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, May 13, 2013

Emerging Archetypal Themes: Taurus, Dame Ragnall & “What Women Want”.


Late April through mid - May is the season of Taurus, the time when the Feminine Spirit of Life comes into full blossom.  The promise of harvest colors the blossoms. The primal spark of Aries’ heavenly Fire is incarnated in the beauty and blossoming and sensuality of Taurus’ Earth, just as the Earth takes the returning Sun’s energy and turns it into Life!  What is ready for life now comes to life.  Taurus is the most earthy astrological sign, and it wants to build, to manifest according to Cosmic Law, for the Earth is our foundation.  Taurus is concerned with values as well, so Taurus inspires us to manifest what we really value. When we don’t know our values, we can’t really know what our heart’s true desire is.  

Taurus, being a fixed earth sign, can become very materialistic when our values are those of the patriarchy, and not of the Spirit.  Without a deep connection to our inner life, money, power and possessions consume our attention while our souls languish.  Then it is often through love that we come to reclaim ourselves.  Venus/Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love, Sex, Beauty and Wisdom, is the archetypal energy that underlies Taurus.  That means that Taurus thrives on love, beauty, sacred sexuality and wholeness.
In Venus’ Taurean home, we find out what we really value: love, beauty, creativity, kindness, family, cooperation and truth.  'Beauty is truth, truth beauty,' - that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. (John Keats).   We will soon take a look at a story about a man who is given the opportunity to discover what women—and feminine spirit—want and who takes this Taurus lesson to heart.

The Marriage of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell

In Celtic myth and legend, the King, who represents the masculine ideals and values of the country, must marry the feminine embodiment of his Land, Lady Sovereignty.  This union brings life and fertility to the land and to the people.   Often Lady Sovereignty tests the man who would be King, by appearing as a hideous old Hag whom the man must accept and love despite her ugliness.  For a society this means accepting the laws and cycles of Mother Earth, the land itself, for we are part of the Earth’s ecosystem whether we admit it or not.   For an individual, this means accepting feminine consciousness as equal to and helpful for collective rational masculine consciousness.  This means accepting the information those unacceptable feelings and intuitions and instincts give us and acting on them, even if they go against the rules of our society.   If we are brave enough, this can mean giving Sovereignty to the Earth and her laws; it can mean giving sovereignty to the promptings of the soul, which holds the spark of divinity and creativity within each of us; and it can mean giving sovereignty to our feminine, imaginal consciousness, which ‘reads’ the world.  And last but not least, it can mean finally giving back sovereignty to women.

There is a medieval Arthurian tale about the need to bring back the power of feminine sovereignty to collective consciousness. When a culture or an individual has repressed feminine Spirit for too long, life itself insists on a rebalancing of energies.   This tale shows us what must be done.  It is called The Marriage of Sir Gawain and Dame Ragnell.
Once King Arthur was out hunting and soon outpaced his friends.  He brought down a stag and as he was dressing his kill, a giant knight accosted him and gave him a riddle to solve.  The riddle was this:  what do women want?  Arthur had a year to find out the answer or his life was forfeit to this giant knight.
Arthur’s nephew Gawain offered to help him search for the answer.  And so they both headed off into the world, seeking answers to this riddle.  Although they filled two books with answers, Arthur knew instinctively that they didn’t have the right one yet.  So he rode into the forest to meditate.
There he saw the most loathsome Hag riding toward him, who greeted him with this advice: ‘If you want to keep your head on your shoulders, I can tell you the answer to your riddle.  But the price is my marriage to Gawain.’  And even though she was such an ugly hag, Gawain agreed to marry her to save Arthur’s life.
Well, after giving the giant all the other answers he had gathered, Arthur was forced to give him the answer that the Hag, Dame Ragnell, gave him.  What women desire most of men is to have the Sovereignty!  And so Arthur escaped death. 
But then Gawain had to marry the Hag! That night in bed, Dame Ragnell entreated him to at least kiss her, despite her ugliness.  Gawain gathered his courage and said he’d do more than kiss her, he would love her.  And when he turned to her, Dame Ragnell was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
But Ragnell’s beauty would not hold.  She could be beautiful for only half the day.  So did Gawain want her beautiful by day and ugly in bed, or ugly by day and beautiful for him alone?  And Gawain, because he did love her, told her that it was her decision to make.  Which of course was the only right answer!  And so the curse was broken, and Ragnell could be beautiful both day and night because Gawain had given her the Sovereignty.

What Women Want

Our Aries movie theme was the Male Hero and we will continue discussing emerging masculine archetypal themes in our Taurus movie, What Women Want.  In Oz, the Great and Powerful, our hero Oscar the Wizard had to face the three aspects of his ‘anima’ – his inner feminine soul – and make a conscious choice for the Good.  In facing down his witchy, greedy, self-absorbed shadow anima (Evanora), and his enraged, betrayed ‘trying to get along with everyone’ anima (Theodora), he learned to accept and love his inner goodness, his inner magic, his soul, his wise anima Glinda. 
In Nancy Meyer’s funny and poignant movie,What Women Want, our hero Nick is immediately described by his ex-wife as a ‘man’s man’, a ‘charmer’ and a ‘momma’s boy’, along with other choice comments.  Where Oscar was a father’s son, whose uncaring ambition came from a negative relationship with his father, Nick’s character was shaped by his Las Vegas showgirl mother.  He was the pet of the showgirls, and the unconscious apprentice of ‘gangster’ male role models (like many men raised on the Soprano’s and other glamorized mafia role models.)  In short, he was the modern American male, whose mother adored the Rat Pack like we did the Beatles.  Nick still lived his life to a Frank Sinatra soundtrack.  The first thing we find out about him is that he is a charming playboy, who seduces women just for the fun of it.  He knows he can.  And so he does.  He’s been trained to take power.
Nick is climbing the corporate ladder as a hot-shot advertising executive, cunning at crafting ads to entice the male ego.  But times have changed—and now most of the advertising money is being spent on women, and unfortunately, Nick doesn’t have a clue about what women want—beyond wanting him.  To win a share of the women’s market, Nick’s boss, Dan, passes him over for a promotion and hires Darcy McGuire, the top woman in her field, to be Creative Director.
The whole atmosphere of this ad agency shouts MALE.  The women are there to be of service or try to just fit in.  So when Darcy starts off her first meeting with a collegial style, asking everyone to come up with ideas for a selection of women’s products, she is offering them an alternative feminine model, where people share information and cooperate (‘5 heads are better than 1.’).  She is bringing a very feminine style of working together to a very masculine agency.   And like Dame Ragnell, she is perceived as ugly.  For you see, rumor has it Darcy is a real man-eater, and Nick’s heard ‘Darcy McGuire is a birch on wheels.’
But Darcy has great legs and Nick decides to take her on.  Like Gawain, Nick is a Son of the Mother, a great lover of women, who thinks he is being charming when he is acting like a spoiled child.  The blessing is that he’s soon going to learn what he’s really like and he’s going to change.
Nick might not know how to care about anyone except himself, but he is creative and playful, probably learned at his mother’s knee.  Nick goes home determined to figure out how to sell these products. He puts on Sinatra and dances but he gets stuck in a male view of women, because that’s what Sinatra was all about.  Nick’s feminine feeling side is shaped by Hollywood and Vegas and those tastes cater to men.  He even realizes he has to change the music.  So he roots through his daughter’s suitcase (she’s visiting while her mom is on her honeymoon) and puts on Alanis Morisette’s “I’m a Bitch”. 
The interesting thing about Nick is that he knows how to use his feminine imagination in service to his masculine needs.  But he doesn’t know how to listen to his real feminine feeling side.  His feminine consciousness is also a Father’s Daughter—at the service of patriarchy.  Like Arthur and Gawain and all true Sons of the Mother, Nick is blessed with an opportunity at redemption.   He has to deal with three women at once: his neglected daughter Alex, who refuses to call him dad, his new boss Darcy and Lola, a waitress he’s been trying to seduce for months.   Nick is going to have an awakening that forces him to come up against his own ugly side as he implements his manipulative plan to bring Darcy down, to seduce Lola and to continue to ignore his daughter’s need for a real father.
  So, here’s Nick, drinking and singing with Alanis, painting his nails, using face cream, waxing his legs (“Women are crazy.  Why would they do this more than once!?”), blow drying his hair.  Fate comes in and takes over – he slips on bath beads, falls into a full tub of water, his hair dryer goes flying and he is electrocuted. (A great symbol of a Uranus awakening!)
When Nick wakes up, he can hear women’s thoughts. At first he thinks he’s crazy, then it drives him crazy. He hears what women think of him (sexy!) and his usual routine (he’s such a pig!).  He tries to reverse whatever gave him this power, but he can’t.  He even goes to a therapist, and when he proves to her that he’s not crazy but that he can hear her thoughts, she tells him that he has a great gift.  She says that ‘the world can be yours, because if you know what women want, you can rule the world’.  ‘You’re the luckiest man in the world!’  So much for the integrity of psychiatry! 
So of course, at first Nick uses this new power to trip up and control things with Darcy and Lola.  He uses this gift for his own purposes, which is what patriarchy does with all our feelings and insights.  It uses them for its own purposes, not for the real purpose of understanding and compassion.  This is why Arthur is confronted by the giant knight.  His society has neglected the feminine aspects of life and so the powers of life fight back.  Only if Arthur recognizes and honors the power of Feminine Spirit will he escape death and destruction.  And just like Arthur and Gawain, who accepted the challenge for Arthur, Nick has to face the selfishness of his life by confronting his Dame Ragnell and allow her the sovereignty, before he can see her beauty.
Like Oscar and his China Doll, Nick immediately has sympathy for a broken and sad young woman in the office whose thoughts circle around suicide.  As with many men, their protective side comes online when a woman is hurt.  At first he just notices her thoughts, but it helps him to notice the other women in the office.  And as he begins to hear the women’s thoughts, their fears, their worries and their hopes, Nick becomes their cheerleader and supporter, adding his male understanding to their relationship problems.  He becomes a positive masculine support.  Nick finds out that he actually enjoys hanging with the women, a good behavior he learned from his time with his mom and her showgirl friends.
As Nick begins to pay attention to what the women in his life really think about him, he tries to change his ways, because he really likes them.  When he hears Alex’s friends’ thoughts badmouthing him as a father, he charmingly offers them what they want.  When he tells Alex he’ll take her shopping for a prom dress, he hears how she wants to take advantage of him, and he offers to buy her the extras without her asking.   When he finally seduces Lola, her less than enthusiastic thoughts about his love-making challenge his sense of manhood, and he outdoes himself in the love-making department.  When he ‘listens in’ on Darcy’s thoughts about an ad campaign, he steals her ideas and improves on them.  He uses his knowledge and improves on it, which is what masculine consciousness is good at.  But Nick is still lying to everyone about his ability, and he goes back and forth between selfishness and understanding with all the women in his life.
As Nick begins to understand how women feel, he does discover what women want.  Women want men who will love them for who they are, not for who men want them to be.  Women don’t want to be seen as ugly because we’re smart, and accomplished and beautiful and whole.  He hears Darcy’s insecurities and begins to understand how hard it is for women to just be ourselves, because women often pay the price, like Darcy whose husband was jealous of her, “for just being me.”   
Although he steals the idea from Darcy, he comes up with a great ad campaign for Nike with her.  He tells her, ‘women worry all the time about everything.’  He imagines the road as a place where a woman can be herself, where nobody judges her, where there are no games to play.  At that moment of true intimacy with Darcy, neither of them can tell who thought of the right answer for the ad.  It was a shared answer.  Nick is learning to love.
Nick falls in love with Darcy, with his daughter Alex and ultimately with himself.  As soon as Nick takes self-ownership of his feelings, he loses his ability to hear women’s thoughts.  And because he has grown up and become a whole man, he still goes to rescue the young office girl Erin, thinking she’s going to commit suicide.  When he finds her, he offers her the job she always wanted.  When he finds his daughter at the prom crying in the bathroom, he offers his love and takes her home.  And when he confesses his nefarious plans to Darcy he accepts her firing him, because he has learned to give the women in his life sovereignty.  And he finds out that when women have the sovereignty, love reigns.  In the end, he is rescued by his Beloved and wins back his daughter’s love.  
He has found the most beautiful within himself and in Darcy and Alex.  And like Sir Gawain, once the spell is broken, he discovers the great Joy that comes from love.  

From the Bard's Grove,


No comments:

Post a Comment