Be – Friending Our Dragons

( Above: work by Artist Armando Adrian – Lopez  http://www.armandolopez.com)

 

“We are an overflowing river.
We are a hurricane.
We are an earthquake.
We are a volcano, a tsunami, a forest fire…”

 

These words written by Judith Shaw speak to the merging of woman’s anger with Earth’s natural disasters, suggesting to me that women use “natural” violence in order to create change.

 

Violence, not the values of compassion and cooperation.

 

Violence and power over are the primary tools that Patriarchy uses to control women and the Earth.

 

Engaging in more violence will not solve the problems we face.

 

So many women including me are struggling like never before to survive on the edge of a culture that continues to sanction the vicious ongoing rape of both women and the Earth.

 

I use the death of trees as a primary example of the latter. By logging trees by the billions or killing them in “controlled burns” we are literally destroying human and non – human species. Without trees/plants we lose the oxygen we need to breathe.

 

We need “woman – centered” women to say NO!!! WE WON’T TOLERATE LIVING IN A DEATH DESTROYING CULTURE PREDICATED ON RAPE OF WOMEN AND THE EARTH.

 

We need women who are willing support other women – Women who refuse to remain neutral – Women who don’t wait until their mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, granddaughters are assaulted to take a stand with other women – Women who refuse to stand behind their men when those men continue to support the soul destroying culture of Patriarchy with their attitudes (males or male identified women – the latter are often “Father’s Daughters” in Jungian parlance) – Women who refuse to support a Patriarchal system that is destroying us all.

 

Women centered women can change the trajectory we are on if we can unite in spite of differences… not through violence but through sheer numbers, using cooperation and compassion as our weapons. Women are potentially a powerful force to be reckoned with, making up more than half of the population, and yet in the last presidential election 52 percent of white women voted to elect a crazed misogynist…

 

This morning I read a comment about Jung’s work that addressed an issue that is critical to women reclaiming their authentic power. To paraphrase: In depth psychology riding the dragon is still interpreted as the task of conquering and subduing the archaic instincts of the reptilian brain.

 

As a former Jungian analyst who left her practice when she realized that this psychological approach helped keep women powerless and enthralled to Patriarchy through control and subjugation of woman’s instincts, I would argue that women desperately need to develop a loving relationship with their instinctual “dragons” – anger, fear, outrage – because these instincts protect us, and help us to create change by funneling our energy outward in creative ways.

 

To illustrate my point I want to digress into personal story.

 

The day after Kavannaugh was confirmed I found myself paralyzed with hopelessness. As a sexual assault survivor I was so depressed that the only reason I got out of bed was because a very gifted Mexican/Indian artist, Armando Adrian Lopez was part of an artist’s tour that was occurring that weekend, and I knew I needed to go visit him.

 

Armando’s work depicts women in a mythical context, one replete with mystical and (usually) benign images of the goddess. After being around Armando and his work for one afternoon I felt some sense of comfort remarking to him that “today of all days I really needed to be here.”

 

I returned the next afternoon and asked Armando if I could take a couple of pictures of his work. Later when I was reviewing the images I was particularly struck by one of a woman with a dragon at her side, holding a Tree of Life with eyes embedded in her leaves.

 

During the next PTSD/depression driven month I looked at that image again and again, plumbing its depth for a new personal message, eventually coming to the conclusion that I needed to court my own dragons in a more loving way. It is a testament to the trauma that I experienced over Kavanaugh’s appointment that I am only now starting to understand what happened to me.

 

Befriending our dragons speaks to the need to fall in love with our dark sides and allow them to lead us into new ways of thinking and being in the world. The dragons of anger, grief, and outrage have helped me clarify my new position with respect to woman/Earth hatred.

 

Because I have been an advocate for women for so many years, I used to believe that it was critical to be inclusive and include all women in my advocacy regardless of their ability to be present for other women in distress. But some women ‘s support of Kavanaugh (boys will be boys mentality) or their neutral reactions to this man’s appointment to the Supreme Court, a confirmation that sanctions rape once again while dismissing women’s cries of outrage and grief, has created a monumental split in my thinking and feeling. To listen to women who seem to think that rape not a crime against all women stuns and horrifies me. To listen to women who attempt to “compromise” on the subject of rape repels me.

 

For the last few weeks I have been swimming in the sea of confusion and repressed anger. How can I continue to support indifferent women? I struggled with this question just as I struggled to contain my feelings of being betrayed by these same women.

 

Finally, I emerged on the other side with clarity and a new perspective. Today, I can say that I am no longer willing to support women’s deliberate or tacit support of rape through rational thinking or “neutrality.” When women continue to make cases for the one man who was sexually abused, or verbally attacked by a grieving woman, or the woman who has to stand behind her man because she is too emotionally needy to stand alone I say NO! NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

 

Rape of Women and the Earth are egregious criminal acts and the two are intimately connected.

 

I have made a difficult and painful choice to separate emotionally from those women while working towards developing more compassionate attitude towards them – a new “both and” perspective. I can do this easily when I remind myself that I too am a Daughter of Patriarchy and once exhibited many of the same behaviors…

 

After a month of crushing depression I am courting the red dragon of rage with awareness, embracing her, thanking her for helping me see that I must choose her wisely. S/he can help me survive atrocities by refusing to allow me to collude with those who would betray me, other women, the Earth.

 

I stand with woman – centered women without apology – those women who are in the position to shift death into life. I appeal to all women and men who love women to join us.

 

As if to concretize my thoughts in the material world this morning I discovered my own “dragon” in the form of one of my very friendly house lizards (who live around the outside walls of the house) scurrying across the living room floor! This one is a little female. I think she may want to spend the winter with us. I welcomed her with joy reveling in the synchronicity even as I, oh so reluctantly, released her outside on the garden wall, fearing some unintended mishap with the dogs if she stayed… If she returns a second time I will assume she knows more than I do about what’s good for her and will fashion a terrarium for her to sleep in safety for the winter…

 

In closing, anger and rage are powerful gut (reptilian/serpentine/ dragon-like) emotions that motivate us in potentially creative ways.

 

I choose to embrace my dragon, use the Tree of Life as my staff and guide, keep my eyes wide open.

 

I will continue to protest rape as a crime against all women, advocate for those who are woman centered, choose compassion as a bridge to others, and continue to cry out on the Earth’s behalf.

 

With my new perspective and awareness, I can feel/experience my red dragon as lover and allow her/him to guide me as I re- align myself with Life.

 

Regardless of outcome.

 

 

Afterthought:

 

After writing this narrative I asked myself how I had gotten so stuck in the first place. The answer came immediately. I had fallen into the Patriarchal Pit where anger and rage are unacceptable emotions to express, especially if you are a woman.

How are we unconsciously controlled by Patriarchy? By shame, of course. Because women are denigrated for having these “negative” emotions it’s not surprising that we fear to express them. And we must in order to become effective agents of change in our own lives or those of others.

As I see it now, in my traumatized state I fell into an old pattern of thinking – one with the destructive values of Patriarchy at its core. Today I embrace that daughter with heartfelt compassion reminding her that her conditioning does not this woman make!

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(Photo credit: Iren Schio)

Author reclaiming her power on the mountain