Befriending our Dragons by Sara Wright


“We are an overflowing river.
We are a hurricane.
We are an earthquake.
We are a volcano, a tsunami, a forest fire…”

These words written by Judith Shaw speak to the underlying merging of woman’s anger with Earth’s natural disasters, suggesting to me that women use “natural” violence in order to create change.

Violence, not the values of compassion and cooperation.

Violence and power over are the primary tools that Patriarchy uses to control women and the Earth.

Engaging in more violence will not solve the problems we face.

So many women including me are struggling like never before to survive on the edge of a culture that continues to sanction the vicious ongoing rape of both women and the Earth.

I use the death of trees as a primary example of the latter. By logging trees by the billions or killing them in “controlled burns” we are literally destroying human and non – human species. Without trees/plants we lose the oxygen we need to breathe.

We need “woman – centered” women to say NO!!! WE WON’T TOLERATE LIVING IN A DEATH DESTROYING CULTURE PREDICATED ON RAPE OF WOMEN AND THE EARTH.

We need women who are willing support other women – Women who refuse to remain neutral – Women who don’t wait until their mothers, daughters, sisters, nieces, granddaughters are assaulted to take a stand with other women – Women who refuse to stand behind their men when those men continue to support individuals (males or male identified women  – the latter are often “Father’s Daughters” in Jungian parlance) – Women who refuse to support a Patriarchal system that is destroying us all.

Women centered women can change the  trajectory we are on if we can unite in spite of differences… not through violence but through sheer numbers, using cooperation and compassion as our weapons. Women are potentially a powerful force to be reckoned with, making up more than half of the population, and yet in the last presidential election 52 percent of white women voted to elect a crazed misogynist…

This morning I read a comment about Jung’s work that addressed an issue that is critical to women reclaiming their authentic power. To paraphrase: In depth psychology riding the dragon is still interpreted as the task of conquering and subduing the archaic instincts of the reptilian brain.

As a former Jungian analyst who left her practice when she realized that this psychological approach helped keep women powerless and enthralled to Patriarchy through control and subjugation of woman’s instincts, I would argue that women desperately need to develop a loving relationship with their instinctual “dragons” – anger, fear, outrage – because these instincts protect us, and help us to create change by funneling our energy outward in creative ways.

To illustrate my point I want to digress into personal story.

The day after Kavannaugh was confirmed I found myself paralyzed with hopelessness. As a sexual assault survivor I was so depressed that the only reason I got out of bed was because a very gifted Mexican/Indian artist, Armando Adrian Lopez was part of an artist’s tour that was occurring that weekend, and I knew I needed to go visit him.

Armando’s work depicts women in a mythical context, one replete with mystical and (usually) benign images of the goddess. After being around Armando and his work for one afternoon I felt some sense of comfort remarking to him that “today of all days I really needed to be there.”

I returned the next afternoon and asked him if I could take a couple of pictures of his work. Later when I was reviewing the images I was particularly struck by one of a woman with a dragon at her side riding a horse, holding a Tree of Life with eyes embedded in her leaves.

During the next PTSD/depression driven month I looked at that image again and again, plumbing its depth for a new personal message, eventually coming to the conclusion that I needed to court my own dragons in a more loving way.

It is a testament to the trauma that I experienced over Kavanaugh’s appointment that I am only now starting to understand what happened to me.

Befriending our dragons speaks to the need to fall in love with our dark sides and allow them to lead us into new ways of thinking and being in the world. The dragons of anger, grief, and outrage have helped me clarify my new position with respect to woman/Earth hatred.

Because I have been an advocate for women for so many years, I used to believe that it was critical to be inclusive and include all women in my advocacy regardless of their ability to be present for other women in distress. But some women ‘s support of Kavanaugh (boys will be boys mentality) or their neutral reactions to this man’s appointment to the Supreme Court, a confirmation that sanctions rape once again while dismissing women’s cries of outrage and grief, has created a monumental split in my thinking and feeling. To listen to women who seem to think that rape is not a crime against all women stuns and horrifies me. To listen to women who attempt to “compromise” on the subject of rape repels me.

For the last few weeks I have been swimming in the sea of confusion and repressed anger. How can I continue to support indifferent women? I struggled with this question just as I struggled to contain my feelings of being betrayed by these same women.

Finally I emerged on the other side with clarity and a new perspective. Today, I can say that I am no longer willing to support women’s deliberate or tacit support of rape through rational thinking or “neutrality.” When women continue to make cases for the one man who was sexually abused, or verbally attacked by a grieving woman, or the woman who has to stand behind her man because she is too emotionally needy to stand alone I say NO. NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Rape of Women and the Earth are egregious criminal acts and the two are intimately connected.

I have made a difficult and painful choice to separate emotionally from those women while working towards developing more compassionate attitude towards them – a new “both and” perspective. I can do this easily when I remind myself that I too am a Daughter of Patriarchy and once exhibited many of the same behaviors…

After a month of crushing depression I am courting the red dragon of rage with awareness, embracing her, thanking her for helping me see that I must choose her wisely. S/he can help me survive atrocities by refusing to allow me to collude with those who would betray me, other women, the Earth.

I stand with woman  – centered women without apology – those women who are in the position to shift death into life. I appeal to all women and men who love women to join us.

As if to concretize my thoughts in the material world this morning I discovered my own “dragon” in the form of one of my very friendly house lizards (who live around the outside walls of the house) scurrying across the living room floor! This one is a little female. I think she may want to spend the winter with us. I welcomed her with joy reveling in the synchronicity even as I, oh so reluctantly, released her outside on the garden wall, fearing some unintended mishap with the dogs if she stayed… If she returns a second time I will assume she knows more than I do about what’s good for her and will fashion a terrarium for her to sleep in safety for the winter…

I asked myself how I had gotten so stuck in the first place. The answer came immediately. I had fallen into the Patriarchal Pit where anger and rage are unacceptable emotions to express, especially if you are a woman.

How are we unconsciously controlled by Patriarchy? By shame, of course. Because women are denigrated for having these “negative” emotions it’s not surprising that we fear to express them. And we must in order to become effective agents of change in our own lives or those of others.

As I see it now, in my traumatized state I fell into an old pattern of thinking – one with the destructive values of Patriarchy at its core. Today I embrace that daughter with heartfelt compassion reminding her that her conditioning does not this woman make!

In closing, anger and rage are powerful gut  (reptilian/serpentine/ dragon-like) emotions that motivate us in potentially creative ways.

I choose to embrace my dragon, use the Tree of Life as my staff and guide, keep my eyes wide open.

I will continue to protest rape as a crime against all women, advocate for those who are woman centered, choose compassion as a bridge to others, and continue to cry out on the Earth’s behalf.

With my new perspective and awareness, I can feel/experience my red dragon as lover and allow her/him to guide me as I re- align myself with Life.

Regardless of outcome.

 

 

Sara is a naturalist, ethologist ( a person who studies animals in their natural habitats) (former) Jungian Pattern Analyst, and a writer. She publishes her work regularly in a number of different venues and is presently living in Northern New Mexico.



Categories: abuse, Abuse of Power, Activism, Consent, Earth-based spirituality, Ecofeminism, Ecojustice, Feminism, Feminism and Religion, Gender and Sexuality, General, Grief, Healing, Rape, Rape Culture, Violence, Violence Against Women

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20 replies

  1. Good work Sara. It is hard work learning who can be trusted and who cannot when we have been taught to love and care for everyone. I too learned the hard lesson later in life than some that it is important to know that there are people in our worlds who are not worthy of our trust or in many cases of our time. We don’t have to hate them, but neither do we have to continue to give to them or to expect anything consistent from them.

    For me the turning point came in a workshop that used reiki and other energy techniques to teach us how to listen to what our bodies tell us about other people. Some call this body-intuition. I was so cut off from this because of mixed messages I had been given in childhood about what love feels like that I had no idea how to tap into my body-intuition. In the workshop I learned to trust my body-intuitions. It was like night and day. I know have a way of telling who is trustworthy and who is not. Of course I still get drawn in, but not like before.

    Thanks for sharing and helping to chart a way for others. It is never too late!!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Carol,

      Thanks you for this validating response. I too came late to trusting this body – oh so late – but now unless I am very ungrounded I have that “sense”. I still get trapped or betrayed but eventually am able to pull myself out of the murky waters.

      And it is never too late as you say.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Right on! Write on! I, too, of course have faced patriarchy. In graduate school, the guys are at the top of the food chain, the girls at the bottom. (Is that still the case in 2019?) It took me a long time to recover from grad school, but then I did a lot of technical editing for engineers. Gee, no real change there. And now the Abuser-in-Chief and his buds have me so depressed I don’t even want to hear about them anymore. But who can escape the news? It’s hard. I’m thankful to be part of this community.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thanks, Sara, for this beautiful, wonderful post today. And regards, where you mention: “Rape of Women and the Earth are egregious criminal acts and the two are intimately connected.” I wonder if feminism has also helped to encourage and increase today’s great interest in caring for nature and protecting the environment.

    There was a time when huge numbers of trees were cut down to build streets and cities. But I’ve read that all over the world there are major cities now that have been replanting huge numbers of trees in parks and along both sides of their city streets. New York City now has a huge number of trees not only planted in parks, but everywhere along its sidewalks. Recently I also read that a great many new trees are now growing all over London too — wow, yes, so welcome, so good!

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  4. I think some urban areas are getting it…. as we lose more and more trees we are losing the precious oxygen we need to breathe. Last week I wrote about Earth’s crucifixion which is occurring as I write these words. What i continue to learn is that we are not ready to save this planet – many simply don’t care.

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  5. Sara, yes. I plant more trees, grow more flowers, protect more wetlands and sometimes prune as life does. The rape and pillaging of the earth brings shards of pain in my body. Living on the earth farm my whole life helps! Getting in touch with my feminine instincts and woman’s body required the fight of my life through clinical depression that began when I was too young to know the term, continued and worsened as a young teenager just menstruating, and culminated in midlife when in frantic desperation, I learned about meditation, body work and dreams. Reiki and cranial sacral work was the initial introduction to actually having a woman’s body! For women in deep patriarchal culture, actually learning to live in my body was an excruciatingly painful process, a struggle that continues today with a rare blood disease arising from the vestigial remnants of repressed trauma. Dance, movement, reiki, massage, shiatsu, myofascial release and more dream work. I really liked your poetic introduction. The feminine energy is rising. It is emerging through cracks in the bedrock. Through dreams I learned of the work of Sylvia Brinton Perera, Descent to the Goddess: A Way of Initiation for Women. The Myth of Inanna resonates deeply through my dreams and in my writing. Artist Liliana Kleiner (www.lilianakleiner.com) has created the most amazing images of the goddess, Queen of the Upper World and her sister Ereskigal, Queen of the Underworld and the poet who wrote/recorded this early women’s mythology, Enheduanna. I cannot say enough about the energy of Inanna in my inner world. I have written and published Book I of my Memoir in dreamwork.

    I will say that my experience with women Jungian analysts such as Marion Woodman is much different than that which you describe and Demaris Wehr, Liberating Archetypes, debunked the patriarchal aspects of Jung’s work, as have many many other women. Your writing reminds me and makes me doubly aware of the insidious nature of the patriarchy in its many guises. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So thought provoking Sara, Bob Dylan’s Sara no less! For me, I’m empowered and inspired by great women doing great things. This of course amounts to 99% of the female population who either directly or indirectly are nurturers, care givers and least of all true warriors. We seek each and identify each other at a moments notice.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for this – i think “the insidious nature of patriarchy” still dominates the psyche… females and males alike. It’s not until I began to live my life through Nature that I began to glimpse just how far we will have to go – and frankly, I don’t see that happening.

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  8. Seeing red. Not blinking or blinkered. Anger is a worthy ally. Like unpacking the serenity prayer, we find some items best tossed out, others need rinsing and repair. We do not know what we cannot change, until we try. Even so, if I cannot change it now, in this moment, there may come another moment. And if I cannot change it alone, perhaps with my sister justice warriors, dragon riders, we can do it together.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This post eloquently expresses thoughts that that I have been trying to sort through. I do not understand the woman who support boys being boys or see rape victims as bringing the assault on themselves. I see red when I hear that women lie. Dr. Ford is a national hero. We need statues of her.

    Your comments on the Patriarchal Pit and women’s anger being unacceptable really hit home. Women even turn on other women who show anger.

    Recently at worked I had to sit through several meetings to be told how I am unprofessional and scary because I was very angry over a problem I was being asked to fix because a younger staff member could not do it correctly. The problem has not been dealt with, but I have been. Another coworker was in my office today. The same thing is happening to her. Her anger is being dealt with. The issue is not. Side note, we are both tall, statuesque, middle-aged women. I think that is what makes us scary.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Brilliant post, Sara! I too am sick of these male-identified women! I know we are all daughters of patriarchy, but I still don’t know how any woman could vote for Trump, and I have a couple of friends who did! Both of them are controlled by their husbands, of course.

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