Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Maman Brigitte and the quest for love

In general, when you work as a spiritual counselor, one of the most frequent questions is the one for romance. Whether tarot cards or past life readings, astrology or alter building, my friends and clients want to know how to find romance. And sure enough, that was the second question for Bridget's Fire. How to find love, Onnen?

Well, we have to do some hermeneutics before approaching love. Romanticized love is one the cornerstones of a racist and heteropatriarchy. Can't get equal pay for equal work? Well, fall in lu-uve. Can't find decent childcare at an affordable price? Fall in lu-uve. Have no health care? Losing your home? Harassed by your boss at work? Fall in lu-uve. Love, that heterosexual construct of capitalism, is offered as a cure-all for all sexist and racist and homophobic and poverty ills of our society.

Yet, love as a force of revolution, acknowledged as such in most tarot decks anyway, is also an important reality. Strip the ideology of white, sexy hunks and wealthy Mr. Darcy's, and you are left with a force that moves mountains.

My friend, seeking advice on romance, has left abusive husbands and fought for her two autistic children. She has stormed through courts protecting her children, and the force of love has pushed her from teenage mom to amazing African American career woman with two master's degrees. Now she wants to try a romance without violence, and wants to know how to find it. And good for her.

Here is where hermeneutics again is useful. I am as fond of the pornography-named-romance novels as anyone, but like watching television, I tread the genre carefully. Yes sexy werewolves fall into heroines' laps in my favorite books, yet in real life full moons do not werewolf romance make. And for all the fun interspecies orgies in the hotter female pornography genre out there, hot sex isn't always as easy as dancing naked under a full moon.

Indeed, I would suggest that "romance" is another word for female pornography, and as my guy friends (gay and straight) point out, they don't confuse porn with real world relationships. One dude stated that he does not expect hot babes to lust after him like the porn he enjoys, and so why do women expect their romances to imitate Twilight and that ilk?

Hmmmm. Good question.

I am going to suggest thinking about and questioning "love" as an important, indeed essential element, of finding right relationships. Given the sexist mess that love-as-ideology is in our culture, I want to push wise women and men to use more thinking time for establishing relationships, and less feeling. My friend is an admirable case in point. That brilliant mind of hers needs to establish as many guidelines and rules for her dating life as she does for her wonderful children, and for her own professional life.

My friend, however, had others object when I pushed her to write down minimum standards and guidelines for romantic relationships. Sure, what I suggest isn't pretty, romantic, or being swept away - and good for that. Instead I want to encourage sweeping away dangerous ideas that keep women and men hurting more than I want what I have called female porn/romance. Real life, including witchcraft, Christianity, paganism, and any other religious endeavor, requires work.

Which leads me to Maman Brigitte. More than Saint Bridget, or the Irish Goddess Bridget so often depicted with flowing blonde hair by new age pagans, Maman Brigitte is a patron voudou saint of graveyards. Go to Maman Brigitte and you are calling on endings, on deaths, on passing. She is a perfect deva for chopping away heterosexist and racist ideas about love. Yet, Maman Brigitte is also a guardian and protector. For my friend and others starting out into the world of dating, a strong protector can't hurt.

Now my devoutly Christian friend worries about creating alters to a voudou orishe. That is fine.

To call on Maman Brigitte one doesn't have to follow voudou, Catholocism or any other pagan/new age path. I urged my friend to create a meditation space, and to offer the spirit of Maman Brigitte's protection a daily cup of tea, or some written dedications and guidelines for the guys she wants to date. A few coins never hurt. A picture of her current crush is good.

In no way does an alter of meditation take away from church or prayer time. In general, I have never found saints, Goddesses, orishes, devas, spirits, or deities at all upset about meditating. And meditating on putting sexism into any graveyard, while calling for a spirit of protection, is a great daily practice.

1 comment:

  1. A college roommate once pointed out that you can substitute the word "drug" wherever the word "love" appears in popular music and the lyrics make just as much (and sometimes more) sense. Definitely casts cultural notions of "love" in a very different light.

    Sonia Johnson is another woman whose thoughts about "love" tend to strip it of glamour (in the old sense of a spell of illusion). She tackles social constructs (such as "love") that deeply affect our personal lives in both *The Ship That Sailed into the Living Room* and *Out of This World*.

    Thanks for reminding us to take off the blinders we've been fitted with since childhood. They have a tendency to slip back on when we're not paying attention.