Lilith, (What A) Archetypal Figure

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Jacobs leads you through an exploration of the genesis and roots of the patriarchy and how Lilith’s issues reflect the imbalance through which we have for so long lived. Jacobs takes apart the myth that we have been taught and cuts through the fog of negativity surrounding Lilith that has brought us to fear knowing her. . .    Tom Jacobs here provides tools to end the patriarchal war on the feminine through insight, acceptance, and compassion.

– Tom Jacobs, Lilith: Healing the Wild (2012)

Lady Lilith (cropped) (Source: Wikipedia)

Lady Lilith is an oil painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti first painted in 1866–1868 using his mistress Fanny Cornforth as the model, then altered in 1872–73 to show the face of Alexa Wilding. The subject is Lilith, who was, according to ancient Judaic myth, “the first wife of Adam” and is associated with the seduction of men and the murder of children. She is shown as a “powerful and evil temptress” and as “an iconic, Amazon-like female with long, flowing hair.”

Rossetti overpainted Cornforth’s face, perhaps at the suggestion of his client, shipping magnate Frederick Richards Leyland, who displayed the painting in his drawing room with five other Rossetti “stunners.”[After Leyland’s death, the painting was purchased by Samuel Bancroft and Bancroft’s estate donated it in 1935 to the Delaware Art Museum where it is now displayed.

The painting forms a pair with Sibylla Palmifera, painted 1866–70, also with Wilding as the model. Lady Lilith represents the body’s beauty, according to Rossetti’s sonnet inscribed on the frame. Sibylla Palmifera represents the soul’s beauty, according to the Rossetti sonnet on its frame.

A large 1867 replica of Lady Lilith, painted by Rossetti in watercolor, which shows the face of Cornforth, is now owned by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. It has a verse from Goethe‘s Faust as translated by Shelley on a label attached by Rossetti to its frame:

“Beware of her fair hair, for she excells
All women in the magic of her locks,
And when she twines them round a young man’s neck
she will not ever set him free again.”

On 9 April 1866 Rossetti wrote to Frederick Leyland: As you continue to express a wish to have a good picture of mine, I write you word of another I have now begun, which will be one of my best. The picture represents a lady combing her hair. It is the same size as Palmifera – 36 x 31 inches, and will be full of material, – a landscape seen in the background. Its color chiefly white and silver, with a great mass of golden hair. Lady Lilith was commissioned by Leyland in early 1866 and delivered to him in early 1869 at a price of £472. 10 s. Two studies, dated to 1866, exist for the work, but two notebook sketches may be from an earlier date. The painting focuses on Lilith, but is meant to be a “Modern Lilith” rather than the mythological figure. She contemplates her own beauty in her hand-mirror. The painting is one of a series of Rossetti paintings of such “mirror pictures.” Other painters soon followed with their own mirror pictures with narcissistic female figures, but Lady Lilith has been considered “the epitome” of the type.

(Source: Wikipedia, Lady Lilith)

Lady Lilith, 1866, red chalk. Tel Aviv Museum of Art

“Until the late twentieth century the demon Lilith, Adam’s first wife, had a fearsome reputation as a kidnapper and murderer of children and seducer of men. Only with the advent of the feminist movement in the 1960s did she acquire her present high status as the model for independent women. The feminist theologian Judith Plaskow’s modern midrash on the story of Lilith played a key role in transforming Lilith from a demon to a role model. . . The Bible mentions the Lilith only once, as a dweller in waste places (Isaiah 34:14)” (Source Rebecca Lesses‘ article “Lilith”).

According to Theresa C. Dintino, in Welcoming Lilith: Awakening and Welcoming Pure Female Power (2017), Lilith is a Goddess and mythological figure who is misunderstood. She is reputed to be Adam’s first wife before Eve, and she represents the first powerful and liberated female in history. Then why was she banished? Through commentary and reflection on the multifaceted aspects of Lilith, Theresa C. Dintino guides the reader on an exciting inner journey to reclaim her own repressed parts. By examining how these Lilith energies may show up in her own life, the reader is encouraged to do the work to bring them back to life. Rituals included in the book offer the opportunity to explore these powerful but often feared aspects. Reclaiming the lost fragments—her power, her anger, her shadow, her sexuality, her creativity and her deep inner truth—returns the female psyche to a state of wholeness and integration.

Lilith appears in historiolas (incantations incorporating a short mythic story) in various concepts and localities that give partial descriptions of her. She is mentioned in the Babylonian Talmud (Eruvin 100b, Niddah 24b, Shabbat 151b, Baba Bathra 73a), in the Book of Adam and Eve as Adam‘s first wife, and in the ZoharLeviticus 19a as “a hot fiery female who first cohabited with man” (Source: Wikipedia).

George MacDonald was a spiritual and literary forbear of writers such as C. S. Lewis, W. H. Auden, G. K. Chesterton, and Madeleine L’Engle. “Lilith” is the account of a man who has never thought much about the laws of nature or his place in the universe or much of anything for that matter. Then, while minding his own business in his own home and his own library, he suddenly finds himself face to face with another world. It is his own world, but he had never known there was more to it. Likewise, he discovers that there was more to himself. But first he must meet Lilith, and find his way, and himself, in the swirling relationship between her, Adam and Eve, and God himself. (Source: Amazon backmatter).

“Lady Lilith” Sonnet

by Dante Gabriel Rosetti

Of Adam’s first wife, Lilith, it is told

(The witch he loved before the gift of Eve,)

That, ere the snake’s, her sweet tongue could deceive,

And her enchanted hair was the first gold.

And still she sits, young while the earth is old,

And, subtly of herself contemplative,

Draws men to watch the bright web she can weave,

Till heart and body and life are in its hold.

The rose and poppy are her flowers; for where

Is he not found, O Lilith, whom shed scent

And soft-shed kisses and soft sleep shall snare?

Lo! as that youth’s eyes burned at thine, so went

Thy spell through him, and left his straight neck bent

And round his heart one strangling golden hair.

The Code of Medicine

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What is medicine? Medicine in its essence is the art of using a microscope. It is essentially to see what is unseen to the human eye. As such it has evolved from spiritual and perceptual insight into the cause of illness to the ability through science to literally see the unseeable. When we can see through a lens the cause of illness we are able to bring healing. We can ascertain the next steps. We then give the patient instruction to follow to become well.

The word MEDICI in our context comes from the word MEDICINE. It would be difficult to convince someone in Europe of how it is pronounced, as they would pronounce it in the Italian way, as in the town of Medici. In North America, we have a different pronunciation, and it is a derivative of a word. It is used in the international mental health code: CODE MEDICI. They have even made entire TV series on this word. Originally Galileo came from the town of Medici.

Because Galileo was severely persecuted and thrown in prison by the Roman Catholic Church for having different thoughts and beliefs than other people, and the church itself believed the sun revolved around the earth at the time, and that the earth is central to all creation. From science we now know that Galileo was right, and science has a way of proving a lot of people right who thought differently. The earth does revolve around the sun, as do all the planets. This is interesting because the sun is referred to as masculine in symbolism, and in gender. The moon is referred to as feminine. The French categorizations of all nouns as masculine and feminine also concur with mythology.

In conclusion, we now know that we should not persecute or diagnose people who think differently than we do, for they may be great artists, scientists or philosophers, proven by time not discoveries on them, or ulterior evidence.

_____________________________________

I originally founded CODE MEDICI in the USA as an international non-profit, on Canada Day 2009. It was dissolved five years later for lack of funding, and an even sadder lack of dedicated board members. I was literally talking to myself at my empty board meetings, eating the Peek Freans and drinking Earl Grey. (The real Earl Grey was invisible but he was interested at the time.) That should never happen to a anyone, but it is an idea whose time has come if we see through the fog because of a lighthouse in a pandemic. (The lighthouse was our official symbol by the way).

I have a lot of sympathy for people who run non-profits, but not until the tears are literally running out of my eyes. There is a puddle on the floor at this moment. I am drinking tears for food at my unpopularity.

I have founded a face book page by this name that people can like. www.facebook.com/codemedici

I chose this code to refer to the large variance of occurrences that people could engage in that might not be illegal, they might be the result of a mental health condition. Thus we have colour-coded all these incidents, or accidents, and labelled and categorized them under the International Mental Health Code.

I will next be doing a Fellowship in Psychiatry, to be overseen by a psychiatrist as I work with five mental health patients. I am enthused about this new course of study, and will be leaning about how natural medicine is redefining psychiatry to make it actually work to bring changes in people’s lives. I have also been accepted to get my Master’s Degree in Neuroscience at King’s College in the UK. This program will be by distance learning however and starts next year. In the meantime I am going into hiding.

One CODE MEDICI table is an example of the coding I use to neutralize emotional, spiritual or physical illness by colour. It would be good to memorize so you can use it as needed.

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You can read the table for yourself. It is at the end of the book A Familiar Shore, which is available for free download. Click here for this offer.

Pioneering A Claim

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The Pigeon Boxes

Pigeons flew

in grey and blue,

they rose in fluttering wing,

they clucked and wept,

they cooed and in a precise

and orderly way

the wind swept

them into the square.

`

There was a set of wooden boxes

on the roof—

of an oversized apartment building

that was the white colour

of a spaceship from Star Wars.

Every day the birds landed

and nestled in their boxes,

covertly denying the

measure of breezes

and hiding their beaks

in their feathers.

`

A small boy opened his window—

and spoke out loud.

If there were two witnesses,

would they distribute the seed

beneath my branches?

`

Would they weep in the night,

a bittersweet song,

would they disappear

with the morning light?

A pigeon, blue-grey,

died with a missing heart

among the wood boxes;

she had been cooing reticent

honours to the murmuring.

`

The pigeon boxes

collected straw.

Millet seed

dispersed over the ground,

and the birds flew in from the sky.

`

Only one was left dead when the girl

returned, softly singing.

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(A poem from my next book, Love in the Time of Plague)

I was offered a contract for my next book of poem from a publisher in the UK. I am looking forward to this next project, as a gift of love to the UK during this time. Though I publish my prose under the name LS and my poetry under EI, my initials used to be SEA and that is how I designed my first Gaudi exhibit in photography online. (My husband went to Spain and brought me home a postcard from a Gaudi exhibit, and olive oil in a bottle like wine from a 17,000 year old gnarled tree.) Within weeks I was calling up the Harrison Art Exhibit and asking what it took to enter.

I wrote this poem for my next book to exemplify the difference between the Holy Spirit and the occult. This occult is, by its name, something that can not be mentioned. If I could not be mentioned or acknowledged—then I would, by nature, be occult. This is also a medical term for something that can not be seen with the human eye. Perhaps this is not as noticeable to the average person, but it seems like in the Jewish Old Testament, you could sacrifice a dove or a pigeon for a newborn baby’s first temple visit. Here, you see that with some children it might not matter which it was, but in the case of Jesus I believe it was a dove sacrificed. I believe this would be a prophetic claim on my part because not many people would stake such a claim. They would be sure they could say one way or the other. I believe because of New Testament symbolism, and the symbol of a dove after the flood of Noah in Genesis, that Jesus would have had discerning parents—who would have used the dove as a symbol. Using a pigeon would have looked occult.

Now usually in life, we are having a good time, eating pizza and watching the game. I think I once sold over 50 pizzas on Super Bowl Sunday at Save-On-Foods—but the same day someone died. It was quite a dark result; the person was still quite young, and no one expected it. We don’t always notice these coincidences. For example, I once drove up to the bank in the middle of the night and was faced with overt Satanism. Someone had left the remains of a ritual sacrifice. Now this seems like a dark topic, but these are dark days. I took the body of the pigeon with its heart cut out and wrapped it in newspaper and placed it in the back of my car. This was so no one would find the body by accident and be distressed.

Now I know that Satanism exists and that it is real. This was no surprise to me, but I took the body so no one else would find it. I disposed of it discreetly after some prayer. It takes courage to believe in divines appointments, but everywhere I go I am faced with that reality. I had to pull up in the dark at exactly that location to open the door and find it right in front of me. One foot more and I would have missed it.

Likewise whenever I go a a coffee shop nowadays. There is usually someone at the next table, and twice now they have been Christians, talking about the Lord and the times we live in. It takes me less and less courage to introduce myself as they are leaving, and give them my card. I hope I will be a light in the darkness to people who are wondering what God is up to in this world. Maybe they will read my website or my blog and have a candle to see by.

I have entered a new contest; it is a new chapter in my life as I write. I am going to begin a new novel, now that I have downed a fair amount of Virginia Woolf, and have a feel for train of thought writing. I am also trying my hand at writing some erotic poetry, although it is mainly using phallic symbols, and symbolism or metaphors in general. When I write a poem, I look for phallic symbols, as if they are something I don’t want to be caught with, and weed them out. I think I have only ever written one phallic poem in my whole life, and that was a rather innocent gesture.

In these two poems I submitted for the Love and Eros contest, I contemplate the idea of women having power without men, how they got to that place, and whether they would rather be in relationships with women, or even have children with them. Here is an example.

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The Mahogany

Her high heels clicked

on the marble floor.

The diamonds in her ring

sparkled like they had been rinsed

with Dove.

This is it:

“You’ve arrived.”

They stared out over

the city. They were both brunettes.

I am glass,

I am a tower,

and the tallest,

rising 26 floors

in the city in the country.

Eyes clear, blink, blink,

a Picasso.

Into the sky it roams;

a girl in a black bonnet

with a stork wielded over

its frame in the moonlight.

Cinderella in the street

raised her head—

a salute.

—Lilith Street

The Imperfectionists

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The new term for anti-vaxxers had to come out eventually, and here it is folks. I can already tell this is not a popular idea, but neither is sterilizing the planet (perfectionism). More and more prophetic types and organizations are stepping up to give their soliloquy. I am having déjà vu on “If you build it, they will come.” The ball field of prophetic worldwide is hosting some major league baseball players, and it would be good, if you profess the same religion to check it out. It turns out we don’t all think the same thing. There are varying views. But from a non-Christian perspective, who is reacting to the vaccination mandate? Fundamentalists in favour of religion? Hard core democratic proponents (this would equate to people against totalitarianism)? Vaccination sounds like an agenda and that makes people suspicious. If they’ve been had, why? What is so great or terrible about just going along with the crowd?

If democracy is legitimate, there will always be opposing parties to use rhetoric to debate and decide a resolution. There is a majority vote, displaying the preferences of the majority of the country. If the democracy of a country is dissolved, we next have a police state where the government can virtually use any measure to enforce their dictates. What we have been looking at as Covid unravels is a definite move toward force or police enforcement of every political whim, authority figures like doctors becoming dominant, and the people being used like pawns to mandate the law to each other. Eventually they may tell on each other, have each other given over to the state, to cite punitive measures. That would be nothing short of Nazi Germany if people sold out their friends and neighbours.

Where have we come from? We came out of communism (I would say as a Mennonite): we suffered for what we believed. It is our mandate not to let what happened to our grandparents happen again. They escaped, they fought in the ward, they immigrated etc. Yet, in the history of the earth and its varying periods, this is how social change was brought about. Suffering. Not a very popular concept. If you are not suffering right now, you probably know people who are. The idea that a vaccination is Saviour, that it will end our suffering if we all comply is the lie.

A vaccine will not end our suffering, in fact, we will know torment: it will intensify it. And that is the sad thing: we think we can escape the confines and restrictions of earth with a vaccine. There is no way out except through death. To be honest, no one wants to die, and 4.4 million people already have. But there is no one who will make it out of planet earth alive. When you were born to this earth you basically made an agreement that you would one day die. What you have to do before then is up to you.

An Old Bridge: imperfectionism

We are hard-pressed to quickly come up with a name and explanation for our avant-garde behaviour in the face of a pandemic. But working on this book, I am, and will share various ideas from the book with my readers.

First. There was and is a place where perfection in the mind exists, but it is unity with God, or a deity that we are able to conceive or perceive as perfect. Without a perfect deity–one that we fear instead of insult–there is no freedom from our own imperfections. That burden is now upon the deity. It is no longer on us.

Second. If a deity carried daily the burden of our imperfections, our “cross” so to speak, lack of peace and dissatisfaction our minds would be soothed as if with oil. We are able to conceive of excellence, and indeed, this is a much better goal than perfection.

Third. The power we wield over people would end them dead if we had the way of our carnal minds, or if they preferred our carnal minds to our spiritual ones–the more information we have, the more information we want–then we dissect the person. We think we are Michelangelo and want to sculpt a statue superior to our marked-up cadaver. We think people a miniscule study or experiment that is dispensable to science or art. The very beauty of their imperfections is effaced.

Fourth. The pains we take each day to make ourselves beautiful, presentable, and composed are at odds with the survivalist mentality where the priority is on life as it is, instead of how it appears. It occurs that one day we will be judged upon what we are, not how we act. They are at odds with the lowest of the street, often shunned as outcasts of society, where wearing makeup is a sign of money thus of harlotry. Those higher up in social classes, and leading more innocent lives certainly do not notice the attentions of men.

Fifth. Women would certainly not try to make such an effort to be composed in a psychiatric ward where they can barely justify scraping their faces off the floor, to coin a phrase by Joanne Greenberg (I Never Promised You a Rose Garden). This book I Never Promised You a Rose Garden is a semi-autobiographical novel by Joanne Greenberg, written under the pseudonym of Hannah Green. It served as the basis for a film in 1977 and a play in 2004 (Source: Wikipedia). According to Spark Notes, it is “a semi-autobiographical account of a teenage girl’s three-year battle with schizophrenia. Deborah Blau, bright and artistically talented, has created a world, the Kingdom of Yr, as a form of defense from a confusing, frightening reality.”

I Never Promised You a Rose Garden by Hannah Green is a classic I have been reading this year.

From Amazon’s review:

Enveloped in the dark inner kingdom of her schizophrenia, sixteen-year-old Deborah is haunted by private tormentors that isolate her from the outside world. With the reluctant and fearful consent of her parents, she enters a mental hospital where she will spend the next three years battling to regain her sanity with the help of a gifted psychiatrist. As Deborah struggles toward the possibility of the “normal” life she and her family hope for, the reader is inexorably drawn into her private suffering and deep determination to confront her demons. A modern classic, I Never Promised You a Rose Garden remains every bit as poignant, gripping, and relevant today as when it was first published.

Nipped in the Bud

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The expression “nipped in the bud” infers to “halt something at an early stage, or thoroughly check something. For example, By arresting all the leaders, they nipped the rebellion in the bud. This metaphoric expression, alluding to a spring frost that kills flower buds, was first recorded in a Beaumont and Fletcher play of 1606-1607.” (Source: https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com › nipped+in+the+bud).

This poem by Emily Isaacson (depicting Earth talking to her Creator) uses this expression:

My day stretches

like a cat under a Freeman maple,

an invisible canopy over my heart,

covering love and hate,

Wagner in so many ways.

I was once a cloistered stair,

then nipped in the cream bud.

A blind woman there,

I traveled in coals,

the dark was my cloak,

my bodice was stars,

my hair was fair as smoke,

as a spring moon before mars,

my eyes were rims of clear gold.

But now I bloom—

the sea rages, roses dip in the salt,

the cold red flowers succumb

by night . . .

Their reticent fingers

reach for covert grandeur.

“This idiom references gardening. A flower that is “nipped in the bud” wouldn’t grow and blossom. This phrase is often used to suggest that by handling something when it’s a minor problem, you’ll be able to avert a crisis.

It has nothing to do with anatomy.” (Source: https://www.themuse.com/advice/its-not-nip-it-in-the-butt-and-other-idioms-you-might-be-getting-wrong).

The incorrect version would be “Nip it in the butt.” The actual correct idiom has to do with an early frost halting the blossoming of the bud. You can see this for yourself in a mild climate such as the Fraser Valley in November or December. The rose buds literally freeze in winter and stay that way, like potpourri encased in ice.

Good to know if you’ve got an idiom correct. Even moreso a quote. If you quote a writer or poet, consider that you can’t just take a stab at it, look it up. You have to quote an exact line or verse for it to be correct. Particularly if its under copyright, and always reference the author. Quotes are a fine art. They are particularly lovely if you use them appropriately. I like to think of it as decorating the mantle.

Now that society is re-opening, you might see this circumstance more with the emphasis on the vaccine as saviour. The government would like to nip dissension in the bud, so we are all agreed this is the way. There is no other way. The Prime Minister today, on Canada Day, on TV, claims if you don’t go along with the government there may be consequences. This sounds like a thinly disguised threat.

Yet there are people that for religious reasons would go along with every other form of medical care, injections, vaccines and blood taking, yet refuse this offer. Why? because of the way they interpret the Bible, and because as Christians they believe they have a relationship with the living Christ. This stand would be that because the vaccine is connected to a number (a vaccine passport) and because everyone is numbered, and no one is exempt, they would correlate that in the Bible to the number of the Beast. This is definitely a Beast of a pandemic, but when it comes down to it, the idea that no one is exempt and that they will need a number to participate in the privileges of society was prophesied long ago by the apostle John on the Island of Patmos.

BC Weather during Oregon Fires by Emily Isaacson

We can’t deny that there are many signs in the heavens that we are reaching the time of the end. The moon has gone red from the fires, and the sky filled with sulphurous smoke. There are many world events to indicate this, stating with the fall of the twin towers and 9/11: the birth pangs, so to speak. Yet when it is right in front of us we don’t recognize it. We may think people who won’t participate are simply anti-vaxxers. I would like to think they are more organized than that. That they refuse the government’s offer to re-enter society because they are a sect of Christianity called ‘People of the Way’. Although this group of followers of Christ appeared in the First Century, it is my proposition that some of them are still around today. Let’s find out how many of them there are, and whether they are willing to take a stand for what they believe in spite of the legal persecutions.

Mary Magdalene

From Appearance of Jesus Christ to Mary Magdalene by Alexander Andreyevich Ivanov. Source: Wikimedia Commons

When Jesus rose early on the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had driven seven demons. She went and told those who had been with him and who were mourning and weeping. When they heard that Jesus was alive and that she had seen him, they did not believe it.

Mark 16:9-11 (NIV)

The archetype of the stigmatized woman is no better demonstrated than through Mary Magdalene. To understand how she was perceived the reputation of having a background as a harlot, you might need to understand the mentality of the Middle East. The Muslim culture has its own social stigmas, and traditional Judaism also. How we came out from under the patriarchal umbrella that defines women’s behaviour as sinful and their existence as that of lesser beings than men is still evolving in the present day church as we accept modern interpretations or perceptions of the Bible, such as the story of Dinah in The Red Tent. The Bible has traditionally told this account of her story as a cover-up for the violent retribution of her father and brothers, who killed a hundred men. All this while not considering her point of view, or the stigma against Gentile husbands at her time.

The Bible does not confirm the notion that the Christian Religion does not have many women, perceived sinful or otherwise, for its heroes. In fact, the lineage of Jesus includes Rahab, a prostitute. Her story is found in the book of Joshua, Chapter 4 and Chapter 6, 17-25. “She provides shelter and support to Israelite spies, who are on an intelligence-gathering mission in her hometown of Jericho, a gated city in Canaan. Through her actions, she demonstrates faith in and allegiance to God” (Source: https://www.workingtolive.com/story-rahab-faith-action-can-transform). Yet when people see women selected for various roles in ministry are they more likely to criticize them than men. Are men unwilling to come under the leadership of women even though women are in leadership in the church, and have been selected and anointed by God. Do Christians still insist in a medieval way that women will dominate men with witchcraft if given the opportunity. That view is very biased, assuming that women are innately sinful without male domination; instead of the covenant paradigm of Jesus Christ indwelling every person who is called by his name. That indwelling presence is what turns us from a sinner to a saint. We realize our error in misperceiving women through the lens of male-dominated religion and patriarchy. Even in the modern world, the Muslim religion carried on its death threats against women who do not religiously follow its rules.

For example the story from Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

“One afternoon, just after Ijaabo settled into our apartment, a young woman, Fawzia, knocked at our door, looking for Abdellahi Yasin. She told him she had no where to go. Fawzia had her three-year-old boy with her. The child was the son of someone Abdellahi know, an Osman Mahamud, but he was garac . . . born out of wedlock. Fawzia was alone, and she begged Abdehhahi to ask if she could stay in our house.

Abdellahi Yasin was embarrassed, but he came and told Ma and me the story. Ma got a look on her face like something smelled bad. She couldn’t have a prostitute in the house she said. I recoiled. There was nothing at all to indicate that Fawzia was a prostitute. I saw in front of me the image of the woman in the rag hut, in the camp. I said to Ma, “If you don’t let her stay, I’m leaving.”

It was a long struggle, but Mahad and Haweya backed me, and we won. Finally, Ma said, “She can stay but I don’t want to see her.” I found a clean sheet and a towel–those were the rarest things in our house-hold–and this poor woman ended up staying with us for a few months with her little boy. By that time, there were so many of us that Haweya Ijaabo, and I had to share a mattress.

To Ijaabo, Fawzia was the living face of shame, and she immediately embarked on a program to persuade her to repent her sinful ways and become a member of the Brotherhood. Ijjabo used to say,”The only way to wash off your shame is to pray, pray, pray and give your life to Allah, in search of forgiveness.” One evening when she was getting at Fawzia again, I snapped and told her to shut up–she was constantly irritating. I said Allah wouldn’t test us on whether we condemned somebody who became pregnant outside of marriage; He would rest us on our hospitality and charity.

Ijaabo quoted the Quran for the six-hundreth time that day. “The man and the woman who commit adultery, flog each of them on hundred time,” she said. I told, “Okay, here’s a stick. Since we don’t have Islamic law in Kenya, do you want to do the flogging?” Abeh, who was in the room at the time, laughed and took my side. Ijaabo acted angry and insulted for week.

Mahad and Haweya knew I was Abeh’s favorite, but they had also learned long ago not to complain about it. Jealousy is forbidden.

The Somalis all shunned Fawzia. When we never have dared to look at me that way: I was Hirsi Magan’s daughter. But Fawzia was known to all as a harlot, and she had no clan protector. She was prey.

Fawzia was used to the verbal and physical abuse. She was conditioned to believe that she deserved it. She told me to ignore Ijjabo’s remarks. Unlike Ijaabo, Fawzia used to help me with the cooking, cleaning, and shopping. After the early morning prayer, she didn’t go back to bed like everyone else did, but instead helped me bake angellos for everyone’s breakfast.

Fawzia told me clearly that she lived for only one thing: her son. He was prey, too. The other, bigger children treated the boy as an outcast. Aidarus and Ahmed, my young cousins, used to plague him. My family never stepped in to prevent the abuse. There was a stigma on him. It was the first time I had knowingly met the child of an unmarried woman.

Most unmarried Somali girls who got pregnant committed suicide. I knew one girl in Mogadishu who poured a can of gasoline over herself in the living room, with everyone there, and burned herself alive. Of course, if she hadn’t done this, her father and brother would probably have killed her anyway.”

The Big Bad Woolf

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“The play Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? is set on the campus of a small, New England university. It opens with the main characters, George and Martha coming home from a party at her father’s house. The two of them clearly care deeply for each other, but events have turned their marriage into a nasty battle between two disenchanted, cynical enemies. Even though the pair arrives home at two o’clock in the morning, they are expecting guests: the new math professor and his wife.

Of course, as it turns out, this new, young professor, Nick, actually works in the biology department. He and his wife, Honey, walk into a brutal social situation. In the first act, “Fun and Games,” Martha and George try to fight and humiliate each other in new, inventive ways. As they peel away each other’s pretenses and self-respect, George and Martha use Honey and Nick as pawns, transforming their guests into an audience to witness humiliation, into levers for creating jealousy, and into a means for expressing their own sides of their mutual story. In the second act, “Walpurgisnacht,” these games get even nastier. The evening turns into a nightmare. George and Martha even attack Honey and Nick, attempting to force them to reveal their dirty secrets and true selves. Finally, in the last act, “The Exorcism,” everyone’s secrets have been revealed and purged. Honey and Nick go home, leaving Martha and George to try to rebuild their shattered marriage” (Source: Sparknotes.com).

“The play is a battle to the death . . .”

“You only have to say the word, Elizabeth Taylor. . . ” said the movie trailer. Apparently she was so connected to the screen version of the play that they identified her name with the movie. Find out more below:

We continue on with her intention to bring attention to the plight of women authors . . .

Shakespeare’s Sister by Virginia Woolf (continued)

At last–for she was very young, oddly like Shakespeare the poet in her face, with the same grey eyes and rounded brows–at last Nick Green the actor-manager took pity on her; she found herself with child by that gentleman and so–who an measure the heat and violence of a poets heart when caught and tangled in a woman’s body?–killed herself one winter’s night and lies buried at some cross-roads where the omnibuses now stop outside the Elephant and Castle.

That, more or less, is how the story would run, I think, if a woman in Shakespeare’s day had had Shakespeare’s genius. . . Now and again an Emily Bronte or a Robert Burns blazes out and proves its presence. But it certainly never got itself onto paper. When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even of a very remarkable man that had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet, of some mute and inglorious Jane Austen, some Emily Bronte who bashed her brains out on the moor or mopped and mowed about the highways crazed with the torture that her gift had put her to. . .

For it needs little skill in psychology to be sure that a gifted girl who had tried to use her gift for poetry would have been so thwarted and hindered by other people, so tortured and pulled asunder by her own contrary instincts, that she must have lost her health and sanity to a certainty. . . whatever she had written would have been twisted and deformed, issuing from a strained and morbid imagination (p 61-2, A Room of One’s Own).

Who is Shakespeare’s Sister?

Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) created an archetype she called Shakespeare’s Sister

A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” –Virginia Woolf

Yesterday in the New York Times article By the Book: “Her prose is sometimes poetry. Listen to this: “Fear no more says the heart, committing its burden to some sea, which sighs collectively for all sorrows, and renews, begins, collects, lets fall.” And she’s such a compassionate describer of her characters with all their flaws. I hadn’t read the novel for years, and it was such a joy to revisit and rediscover it.” (‘Her Prose Is Sometimes Poetry’: Why Margaret Jull Costa Loves Virginia Woolf; New York Times March 4, 2021).

The New Yorker put it, “In Virginia Woolf’s case, the fact that she was a woman was a further aggravation. She belonged to a generation in which a woman had still to fight to be taken seriously as a writer. ” … With the exception of a description of an eclipse of the sun, which is as beautiful as any of the best pages in her novels, and an occasional comment, usually rather malicious, on people she knew, these selections are devoted to her thoughts upon the work in hand. Like every other writer, she was concerned about what particular kind of writer she was, and what her unique contribution could and should be. ‘My only interest as a writer lies, I begin to see, in some queer individuality; not in strength, or passion, or anything startling.’ ” (A Consciousness of Reality, The New Yorker, W. H Auden, March 6 1954).

To delineate her background: Virginia Woolf was considered one of the most important modernist English writers among 20th century authors. She experimented with and used stream of consciousness as a narrative device.

Woolf was born in South Kensington, London, into an wealthy family. She was the seventh child in a blended family of eight, including Vanessa Bell, the modernist painter. The boys in the family received college educations, while the girls were home-schooled. They studied English classics and Victorian literature. The family’s summer home in St. Ives, Cornwall was a formative influence in Virginia Woolf’s childhood. In the late 1890s, she first saw the Godrevy Lighthouse, and it became the origin of her novel To the Lighthouse (1927).

Woolf attended King’s College London, where she studied classics, history and met early reformers of women’s higher education and the womens’ rights movement (1897 to 1901). Her brothers were educated at Cambridge, and this was an influence on her, as well as her access to her father’s vast library. Her father was the one who encouraged her to write, which she began doing professionally in 1900. Although she was resourceful and well-educated, Woolf had several mental breakdowns and was institutionalized for throwing herself out of a window after her father’s death in 1904. She eventually died by suicide in 1941.

Woolf was one of the central subjects of the 1970s movement of feminist criticism and her works have since garnered much attention and widespread commentary for “inspiring feminism.” Her writings were translated into more than 50 languages. A large body of literature is dedicated to her life and work, and she has been the subject of plays, novels, and films. (Source: Wikipedia)

Virginia Woolf wrote the essay A Room of One’s Own; published as a book, it described her ideas and theories on women writers, and whether they would eventually be as acknowledged as men. She created a descriptive and powerful archetype whom she calls “Shakespeare’s sister.” She described this fictional woman–hidden in the background behind her brother’s greatness–as not yet born but that the potential for her to someday exist is preeminent.

Virginia’s Woolf’s Story Within a Story:

Let me imagine, since fact are so hard to come by, what would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith, let us say. Shakespeare himself went, very probably,–his mother was a heiress–to the grammar school, where he may have learnt Latin–Ovid, Virgil, and Horace–and the elements of grammar and logic. He was, it is well known, a wild boy who poached rabbits, perhaps shot a deer, and had, rather sooner than he should have done, to marry a woman in the neighbourhood, who bore him a child rather quicker than was right.

That escape sent him to seek his fortune in London. He had, it seemed, a taste for the theatre; he began by holding horses at the stage door. Very soon he got work in the theatre, became a successful actor, and lived at the hub of the universe, meeting everybody, knowing everybody, practicing his art on the boards, exercising his wits in the street, and even getting access to the palace of the queen.

Meanwhile his extraordinarily gifted sister, let us suppose, remained at home.She was as adventurous, as imaginative, as agog to see the world as he was. But she was not sent to school. She had no chance of reading Horace and Virgil. She picked up a book now and then, one of her brother’s perhaps, and read a few pages. But then her parents came in and told her to mend the stockings or mind the stew and not moon about with books and papers. They would have spoken sharply but kindly, for they were substantial people who knew the conditions of life for a woman and loved their daughter–indeed, more likely than not she was the apple of her father’s eye. Perhaps she scribbled some pages up in an apple loft on the sly but was careful to hide them or set fire to them. Soon, however, before she was out of her teens, she was to be betrothed to the son of a neighbouring wool-stapler. She cried out that marriage was hateful to her, and for that she was severely beaten by her father.

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Then he ceased to scold her. He begged her instead not to hurt him, not to shame him in this matter of marriage. He would give her a chain of bead or a fine petticoat, he said; and there were tears in his eyes. How could she disobey him? How could she break his heart? The force of her own gift alone drove her to it. She made up a small parcel of her belongings, let herself down by a rope one summer’s night and took the road to London. She was not yet seventeen.

The birds that sang in the hedge were not more musical than she was. She had the quickest fancy, a gift like here brother’s, for the tune of words. Like him, she had a taste for the theatre. She stood at the stage door; she wanted to act, she said. Men laughed in her face. The manager–a fat, looselipped man–guffawed. He bellowed something about poodles dancing and woman acting–no woman, he said, could possibly be an actress. He hinted–can you imagine what. She would get no training in her craft. Could she even seek her dinner in a tavern or roam the streets at midnight? Yet her genius was for fiction . . . upon the lives of men and women and the study of their ways.

More on this tomorrow . . . Lilith

Juliet Throws the Teapot

Juliet or alternately “The Blue Necklace” (1898) by J. W Waterhouse

Juliet is among the world’s most memorable characters. Here you see her portrayed by Waterhouse, and made into a beach towel. Just think, for $44 you can take her swimming.

One of Shakepeare’s most famous quotes:

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet…”
-Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II

The explanation for the quote: “In Shakespeare’s tragedy about the titular “star-crossed lovers,” Juliet’s line references her and Romeo’s warring families and that their last names — Montague and Capulet — shouldn’t define who they are or negate their romance. Instead, she’s saying that a name given to an object is nothing more than a collection of letters, and changing what something is called doesn’t change what it inherently is.” (Source: Biography.com)

Where else do we see this theme anywhere that something isn’t necessarily what you get on the label, and that people may not act according to their labels? How do we know what something inherently is? Even being labelled is something people react to, and people may not act according to their beliefs. For example, C.S. Lewis when referring to what labels could be put on Jesus, put it: “He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse.” This is discussed, as what is called Lewis’s trilemma, and is frequently shortened to a question in the line of: “Is he a liar, a lunatic, or Lord?” (Mere Christianity). Lewis further states that: “You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. … Now it seems to me obvious that He was neither a lunatic nor a fiend: and consequently, however strange or terrifying or unlikely it may seem, I have to accept the view that He was and is God.”

We might like a modern movie depiction of the Shakespeare play such at the 2013 Romeo and Juliet to understand the plot.

The play itself has a few central themes: “Romeo and Juliet is the most famous love story in the English literary tradition. Love is naturally the play’s dominant and most important theme. The play focuses on romantic love, specifically the intense passion that springs up at first sight between Romeo and Juliet. In Romeo and Juliet, love is a violent, ecstatic, overpowering force that supersedes all other values, loyalties, and emotions. In the course of the play, the young lovers are driven to defy their entire social world . . .

“Love in Romeo and Juliet is a brutal, powerful emotion that captures individuals and catapults them against their world, and, at times, against themselves. ” (Source: Sparknotes.com).

Another more modern depiction of Shakespeare’s famous play might be Shakespeare in Love, starring Gwynneth Paltrow.

“The film depicts a fictional love affair involving playwright William Shakespeare (Joseph Fiennes) and Viola de Lesseps (Gwyneth Paltrow) while Shakespeare was writing Romeo and Juliet. Several characters are based on historical figures, and many of the characters, lines, and plot devices allude to Shakespeare’s plays.

Shakespeare in Love received positive reviews from critics and was a box office success, grossing $289.3 million worldwide and was the ninth highest-grossing film of 1998. The film received numerous accolades, including seven Oscars at the 71st Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress (Gwyneth Paltrow), Best Supporting Actress (Judi Dench), and Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.” (Source: Wikipedia)

So which ‘Juliet’ throws the teapot? This is referring to a book by by Mary Ann Shaffer, and Annie Barrows. While the character Juliet in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is a writer during the war, we cannot overlook her wartime character as a more Juliet-like renaissance woman. She throws a teapot at a reporter who irks her, during an interview. As a published author, she is well thought of, and has even penned a book on Anne Bronte. She eventually finds love on the Island of Guernsey, although she might be marrying into a different social class when she marries a pig farmer, instead of the sought-after handsome Mark who gives her a diamond ring. While all the rations she has for clothing go to buy a dress she sees in the window of a store, she is inherently frugal and hardworking, working journalistically to tell the story of the literary society.

The idea that Elizabeth was killed during the war, and is the mother of Kit (daughter of a German soldier) complicates the plot. Elizabeth is natural, easy going, inclined to follow her convictions, and helps people who are in need of her. She wears no makeup, and is admired for her connections to her friends, as much is she is scorned for causing scandal by having an illegitimate child.

To throw a curve ball, formally, Elizabeth and Juliet are two different characters. The idea that they would be the same person, or that Elizabeth (a mother) would eventually recreate herself as a successful author named Juliet seems insensible. It would be like the difference between being named Plain Jane and having a ‘pen name’ in modern society.

Example, Author Emily Isaacson:

Emily the writer, reading poetry.
Published poet and author, Emily Isaacson.
Sarah Abbott (2006 before taking a pen name, and legally changing her name.)
Sarah Abbott (2006)

There is a further developed identity, and we see that a person’s psychic consciousness can turn into our perceived identity, and what we know about ourselves; even if no one else knows. Like a secret tryst between Romeo and Juliet, Emily knows she is a writer, and will eventually publish books. But no one else knows. She is hiding it in her childhood. She is writing a book in her desk. She is taking out stacks of books from the library, and reads a book a day. If she verbalizes anything of the sort, the people around her deny it and even persecute her for thinking such things.

Eventually we must come to the point where we ask Jesus a question about his identity, and say:” Who are you?”

Eventually we must ask the same of Emily.

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