Last October, a weekend before the election, 400 women gathered in Palm Desert, California, near Joshua Tree, to meet, camp, eat, talk, dance, and do yoga for three days and two nights, completely isolated from men. MOTHERSHIP’s first annual women’s festival created a spiritual feminist sanctuary that was all too short-lived—a rare opportunity for anyone who identified as a woman to come together for intentional intermingling. Ideas, conversations, songs, and connections were made easier by the campfire atmosphere and interactive workshops. Meanwhile, musical performances and dance parties went into the night, with the artists and DJs carefully handpicked for the hundreds of women bonding in the desert. So when Donald Trump took office just days after they all left the very essence of a safe space, the festival community’s conversations—both virtually and in real life—were populated by the sentiment, “I wish I never left MOTHERSHIP.” Now, at least, they can make plans to come back.
MOTHERSHIP, created by Los Angeles-based therapist Laura Wise, is returning for its second year October 15 to 17, and Wise is ready to add to the existing community.
“We all marched earlier this year, and we had this really amazing experience,” Wise says of the Women’s March in January. “A lot of things I heard, was that it ‘felt so safe.’ The connection changes when you’re in an all-female space, and I think we got a real taste of what that connection and what that motion could look like. And all I could think was, Wow, I can’t wait to see these women at MOTHERSHIP. This is so MOTHERSHIP. I think after that march, it was like, ‘What’s next?’ MOTHERSHIP is next.”
Similar festivals have certainly existed—music offerings like Lilith Fair and Ladyfest (or, more recently, Girl Cult), or camp-outs such as the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival—but are now either defunct, open to the public (meaning men come, too), aren't multi-day sleepovers, or have been plagued by transphobic history. MOTHERSHIP is different and seeks to provide an experience more akin to Burning Man in a way, a festival which Wise attended and found elements to incorporate (“and not incorporate”) from into her self-funded endeavor.