At age 53, I am getting tattooed. Yeah, old(ish) lady in the tattoo shop getting art on her back by a dude about the same age as her oldest child. This art is a thing of beauty, two pieces that are blended into one big piece, a sun and a moon and a garland of flowers around it and over it. You have to see it to believe it is lovely, etched into my skin. The sun is like origami, quite structured with shades of yellow and orange and swirls of deeper orange, the yellows of Tiphareth and the oranges of Hod. Beauty, harmony, the Son, yellow gold. Splendor, structure, reason, orange, Hermes, the messenger.
Ten petals for Malkuth, Earth, the Kingdom. The knaves or the Princesses and tens. The final Heh in YHVH. The mighyt and portent daughter of a King and a Queen: a Princess powerful and terrible. The moon, Yesod, is upturned like a bowl, in purples of two kinds and more swirls. A stylized sign of Isis, of Intuition, the spiritual moon which shines at midnight. ELOHIM, “her power is manifest in all directions…EL being the dominion of the day, IM being the dominion of the night and HE in the middle being the remainder of the forces (the stars), participating in both dominions.” (Meditations on the Tarot). Intuition, born of intelligence turned above (faith at first hand) and wisdom (knowledge at first hand). The kind of intuition one earns, from living and suffering and forgiving and growing. My intuition, finally heard and honored.
Her power is manifest in all directions….
The sun and moon represent two paths, Temperance and the Sun path. Colors and correspondences. A Spirit wheel in the middle, St. Andrew’s cross and the equal armed cross, like a pie with 8 pieces, woman and God. The flowers are pink and red, of Gevurah, Mars, severity, power, strength, justice. The emerald and jade greens of the lstems, leaves and thorns are of Netzach or Venus, the angels of ELOHIM, linking the two most feminine of the planets, Venus and the Moon or Yesod.
All this in drawn in ink on the back and neck of me, a Catholic girl who last year returned to the faith of her childhood, much to her surprise after wandering in the proverbial desert not 40 years but almost. I go to Mass every day, then to work as a therapist in a local mental health agency three days a week. I take what might be thought of as confessions from people who have no church but yearn for absolution anyway. I can’t give that, but I lift them up with listening and sitting there, being present. Sometimes that is all people want, though if I were a man, I could be a priest now and tell them their sins are forgiven. We all really want forgiveness, when it comes right down to it. What they have to figure out for themselves is that the forgiveness that matters is theirs. They have to give it to themselves. We are already forgiven, in God’s eyes, so flawed are we that we can only handle the remorse part, and of that I have plenty.
I am presently working on changing the way I think about myself, and by presently I mean for pretty much my whole life. Last fall I got my eyebrow pierced. I usually forget it is in there and so when people look at me closely and then away, I wonder why? Oh, right, the eyebrow thing. I like the fact that it’s on my face, in theirs. How am I being judged as a result of this? I like that I don’t remember it is there, that I am more fearless on the outside.
Her power is manifest in all directions...
Not so long ago, I realized that I have spent most of my life being afraid of my own body. It is a pretty good body, works nicely and in reasonable shape. I remember being in ninth grade and having no girlish shape and no monthly cycle yet and feeling much too tall at 5 feet 8 inches. I wore moccasins and slouched quite a bit, something that I needed to correct as an adult. I had not kissed a boy and feared it would not happen. I kissed a boy finally in grade 10, a boy I didn’t really like who put his hands places I would rather he didn’t, but I let him since I feared saying no. I stopped talking to him one day and pretended he didn’t exist as my way of breaking up.
I don’t remember having a discussion with anyone about becoming a woman, or about sex or about why it might be ok to use birth control. I got pregnant at 19 and had an abortion, fearing telling my parents and motherhood and the end of my college career. The man who was the father was horrified at my news and urged me to quickly make an appointment to terminate the pregnancy. I complied and killed a part of myself, and child who would be 33. I think at that point I became so depressed it could have gone either way but somehow I eventually stumbled onward and across country and graduated college with a degree. I now have a stepdaughter who feels like my own, 3 children, and had one miscarriage and one abortion. I hate writing that word but it is the truth. I know quite a few women my age whose story is similar to mine, but each of us has our own particulars to sort out. I don’t know why I never talked with anyone about being pregnant, never told my mother. I think if I had, she would have been very supportive. Or if she’d been angry at first, I know that she loved me and would have loved any baby that came along. I know I love my grandson more than I could have ever imagined. I feel like the sun shines more brightly and the moon reflects more deeply in my world with him in it.
It hasn’t been quite a year that I have been without a cycle, that cycle of the moon, so I am not yet in menopause. I welcome it, though, the freedom it gives me to be at peace with my body. I never was conscious of being so in fear of it, the fear that came from silence and shame and worry I would be fertile and moist and womanly. Why were the mothers in my lineage all fearful, I wonder? It was passed down to me and I want it to end now, for good. What choices would I have made if I had known of my own power and the good of living in the body of a woman?
I am particularly taken by a passage from a writing by David Griffin on Malkuth and the Tarot reference of Malkuth and the Knaves or Princesses and the tens of Tarot. He writes, “The Princesses are figures of amazons standing firmly by themselves, neither riding upon horses, nor seated upon thrones, nor borne on chariots. At once violent and permanent, she is therefore symbolized by a figure standing firmly by itself, only partly draped and having little armor. Yet her power existeth not save by reason of the others, and then indeed is mighty and terrible materially, and is the throne of the forces of the Spirit. Woe unto whomever shall make war upon her when she is thus established!”
Yes, that is who I would like to be now, the Princess amazon who I was not then. Now I walk firmly, stand taller and have a belly that is not flat, a shape that is womanly and tall.
I mark my back with pictures of the sun and the moon and flowers, Tiphereth, Hod, Yesod and Venus. My skin is beautiful, to me. I want to live in a Garden when I am Eve, Binah, Isis, Venus,Virgo, Aphrodite, an amazon Princess. Where, with a picture that stays on my skin until I die, I commit to someone, something, but mostly to me.
Her power is manifest in all directions…