Category Archives: Imbalance

Tarred!

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Tarred!

Tarred!

Tar baby is one of my favorite stories of all time.  Decades later, “Please, please don’t throw me in the briar patch,” still makes me laugh.  It’s become a stock phrase around our house.  Thinking about the briar patch, I started wondering about mine.  I suppose it consists of the leaves of books and thorny words and ideas supported by stout pragmatic branches; a place where I’m extremely comfortable, but many people aren’t.   We all have our briar patches though, full of hidey holes and escape routes, places to take refuge in even from ourselves.

This is a story about the Trickster getting tricked!  Tricksters, as the stories never hesitate to point out, are particularly susceptible to getting gulled.  Br’er Rabbit is shadow boxing with the Tar Baby.   Cockiness and self-righteousness have landed him in this pickle and pride gets him more deeply enmeshed by the second.  Sound familiar?  It does to me.  The Jungians say annoyance with the character traits of someone else occurs because suddenly we find ourselves staring in a mirror and disliking what we see.  The stubborn intractability of the Tar Baby is a part of Br’er Rabbit he doesn’t want to acknowledge.  Being a Trickster he wants to be cool, suave and flexible, able to shuck and jive his way out of any situation with insouciant aplomb!  Heaven forbid he should be seen to be stuck in his own shit, like all the other marks.  But that’s exactly what happens.  Nevertheless, our wily rabbit has at least one more trick up his sleeve and escapes into his first last and best defense – his childhood refuge – the place where he was “born and bred.”

This collage grew out of this picture of a tar-covered rabbit sent to me by a friend.  It took me a while to track down the artist’s name.  When I found Darla Jackson’s site, I fell in love/awe with her ability to render animals so faithfully.  It’s obvious to me that she observes them carefully them, with deep respect and eyes of love.  Isn’t it interesting how influenced we are by everything around us?  Working with a picture of a sculpture, I unconsciously created a three-dimensional collage.  I sliced up an old champagne cork and raided the button box to make Tar Baby’s eyes and ears.  Adding a dimension to the collage made me think about layers.  This story is layered in meaning – On the surface we’re shown the value and pitfalls of an elaborate social system of greet and respond that allows people to safely establish who exactly they are talking to and how far they can trust them (kinsfolk being more reliable in theory than strangers).  Then there’s a lesson in the futility of emotion-based argument.  At bottom we hit perennial wisdom “Know Thyself.”

In the same way I figured out what my briar patch consists of, it behooves me to ruminate a bit on the nature of my Tar Baby.

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The First Sinner

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Pandorawk3a

The First Sinner
Pandora’s Box:
Wk 3 the negative aspect

The First Sinners

Pandora’s Box: Week #3, The Negative Aspect

 The fabric is torn. When women are seen as the lesser of the sexes, instead of as different but equal,  society is weakened and suffers discrimination. When it is taught that men are more logical, inventive, mathematical, and scientific and the stronger and brighter of the species,  society is negating half of its people. In the story of Pandora’s Box or  Eve and the Garden of Eden, the woman is cast in the  role of  the gullible, devious, nonsensical, illogical, stupid, disrespectful and naïve instigator.

 The difference between Instigator and Initiator is intent. An instigator is someone who starts trouble, or something destructive, while the person who is the initiator is someone who causes something important to begin. In both stories the woman is an initiator.

 In Timothy 1. 2:11-15 Paul gives as his rationale for directing that a woman should learn in quietness and full submission and she is not permitted to teach or assume authority over a man, she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived, it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. He gives the women the major part of the blame. I think he was a misogynist.

In my collage, we see Pandora being lectured by the heavenly angel. The Angel is telling Eve/Pandora that all women are marked of her sins,  hereditary sin is the punishment.  This darkness is symbolized by the Crow. Because Eve tempted Adam to eat the fruit from the tree of knowledge and Pandora opened the box lid and let all the evils into the world, the two women are branded First Sinners. Now humankind is born into sin. The Angel says, “It’s all your fault.” I hope Pandora isn’t buying into this bogus crap.

I think all of this is nonsense. These are stories to keep women subordinate to men.  It is an attempt to blame women for all the evils of the world. In the case of Zeus, he is the one that put all the evils into the box in the first place. Who gives a beautiful box as a wedding present with a caveat? Here is the key but “what ever you do, do not open the lid.” wink, wink!  Zeus was the instigator. He knew Pandora would open the box, Zeus made sure Pandora had the quality of curiosity.

In the case of Eve and the Tree of Knowledge, God puts the forbidden tree right in the middle of the garden. Then he has the tree produce tasty eatable fruit. Everyday Adam and Eve see the Tree of Knowledge and are tempted. The Snake, probably a woman, seduces Eve into taking the apple. God could have put the tree in an out-of-the-way corner,  or the tree could have bared bitter berries, or cones or hard nuts. But God was the tempter, the instigator. The woman was  set-up. The Gods use women to get back at men. These stories suggest that the Gods need to get in touch with their feminine side and stop tricking women into doing their dirty work.  Ever notice that these stories always make the woman beautiful, picturesque and hard-working? And if  Paul has his way, all women would be compliant and quiet.   “Good Luck with that!”

Pandora’s Keys

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Pandora'skey#1Pic0005

“Pandora’s Keys”

(Pandora’s Box) Week #1 The Big Picture

 As the Greek Myth begins, Zeus is angry with the brothers Prometheus and Epimetheus for stealing fire and giving it to humans. He decides to send the brothers a “gift” … the gift of trouble in the form of a woman. He orders Hephaestus, the god of craftsmanship, to create a woman out of Earth and water. Hephaestus asks Aphrodite to be his model and when he is done, Athena breathes a soul into the creation. All the Gods and Goddesses give Pandora a gift so that she will be complex and beautiful. Apollo gifts her music, Hermes gifts her persuasion and great curiosity, and one by one, the gifts are added and received.

In my collage, I show Pandora as a young beautiful maiden. She is the first human woman. Zeus expects her to be very desired by all men. In fact, the first man to see her falls madly in love and they get married.  Pandora is very innocent.  She has no life experience and is surely uncorrupted.  As is the case with many young women today, she has no idea just how beautiful and vulnerable she is.

Zeus gives Pandora  a beautiful golden box with the admonishment to never open it.   Zeus knows that the gods have given her curiosity and Hermes  a set of keys. He knows it is only a matter of time before she opens the box.  One day when she is alone in the house, she sees the golden box and wonders what’s in side. She remembers the keys.  She tries the largest one first. Nothing happens. Next, she tries the littlest key and sure enough, the lock clicks.  Surprised, she gently opens the lid a crack to peek inside. As soon as the top is ajar, all the ugly evils fly out and about the room. She stares as they disappear through the crack beneath the door.

She is deeply saddened. Why would Zeus give her such a lovely gift and blackness pours out? As she is about to re-lock the box she hears a strange voice call out to her. “Pandora, take off the lid,” the voice said.  Pandora uncovered the box and out flew the spirit of Hope. “Zeus tricked you”, the spirit said. “I was hiding at the bottom, beneath everything else, Zeus didn’t see me. Now that I am free, I will give Humans Hope.”  Pandora opened the window and let Hope fly out into the afternoon breeze.

On the Way to the Wedding

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On the Way to the Wedding

On the Way to the Wedding

Last month we had a spare story where we had to delve and dive for meanings, this month with Pandora’s Box we have a story rich with store-bought meanings, some of them diametrically opposed.  I’m very curious about what will fly out as we unpack the story and shake out the wrinkles.

I’ve been fascinated by Pandora since I was a little girl, hearing the story for the first time.  I’ve thought of Pandora as very young ever since.  No doubt I identified so strongly with her because I too was a child filled with insatiable curiosity.  From the very first time I raised my hand in class to ask a question  it marked me as different.  Being an Army brat, I changed schools the way other girls changed clothes.   There were plenty of opportunities for fresh starts in new environments; besides my mama didn’t raise dummies – I knew perfectly well  if I wanted to fit in, or at the very least escape notice, I should throttle that insistent inquisitive other who  kept shoving my arm up and flapping my hand around.  But I couldn’t.  Just like Pandora, I had to keep opening the box and suffering the consequences.

It certainly didn’t escape my attention that Pandora and Eve had a lot in common; both being ‘first women’ blamed unfairly for letting mankind’s ills loose upon the world.  From the get-go I got how unfair that was.

Pandora is the dummling, the Fool, the innocent setting out on a journey for which she is totally unprepared.  She hasn’t even had the benefit of a childhood with all its lessons of separation and betrayal to toughen her up.  Zeus has ordered her freshly made and sent her like a time bomb into the world.  So, she isn’t just my little girl suffering the normal slings and arrows of childhood, she is also every child used and abused by adults for their own ends.

In this first collage we see young naïve Pandora carrying all the gifts the gods have showered upon her neatly packed in a basket, on her way to her new home. She rides on top of the hope chest of a bride and her path is strewn with celebratory flowers.  Behind her hovers the shadow of the woman she has already, unbeknownst to her and without her consent, become – a sexual object to be bought and sold by men and gods in games of power.  At this moment though, she is still unaware of her fate; still seeing the world as freshly painted just for her.

Painted red – to stand for marriage (China, India), sacrifice (blood, virginity), fire (Prometheus), hidden knowledge (alchemy) and the “uncontrolled lust for power leading to self-absorption and hatred” (Zeus).  This particular shade of red symbolizes “yang” the masculine life force.  You  see it reiterated in this collage, emphasizing the imbalance of yin and yang. (See previous post March 25)

The story begins with the sibling rivalry between Zeus and his brother Prometheus, which leads to the theft of fire for mankind, resulting in Zeus’s commissioning Pandora from the (male)smith Hephaestus before giving her to another brother Epimetheus as his bride.  Perhaps the evils hidden in Pandora’s box will emerge out of this gross imbalance between feminine and masculine elements rather than the curiosity of Pandora.