|Art by Lucy Pierce|
Women have little to do with the march of history as we are taught it in our schools - women are the ones who wait at home or take on “men’s work” in order to get by and keep the war machine going. Women are, and always have been, the ones who nurse the wounded and bury the dead. Women are rarely the ones who make the decision to go to war and the sacrifice of women and of the culture is the psychic and physical health of the next generation. But those who perish for the cause attain a kind of immortality not often granted ordinary mortals. Mortality makes the loss of the beloved not only bearable but also glorious.
Women and power. Women and death. Western culture gives us the glory of death and courage wrapped in a warrior package and occasionally a woman is the warrior. But how do we now - as the world twists and changes - fully step into our role as creator and destroyer? Have we the skills and the hearts to survive the unmaking of the old orders, keep our balance and walk the tightrope between aggression and strength, between power and glory and wiping a baby’s nose?
We learn so much through the practice of living and through flying in our dreams. It is up to us now, as women, to define how the glory goes and when and to whom. Our quest as women is to find and claim our own kind of power in a world that has long denied us this privilege. How do we create a new world? As we midwife the death of the dominator system called patriarchy, we must organize and respond as women, consciously creating the world in our image. But first we must clarify that image and find the wit and courage to step into our own authentic power. We can look to the old systems for information, for inspiration as we gaze into the future of the planet and our species on it. We can honor the memory of the warrior-priestess, the queen, and the freedom fighter. Because it has fallen on us to birth the new world. Again.
We begin by acknowledging that those centuries of living under an autocratic and misogynistic culture has left gaping wounds in the human psyche. We accept that we must be healers as well as leaders, that we must salve spirits that are hurting and feed those that are hungry. We, as women, will define what a warrior is in this brave new world; then we will become that thing; we will model that for our sons and our daughters, for our grandchildren and our grandparents. For Boudicca and for her daughters, for we are all her daughters.
Fúmsa atá sé. Is cumin liom.
It’s up to me. I remember.
-H. Byron Ballard, an excerpt from ''The Daughters of Boudicca'' - featured in our upcoming anthology, In Defiance of Oppression -The Legacy of Boudicca.
H. Byron Ballard, BA, MFA, is a western NC native, teacher, folklorist and writer. She has served as a featured speaker and teacher at Sacred Space Conference, Summerland Spirit Festival, Pagan Spirit Gathering, Southeast Wise Women’s Herbal Conference, Glastonbury Goddess Conference, Heartland, Sirius Rising, Starwood, Scottish Pagan Federation Conference and other gatherings. She is senior priestess and co-founder of Mother Grove Goddess Temple and the Coalition of Earth Religions/CERES, both in Asheville, NC.
Her essays are featured in several anthologies and she writes a regular column for Witches and Pagans Magazine. Her book “Staubs and Ditchwater” debuted in 2012 and the companion volume “Asfidity and Mad-Stones” was published in Oct. 2015. “Embracing Willendorf: A Witch’s Way of Loving Your Body to Health and Fitness” launched in May, 2017. “Earth Works: Ceremonies in Tower Time” debuted in June 2018. Byron is currently at work on “Gnarled Talisman: Old Wild Magics of the Motherland” and “The Ragged Wound: Tending the Soul of Appalachia.”