“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~ Anais Nin
International Women’s Day (March 8, 2017) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. Its roots in 1905 lie in far left socialism, and until this year, it was little known or noted in America. The movement’s call to action includes efforts to achieve gender parity.
In a profound synchronicity I began reading a book earlier this week that I had acquired some time ago in a second hand store. Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, was published in 2003, and written by Azar Nafisi, an Iranian professor of literature. The book remained on the bestseller list for 117 weeks and won several awards. It is the story of a secret class for young women that Dr. Nafisi held in her home in Tehran, in the Islamic Republic of Iran, during the reign of the Ayatollah Khomeini. She had resigned from the university in a dispute because she refused to wear the veil. The young women met every Thursday morning for two years, until Dr. Nafisi left Iran in 1997 to teach in America.
The girls risked a great deal to participate in their exploration of forbidden Western classics. They arrived at her home garbed in the legislated heavy black robes and veils that the Islamic theocracy dictated. But once inside a transformation occurred. The young women removed these shields to reveal brightly colored clothes, nail polish, and forbidden jewelry, carefully hidden beneath. This unveiling transformed them from prisoners of religious tyranny into young women with unique personalities, dreams, and longings. The veils and robes were powerful metaphors for cloaking the identities of the vulnerable but courageous human beings beneath them.
They came from different backgrounds and economic conditions and at first were uncomfortable with each other. What their teacher saw, and why they had been hand picked, was their passion for learning and their love of literature. Her vision was to transform their lives through great fiction and to experience the power of a free and illumined mind—even in a dark place. Indeed, a powerful metamorphosis occurred and their lives were changed through their journeys through great literature.
Nearly a decade ago I was inspired with my own fiery vision to write a book about the divine feminine. That impulse grew out of my own research on another project where I had passed through the locked gate of what passes for history and discovered a temple of hidden wisdom. I entered that veiled portal and found a deep vein of previously unknown riches about the divine feminine. That revelation turned into a constant lament, “Why don’t women know about the rich history of the feminine half of the divine?” My indignation was channeled into my book Goddesses for Every Day, which would certainly be forbidden in Iran.
Reflecting back on the week of International Women’s Day, and delving into Nafisi’s haunting memoir, is that the battle is far from over. I am always left wondering why the feminine principle has been so diminished and demonized for more than four thousand years. I naively believed that I had been born into a time of positive change when ignorance and bigotry were becoming ghosts of a misbegotten past that had been relegated to the darkness from which they came.
However, when I look around my country and the world it gives me pause. Even though half of the students who enroll in medical and law schools in America are now female, the worldwide abuse of women is on the rise. I can never comprehend the depth of irrational fear that drives this. We must redouble our efforts to stand in our feminine nature and our power. That power is not force or domination. Authentic feminine power is the magnetic energy of love. When genuine it is a radiant quality of acceptance, inclusiveness, and empowerment. Now more than ever we must risk whatever it takes to open our petals to the light and thereby flower into the magnificent blossoms we can become. The risk is still great, but the reward is beauty and strength beyond imagining.
Let’s open ourselves to the possibilities.
Copyright, Julie Loar, 2017
About the Author: Julie Loar is the multiple award-winning author of six books and dozens of articles. She is an international teacher and scholar of myth and symbolism. Her latest book, Goddesses For Every Day: Exploring the Wisdom & Power of the Divine Feminine Around The World, , published by New World Library, is available from booksellers everywhere. She has traveled to sacred sites around the world, researching the material in her books and teachings, and each year she leads a tour to Egypt. Her popular astrology feature appears in ATLANTIS RISING magazine.