Monday, June 1, 2009

Goddess of the Week



Well that's a bit bi-polar, jumping from Hekate one week to Kwan Yin the next. Though I suppose, my depiction of Hekate has always looked quite compassionate to me, in Her aspect of lighting the way and comforting the traveler who finds herself on dark, lonely roads; most show Her rather more, well, witchy and spooky.

At any rate, this is going to be an interesting post, as I am elsewhere taking part in a reading/discussion of Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, and we are in the week of reading deprivation. The idea behind that being, from what I understand, is that it is a week off from the non-stop brain-stuffing of Other People's Ideas, the constant stream of everything in in in, so that the waters of the soul may settle and clear, and one may see what one's own actual opinions are when deprived of everyone else's. Which is a very good idea, and well it's been an interesting week let me tell you, but what it means on a practical, Goddess blogular level is no magazines, no blogs, no email, and no books on, oh, I don't know, say, Chinese mythology. We are allowed, however, to write, as that is a very excellent way of discovering one's own opinions; so I guess this week's Goddess interpretation will be rather light on the history part and heavy on the interpretation part.

So off the top of my head (and oh, my God, it almost physically hurts to say that) Kwan Yin is a Chinese Bodhisattva of Compassion. She has elements of a loving mother Goddess and if I'm remembering correctly (I may not be) likely is an older Goddess adopted by the Buddhists as a Bodhisattva, in a similar manner to how any number of Goddesses were adopted into Christianity as Saintes (like Brighid, for example). She is very popular and fairly widespread in the East; and She can even be found in a male form, especially in Japan, where She is called Kwannon. S/He has links to the Tibetan Avalokitesvara, the thousand-armed (and eleven-headed) compassionate Bodhisattva, which also incidentally links Her to the Dalai Lama. (The Boston Museum of Fine Arts has a really lovely sculpture of the male Kwannon, about life-sized, in the 'royal ease' pose. He is so beautiful. I went with a friend several years back and when she saw Him she said, "I just want to curl up on his lap.")

This card is about compassion and kindness, then. In light of (or in 'dark' of, ha!) last week's card, Hekate, where the message was to look for the dark within the season of light, I think this week we are being told to be gentle with ourselves. The dark can be alluring in its own despairing way; and I want to interpret this as a warning not to go too far with it. It is not, after all, about finding the misery within the happiness, as I said last week, but for the purposes of balance. And perhaps it is only meant to be a little foray into the dark, not a full-blown Underworld journey; just a reminder, a memento mori at the feast, the dancing skeleton the Romans would pull out to remind everyone to enjoy what was before them, both the food and their lives.

So, this week, be kind to yourself. Ground your doings in reality and the limitations of the physical world and what it means to be mortal, but be kind. It is, really, the most important thing. Or so I have found.

I remember being in sixth grade, and finding myself confronted with the horrifying 'game' of dodgeball, also called, and this is telling, bombardment. For those of you blissfully unfamiliar with the game, basically the (lazy-ass) gym teacher dropped a bunch of partially deflated soccer balls into the middle of a crowd of half-feral middle school kids, and whoever could, i.e. the fastest and strongest, grabbed them up. Then they threw them at the rest of the kids, and if you were hit with one you were out. Of course the faster, and harder, they threw it, the more likely they were to be able to get someone out. So they were thrown pretty hard, and though they were half-deflated, if you got hit with one it definitely hurt. And who were the strongest fastest kids, usually? The boys. So, pretty much, it was a bunch of boys throwing things at girls. Looking at it through an adult, feminist lens I can now correctly name it as a way of teaching violence against women. I don't, really, see any other way that breaks down.

I got real good at cowering. I was a scared, anxious kid anyway; but that was just too much for me. And because I was good at cowering, I was usually one of the ones left till last, and so the experience was about as prolonged as it possibly could have been. And the teacher did nothing, of course, and if I were the cursing type... well, luckily for Mr. Thibault, I am not. The point of this digression being:

There was one boy there, by the name of Joey Freiday (yes! that was really his name!), who, alone of the mob saw that I was frightened. If he found himself in possession of a soccer ball, he would walk up to me first thing and gently tap me with it, getting me out of there as soon as he could. It was an act of kindness that is actually bringing tears to my eyes now. When I saw him a couple years ago at a class reunion, I thanked him for it. He, of course, did not remember.

What kindnesses do you remember? Little things, maybe, to the person who performed them, but that have stayed with you? Muse on them this week; it is important now, this card is saying.

Rereading all that, I find myself thinking If I had just had the presence of mind to tell that gym teacher no. But then? I would have had to have not been afraid. And I was how old? Twelve? And so I find myself remembering that I must have compassion, also, for that scared little girl; and that I cannot judge what I did then by what I would do now. That, also, is key. For kindness and compassion must begin with the self.

So I would also say, this week look back on your past and find someplace where you judge yourself harshly. And look on that act, if you can, with kindness and forgiveness and compassion.

And so, then, what does She say?

It all begins in compassion. That is all you must need know. It all begins in compassion.

Even that twisted legend, that myth of Adam and Eve, even that, for all that it's been crafted to be a tool of oppression ("See? God says women are second-best. It's right there in the Book"), for all that, it is a story begun in compassion. For Adam was lonely, and God saw that and said, Oh, he needs a friend. I will make him a friend. I will make him someone to love.

Find the compassion at the root of things. There is a new understanding in the air now; or there is a way to a new understanding. But you have to look first. If you are able. Be kind there, too.

Oh, and: all is well. I tell you and you may believe me, right now, and I am Kwan Yin and I would know: all is well.

You are all beautiful. You are all beloved. You are all worthy of kindness.


What do you think?

6 comments:

hyper_faerie said...

I think Kuan Yin appearing right after Hekate seems to say that once we've had that foray into our respective darknesses, and found whatever "stuff" has been hidden in there, to have compassion for those less-than-ideal parts in order to heal them (or heal from them) and move on to better ourselves.

Speaking from experience, once you realize all the pent-up crap you have in your subconscious, it can be way too easy to judge that stuff harshly, but doing so still impedes you from moving forward. So I think that this week's message is incredibly apt and very, very astute.

I keep thinking about all the epics where the heroes have to go through some kind of Hell or Underworld as part of their testing, usually to face their pasts, but the important thing is to not play in the dark for too long...

beweaver said...

wow. love the compassion for adam from god as the reason for creating eve.

aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

Thalia Took said...

Beweaver, it surprised me. Being an angry feminist sort I am not generally inclined to cut That Yahweh Dude much slack. But She is right--there is kindness in that story.

Hyper faerie, yes, exactly. I think a lot of the damage we do ourselves is in judging ourselves too harshly. At least that is what I am finding out. Sometimes it's more about forgiving ourselves (or rather, realizing that we did not deserve blame in the first place) more than it is about forgiving others.

And you've got me thinking about the heroines who journey to the Underworld. The theme is a little different. I'm thinking specifically Psykhe here, who journeyed to Queen Persephone at the request of Aphrodite (all women, look at that!) to prove her love for Eros. The soul's journey for love. Hmm.

Poppy said...

You make me cry way too much ;)

When I opened your page up this morning, I literally choked on my tears. Somehow, you always have what I need to hear. Even though I call on both Green Tara and Sekhmet, I often forget to use compassion on myself. The voice in my head says I'm a sissy, looking for excuses to get out of what I have to do. Is it any surprise that today I cannot capitalise "I"? I've had to go back over everything I've written and correct.

Thank you so much for your work. You are helping in ways you'll never know.

jaz said...

hi...just found your blog and i think you might enjoy mine as well. check it out when you have some time! hope you enjoy!

sido said...

gandhi wasn't bad on this one, though I don't know if he applied it in his personal relationships with his wife...sigh.

Anyway, he officially said, "Kindness is the greatest wisdom." It's a favourite, though not convinced he was the first!

Mercy have mercy on yourself. How many of us had no mercy given, when so so needed? The big religions in general don't teach that, above all not, for it gives back Power to the person herself..

Facing a particularly gruesome personal herstory, two surprises came with each work session. One was the finding in each chapter the courage, or compassion I had getting through it and STILL deciding to love, or in some detail of the memory where I could squeeze myself in between just getting through the rest.
The other surprise was, each time I would leave the work place where I had faced off another excruciating something or other, ALWAYS, and this without exception, someone, in that busy rushing city, would stop and say something along the lines of: I don't know you, but you look SO beautiful, or Miss, I just had to tell you there is a light coming off of you..usually when I was feeling about as far from any such thing as you could possibly imagine..Worth remembering, anytime you do some deep healing, what you're discussing here..
So I thought that, well, it's moving up and out, why I'm feeling gulp-uck! and why it seems to be showing as radiant..
A thought.
Lovely blog. Diolch.Thanks,
blessèd be,
Sido