The Queen of My Self

The Queen of My Self

Solar Goddesses

posted by Donna Henes

In archaic times, people perceived the sun, in its shining prime and glory, the giver of heat and light and life, to be the effulgent force of the female. A passionate aspect of the Great Mother, the versatile Jill-of-All-Trades who issues forth and supports whole life. She is the Heaven Illuminating Goddess, Amaterasu Omikame, in Japan, and the Queen of Heaven and Earth, Arinna, in Mesopotamia. She was Yhi, Sun Woman, to the Arunta of Australia. Sun Sister was known in Anatolia, Siberia and Native America.

Tribal North Europe knew Her, too. The Germans called Her Sunna, as did the Norwegians. In Scandinavia, She was Glory-of-Elves or Sol. The Eddas say that on Doomsday, She will bear a daughter who will be the new sun, the next creation. The luminous world to come. She was Sol, as well, to the Celts who also called her Sul or Sulis. Her celebrations took place on open plains, on hilltops, overlooking springs. A major ceremonial site was Silbury Hill (Sulisbury Hill) and the springs at Bath, once called Aquae Sulis, were the site of Roman altars sacred to Sul Minerva.

The Great Mother in ancient India was Aditi, the mother of the twelve spirits of the zodiac, the Adityas who would “reveal their light at Doomsday.” The Mahanirvanatantra describes the sun as a golden garment of light that graces the Great Goddess. “The sun, the most glorious symbol in the physical world, is the vesture of Her who is ‘clothed with the sun.’”

Tantric Buddhist monks greeted the Sun Goddess, Marici, at dawn, chanting to Her,  “the glorious one, the sun of happiness. . . I salute you O Goddess Marici!  Bless me and fulfill my desires. Protect me, O Goddess, from all the eight fears.” Marici, or Mari, was a precursor of the Christian Mary. The New Testament Book of Revelation refers to Her as a “woman clothed in the sun.”

Some early Christian mystics gazed upon the sun, the shining shawl that encircles Our Lady’s shoulders, until they “became blinded by the light.” The theory being, that once having contemplated such magnificent brilliance, there was nothing left worthy of being seen. The success of this practice seems to have been a sure path to sainthood. An odd parallel is Saint Lucy, Santa Lucia, Santa Luz who plucked out her own eyes to discourage unwanted suitors and sexual advances. In the dark, with the One she truly loved, she was rewarded with the clear vision of the light of her faith.

The goddess was not always the sun herself, but often the force behind it. The grand controller of the cosmos, the sun, and the celestial cycles. According to Greek mythology, Leto laid an egg that produced two offspring, the sun and the moon, Apollo and Artemis, the sun and the moon. The Egyptian Goddess, Hathor, hatched the “golden egg of the sun” at the dawn of creation. The Sun God, Osiris-Ra, died each night to return to the womb of the Great Mother, from whose “gate” He was reborn each morning. The same is said of the Maori sun god, who must descend into the uterine cave of the Waters of Life in order to be regenerated daily.

With the advent of the patriarchy, the sun underwent a sex change. Profound, this gender shift was a portrayal of the left brain revolution, the ascendance of ration over passion. Female divinity was overthrown, overthrone, overgrown. Her domain plundered, Her authority usurped, Her worship polluted. The sun, with the strength of it’s brilliance, it’s sheer presence and potency, came to stand for the masculine principle, the power of rational thinking. The moon, reflective, more subtle and seemingly erratic, came to be associated with the feminine in most cultures. Although the traits of the sun are thought to be male, it retains its female designation in the languages of Northern Europe, Arabia and Japan.

In Mesopotamian mythology, the Hittite Sun Goddess, Estan, evolved into Istanu, a male sun god. In pre-Islamic Arabia, The Sun Goddess was known as Torch of the Gods, Atthar or Al-llat. She was honored daily by pouring libations at roof top altars. Her name was subsequently masculinized to Allah. Her other name, Shams, along with her attributes became associated with a male sun god, Shams-On. The Babylonian sun god was Shamash, clearly related. The Hebrew word for sun, as well as the appellation of the biblical character Samson, were also derived from Her name.

Shamelessly
               orange like a
               parrot’s beak,
               arousing with a lover’s
               touch the clustered
               lotus buds,
               I praise this
               great wheel the sun —
               rising it is an
               earring for
               the Lady of the East.                            

                             Vidya Kara
                             Eleventh Century Sanskrit

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

A Letter from Prison

posted by Donna Henes

by Teresa Christine

It was a bright sunny day nearly twenty-two years ago when I had my freedom snuffed out like a candle. The day that I was arrested was the beginning of a new journey into unchartered waters. After almost three years in the county jail awaiting trial, and eventually sentencing, I was shipped along with my mother to the Central California Women’s Facility to serve a 25 years-to-life sentence in the death of my abusive stepfather.

Prison is a system that takes everything away from you that it possibly can, but you can elect to retain two things: your sense of integrity and identity. I believe my sense of identity has changed for the better over the years, sculpturing me into a more confident woman and a work in progress that is no longer ashamed of her mirror’s reflection.

As a child, I saw my stepfather as a beast, but in prison, the beast can be the very system itself. While there are a lot of people here that I wouldn’t want watering my lawn, there are a good many that I’d have over for dinner. Regardless of which one crosses your path, in prison or in life, there is always a lesson to be learned. I’ve learned more about myself in the personal relationships that I’ve had, than I’ve ever learned in any book. Other people in your life will bring out the true being of your “Self”. It takes courage to observe and embrace what manifests–good or bad–and learn from it. Knowledge is what you gain; don’t fear it, for it is your friend on this journey.

When I entered state prison I had very little self-esteem. I had always had my kindness taken for weakness, and my first year here wasn’t much different. I learned how to say the word, “No” as my first step toward self-preservation, healing, and self-discovery. I learned that it is okay to be a little selfish with my time and to visit the theater of my soul. I learned that scars fade even if memories don’t. However, the most vital lesson I learned was that the abuse was not my fault, and that I had the ability to take back the power I had lost, even if not the innocence. I learned that we are all capable of blossoming in the off-season. I chose to do just that.

In 1995 I began working with youth-at-risk in a prison diversion program. I saw my younger self in the faces of those kids, and I knew their pain. By telling my story, I encouraged them to tell theirs. I lost count of how many police reports I helped file to save the life of a child. The work didn’t just help me find my voice, but to nurture it. I began conducting presentations in the Educational Department on the subject of abuse and violence prevention and non-violent resolution. There’s a great sense of relief, growth, and accomplishment in knowing that you’re helping others. I cannot express enough what a sense of gratitude I have in being used as a tool for a bigger purpose by a power greater than myself.

I guess it would be fair to say that it took coming to prison to dump my self-pity, grasp my past as something I could never hope to change, and to see that I’m not defective. This prison sentence helped me choose to heal the open wound that I had become. I grew up in prison, and I worked on who I was, to become who I am. The only bars that held me back were the negative thoughts within myself. I am free of that inner prison now, but only because of this manmade one that confines me. Believe it or not, prison can be a sanctuary of healing. It removes one from the roots of pain, and makes them tend the garden of the own being. Today, my garden of life flourishes with vibrant colors……and I have never felt more alive. The first step is the hardest, but each one thereafter gets easier, and your make a really good friend along the journey–A friend called Self. Bon Voyage!

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

 

Treading the Turbulent Midlife Waters – PART 2

posted by Donna Henes

The notion that 50 years of age could be considered a “halfway” mark is unprecedented in history. We are blessed with an inestimable gift of many more years of life than anyone who ever lived on Earth before us could ever have imagined. Our future looks bright; it is only the present that seems grim. It is crucial that we wend our way with great concentration and care through the crises of our midlife passage, so that we can learn how to turn our losses into the very lessons that will help us to achieve the life that we want for ourselves as we age. If we ignore our unresolved problems, chronic irritants, and resentments, we can be sure that they will surface as toxic stress that can cause cancer, heart attacks, substance abuse, depression, and other debilitating and life-threatening problems. How successfully we handle our changes will determine the quality of our health and wellbeing for all of our future years. Our life literally depends on it.

At midlife, we are at a major crossroads in our lives, and we can choose to move ahead, turn right or left, stay where we are, or go back where we came from. The Queen, my new archetype for mature women in charge, is an inspirational role model for us as we wend our way through our middle years. The Queen chooses always to choose, to involve herself fully in the process of Her life and living, and to actively direct the drama of Her myth. She urges us take up the challenges of changing, of aging, of engaging in all that life has to offer, and She reminds us to look upon the difficulties, disruptions, disappointments, fears, and failures we have experienced as important life lessons, without which we could never hope to ascend to a throne of responsibility and rule. She encourages us to entertain the entire palette of our emotions, for there is where we find our strength and knowledge and true value. Some things in life just have to be learned the hard way and evading them is counter-productive and eventually destructive. The only way to get through them is to go through them.

The roads leading to Queendom are diverse and many, The way to Self-esteem can be complicated and long. Each woman must take her own path, make her own trail, clear a passage for herself through the thick brambles that reach up to trip her. What roads do exist are unmapped, bumpy, and full of potholes, tumbleweed, and road-kill. There are no shortcuts along the Queen’s Highway, no services, no shoulders, no signage, but many detours and cul-du-sacs. And the fare can be exorbitant. As Dear Abby, Abigail Van Buren, once noted, “If we could sell our experiences for what they cost us, we’d be millionaires.” Like any grand journey, the trip toward self-dominion requires stamina, determination, and the passionate desire to travel. But if we pack properly, check our tires frequently, and take time for picnics, the adventure is incomparable. And the destination of Self-empowerment is majestic.

Menopausal women are now reaching maturity just in time to shape the new millennium for generations of women to come. Possessing both the vital stamina of youth and the experienced wisdom of age, our pioneering generation is anxious to work through the debilitating panic of aging and its negative, derogatory cultural connotations with at least some measure of good grace. And, as a generation, we are especially suited to such a task. Unique in history for our unprecedented freedom, education, individuation, worldliness, health, wealth, and longevity, we now hold positions of hard-earned authority, responsibility, and influence in ever-wider realms. Though certainly not perfect, nor perfectly safe, our power is unparalleled. Moreover, weaned on freethinking, idealism and independence, we have been prescribing the parameters of our lives, inventing and reinventing our culture and ourselves for decades.

And there are more of us every day. One third of all the women in America are over the age of 50, and one woman reaches that milestone every 7.5 seconds.More than 4000 women enter menopause each day. As a matter of fact, climacteric women, 50 million strong, now comprise the single largest population segment of American society.Silent no more, we are reading and talking and conspiring about how to best traverse this profound transitional time in our lives. We are determined to transform ourselves, and in the process, redefine the parameters and archetypes of middle age. We look to the past for grounding, we look to the future for courage, we look to each other for inspiration, and we look to ourselves for the answers. This is definitely not our mothers’ menopause!

You don’t get to choose how you’re going to die, only how you’re going to live.
-Joan Baez, American singer and songwriter
1941-

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

 

 

Treading the Turbulent Midlife Waters – PART 1

posted by Donna Henes

Aging and changing might be inevitable, but it ain’t easy. It precipitates in us a great uncertainty. The myriad dramatic disturbances of modern middle life — menopause, health concerns, the empty nest, divorce, death, and career shifts — create an overwhelming crisis of identity and purpose for us. What follows is an intense period of questioning absolutely everything — our goals and achievements, our priorities and our operating systems, our morals and our values, our fears and our fantasies. Some of us spend a considerable amount of time — easily 10 or 15 years — swirling in the upheaval of this middle age reassessment. What exactly is our role as older than young and younger than old women who are still active and more effective than ever? Who are we supposed to be at this stage of our life when we are less likely to be bound and identified by our kinship connection to someone else — as a daughter, a wife, a mother, a lover?

This middling transitional shift into the next stage of our being promises us a vast world of positive possibilities for the second half of life. But, first, before we are able to avail ourselves of the advantages and rewards of maturity, we must cross the Grand Canyon of midlife change, steep, rocky, shaken, and ripped asunder by a whole panoply of seismic ripples — mental, emotional, and spiritual — beyond the obvious physical ones. We climb and climb, and still we lose ground. The earth that we once trusted to be solid under our feet is slipping away and we are dragged out to sea where we bob along in uncertain waters, in a leaky boat with no map.

In her book Goddesses in Older Women, the therapist Dr. Jean Bolen, says that menopause is “A time of great spiritual and creative unfolding — although it sometimes feels like great unraveling.” Unraveling, indeed. The whole damn sweater is falling apart and we are standing here naked in the cold (and we are still hot). Nothing has prepared us for this landslide of transitions that greets us as we enter our middle years. There we were, going along as always, then one day out of the blue, we discover ourselves to be middle aged. Blindsided in a youth-conscious culture, we never saw it coming, but the overwhelming evidence of our aging can hardly be ignored.

The profound changes in the chemistry of our bodies and in our intimate relationships, the terrifying disruptions of our status quo, the daily life-and-death dramas, are incredibly disorienting. Not only are we burning up physically, blasted with flashes from our out of control internal furnace, we are also, many of us, burnt out on an emotional level after years of tending the home, the hearth, and usually a job as well. Society tells us, and our own experiences have verified, that we will lose now that we are menopausal, everything that has so far defined us: our power of reproductively, our youth, our sex appeal, our children, our parents, our spouses, our time left on the job, our very visibility. This grim prognosis is frequently internalized by midlife women as loss of direction, motivation, enthusiasm, and self-esteem, our fear, our grief, expressed as confusion, depression, and furious rage. 

The relentless bombardment of losses that batters us in every area of our lives effectively strips us of any unrealistic, immature confidence that we once might have had that we were safe in an unchanging and dependable world. We were shielded by our youthful sense of indestructibility as well as by our notoriously death-defying culture. We now understand, because we have lived it, that nothing and no one stays the same forever, that all things must end sometime, that shit, does indeed, happen. We have seen what we have seen. This rude lesson is brought home, more often than not, on the wings of death. When our parents sicken and die, they leave us standing alone on the last rung of the ladder of life and we cannot help but notice that we will be next to kick up our heels in the ancestral conga line. It is also common for us to start losing our husbands, friends, and contemporaries now, which forces us with a mighty shove to confront our own fragile mortality. 

Our watch sports a much larger face these days — not only because we have trouble seeing it, but because we are uncomfortably aware of time running out. In a flash, we see that life has been moving along without us for quite some time now. We just weren’t paying attention. We were busy, distracted by our responsibilities, lulled and dulled by our routines and addictions, deluded by denial. And, lo, before we realized what was happening, we had reached, no, probably bypassed, the halfway mark of our lives. From now on, we swear, we will make every precious second count.

Next week PART 2…

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Donna Henes is the author of The Queen of My Self: Stepping into Sovereignty in Midlife. She offers counseling and upbeat, practical and ceremonial guidance for individual women and groups who want to enjoy the fruits of an enriching, influential, purposeful, passionate, and powerful maturity. Consult the MIDLIFE MIDWIFE™

The Queen welcomes questions concerning all issues of interest to women in their mature years. Send your inquiries to thequeenofmyself@aol.com.

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