I’m being deliberately provocative with the title of this blog post. I am a female and, as such, I was a girl when I was younger. However, I was not raised to think of myself as “just a girl”. I decided to write this post after reading an article a woman wrote about gender expectations and American Gods. This got me to thinking, pondering if you will. Why have I never felt the weight of gender expectations? In fact, I clearly remember a very vehement argument I once had with a former friend about sexism and gender in the workplace. It’s entirely possible that I have been denied promotions or suffered a lower salary because I am female, but if that’s the case I was as oblivious to it as I was to the Stations of the Cross in my childhood church. I simply plowed forward and did my job. If my behaviors upset or offended supervisors because I didn’t act in a typically female way, I either addressed it head on, was oblivious to it, or ignored it.

I have never been told that I could not achieve something because I’m “a girl”. I was never discouraged from trying or accomplishing something because “girls don’t do that”. Sure my parents tried to civilize me and teach me to behave but they also encouraged me to be independent and strong-willed. They regularly gave me the “would you (fill in the blank) just because everyone else does?” speech. I was never encouraged to downplay my intelligence because boys don’t like smart girls. I was never told I was too aggressive for a girl and should tone it down (in fact my father preferred to teach me the correct way to throw a punch). When boys touched me in ways I did not want, I punched them or kicked them in the balls. My nickname as an adolescent was “the Nutcracker”. At the same time, I accepted that if I was going to hit others I might get hit back. I couldn’t use the “I’m a girl” excuse. I was fine with this. Looking back, I was truly blessed to have two parents who never, ever fell victim to gender roles and stereotypes – at least not when it came to me. I remember one Easter my grandmother bought my sister and me matching outfits – they were royal blue pantsuits (think polyester button-down shirts and pants) with T-shirts that proclaimed “Anything boys can do, girls can do better” and a graphic of a girl in a baseball outfit getting ready to swing her bat. We LOVED those shirts and proudly wore them every chance we got. In fact, that saying became our unofficial motto throughout childhood.

I was also influenced by Greco-Roman and Norse mythology as a child. I identified with Athena, the wise virgin who owed nothing to a man (okay, I’m oversimplifying because that’s what I believed as a child). I loved Freya who was the leader of the Valkyries and free to sleep with whom she chose, even if they were dwarves. It wasn’t just independent female goddesses that appealed to me – they had to have a fierceness to them, a martial aspect as well. I loved goddesses who bowed down to no man or god. As I grew older and learned about Irish goddesses I felt a strong connection to many of them too. Once again, fierce feminine figures who were not bound to a male.

Looking back, I am also a product of my generation. I grew up in the 70s and clearly remember the hoopla that following the tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. I remember how excited I was when Charlie’s Angels premiered! Yes, in retrospect it was a T&A show but as a young girl, all I saw were these tough, independent women who took on bad guys every week and triumphed. I was a fan of both Wonder Woman with Lynda Carter, Isis, and Electra Woman & Dyna Girl. I read Wonder Woman and Supergirl comic books. I remember being vaguely disappointed when the ERA was defeated. I didn’t fully understand what it was or why I wanted it but I knew that its failure was not a good thing for me. I remember having an epiphany during a religious class in Catholic high school when our teacher while conducting a cakes & wine ritual, informed us that ancient frescoes showed that women administered the sacraments in the early Christian church. I was floored! It never occurred to me that women could serve as priests. I often think that this was the pivotal moment that ultimately led me to pursue Paganism.

So, it occurs to me that if we don’t want to raise our daughters to be “just girls” we need to reinforce that message. We need to support them when they show interest in traditionally “ungirly” things or behave in non-girly ways. We also need to let them know that if they choose to pursue traditionally feminine pursuits, that is wonderful too. It’s so easy to denigrate traditional feminine pursuits, interests, and behaviors but that’s just as damaging as only allowing them to pursue these things. Some girls want to be fairy princesses and some want to be G.I. Joe. Some want to play with dolls and some want to play with toy guns. Some will do both and all of that is great and should be encouraged. For that matter, we should use the same approach with boys. I guess the important thing is to focus on what the child wants and needs and make sure to nurture and support them. Sounds easy and yet somehow we make it so complicated.

Smart choices & a need for community

Dark Goddess Alchemy

For the last few months I’ve been working my way through the Dark Goddess Tarot Majors, spending two weeks with each card before moving on to the next. Right now I’m working with Brigid/Temperance’s energy. I asked Brigid for guidance to help me forge a path towards better health and she gifted me with Maeve/7 of Cups.

 

Dark Goddess 7 of Cups

I took this to mean that the best way to achieve my desire for improved health is to make better, smarter choices. So I asked Maeve how to achieve this? While focusing on this question I drew two cards from the Sacred Bridges Tarot – 10 of Wheels and 6 of Wheels reversed.

Sacred Bridges 10 of Wheels Sacred Bridges 6 of Wheels

Looking at these cards I was struck by the message that I need to seek support from my community and not get to focused on weighing, measuring and doling out portions. As a friend put it “the Perfect is the enemy of the Good.” I know that feeling. I can get so caught up in doing things the “right” way and I end up frustrated and defeated. This time I’ll try taking baby steps instead of diving into the deep end and almost drowning.

I think this is another reason I decided to rejoin FaceBook. I’m feeling much too isolated right now. I don’t have the flexibility to physically connect with friends. I have spent some time on the phone with a few and will continue to do so but the truth is that FB makes it a lot easier. There are still things about it that irritate me but for now it will be a helpful too. I realized at this year’s Readers’ Studio that I miss connecting with my Tarot friends. To quote Elton John – “it’s lonely out in space” and right now that where I feel as though I’m living – outer space. I feel so disconnected from what is going on in the world around me that it’s not funny. So to keep my sanity and feed my desire for social connections – back on FB I go.

Dark Carnival 5 of Duckets

This is the second time I’ve drawn this card this week.  I guess I need to listen to its message more closely.  Looking at the two “ghetto smurfs” (I love this phrase from the Gone in 60 Seconds movie) on this card the one thing that strikes me is that they’re together but not together.  They aren’t touching each other.  The girl has her arms wrapped around herself and the guy, with his foot wrapped in a bandage, is reading what appears to be an arrest warrant.  A 40-ounce bottle rests in the snow alone with other pieces of litter.  The girl seems to be glancing hopefully at a closed door nearby while the guy seems wrapped up in himself.  There is a loneliness and sadness to this card that goes beyond their apparent poverty.  They seem so isolated and disconnected from their world and from each other.  All one would need to do is reach and touch the other and offer comfort but their body language suggests that not going to happen.

It seems that as a society we are more disconnected and isolated.  Although we have perpetual access to each other via cell phones, text messaging and online social media sites, we rarely connect on a physical and human level.  How many people have hundreds of Facebook friends and yet would consider themselves lonely?  How many times do we yearn for a simple hug or comforting touch on the arm and instead we are offered a plethora of platitudes on Facebook?  I think this card serves as a reminder that all we really need to do is reach out and touch somebody’s hand (to quote the song).

I’ve recently found myself pondering this tendency in myself.  Over the years I’ve lost contact with many friends.  Some of this is simply the natural process we often go through as we grow and change, realizing we no longer share interests.  Some of if is because I feel as though I no longer have anything to offer in a relationship.  My world is so narrow that all I have to talk about is caring for the in-laws (okay, that’s a bit of an overstatement but not much).  I also have a tendency to feel as though I’m interrupted people’s lives when I call them. I think I need to make more of an effort to keep connected with friends and loved ones.  If they can’t talk to me then I have to hope they’ll feel comfortable enough to let me know.  Of course this says more about me than anything else.

On another level I think the reversed nature of this card is telling me that even though finances are tight and we are in a physically restrictive environment (we just don’t have the freedom to come and goes as we’d like), hubby and I do have each other.  We do support each other.  We try to give each other much needed breaks and work through our frustrations.  It’s not easy but we manage.  We may not be in the best shape financially but at least we are there for each other and care for each other.  Our shared experiences, even the miserable ones, have created a strong, enduring bond.  That’s the important thing right now.

 

Ah, the Queen of Cups, my old adversary.  She and I have come a long way over the last two years or so.  I have come to appreciate her gentle strength and loving, supportive nature.  Growing up I associated her type of energy with emotional manipulation, weakness and neediness.  I was unable to see her nurturing and loving energies in a positive light.  It is only as I’ve come to need these energies in my own life that I’ve begun to appreciate and embrace her.

Looking at the Art Postcard Queen of Cups I was struck by the sense that she is telling “Cry on my shoulder.  It’s okay.  I’ll comfort you and help  you through this.”  Her outfit even looks as though its collar would serve as a creditable napkin with which to dry one’s tears.  She seems supportive but not one easily overwhelmed by emotions.  She understands and realizes that every so often, we all need a good cry.  It enables us to cleanse and purge the pain that might otherwise paralyze us.

The Whispering Queen of Cups offers a different perspective.  She bobs in the water, beneath a full moon, holding a chalice in one hand and a white orb in the other.  She seems to be offering us the key to our intuition, our inner wisdom and our emotional nature.  She shows that we can be part of that world without being subsumed in it.  We have the ability to tap into our deep, vast emotional wisdom without allowing ourselves to get swept away by it.  At the same time the water surrounding her reminds us that sometimes it’s easy to allow ourselves to drift along on the tides of our emotions, eventually losing our way because we let ourselves lose control.

I think these lovely ladies are telling me that my lesson today is that sometimes it’s okay to let myself be emotional about the things I’m dealing with in my life.  Sometimes being stoic, strong and silent is helpful but sometimes it just bottles up things that need to be expressed.  Right now I could certainly use the Queen of Cups shoulder to cry on but I find it difficult to let go and cry.  Partly because what I’m dealing with is tough but a lot of people are dealing with difficult situations in their lives.  I feel as though my issues and problems are just not that serious.  And perhaps that is my biggest challenge – believing that my feelings are valid and deserve to be recognized.  At least I do have my hubby, mother, sister to provide emotional support.  My friends are supportive too – the issue is that I still feel guilty crying to them.  Perhaps that is what the Queen of Cups reversed is reminded me of today – that if my friends cannot provide some emotional support when I need it they are close enough to let me know that.  It’s not a sign of weakness on my part and I would hope they feel able to ask the same of me if the occasion ever calls for it.  Another lesson I am learning to integrate into my life.

 

 

 

 

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers:

%d bloggers like this: