Goddess of the Week: Daphne

daphneImage by Suzanna via Flickr

The good thing about goddesses is that they are always, every time, without fail, true to themselves. They do not fake friendship. They do not laugh at lame jokes. They do not say to the minor gods, "Oh, you choose the DVD," when they know perfectly well that they really want to watch that good looking Chris Pine in Star Trek.

Take, for example, Daphne. Daphne was a Greek goddess, the daughter of a river god. She was not a particularly important goddess. She did not, for instance, have a throne on Mount Olympus. Still, when the totally major stud god Apollo fell in love with her, she was not impressed. She didn't care that he was god of the sun. She didn't care that he invented music. Those things may have impressed the gals in Athens, but Daphne was a goddess. She did not need to define herself through him.

When he said, "Hey babe, how about a ride in my golden chariot," she was all, "Get lost, Bozo. I don't need an oracle to tell me you say that to all the girls." She may as well have given him a love potion. Her indifference fanned his passion until he went totally stalker on her. She had to turn herself into a Laurel tree just to be rid of him, but as a nature-loving free spirit she did not mind the decreased mobility for, as the saying goes, "better to be a tree, than a girl who isn't free."

Channel this goddess: When you are tired of people telling you who you are supposed to be or how you are supposed to act. Remember: stubborn is just another word for determined, hyper is just another word for enthusiastic, and easily bored just means that you won't put up with what what is boring and predictable. You are good enough. Don't change for anyone.

Mary: This goddess is for you. Happy Birthday!

Need a goddess: Leave me a message in the comments section. Just say what you need your goddess for or even who you need her for. I'll see what I can find.

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Wise Women Friday: Emily Dickenson

Dust Bunny Bokeh with Paper Crane and Canadian...Image by greendragonflygirl via Flickr

Words of wisdom from the American poet Emily Dickenson (1830-1886):

The pedigree of honey
Does not concern the bee;
A clover, anytime to him
Is aristocracy.

Sometimes, pedigrees matter, but it is also true that a determined commitment to high standards is the road to depression. You can insist on Godiva chocolate, for example, but that will really only stop you from sampling a whole lot of chocolate in life. Is it really worth the price? I don't think so. Likewise, you can insist on having a vacuumed house, but then you'll miss the natural beauty of dustbunnies as they take on dizzyingly complex and expressionistic forms. Less is sometimes more. Half-assed is not always half-cocked. A well-lived life need not be lived in Manolos, it need only a table on which to rest one's feet.

Which is all a long way of saying that you absolutely have my permission to put off until tomorrow what can be done today. Slacking off can be an art form. Go. Make art.
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Goddess of the Week: Devi

Durga, the MotherImage by premasagar via Flickr

You want a life of blue skies and applesauce? Get a goldfish. Want decades of heartache and anxiety? Try having children. Sure, motherhood has its moments, but they are mini-armistices interspersed between frantic days and exhausted nights. You can try doing this work without a goddess, but you can make margaritas without alcohol too. They question is, why?

There are many fabulous mother goddesses, but for mothers feeling as stretched out as a cheap bra, I'd recommend the Hindu goddess Devi. Devi actually evolved from last week's goddess, Shakti, and she is a composite of the goddesses, Parvati, Durga and Kali. She takes the form of each depending on the need. As Parvati, she's a loving mother and wife. She embodies infinite patience and kindness. As Durga, she's a warrior goddess; she's tough but just, except when she gets really pissed off and Kali pops out of her head and starts spilling blood (but only the blood of demons and annoying drivers who give you mean looks when they think you're taking too long to pull out a parking space -- like they even know how much time it takes to strap kids into car seats and collapse a double stroller. Damn them. They totally deserve a few minutes in a dark alley with Kali.)

As a great three-in-one goddess, Devi understands that there is no need to be a hero. A hero thinks he can do everything by himself, but that's why heroes get beaten up by monsters, stranded on desert islands or frozen to death in blizzards. Why be a hero when you can be a goddess? Devi says don't even try to do it alone. Let your goddess sisters help you. In fact, you can even let your minor gods help you. They won't know when to pop out of your head and kill demons like the goddesses. The minor gods are often surprisingly dense when it comes to reading goddess minds, or even body language or verbal cues. They're just sometimes stupid that way. But minor gods are often very willing. They just need direction. That being said, if you must do it alone, know this, you have everything inside you that you need. You are what you need. After all, you're a goddess.

Channel this goddess: when juggling life's demands, especially those involving motherhood, when you feel like you have to be everything to everyone, and when you are feeling insecure about what you can actually do.

Coppertop: This goddess is for you. I hope you like her.

Need a goddess: I am at your beck and call! Leave a message in the comments section and I'll see what I can find.

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Wise Women Friday: Margaret Junkin Preston

IMG_7216Image by Neeta Lind via Flickr

Words of Wisdom from Virginia poet Margaret Junkin Preston (1820-1897):

But see, in our open clearings,
How golden the melons lie;
Enrich them with sweets and spices,
And give us the pumpkin-pie!

I am not by nature zealous, but there is one subject on which I feel the need to proselytize: Pie.

There are people out there who don't like pie. I know! It's shocking, but true! They call it gummy, gooey, cardboardy.

You know what I think? I think they've only had store bought pies, but calling a store bought pie a pie is like calling a paint-by-numbers a Di Vinci. Store bought pies are slugs wrapped in shoeboxes. They're stewing fruit compost trapped in congealed petroleum. They are evil. They are wrong, and they do not even deserved the moniker pie. They should be called goo blobs or treacle blats or gummy patties.

True pie -- homemade pie -- is a work of art. It is flakey, buttery crust wrapped like love around cinnamon-and-sugar-sweetened apples or creamy pumpkin or chiffony lemon or any number of wonderful fruits or custards. It is whipped cream on top, or ice cream, and maybe even a drizzle of hot caramel. It is everything you wanted your childhood to be.

So this Thanksgiving, here is what you must do: you must make a pie. You must dip your hands in flour and you must roll out your dough, and you must fill it with whatever wonderful thing you want to fill it with, and you must savor its soul-building essence as its aroma wafts from your oven. Then, and only then, will you know the peace of pie. (Alternately, you can let someone else create the pie, but it must be someone trustworthy, someone who'll do it right. You won't really experience the peace of pie, but you will know its satisfaction, and you will be happy.)

So go! Bake! May the peace of pie be with you.


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Goddess of the Week: Shakti

Tridevi: Lakshmi, Parvati, SaraswatiImage via Wikipedia

Feeling tired? Run down? Listless? Do you poop out at parties? There was a time when the solution to your problem might have been this. But when snake oil or modern science let you down, get yourself a little Shakti, the great Indian mother goddess, who, as the source of all energy, provides the ultimate pick me up.

Once, Shakti ruled all, but like a major actress downsized to bit parts, she was reallocated to being the Hindu god Shiva's consort. (At least she didn't have to be his mother!) Shakti can be viewed as any number of Hindu goddesses, but the thing that makes all of them Shakti is that Shakti gives energy. In fact, you can be as all powerful as you want, but without Shakti to caffeinate your coffee, you've got nothing. Omnipotent Shiva, for example, needed Shakti's energy to release his power.

Warning: just like too much caffeine can give you the jitters, too much Shakti can make you a little crazy. Like this one time, Shakti -- in the form of Kali -- killed all these demons and started feasting on their blood. She got so hyper that she started dancing all crazy and wild. Shiva tried to stop her, so she threw him on the ground and danced on top of him, nearly destroying the entire cosmos. It was not a good scene.

Channel this goddess: When you are tired, listless, and your fuel take is stuck on empty. Also, when you give up carbs and can no longer indulge in that little four o'clock chocolate fix. It's not as sweet, but it will get you to dinner.

Lilly: This one is for you. Dial her up and find your mojo.

Need a goddess: Leave me a message in the comments section and I'll see what I can do.
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Wise Women Friday: Benazir Bhutto

Batumi ბათუმიImage via Wikipedia

Words of wisdom from Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto (1953-2007):

A ship in port is safe, but that is not what ships are for.

Nice metaphor, but here's the thing. Just by living, we are forced from our ports. You can go searching for drama or you can wait for it to amble over and find a place on your couch. Your choice. One way or another, it's coming.

So here's what you must do: You must invite the unpleasantries in. Tell them to stop fogging up your windows, to get inside and to get on with things. Acknowledge them. (Really, they're like toddlers; the more you ignore them the louder they'll yell.) Give them cookies. They like that. Pat their heads and then let them go home, and when they are gone, catch your breath. Maybe have some wine. Cuz they're coming back, and they're bringing their friends.

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Goddess of the Week: Oya

Icone Oya CandombléImage via Wikipedia

Baffled Human asks for a goddess who can help her hold her ground and say no AND who possesses the divine secret to cleaning up fur balls. Amazingly, I have just the one! Oya: the Yoruban warrior goddess who uses natural disasters to keep her opponents at bay.

When the god Sango was looking for a wife, he checked out all the Yoruban goddesses, but none compared to Oya, who controls wind, lightening, fire, earthquakes and hurricanes and who always looks fetching in a flouncy gray skirt that doubles as a tornado. With a wife like that, Sango knew that no one would try and furlough him, or expect him to bring snack to the entire soccer team, or make three separate dinners for three separate people every night of the week. No! With Oya on his side, Sango would totally rule. Why? Because Oya could fricking blow people away, that's why! You don't want to mess with Oya. You mess with Oya and you'll end up in Oz.

As for furballs: put your vacuum cleaner away! Oya will blow those suckers into the backyard of those totally mean neighbors you hate. (WARNING: Oya Super Tornado Power is not for use on actual cats.)

All of this is a long way of saying that the next time someone at works asks you to head up the Christmas toy drive or when that mom from the PTA asks you to spearhead the Science Fair, you just dial up a little Oya. Say, "Oh-yeah. I don't think so."

Channel this goddess: When people try and take advantage, when people ask too much, when the virus of volunteer-to-doism knocks you down like a case of swine flu, and, of course, when your cat leaves you one of those "special" presents.

Baffled Human: Go! Say No!

Need a goddess: Leave me a message in the comment section and I'll see what I can do.
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Wise Women Friday: Madame de Stael

Madame de StaëlImage via Wikipedia

Words of wisdom from French writer Madame de Stael (1766-1817):

One must choose in life between
boredom and torment.

Hardly a day goes by when I don't contemplate unplugging my computer and never writing again. Why write? Why? It's masochistic. You doubt your talent. You doubt your words. You doubt that anyone cares, and you think that nothing you write matters. You know for sure no one will ever pay you a penny for your darling sentences and your precious paragraphs. You go to bed saying, "That's it. I'm done. From now on I will train to be an ironman, or I will learn French, or I will feed the poor -- I will spend my time doing noble, intrinsically-oriented deeds." Then you wake up the next morning twitching like a junkie for your cold, smooth keyboard.

It is a torment to want to write. Better your children long to be engineers. But without writing, what's left? Your poor imagination, bored beyond repair, will trick you into believing that you have every disease profiled in "House." It will convince you that delayed spouses are lying mangled in their cars and that your creaking house is filled with ghosts. You will likely go insane, driven mad by the boredom of mundane complaints and too real problems that cannot be tied up into neat life lessons.

You can be bored or you can be tormented. You will suffer either way. But if you choose torment, at least you can edit the script.

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Goddess of the Week: Demeter

Deméter tipo Madrid-Capitolio (Museo del Prado) 01Image by Zaqarbal via Flickr

When my daughters were babies, I read many parenting books, and from these books I learned that I must always tell my children to use their words. So I did. "Use your words," was my mantra, and, lo-and-behold, one I turned around to discover that I couldn't shut my kids up. Every moment was, and is, talk-talk-talk-talk-bicker-bicker-bicker-bicker.

That, right there, is what you call unforeseen consequences -- which is the big lesson the parenting books don't cover.

The Greek goddess of the harvest, Demeter, knew all about unforeseen consequences. When her brother Hades -- lord of the underworld -- stole her daughter Persephone, Demeter played hardball to get her back. She threatened to let all plant life die unless her daughter was returned. Alas, Persephone had eaten the food of the underworld and could not permanently return to the world of the living, but a deal was struck. Persephone would stay winter with Hades and the rest of year with Demeter. And everyone lived happily after. Right?

Not quite. Here's the thing. Persephone like being queen of the underworld. Hades, for all his doom and gloom and lordship over the dead, wasn't such a bad guy. He didn't cheat on Persephone. He gave her good bling, a cool throne, a three-headed dog; she had a lot of power, and she liked having a lot of power. She even had this cool jar of everlasting beauty that she could dole out however she wanted. Goddesses asked to borrow it all the time. No one ever gave them jars of everlasting beauty.

That, right there, was the unintended consequence that smacked Demeter in the face. Demeter was willing to let the whole world die for Persephone; Persephone couldn't wait to get back to her jar of everlasting beauty.

If mothers are lucky and if they do things right, their children leave them. Their children go off to college or they get their own apartments and exciting jobs, and while they love us, we aren't so much the center of their universes anymore. We sacrifice the world. They hunt down cold cream. Again, that's if we are lucky. Demeter was lucky. Demeter got to let go yet know that her daughter was all right.

May you be so lucky, and may you always know spring when the seasons change and you and your Persephones are brought together again.

Channel this goddess: When your little ones leave the nest, when you're having a hard time letting go, when you wish your Persephones would at least peek over the nest, or when the hard work of mothering seems just that: work.

PaperTurtle: You did everything right. This goddess is for you.

Need a goddess: Leave a message in the comments section. Tell me what you need or what you'd like to honor. I'll do the rest.

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