Thursday, February 11, 2010

We Strive And Strive And Then We Die

I was told the Eden story this morning. Twice, in fact. Once through LOLCats (which, if you haven’t heard of it, isn’t even English anymore but it’s own twisted subversion [and originally I meant sub – version but now I see the other word there as well and it works too] of it. An example. Genesis chapter one, verse one reads like this: Oh hai. In teh beginnin Ceiling Cat maded teh skiez An da Urfs, but he did not eated dem. 2 Da Urfs no had shapez An haded dark face, An Ceiling Cat rode invisible bike over teh waterz…and on it goes, until it hits my personal favorite of the first chapter, verse 13: An so the threeth day jazzhands.) On a bit of a side note here, since I got tangled up in parenthesis; I actually derive a great deal of pleasure from LOLCats. Now. When I first ran across the site I was horrified. I am now horrified when people use that kind of spelling in their daily lives, but a really clever LOLCats makes me laugh heartily. And reading the Bible in their language is a very entertaining experience, in short doses because after six chapters my eyes were crossing from the effort of it.

Back to my original point, and the other Eden story.

I was having brunch with one of my friends and her sister this morning when the sister told me the other Eden story, my first one of the day. We were talking about the divine feminine, and as often happens when the patriarchy of the church is brought up, the garden of Eden came into the conversation. I’ve often heard of the subjugation of women being justified because of Eve’s mistake, but the sister added a layer to that for me by telling me that serpents are ancient symbols of feminine wisdom (something I didn’t know) and she said she didn’t believe Eve was tempted by a literal apple but by wisdom, knowledge, and an increase to her natural birthright of intuition and feminine wisdom. She went on to say that she didn’t think Adam was tempted by either the apple or the wisdom inherent in it, but by woman herself…and what does that say about their relationship that he would choose Eve over God? My friend, who had been listening to this conversation silently while she ate her blueberry scone, pointed out that Adam had been lonely, had experienced loneliness – indeed, that was why Eve was there in the first place – but her sister said he also experienced daily, intimate communion with God.

The sister continued, saying that she thinks the reason men have pushed down women, denied the power of the feminine, ignored the references in the Bible to the divine feminine, is out of fear. Not a fear of a woman’s strengths. A fear that should a woman get herself into a position to make a man choose between her and God, that they wouldn’t be able to choose God any more than Adam did. A fear of their weakness.

It brought up some interesting mental fodder for me. How often our strengths become our weaknesses. The fatal flaw – the one thing that makes us a hero is the thing that will destroy us. A woman’s intuition causing a desire for more wisdom, for godhood; a man’s desire for companionship causing a turning away from God. This shows up in people all the time. I see it in manipulative women, in men who can’t settle down. Both seem opposing to the qualities of strength but they feel rooted there for me somehow.

I wonder if we seek to crush that in the other sex that makes us feel inadequate, that which shows our weaknesses and flaws; yet at the same time I think we choose mates that will trigger our insecurities and show us exactly what those flaws are, if we’re open to see them.

Do we seek a higher truth even in our subconscious? Do we seek whether we wish to or not?

As I thought about the imagery of God as female – apparently, according to my friend’s sister, Job refers to God as ‘the breasted one’, which is translated as ‘God of the Mountains’ or ‘Almighty God’ – it came to me that removing the feminine from God doesn’t remove that strength from women. It tries to remove it from God, which can’t be done. It vilifies it and makes it a sin for a woman to be a woman, to be fully feminine and powerful, it makes it wrong for a woman to not be more like a man.

We are very powerful creatures, us women.

My mom told me that when I was a girl.

At the time I didn’t really understand what was being told to me, but I had a vague idea that it had to do with our physical bodies and our ability to arouse. As I got a bit older I figured it meant that a woman’s power over men was entirely sexual, that we had something they wanted and our power came from whether we granted it or not.

Now I think it’s neither of those. Both of those. Bigger than those.

I’m still struggling to define what feminine power is, probably will be for a while as I sort through the lies and truth in my head and heart and soul; but what vague ideas I have so far tell me that yes, my body is a source of power in many ways. I can distract with it; I can give and receive pleasure; I can bear children and be the bringer of new life; but there is more. Not just my physical body has power. My internal body, my soul. My spirit and heart and mind. I am brilliant in so many ways. I feel deeply. I can heal and wound, I can speak my voice, I can move and dance and sense the power of the stars, of light over darkness, of darkness over light. I can choose. I can be a beacon of light and a harbinger of death. My body, my power, my strength, lies in far more than just sex and I am learning that slowly.

As I pondered, I wished that I had been shown this growing up, that I didn’t have to figure it out on my own, now, as an adult. I wished that being told about my feminine power hadn’t come shaded with overtones of sex, and the use of sex as power. I only got confused. Sex was bad, power was good, where did both land? Why tell me I was powerful in the only arena I wasn’t allowed to use? I wished I had been told of the aspects within me of Aphrodite and Athena, Artemis and Hera, the intuition of the Oracle, visions from the goddess, Gaia and Hestia. There are so many aspects to the powerful feminine, the divine feminine, and I am only learning about them now. I wish I had known before, instead of having to find them out on my own as I search for a vision of myself that is true and whole.

Although I might not get that whole look until I’m dead. What a fucked up faith Christianity is, huh? You strive and strive and strive and all the while you acknowledge that your striving is all in vain because you won’t achieve what you’re striving for until you die.

I don’t get it.

It sounds a bit like I’m disappointed in my mom. I’m not. I know now, in ways I could never have understood then, what her limitations were and that she did the best she could, she really did. And she is an example of the strength of woman, more so with every passing day. That strength and power was there all along – when I was growing up it was often hidden under walls of pain, pushed out in spasms of violent anger directed at her loved ones instead of at her enemies. In some ways my mother became a negative masculine force in my life through that misdirected anger and violence, because she refused to recognize the feminine in herself and she didn’t acknowledge that her voice had worth and needed – no, deserved – to be heard. I spent a chunk of the day mourning the childhood I should have had, the childhood she should have had, the lost little girls and the lost powerful young women we should have both been…the things we both should have learned the easy way, by seeing it lived, instead of the hard way of unlearning the lies and relearning the truth.

But that’s not the point. The point is that we both, my mom and I, are pushing past the lies that have been passed down to us and are finding our power, our birthright, and beginning to own it. We have finally acknowledged that our voices need to be heard, that we need to speak, that we are the reflection of the divine in all our selves, in all our femininity. And my mother is an example to me of strength – the strength it takes to heal, to grow and to forgive; to learn and relearn, and to not be afraid to teach; to ask for help and to ask for desires; to give and to receive. There is a lot there for me to gather up and claim as my own, my inheritance, and it has been hard won and I both respect it and revel in it, like the victors revel in the gory battlefield.

There is a lot of violent imagery there and I was going to say that wasn’t very feminine of me, but who the hell knows? Artemis was the goddess of both wisdom and war. Joan of Arc led thousands to victory before she was killed. There is a side to me that does revel in battle, particularly when there is a victory over an injustice, which is what I feel like my mom has fought a lot of in her life. I revel in her victory then.

Plus I’ve been playing a lot of Dragon Age and I just watched The Return of the King. Epic battles stir the blood, what can I say.

To continue. I know I already mentioned that we strive and strive and then we die, but I refuse to go along with this. I refuse to accept that I will strive for something I will never get to see. No. Fuck no. I will see my own power before I am dead. I believe that I can achieve this before the end of it all and I will see myself honest and naked and strong in all my glory.

I will.

And then I’ll probably die right away afterwards. There’s a bit of me that feels that to see that would be to see the face of God – which sounds like blasphemy, but before you haul out your lightening bolts let me explain why it feels that way to me. Because wouldn’t I then be perfectly reflecting His face? And isn’t that perfection?

So maybe I won’t arrive, but that’s not what I’m looking for. I’m simply looking to be able to live a life without fear, a life where I can accept who I am in all that I am. A life where I will no longer be afraid to succeed, where I will no longer play small.

And that, I believe, I can do.

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