Blame it on the Daily Prompt and mine being at writers residence: normally i write one post per week, but there you go – after days of being crazy busy with the book fair, i peeked at WordPress, checked the daily prompt by the way… and got stumped as i honestly could not remember which was the book to which i always go back (except the Bible that is, but -sic – there are enough preachers as it is.) And then it dawned on me, my last ‘Second Time Around’ (and third and forth) was Helen Gurley Brown’s “Sex and the Single Girl”, some ten years ago.
I was in the hospital back then (nothing too bad) and i remember a chatty nurse laughingly telling me how all the stuff was amazed by my choice of books – see, the book was at the nightstand, beside my hospital bed – and that couple of them, including the surgeon who operated on me, came in person to the room to make sure she wasn’t making it up, that the patient (aka me) indeed read the book of such a provocative title… I was too sick of anesthesia to say anything remotely sensible, yet i was in state of shock – by that time, everywhere else except in 3d world countries ruled by extremists, the book had become a subject of ridicule for its outdated views and presumably sexist advice.
Lo and behold, i am from Europe, from a country that’s candidate-member of European Union, which at the same time happens to be most conservative and traditional one.
I wrote about Brown and “Helenism” before in Single Girl, the Skinny God and the Plague of Labeling, what dawned on me as i was rethinking it all today was that HGB and the Cosmo Girl, as she envisioned her, are the perfect prototype of Tarot’s Queen of Wands.
Check her out:
Queen of Wands from the Rider-Waite Tarot deck (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
She’s hot, she’s pretty, like the flower she’s holding she’s sunny and radiant, open and positive, she looks to the right – which is the direction of the future in Tarot. And as if a beautiful, confident, and positive woman wasn’t dangerous enough as it is – on the top of it she’s accompanied by a mysterious black cat who stares at the reader making obvious Queen’s power to charm and enchant… Oy, the threat that she is to the patriarchy! Of course that “popularly” (idiotically) when this card comes out in a Tarot spread, she’s read as “slutty”, as the proverbial “other woman”, the easy one and whatnot.
Earlier today i read an excellent essay on movies, morals and reading cards and while i don’t agree on all points with the friend of mine who wrote it (see, we didn’t dump our own fundies anywhere, we’ve kept them all to ourselves – said tongue in cheek), she does have a point: “There’s lot of moralizing by otherwise good people in online card reading groups. It’s AUTOMATICALLY assumed that the married guy somebody’s asking about IS JUST USING HER FOR SEX AND DOES NOT CARE, that the Snake is the OTHER WOMAN, that naturally poly people are ASSHOLES, and the world is full of DIRTY BIRDIES WHO MUST BE STOPPED. Sounds like a code movie to me. If you’re reading this, you’re probably a nice person – that stuff is for harpies who snoop in their mens’ cell phones, not you! Don’t fall in with that kind of thinking. The world is more complex than that. The CARDS are more complex than that – read them and see what they say, don’t twist them to what the current, dry Bible-thumper culture would have you say.”
Remember Marge Piercy’s, one of the most prominent 2nd wave feminists’, poem For Strong Women?
A strong woman is a woman in whose head
a voice is repeating, I told you so,
ugly, bad girl, bitch, nag, shrill, witch,
ballbuster, nobody will ever love you back,
why aren’t you feminine, why aren’t
you soft, why aren’t you quiet, why aren’t you dead?
A strong woman is a woman determined
to do something others are determined
not be done. She is pushing up on the bottom
of a lead coffin lid. She is trying to raise
a manhole cover with her head, she is trying
to butt her way through a steel wall.
Her head hurts.
So does mine when i imagine a prudish Tarotist reading for Marge back in the day when she lived in an open marriage with her second husband and Ira Wood, her 3d hubby to be. I believe your fundie-reader would rather choke himself to death than read for her!
And i don’t even dare imagining what morals would be preached to Biblical King David upon his spotting (oy the shame) Batsheba carelessly having a bath and sending her first husband, Uriah, to the battle and imminent death… Righteous Tarotist would dignifiedly wave their code of ethics and would firmly refuse to read on a third party… The king would be advised to hold back and by all means refrain from seducing the future queen… the tiny problem there being that this would have diverted the history of humanity as the Messiah comes from that very line and that King David did complete his spiritual correction before his soul departed: “When King David was very old, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him.” (Kings 1:1) The truth is that he wasn’t that old – he started ruling at thirty and ruled for forty years, which at the time of his passing makes him merely 70 – not to forget that Abraham fathered a son in his late 90ies ( “Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him”, Gnesis 21:5) and that Moses became the leader of his people in his 80ies; expected biblical lifespan was 120 years.
Let us read further: So his attendants said to him, “Let us look for a young virgin to serve the king and take care of him. She can lie beside him so that our lord the king may keep warm.” (Kings 1:2) Rings any bells? Right, it was King’s chance to practice restriction and to make his tikkun hanefesh before departing.
Not to mention King David’s “gold-digging” great grandmother after whom i was named, Ruth the Moabite, who at night sneaked into bed of her older and wealthy husband to be… Oy gevalt! Isn’t she an epitome of the Queen of Wands?!
In the Book of Thoth, Crowley expands on the Court: “The characteristics of the Queen are adaptability, persistent energy, calm authority which she knows how to use to enhance her attractiveness. She is kindly and generous, but impatient of opposition. She has immense capacity for friendship and for love, but always on her own initiative.”
Further, as she represent the watery part of Fire she’s attributed to I Ching’s 17th hexagram, Following, of which Hilary Barrett, my favorite contemporary Yi Xie scholar says: “This hexagram begins in the same way as the whole Yijing begins: with ‘the source, success, harvest, constancy’, yuan heng li zhen. Together, these four words show the presence of Creative Force, driving through to completion. There’s a sense of inevitability; ‘it follows’; everything will fall into place.”
The combo of Kabbalah, Western Hermeticism and Chinese Philosophy can and most often does blow the mind of the Tarot newbie, but no one said it was easy; what we claimed was that it’s possible to grasp this occult discipline and – with a lot of practice – become somewhat good in it.
Brown was eighty-seven when a biography, “Bad Girls Go Everywhere” by Jennifer Scanlon, professor of gender and women’s studies at Bowdoin College was published. In words of Judith Thurman, “despite the title (“Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere” is one of Brown’s favorite mottoes), this is a serious academic reconsideration of a figure who, Scanlon argues, has been slighted by feminist history, and deserves a place in its pantheon, particularly because she was speaking to and for the typists, the flight attendants, and the sales clerks who couldn’t afford to burn a good bra, rather than the college-educated sisterhood that was “womanning” the barricades of the nineteen-seventies… In everything that Brown has written or edited, she has promoted the message that sex is great, and that one should get as much of it as possible. (Ditto for money.) Just about everyone knows this, and has always known it, but in Brown’s youth few women would admit it, even to themselves.”
Some (many?) still have issues with women enjoying sex and financial independence and therein lies the root of the problem with contemporary (mis)interpretation of the Queen of Wands, who’s almost as commonly despised by the pseudo readers as The Queen of Swords is feared.