Elves, Human-ness, and Bodily Autonomy
The difference between natural and normal, how our bodies are reacting to our captive state, and why you should free yourself to choose for you alone.
Something you should know about me...I love reading. So be forewarned, I will reference books often, since they fuel my imagination and ideation. This morning I was reading Shroud of Shadow by Gael Baudino, published in 1993. It’s a book I picked up off the discount shelf at the used bookstore a month ago. I saw “elf” and “Inquisition” on the front cover, so, of course I forked over the $1.
Whatever this book's attributes as literature, what I read this morning made me stop, get out my blog journal and immediately write out the thoughts it inspired because I want to share them with you.
"Women don’t know in their minds, of course. They know it in their bellies and in their breasts."
For a little context, the elf mentioned on the cover of the book is having dreams about a time in the future when Elves will reawaken. This scene takes place the morning after two humans have started to transition into Elves. Just so you know why they’re saying what they say. Or in case you like elves and want to read the whole book :)
‘“This is happening fast, and I don’t know what it is. I’m getting worried. Shouldn’t we see a doctor or something?”
Wheat regarded him silently, then shook her head. He was surprised: she seemed so calm. A new mind, a new body - and intimations of more newness to come - and yet she accepted it all, embraced it…
“I’ll tell you something, Hadden,” she said. “Men don’t know this, or if they know, they don’t pay any attention to it. But I think you’ll understand now.”
He looked at her…
“It’s something women know,” Wheat was saying. “About doctors. Women don’t know in their minds, of course. They know it in their bellies and in their breasts. I’m just now putting it into so many words.” She smiled, shook her head at such sudden and fast coming realizations. “This is so strange: I feel like I’m just waking up.”
… “Doctors are there to make you normal,” she said. “If they can’t make you normal, then they give you something to make other people think you’re normal.” She laughed again, softly, sadly. “It doesn’t matter what you think.”
… “But I don’t want to be normal,” Wheat continued as though casually throwing off a burden. “I don’t even care whether people think I’m normal. This…” She rose, stretched… “this is too good. I feel too good about it.”
…She stared into his face, and there was a flicker of starlight in her eyes. He knew it was starlight. He was frightened that he knew. But his knowledge and fright conspired together and silenced him.
“Women know this, too,” Wheat began. “…Listen to me Hadden. Please, listen, and try to understand. Try to feel it in yourself. You can do it now. I know you can. When you’re a woman, you’re always changing into something else. You start out as a girl. You have your first period, and suddenly you’re a woman. Then maybe you have a child, and then you’re a mother. Your breasts get full, and then you don’t belong just to yourself any more, but to that little mouth that’s looking to you for food. Then you reach menopause, and you’re something else again.”
He was staring at her, no longer struggling, for, yes, he understood. He understood it, he felt it, he knew it.’
If this is enough for you and you want to stop here to reflect on this material on your own, please do! Come back any time if you feel like reading my reflections. For those of you who are ready, read on:
Women’s intuition. We women know - not in our minds, but in our bellies and breasts, that we don’t want to be anyone else’s sense of “normal”. We crave the mystery of the feminine. I mean, we crave the open acknowledgement of feminine cycles and that each woman lives out phases and archetypes throughout her lifetime.
There’s no need for it to be a mystery that these cycles exist, that they affect all of us (regardless of sex or gender). It shouldn’t be hush-hush (whispers of “Do you have a tampon?”, the offending article passed furtively from one hand to another, inquiries of “Do you need help?” refused out of guilt for not being able to “handle it all”). Or covered in euphemisms. It brings to mind the scene played out so often on screen, a woman manipulates a male authority figure (boss, teacher, dad) to escape a situation or place with a clutch at her lower abdomen and a “I need to leave…*knowing look*…Female problems.” The man inevitably gets flustered and panics, agreeing to dismiss her presence as quickly as possible, and with her the thoughts of whatever goes on with, and comes out of, female bodies. We’re DONE with THAT kind of mystery.
We want (at least, I want) the juicy kind of mystery, where the whole community knows and understands - and RESPECTS - female and male cycles, phases, and transitions. Where the mystery can be lived out privately, in full enjoyment of the process, because it feels safe to do so. Because it can be talked about openly, as a natural part of life, and there are spaces available for care and support. No one is crazy. No one is weird. Everyone lives out their particular path, and everyone marvels together at these wonderful similarities and differences that bind us all together in the human experience. This must be my personal Utopia.
Because Wheat is right. Doctors want to make you “normal”. Not to wound anyone’s professional pride (different strokes for different folks), but allopathic medicine has been a pretty deranged experiment. I feel the weight of those words, and I’ll stick to them. Deranged experiment. We let ourselves be poked, prodded, cut open, parts of our bodies scraped, burned, cut away. It’s saved people’s lives. Saved some people’s self esteem. But are we really thinking about WHY we go to the extreme options first? Why we even need them? How we even got here?!
No, it is NOT natural for a woman’s menstrual cycle to vary wildly in length and duration. It is NOT natural to experience severe cramping and PMS each month. It’s not natural to be depressed, it’s not natural to be exhausted. Your OB-GYN probably told you it’s normal, though.
Well, they’re right. It’s normal for our bodies to react this way to our modern lifestyle. It’s our lifestyle that’s not normal or natural. Our bodies are reacting appropriately to that.
You’ve seen videos or pictures of orca whales in captivity? (Where are my “Free Willy” peeps?) You’ve seen how their dorsal fin flops over, because they don’t have wide open spaces to move in naturally, don’t eat fresh food they’ve worked to get, and don’t live in community? Well, that’s us. That’s our bodies. Our dorsals are literally slumped because we live in captivity. We’re solitary, sedentary, dependent.
Of course our bodies are malfunctioning.
We are each a trilogy embodied, everything interconnects. If our bodies are down, our mind and spirit go down with it.
The good news is, there can always be repair. With the resurgence of the archetypal feminine comes a resurgence in modalities that favor the non-linear whole being. Traditional healing practices are soaring in popularity, as well as the newer generation of practices that successfully fuse ancient philosophies (ie, respecting the balance of masculine and feminine) with modern science and technology. We have so many options available! We can choose what actually feels right to our bodies and spirits! (Side note: when the mind is down, it's working from the Ego, from the scripts that were conditioned into us starting at birth. It is not always a truthful or trustworthy companion. This can also be repaired.)
Allopathic medicine is just one option in the ice cream parlor of health care. We’ve been conditioned to think it’s better and “right.” It’s not. It IS more powerful and pretty bossy. Other than that, it’s like the flavor of the month (if a month represents the past couple of centuries). All the other flavors are still available. New flavors come out all the time, some using classic ingredients, some using trendy ones. Trends change, but there will always be the trilogy of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. Everyone picks the flavor they like best that day and everyone is free to visit any of the ice cream parlors available.
Don’t succumb to the pressure to go with something just because it gets more advertising or seems more socially acceptable. Forget the “shoulds” (aka, your mind when it's down). Do your research, and then listen to your body tell you what it needs. Trust yourself. It’s all there, in your belly and your breast.
You deserve to live the juicy mystery of your life. It’s ever changing, always unfolding. Give yourself permission to change and unfold. To visit the wild, unknown places in yourself. To experiment and discover what you are actually capable of. To live a juicy life. And to savor every last drop.