Friday, October 30, 2015

on chivalry

As a young girl, I had a habit of hiding waxen tapers within curls of birchbark, in the forests not far from my home. I later would fetch them and would light them and perform mysterious processions, marching up and down mossy rock staircases in an elven-fairy castle above a cliff with my sister.

Later, caught up in spells of wanderlust, I preferred to hike the hills alone. I would make my way up to a mountain spring, which I named, Tatiana's Stream, after Evgeny Onegin, because the name resembles "Tatiana's Dream," and listened to the trickling water with as much wistful wonder as could be conjured in those stanzas of Pushkin's. Most often, I wore long skirts, which would be sopping wet after I passed the meadow grasses, so that I would be forced to run quickly home in order to escape the chill.

Today, re-reading the portion of Evgeny Onegin containing Tatiana's dream, I am reminded of one of my own first recurring dreams. At around the age of four, I watched a stage performance of The Snow Queen. That night, I was rushing in the dark across the ice somewhere, being chased. I remember running, running, running from some unknown pursuers ....

However, I digress: I am glad to say that I have stopped running.

I had meant to write a post on chivalry, on what the word has come to mean to me.

The word, chivalry, conjures so many associations. A woman such as myself must use her imagination to understand the whole knight - sword - jousting - business. The idea of harming another human being for the sake of a duel - I cannot abide. And yet, of course, the Grail legend, and the idea of a grand Quest: that is another matter. Along my own path, I've played the role of Princess, Dragon, and St. George. I've yearned for unicorns, and have mightily coveted the Seige Perilous, although nowhere in the legend is it mentioned that a woman might qualify for such a seat.

By the way, who do we women have as avatars in Arthurian Legend? Elaine? Guinevere? Yes, I've tried on those roles for size. Oh, horrors. "The mirror crack'd from side to side--" No wonder the very thought now makes me want to find my copy of Wuthering Heights, and scream a passage of it into the winds of a wild moor. It is not easy to be incarnate as a female on this planet -- just ask Gaia -- please forgive us, dear Mother Earth!

Solving my own puzzle through the process of elimination, I've come to a place where I've realized that I am my own knight on a white horse, and my own - dare I say it - holy Grail.

And also the gradual epiphany has dawned on me that - although it may seem rather trite - chivalry, like charity, begins at home. Along my own winding Grail path, I have been introduced to my own inner male, and female.

Between one's inner selves, I have found, it is best to develop a deep and delicate courtesy in order to achieve peace and balance. "Please," "thank you," I'm sorry," and "I love you, dear" are not out of place among one's own thoughts.

To be chivalrous is, in my opinion -- to cherish the Holy Grail of one's own heart, where burns the eternal flame. I'll join you there.

The Meeting of the Family in Heaven (William Blake)

And to anyone who struggles with issues of identity, gender, or who is wondering which "team" they should belong to: please, remember to be on your own side. Always. Drink deeply from your own inner waters. And the rest will work itself out.

Ofra Haza was a Yemenite-Israeli singer who passed far too soon from this world.

My deepest condolences to the families of the passengers of Kogalymavia Flight 9268.


Harlequin said...

“Historia Regum Britanniae” describes the seat of Athurian Legend – often synonymous with the concepts of chivalry and the romance of the quest? Systems, principles, and customs that echo down the ages and nicely adapted here

Iulia Flame said...

A tale as old as time: we follow wisdom's winding path into lands afar and then discover the trail leads into our kitchen garden.

Arthurian legend fascinated me for years; I read Le Morte D'Arthur, and as many other sources as I could, even CS Lewis' "That Hideous Strength" and some Jung -- I stared at ancient icons with questions in my eyes - especially Rublev's Holy Trinity and the icon of the Inexahustible Cup.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

I like your concept of being one's own knight and finding one's own Grail. (Though personally I always wanted to be d'Artagnan and/or Robin Hood.) As for female Arthurian avatars, it was always Morgan le Fay for me.

Iulia Flame said...

d'Artagnan -- so dashing, Rosemary! :)

It took me a while to come round to Morgan le Fay ... :)

the song of a shell sapphire melting inside jade a color unnamed Ofra Haza's version of this song defies categoriz...

popular on this site