Mary’s Manifesto

 

mary

I never set out to be a feminist icon, yet they made me one. I was an inadvertent example of the movement. At the time, I did not yet realize there even was a movement, although I knew  a woman’s place in society was fundamentally wrong.  I simply tried to acquire some freedom for myself. I wanted independence, my own income and a life where I would not be solely defined as ‘wife’.

On the downside, I was also an uptight thirty-something Minneapolis transplant, on the rebound from a failed relationship and one step away from doormat-ism. But to call me a representative of 2nd wave feminism? That was hardly accurate.

Take my first day at work. Sure, I became an associate producer at WJM News. It was a fancy title, yet my pay was ten dollars less than the lowly secretaries. When my boss, Mr. Lou Grant interviewed me, the first thing he asked was my religion. The second thing was my marital status. When I informed him that I was Presbyterian and single, he asked why. Why I was single that is.  I should have automatically  said “Nunya bizness bitch!” (It was, after all, an illegal question.)  But no. I stammered, clasped my hands and choosing my words very carefully, I began to explain to this total stranger, who was in a position of vast authority over me, that there were a multitude of nuanced reasons as to  why one was ‘still single’ at the ripe old age of thirty.

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Mr. Grant was not interested in my explanation, which made me wonder why he had asked in the first place.

That very same night a drunken Mr. Grant showed up at my apartment. He told me, among other things, that I had a ‘great caboose’. He was lonely and his wife was out of town.

In the meantime, my ex-fiancé (who had been persuaded by my landlady to come rescue me) also showed up at my door with flowers. My ex was a doctor and he proceeded to inform me he had stolen the flowers from a very sick patient.

There I stood, a resistant sex object, not even worthy of receiving store bought flowers. See what I mean about doormat-ism?

I sent my ex fiancé packing. Mr. Grant typed a letter to his wife, then staggered out to mail it. I was relieved to be rid of them. The next day at work I was given a stack of pencils to sharpen. My pseudo-feminist career had begun.

The good thing was I realized then I could take care of myself. Every woman needs to realize she is able to take care of herself.

Up till my last day in the newsroom I could never get past calling my boss ‘Mister Grant’ although everyone else called him ‘Lou’. Even my best friend Rhoda, a fast talking New Yorker, would saunter in his office and boldly call him ‘Lou’.

My self assertion was wrought with shortcomings. I was no Betty Friedan. Gloria Steinem hated me.

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As for the traditionalists, they didn’t like me either. I heard Phyllis Schlaftly was appalled because I often stayed out all night with my dates. ( Oh yes, I did have dates! A plethora of men called on me. I had no intention of marrying any of them.)  This type of thing was a real no-no for a nice Midwestern girl in 1972.  I remained polite.  Never once did I speak of my sexual escapades. After all, those who DO, do not speak, and those who SPEAK, do not DO. Yet I was a sexually liberated woman. A ring never crossed my finger.

So you see, on the spectrum of feminism I really fit right in the middle. People loved me for it. My ratings soared.

In years to come the women’s movement would explode. Every issue would be tackled, from reproductive rights to equal pay to single filing income tax to home ownership. (Even Miranda of Sex and the City was expected to have a husband or father sign off as joint owner of her condo!)

Gender roles would be questioned. Non-traditional family structures would be accepted. Single motherhood and ‘childless by choice’ became (almost) okay.  Young women became more and more vocal in their demands.   And precisely at the time when they were given almost everything they wanted — young women would demand more. They took to the streets wearing pussy-cat ears and Styrofoam genitalia. ( I could not join them. It was simply not my style.)

Rhoda got married and then divorced. The newsroom closed in 1977. As far as Mr. Grant’s behavior, nowadays he would be sued. Ironically, I would not have wanted to sue him. He was, believe it or not, a good boss.

In re-runs I remain America’s sweetheart.

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One of the best parts of my show was of course its theme song! Who knew this catchy little number would inspire the likes of Husker Du and Joan Jett?

I, Mary Richards am now permanently signing off, but I will leave you with this final statement:

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The Bigamist and the Pregnant Bride

 

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On January 25, 1533, King Henry VIII married his adulterous lover Anne Boleyn in a secret ceremony held in London and presided over by very few witnesses.  Henry was, by all applicable laws, still married to his first wife Queen Catherine of Aragon. Anne Boleyn was pregnant. She would give birth to her only daughter Elizabeth on September 7 of that same year, approximately seven months after the wedding.

It was the shotgun wedding of a bigamist king and a pregnant lady in waiting. Oh, but what a king, and what a lady!  The Pope never approved Henry’s divorce from Catherine of Aragon and Henry was excommunicated from the Catholic Church. This changed  the direction of religion not only in England but much of Europe as well, as Protestant Reformations spread across the land.

Although Anne’s daughter Elizabeth would go on to become one of the most powerful monarchs of England, her status as ‘illegitimate bastard’ would always be in question. This led to great paranoia. Elizabeth was constantly in fear for her life and established a network of spies that would put the CIA, the FBI and the Mata Hari to shame.

 

red head

Conventional wisdom would have surely suggested that this marriage was ill fated. As you know, it ended badly. Just three years later, Henry  charged Anne with adultery and treason. She was beheaded.  While imprisoned in the Tower of London, Anne famously joked about her ‘little neck’ which would make the executioner’s task easy.

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Yet when they first met sparks flew.  Henry and Anne were totally  infatuated with each other, evident in Henry’s many love letters to her.  This awesome scene from ‘The Tudors’ depicts the passion, fascination and lust they must have felt. (Not sure if the ‘masked ball’ is historically correct, but it is a great Romeo and Juliet steal. I think Shakespeare would have approved!)

 

 

 

Angel of Death

 

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The aftermath was easy.  For me there was no blood, no guts, no cleanup. I merely escorted them to the place they had longed for, the world they had envisioned but  yet remained unseen by them.   I gave them the utopias they were incapable of achieving within their waking lives.

The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. was perhaps my easiest case. Similar to Abraham and John Fitzgerald, he knew beforehand he was to die, having taken on such a gargantuan and dangerous task.  Indeed, when I took John Fitzgerald from the convertible car in Dallas Texas, Martin realized his fate already. He immediately said to his wife Coretta: “This is what is going to happen to me also. I keep telling you, this is a sick society.”

Martin was right on both counts. The society was sick. My duty was inevitable.

Humankind amazed me. They had such an immense capacity for love. Their enormous striving and goals were honorable, but perplexing. The altruistic visions of many were squashed by the hatred and destruction of a few.  Love and fear battled fiercely, and at that time fear won. Evil forces conspired against Martin.

He was a man of peace, one who studied the works of Mahatma Gandhi, one who determined that real change could only come about in the human world through peaceful protest and non violence. Martin was, of course, unarmed when he happened to walk out on his balcony of the Lorraine Motel on that evening of April 4th, 1968.

 

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I arrived long before it happened, my own consciousness informing me of what was to occur.

I watched in silence as Martin breathed in the hot Tennessee air. The evil ones had already gathered around him, their slimy presence palpable to me though invisible to the human eye.  Their odor was putrid and their deadly intentions sent a shiver down my spine.

“Why did you not intervene, Azrael?” you may ask me. “Why did you not save him, block the shot, do what was well within your power to do?”  This is a question I have encountered many a time. But intervention was not my duty. Aftermath was my duty.

I still remember how the gunshot blasted through the pink Memphis sky, just as the gold sun set upon its horizon.  I heard that shot loudly, and I shuddered, for even angels have ears. We too know terror. There was the seeping of blood as the bullet bolted through Martin’s cheek and I hastened to take him from the pain of his physical body. The ambulance arrived, rushing him to Saint Joseph’s Hospital where doctors would pronounce him dead within the hour.

Later the people were brought to their knees in grief. There would be protests and rioting, Martin’s death inciting the very violence he so abhorred. Yet humankind felt justified within this violence, for what more could they do?

The world of 1968 America was not ready of the likes of Dr. Martin Luther King.  And so I took him from it.

Most would lay the blame upon a man named James Earl Ray. James Earl would be given a prison sentence of 90 years. But he was not the real shooter. Many knew this. Coretta knew it, wise woman. She is with Martin now, so in case you’re wondering, you can set your mind at ease. Justice is as justice does, though the laws of humankind are often corrupt. Nonetheless, all righting of wrongs is achieved on the karmic wheel. It matters not who pulls a trigger. The shot that struck Martin was delivered by not one, but a vast array of organizations.

The humans are peculiar creatures. Whenever one of them seeks truth, it is a government which ITSELF claims to be truthful that engineers their demise. So it was with Abraham, with John Fitzgerald and his brother Robert. So it was with the one called ‘X’, so it was with the one called Lennon, and so it was with Martin.

In America they kill their best.

The plot to kill Martin was deep and intricate, spreading its grimy tentacles across countries and governments. It involved CIA operatives, FBI leaders, Illumanati and Mafiosa, those so steeped in corruption that their lives were nothing more than power and greed. These are the Reptilians, the dark forces that dwell among you. They are known by many names. Beware them, for their mission is as old as earth itself. In as much as an angel can hate, I have hated them, for they have brought grief upon many a soul.

I cradled Martin gently in the soft April night. He was unused to his body of spirit, although his faith was deep. He was not even surprised to see me. I can still picture his smile, dazzling but expectant, the exquisite light in his eyes. He had always known me.

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“Where will you take me, Angel?” he asked.

“To the Promised Land, of course,” I answered. “After all Martin, you had a Dream.”

He still watches you from dimensions exponential. He sees his vision achieved in a world much alien to planet earth. He still  hopes that one day this piece of heaven will be brought to his America, that people will measure one another not by the color of their skin, but  by the content of their character

Humankind, I am told, have a long way to go.

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“Free at last, they took your life, they could not take your pride.”

 

 

 

Friday the 13th and the Divine Feminine

 

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It is a day shrouded in superstition and fear. Supposedly it is the most unlucky day of the year.  It created a cottage industry of movie franchises, which I’d say was pretty lucky for Jason, Freddie Kruegar and certain Hollywood moguls…

Nonetheless, many people have a specific fear of this day. So many, in fact, that apparently we now have a medical term for the phobia known as ‘fear of Friday the 13th’. That term is known as ‘paraskevidekatriaphobia’.  (I can’t pronounce it either.)  This term was apparently coined by one Dr. Donald Dossey, a phobia specialist.  According to Dr. Dossey, paraskevidekatriaphobia is the most widespread superstition in the United States today. Some people refuse to go to work on Friday the 13th; some won’t dine in restaurants and many wouldn’t dare have a wedding on this date.  My my my.  But it wasn’t always like this.

In many pre Christian and goddess worshipping cultures, Friday and the number 13 were not so bad.   In fact, they were actually very lucky 🙂

To the ancient Egyptians, for example, the number 13 symbolized the joyous afterlife. They thought of this physical life as a quest for spiritual ascension which unfolded in twelve stages, leading to a thirteenth which extended beyond the grave.  (This explains why they had such elaborate burial and embalming rituals.)

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The number 13 therefore did not symbolize death in a morbid way,  but rather as a glorious and desirable transformation.  Interestingly, the 13th card in the Tarot deck is Death, which often represents not a physical death but a transformation, a chance for change or an opportunity  to release what no longer serves us.

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When Egyptian civilization perished, the symbolism of the number 13 was, unfortunately,  corrupted by subsequent cultures. Thirteen became associated with a fear of death rather than a reverence for the afterlife.

The number 13  has a unique association with the Divine Feminine. Thirteen is said to have been revered in prehistoric goddess-worshiping cultures because it corresponded to the number of lunar (menstrual) cycles in a year (13 x 28 = 364 days). The ‘Earth Mother of Laussel’ is a 27,000-year-old carving  that was found near the Lascaux caves in France. She is an icon of matriarchal spirituality. The Earth Mother holds a crescent-shaped horn bearing 13 notches.

laussel

Primitive women kept track of time by the passing of their menstrual cycles and the phases of the moon, as well as the change of seasons and the wheel of the year.  However, as the solar calendar, with its 12 months, triumphed over the 13 month lunar calendar,  so did the ‘perfect’ number 12 over the ‘imperfect’ number 13. (But note that they really had to discombobulate those 12 months, giving some of them 30 days, some 31 and poor old February with 28, to make the 364 days…) Twelve became the sacred number after that, with, for example, 12 hours of the clock, 12 tribes of Israel, 12 Apostles of Jesus and 12 signs of the zodiac.  Thirteen became unpredictable, chaotic, untrustworthy and evil.

Friday (the Sixth Day) also offers a unique connection with the Divine Feminine. The name ‘Friday’ was derived from the Norse goddess Freya (or Frigg) who was worshiped on the Sixth Day. She is a goddess of marriage, sex and fertility.

Freya/ Frigg corresponds to Venus, the goddess of love of the Romans, who named the sixth day of the week in her honor “dies Veneris.” Friday was considered to be a lucky day by Norse and Teutonic peoples — especially as a day to get married — because of its traditional association with love and fertility.

As the Christian church gained momentum in the Middle Ages, pagan associations with Friday were not forgotten.  Therefore the Church went to great lengths to  disassociate itself with Friday and thirteen.   If Friday was a holy day for heathens, the Church fathers felt, it must not be so for Christians — thus it became known in the Middle Ages as the ‘Witches’ Sabbath’.   Friday became a big deal in the Bible. It was on a Friday, supposedly, that Eve tempted Adam with the apple, thus banishing mankind from Paradise. The Great Flood began on a Friday. The Temple of Solomon was destroyed on a Friday. Christ was crucified on a Friday, PLUS, there were 13 attendees at the last supper, the most infamous of course being the betrayer, Judas Iscariot.

Interestingly the sacred animal of the Goddess Freya is the cat (probably a black one) which also became associated with evil as Christianity began to encompass the Western world.  Freya then became known as (you guessed it!) an evil witch, and her cats were evil as well.

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Various legends developed around Freya, but one is particularly pertinent to this post.  As the story goes, the witches of the North would observe their sabbat by gathering in the woods by the light of the moon. On one such occasion the Friday goddess, Freya herself, came down from her sanctuary in the mountaintops and appeared before the group.

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The witches numbered only 12 at the time. Freya joined the circle, making the number 13, after which the witches’ coven — and every properly-formed coven since then — comprised exactly 13.

So, on this Friday the 13th embrace the luck and grace of the Goddess Freya! Pet your cats, engage in some moon-gazing, celebrate love and fertility with your significant other.  Rest assured, the Divine Feminine is with you and there is nothing to fear 🙂

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Starman and The King

 

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These two amazing men share a birthday today, January 8th. Both were musicians, both were singers, both were film stars, both were graced with amazing gifts. Both were Capricorns, the ever striving mountain goat. Though seemingly opposite in style, they had more in common than one might think.

Elvis was the American South, an earthy mix of gospel, Delta blues and rockabilly. David was swinging London, an androgynous mix of techno-pop, space stations and scary monsters. David lived his life in multiple cities through out Europe, never calling any one place ‘home’. Except for his military station in Germany, Elvis never left the United States. Both had a magnetic charisma, the ability to charm and invigorate the hearts and minds of thousands.

Though gone they are not forgotten. Elvis Presley and David Bowie are infinite spirits, their music and presence forever alive.

Elvis Aaron Presley was born on January 8, 1935 in Tupelo Mississippi to parents of modest means. They lived in a two room shotgun house while his father eked out a living through odd jobs.  Elvis’ story is a classic rags-to -riches. Having gotten his first inspiration from gospel music, he went to Sun studios with the intention of making a record as a gift to his mother. He was discovered by Sun executive Sam Phillips and the rest is history.

Some fun facts about Elvis:

  • He was one of a twin. His brother, called Jesse Garon, was delivered stillborn.
  • He earned his nickname ‘Pelvis’ from hip shaking, and was considered  an outrageous sex symbol until he joined the Army in 1958. This ‘normalized’ him and probably made him more palpable to mainstream America.
  • His hair was naturally brown but he dyed it jet black.
  • Elvis’ mothers name was ‘Gladys Love’. He had a great grandmother named ‘Morning Dove’.  His bloodline may have been Cherokee Indian.
  • Elvis was a martial arts expert with a black belt in Karate.
  • He was outrageously generous, giving fortunes to various charities. He once bought a limousine for a driver he happened to like.
  •  Elvis was the King of Rock and his daughter Lisa Marie was briefly married to Michael Jackson, the King of Pop.  How’s that for a royal family?

Here is a clip of Elvis performing his classic ‘Blue Suede Shoes’.

 

David Bowie was born on January 8, 1947 in Brixton, South London, also to working class parents. An artistic child, David took an interest in music and strangely enough, got much of his inspiration from Elvis!

David listened to his father’s 45s of Elvis and is quoted as saying: “I saw a cousin of mine dance to ‘Hound Dog’ and I had never seen her get up and be moved so much by anything. It really impressed me, the power of the music. I started getting records immediately after that.”

Bowie played in several bands but his biggest success probably came with his song Space Oddity, a big hit in the U.K. and U.S. David invented his character Ziggy Stardust (the first of his many ever changing personas) and the rest is history.

Some fun facts about David:

  • His real surname is Jones, but he changed it to Bowie, after the Bowie knife.
  • His song ‘Space Oddity’ was released at the same time Apollo 11 made it to the moon. This undoubtedly contributed to the song’s popularity.
  • He is given some credit for the fall of the Berlin Wall, having lived in Berlin and  having brought a ‘western mentality’ to the Soviet Union.
  • Famous for his makeup and androgyny, he wore skirts on stage and was compared to actress Lauren Bacall.
  • His last album ‘Black Star’ was eerily released on the day of his death, January 10, 2016. He had said he wanted this to be his ‘swan song’ to his fans.

Here is a tribute to David Bowie which I put together last year after his  death.

 

 

 

Twelfth Night

 

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Viola is in love with Orsino.  Orsino is in love with Olivia.  Olivia is in love with Viola. Malvolio is in love with Olivia.  Antonio is in love with Sebastian. Sebastian is in love with Olivia.  Maria is in love with Sir Toby.  Sir Toby is in love with beer. (Here is where you say, “Love sucks!”)

But to complicate the situation — Viola (for personal reasons) has been dressing like a boy.  Sebastian is Viola’s twin brother.  Olivia (in love with Viola) takes one look at Sebastian and — well, you should watch the movie!

Twelfth Night is a farcical comedy, written by William Shakespeare in around 1601. It is a perfect play for the celebrations of Twelfth Night (January 6th) which mark the end of the Christmas season. Role reversals, mummers and merry-making were the Elizabethan order of the day. The Lord of Misrule came to rule. Servants were masters and masters were servants.  The play’s full title was ‘Twelfth Night or What You Will’, seemingly because Twelfth Night is a night to do precisely what you personally will.

I still say The Shakes was way ahead of his time, constantly delving into themes of gender identity, cross-dressing and homoerotic love, centuries before they ever became political or civil rights issues.

If you have never seen Twelfth Night, you are in for a treat! This 1988 version, made for television and produced by Kenneth Branagh is one of my favorites. Running time is about 2.5 hours. Hope you get the chance to watch it, or — do What You Will!

 

 

 

Crossing Over

 

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They spoke of crossing over. The nebulous                                                                                       abyss where flesh                                                                                                                                             meets ellipsis where all                                                                                                                                       is suspended  yet worlds                                                                                                                                   create a spectrum of                                                                                                                                       connected                                                                                                                                                           mind.

Do you miss them?

I do, I said. And I know for I have lost many.

Brought down in candlelight clean white                                                                                             hospital sheets silent drip                                                                                                                               padded sneakers of nurses in the hall.

I care for dusty remnants                                                                                                                                     fresh flowers                                                                                                                                                       moss covered stone.                                                                                                                                           Urns and ashes                                                                                                                                                       dates and places                                                                                                                                                     to remind me

of all

they have left

behind.

                                                                                                                                                                            fantasma-casa-encantada