Lemurian City of Ladies

A Lemurian City Built in Memory of Christine de Pizan

Archive for the ‘Women’s Myth and History’ Category

Abandoned at Work and Home

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“Jerusalem, you do me a great wrong by taking from me that which I loved best.
Know this to be true: I’ll never love you, for this is the reason for my unhappiness…

Fair, sweet lover, how will you endure your great ache for me out on the salty sea,
When nothing that exists could ever tell the deep grief that has come into my heart?
When I think of your gentle, sparkling face that I used to kiss and caress,
It is a great miracle that I am not deranged….”


(by Anonymous singer of women’s songs)

 

Thanks to a brilliant essay from The Women’s World Curriculum,

“Women and the Crusades”,

at Medieval Sources Online, detailing women’s work and roles

at the time, more can be learned about the lesser known

phenomenon of men leaving their wives to tend to their

estates at the time of the Crusades.  The excerpt above from a French

song of lament, though anonymous, gives a voice to the feelings of

women at the mercy of the nature of those times.  Often, these

men did not return, communication would have been scant and

difficult, and absences could last years.  Before the real danger of

these crusades was known, women sometimes accompanied their

men, but after the devastating cost was known, there was a ban on

anyone but men attending the ravaging travels of crusades.

The linked essay also contains some great revelations, and details of

a noble lady, making her stand and “do or die choice” in the name of

protecting her estate when her noble husband was away.  Accounts of

women finding their administrative powers over their home and land

flourish in a time of great hardship, and present an odd boon to this troubled

age, which was the stretch in the reach of women’s perceived limits, showing

their full capabilities, at women’s work.

(copyright Imogen Crest 2008.)

 

Written by imogen88

May 17, 2008 at 8:54 am

Ferry Woman (Part Two)

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I expected to be ignored, so it came as a surprise when the ferry woman returned my smile of recognition. Taking it as a hopeful sign, I slowed my steps and veered slightly towards her, ready to abandon any idea of conversation if she should suddenly turn her back on me.

Her boat, the The Sow’s Ear was tied securely to the dock and swayed gently, rubbing against “bumper” tires that protected the weathered boardwalk planks. The smell of river water and mud, mingled with decaying vegetation was strong, but not unpleasant.

“Finished for the day,” I asked, “Or is there an evening tour scheduled?”

“Done. No crossings tonight. It’ll be a peaceful one.” Denim overalls covered a sturdy body and a short sleeved shirt bared hefty forearms, dark from the sun and powerful enough to pole the big boat to the Isle of Ancestors. “Heading for supper. Join me?” she asked, pointing to a diner across the street.

“Thanks, that would be nice,” Nervous that the slightest display of pleasure might cause her to run off, or worse, lead to an hour of awkward silence, I kept my tone neutral and said no more. We’d met once when she’d ferried me to a midnight adventure, but although I’d tried to engage her in conversation both going and coming, she’d hardly uttered a word.

We quickly settled into a small booth at the back of The Salt and Pepper Diner and after we ordered, the ferry woman looked me square in the eye and bluntly asked, “What do you want?” She held up a beefy hand when I began to protest. “No,” she insisted, “you sought me out. Why?”

“I recognized you from Heather’s drawing and wanted to ask your advice on a writing project.” Her eyes didn’t waver, so I continued. “What with all the portraits in one place and the identity poems the Ravens have been writing, I wondered. . . . . . .”

“Not my business, I captain The Sow’s Ear.”

“I thought an interview perhaps, or an anecdote you’d be willing to share. The portrait doesn’t even give your name. I’ve loved Lemuria from the start and only want to know the people a little better.”

“Didn’t see that comin’,” I heard her mumble.

Just then waitress arrived—lemon chicken piled high with mushrooms for me and the largest bowl of beef stew I’ve ever seen. “Here’s your regular, Mir, let me know when you and your friend are ready for dessert.”

(Portrait of Miriam Konrad by Heather Blakey–Soul Food Cafe–www.dailywriting.net)

Written by porchsitter

April 6, 2008 at 10:06 pm

Ferry Woman (Part Two)

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Interview with Ferry Woman, Miriam Konrad:

Porchsitter:First, I’m delighted you agreed to be interviewed. I’m assuming, you’re a native of Lemuria and Duwaimish, yes?

Miriam:Lemuria, yes, Duwaimish, no. My great, great grandfather swam ashore after a shipwreck near Duwaimish when he was a young man. The Alluvial Mine had just been discovered and all along the coast people were talking about it. He decided to continue the adventure and get rich if he could, so he joined the first group headed inland. They got lost and arrived at the mines nearly starved. My great, great, grandmother was one of the first to offer the party food. It was love at first sight and he stayed. Worked the mines the rest of his life, and his sons, and their sons.

Porchsitter: And did he get rich?

Miriam: He found a fair amount of gold. The area built up fast, but there wasn’t any real luxury, it was too far from the coast to bring in big stuff, roads were bad, the countryside was arid and sparse. But they lived well.

Porchsitter: And your parents?

Miriam: Dad mined some, trucked food in on the side. I joined him for a few years, but the deeper you dig the harder it is to shore up tons of rock and dirt. Walls and ceilings had been caving in. Too many men had died. The owners finally closed it.

Porchsitter: Mining’s an unusual occupation for a woman? Were you the only one?

Miriam: Then, yeah. Now tourists come, mostly women; some to find a nugget or two, others to do soul work.

Porchsitter: So when the mines closed the family moved to Duwaimish?

Miriam: No, just me.

Porchsitter: Lemuria’s a big continent. Why Duwaimish? Following your ancestor’s footprints?

Miriam: Partly, but I’d always wanted to see the ocean. Once I got to the coast, though, I knew it wasn’t the sea calling me, it was the river and the Isle of Ancestors.

Porchsitter: Did you become a ferry woman immediately?

Miriam: No, that’s not permitted. First, I did odd jobs around town, later I held the main torch job on the Island.

Porchsitter: Torch job?

Miriam: Someone has to maintain the torches that light the cavern and the passageways for the ancestors and those who seek them. Torch workers also check for structural cracks and damage in between the regular scheduled inspections. With my experience in the Alluvial Mines, I was a natural for the job. You know, the isle’s honeycombed with hundreds of tunnels branching out from that main cavern. A famous Lemurian myth warns that one day all of Lemuria will collapse and sink into the sea and it will begin in the Hall of the Ancestors.

Porchsitter: That’s chilling! And after the torch job?

Miriam: I worked the orchards on the island. Loved the apples, the trees, the fresh air. I put a request in for ferry woman and one day I was called. Thought at first I’d made a mistake when I saw all the studying.

Porchsitter: Studying?

Miriam: Yeah, didn’t expect it. River lore, Lemurian history and myths, geography and geology of the whole continent and specifically this area. Then all the practical stuff: tides, engine and boat maintenance, poling, emergency procedures, communications, daily reports.

Porchsitter:Why the academic subjects?

Miriam:To qualify for an “Ancestral” job, you have to go back at least three generations on one parent’s side and two on the other, then you have to pass academic courses, practical ones related to the specific job and finally, you have to be apprenticed to an elder. There are studies for that, too and workshops. And, of course, I had to meet one of my own ancestors in the cavern.

Porchsitter: I had no idea!

Miriam: I studied nights and weekends for three years, while I saved to buy the Sow’s Ear. Fortunately, there’s no charge for schooling and room and board was included.

Porchsitter: Amazing! One more question. The Sow’s Ear is a strange name for a boat, how did that come about?

Miriam: We don’t usually disclose our choice, but since this is for Soul Food Ravens I will. Part of our final exam is to use the experience of meeting our ancestor to name our boat. My two sisters were very lovely, delicate and sweet as a teacup, mother used to say. When she left us and took them to the City of Ladies, she wanted to take me, too. I overheard my parents argue and father say, “Miriam stays with me. You can’t turn a sow’s ear into a silk purse.” It hurt so much. I left soon after and never saw him alive again.

When we met in the cavern and I asked my one question, all I could manage was, “How could you?”

He cried and told me he knew it would break my spirit if I’d gone with them and been forced into a life of afternoon teas and party dresses. In my heart I knew he was right and had always loved me. What I thought cruel, was just his unfortunate and clumsy act of love.

Written by porchsitter

April 6, 2008 at 10:03 pm

Pandora’s Gift – Heather Blakey

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Prometey rejects Pandora’s gift — Pandora’s box with diseases, vices and disasters.
(Engraving on bronze, 2-3 B.C. Musee de Louvre, Paris)

Pandora’s Gift

Bearing Pandora’s gift prominently on her heart
Seared by Vulcan’s reddened, blazing, branding iron
She wore the scars of self-doubt
Her battle coat stained, shredded
By the beak of the very falcon
Who relentlessly clawed, pecked at Prometheus
Vulnerable, chained,
She stood defiant
Until the raven came
Bearing the self-sowing seeds of self-confidence

(copyright Heather Blakey 2008.)

(From Lemurian Abbey Archive, July 2005.)

Written by imogen88

March 26, 2008 at 8:43 am

Inner Ear and Third Eye – Heather Blakey

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An expansive inner ear
luminous
third eye
focused
listening for soft sounds of a butterflies wings
water droplets
the relentless ticking of time
touching
seeing
smelling the outside world
sensing
knowing it is time to come

The timing is right
born to be an artist
listening
touching
seeing
smelling
sensing
knowing
foretelling.

(copyright Heather Blakey 2008.)

(from Riversleigh Manor Archive – February, 2006.)

Written by imogen88

March 25, 2008 at 1:11 pm

The Cailleach Bheurr

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Long, long ago, there lived an old woman known to all living near her and even far beyond her ken, as Cailleach Bheurr. She did not belong to this world, having oft been heard to tell any who dared to ask her, ‘’When the ocean was a forest with its firewood, I was then a young lass.’’ Well be that as it may, and sure there is none of us who have need of doubting what she said, the Cailleach Beurr somehow managed to escape the clutches of death in a way that no one else ever could.Well then, on the western side of the island where she lived in her cottage alone with just herself and her animals with whom she was often heard to converse for long periods of time, and who, or so it seemed to any who happened to be passing by, that they answered her in their own language, a language that she appeared to understand. Not far from her home there was a beautiful lake with crystal clear blue water that reflected the glory and majesty of the luminous sky that always seemed to spread itself out above it, and this lake, it is said, never was ruffled by any a nere wind or breeze passing by, so that the surface of the lake shone and glimmered like a glittering mirror that seemed always to show the face of eternity in its depths. But it is also told how every one hundred years a strange thing used to happen in these whereabouts., and the strange thing was this, that about 2 years before another century ended or began, depending on how you saw it, or perhaps better said depending on your age at the turning, the appearance of the cailleach would alter beyond recognition, so that she would grow old and grey , haggard and stooped. But while at these times she may have looked just like any other old person, yet she was different from all others, as unlike them, she had the ability to change her appearance, and turn herself back into a young girl. She did this very easily by rising early just before sunrise and before any other living creature, human or animal, had risen to greet the day, and then she walked far out into the lake of Loch Bá. And so it was that in this way she became young again, constantly renewing herself and her life every hundred years.

But on one fateful morning, around the time of the changing of the centuries, the cailleach was walking down to the shore of the lake just as the golden rays of the sun were beginning to shimmer in the east when what did she hear but the barking of a dog from far off in the distance. It was then that the cailleach knew that she was doomed, and as she felt the life force drain from her body, she called out in a loud voice

‘’It’s early the dog spoke, in advance of me,

The dog, in advance of me; the dog in advance of me.

It’s early the dog spoke, in advance of me,

In the quiet of the morning, across Loch Bá.’’

Commentary on this folk tale: 

[from The Book of the Cailleach: Stories of the Wise-Woman Healer, by Gearoid O Crualaoich]

‘’Evidence of the identification of the cailleach of this story with the archaic female sovereignty personification of landscape in the Celtic, and possible pre-Celtic, ancestral, cosmological tradition can be glimpsed in the assertion…that she was alive in a predeluvian era ‘when the ocean was a forest with its firewood’. The concept of the ancestral otherworld, the sacred, cosmological domain that surrounds and underlies human experience of physical reality, as a domain located beneath water, constitutes a recurrent theme in the allusion to the otherworld at the learned and literary level of early Irish tradtion.’’

Note also that the cailleach is a hag-goddess, usually translated in contemporary times as a witch, who found cyclical renewal in sacred waters. But note also how the hag-goddess was overwhelmed by the loud noise of a barking dog, a herdsman’s dog, who barked before she could reach the life-renewing sacred waters of the lake. ‘’The landscape is now speaking with the voice of human society, and the goddesses reign which marked the pre-human and natural world, has come to an end. A momentous cosmological shift has occurred.’’

Written by Edith

October 30, 2006 at 11:38 pm

Song of the Stars-Part IV

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Part IV

  Tonight, one of the adults had come to Star Singer begging her sing the Song of Soul Sisters.  Star Singer knew that Sweet Water mourned the loss of friendship with her Soul Sister, Many Kisses and her husband Great Magic.  Born but moments apart in their parent’s’ separate tipis, it was almost inevitable that both Sweet Water and Many Kisses would love Great Magic.  Sweet Water knew that Great Magic loved Many Kisses most deeply; so, in love for both of them she had stepped aside.  In fear Many Kisses had tried to sever all friendship between the three of them. 

Sweet Water understood Many Kisses’ fear and bore neither grudge nor anger towards Many Kisses.  In truth, she mourned the loss of Many Kisses’ friendship even more than she grieved for the friendship of Great Magic.  Sweet Water feared that she would never know either of their presences in her life again, and spent many nights alone in her tipi numb in her loss. 

Winter Moon had comforted her as best he could, yet, he realised that the only healing must come from Many Kisses and Great Magic. 

One of the greatest warriors of the people, Great Bear, loved Sweet Water, yet he feared she would never be able to be happy with him alone.  Great Bear’s twin brother Standing Bear and Great Bear were ever inseparable. 

Sweet Water understood Great Bear’s hesitancy and loved him more for it.  She had become one of a group of women that Great Bear took not as concubines, or wives, but as their protector.  Everyone knew that to hurt one of Great Bear’s Ladies would be to face the wrath of both brothers. 

Star Singer was especially gentle with Sweet Water, knowing that she mourned not only the loss of her first husband in an unnecessary battle, but the fact she had borne him no children in all the years of her marriage to Snarling Dog.   

Snarling Dog was well known for his impetuosity and ugly temper and had been killed after an argument with an Ogallala warrior from the West.  The two had been arguing about a trouble-making woman called Takes All. 

Takes All had played Snarling Dog with her wiles and had pried him from Sweet Water’s side with sweet lies, and empty promises.  When Snarling Dog had nothing left to give Takes All had turned to another man, Many Coups of the Ogallala Peoples. Snarling Dog had fought what everyone knew was inevitable, and had argued with Many Coups.  Many Coups had waxed furious and challenged Snarling Dog.   

Snarling Dog had lost all of his friends while following Takes All like a dog following a bitch in heat.  There was no one who would stand with Snarling Dog and hand him weapons.  This was his undoing, for it slowed him enough that Many Coups was able to best him and kill him. 

While the Elders were able to order Many Coups to repay Sweet Water for the loss of her husband, they could not give Sweet Water back her mate, or her belief in herself.  Long past the time when Bull Battles would have told her she was done with mourning and was free to wed another, still Sweet Water was living in her tipi alone. 

Star Singer gently promised she would sing the Song of the Soul Sisters for Sweet Water, and held her for a time, just being there for her.  Sweet Water left with a smile on her mouth and a shine in her dark liquid eyes. 

Sweet Water was not a pretty woman at first glance; she was too often solemn and withdrawn into her Spirit to charm with wit and beauty.  Many loved her, though, for she was generous, loving, and patient with people’s flaws.  She had been apprenticed to the Medicine Woman of the Ottawa, Magic Blossoms, until she had wed Snarling Dog and joined The People, after Snarling Dog’s loss she had remained, serving this Medicine Woman, Ancient Hills, as she grew older and began to be feeble in health. 

After Ancient Hills went to join Great Spirit, Sweet Water was unanimously chosen as the new Medicine Woman, and she was loved for her gifts to The People.  Ever kind and loving, she could not only heal the body, she was able to touch the mind and spirit and begin healing there as well.  More than one person, who was thought to be incurable came to her and left with a new wholeness blossoming in them. 

Star Singer was settled on her buffalo hide cushion and had finished her final gourd of liquorice root tea.  When all the children were finally silent she spoke gently. “My dears, tonight we shall sing of the Soul Sisters; Sweet Water has begged this favour of me…” She could not finish for the cheers and shouts of Sweet Water’s name among the children.  All of them had known her loving touch in their lives, and knew her to be a good woman. 

“They were not

Sisters of blood.

Yet they were born

So close in spirit

That everyone

Accepted them

As true

Sisters of Soul. 

Apple Blossom

Was the eldest

By but moments.

Wild Roses

Was perhaps

More fair

This mattered not

To Soul Sisters. 

They knew wholeness

In their friendship

Which grew as they

Did, strong and fast.

By the time they had

Come to the Time

Of Womanhood

They were One Spirit. 

Often would the

People

See them, laughing

And talking together

Each knowing one

Another’s silent words.

Their bond so deep

That they wedded

Brothers, one family. 

Soon they were

With child and

Waxed beautiful

And joyous as one.

Apple Blossom

Lost her child

For it was

Born too soon. 

Wild Roses bore a son

Pride of his father.

Apple Blossom

Was joyous with her.

Again Wild Roses

Waxed with child.

Apple Blossom

Was still barren. 

Apple Blossom’s

Husband set her aside.

Taking another wife,

One to bear him sons.

Apple Blossom began

To mourn her life.

No longer did she

Eat or sleep. 

Her decline was fast,

She lay in her

Ragged tipi dying.

Never calling for

Anyone but her

Beloved Soul Sister

Wild Roses.

Who came to her

Side, begging her stay. 

Still,

Apple Blossom

Went to Great Spirit.

With her last breath

She spoke to

Her Soul Sister.

“Wild Roses

Mourn me not

I will wait for you.” 

Wild Roses

Could not

Do as

Apple Blossom

Had bade her do.

She cut her hair,

And wept

Clawed at her face

And tore her clothes.

She sang

In a sad voice

Apple Blossom’s

Death Song. 

Wild Roses begged

Great Spirit.

“Bring me back

My Soul Sister.

I am not whole

Without her

In my life,

I always seek her.” 

Great Spirit heard

Wild Roses plea.

Even He could not

Change what was

Already done.

Helpless as a babe.

Instead he touched

Wild Roses’ spirit. 

She felt a great light

Burning in her spirit.

As she watched ,

A star, then more

Rose to the heavens

Two sisters,

Holding hands

Forevermore. 

Wild Roses knew

Comfort and Peace

And was once again

Joyous and alive.

She found herself

With child again.

Twin girls were they,

Made by the love of sisters.” 

Many of the older girls, with the deep friendships of youth and innocence wept unashamedly as Star Singer and Sky Eyes Woman’s voices faded into the stars above.  One girl, wise beyond her years moved to Sweet Water’s side and embraced her tightly, in silent understanding. 

Star Singer and Sky Eyes Woman watched this magical moment, their hearts swelling with pride, and love for their People.  They were embracing as they often did, arms loosely around one another’s waists and heads tipped close together.

by:  GwenGuin (who else??)

Written by gwenguin1

October 9, 2006 at 10:42 am