Following the threads of the last few blogs, in the search to understand and bring to life my feminine, I intuitively picked up one of my reference books, “Goddesses in Everywoman” by Jean Shinoda Bolen. First published in 1984, this book speaks of the deep archetypal patterns found in women. I am wondering where the similar book is for men? (I am a big fan of Dr. Warren Farrell, and his work with men…see The Myth of Male Power…and believe that the women’s movement has created pathways for women to have choice, but men have been left behind. This may be part of the reason why male suicides are so high.)
However, male or female, I do believe we all must learn more about the feminine aspect, and I have no doubt that until the feminine is integrated into our systems in a balanced way then we will continue to create the dysfunctional models that are source for most of our global issues, such as the economy, the environment, and our energy systems.
As we are all fractals of the whole, each of us must work on the balance of our yin and yang energy, men and women both.
In the Goddess In Everywoman, I read about Artemis. Oh dear. I thought I had more of Athena’s qualities. Funny how sometimes you can look at something and just not see the truth because we don’t want to. (I was attached to Athena) Artemis….”as virgin goddess archetype represents a sense of intactness, a one-in-herselfness, an attitude of “I-can-take-care-of-myself” that allows the woman to function on her own with self-confidence and an independent spirit. This archetype enables a woman to feel whole without a man.” Hmmm…and then there is her contempt for vulnerability….”denies her own vulnerability and NEED for another.” (my capitals). Plus has the ability to go into a destructive rage. “She is more likely angry at man or men in general for depreciating her or failing to treat with respect something she values.” And then there is her inaccessibility. She can disappear, emotionally and physically. Or can be so focused on her task (arrow like precision) that she makes people in her world feel insignificant and excluded. And she can be merciless. I know all of these aspects of myself.
Working with my coach I have identified that I have a deep seated abhorrence of being needy. When I say the words, “I am needy” it makes my skin crawl. And speaking to my mother on the weekend, I asked her if I was born angry. My first words were not the usual lovely mummy, or even daddy. Apparently my first words as I rampaged down the corridor after my elder brother, were bugger bugger bugger, and then I was spitting in a continuous and directional sense. My intuition tells me that I was born angry. Pissed off at God. I am guessing that I wasn’t happy about this particular incarnation. I wanted to be someone else, or do something else…maybe hang with the angels, or something. But here I was. Not happy. And have felt this way ever since. Pissed at God. Not always, but its there deep down and does manifest as rage, from time to time…mostly when I feel useless or impotent. And I have often felt depreciated by men…it is part of our corporate culture, like it or not. It feels like I have to prove myself triple times over compared to men.
Jean Bolen then talks about the myth of Atalanta as a metaphor for psychological growth. This story really got my attention. Atalanta was a heroine whose courage and capabilities as a hunter and runner were equal to any man’s. She decided that she was going to choose the man she would marry by asking them to compete with her in a footrace. Any man who could beat her would become her husband. If he lost, he would forfeit his life. (High stakes, not unlike the perils of rejection men still go through to get a mate.) Many races were held, and Atalanta won them all. Finally, the unathletic Hippomenes, who truly loved her, decided to enter. The night before he prayed to the goddess of love, Aphrodite (Venus). She heard him and gave him three golden apples, which he was to throw down one by one, during the race.
Apple 1. The awareness of time passing.
When Atalanta stopped to pick up this apple, she saw herself reflected, distorted by the curves of the apple. She saw herself as old. This got her to thinking about the time that was passing, and her youth that was slipping away. Where was her life disappearing to? And what did the future hold for her?
Ok..so this is close to the bone. With my 50th Birthday in a few weeks, I am knee deep in time/age/speed of life/were am I? Plus I look back at these last 10 years, and the article I wrote when I turned 40, about how life doesn’t work out how we expect, and some of the disappointments I have had…and the joys….and I am aware that I am still angry at God. And I feel trapped in this life. I want it to look different, to feel different. I want to feel ease, and joy, and flow, and connection. Instead I mostly feel struggle, and hard, and like Sisyphis, pushing that eternal rock up hill. Ashtara, astrologer mother, tells me that this feeling is ‘normal’ for a chiron return that occurs at the 50 year mark. Normal or not, it is a muddy place.
Apple 2. Awareness of the importance of love.
As she stopped to retrieve the second apple, memories of her previous love, Meleagar, arose in her. When this combination of time passing and the awareness of the importance of love are awakened, an Artemis woman begins to question her solitary state.
Now this really caught my breath. After having done the work with my coach to uncover my skin-crawling dislike of being needy, to even contemplate that I may need a man in my life is very hard to do. Yet somewhere, buried deep under layers of self protection, I sense the truth of this. To be loved and held fondly. Also to admit that I have jealously for the couples I know who have an incredible partnership. And for those couples who have created together a life that allows them the ease of mutual support. This I miss the most…the true partnership of support. Life has felt hard as a single mother, single woman.
Apple 3. Creativity…either as procreation, or as giving birth to some form of personal expression.
The final apple cause Atalanta to lose the race to Hippomenes. This apple caused Atalanta to connect with her urge to create.
As an already deeply creative person, I had to sit with this one. Barbara Marx Hubbard talks about supra sex as the creative urge that lives above and beyond sex. The urge to co-join with another, or others, to give birth to something greater than self. I am doing this with my team in The Constellation.
According to Jean Shinoda Bolen, if the knowledge of Aphrodite is brought through the love of another person, then an Artemis woman’s one sidedness, however satisfying it has been, may give way to the possibility of wholeness.
Here I am, opening myself to the possibility that I need to open myself to….an intimate relationship…bugger….it comes down to this?
And then there is my long term friend Pauline who talks to me about stillness..and sitting and doing nothing. Now this theme has been a big theme this week. If God were sending me messages, stillness is one of them. There was a conversation about doing vipassana, and sitting in stillness for 10 days…you have to be kidding?…I would go mad…being still for 10 days….then followed by a conversation with Susan Taylor from Generon, about a 7 day Vision quest in the forest, where, wait for it…you sit still for 7 days…and then Pauline, “stop doing, doing doing, and be still”…and then to really put a spanner in the works, I am driving home from a swim session, and the car in front of me has a number plate that reads.. STILL! Ok, ok, I hear you. Be still.
How does one be still? Back to Warren Farrell. He is talking about Yoda, my most favourite animated film character (other than the Scrat from Ice Age…the creature who is forever chasing the hazelnut.) Yoda, the Jedi master, is teaching Luke to be a Jedi. You bring the force into you first and then you do. The force guides your sword. With the force you can be blindfolded, devoid of normal senses. The force of course, is the feminine. The receptive, open, intuitive, flow state. This metaphor I can get. It is beautiful, and represents everything I would like to become. A Jedi knight.
Presently I am more like the Scrat….chasing, chasing chasing with complete focus, blocking all other things out, including the force, after the eternal and forever out-of-reach… hazelnut.
And my favourite quote from Yoda…
No…try not… do or do not…there is no try…
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