The Wise Women project is a collaboration between Medway based Lynne Parker, creative producer and founder of non-profit Funny Women CIC and Essex based film maker Sarah Elliott. There was some early input from Dr Lauren Ware, lecturer in philosophy from the University of Kent.
The focus is a short film, ‘Wise Women of the Estuary’, which explores the wisdom of women and how, still to this day, this can be demonized. The narrative examines perceptions around ageing, menopause, motherhood and working practice. Here in the Estuary there are many amazing women who work their ‘magic’ in different ways to benefit their communities and support each other.
The Wise Women film presents a series of interviews with several women with connections to the Estuary. It explores the origins of everyday ‘hocus pocus’ and the power of female wisdom – empathy, healing, intuition, conscious leadership – in discussion with women who might have been perceived as witches in the past.
There is also an historical reference point from actor and historian Chris Hudson who reveals that there’s a higher incidence of women being accused of witchcraft in the Estuary area.
The Estuary is a unique melting pot of culture, trade, landscapes, naval and merchant history (in and around the Dockyard and Chatham itself) and many of the myths are related to culture and circumstance rather than ‘witchcraft’. To this day, there are women’s networks and ‘covens’ in the area as if to formalise social groups and give them a purpose.
The film concludes that women need time and space to reclaim their inner identity like the women portrayed in the film – the elderly actress with dementia, the local businesswoman and networker, the intuition coach, the creative producer and new mother, the comedian – all have something precious to say and inner wisdom to share.