We give the power of nature a female aspect. She has the power to create–with spring the world bursts into bloom. In the summer, fruit ripens, and nature’s bounty is ready for harvest. Likewise, women give birth to children and raise and nurture them.
But Mother Nature is a schizophrenic, with a split personality. She gives, but she takes, too. Lightning, tornadoes, avalanches, mudslides, animal attacks, the list goes on and on. All of these are potentially deadly manifestations of nature.
Kali, a Hindu goddess, is dark, violent and is associated with annihilation. Kali wears a necklace of human heads. More recently, some say she is a benevolent mother goddess.
I think these goddesses are cultural manifestations of the nature of women. Women give, create, and nurture. We also take and kill.
My mother is very nurturing. She is a preschool teacher. She has a degree in early childhood education. She has always been kind and gentle. I never would have thought she could have a dark side. I first got a glimpse of this darker side when I was fourteen.
We lived out in the boonies and kept chickens. The chickens weren’t penned, so they frequently ran amok and got underfoot. One day my mom decided we had too many and that some of them were going to give their feathery lives in order to feed us dinner.
After a very comical scene of Chicken Chase, mom finally managed to catch one of the boogers. She grabbed an axe and took the sacrificial rooster to our big ol’ wood chopping block. She raised the axe high in her right hand, held the rooster down on the block with her left, and… hesitated.
Then she slowly lowered the axe to the chicken’s neck and raised it back up and lowered it down again. She did this a few times. Sort of like someone playing baseball swings the bat in order to get ready for the ball before the windup and pitch. I could see the intense concentration on her face. The look in her eyes was uncertain. She had never killed anything before.
Then, her eyes narrowed. Swiftly, the axe came swinging down. THWACK! It wasn’t quite hard enough to sever the head, so up came the axe again and THWACK! The head flew off. Blood ran everywhere. The other chickens milled around, and squawked in confusion.
She raised up straight and roared into the sky. “I did it! I AM WOMAN!”
As a teen, I didn’t understand then why she would say that. But I do now. I do believe I got a glimpse of Kali at that moment. I can almost envision my mom with a necklace of chicken heads.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, we had a cat that gave birth to kittens. We let the mom and the kitties out one day when we finally figured they were old enough. Unfortunately, some animal got to the kittens and savaged them badly. One was killed outright, and the other two were so damaged that they were dying a very painful death. I asked my husband to put them out of their misery.
He couldn’t do it. These little fluffy kittens were just too tiny and cute. So I, with my round, ripe belly that was carrying life within me, had to do it. This was the ultimate irony, I felt. A giver of life was taking it.
I had never killed anything before, either. Well, not mammalian anyway. I had gone fishing and killed some bugs, but I’m not counting them. As I stood there looking at those poor little faces and their shallow, rough breathing, I knew that I had to kill them to end their suffering.
I bashed them over their cute little furry heads. And you know what? I roared, “I did it! I AM WOMAN!”
However, I think I will do without the necklace of kitten heads, thank you very much.
*This is a re-post from my Walknroll blog dated Sept. 14, 2010.*