Right now I'm feeling very sad ... it's been a long tough week and a few things have made me rather flat by the end of it. I'm trying not to be so affected, but in truth it's all making me question it all.
After the fire meditation with Brighid's Spear I was flung headlong into a fiery situation of my own. As I often do I posted, via my Facebook page, an article written by someone else not me. I echoed the sentiments that I too find it hard to speak up when I feel some one close to me or an acquaintance is acting in a way I personally feel to be sexist or demeaning to women. Then, proving my point as to why it's so hard to do this, a male friend made a rather daft, but insulting comment. He had completely and deliberately ignored the point of my post and the article. Because he was a friend and someone who I respect I queried his comment privately and gained his response before adding my reply in public view. I then reiterated strongly why I felt that his comment (and incidentally the pictures he was fond of posting, you know the ones, naked women draped over car bonnets with stupid comments attached) were inappropriate in my view and contributing to the ongoing difficulties that women have in this world.
I got the highly unoriginal, patronising and discrediting "calm down, dear" as a response, the one used frequently by gaslighters. I replied to that also and got the hissy fit, rattle out of pram, baby out with bathwater reaction, so I obviously touched a nerve with a tiny element of home truth. I then also got the text message telling me to "drown in your own self satisfying superior smugness of moral high ground", then got baited on his Facebook page with posts such as "Don't be sexist, bitches hate that" and then defriended.
I am shocked and stunned ... this is one of the good guys. I had chosen not to comment on his naked pictures of women, but he brought his "sense of humour" to my page and I said why I though it wasn't funny. This was a general post, with a genuine enquiry at heart, since over the years I do find it hard to have personal disagreement, his reaction being one case in point as to why.
I pondered for a long while on the fire I had found my self burning in, that fire of being disagreed with and disapproved of ... the fire that Brighid brought to me. Owning my own voice has been a long journey for me. Growing up with having your personal opinions and questions overridden by a family whose life is run by a patriarchal religions leaves very little room for self confidence. The voice becomes quieter, only having the strength to burst forth in "back against the wall" anger. So over the years I've worked hard to regain my confidence and speak my truth. When that truth is in disagreement to others I have found it much easier if those others are strangers. So I worked on that too, eventually finding my voice with female friends. Until this last week I have still found it hard to have that personal confrontation or even mild differing of opinion with male friends. I bite my tongue and internally back down. It's not that I couldn't say my stuff, it was the guilt, worry and fear of disapproval that used to sit inside me like an angry, anxious stone afterwards.
So I sat in the fire, the uncomfortable fire of knowing someone who could have a knock on affect to my world and social circle was this angry with me. The fire of transformation. And for once I have no guilt ... not a shred of it about my words. Just an overwhelming sense of sadness. I had broken through a personal barrier, there was to be no back tracking, but it doesn't feel like a victory though. It feels as though I have shed a skin and am feeling rather raw.
I feel also as though I have lost a friend, due to his over reaction. I would have happily disagreed, said my bit and then shared a cuppa. But sadly it's not to be. This man, a gentle, loving man, is probably just conditioned by "the norm" to see certain images as harmless or funny, and no matter how much I pointed out that a painting of a headless female body being taken from behind was sending damaging messages to young girls about themselves and of women, and to young boys and men, like my son, he couldn't see it. I still believe that one persons view of humour is just the tip of the iceberg in a whole gender's ongoing battle against the sexualisation of girls and pornification of women. He now believes I'm a crazy who needs to calm down.
So that was last weekend. I don't know what happened on the inner planes when I let go of something in myself, by being okay in that fire of disapproval. What did that spearhead unleash ... a warrior woman's weapon, not to be held in the hand, but to sit around my neck, my throat, my words, my voice.
This week has seen yet more happenings ... As one situation unfolded into another my sadness has become overwhelming. I have been messed around several times by a vague male acquaintance who obviously feels I have nothing better to do than sit on the other end of the phone for days at his beck and call, he's happy to cancel appointments after they are supposed to happen then remake and repeat, that kind of thing. Then another friend of a friend saw fit to tell me a sick paedophile joke whilst trying to prove that the kind of "juvenile titty humour" displayed at the Oscars, (in which actresses were humiliated by "we saw your boobs" including some of the boobs we did see we saw because the actresses were portraying scenes of rape or violence), is okay and actually cleverly funny. Then I had my email account hacked and dodgy emails sent to friends, then I received, completely unrelated to the email hacking, two stupid sexual harassment phone calls and finally been told I'm probably a Satanist and definitely a feminist by the father of my son.
Last night I felt so tired and weary of it all, felt like this barrage of masculine fuelled crap was just flying my way through the ether to me. I'm even sad now because thinking about it, some of my male friends who, one on one, will say they disagree with sexism, see how hard it is for women sometimes, but will never say a thing about it when it's right in front of them and even look the other way, beyond an opinion, when it goes on, leaving women to battle it on their own. I can't lie ... I feel let down, baffled, frustrated, betrayed and just so sad. This morning I've wept. I don't mean a little tear out the corner of my eye ... I mean wept. I don't want men to be an endless disappointment to me. I want to love them, laugh with them, ask their advice, lean on their strength, be inspired by them, be vulnerable around them, let them be vulnerable around me and I want to be able to respect their wisdom and their values. But right now I get why some women retreat into a women's only commune. The world is harsh, and if you stick your head above the parapet it get's a whole lot nastier.
And yes I know this is only some men ... I'm not having a go at the truly wonderful men in the world, I'm not even having ago at the men who are just as confused or moulded by the ingrained patriarchal culture as I am, I'm not even having a go at the men who are out and out misogynists, too tired for that this morning, but why are voices like Yashir Ali's so rare? Right now I'm just done in, okay. Forgive me.
As I sit here with my beautiful son, who is a little wise warrior at thirteen, is a bundle of raucous masculinity and has a growing awareness of the wonders of woman, I am saddened by the media role models he has and the unfair world he has to be in. I want him to have honest and balanced relationships. I don't want women like me to misjudge and mistrust him. I don't want him to have to man up to be in with the crowd. I want him to be free to be who he is in all his love, all his creativity, all his strengths and all his weaknesses. I want him to be able to have friendships with women where there is not a single part of him that feels guilt or shame for being male.
For the last week I've also questioned the place of feminism in my life. Does it have a place on my path as it begins to unfold into that of a priestess and shamanka? Should I just delve deeper into my role in women's spirituality and health, and stop voicing my thoughts about the injustices in the world? Women's rights after all seems to get peoples backs up in way that children's rights or saving the planet doesn't. I could bang on all day about fairtrade and other things and not have people take me to task. Don't get me wrong I'm not even going on and on about women's rights, just the odd comment or odd post, but women's rights and feminism seems to trigger a reaction in some men and in some women as well. You can almost hear their minds invoking images of male hating harridans. I for one do not hate men. I love the men in my life. I love the men of the world. I birthed one and I love him, love him, love him with all my heart. What a joy and gift. He has taught me so much. I love his energy and vigour, his raw masculinity and strength, his different perspective and radiant confidence.
I have pondered and prayed about this dilemma looking for an answer. I've sat and contemplated some male archetypes and aspects of male divinity in my search for some guidance. Eventually it was the figure of Jesus, and his love and respect for the Magdalen that came through. I was shown his treatment of her as an equal, his admiration for her as priestess and teacher and his pure, protective love for her as a man to woman. A beautiful soul and a wonderful, wise man.
Then this morning the postman brought me a book ... Merlin Stone's "When God Was A Woman" ... it was the subtitle that caught my eye ... "the landmark exploration of the ancient worship of the Great Goddess and the eventual suppression of women's rites"
There it is. That's how I feel. It's what I know in my bones. It is what the Goddess has shown me too. There is no feisty feminism on one hand and the "never the twain shall meet" Goddess love in the other. It is is part of the same. For the Divine Feminine to rise there has to be actual reclamation of women's rights. There has to be an active voice. When the Goddess became suppressed, women became demeaned and degraded and the Earth became abused and uncared for. All the same thing. No separation. The force of the feminine is rising and it will rise in spirituality, in looking after our planetary home and in the fair and just treatment of women in the world. For that to happen we have to be active in all three. We see the reflection of one in the other.
So as much as I'm sad and I'm so exhausted, gone is the moment of self doubt. I will gather again and rally forth in service to the sacred feminine. I humbly hope I learn to use my words well, with care, caution and compassion. I'm sure I could wield them better with more wisdom, I readily admit that. I have to say though, I'm kind of wishing Brighid had seen fit to give a me a bloomin' suit of armour as well as a spearhead.
The Dreadess xx