Queen Victoria sends Birthday Greetings

My Birthday Card from Queen Victoria

Next to my coffee cup this morning was a card from Queen Victoria wishing me a very happy birthday.

Queen Victoria runs the castle for me and makes sure the food is on the table.  I have never been very domestic and if it wasn’t for her, we would live on peanut butter sandwiches.

She wasn’t always known as Queen Victoria.  When she came to work for us I told Susan her name was Maria Victoria and since my kids go to a British school I added, “You know – like Queen Victoria.”

“Hello Queen Victoria.  I’m Susan,” said Susan.  And from that moment the tone was set.

Queen Victoria calls Susan “Princess” and Susan secretly tells me “I’d rather be called rock star.”

Queen Victoria is one of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of mothers who leave their children to find paid work overseas.  Like her namesake, she is a widow.  She supports her four children who are making their way through school.

On the one hand I think she’s lucky to be a widow because when she sends money home it is going towards her children.  All the other women who have worked for me have sent their hard earned money back to their country.  When they returned home, the house was empty, the money was completely spent on drink and other woman and their mothers were taking care of the children.  Penniless, again they leave to work far away from their families in a country where they don’t speak the language and have few, if any, rights.

Queen Victoria, the Empress of India, also felt “sick at heart” to see her 17 year old daughter leave England for Germany to marry Prince Friedrich Wilhelm.  “It really makes me shudder”, she wrote to Princess Victoria “when I look round to all your sweet, happy, unconscious sisters, and think I must give them up too – one by one.”

The word Courage conjures up images of soldiers fighting in battle.  But whether villagers or royalty, throughout history women have had the Courage to leave everything they know to go live under the roof of a man whose control over their lives is extensive.  And every day, even today, women around the world do this.   Yet their courage is hardly written about.

So receiving these birthday blessings from my Queen Victoria makes me pause.

I wrote about the Graeaes for the first time in Preparing Ourselves for Perseus’ Visit.  And two days later I am given this card.  The picture alludes to the original description of the Graeae.  As members of the Phorcys family they were marine divinities, emerging as the white foam seen on the waves of the sea.

Perhaps Queen Victoria is a messenger for the Graeae who are telling me women don’t need to wait until God or someone else gives us wings to fly.  All the courage we need is already within us.

And if I am ever afraid to follow my dreams all I have to do is glance across the kitchen at Queen Victoria who sings as she cuts vegetables.


Preparing Ourselves for Perseus’ Visit

Reimagined Graeae 1995 Unknown Artist

There once were three old women, who were blind to the gray world about them, save that they shared a single eye between them through which to see the world.

In order to see, each blind crone would take turns looking through the shared eye.  They spent their days passing the eye from woman to woman. As each took her turn she would describe the world she saw in living color to the other two.  It was as if each could see clearly through the seer’s eye. 

It never occurred to any one of the three to keep the eye for herself.  The world was full of possibilities for each of the women because of the collective vision and perspectives they shared.  

Poem from Images of Liberating Action: Opening a Collective Eye, Susan M. Maloney, 1995

Reviewing my IHCC days for the Anita Caspary piece I came across this drawing and poem in my files.

Part of the point in studying feminist spirituality is for women to learn to take God back in their hearts not as the authoritative father or his benevolent son but as the Mother/ Goddess/ Creator.  This means reexamining all the stories, rituals, symbols and prayers we used and asking ourselves does this include me and my experience as a woman.

Take for instance the story of Perseus who killed Medusa.  My sons, Ace and Mark, LOVE LOVE LOVE Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series.  I am very pleased because reading his books they have learned all about the Greek Gods and can tell their teachers who each one was and what they did.  Of course we recently watched the “Clash of the Titans” with Sam Worthington.  I enjoyed the movie as much as they did.

In this 2010 remake, Perseus has to find the Stygian Witches to ask them how to kill the Kraken coming to annihilate humanity.  The Stygian Witches were grey, frightening old crones who shared one eye between them.  After learning he needed to kill Medusa (the witches’ sister by the way) Perseus harassed the old women by tossing their eye out of their reach and making them scramble on hands and knees to find it.

In Greek and Roman mythology, the Stygian Witches were also called the Graeae who shared a single eye and a single tooth.  The Graeae were a primitive concept of the Triple Goddess “who was three in one and one in three”.  Throughout the pre-Christian world, you find Triple Goddess in her hundreds of forms as Creator/Preserver/Destroyer, Virgin/Mother/Crone, Past/Present/Future or Sun/Moon/Star.   The Graeae manifestation of the Triple Goddess was passed down through the play Phorcydes by Aeschylus, part of the dramatist’s trilogy on the life of Perseus.   In the early 7BC versions, the Graeae were young, beautiful and shaped like swans.  By 2010 they have become groveling sorceresses.

This poem is asking us, women, to re-imagine the Graeae, the Triple Goddess within us.  As we are now wiser, older, our hair has become grey but so has Greece and Rome.  And from where I stand the sky has also turned grey, filled with the pollution of man, the Kraken of our time.

Just like Rick Riordan who took an ancient play and 8 millennium later got it placed back on the bestsellers list, we can reframe the old stories.  The poem is asking us to work together, to share the seer’s eye that sees the possibilities, the future, and by describing our vision in living color, bring it to life.  Not for us but for our children, the next generation of Perseuses  who will eventually come to us and ask us how to annihilate the remade Kraken.


Tales by Chapter

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