The Bard's Grove

"There are times when people need stories more than they need nourishment, because the stories feed something deeper than the needs of the body."
Charles DeLint, The Onion Girl

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Hunger Games: The New Female Hero: Uranus in Aries

The Hunger Games
The Female Hero: Uranus in Aries: The Courage to Be Yourself
Cathy Pagano

Sekhmet, Egyptian Goddess of the Sun

Aries, considered the first sign of the Zodiac, begins when the Sun comes north of the equator at Spring Equinox.  When the Sun resumes its journey here in the north each year, we experience a new beginning, a return of green, growing life.  Many religious holidays celebrate this season as a time of new life, of Resurrection and Freedom.  The reverse is true of our friends south of the equator.  They’ve just celebrated the harvest and the coming death of the year at Autumn Equinox as the Sun moves away from their southern homelands.

Just as the sign of Aries starts the astrological year, the energy of Aries is all about new beginnings and a new sense of identity.  Aries’ energy is energizing, exciting, driven, self-confident and enthusiastic.   Aries are the explorers, the pioneers, the scouts, and the leaders of the Zodiac.  

And this year, Aries carries a primal spark of lightning, because the planet Uranus is moving through the early degrees of Aries.  Uranus symbolizes the energy of awakening, of innovation, of rebellion and originality.  In the sign of Aries, Uranus is energizing us with a new sense of ourselves, an awakened sense of ourselves, as if we’ve been hit by a lightning bolt.  With its square to Pluto in Capricorn coming up, the call to discover a new identity includes using that new identity to help recreate our society. 

This sense of quickening is accelerated when an archetypal story helps give this new energy a structure to coalesce around.  A story gives meaning to what we’re doing, as well as providing clues on how to ‘pass the tests’ of the issues being raised.  The Aries quest is that of being true to your original Self.   We are here at this moment in our history to meet the challenges and deal with the issues facing our world, and we will need to find the hero and heroine within ourselves.  Uranus in Aries can inspire us to find and embrace our archetypal identity.

So this month’s blog is about one of the Aries lessons that help us discover our true identities.  This is the lesson of finding the courage and self-confidence to be ourselves, even under fire.   

The Hunger Games

I was delighted to discover that the movie version of The Hunger Games was almost as good as the book.  I chose it as my example of Aries’ courage and self-confidence because its main character, Katniss Everdeen, is a beautiful example of a young woman finding the courage to meet her destiny and the self-confidence to do it in a truly feminine way.

For those of you who don’t know the story, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games is about a possible future when America is controlled by the wealthy few who control the rest of the country.  One way they do this is by making teenagers from each of the 12 provinces participate in a yearly lottery which sends two of them – a boy and a girl – to fight to the death in a televised event called The Hunger Games, which combines the cruelty of our wars with our sick fascination for reality TV shows.  

Our heroine, Katniss becomes one of the contestants when she volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in the lottery.  The story contains some interesting social commentary on our present society: the ruthless power-plays of government by the rich, the waste of our collective creativity on irrelevant social fads, the narcissistic cruelty of a rich and bored society which can fully enjoy the suffering and death of others while warmly loving their own children.   

I read an article by Joanna Weiss, a columnist for the Boston Globe, which viewed our heroine Katniss as a bad role-model for our girls.  After reading the article, I understood why she thought that.  She wanted Katniss to express confidence like a male character!  

Sometimes feminist writers get it so wrong!  Ms. Weiss says, “. . .Katniss is a problematic heroine: yet another young woman who shoulders burdens and fulfills other people’s desires, instead of bending the world to her will.”  Bending the world to one’s will is a very patriarchal way of seeing life.  Isn’t that the very trait that has brought us to the brink of environmental devastation and financial ruin?  Then Weiss says, “…though two boys vie for her affections, Katniss barely cares: she’s too busy surviving.  If she feels a surge of love, she promptly pushes it away.”  Obviously, Ms. Weiss either didn’t read the book or perhaps even see the movie.  It seems to me that Ms.Weiss wants Katniss to be a Father’s Daughter – a woman who supports the masculine way of doing things over a more feminine way.   

That’s exactly what we DON’T need!  Especially since women make 2nd rate men.  

What we do need, and I think Katniss provides it, are heroines who take a feminine stand on life, even in the face of death.  If women don’t take care of others, who will?   And where in the story does Katniss ‘fulfills other people’s desires’?  Katniss is thrown into a new experience in which she finds her own way through the expectations of others.  That’s what makes her a new type of heroine.

Some of the qualities that exemplify the new feminine heroine (or Hera as my friend Tamara calls her) shine through all of Katniss’ actions.

1.       Katniss provides strength, support and extra food for her mother and sister.  Her mom is slowly losing it after the death of her father and so Katniss becomes a caretaker for both her mother and younger sister.  She takes on this responsibility because she loves them, which is an important feminine trait we all need to develop.
2.      She goes beyond the boundaries of her province (stepping into the unknown is a typical Aries characteristic) to learn how to hunt game and so becomes an expert archer (Aries excels in sports and war).  She develops her native talents of a quick eye, a strong arm and stealth. The hera needs to develop her native talents, whatever they are, because they will be of use in any situation.  Being a hera isn’t just about physical strength.
3.      Kat’s younger sister, old enough to be in the lottery for the first time and scared to death of being chosen, IS CHOSEN.  Katniss spontaneously volunteers to take her place, which is another sign of her Aries’ courage.  She will do anything to protect the weak.
4.      As a participant in the Games, Katniss enters a whole new world and so she’s wary.  She steps back and doesn’t engage until she understands what the rules of this new ‘world’ are.  That’s just smart, which is another Aries trait.  People give her advice, but she also listens to her own instincts.  When she has to demonstrate her special skill in front of a bored crowd of ‘sponsors’, she shoots an arrow through the middle of the crowd to get their attention.  Watching my Aries son instigate fights between his older and younger brothers to shake up the ‘action’, I can say from experience this is another Aries’ trait!
5.      When her fellow contestant from her home town confesses to having a crush on her, Katniss is furious.  Aries!!!  It seems Peeta has had a crush on Katniss since she was young, and even went against his abusive mother’s orders and gave her the stale bread from their bakery.   Peeta’s heroism all through the story is that he is determined to protect Katniss, even unto death.
6.      So Katniss finds herself in an innocent love triangle between Peeta and her best friend Gale, who taught her to hunt and who wants her to run away with him.  She doesn’t pick either of them, choosing to stand on her own – another Aries trait.  After all, she has to get through the Hunger Games.  When you’re facing death, you don’t have time to choose which lover you’d want, unless you’re a patriarchal woman who needs a man in her life to get through the test.
7.      Part of the whole deal with the Games is that the contestants have to go through the pageantry of the Games before they are actually sent to their deaths.  The idle rich of the Capital want to get to know the people they’ll be watching die on TV, while the people in the provinces have to watch their children go through the farce of this invasive interest in them as a punishment for past rebellion.  So Katniss lets herself be dressed up in flames – why not?  Aries is a fire sign.  And when she is interviewed by marvelous Stanley Tucci as a TV talk show host, she answers truthfully if not sophisticatedly, which is often the case with Aries.
8.      Once in the games, Kitness uses the strategy that her mentor, Haymitch Abernathy, a previous winner (well- played by Woody Harrelson) gives her, as well as her own knowledge of tracking and hunting, to keep away from the more savage contestants.  Aries rules the head and I’ve found that most Aries are quite intelligent.  She doesn’t want to kill anyone unless she has to.
9.      Katniss is a great female hera because she actually cares about some of the other contestants.  There’s a little girl about her sister’s age named Rue who she takes under her wing.  The first time Katniss kills someone is when Rue is cruelly killed. Like a mamma bear, she is fierce in her protection of her young friend.  She comforts Rue until she dies and then takes the time to gather flowers and mourn her.  Like the greatest male heroes in literature, she gives honor and love to her fallen comrades.  That takes courage, don’t you think, since there are others out searching for her and a TV producer can set forest fires or vicious dogs on her at any moment.  And then there’s Peeta, whom she takes care of while he’s burning up with fever from an infection.  Katniss does what she has to do to get him help.  If that includes kissing him on national TV, so be it, just as long as a sponsor sends her the medicine to cure him.  A new female hera is not afraid of her sexuality, and isn’t afraid to use it sparingly if necessary to help her friends.
10.  And finally, Katniss takes a stand when she and Peeta are told that the rules have been changed once again and only one of them can win the Games.  When Peeta offers to let her kill him, she insists that both of them die, in defiance of the government and the Games.  And so in the end, she wins against all odds – and in future books/movies, helps to bring down the government.

Katniss displays courage under fire, a strong sense of loyalty, the self-confidence to take on burdens and the strength to face death.  What else can we ask for in our heroines?  Or our heroes?   

Dreaming about the new female Hera

As for dreams that help us develop our inner heroine, an example comes from my daughter, who has three younger brothers.  When she was 10 years old and they were little, we moved to Switzerland to go to school.  Besides having to go to a Swiss school and take all her classes in Swiss German, she sometimes had to help us take care of the boys while my husband and I went to classes.  She had many dreams about having to escape from some disaster with the boys, sometimes literally carrying them on her back while climbing into the mountains.  Throughout her later life, whenever she had disaster dreams, there were always people from the family who she had to help save.  My daughter is also a new feminine heroine.  She has Mars in Aries – Mars is the ruler of Aries and so she is at home being a hera.

A woman dreamed:
I am in some kind of scientific complex and men are chasing me and my family.  I help everyone escape but I get captured.  My captors tie me down in a chair and hammer eagle feathers into my 3rd eye.

This woman had just started therapy and was beginning to realize that she had to become more conscious of how she used her imagination (3rd eye). The eagle feathers symbolize wisdom, and she went through a painful process to achieve it.  She felt she needed to become more conscious of her actions as she realized the importance of ‘walking her talk’ especially with her children.  She too is a new feminine hera.

It’s time for women to show the world what we can do.  It’s time for women to become the heras of their own lives. That doesn’t mean we don’t need men in our lives, but rather that we do things in our own, uniquely feminine way.  We don’t need to emulate male heroes.  Men can also develop a new way to be heroes, following the example of Katniss and Peeta.   The times ahead of us call us to take a stand on our principles, so that we don’t have to endure a future world of hunger games.

Become the Hera and Hero of your own life.  It will benefit the world.

 From the Bard’s Grove,
Cathy Pagano

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