Sarah's Blog

Goddesses . . . and not

Many of topics want out of my brain: this year’s gardening, teaching tales, responses to novels, and many more.  Getting my first leg and bikini wax (at grandmother age), however, is my latest adventure.  Think about the position a woman assumes in order to let the aesthetician rip out the pubic hair.  In Yoga, they call it the Goddess Pose. To me, the posture seems awfully submissive, especially when I am trying to be less like a marshmallow and more like  Kali (Hindu) and Vajrayogini (Buddhist).

 Considered violently compassionate, they kill the ego in order to lead us to enlightenment, and these two figures seem to be the same. The ego  is the part of us that wants to be separate from everyone else, that part of us that does not want to be part of the Tao, the Universal Mind, God, etc.  The ego wants to be one shining drop of water instead of the whole ocean; it is the part of us that wants to be good, bad, the best, the worst–separate.  As far as the goddesses go, additional research may show whether anything more than the names change between the two traditions.  While you are waiting or searching for that information, however, you might enjoy these pictures.  Look how happily Vajrayogini  dances with her necklace of skulls.

Buddhist ego killerHappy to kill the ego

Revised from Tricycle caption.

  See how Kali sticks her tongue out at anyone who tries to understand her.  Look carefully:

She kills our notions of separateness.

Hindu image of the happy ego killer.

 On the western side, the Greek Goddess Athena represents wisdom as well as war.  If you are familiar with The Iliad, you know that Athena supported her favorites in the Trojan War.  All of the Greek gods and goddesses took sides, but Athena was quite fierce on the proud Achilles’ behalf. (stay tuned for picture).  The Israelites were wandering around in the desert around the time of the Trojan war (or around the time Homer’s poem was being performed), and some of the Jewish women were bold.  Consider Judith and her murder of Holofernes.  She saved her people by first drugging him, then driving a tent peg through his head and  cutting herself a trophy. ( This story is in the book of Judith, which is in the  Apocrypha and described as an addition to the book of Esther. )

European view of Judith and H.

Judith and Holofernes  as imagined in 1530

By the time folks became Christians, however,  the women excelled at suffering. Of course, that may be inaccurate or unfair or both. Still, the photo below is Donatello’s sculpture of Mary Magdalene in the desert.  She is certainly not a physical warrior.

Mary Magdalene

One image of suffering by Donatello (Mary Magdalen in the Desert)

Saint Joan of Arc subverts the weak sister paradigm, but look what happened to her.

Rossetti's Joan at prayer

Joan of Arc by Rossetti

Sculpture of the dying Joan

Sculpture of Joan. Suffering as an object of devotion

This year I  realized that my personal “goddesses” represent the ego—two sides of which are the Should Bird that sits on one shoulder and tells us what to do and the Shit Bird that sits on the other shoulder and screams, “Not Good Enough!  Not Good Enough!”  You know them, right?

Before I knew the bitches were parts of my own ego, I wrote stories about two of them.   Witchy Poo  is my internal editor.  She yells at me for being self indulgent.  Mrs. Blutmore, a giant rabbit with sharp teeth, is mad because I ignored my imagination for many years and still don’t make time to write stories.  Baba Yaga, a deadly witch in the Russian tradition is a fairy tale favorite.  Very wise and powerful, she kills anyone who is dishonest or stupid.

When I started this post in May, all of this goddess and ego business frustrated me, so I went to my place of peace:  a neglected flower border.  Digging in the dirt beats thinking any day.  Here is  the first  garden picture of 2014:

how I spent my hour off

Sweet William Survived winter in the nursery pack.

Now it is July and I am still playing around with this very first post that now may need its own page and a bibliography. What do you think about goddesses and ego?  How much would you rather create something with your hands?

 

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