Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Witch Hunts

We have found a witch...may we burn her?
(burn her burn her burn her)

How do you know she is a witch?

She looks like one
(yeah, yeah, yeah)

bring her forward

i'm not a witch, im NOT a witch

but you are dressed as one

THEY dressed me up like this
(bah, no we didnt, no we didnt)

this isnt my nose, its a false one


well, we did do the nose

the nose?

and the hat...but SHE'S A WITCH
(yeah, burn her, burn her)

did you dress her up like this?

NO, NO, No, yes, yes, a bit...she has got a wart

what makes you think she is a witch

whuh, she turned me into a newt

a newt?

(pause) i got better

quiet, quiet, QUIET...there are ways of telling if she is a witch...

are there? what are they? tell us, tell us

tell me, what do you do with witches?


and what do you burn apart from witches?


Wood. so, why do witches burn?

(long, lengthy pause) uh...because they're made of wood how do we tell if she is made of wood?

build a bridge out of her!!

ahhh...but can you not also make bridges out of stone?

oh yeah, yeah sure

does wood sink in water?

no, no, no, it floats, it floats!! throw her into the pond!!

what also floats in water?

bread. apples. very small rocks. cider. great gravy. cherries. mud. churches. lead...




if she...weighs the a duck...she's made of wood.

and therefore?

(pause..) A WITCH!!!!

-Monty Python & the Holy Grail

The other day as I was visiting with a friend and she mentioned to me that she'd made a tincture of juniper from her yard combined with vodka for the purpose of banishing mold from her home, it struck me: a few hundred years ago most of my friends and I would very well be considered witches. Except of course, that none of us weighs the same as a duck.

The word witch has the same linguistic roots as the words "wisdom" "wit" "wise" etc. Originally, a witch was a wise woman. This was considered a threat to the security of the Vatican and male dominated offshoot religions that had subjugated women as seductresses & sinners who inherited their evil nature from Mother Eve. (As opposed to primitive Christianity which revered Mother Eve and her choice to embrace mortality as a purposeful and wise choice.) So, along with slavery and various other movements to oppress that have enforced their control by enforced ignorance, women were strongly encouraged (under penalty of death) to be submissive, silent, and less-than intelligent.

As a disclaimer this is not intended to be inflammatory toward the Catholic or Protestant sects, certainly no one would argue that the Vatican has not always been under the control of righteous men and there were mistakes and misconceptions made throughout the history of churches in the middle ages-this being one of them; without doubt hundreds of innocent women were slaughtered in the name of religion.

Fast forward to today. I am surrounded by animals as my familiars. My home smells of "potions" or as I call them essential oils diffused into the air for their healing properties. I practice kinesiology to diagnose and treat my family's ailments. I'm starting to consider my houseplants as beings with personality and as part of my devout faith in God, I sense a deep spiritual and physical connection to the earth, the moon and its cycles, and I can sometimes sense when things are going to happen. I don't consider myself psychic. I certainly don't practice Wicca or define myself as a witch. Most certainly though 300-600 years ago I would have been considered one.

With all my peculiarities and my beliefs in Karma (which I define as something controlled by God with traditional scriptural references to back up my belief), I can walk down the street or even talk about these things without the bat of a passerby's eye. Nearly everyone has experimented with alternative medicines, accupuncture, homeopathy, midwifery to some degree, its not unusual. I have friends who have studied under Reiki masters to learn energy healing. They talk about it openly and its not shocking or shunned as Eastern ideas about energy and health become more widespread.

I see this as an indicator that we as women are on the right track. Yes things often seem far-gone, with the American Psychological Association issuing a severe warning about the over-sexualization of girls in our culture and the harmful effects, we certainly still have work to do. But, that feminine concepts such as intangible energies are being widely accepted is a sign that things are getting better. So, while I continue to explore the power of God, (or nature, or energy--whatever you choose to call it) I hope my explorations will lead to more empowerment and greater freedom to birth our ideas from within rather than from the framework of a male-oriented power model. After all, our true power is the power we hold within ourselves: an inheritance if you will.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Body I Earned

Mom-O-Matic blogged a month or so ago about shame & blame and how she knows she will not drop the extra pounds until she comes to term with being shamed publicly.

Then last night I found myself scrutinizing pictures of "Plastic Surgery Gone Wrong" on the covers of various tabloids. I watched a piece on Discovery channel about airbrushing, photography, and how none of the celebs and models look like that in person.

We have a cultural dichotomy between what is real and what is not in terms of bodies. Thousands of men and women nationwide are fighting the shame and blame games from both embarrassing past experiences and just the flat fact that they are fat in a society that worships thinness.

Having grown up in close promixity to professional dancers, and spending the better part of my teenage years watching them rehearse in studio (and wishing I had a body like that) I learned young that 500 situps a day does not give an already uuber-fit person the tummy texture we call six-pack abs--surgery does. A close friend growing up ditched a career as a professional gymnast because she refused to eat the required maximum lunch of half an apple, and the required maximum breakfast of a piece of toast and a tsp of jelly. I've seen dancers lose jobs over 8 ounces of extra weight, and not get auditions because of their weight on their printed resume be listed as 2 lbs above the cut-regardless of bone structure, or talent. They are told to skip more meals and come back when they aren't so fat. Jobs in chorus lines are given to girls who match down to height, weight, bone structure, and lipstick color. Once they match your physique, only then do they consider your talent.

I am not fat by any means. I weigh 2 pounds more than I did when my oldest child was conceived and 10 lbs more than my all-time-low adult weight. I eat whatever I want and as much as I want. I've retired from feeling that my goodness and wholeness as a person is contingent on being a size 2. I can tell you truthfully that in the dance world I would be considered a good 30 lbs overweight and my arms are too short, my torso too long, and my shapely legs are way too white to parade on stage.

Yesterday I saw a woman that in earlier months I would have compared myself to and felt the burn of shame at my body. I would have envied her long, tanned legs, tiny waist, large breasts and small circumference of her rib cage. But I don't envy her at all. From spending time around extremely thin and fit people as a teenager who worship their bodies and what they can do, I know she isn't real. She bought her body-her breasts, her rippled abs, hair extensions, and even her suntan.

I earned my shapely breasts that remained buxom after pregnancy and breastfeeding. Sure they aren't as perky as they could be with a little silicone, but they are beautiful and a hospital nurse deemed them "perfectly shaped" for latching on a hungry infant. My torso is textured, not with liposuction induced ripples with but zebra like stretch marks where my daughter liked to poke out her bottom, and the place where my son's feet liked to press-my stomach markings are badges of honor. Her arms are long and very thin, my biceps are large and strong from hoisting toddlers and grocery bags. I doubt she could drag a 400 lb dresser to the other side of the room without assistance like I did yesterday. I can't wear high heels, and this woman wears nothing but; however, I have a college degree and a promising career track-one that regards my looks with a grain of salt but considers the aptitude of my mind and abilities foremost.

She probably turns heads with her shape and heavy eyeliner. I'm sure she has a lot of sexual attention from men. I know her well enough to know that that is what she's all about. With or without a man in my life I know I would be OK, I'm not so sure she would. So no, I'm not ashamed of the body I earned, I'm proud of it.