empowerment

Witch & Popcorn

July, 2018

 

Bright Blessings, movie lovers!

This time, I reviewed a film that is considered by some to be one of the top films of all time, and is celebrated as a story of women’s empowerment in a time when women’s rights were still being fought for. It is also a story of love, the ties of family, and the power of women’s magic.

The Color Purple.

Here is a trailer:

The story follows the life of Celie, from her tragic beginnings to her personal triumphs after reclaiming the strength that was beaten out of her.

Her sexuality was robbed of her until she took it back.

Her belief she was beautiful was taken from her until a soul sister showed it to her, and kept at it until Celie believed.

Her sister and children were taken from her until she used magic to instill understanding in the one man who had the power to see to it she got her family back.

A dominant theme was that in the world Celie was born into, the men had the power to make decisions, but it was the women who made life happen.

Almost all of the men in the film were either emotionally crippled, selfish, stupid, lazy, or rapists. They relied very heavily on the women to feed, clothe, clean them, give them children, and take care of said children. The women were the ones who made a house more than a filthy shack with tattered walls, and it was the women who brought happiness. The women were the ones who created, and facilitated relationships through gatherings, healing the sick, forgiving ugly behaviors, ignoring nasty remarks, being beautiful, making music, and giving the unconditional love that makes it worth it to get out of bed in the morning.

The women in The Color Purple are shining examples of family matrons, and mother goddesses. Without them, there is nothing.

Two of the men redeemed themselves in the film, because they allowed the women to reach into them, and pull the good out. Harpo, who finally acknowledged the goddess in his beloved, Sophia, intimately played by Oprah Winfrey, realized his wrongs, and did all the things he needed to in order to correct them.

Mister, who was abused by his father from childhood, lived to become an abuser himself, but he sees the err of his ways, and changes. He redeemed himself too late, and while he was the one who brought Celie back with her family, he had hurt Celie too much for her to be able to trust him again. The pain of the boy who never truly grew into a man because he was never allowed to love, and be who he was is beautifully portrayed by Danny Glover.

The theme of men being threatened by women’s strength, wisdom, power, and bonds was painfully explored by author Alice Walker, a champion of women’s rights. She, herself was subject to abuse at the hands of men in her own family, and was neglected due to boys being favored. She was able to explore the damage that dysfunction creates, while providing a happy ending for everybody in the film, even the men who hurt innocent people.

Early in the film, it is established Celie has the power to keep the people she loves close to her, no matter what anybody else does to her. Her two children are taken away from her by her step father, but she always longs for them. Her sister, Nettie is separated from her by Mister, but both Nettie and Celie hold onto faith that “not even death” can keep them apart.

Because of Nettie and Celie’s will they stay united, the powers that be bring Celie’s two children together with Nettie when she has to flee when Mister banished her. The emotional reunion of the whole family, with Mister looking on, significantly aged from losing Celie, won’t leave a dry eye in the house, and I would advise you have a full box of tissues, something to cuddle, and chocolate when you watch this film.

Connection to the ancestors, and what Walker refers to as “The Motherland”, in Nettie’s case, Africa is elaborated in the film. Once Nettie goes to Africa, she sees the good and bad of the indigenous way of life. The good shares the knowledge of where you came from, who you are, and the interconnectedness of all those who are part of your tribe and family.

As Celie is ripped from family, she creates her own tribe. Sister friend Shug both needed Celie’s healing, and continued sisterhood. As she was seen as a “star” by all but Celie, who saw the humanity and brokenness in Shug, there was nobody she could confide in like she did Celie. In the same way, Shug saw all the untapped potential in Celie everybody else was blind to.

Shug’s pain lies in the fact her father rejected her, took away her children, and banished her from the family. He, a preacher, considered her unclean, having had children out of wedlock. Years later, through persistence, Shug is able to reconcile with her father. I know everybody hates spoilers, but I cannot help but share the link to the very moving scene where the reconciliation happens.

Another member of Celie’s adopted tribe, Miss Sophia, who married Mister’s son, Harpo is a shining example of the kind of powerful woman the men felt threatened by. Women are told from the time they are girls to be agreeable, conform, be small and quiet, and submit. Sophia is quite the opposite, and no amount of beating down keeps her down for long. She goes through a short period where she behaves as a shell of a woman, because of severe trauma that lasts for years. But when Celie finally comes out, and reclaims her own power, she gives Sophia the strength to reclaim her own.

In contrast with the beauty of Africa, an example of the things Nettie is shocked about in Africa is that like men, and white people in the rural South in the early 20th century, indigenous African tribal people portrayed in the film did not believe in allowing females to attend school. Reading, and learning anything besides having babies and keeping house was forbidden for girls in the tribal village where Nettie lived. Nettie, Celie, and other women in both Africa and America in the film defied that taboo, to rise to individuality, and freedom from oppression.

A recurring theme of one of the ways Mister keeps Nettie from Celie is his confiscation of letters Nettie sends Celie year after lonely year. Mister understands the power of the written word, and for decades, hid the letters in a plank under the floor in his closet. Nettie, allowed to go to school, would come home, and teach Celie to read, and it is because of this, once Celie and Shug find Nettie’s letters, Celie’s healing begins.

The first time Celie reads Nettie’s letter, Celie’s transformation begins. Although she fears what atrocities will happen to her if Mister discovers she has defied him, she continues reading her letters. One by one, Celie’s righteous anger wells up, and she grows stronger and stronger. Her strength peaks at the Easter Supper- a dinner celebrating resurrection of the divine dead into eternal life- that Celie tells Mister what he deserves to hear, leaves Mister, and physically places a curse on him. “I curse you. Until you do right by me, everything you think about is going to crumble.” She elaborates it a second time after Shug physically removes Celie from the house to get her to safety.

That curse works, and is broken only when Mister does right by Celie.

The binds of mothers with children, and sisters as well as the relationship to the continent where generations of ancestors lived, are buried, and their bodies create the very soil walked upon all explore the bond of blood. For some, blood really IS thicker than water.

This powerful magic confirms what magical practitioners have always known. The will of love is more powerful than the will to destroy. Not even death can separate what is united in love.

While many reviewers have seen this as simply a story of women’s empowerment, I see the magic and witchery in it, and the power of women to be the physical embodiment of the goddess on earth.

I have watched this film probably a dozen or more times in my life, as well as read the book it is based on. I recommend both.

Blessed Be, and happy movie watching!

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel

 

 

 

 

WiseWoman Traditions

February, 2013

THE WISE WOMAN TRADITION EMPOWERS WOMEN

 

The Wise Woman Tradition is the oldest known healing tradition on our planet. It offers a unique view of health that is woman-centered and deeply empowering to women. This is in stark contrast to orthodox – and most alternative – healing traditions, which are based on male viewpoints which disempower women.

The medicine I learned in school was based on a linear, scientific, male worldview whose truth I did not question. When this medicine failed me, as a woman and a mother, I sought alternatives. Herbs helped me take care of myself and my family, simply and safely, but I questioned the assumptions behind what I was taught. It was clear to me that alternative health care disempowers women as much, or more than, orthodox medicine does. They both actively assume that the norm on which assessment of health is to be based is masculine in gender.

Assuming that a healthy male is the definition of health may not seem like much of a problem, unless you are a woman. This core assumption has hurt, and continues to hurt, women in a multitude of direct and indirect ways, from the deeply personal to the widely political. This assumption leads to attempts to “correct” – with drugs and surgery – physical and emotional states that are normal (and healthy) for women, but not for men.

Consider: Healthy women were given DES (a hormone) simply because they were pregnant – their offspring are cancer-prone.

Millions of menopausal women have been (and are still) treated with hormones in an effort to replace what is “lost.” Does this improve their health~ No. Use of hormone replacement increases the risk of stroke, heart disease, and breast cancer.

Menstruating women need some quiet time alone. Instead they are offered pink Prozac to help them overcome their “depression.”

Women are advised to have their uterus (and increasingly their ovaries, too) removed since they are “not needed after menopause … just places that can harbor cancer.” It is well known that a woman’s sexual response is unlikely to be as strong, and may even be lost, when she loses these vital organs. A century ago, a woman who challenged male authority could be diagnosed as “hysterical” and her uterus (“hyster”) removed (often without anesthesia or disinfectants).

There is more to medicine than the male perspective. I speak for the woman-centered tradition. It offers men and women a new way to think about and create health in all stages of their lives. It empowers women to take charge of their health and their lives, to honor and respect themselves, and the earth. I call it the Wise Woman Tradition.

 

The Wise Woman Tradition empowers women by:

~ Focusing on simple remedies that are easily accessible
~ Sharing information freely
~ Offering compassionate listening
~ Renaming her weaknesses as strengths
~ Reminding her that her body is the body of the earth, is the body of the goddess, is the sacred ground of being.

 

The Wise Woman Tradition empowers women to:

~ View themselves as healthy, even when they have problems
~ Create their own healthy norms
~ Honor their natural cycles and changes (puberty, menses, pregnancy, menopause)
~ Define themselves from a woman-centered viewpoint
~ Connect with other women for personal and planetary healing

Much of modern medicine seems complicated and difficult to understand. Many alternative remedies are also complicated, some are unduly expensive, others require special training and initiations. This disempowers women. The Wise Woman Tradition, by focusing on simple remedies that are easily accessible, and by sharing information freely, allows women to feel competent and powerful in taking care of their own health.

The Wise Woman Tradition heals by nourishing the wholeness of each unique individual. Nourishing has three primary aspects: simple ceremony, nourishing foods, and compassionate listening. When women are heard, when we listen to each other, then we feel validated and empowered. Harking back to the consciousness-raising sessions of the 1970’s, and informed by Native American teachings of the talking stick, compassionate listening reshapes women’s stories so they can reshape their lives.

One of the great gifts of the Wise Woman Tradition is the renaming of our weaknesses as strengths. When we allow ourselves to be depressed, outraged, yearning, grief-stricken, confused, fearful, bitchy, and more; when we allow all that we are to be part of us, then we can finally find and celebrate our wholeness/health/holiness.

The Wise Woman Tradition empowers women by reminding us that we are sacred, that our bodies are sacred. As women, we are the earth. Each one of us lives in the body of the earth. Each one of us comes from this sacred ground of being. And not only are we empowered to honor ourselves, we are empowered to demand that respect from all others.

When women accept orthodoxy’s image of them as constantly in need of help, they accept a powerless position. When women accept the Wise Woman Tradition’s assertion that they are already perfect, already vibrantly healthy, even when they have problems, they assume a position of power. When women create their own healthy norms, they create a place of power in which they can stand, no matter how fast and furious the changes.

When women believe that their natural cycles and changes (puberty, menses, pregnancy, menopause) are somehow sick or wrong, they open themselves to medical experiments. When women learn that the Wise Woman Tradition honors these states above all others, they find a source of deep wisdom and great power flowing into their lives.

When women define themselves from a male-centered viewpoint, they always loose. When they define themselves from a woman-centered viewpoint, they always win. The Wise Woman Tradition offers this power to women, from the Ancient Grandmother’s heart to yours.