Rescuing Cassandra

Hear the story of Cassandra: She longed to serve the goddess Athena, to give herself to wisdom and law, to craft and mathematics, to courage and strategy and skill. Athena offered her a life filled with the tools and the skills of her own empowerment, her own scholarship. In Athena’s worship, she could follow the trails of her own curiosity and speak the truths she encountered.
Enter Apollo. As patriarchs so often are, he grew jealous of the woman’s devotion to the women’s ways, fearful of truths spoken that issued from sources not under his control. He offered Cassandra music and poetry, promised her the gift of prophecy if only she would serve him instead, a beautiful bird in his golden cage, there to do his bidding and sing his songs instead of her own. Safe. But the safety he promised was his, for her inner knowing, her self-assurance threatened the ego that wanted control of everything. The wisdom of women was mysterious to him, and the mystery disconcerted him and terrified.
So he cursed her. Although she refused him, still he gave her the gift of prophecy he had offered, and she would always speak true. Her voice would ring out in the marketplace, telling the story of what was to be. But the curse was this: her voice would not be heeded. As happens in the belly of any patriarchy, the woman’s voice was ignored and discounted. Old wives’ tales! they scoffed. Cassandra is making things up, looking for attention. Pay her no mind.
And the fire she saw and spoke of engulfed the city. The mercenaries and looters and kidnappers swarmed the streets as she had foreseen. They broke the ten-year siege, and overthrew the city. Cassandra herself became a pawn of the men in their men’s war, a tool of their scheming.
Heed Cassandra, Friends. Listen to her words. Perhaps we can yet rescue her from Apollo’s clutches.

Gratitude List:
1. The Cassandras who will not be silenced, who speak even when threatened, even when they are ignored.
2. Circles of beloveds.
3. Speaking it out loud. Telling the story that itches to get out.
4. The magic of wind and water, fire and air. Everywhere we look, there is magic.
5. Lights at the ends of tunnels.

May we speak our Truth.

“. . .but be listened to this time.”

cassandraCassandra was the princess of Troy, a priestess of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and war. The god Apollo loved Cassandra, and offered her the gift of prophecy. She maintained her single-minded devotion to her patroness, and so Apollo added a curse to his gift: Though she would always prophesy with complete accuracy, no one would believe her.

In the days before the Greeks breached the walls of Troy in their great horse, Cassandra prophesied the destruction of the city. Had her parents–the king and queen–and her brothers listened to her, the people might have been more wary and seen through the Greeks’ trickery. As it was, she was doomed to watch her beloved city fall, knowing that the people she loved could have been saved had they only believed her.

Perhaps you are feeling like Cassandra these days. Keep speaking your truth. Keep telling the world what you see happening around you. As Grace Paley says in her powerful poem, “Responsibility“:

“It is the responsibility of the poet to be a woman to keep an eye on
this world and cry out like Cassandra, but be
listened to this time.”

Gratitude List:
1. Gangly blue heron walking across the ice of the pond this afternoon.
2. Reading about gnomes with a small person this afternoon. That Rien Poortvliet book desperately needs updating to reflect the fact that gnomes are much more open-minded these days regarding gender roles. If I made a mistake and read to him the sexist bits as they appeared in the book, he corrected me: “No, it’s not man, Mom. It’s man and woman.” Yup.
3. Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Leymah Gbowee, who said, “It’s time for women to stop being politely angry.”
4. People who keep the fires lit.
5. That 45-minute nap I took this morning when I realized I had a 2-hour delay. I was in that space of mid-consciousness, where I was almost lucid dreaming, and almost consciously planning a project. And a warm cat purred on top of me.

May we walk in Beauty!