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Guardian

Guardian

In the darkness of the deepest night

A star swallowed up her light

And flung it into the depths of time and space

Now the Earth rolls and spins beneath my feet

in a treacherous trajectory of might

It gathered up its power

and burst its orbit in its flight

Mother gathered up the shattered shards

And slowly it grew again to reunite

The fragments of our fragile selves

Now I emerge again, sword in hand

Ready for another fight

Image result for birth of a star

Image from : https://parkerslaundrybasket.wordpress.com/2012/05/07/birth-of-a-star/

 

 
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Posted by on March 14, 2017 in astronomy, feminism, poetry, Uncategorized

 

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Ana, Warrior Princess

Ana, Warrior Princess

I watched a woodpecker as it clung to the sides of the cylindrical bird feeder hanging on my deck. Its claws gripped tightly as the receptacle swung in an arc, making it difficult for him to access the seeds poking through the green wire mesh.

He pecked away, nonetheless. Determination was key. The desire to successfully get that morsel drove him to come back, time and again. I continued to watch, my arms folded across my body to keep warm. Winter is not my favorite season. Cold, snowy weather had set in across the length of the Eastern Seaboard and we had been lucky: only about six inches had fallen here in rural southern Virginia. As I watched the long beak of the bird poking at the mesh, I was reminded of someone I had met during a trip to India. Ah, the heat, the overwhelming fierceness of the Indian sun. It is a memory I turn to often when it gets cold!

Ana, our diminutive, short- haired tour guide personified the qualities of determination. She was able to corral our disparate group into a cohesive unit through sheer force of her personality. She brooked no tardiness, warning us of long lines of buses, filled with tourists such as us wanting to visit the historical sites. “I will give you five minutes. That is all. If you are not here within five minutes of the designated time, I will leave you here at the hotel; we shall go without you!”

That was enough for me: I am habitually punctual and cannot stand the fact that other people do not respect the need to be on time. I liked her immediately.

That Ana was different was evident not only in her firmness but also her story. As a member of the warrior caste, the Rajuput of Rajasthan, she was expected to marry into her own caste. Suitor after suitor had been chosen for her, but none was to her liking. This girl enjoyed her independence, which had already manifested itself in her desire to practice martial arts when she was a little girl.

“I persuaded my mother that I should take judo,” she said, her eyes laughing as she remembered the rift she had caused between her parents because of her decision. Her mother, an academic, could see that her daughter was serious in taking up an athletic activity that was clearly not suitable for well-bred Indian girls. “Father was told nothing – in fact, we lied to him, telling him that I was taking art classes at a school close to the gym. He might never have known had I not participated in a judo competition. I beat all the boys to become the local champion. So the next day, there I was, in the newspaper.” She began to laugh, an infectious, joyful laugh that hinted at a naughtiness that was endearing. Her deep brown eyes crinkled at the corners as she continued her story of girlish defiance.

“It was my job to bring in the newspaper for my dad in the mornings. I saw the article and photograph, so I tore out the page. When my father asked what had happened to that page, I told him I had no idea!”

I could just imagine his puzzlement. The story came to a head, however, when the very serious, very professorial patriarch reached work. Suddenly his office was full of colleagues who had come to congratulate him on his daughter’s success.

“But that cannot be her!” he said, exasperated. “It is impossible! I would never allow her to participate in such an activity!”

There was a huge row when he got home that evening. He and Ana’s mother did not speak to each other for a month. He finally relented when other males in the family took up Ana’s cause. She was permitted to continue judo. She later became regional champion for her age group.

But she was to buck the system again when she wanted to become a tour guide. She had grown up in Agra, and was very familiar with the Taj Mahal, its history, its grandeur and its symbolism. She had seen an advertisement in the newspaper for a tour company that had a vacancy for a tour guide. Ana managed to get an appointment for an interview and was told, “We’re sorry, we don’t actually have any vacancy. The paper made a mistake.”

Unfazed by this sexist, patriarchal system, she bravely said, “Well, if you ever need anyone to sub for a guide, let me know!”

“We will call you,” the manager said.

“I did not believe him,” she said bluntly.

So she went to the office every day, with her sandwich in a brown paper bag, a bottle of water and a newspaper under her arm.

“I sat in the waiting room every day from nine till five, waiting for the day that someone would call in sick. I knew they wouldn’t call me, so I made sure they wouldn’t forget me. I was right here under their noses.”

After about three weeks a tour guide called in sick. She was offered the opportunity to guide a couple who wanted a private tour of the beautiful monument.

“I was so nervous! I was stammering, but the couple – from the UK – were so kind!” she recounts.

Based on the recommendation of their review of her abilities, she was offered a part time position which eventually led to better things: a full time job, guiding tourists on excursions lasting ten or more days.

Ana had beat the system, she had won her fight against stereotypes that kept girls suppressed in India. She stood against everything that revered the old order: it was not something she would ever accept with complacency. Like the feisty woodpecker, she had pecked away against the shell that cocooned and held women hostage in a country where marriage and family and compliance are the norm.

Every small act of defiance cracks open the door to let in the light. We can only find that courage within ourselves to change our lives; to find the goddess within and allow her to rise in her power. Some are born to do great deeds, but most of us can be a small but powerful example of how we can change the world for the better.

Nurture that Spirit, feed it with Light and celebrate your power for it has been waiting a long, long time to burst into flower!

 

 

Girls’ Names

Girls’ Names

I had wanted to write about what appeared to be a trend to give boys’ names to girls; it is something that really bothers me. Before I started my rant, I thought I had better check what the current trends really are. It is easy to go off on a rant without knowing the facts, and misinformed ravings are silly, in my opinion.

I Googled “Popular names 2014” and to my relief, the top nine names are still reflective of our gender bias: Sophia, Sofia, Ava, Olivia, Mia, Isabella, Abigail and Emily, Elizabeth…all good in the top bunch, and then….then there is “Madison”. This name rose to popularity after the Daryl Hannah mermaid in “Splash” called herself “Madison” after a street sign. It used to be a boy’s name up to the early 1950’s, then returned in the mid 80’s to the end of the previous century. It was a male name and a surname, a variant of “Mathieson”.

Imagine naming your child after a place…yes, we all know about Paris (very sexy), but London? That dreary foggy grey city? What are you thinking, mom and dad? Sydney is another popular name, but in my mind it is most definitely associated not with the city but with a man called Sydney Carton, yes, Google it if you are that illiterate. He was a nasty horrible man.

Sydney Carton portrayed here by Mr. Martin Harvey

As for “Brooklyn“, really people? Was the child conceived on or under the bridge? Why not Raleigh, Sturgis, Denver, or even Intercourse (PA)? The latter would certainly make sense.

If names are associated with things or places, then why name your child Piper? Makes me think of an airplane, or  the Pied Piper. It’s a surname (or last name as American English prefers) and it must have been referring to plumbing or a person that lays or makes pipes, or plays the bagpipes. I will look that up as soon as my internet decides to function again.(Okay, I checked, they were bagpipers from Scotland.) So imagine your little girl blowing some pipes. Hmmm.

Peyton” (# 51) is reminiscent of the novel, which later became the TV series, “Peyton Place”, which was supposed to have been quite scandalous in its day, and “Aubree” (number 52) is a boy’s name with a different spelling, supposedly to make it more feminine, because “Audrey” would sound too girlish? Or “Aubrey” too boyish? Of course, no one wants a child called “Audrey”, we remember comic books with that horrid Little Audrey who always wore a red dress. I used to want to take a crayola and scribble over her naughty little face.  

How about “Genesis“…really?? Do you even know what it means? It means “Beginning”. Hopefully the next twenty siblings will also have Biblical names like Exodus, Psalms, Chronicles, Deuteronomy and Ecclesiastes.

“Taylor” is a surname, for people who used to make clothes, and MacKenzie is a Scottish name that means who knows what. As for “Kennedy”, I am flabbergasted. You know it will be shortened to “Ken” or Kenny” who is Barbie’s sexless,  dick-less boy toy.

“Morgan” comes in at #100, and I associate it with some or other actor. Probably the dude who played God in  Bruce Almighty. I am probably wrong, so don’t go crazy now.

I think I have gotten the wrong impression about the names thing because Hollywood persistently portrays  “strong” women with male names. A case in point is “Gravity” where the woman who screwed everything up was called Ryan Stone. “Ryan” means “Little king”. Why do they think she could not be called Amanda, or Rosie, or Ophelia? She would still be an astronaut, scientist and engineer. Still screwing up, regardless.

Is it because they think that being feminine means you are soft or incapable or weak? Do you really think the Amazons – that fierce warrior woman tribe – had male names? Or that Boadicea wanted to be called “Fred”? Maggie Thatcher had balls of steel and Indira Gandhi wasn’t called Rajeev; Golda Meir was a force to be reckoned with and Angela Merkl is not named Hans or Heinz.

Strong women do exist in the real world; they are leaders, scientists, entrepreneurs, artists, mothers, teachers, nurses… we don’t need to be given boys’ names to prove that we have what it takes. Names carry an energy and the numerology of a name can be illuminating; even doing some research as to the actual original meaning of the word can provide clarity.

In spite of all this, your daughter will grow up strong and capable if you allow her the freedom to be herself, and not box her into some pre-ordained culturally approved role. Don’t make a point of giving her only a Meccano set; give her and her brother choices; dolls cars, train sets, puzzles…and books. Children will play with what takes their imagination, and you can not force a girl into playing with “boys'” toys any more than you can force a boy not to instinctively turn a stick into an imaginary gun. We are wired in some weird way to accept our gender roles, our genes and hormones.Those children who explore beyond their biochemistry, who use their intellect and curiosity to explore whatever their fancy is, all the better for them. Encourage them and challenge them. Give them the tools to succeed. We need to allow them just to be…Rhondas, Sheilas, Alices or whatever, not Morgans, Peytons and Rochesters. Or Intercourses.

Reference:

http://baby-names.familyeducation.com/popular-names/girls/

Please, let girls be girls, they are strong enough to give birth, strong enough to rule a country. They don’t need to be propped up artificially.

 

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