It's an idea I've been pondering since early this year - one of those concepts that seemed like a casual curiosity, but kept circling back, bumping into me by accident, until with crashing force and emotion it became an epiphany - the answer to years of dis-integration, confusion, and unacknowledged mourning.
It began with a little piece I wrote about Bridget back at the end of January, and then never published for Imbolc because it seemed overly wordy and pedantic. Tucked into my research was the mention that she seemed to be a Celtic version of the goddess Athena... a name that shows up frequently in my kids' vocabulary, thanks to their fascination with Greek mythology. Finally, I read a little more, and found a description of Athena's attributes:
- spinner, weaver
- patron of arts and craftsmanship
- warrior and strategist
- diplomat and peacemaker
- wise intellectual
- protector and shrewd helper of heroes
Now I don't have any particular attachment to the figure of Athena as deity, or even to New Age goddess terminology, but the idea that a woman could BE all of these things - fully, simultaneously, without irony or incongruity, is powerfully liberating.
There are so many messages in modern society - even in pop psychology, about being One Thing. Discover it, label it, celebrate it, pick up a few hobbies to earn the term "well-rounded", but one's essential being is assumed to be unidirectional, to represent a cluster of closely related attributes.
Are you empathic, kind, compassionate? Then that white-hot ball of anger in your belly has no validity, except as a symptom. Fix it, heal it, excise or repress it... you can not be fierce and compassionate, a nurturer and a warrior.
Spinner/dyer/knitter/weaver? Understandable as a hobby, a stress reliever, but as an identity and passion co-existing with "serious" intellectual or world-changing pursuits? Incongruous, perhaps even a little embarrassing.
Jane Brocket's blog post a little while ago alluded to this issue - remember the backlash that happened when she published The Gentle Art of Domesticity? Women with rigorous intellects and laudable ambitions don't elaborately decorate cupcakes, do they? Or if they do, they really ought to keep it discretely within the kitchen, rather than writing books about it.
The split happens in so many ways: men's work vs. women's work, intellect vs. intuition, active vs. passive, imagination vs. logic, healing vs. fighting, thinking vs. doing, domestic vs. worldly, maternal vs. ambitious.
What strengths might we discover if we came to terms with inner diversity?