Women of Strength
Jean Raffa of the blog, Matrignosis, commented on an earlier post and suggested that I call your attention to this post of hers. I read it, enjoyed it and agree that it should be shared with a wider audience. So, here is an excerpt from the blog post, Caryatids and Queens. Please go to Ms. Raffa’s web site, read it in its entirety and then stay and browse her many other posts.
Femininity is universally associated with beauty, softness, tenderness, receptivity, relationship, and caring. While some equate these qualities with weakness, Spirit Warriors know they make us stronger than we ever imagined possible. Of the many symbols suggesting this kind of strength, none speaks as strongly to me as the caryatid.
Caryatids are gigantic columns or pillars in the form of beautiful, fully draped females. A very old architectural device, they were originally used to support immense entablatures in sacred public buildings. In ancient times it was said that seven priestesses founded major oracle shrines. These priestesses had different names in various parts of the world. In the Middle East they were known as the Seven Pillars of Wisdom, hence their common usage as columns holding up temple roofs. These same pillars are referred to in Proverbs 9:1: “Wisdom [Sophia] hath builded her house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars.” On the Acropolis at Athens, caryatids are associated with the strong and independent goddess, Artemis Caryatis, from whom they get their name.
My first glimpse of caryatids at the British Museum filled me with awe and wonder. In them I saw feminine beauty, gentleness, independence, spirituality and mystery blended with majestic, connected, immovable strength. I was looking at the Queen archetype.
A defining characteristic of the caryatid’s strength is her queenly way of serving society. She is strong enough to support huge public buildings in which many activities take place every day, but never takes on more than she can handle, never gets crushed under the weight of her responsibilities.
Nor does she claim godlike perfection and omnipotence for herself: no savior complex for her! She simply receives what she is strong enough to receive; contains what she is large enough to contain; gives what is hers to give. Her strength is not based on compulsions to prove anything or pretend to be something she is not, but on a clear understanding of the nature of her gifts, dimensions of her interior space, and limits of her authority.
From Around the Web.
From the web site, Lafillevintage.
I’ve always been a big mythology dork- I love stories about magic and wrathful deities and people having sex with gods pretending to be animals and producing cross-species babies. Recently I’ve been exploring the various archetypal roles women play in myths around the world.
While I’m no expert, I have noticed a trend for the roles women are usually given in myths and stories- “the mother,” “the virgin,” “the witch,” etc, etc. Some of these roles have other variations (example: “the virgin” is also often “the princess”), and seem to be reoccurring in every culture, be it Greek, Chinese, Germanic, Native American, brony, etc. The fact that these archetypal roles share similar characteristics over multiple cultures is really interesting to me, and might allude to anthropological evolutionary theories about the role of women in human society- I took an upper-level anthro class once, now I’m convinced I’m an expert.