This is woman’s work by Dominique Christina
Calling forth your inner council of wise, brave, crazy, rebellious, loving, luminous selves.
In Greek mythology, the Furies were three women born from the blood of uranus, the god of sky, when his son Cronus wounded him in battle. In other words,. the blood of a wounded warrior gave rise to these fiery women. The Furies were catalyzed by was a profound sense of justice. The Furies meted out punishment to those who had committed wrong swiftly and often severely. They were unapologetic about tormenting the tormentor. The one who pillaged and plundered was published.
Each chapter of the book introduces you to an archetype, named and described as I have come to know her.
The Shadow women:
She cannot wait to be born. She is always waiting to be born.
The Shadow woman is mostly unborn. She is the deep silence before the water breaks. Emily Dickinson represents this archetypal energy for me. We know that Dickinson was a woman who led a mostly solitary life. When she died, the world ‘discovered’ how mighty her voice had been and marveled over her commitment to keeping that mighty voice entirely to herself. Her ‘birth’ happened for the rest of us, after death.
The Ghost women:
Why you hanging round here, woman?
Ain’t nobody taought you how to stay gone?
The Ghost woman does not know that she is supposed to be a finished thing. She is the waymaker. She knows how not to leave. In the literary world, the best example is the character Beloved in Toni Morrison’s novel of the same name. She is, in essence, a child whose need for the mother was so great that even after her mother cut her throat to keep her from experiencing chattel slavery, this child’s clamoring was so significant that it allowed her to re-inhabit a body in order to be joined again with her mother.
Maya Angelou has right: every goodbye ain’t gone. Ghost also presents the idea that, despite what we may believe, a person can exit their body and be unaware of that experience. They can still identify with their right now life. They can operate in defiance of reason or science if their attachment or obligation is big enough. The Ghost Woman is willing to haunt every room. And she probably does not even recognize it as a haunting.
The Willing Woman:
She a closed mouth. She a yes every time.
The literary character that emerges for me right away is Celie in The Color Purple. Alice Walker writes this woman as the most obedient kind -until she felt a fire catch in her belly. Until she had the expedience of another woman showing here what free could look like, what it could be like, how she could access it, and when she was ready, she found her spine to be remarkably straight. She found roar in her bones. It was then that she resisted. She rebelled against her own fear and self-loathing., he own powerlessness and the gross misuse of power that had maimed her. And she got fire.
The Rebel Woman:
She a clenched fist. She gon tell you no and mean it.
The rebel Woman is an identity defined by juxtaposition - an identity formed from without. At the risk of bringing the US gov. down on my head, I say Assata Shakur is a dynamic example of the Rebel Woman. Angela Davis, Elaine Brown, Gloria Steinem, Nina Simone, Rosa Parks. They buttressed up against, spoke out, stood up or in case of Rosa Parks refused to move.
The Woman with Cool Hands:
She is her own medicine. A balm. A healer. Her hands are always open.
They are the caregiver. Mother Theresa is an obvious example. She helped scores of people and in so doing, became necessary to them. She was a life preserver. A shade tree.
The Conjure Woman:
You got so much magic, girl, you thick with it.
The Conjure Woman is deep-belly-of-the-earth woman. In Gloria Naylor’s book Mama Day, the character for whom the book is named, is a Conjure Woman. Mama Day works with the natural world. Mama Day was the oldest daughter born to a seventh son of a seventh son. This is not a coincidental detail. The number seven is regarded (in many traditions and faith practice) as a number of some power and significance. In Kabbalism, seven is the number of the natural world. Seven days a week, Seven notes on the musical scale. Seven directions: left, right, up, down, forward, back, and center. Nachmanides, also known as Rabbi Moses, a twelfth-century Jewish scholar in Spain, wrote a great details about the weight of number seven, should you be intrigued enough to wish for additional readings.
The Wombed Woman:
She ample, she big, she a wide, wide road.
The Wombed Woman is the mother. The feminine template.The mother is the alpha. There is nothing without her. The birth itself is what defines mother. She is large and she is complicated.
The Journey Woman:
Where you runnin’ off to, girl?
You leave before you enter.
The Journey Woman is the quest-seeker. Amelia Mary Earhart is a good example of Journey Woman, who was an American aviation pioneer and author. Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. I never forgot what she wrote to her husband in the last letter he received from her before he final journey. She said, “ Please know I’m quite aware of the hazards. I want to do it because I want to do it. Women must try to do things, as men have tried. When they fail, their failures must be but a challenge to others”. My favorite part, aside from the feminist tinge, is the business of naming, so simply naming, what drive her. She wanted to fly planes because she wanted to fly planes. Period. She was not running away from her life: she was soaring into it.
The Shapeshifter Woman:
She a slight of hand. She a slippery wort.
The Shapeshifter Woman is whirling and she is a master illusionist. She can spin your top. In terms of the canon, she is a he for the most part. Some Native American people have a figure called the Deer Woman who is a shapeshifter. She is a woman who can become a doe. And the doe, depending on what indigenous tradition you are referencing, can be responsible for matrimony or be the punished for wrongdoing. Whoever put the definition together should know: The Shapelifter Woman is working with more skill sets and she is a transformer. The transmogrifier. The woman whose left hand looks right. The woman who can make Monday morning look like Saturday night. She is the mimicking one. She can outwit and outmatch. Her guise is purposeful and deliberate .And don't you forget it.
The Warrior Woman:
She an open mouth. And an open mouth got teeth.
The Warrior Woman is a strategist. The historiography of African woman warriors is expansive. The Amazon women are probably most recognized. From early Greek accounts, they came out of North Africa - Libya, principally. These women were fearsome in battle and depicted as being large and ferocious. The Dahomey Amazons were an elite group of women warriors whose skills in the area of hand-to-hand combat commanded the respect of the French. In Ghana, an Ashanti queen names Yaa Asantewa fought against British colonial rule. In Nigeria, Igbo women led an insurrection against the colonial gov.’s attempt to exercise a tax on women. In Liberia, women like Leymah Gbowee put their bodies in front of militiamen, who were burning homes, forcing children to become soldiers and using rape as a weapon of war. Leymah faced down them down and did not retreat. Gbowee is responsible for helping to bring an end to the Second Liberian War in 2003. Her stand ushered in a period of peace and enabled a free election in 2005, which saw a new gov. run entirely by women, from the police chief to the president.
And certainly, let’s not forget women like Joan of Arc, who commanded an army at the age of seventeen, who led France to victory more than once. And Zenobia of Syria, whose leadership defeated the Roman Army. Despite the prevailing representations of women; we have a long history of relating to ourselves as fierce.
The Third Eye Woman:
She sees it. She sees it. She sees it.
The Third Eye Woman is the seer. The Knower. She comes into things by intuition, by instinct. It is difficult to have sight - insight, foresight, even hindsight is inconvenient clarity. Because the mind is not reality. The mind is a simulated and constructed version of it. It is constantly interpolating, interpreting, categorizing, managing, packaging, reasoning, illustrating - on and on In Biblical language she would be a prophet. She is the oracle one.
One such prophecy incident happened in Sept. 1963 in Birmingham, Alabama at the 16th Baptist Church.A woman whose children attended that church had a dream the night before. She saw blood pouring out of the church. When she woke up the dream had frightened her so that she told her children not to go, which eventually saved them as the Church was bombed by some miscreant.
The Howling Woman:
She got a hole in her chest. She keep her fist in it.
The Howling Woman is a dirge. She is a lamentation; lives in sadness and grief. The famous jazz singer Billie Holiday is a Howling woman. She had a terrible child life, without mother, rape brothel et al. Even after her incredible success in her adult life, her sadness and wounding trailer her. Grief was everlasting for her. It is not her music that keeps her in my consciousness,. it is her sorrow and how it consumed her.
The Violated Woman:
Somebody took it. Somebody took it. Somebody took it.
The Violated Woman has been mishandled. She has heard the sound of her flesh breaking. The character Mayella Ewell in the classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird is a Violated Woman. Because she was the pivotal figure who falsely accused a black man, Tom Robinson, of raping her. The focus on Mayella is usually on the accusation she made as a way to discuss racism in this country. And that is fair and accurate depiction.
The Beggar Woman:
She a need. She say, “Mista spare a dime”.
The Beggar Woman is Rapunzel and Snow White and Cinderella. She is Lois Lane and Olive Oyl and Mary Jane Watson in Spider-man. She is every girl who acted in King Kong films, remakes included, She is usually smart and yet somehow in trouble over and over again. The Beggar Woman has her hand out, but it is clear that if she elects to, she can ball it into a fist.
The Bone Woman.
Why you always lookin back, woman? Leave the dead alone.
The Bone Woman is a swiveled neck. Her eyes are keen on what is behind her. She is the keeper. In Amy Tan’s novel, The Joy Luck Club, the character Auntie Ying-ying is presented as a tragic figure who lived most of her life with deep regret and sadness about the past. It restricted her capacity to move forward. It did not leave her with enough stuff in her gut to offer anything substantive to her child or her new husband. When she finally comes into this clarity, she is galvanized by a need to offer a daughter something made of more backbone.
The Liberator Woman:
She the Underground Railroad. She the freedom train.
Harriet Tubman is an obvious example of Liberator Woman. She escaped from slavery and felt compelled to sneak back onto plantations to liberate countless others from slavery. She could have chosen to rest comfortably in her own liberation, but for her, the fullness of that experience could only be reached if she helped others know it for themselves.
The Woman on Words”
She got something to say. And she gon say it.
The Woman of Word is fat with narrative and lexicon. She is thick with remembered accounts. In the novel, Songs of Solomon by Toni Morrison, the character called Milkman is given stories throughout the novel by different and divergent characters in the book. Each story is an access point for Milkman. He hears stories from his mother that make him empathetic to her. He hears stories from his father that makes him hold him with a wider consideration. he hears stories from his Aunt Pilate that helps him understand the complexity of his familial structure and the relationship therein. And he hears stories from a young man called Guitar that gives him a sense of his own manhood and how the idea of manhood is carried by other men.
The Wild Woman:
She a Saturday night sweet thang, a red dress and a tall drink.
In the novel The Color Purple, the character Shug Avery epitomizes
the Wild Woman as I understand her. She has babies out of wedlock and left them with her parents so she could be out on the road singing and swinging her hips in juke joints, bedecked in red sequined dress, waving a white feather, and dripping with lustful ooze that made men clamor and women envious. She was available to experience, was unapologetic about sex and her own sexuality, and presided over the men she interacted with, including the central character Albert, who was such dominating bully, an abusive figure in every other area of his life.
The Whisper Woman:
Hush. Hush. Somebody’s callin’ my name.
The Whisper Woman is whatever you have created for yourself to assist yourself in this life. Because she is unique to you, any examples you associate with her will be unique to you too. Only you know whom your Whisper Woman look slike. She should surely be familiar to you.
The Every Woman.
She is a woman built like an atlas. You cannot help but see her.
She is present in every single chapter. She is the sum total. The arranged, constructed, conceived and carried-out woman. She is the fullest expression. She is how you lie down. How you stand up,. How you fight and fall apart and exclaim and leap and beg and weep and curl up and fan out and twirl about and remember the past and forget the past and honor the old ones and create life and rebel and fight and submit and conjure and be and be.