Myths and archetypes
Weber clearly understands the power and beauty of myth and dream, which is a subject I too very much appreciate pondering: “The ‘beginning’ we sense in mythological language or in the language of dream is also the deepest reality of the present and the fullness of the end. It is the state of being before division, when being was one, before the multiplicity of creation” (56). She writes movingly of beautiful spiritual rituals created by and for women, for them to reconnect and remember a time when the Goddess, the Mother of all that is, whirled in the dark chaos of creativity and danced the world into being – a time when women were still valued and revered because they were the precious source of all life. I specifically used her words above, in fact, to describe the rituals, since I find her imagery lovely and evocative.
Her words are often poetic, in fact: “The Divine Fool dances with the stars. The Fool whirls in the center of chaos, holding the worlds together in cosmos. This whirling dance of folly, by which creation continues forming, draws into itself whatever serves the universe and deflects evil, flinging it into nothingness” (130). She characterizes the dance of the Divine Fool as: “a kind of madness in the eyes of the world, a kind of action that seems chaotic in the service of creation. It is the madness of the … protester, artist, and sometimes saint. … It is a madness of hope that acts as if that hope were a reality and, by daring to so act, transforms the hope into reality” (133), then continues, “Prayer becomes the living out of the image given” (134).
I particularly loved the perceptive beauty of the following two segments as well:
When Psyche loses Eros, she wanders a desolate wilderness. Her passion for life, her sense of self, courage, and beauty die. Womansoul victimized becomes wilderness – original chaos. From that inner whirling can come either a new creation or an everlasting wasteland. The outcome depends on becoming free of identification with the chaos, that sundering that tears apart the fundamental unity of creation. (94)
Later, on the same theme of womansoul, Weber notes:
When we place ourselves in victimizing situations, we risk the death of womansoul. Confronting the enraged ram – the aggression of the victimizer – will not make us strong but will destroy us. Such confrontation simply repeats the original victimization. Nevertheless, we need something from the aggressor. There is a kind of life energy of which the aggression is the shadow side. The soul must re-store this energy in order to be re-formed. The golden fleece has the same meaning as the Kingdom of Heaven, the Pearl of Great Price, or the Holy Grail. It is a symbol of transformation of the profane into the sacred. In alchemy it is akin to the philosopher’s stone, which metaphorically, was believed to change lead into gold.
But we are forbidden to take this transforming agent aggressively, for by doing so we would release its shadow side. Aggression releases aggression. Rather, transformation must be received as a gift, respected and collected. (96)
I found the above fascinating, since it has been my personal experience as well. True, there was a time in my life when I was younger and more sure I knew what was going on; when I aggressively confronted male aggression to women. In the end, however, that was an exhausting and emotionally enervating practice which rarely achieved my desired goal: the better treatment of women by both men and society in general. I used to believe in the old saw that politeness was simply weakness, but my actual experience taught me it was aggression which invariably weakened the practitioner, not courtesy.
Alternatively, when I have practiced what a friend once referred to as “ruthless courtesy,” I’ve been far more successful in achieving my goals. To some degree it doesn’t seem to matter what the goals are, either – issues ranging from the banal to the serious appear to benefit at my returning politeness to aggression. From getting internet trolls to remain civil or please go elsewhere, to asking the neighbors to turn their music down, to even persuading a shoplifter to return to the store with me: courtesy has been invaluable. I do not know definitively why this technique is so successful, but I suspect it has a great deal to do with a sort of emotional alchemy, i.e. my taking the time to actually see the other person; of offering them the gift of being treated like another equally important and rational human being.