Posts Tagged ‘Patriarchy’

Re-Enchantment in Canterbury

In an earlier version of this lifetime, I was an English Major on a Ph.D. track. I left academia due to a traumatic brain injury that temporarily left me unable to read, or to remember print I somehow managed to clear, or to tolerate fluorescent lights in classrooms. On a soul level, though, all was in perfect order, as I felt academia so bereft of the magic and enchantment I imagined it could foster. I’m so happy to learn of this much needed movement to re-enchant the academy. Thanks, Becca!

Some delightful gems here:

“One cannot make enchantment happen, one can only cultivate the conditions that allow for its occurrence.”

“… the need to address patriarchy both inside and outside the academy, without shaming men who want to be allies, and without recreating an essentialist gender binary.”

“Ritual. If we are to revive enchantment we need ritual, but it must be ritual that is meaningful for who we are now. Perhaps for many we are in a time between rituals, seeking the meaning that will enchant.”

Becca Tarnas

The River Stroud and the Westgate Gardens – Photo by Becca Tarnas The River Stroud and the Westgate Gardens – Photo by Becca Tarnas

Canterbury: I couldn’t have imagined a better place to hold a conference titled Re-Enchanting the Academy. Although cars run on the narrow streets and the ninety-degree angles of contemporary buildings can be found throughout the city, one can feel the Chaucerian age palpably. Cobblestones, thatched roofs, white walls between dark wooden beams that seem to bow out at the middle, as if the centuries are weighing on the building like a elderly man carries a potbelly. Canals and bridges, gardens and stone walls, crawling ivy touched by the crimson blush of early autumn—the air seemed to tingle with enchantment, but an old, slow enchantment, one that has settled deep into the stones along with the overgrown moss.

English Redwood – Photo by Becca Tarnas English Redwood – Photo by Becca Tarnas

I came in to Canterbury after a non-stop flight from San Francisco to London…

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James G ~ Medusa

Reader James G emailed me a short piece he wrote on Medusa and some little known mythology about this much feared Goddess. He gave me permission to post it here. (I added paragraphs for easier blog reading.) Thanks to James for this rich sharing and reclamation:

The myth of Medusa is one of my favorites. The snake and serpent are all over the ancient world. The serpent has to do with wisdom and the snake is your thoughts. The snake moves in the same way as your thoughts, like a wave. Medusa symbolized a conscious, wise woman. In Ancient Greece an awake, wise, conscious woman was feared. She could stop a patriarchal mind(ego) in its tracks. Turn it to stone.

The other piece to this myth is the reflection. The ancients believed when you looked at your reflection, you were seeing your conscious, your higher self or your soul. Your true self. You can tell a lot about someone by the way they look at themselves in the mirror. If you’re truly awake or enlightened, you will see yourself as perfect.

So back to the myth. You have Medusa and her sisters walking around with all this knowledge and wise thoughts. (That’s why they’re portrayed as evil.) Perseus, a demigod, can’t learn enlightenment by just memorizing facts and accepting any information that’s true or false. He has to use her reflection to get at the true knowledge. The true matriarchal, higher self knowledge. Him getting the knowledge from her is symbolized by cutting her head off and putting it in a bag. Anytime he needs that knowledge he can pull Medusa out and freeze any left brain person in their tracks. I think this myth is as valid today as it was in Ancient Greece.


[Perseus with the head of Medusa, Benvenuto Cellini (1554), image from Wikipedia]