Drawn to the Goddess

Mauldin, Tam, Sleepwalker's Dream (Eostre)
Tam Mauldin, Sleepwalker’s Dream (Eostre)

When I was young She appeared to me in flowing robes of green, ever-pregnant, as the mother-lover-consort archetype. She offered me a safe place to explore my budding femininity as a young adult. Later, as I discovered I could not myself become a mother, I sought out other aspects of Her and I found She could also be a wise old crone; I sought to cultivate the traits of the benevolent guide. Yet something in this omnipresent benevolence still felt strained, like I was only peeking under Her veil and had not experienced the fullness of Her. I became obsessed, moving rapidly through the Greek pantheon; even as I was intrigued by the rages of Hera and the bitter frost of Demeter I was still dissatisfied by the reception of these attributes as tragic faults, and was tempted to dismiss these as merely fragments of some greater whole. I hungered for more; a fuller version of Her that could venerate the fullness of my own experiences as a woman, now aged 30+ years.

I stumbled upon the Sumerian goddesses and was in awe of the power of Ereshkigal; I saw the parallels between Inanna’s journey into the Underworld and Persephone’s, but here the former was rent, limb from limb, by the unrepenting rage of the Goddess until all that was left of her was bones. While Persephone was seduced by a man Inanna was challenged by a woman. Archetypally, I found the Sumerian version more satisfying and I sat with it for a while, writing and making some paintings about this descent. I sought to reconcile the rages of my early 20s, moving to forgive the boldness of youth.

Mauldin,Tam, Descent 2: Crucible of Ereshkigal
Tam Mauldin, Descent 2: Crucible of Ereshkigal

Later, I became aware all the contradictions in myself; I was alarmed and intrigued to find that I could be and hold so many conflicting traits inside of myself. As I was certain many of these traits were imposed by the outside world I spent the better part of my life struggling to reconcile them, rejecting these and elevating those, until I was nearly driven mad with the effort to box up all the traits I saw as ugly, undesirable, shameful, or as originating outside of myself. I moved further into the realm of the Dark Goddess, relishing the ruthlessness of Kali and the raw reverence in the poetry written about her awesome power; I wanted to harness her cutting power to remove those things which I hated about myself, once and for all.

I hacked and I slashed, telling myself it was good to “let go” of my indignant, impotent rage, my freakishly wild nature and my “too sweet,” people-pleasing demeanor, reasoning that the crooked edges and rampant vines in the garden of the mind needed a good chopping from time to time. In the cutting I was even more lost than before and I began to see how the docile female model of the Mother Mary and the Goddess of the Green Earth NEEDED this aggressive nature as a foil to all that sweetness. I soon understood that, I too, needed these complimentary components within my psyche in order to really achieve wholeness. I learned about the Shadow and the concept of naming and integrating those energies and I was abashed to see that I had approached the Dark Goddess for perhaps the wrong reasons. Where I wanted to disconnect myself from undesirable traits I really needed to embrace these; Ereshkigal peels back the layers of the overculture so that we can recreate ourselves from our very Soul.

Thus began my search for a Whole and Complete image of the Goddess, one who well and truly venerates the ugly-beauty, the demure-aggression, the wild freedom that is my experience of my female soul…and I may have found her in perhaps an unlikely place: the Baba Yaga. A wild witch of Russian folklore I see in Her a demoted but powerful Goddess. She maintains dominion over life as the Killer-Regeneratrix (M. Gimbutas) while she keeps the sun, moon and stars under her command in a trunk by the foot of her bed (C. P. Estes). She protects and guides young adventurers while also meting out punishment to those who defy Her order; she is the very nature, the power of it all at once. She can appear as a fetching maiden, peasant woman or a terrifying crone and her role is that of Donor and Villain both (V. Propp). She kills and gives birth in equal measure, empowered to make and use whatever tools she requires to accomplish ends known only to her; she apologizes to no one, never asking permission as she dances wildly or sails across the sky in her cauldron.

While her ambiguous, multi-facted nature beguiles folklorists I am reveling in it all.

Existentially yours,
Tam

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Making myself

I Make Myself

I make myself go to bed and get up early.

I make myself put on clothes and go to the gym

I make myself drink water and eat sensibly

I make myself skip dessert

I make myself do the chores

I make myself keep my commitments

I make myself practice my craft

I make myself do all these things in hopes that one day

I’ll find I’ve made myself into someone I can be proud of.

Addicted to Time Management

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In my adult life I have frequently labored to establish a routine, a schedule, a tracker that I can use to follow a plan towards some (often ill-defined) goal. I’ve read Covey twice, bought his planner once, built two bullet journals, and have several different calendar apps (even though I usually can’t be bothered to keep them as current as the paper calendar on my kitchen wall). I worshiped at the altar of Efficiency, prayed to the demigod Productivity and made sacrifice to Success as I pursued my erstwhile goals with the fervor of a rabid hound. Even so recently as last month I found my knees dirty, my hands holding cords of my hair as I beat myself upon Productivity’s altar.

Even through the resultant storm of emotions I knew that it was not that the “gods” had not heard me; it was that I was too weak, too lazy, somehow unworthy of such structure, the semblance of success. It seemed, despite my best efforts at discipline, my inspiration had fled from me and that life-affirming act of art-making had once again lost its juice.

But I knew it was my fault; I knew that I was simply not worthy of the juice because I had not worked hard enough at the squeezing yet.

You see, I procrastinate…

And while I beat myself up again, the familiarity of the situation struck me dumb. I had felt this sort of self-oppression before, known that I had come too far from the internal to dwell in the external. Bereft of my own connection to spirit I dallied with those values gleaned from books and articles–different titles and authors from before but the content remained the same. They painted this dazzling picture; I could be successful if I only had the right morning routine, the right way of meditating, the perfect diet or the Holiest of Holies, that perfect schedule.

I worked so hard to garner these externalities I lost touch with the essence of my art; I knew HOW to get things done but I had no idea WHY I was doing any of it! So, I would spend hours cleaning rather than go into my studio. I took on extra time at work, dates with friends, and did my chores the long-way around; anything to keep from having the time and space to deal with the issues I had created for myself. I call myself the Queen of Procrastination.

In my frustration I flung myself against the proverbial wall and was knocked out cold. When I came to I moved slowly, spending time with my thoughts, refusing to make lists or look at my schedule. I came to see how procrastination manifested as a lack of passion rather than a lack of discipline.

Ever since high school I have struggled with procrastination: the schedule, the planning and obsessions with routines and rituals are all constructs I have erected to manage one of my most shameful traits. “Here, just chop it into manageable bits and it will go easily…here, it just needs a deadline; I just need to stick to it, to force myself to start and then the rest will come easily.” But lately the foulness of my mood just deepened and with my procrastination grew the prevalent, low-level, self-hatred. I couldn’t even manage to show up some days so how could I ever expect to garner success? Surely if I could just show up and do something my passion would return? The muse likes to find us at work, after all…

In a rare moment of silence left by my own bullying mind I ken the irony:  I sought to forestall the familiar, ugly, trait of procrastination by building such elaborate time management constructs that I thoroughly slew my passion. Procrastination rose as passion’s ghost to torment me until I finally relented. Now I find myself on a self-guided path of rehabilitation.

My name is Tam and I am addicted to time management.

 

Existentially yours,

Tam

 

 

 

 

7 Days Challenge: wrap up

The challenge to take black and white photos throughout a week pushed me in one unexpected way:  not saying anything about the photos was extremely difficult for me. Even now as I look back over them I want to elucidate where my mind was when I took them, or somehow describe their significance to me.

I will stay my tongue in this instance, and simply mark this experience as an example of my innate drive to communicate, to over-explain, to employ melliloquence when a simple picture would suffice.

 

Existentially yours,

Tam