Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Courage to Explore the Dark

Recently a close friend was diagnosed with a brain tumor. To me, that was darkness itself, but she did not react in that manner. She was upbeat and positive, sure that all would be well. Her family realized the seriousness and came from states away to be with her when she had surgery. Everyone around her felt the intensity of the situation. Yet she remained her smiling, happy self. The surgeon was able to remove the tumor in its entirety, but is was cancerous and - to make matters worse - he determined that it had not originated in her brain, but had moved from another area of the body. Not good news; it was getting darker in these woods. But still she remained positive. A complete body scan revealed - nothing. There was no sign of cancer anywhere else in her body. Where did the tumor originate? Her doctors decided that chemotherapy was necessary since they could not locate the source. She came home, only to return to the hospital after a week because she was not healing as well as they hoped and there was a great deal of fluid accumulating around her brain. The doctors installed a shunt to drain the fluid and are keeping her in the hospital for a week to monitor her. Still, as long as she knows she is loved and she has food (LOL She does have her appetite!), she is not allowing the darkness to take over her mind. She has decided to retire early and stay at home with her family. She has a small at-home business that will take up her time and keep her busy. As of yet, all that she has voiced are the positives about her situation. And then I realized why the darkness was not taking over her persona. She had ventured off the beaten path. She had pulled together her courage and when life's road gave her an unexpected twist, she forged head-on into the darkest woods and explored her situation. In doing so, she had to face the dark, but she was also able to find what was hidden there: the opportunity to retire early, concentrate on her family and her cottage business, and to find out what was in store for her life on a path that she had not considered in the past. She is aware that she will have to dwell in the darkness for at least a time; however, she found a way to illuminate the darkness enough to make it habitable. Now it is up to the rest of us to learn from her courage and to dampen down the darkness that rises up from within when we look at the situation and do not see it from her perspective. We can either add to the darkness or help her illuminate it. I hope that we rise to the challenge as well as she has.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Dark Goddess: Tiamat

Tiamat is a Babylonian goddess of Untamed Primeval Force or Chaos; she was also known as the goddess of all salt water bodies. Her counterpart was Apsu, god of the fresh waters. The two gave birth to all the Babylonian gods and goddesses, but Apsu was unhappy with the clamor of all his children. Tiamat did not agree with his complaints; she was a young mother and, as the embodiment of chaos, she was not bothered by the children’s constant clatter. Apsu took all he could and then approached Mummu, his helper, and they plotted together to kill the children. But the children stood up to him and under the guidance of Enki, god of magick, killed their father and his aide. At first, Tiamat was not displeased with her children. She understood their need for self-preservation and she had not agreed with Apsu’s displeasure. However, as time went by and Tiamat aged, she became lonely for Apsu and began to resent her children’s actions. Enki, in his guilt, had gone to live in the swamps, where he had produced a son with Damkina. This son was called Murduk, who eventually becomes the god of light and justice. When Tiamat decides to rise up against her children in revenge, they send Murduk to face her. After a fierce battle, Murduk surprises them all, tearing into the heart of Tiamat and crushing her skull. He renders her body into pieces. Murduk uses one half of her ribs to create the earth and the other half to create the sky. Her eyes become the sources of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. From Chaos is created order and a new world.

Why is Tiamat considered to be one of the dark goddess? Perhaps it is because she is the origin of chaos and most humans fear chaos for it is the embodiment of the unknown and unexpected. Perhaps it is because she allows her children to kill her mate; or because she eventually rises up herself to kill her children. There are many justifications that can be used in these situations, but the truth is that our justifications are based upon the minds of humans and Tiamat possessed the mind of a goddess. Her reasoning is unknown to us. Through death, Tiamat gives birth to order and a new world – from chaos comes order. Perhaps part of understanding the dark goddesses is understanding that dark is not evil.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Beauty of Anger

Anger, for me, has always been a “dark” emotion. It is treacherous, like some thick, thorny bush in which only the smallest of birds can build a nest. And yet, even they sometimes find themselves impaled on its wicked thorns.

I was raised in the South and was schooled that anger was not a proper emotion for women. Southern belles were not prone to “fits of anger.” I learned well, stuffing my anger inside of me, not allowing it to show through to the outside. To do so would have been a black mark on my reputation and my soul. For the longest time, I felt myself inferior because, while I could hide my anger well, I could not stop myself from feeling it.

Over years of time and learning, I have come to realize that anger is a very natural and healthy emotion. Furthermore, I have come to embrace my own anger. It is so much easier to deal with the emotion of anger when you have permission to express it. No stress; no bottled-up rage; no guilt. Just the raw, dynamic emotion of anger.

People and relationships can survive properly displayed anger. They cannot survive the lie of pretending that anger does not exist. The denial of anger leaves deep scars on the psyche and the soul. The need to deny our anger should have gone out with drawstring corsets for tiny-waisted – or not – Southern women. Here’s to admitting when we are angry and realizing that sooner or later, everyone is.