culture


As a woman in the greater New York area, who worked in show business as a younger person, fighting off unwanted advances of agents, casting directors and fellow performers, was a way of life for me. I wrote “Me too” on my Facebook status, like countless others, but did not post my war stories. But the above article in the New York Times really made my blood boil. It speaks volumes to the argument against the domination of patriarchal religiosity. It speaks to the organized abuse of women and children by a patriarchal system that cannot be accepted. Women must not be complicit in this abuse of other women and children. Patriarchal fundamentalism in all so-called religions cannot be tolerated, whether it wears the mask of faux Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, or Hinduism. I am not against the true spiritual teachings of mercy and compassion.

I found this essay by my friend Zelda and it gave me hope for the future.

An essay below by my wise friend Zelda Hall, an Irish born transpersonal psychologist living in beautiful Amsterdam:

THE #METOO CAMPAIGN AND THE CALL TO BECOMING FULLY HUMAN
Yesterday I had a discussion with a (male) friend of mine about the #metoo campaign in which women are speaking out about the many times we have been assaulted in one way or another by a man and we have often kept quiet about it because we wouldn’t be believed, might get into even deeper trouble, be killed, or lose our job on which we were dependent to keep ourselves or our kids alive. Or we just accepted that this was what we had to subject ourselves to if we were to get on in the world as we are all told is what we are here for. To be “successful”
Some men have joined in, in different ways. Some to support women and others to admit their own oppressive behaviour and yet others to say ME TOO.
Of course I too have had to deal with the assaults that many women talk about. The abuse of power.
The older boy who flashed at me in the woods when I was a young girl. So that the woods, which were a place I loved were no longer quite so lovely. The doctor who insisted that he had to do a breast examination when I went to him for the pill. The Spanish bloke who tried to rape me when I thought we were only going to share bananas and milk at his place, not bodily fluids. After he tore the buttons off my blouse and almost broke the zip on my trousers, I got him off me by shouting ‘you bastard’. He only stopped because felt insulted by that word! I had bruises on my breasts. I have never felt paralysed, as is a common reaction, fight or freeze, when attacked in this way. I am very lucky. I managed to fight off an attacker in a New York street at seven in the morning when I was 22. I could run faster than he could.
I have never felt afraid of men.
My mother told me a story about how when she was a school teacher, all the women teachers would pass the word on not to be alone with a certain school inspector when he came to the school. No-one complained to ‘the authorities’. So many of us learned to avoid certain men or situations. Some of us could not avoid them.
There were and still are too many of these stories. There were and still are people who say well ‘that’s what men are like’. Or ‘boys will be boys’.
But I don’t believe that that is what men are like. I do believe that all of us suffer under a system that needs to change if we are to continue to live on this planet.
We must evolve from what Rianne Eisler called the dominator culture, to partnership. From culture that believes that there must always be someone on top. That there are only winners and losers. That accumulation of material goods is that which will ensure our rise to the top of the pyramid and will insulate us against misery .
To a culture in which we think as ‘we’ as not as ‘them’ and ‘us’ where we can be partners and allies in innovative ways of solving the planetary crisis.
You may say I’m dreamer but I’m not the only one.
I am reading Roddy Doyle’s book ‘Smile’ at the moment. It is painful. The main character, Vincent, describes in such exquisite detail how the boys in his school are brutalised by the members of a religious order who are teaching them. And how this abuse of power is reiterated in the boys’ relationships with each other.
And in his internal world.
One of my very dearest friends suffered from this same brutality. It injured him deeply.
A prominent Dutch male journalist speaks out about a well known media figure who raped him when he was much younger and just starting out. On TV, several male commentators on a programme about football laugh uneasily about what he has told. Seemingly totally unable to face the implications of it and acknowledge their own discomfort.
Women have taken the lead here and have risked being attacked yet again for telling their stories.. This is why some women really resent men ’jumping on the bandwagon’ and starting to speak out about their own abuse under the same hashtag, as part of the same campaign. I understand this.
The men need to do this for themselves. Not in the form of whatabouttery. We women cannot do the work for men. There are men who are addressing this. Who are confronting, supporting, and embracing their fellow men.
There are plenty of women who have abdicated to patriarchal authority structures. There are mothers who have abused their sons. There are women who have started wars and sent their sons off to do battle, to be martyrs. There are women who demand that their men support them financially and then berate them for not earning enough or not spending enough time with their families. And there are women who tell other women who speak out to shut up.
We all must acknowledge our misuse of power. Our contempt for others or for parts of ourselves. Our dismissal of our tenderness and hurt and inability to protect ourselves or others. And we must become fierce in our defence of life and our planet.
Many evolved women are yearning for men who have found a sense of purpose, who can acknowledge the parlous state of humanity and our treatment of the planet. So that we can be allies in evolution towards a more expanded state of being in which we can dismantle the patriarchal structures which we have allowed to hold us captive for so long. And which are slowly killing us all.
It is essential that we learn to communicate well, that we can listen, that we can hear. That we can hear the pain of another without wanting to jump in and say what about me? That we can acknowledge our role in creating that pain. Without simply becoming stranded in guilt and shame. That we can begin to create the kind of world in which all life is honoured. And that we honour the spark of life, the call to becoming fully human that lives in us all. That we live in service to this greater calling.

Sunset by Zelda Hall

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Aviso: Although I am an intuitive reader, most but not all of this article is based on psychology and common sense. I always believe in using common sense first to solve one’s problems. That being said, every person’s situation is specific to them and there are exceptions to any rule. Each person must thoroughly evaluate their own situation. This article is meant only to provide general observations and helpful hints.

 

 

I have had so many clients who have had broken hearts, indeed I have been broken hearted myself and it was very painful. Heartbreak can manifest into actual physical problems. The American Heart Association says “Broken heart syndrome, also called stress-induced cardiomyopathy or takotsubo cardiomyopathy, can strike even if you’re healthy. (Tako tsubo, by the way, are octopus traps that resemble the pot-like shape of the stricken heart.)” Unfortunately, this can be misdiagnosed as a heart attack or lead to temporary heart muscle failure. Fortunately, most of my brokenhearted clients were able to pick themselves up and find an even better relationship by following the guidelines below.

 

The first thing I do in my consultations with individuals who are broken hearted is to determine if the client’s relationship is actual. Some people have relationships with others that are in their minds only or vastly exaggerated. That doesn’t mean that those individuals don’t feel the immense pain of heartbreak, but they may require somewhat different advice.

 

People who have had real fulfilling relationships and have lost those relationships feel as though their lives are over and they will never love again. They often feel great mental and physical pain. It is most important that they do not become addicted to that pain and perceive their lives as some romantic tragedy that they choose to remain in for a prolonged time. Given all the romantic literature and movies devoted to such subjects, it is no wonder that individuals relate to what they have seen portrayed in movies or read in books. It is vital for a person who wants to have a real relationship with another individual to not become a romance addict. The psychological literature often refers to this as being a “love addict”. I believe that that nomenclature is misleading because the word love is so squirrelly. It means different things in different circumstances. Addiction to romance has to do with becoming addicted to the rush of endorphins one experiences in falling “in love” romantically, followed by the crash that occurs when the love object departs or does not live up to being an idealized person. This in turn is followed by the recitation of the latest romantic tragedy to friends and others, which serves to bring attention to the sufferer in such a way that portrays them as the hero or heroine of a romance novel. This cycle needs to be broken before a healthy love relationship can ensue.

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For the past week or so I have been thinking about traditions associated with the New Year. It seems like some people think it is the day you are given off from work to recover from a hang over. Others watch the Rose Parade or eat dinner with their family. People who believe they have bad habits make New Year’s resolutions to change them. So I decided to write a post about the New Year’s traditions and customs of people I know. It would be easy to just write down things gathered by others on the Internet, but I wanted customs that living people have seen or done themselves.

In my family when I was a child there were two odd traditions we practiced. The first bite of food had to be an apple on New Year’s morning or you might be sickly that year. This was meant to insure health and well being for the year. As an adult I continued this tradition and added something. I the apple cut in half sideways and a new star can be seen that no one has ever seen before. This is particularly appealing to children, especially if they are told that you and they are the only ones who will ever see this New Year’s Star and they can make a wish on it before they eat it.

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We also ate pickled herring, at least one piece, during that day, as a start to the major meal. My father was particularly adamant about that. I didn’t much care for the taste as a kid. I wonder if this tradition was rooted in the fact that all male members of my father’s family worked in the ship building business at some time in their lives and this hailed back generations to North Atlantic and North Sea origins. Even my mother’s father and his family worked in this trade and he shared the herring tradition.

 

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Brouillard aux truffes courtesy of CNTraveller

A French friend, Vanessa, told me of a special egg dish made with truffles, called brouillade aux truffes, that her family ate for breakfast on New Year’s morning. It features softly scrambled eggs, black truffles and a lot of butter. A Greek-American friend, Marina, spoke about a special bread called Vasilopita, that her mother ordered ahead from the local baker in Astoria. It is round and sweet and inside it there is one coin. The head of the household would cut the bread. The first piece was for Jesus, the second for the household, the third for the father, the fourth for the mother, and then the next pieces were for the children in age order, starting with the oldest. Whoever received the coin in their piece was very lucky because it was considered that the new year would be their year.

VASILOPITA (1)

Vasilopita!

Angie, an African American woman from the South (who works with another friend of mine) cleans her home meticulously in preparation for the New Year. Everything in the home must be cleaned including all linens, curtains, shelves etc. so her family can make a fresh new start for the year. Not to do so would insure bad luck. On the other side of that coin, I have heard it said that to enter the New Year with an empty pantry can bring poverty or hunger in the coming year.

A former schoolmate of mine, Roberta, who came to the US as an adolescent from Livorno, Italy, said that in Livorno they throw old dishes out the window to rid themselves of stale energy, but this New Year’s Eve in Florida she ate black-eyed peas for good luck.

As a child, Paul from Canada, poured molten lead into water on New Year’s Eve. He did this with his family, possibly exposing all the children to lead contamination, but at the least they could read their fortunes in the metallic globs. His family’s New Year’s tradition of pouring molten lead into water was brought over to Canada when they emigrated from northern Europe. He says he thinks it was widely practiced in the Baltic and Scandinavian countries. This is a method of scrying called molybdomancy. I’ve only ever seen it in the Djamaa el Fna in Marrakesh, Morocco, but it is popular in Germany and Finland where tin is often used instead of lead.

Auberon spent New Year’s Eve with friends of friends in the Highlands of Scotland and there they left the front door open. People came in each with a lump of coal to bring the householders a warm year. Sounds like a heartwarming custom to me!

It is possible to start your own customs and traditions. Marnie, a very health conscious organic locavore, has made her own tradition of doing a cleanse and a fast to make sure that her body has a fresh start.

On New Millennium’s Eve (inspired by the Malleus Maleficarum), Steve, a Texan, says he wore a cow mask and set off explosives to welcome in unseen entities, but he only did it once.

Steve's cow mask, courtesy of Steve.

Steve’s cow mask, courtesy of Steve.

Thomas Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church in Charlottesville, VA has a Labyrinth Walk every New Year’s Eve. It is a wonderful, thoughtful and meditative way to begin each new year. It is done with the intent of following and trusting one’s path for the year, knowing it will take one exactly where one wants and needs to be. The walk is accompanied by the live music of the hammered dulcimer, played in an intuitive manner that follows the energy of those walking the labyrinth. A lovely woman I know named Suzanne has been the dulcimer musician for the past 9 years. It is a very special part of her New Year tradition.

The Labyrinth in Charlottesville. Courtesy UU World

The Labyrinth in Charlottesville VA. Courtesy UU World

Life is made richer by traditions and customs as long as one doesn’t become obsessive-compulsive about engaging in them. Modern life is often made boring by some people’s drive for sameness. Some of these simple New Year’s customs are the most basic form of sympathetic magic, a type of magic based on imitation or correspondence. If you have any interesting or unique New Year’s customs please comment. Thanks.

Fahrusha is a professional intuitive who works in New York City.