1. Marion Seaman, "The Queen Bee" - a woman of grace, culture, music, and laughter, who introduced me to both great music and great art and taught me how to appreciate both. She and her husband Lloyd "Counsel" were inspiring role models for an intellectually voracious and highly curious (in all senses of the word) child who wanted to explore the world and did - through their vast library, travel diaries, and conversation where no question was frowned upon. I miss them still.
Lesson - share your passions
2. Aung San Suu Kyi - (freedom fighter) for standing firm in her principles and being open to dialogue. It is long past time for her house arrest to be over.
Lesson - never back down
3. Margaret Thatcher - (politician) for breaking the glass ceiling and doing a damned fine job of it. A bit heavy handed towards the end but all in all - she was one hell of a politician. Hilary would do well to go for tea. They would have lots of battle stories to share - dissimilar in politics, but receivers of the same sexism. (Hilary 2012)
Lesson - being strong is a women's right
4. Marie Sklodowska-Curie - (scientist) - unstoppable curiosity persistence through the scientific method, perseverance in the face of unbearable hardship, courage in overcoming devastating grief, and overcoming racism, sexism, and xenophobia to be a radiant light (no pun intended) for women who are passionate about the sciences - 2 Nobel prizes in 2 different sciences - and her biography will make you weep and and cheer and know how far women have come - and how far we have yet to go.
Lesson - study what you love - and master it.
5. The Queen Mum - (wife/mother/patriot) - the ultimate in "stand by your man" - her natural social charm helped her painfully shy husband (who also had a speech impediment) to lead Britain and the Commonwealth during wartime. When asked why she, like Queen Julianna of the Netherlands, had not evacuated with the young Princesses to Canada, she replied..."The Princesses will not leave unless I go with them, and I will not go unless the King goes with us, and the King will not leave while there is still an England, so we will all stay and see this through with our fellow Englishmen and women." (or some similar quote...sources vary).
Lesson - be a great partner - in public, their greatest defender, and in private, their greatest advisor.
6. Peggy Guggenheim - (art lover and enabler of genius) - an absolute nutbar with immense wealth and an incredible eye for 20th century art - she is responsible for the care and feeding and nurturing of an entire movement of art that shaped our culture.
Lesson - see the greatness in others and help them shine
7. Julianne of Norwich - (anchorite) - along with the other great women visionaries of the Catholic Church (St. Theresa, St Catherine of Sienna) - she experienced a deep and profound faith that she expressed through inspirational writings that provide comfort to the weary souls of today with as much profundity as in her own time. "all manner of things will be well".
Lesson - let faith guide you - even into small spaces, that hold only you and the Divine.
8. Yoko Ono - (artist/musician/businesswoman) - Her art as part of Fluxus was groundbreaking. Her music (both as a solo artist and in collaboration) has become recognized as noteworthy by the musical community. Her activism for Peace knows no limits - she is not afraid to be a holy fool for the cause of World Peace - her goal is to make you STOP and then THINK - because no thinking person would choose war. She used her grief as a tool to till the garden of Peace activism, watered by her tears over John's death, and has been growing amazing projects season after season.
Lesson - be yourself, and never apologize. Be sincere, not obsequious. Smiles are for shopkeepers.
9. St. Hildegard Von Bingen - (renaissance woman) - her name likely means "multi-tasking" in old German - she was an Abbess, artist, author, counselor, linguist, naturalist, scientist, philosopher, physician, herbalist, poet, visionary, composer, magistrate, founder of abbeys, originator of Opera as a musical form. She wrote theological, botanical, and medicinal texts, as well as letters, liturgical songs, poems, and the first surviving morality play, while supervising brilliant miniature illuminations. She also referred to the Divine in the feminine.
Lesson - you can do anything - you can do everything.
10. Patti Smith (poet) - The Godmother of Punk gave all women musicians express permission to ditch the pretty hair and the pretty clothes and push hard to give birth to the music that boilis inside. A gifted poet (Pulitzer anyone? Nobel perhaps some day) and an electrifying onstage presence, her contribution to making real music took guts and blood and sweat and tears. All those were present when she took the stage to close CBGB's - ending with her ovarial (can't call her work seminal) piece ELEGY - and reading a list of the dearly departed punk legends who played there. Jesus died for somebody's sins, but not hers. or mine.
Lesson - let the passions rage - channel them into something - and demand to be heard.
11. Roberta Bondar (explorer) - Canada's own! Our first woman astronaut and the world's first neurologist in space - she is now working hard to inspire young women to pursue meaningful careers in the sciences, with an eye on healing the planet. A dynamic public speaker, and a proud Canadian,
Lesson - the sky's not the limit. Dream big. Then dream even bigger.
12. Doreen Valiente - (Mother of Us All) - she took a crazy Englishman's delusions of religous grandeur and gave them words and wings and shape and substance and flow and ebb and wrote a religion that still holds her in highest regard. So glad she lived long enough to see the Craft go into its fourth generation. Outspoken, well spoken, she nurtured the flame, and set the watchfires burning for a sacred circle that now spans the globe.
Lesson - Speak your truth. Speak it quickly. Then write it down so you can't be misquoted.
13. Pamela Coleman Smith and the Lady Frieda Harris -(translators of the dream) - these amazing artists worked under the guidance of two very different taskmasters - the always proper AE Waite, and the most IMproper Aleister Crowley to produce two tarot decks that shaped the clay of the occult world into perpetuity. Neither were recognized as the Creatrix of their decks in the greatest travesty of anthrocentric misappropriation of the last century. Fortunately, they have been restored to their rightful recognition as Visionary Artists of the Highest Order.
Lesson - put your name on it. Own your own copyrights and master recordings. Don't let others steal your talents or ideas and get away with it.
And there has to be an Honorable Mention for this Thursday Thirteen -
Your immigrant grandmother (no matter how many greats precede the grand) - almost all of us have one - some woman who left her world behind and went "west" or "east" or "north" to make a better life in an untamed land - a new culture - a brave new world - sometimes legally, sometimes not. In a red river cart, a York boat, a Connestoga wagon, on foot, on horseback, or by steaming locomotive, or by swimming a river - our pioneer foremothers demonstrated all the Girl Guide Virtues and then some - and made 50% of the future, giving 100% of themselves. Their daughters (or granddaughters) fought to give the rest of us rights - to vote, to divorce, to marry or not as we chose, to own property, to fight for our country, and to stand before the altar of the Most High as an equal part of Creation.
and .... for the indigenous kookums (grandmothers) who welcomed them to these shores - and who extended a hand of friendship, or ran in fear, or stood and fought, and who shared food, medicines, and deserved much better treatment than smallpox blankets and seeing their children stolen and shipped off to residential schools. If the women had been allowed to negotiate the treaties, we'd all have bannock and buffalo and the best of what the newcomers brought to the feast.
Lesson: honor the mother wisdom, the deep voice of the ancestors, and of the Earth.
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