are that you have to offer, to the other women, the community, and the world at large,” says McCormick.
To join the group or to learn more, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or look up the group, using the same name, on Facebook.
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