April 14, 2019

{Goddess Journey} Part Two


Sharing another section from the Goddess Journey chapter of my book-in-progress, A Memory of Love: The Spiritual Mission of a Princess.

 The Reappearing Goddess

“In the middle of the 1970s,” a decade before most of the world became aware of Lady Diana Spencer—and before she added her own ‘goddess’ essence to modern culture“a paradigm shift took place, partly inspired by the rapid development of the women’s movement,” wrote Lanier Graham. The author of Goddesses told of various books of the time that “revolutionized how people looked at the roots of their spiritual heritage.”

Before books like The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe by archaeologist Marija Gimbutas and When God Was a Woman by art historian Merlin Stone, then later in 1987, a heralded game-changer, The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler, “history textbooks had been stating or implying that the male had always been dominant in Western theology.” The consciousness-shifting winds of the more open-minded Aquarian Age were blowing through—energies we saw in the social upheavals of the 1960s and ‘70s—and a truer history of women was being revealed. “Western culture had been dominated by the male-oriented values of Indo-European culture for so long that it took a social revolution—the women’s movement—to start to bring it into balance,” explained Graham.

Discoveries in archaeology, studies in mythology, scholars of social history and linguistics were finding that “goddess cultures tended to be egalitarian, earth-centered, and nonviolent,” and these findings were then being taught in colleges and universities. “The image of the earth as sacred and society as balanced between male and female,” Graham wrote in 1997, “has become a powerful inspiration to people in the women’s movement, the ecology movement, and many other new ways of thinking.”

Joseph Campbell reminded us: “The goddess represents nature. The god represents society. And when you have a mythology that accents a god over a goddess you have a religion that accents society over nature. Then with the Fall, nature itself is cursed.” As we felt these goddess nudges in the first years of the twenty-first century, it was only natural that women and family issues of health and well-being and concerns about the environment were in the headlines. (Our Mother Earth, after all, is metaphorically represented by women’s bodies.) “There is something coming up in our own consciousness now, with the ecology movement,” Campbell wrote over fifty years ago, “recognizing that by violating the environment in which we are living, we are really cutting off the energy and the source of our own living.” It is this “sense of accord” that is so disrupted today. No wonder humans are so out-of-sorts; they have not been in accord with themselves, their very nature, since this break in consciousness. No wonder with the power of this reappearing goddess energy that so much fear-based, women-bashing backlash has been stirred up!

I had a real-life experience of this years ago, and a reflection of the hateful conflicts now on the rise today. In the late 1990s, a friend and I went on a day-long road trip from Atlanta to Huntsville, Alabama, to see an exhibit at the Space Center, where neither of us had ever visited. We turned off the expressway and while driving through the rural countryside, I saw a sign with huge, hand-painted letters; it was like a punch in the gut similar to what I felt on November 9, 2016. The message read: “FATHER CHURCH, YES. MOTHER NATURE, NO.”

That seems to sum up this violent backlash coming at us today, as I sit here writing in 2018—with the toxic masculine and the dark feminine trying to destroy the “mother” in all of us, the nurturing spirit of humanity, the health and well-being of our life-sustaining home, our sacred mother, our “Mother Earth.”

Lanier Graham gives us this history, writing at the end of the twentieth century:

...a few thousand years ago many goddess-oriented civilizations were destroyed by extremely aggressive Indo-European tribes. They demolished the old cities and then reconfigured civilization throughout most of the settled world from Greece to India. These barbarians worshipped aggressive sky gods and had scant room in their theology for goddesses; to them, women were little more than property and sexual objects. Not only did male gods become supreme, but females lost their sacredness, in a dramatic turning-around in human history that my friend Joseph Campbell called the ‘patriarchal inversion.’ It was even argued by some fathers of the early Christian Church in Rome that women had no souls. Twentieth-century men have at last started to realize that when males lost their reverence for that which is female, they also lost something within themselves.

The grasping, last-gasp obscenities of this “patriarchal inversion” were on display in the dignified halls of the United States Senate Building in Washington D.C. in the autumn of 2018 when leering, screeching white men defended their outdated network of cruelty and cronyism—no matter the cost or number of souls squandered—against one lone, brave woman speaking her truth. (And whether anyone was aware or not, she was representing the goddess spirit in us all.) This cowardly mischief was cheered on by a president whose motto seems to come directly from Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s patched-together monster, as written by Mary Shelley two-hundred years ago: “If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear.”

This is what happens when humanity is disconnected from the “spiritual feminine,” Jim Fitzgerald wrote in “The Death of the Heart,” his essay for When a Princess Dies. “Since Reformation times, there has been a dearth of religious imagery, particularly of women, through which both men and women might maintain a connection to the spiritual feminine.” What imagery that remained left “a divine King but no Queen” in both the consciousness and unconsciousness of men and women. This created a split, according to Fitzgerald, as the feminine spirit became an object of “the rational mind”—and its profane opinions and deprived thoughts. “This split—of mind from matter, of spirit from nature—has continued to the present.” However, when he wrote this at the time of Diana’s death, near the end of a millennium, Fitzgerald was among many who sensed things were changing. “The values of the heart, not those of the mind, have begun to be sought after and appreciated. A new relationship to the Earth and Nature is growing. We are witnessing a change of heart.” 

The rise of Trumpery—and the hate it stands for and the “loss of soul” it reveals—is a desperate strike against this new heart energy. “I think it was this that Diana, as a woman of the times, equally a sufferer from the ills and neuroses of modern life, it was this new heart that she represented,” Fitzgerald added. And it is this “new heart”—a sacred calling of the “spiritual feminine”—that Diana and Charles’ sons inherited and now speak its message, as well as live its values, from their spot-lit world stage. These are aware, awakening men—who attracted and married aware, awake women—and they are rallying the “new heart” troops, encouraged along by the reemerging goddess consciousness their mother helped crack open!

I think of Diana and her sons when I read lines from a Sharon Olds’ poem about feeling less raw after experiencing such heartache, “as if some goddess of humanness within us caressed us with a gush of tenderness.”


[Glorious Inanna,” third and final section of this goddess-focused chapter, posted soon.]

March 24, 2019

{Goddess Journey} - Part One


This is the first of three excerpts from the Goddess Journey chapter of my book-in-progress (tentatively titled) A Memory of Love: The Spiritual Journey of a Princess. Enjoy....xo 

GODDESS JOURNEY 
{Part One}
“Diana was an ascendant female,” explained Jungian scholar Josephine Evetts-Secker, “who could flout both the patriarchy and matriarchal order, fulfilling and negating feminist ideals; lauded as independent woman by some and by others castigated as a Barbie-doll princess.” Naturally charismatic with star quality, Diana attracted a variety of stars from the entertainment worldElton John, Pavarotti and Freddie Mercury (there’s a story of Diana going clubbing, in disguise, with Queen's lead singer and his pals)—just as she befriended well-known people who were “aspirants to justice” like Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa. Writing in her essay “The People’s Princess,” Evett-Secker continued: “She bridged the glittery world of fashion and the seat of Establishment power. She was as much the female trickster as goddess; so seen, so mysterious, hiding quixotically behind apparent transparency; unconsciously manipulating concealment and revelations, echoing archaic mystery conventions.” 

Like many scholars from the Jungian school of thought, Evetts-Secker compared Diana to various goddess archetypes. To Aphrodite, who “dissolved resistance” and inspired a dynamic of “an ancient strategy, through love to power.” To “girlish Persephone” because of Diana’s playfulness while tiptoeing around danger, and to Demeter as “the raging mother protecting her sons from public assault by those who wanted to peddle their images.”

As a daughter, sister, friend, bride, princess, wife, mother, divorcĂ©e, lover, fashion-plate, healer and ambassador, Diana’s life stages, her womanly rites of passages, were lived out in a world arena for all to see. And since her life was and still is examined like few others, its complexity offers an intriguing milieu, connecting the spirit of all women. “Diana was a divided, unhappy and bewildered Princess,” Evett-Secker added, “as well as an ebullient beauty, graceful, opulent and full of vivid, if vulnerable and threatened, life.”

Or as counselor Steffan Vanel stated in his book, Charles and Diana, An Inside Story: An Astrological-Karmic View: “Diana embodied a complexity of contradictions which would enable virtually everyone to see and hear their own story or agenda in her life.” Diana’s contradictions were indeed our own. 

Ann Shearer, writing through a Jungian lens about her observances of Diana’s memorial service, noted the paradoxical images used about the late princess, from powerful goddess to helpless victim. “And here is a central paradox: the forces of unity that ‘Diana’ became grew the stronger for the very complexity of contradictions she contained. As we learned more of her real and fictitious selves,” Shearer continued in her “Tales of the Unfolding Feminine” essay, “and the legends around her grew, she carried for us an incontestable truth: that we humans must struggle with a mass of inconsistencies within ourselves and somehow learn to honour them.”

Another Jungian analyst, Ian Alister, shared this take in his essay “Your Cheating Heart” from When A Princess Dies: 

An extraordinary feature of Diana’s life, from her engagement to her death, was the extent of public exposure, providing many personal details and characteristics which could act as pegs for our own individual projections. It had all the qualities of a soap opera except that this was real. We could watch this drama which involved the suffering and sacrifice of a person who carries a symbolic charge for most of us, whether consciously or not. We can feel it, think about it, and try to relate it to continuous psychological processes within us. To make sense of it in this way, to give it meaning, is part of our struggle to make body and mind whole. 

Perhaps that was a gift of Diana’s life, in support of both women and men, then and now, to make sense of and to honor our whole”—body, mind and spirit. And, in turn, a deepening of soul. It’s an inner journey calling forth our wise intuitive intelligence and a depth of feminine-grounded compassion, tapping into mythological longings and long-ago legends that can reveal a magnificent peeling-away-of-layers kind of journey. A journey where we all can hear the call of the goddess.

In the words of Rumi, the thirteenth-century Sufi mystic: “There’s a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen to it, as the personal self breaks open.” Such a break open of self holds the possibility of an extraordinary rite of passage into an intimate journey, measured only by the level of our courage, where we just might discover the authentic spirit of, for men, the empathetic side of masculinity, and for women, the authentic spirit of our womanliness, indeed, our own goddess nature. Not unlike one princess-swirled exploration in all its archetypal glory once upon a time.

[Part Two next time, “The Reappearing Goddess”...then Part Three, Glorious Inanna]

March 17, 2019

{Putting Love on the Ballot}


My guest editorial, "Putting Love on the Ballot," published on Confluence Daily...and reprinted below!

PUTTING LOVE ON THE BALLOT

I recently attended a gathering in Greenville, South Carolina, where author, spiritual teacher, and now candidate for president of the United States, Marianne Williamson was speaking. I wanted to thank her in person for doing something extremely radical: Putting love on the ballot—squarely, unapologetically, powerfully, eloquently. “I am running for president,” she declared, “in order to harness the political potential of our love, our decency, and our compassion. That is who we are, and that is what America should be.” Love is a topic in which Marianne is well-versed.

Her first book, A Return to Love published in 1992, and the first of seven New York Times’ bestsellers (all reflections on the principles of A Course in Miracles), proclaimed simply: “Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we have learned here.” Marianne writes almost as much about fear as love—given fear is a result of hate, both opposites of love. “Fear unchecked grows exponentially. Love poured forth has the power to remove it.”

Does the presence of love really have that much life-changing power? Marianne adds: “...where love is absent, fear sets in.” Just in case we need a real-life reminder: Fear is what elected Donald Trump and powered the destructive growth of dog whistle politics, giving a louder voice to hate-filled rhetoric spewed from the Senate floor to church pulpits. (No halls so ‘hallowed’ as to escape the maliciousness of it all.)  “It’s not the first time,” clarified Ken Burns, the creator of those movingly beautiful American history documentaries. “Human beings are susceptible to politicians that play to our baser instincts, our worst fears of ‘the other’ instead of, as Lincoln said, ‘the better angels of our nature’.”

We are living in a world where it appears that fear is winning. “Without love, our actions are hysterical. Without love, we have no wisdom.” (Marianne doesn’t mince her words!) It’s time to get revolutionary about love. It’s time for a miracle.

“We had a miracle in this country in 1776,” Marianne announced when exploring a run for the presidency last fall, “and we need another one!” (Keep in mind she holds a ‘miracle’ as ultimately a “shift in perception.”) She then gave a little history lesson, since some may have forgotten what that miracle was nearly 250 years ago. Before this county was founded, all of Europe, under “the divine right of kings,” was “run according to a manorial and aristocratic system.” In other words, a king and/or queen and their pals (the aristocracy) were entitled to the land, the wealth, the education—everything! And the rest of the population, the vast majority, “was little more than serfs to that small group.” However, Marianne continued, with the founding of this country, “we turned that entire mindset on its ear.” And when declaring our independence, we declared that “all men are created equal, and that god gave all men the inalienable rights to life and to liberty and to the pursuit of happiness—and governments were instituted to secure those rights.” Consequently, our new nation stumbled right out of the gate, and then stumbled often, not always living up to those principles. And now we’re stumbling again with a government, paraphrasing Abraham Lincoln, functioning only “of a few of the people, by a few of the people, and for a few of the people”—which means, as Marianne explains, “we have subconsciously reverted to an aristocratic paradigm.”

But we are a nation of courageous “problem solvers who have risen up in their time. So yes, we had slavery, but we also had abolition. We had the oppression of women, and we also had two major waves of feminism and the women’s suffragette movement. We had institutionalized white supremacy and segregation, and we also had the Civil Rights Movement.” With that reminder, Marianne is delivering a call to action for this country’s spiritual awakening, “Join the Evolution!”—it is now our turn to be the problem solvers! And that’s where love comes back into it.

Neuroscientist Richard J. Davidson—professor of psychology and psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and founder of the Center for Healthy Minds—considers the next frontier for his field is the study of how the practice of love affects the brain and body, believing there is a quality of love that breaks apart boundaries. Can we take this as an affirmation that, in Marianne’s words, “love is a potent force”? Film director Spike Lee, during his passionate Oscar acceptance speech at the recent Academy Awards ceremony, urging us to vote, urging us to “do the right thing,” put it frankly: “Make the moral choice between love versus hate.”

In calling for a course-correction in this country and putting our democracy back on track; for a resetting of our moral compass and putting the lives and well-being of our children first, Marianne Williamson calls for a return to what made the founding of this country so unique; she calls for nothing less than a return to “an ethical center that is the true exceptionalism of the American ideal.” She encourages us to be on the side of “our better angels” and to “stick with love,” as another peacemaker shared. “We have before us,” Martin Luther King, Jr. remarked—with hate staring him in the face—“the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization.”

It’s time for, like in Lincoln’s day, “a new birth of freedom.” It’s time for some old-fashioned love one another like a day-in, day-out practice. Remembering that love is a show of strength, not weakness, it’s time for a love revolution! “Love taken seriously is a radical outlook, a major departure from the psychological orientation that rules the world,” Marianne wrote in A Return to Love over two decades ago. “It is threatening not because it is a small idea, but because it is so huge.”

When I shook Marianne’s hand that afternoon in Greenville—a packed room of mostly women, women of all stripes—thanking her for putting love on the ballot, she replied, “Yes! It’s time to get radical with our love.” Radical, like love as an “essential existential fact.” Radical, like love is “our purpose on earth.” Radical, like your life depended on it! ~

.................................
AUTHOR’S NOTE:
With the success of her books and appearances on Oprah Winfrey’s shows through the years, Marianne Williamson has been a sought-after speaker on the personal transformation circuit. I’ve followed her work, listened to her various recordings, quoted her in my articles and books, and admired her beautiful and effectively intimate way with words. With Marianne, you re-remember that words have power, that love powers all. “Love requires a different kind of ‘seeing’ than we’re used to—a different kind of knowing or thinking. Love is the intuitive knowledge of our hearts. It’s a ‘world beyond’ that we all secretly long for....”


February 9, 2019

{Against Feminine Nature} Book Excerpt


Excerpts from the "Against Feminine Nature" chapter of my book-in-progress, tentatively titled, A Memory of Love: The Spiritual Mission of a Princess. Enjoy....


Sarah Jennings Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough
“‘Remember, you’re a Spencer!’” biographers claimed Diana would say to herself to strengthen her resolve during stressful times. Spencers had been established in England for 500 years, amassing great wealth and political power through the centuries (and therefore much more “British” than her husband’s Windsor family). Sarah Jennings, born in 1660, wife of the 1st Duke of Marlborough and grandmother of the first Diana Spencer, was “one of the most remarkable and difficult women of her day,” wrote biographer Sarah Bradford. “The Spencer tendency for falling out with members of the family—it is said Sarah changed her will fifty times—may well have been passed down from her.” Sarah Jennings’ pride, Bradford remarked, “led her to snub even her sovereign and former friend, Queen Anne.”
Over 250 years later, when another Diana Spencer was on the scene, Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, told a friend that the Spencer women are “‘extremely unusual and difficult!’” According to Bradford, the Queen Mother’s friend, who happened to be a Spencer relation, agreed and also noted “‘an unforgiving side’” that seemed to run in the family; she was of the opinion that Princess Diana’s “‘inability to sustain friendships and relationships’” was also a family characteristic. She saw similar traits in her own Spencer mother with those of Diana, especially what she called Diana’s “‘manipulation of reality’” which took on a repetitious pattern of creating conflict, then calling for a dramatic reunion, only to stir things up once again. Whether it was an “inherited” family trait or not, this emotional roller coaster must have been exhausting for all involved.
~~~
From many accounts, the psychologically needy and acutely insecure Diana was full of unresolved anger from childhood; and as an adult, her volatile temper occasionally surfaced. Sometimes there was even a warning before the crash: “‘Stand by for a mood swing, boys,’” she’d say to her private secretary, explained biographer Tina Brown. Various conditions have been cited as possible reasons for Diana’s extremes: the frustrations of not being heard, much less not being allowed a voice; chemical imbalances brought on by her bulimia; misunderstood postpartum depression; living under the stress of so much suppressed emotion for so many years; perhaps some sort of personality disorder; even complications of her complex astrological chart. Or, as I read somewhere, “anger is nothing more than an outward expression of hurt, fear and frustration.” Whatever the causes, Diana could create a disconcerting battlefield-like, walking-on-eggshells environment for everyone around—including her “desperately unhappy” husband and his reserved family with their strict code-of-behavior.
~~~
Historically, many women had difficulty in expressing anger and if they did get angry, men found it difficult to deal with the volatility. Such emotional outbursts would not only have been discouraged, it could get the disruptive woman diagnosed with “hysteria” and locked up! No wonder a woman might express her anger silently by abusing her body and health, as Diana did. “How can she manifest her anger or her grief?” asked British writer Beatrix Campbell. “If the discovery of her own disappointment could not be revealed, because it could not be tolerated, then it made sense to keep screaming….” Or worse. 

Diana’s time in the spotlight, the 1980s and ‘90s, was a period of major change for women. What many considered the second wave of feminism was ending and the “grrls” of a post-modern generation were stirring a third wave—just as the long-anticipated “great shift in consciousness” was stirring the world. Looking back, Diana was a representative of eons of women’s rising collective anger. When the young princess began speaking up about feeling abandoned by mother, husband and monarchy, women were the first to lean in and really listen. What's more, when Diana spoke out, a whole kingdom of women revealed their discontent. “It was Diana’s treatment as a woman, and her sense that she was sustained by the sympathy and strength of women, that made her dangerous” to the patriarchal establishment, Campbell added. ~


[Sarah Jennings Churchill is the character in the 2018 awarding winning film "The Favourite" played by Rachel Weiss.] 
More book excerpts soon.....

January 17, 2019

{SMART WORKS Charity & the Duchess of Sussex}


The Duchess of Sussex announced in early 
January four patronages as she combines love of 
women's empowerment, animals and fashion.
The one that especially captured my
fashion-world-background heart was
SMART WORKS is a charity that offers 
interview clothing and coaching to unemployed 
women with upcoming job interviews. 
In five years the SMART WORKS team
saw 11,000 women and 60% of those women got jobs.
The duchess, Meghan Markle, was "on the job" 
on January 10th at the west London headquarters 
when she was announced patron of the charity.
However, Meghan visited the organization 
several times over the last 12 months assisting
several women transform their lives.
Royal patronages bring invaluable publicity 
and fundraising opportunities to charities 
and community organizations in Great Britain.
..............................................