The Goddess Path  Issue #21

A Voice of Her Own

September, 2004


This Issue: Table of Contents

A Woman's Voice
Telling the Truth
The Greek Goddess Arachne
Sages Warriors Wearing Sensible Shoes
Gratitude and the Glass Goddess


A Woman's Voice

In the course of my long and uneven slouch toward wisdom, there have been a few lessons, the themes of which have been so consistently the same that I tend to regard think of them as being The Truth (at least I would if I were prone to think in capitals). One such lesson is: Women have a voice of their own and need to learn to use it.

The average adult male uses 12,000 words a day. His wife uses 25,000! No wonder men complain "she talks too much"--they get home from work and he's already used 11,973 and she's just getting started!

The reality is that women are hard-wired to speak, spending more time in the right side of the brain, the side that specializes in feelings, intuition, sensitivity, relationships, and verbal skills. From the day of birth girls lip muscles move more. By the age of four, boys have caught up and make the same number of vocalizations as girls, but there is a big difference: nearly 100% of the young girl's vocalizations are words, the vast majority expressing social relationship, while only 60% of a little boy's vocalizations are actually meant to communicate--the rest are "action-sounds", rhhmm-rhhmm goes the toy car, POW!, etc.

Somewhere in girlhood most women learn to be polite, "socially acceptable", if not downright conciliatory in what they say.  A girl becomes adept at saying what she believes other want to hear rather than expressing a difference of opinion, never mind risking bad feelings caused by boldly stating the "unvarnished truth".

One of the reasons that women treasure the time spent in the company of their women friends is that it provides an opportunity to "tell it like it is" from a woman's point of view. In contrast to male-dominated groups which tend to be task-oriented and hierarchical, in gatherings of women laughter, creativity, and playfulness are highly prized.

Note: It's been over a year since the "Women and Humor" issue. If you're a recent subscriber (or if you could use an uplifting "refresher course"), use this link: Women's Humor


There are many other ways women have of expressing what is on their minds, ways that are predominantly, if not uniquely, female—judgments that are conveyed in gossip, withholding (whether through “punishing silence” or using the Lysistrata strategy of denying sex or affection, for example),  or, as my granny used to say, simply “loving it to death” with kind persistence keeping the focus on the issues of the heart.

In an essay titled “My Soldier” in the Essence of Life magazine, Janice Willis Barnett tells the story of taking her nephew to join his reserve unit to report for active duty the day after his graduation from college. She said not one word about our policy in Iraq, expressed no opinion about the rights or wrongs of it, no pronouncements, not a single word writ large, yet . . . how provocative it was, how moving. Love, familial pride, hope and an awful, fearsome dread were all there in one brief, simple, but eloquent call to action:

“If my soldier is sent to Iraq and comes back in a coffin or with an arm, a leg, an eye missing, or worse, I want the whole world to see what has happened to him. I want the guts of the complacent and the unconcerned to wrench.”

And so it is.


Telling the Truth

If her life unfolds on the typical” schedule, it is in the later, postmenopausal years, when she has become a “crone”, that a woman naturally “finds” her voice. In the mythology of many cultures the “spider goddess” carries many of the distinguishing traits of the crone.

The crone may be many things, but she is certainly a weaver, sitting at her loom conjuring up dreams, weaving them into the web with a wit that refuses to take seriously the pompous politician, the arrogant academic drowning in analysis, or the small mind that is loaded with self-righteous indignation.

Making a habit of telling the truth is not for the faint of heart. Knowing when and where to do it is a rather tricky business, as a few goddesses learned to their peril. The one best known for telling the truth is the Greek goddess Arachne. 


Arachne, The Goddess Who Became the First Spider

Arachne, who was the world's first spider, was originally a young mortal, daughter of a shepherd famous for the beautiful wools that he dyed purple. Gifted in the art of weaving,
Arachne became famous for her excellent tapestries, but was too proud to admit she had
once been in the inferior position of being a student, insisting that she was a better weaver than the Greek Goddess Athena, the goddess who once been her teacher. Proud of her skills, she issued a challenge to Athena to a contest to prove who had the
greater talent.

The two immediately set to weaving, both creating tapestries that were equally beautiful and flawless. Athena's design depicting the glory of the gods and goddesses and Arachne's illustrating stories of the gods' less honorable moments, including depictions of the various seductions and infidelities of Athena's father, Zeus.

Athena flew into a rage at this display of irreverance, slapping Arachne's face and tearing her tapestry into shreds. Realizing that she, even though truthful,  had perhaps gone a bit too far, Arachne fell into despair and committed suicide by hanging herself.

As an archetype, Athena is superbly rational and often out of touch with her own feelings, consequently she often remains unmoved by the emotional states of others. The Goddess Athena was actually surprised by Arachne’s suicide. It upset her greatly for she had not meant for things to go that far.

So she granted Arachne immortal life, but as a spider, doomed to hang and weave her beautiful tapestries forever.

To read the entire story of Arachne click the link below:
Arachne 


Sage Warriors Wearing Sensible Shoes

From time immemorial women have dared to speak out for peace and justice, fighting against death, destruction, poverty and oppression. Women often voice their protest in ways that are especially humanizing and life-affirming, and often distinctly feminine. 

While vacationing in Canada last month, I learned about a group of women who have become famous social activists who have been described as older women with "wild hats, cheeky songs, and witty actions for a better world". These are ladies who make the world their business, confronting thoughtlessness, greed, and the abuse of power wherever they find it.

The 'Raging Grannies' formed in Victoria, British Columbia, in 1987. Since that time numerous other groups have arisen in Canada, the US, UK, and around the globe. In Greece they call themselves the Furies instead.

The original Grannies never intended to be an "official" group; they were simply a group of friends who wanted to make their local member of parliament pay attention to their concerns about the lack of a civil emergency preparedness plan should a nuclear accident occur during one of the visits of US warships and submarines to the military base nearby.

Planning to meet with the minister to voice their concerns, they anticipated that they would likely be discounted and ignored,  as older women, wrapped in the mantle of social "invisibility", so often are. They decided to make their visit, well, memorable.


Dressing up as somewhat dowdy, but definitely proper, "little old ladies" in hats and gloves and a few walking with canes, they descended on the minister's office on February 14. They present him with an "Un-Valentine" featuring a broken heart and a serenaded him, singing fervently, and off-key, that he was breaking their hearts "with his lack of commitment and action of nuclear issues.

A few weeks later they were back in Parliament, this time armed with laundry baskets loaded with “briefs” they wished to present to the ministers.

To the delight of the media and the audiences that witnessed their antics, they didn't stop there. They went on with their street-theater tatics, boldly challenging the "powers that be" on a broad range of major social issues.


Unremittingly cheerful, these spirited women became a persistent nuisance, folk heroes standing with courageous irreverence in the face of authority. Just imagine the consternation of officials when these “little old ladies” appeared in their midst, dressed in outrageous outfits, smiling brightly, and satirizing them in song to the accompaniment of drumming with a wooden spoon on pots and pans!

What’s a security guard to do? Grab the pepper spray? Throw a granny to the ground?

If there is any doubt about the extent of their impact, just consider that they were effective enough to make it onto the government's list of terrorist groups that might pose a threat (albeit a low level one) to the APEC summit meeting in 1999. In response to a front page article on the security report titled "Raging Grannies: A Public Enemy?", the daughter of one of the Grannies wrote a tongue-in-cheek letter to the editor saying:

"I feel it my civic duty to identify one of the 'anti-Canadians'. That's my mother, the second terrorist on the left, the 72 year-old in the blue and white shawl. I sympathize with the military, for I also have felt threatened--since my teens--by her singing in public."

No doubt about it! These are women refusing to bow to the stereotype. They have vowed to speak the truth, and they have done so with inventiveness and humor. You can read more about the grannies at Raging Grannies 


Spinning A World of Peace

Her marvelous instinct for survival comes from the gut level. She has solved the problem of needing by needing very little and wanting even less. Possessions mean little to the true truth-teller, she has pared her life down to the minimum. Like a spider she will be found in the corners, refusing to sit at the table of envy and greed.

She's not naive. She doesn't expect miracles, just a goodly measure of truth and beauty. She prays for peace but does not expect it. She hopes for love but doesn't bet on it and can do quite well without it. She speaks for harmony among people, all the while knowing how distant is that reality.

But, whatever she senses is vibrating through the web, she will speak. She is a weaver of possibilities, a teller of truths that are too often avoided.


 Attitude of Gratitude 

Thanks to all of you for making the introduction of the Glass Goddess Collection a big success.

 We've just knew that you'd love having a goddess to hold in your hands!

(And extra appreciation for those who waited patiently for us to backorder the Psyche pendants when we sold out.)

Looks like the glass goddess and the pendants are going to be a “keeper”!

Use the link below to view the entire:
Glass Goddess Collection

   

Special thanks to Connie for writing to let us know that the translucent pendants make gorgeous suncatchers. She hangs her Demeter pendant on the rear view mirror and says it gives her “peacefulness and serenity” while fighting the traffic on her way to work. When she gets there she dons it to grace her outfit as she dashes in to the office. She says it “supercharges” her with goddess energy to face the grueling day ahead.

Click below to read the monthly progress report:
Blog


In closing, a reminder to...

Find your voice and speak out, with love in your heart.

Sharon

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