October 5, 2019

{The Glorious Renée Harris}


Enjoy this reprint of my article on Confluence Daily about the first woman Broadway producer, Renée Harris, and the new book about her life by Randy Bryan Bigham and Gregg Jasper.

Don't you love learning about women trailblazers of history?



What a Dame! The Glorious Renée Harris

I first “met” Renée Harris when researching for “Glamour Onboard the Titanic,” a talk I was to give at the Biltmore in Asheville, NC, a few years ago during their costume exhibition. Renée and her husband Harry, a famously successful Broadway producer, were passengers on the RMS Titanic returning home to New York City in 1912 from a working holiday abroad. She made it; he, like many other men, went down with the ship.

During my research, I became curious about the lives of a number of women after they survived the Titanic disaster. It took a lot of courage and determination to live through such an ordeal—and they would need that tenacity in the changing world culture. The early years of the 20th century were a transformative time, especially for women who, in the United States, were revving up the nearly-seven-decades-long campaign for the vote, to continue moving their lives out of the “domestic sphere” into the “public sphere”—and the patriarchal powers-that-be were pushing back!

What had women, like Renée Harris, undertaken in this brave new world once they arrived home? I later wrote about some of these trailblazing women, but the information was often limited since history tends to ignore or gloss over a woman’s story. Therefore, I was delighted to learn that my historian friend Randy Bryan Bigham had co-authored, with Gregg Jasper, also a historian and collector, a first-of-its-kind biography of Renée—Broadway Dame: The Life and Times of Mrs. Henry B. Harris. And what a great “dame” she was!

Once back home in New York City, the vibrant and “unsinkable” Renée Harris, while grieving her beloved husband, not only took on his business enterprises—when the “Harris theatrical empire was on the brink of bankruptcy”—she also had to take on an unwelcoming man’s world! However, she had the right combination of good humor, hutzpah, business savvy, and the wisdom to listen to her intuitive vibes to not only win over the guys (most of the time), but also to become a successful and innovative owner and manager of the elegant Hudson Theater. Indeed, Broadway’s first woman producer!

Glamorous and spirited—"one of the great personalities of the Jazz Age”—Renée produced and managed 200 plays (some on controversial social topics) and musicals (including the “Hot Chocolates” revue with a young Louis Armstrong playing trumpet) during her 20-year run. She lived life abundantly, enjoying the wealth of her success—yearly trips to Europe, a home and yacht in Palm Beach, lavish entertaining, and a fabulous wardrobe of designer hats and furs. But she was also an active supporter of better working conditions and increased salaries for the performers and behind-the-scene workers—often going up against her male counterparts to champion workers’ rights.  

Renée (who added that second “e” to her name just because she thought it had more élan!) had feminist views but didn’t need a label in order to speak and act true to her egalitarian convictions. And she was wise enough to recognize her secret weapon: she trusted in, as she said, the “female perspective” and a woman’s “quick intuition.” “A woman can do it as well as a man,” Renée shared in an interview about producing Broadway plays. “A woman does not go about this the same way that a man does, but the results are the same. Sometimes I think they’re better. A woman brings to the stage a woman’s point of view. After all, it is what in the long run pleases a woman that makes a show a success.” (You see why I love her!)

Randy and Gregg’s biography is full of marvelous stories and never-before-published photographs gathered from various archives—including Gregg’s own collection of Broadway memorabilia. The book’s many images set the tone for this exciting, groundbreaking age in history and since Gregg knew Renée in her later years, his experiences add an intimate and personal quality to the narrative.

The co-authors tell the story of a woman who found her confident voice—encouraged by the memory of a husband’s love and faith in her (“I never take an important step without consulting Renée,” Harry told a friend only months before his death on the Titanic. “If anything happened to me, she could take over the reins.”); a woman who was unafraid to put her social conscience on the line and on the stage; and who, when she lost it all soon after the stock market crash in 1929, kept her resourcefulness, optimism and light-heartedness, continuing to enjoy life and live 93 legendary years!

Thank you, Randy and Gregg, for an inspirational and entertaining book about a strong, glorious woman that history almost forgot until you two were determined to tell her full story. ~

Broadway Dame: The Life and Times of Mrs. Henry B. Harris by Randy Bryan Bigham and Gregg Jasper available at Lulu.com

September 1, 2019

{The Story of a Blue Dress}

In celebration of the Suffrage Centennial in the United States (one-hundred years after Congress passed the 19th Amendment in June 1919 and when it was ratified in August 1920, giving women the vote), I'm giving a series of fashion-related presentations over the next year. This is one of the stories I shared in my talk “Dressed to Protest: What Women Wore to the Revolution” at the kick-off event in Sylva, North Carolina.

The Story of a Blue Dress
At last the preposterous dream of seventy years began to be realized,” wrote Eileen Tannich Gose and Kathy Wiederstein DeHerrera in Reflecting Freedom: How Fashion Mirrored the Struggle for Women’s Rights. 
In January 1918, Jeanette Rankin from Montana (the first and only woman in Congress) introduced the suffrage-granting Anthony Amendment (named after Susan B. Anthony who had first introduced it in 1878) in the House of Representatives where it passed the needed two-thirds majority by a single vote.


Thrilled at the 19th amendment passing in the House, National American Women’s Suffrage Association president Carrie Chapman Catt was certain that congressional victory, after 40 exasperating years, was near,” Elaine Weiss explained in The Woman's Hour. Carrie’s enthusiasm overpowered her usual patient pragmatism, as well as the current wartime austerity, and she ordered a new silk “ratification dress” to wear as she campaigned through the states, fashioning it in her favorite color—sapphire blue.

However, the ratification dress hung in Carrie’s closet for a full year-and-a-half as the Senate dithered and filibustered and twice more voted down the amendment. When she received the phone call in early June of 1919 that the amendment finally squeaked through, Carrie first broke into a wild dance, stomping all over her house, whooping and singing,” then she calmly went to work, putting her ratification plans into motion.

“It was finally time to put on the blue dress, but before she could, it needed to be remodeled and shortened by a seamstress, as fashion styles had changed so rapidly in the meantime, continued Weiss. Though the dress had hung in her closet for an infuriating 18 months, Carrie Catt eventually put it to good use”—in its more stylish silhouette—“as she blazed through the states, chasing the thirty-six required legislative ratifications.” And, after more than a year traveling over the country, she wore it once more in the last state to vote—hot, stifling Tennessee in August of 1920 (and probably wore it with one of those new-fangled girdles!)


But Carrie was to wear the dress again on August 27—the day after the amendment was signed into law—during the glorious celebratory parade in New York City honoring women’s newly-won suffrage. She stood in the back of an open car to salute the cheering crowd, tall and proud, her hat tilted to one side, the other arm holding the gigantic bouquet of blue delphiniums (her favorite flower) and suffrage-yellow chrysanthemums, where “she seemed at once the victorious general and the beloved queen,” as Weiss described.

The next day, when Carrie finally returned home to Juniper Ledge, she sat at her desk and, looking out at her garden, wrote “a poignant charge to the women voters of the nation”:

The vote is the emblem of your equality, women of America, the guaranty of your liberty. That vote of yours has cost millions of dollars and the lives of thousands of women. Women have suffered agony of soul which you never can comprehend, that you and your daughters might inherit political freedom. That vote has been costly. Prize it!

The vote is a power, a weapon of offense and defense, a prayer. Use it intelligently, conscientiously, prayerfully. Progress is calling to you to make no pause. Act! ~


[Sources: Eileen Tannich Gose and Kathy Wiederstein DeHerrera from Reflecting Freedom: How Fashion Mirrored the Struggle for Women’s Rights and Elaine Weiss from The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote.]


August 26, 2019

{Women's Equality Day}


On August 26, 1920, after three generations of an unrelenting, brilliant, courageous, political campaign, women in the United States won the right to vote. 
In 1971, to honor and commemorate this historic event, Congresswoman Bella Abzug introduced a Congressional Resolution (she had to introduce it again in 1973 when Congress passed it) to ensure that this date would be commemorated with the designation of Women's Equality Day, which is now celebrated on August 26th each year.

Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi leads a Women's Equality Day
 celebration in 2016

August 5, 2019

{Forces for Change}

Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, is the guest editor of the September issue of British Vogue titled Forces for Change — learn about her empowering vision for women and girls and the world:

From Chevaz Clarke at CBS News:
“To have the country’s most influential beacon of change guest edit British Vogue at this time has been an honour, a pleasure and a wonderful surprise,” the magazines editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, said of the historic collaboration. “As you will see from her selections throughout this magazine, she is also willing to wade into more complex and nuanced areas, whether they concern female empowerment, mental health, race or privilege.”

From Page Six by Elana Fishman:
“The Forces for Change issue highlights a diverse selection of women from all walks of life, each driving impact and raising the bar for equality, kindness, justice and open mindedness,” according to a post from the Duchess and Duke of Sussex’s official Instagram account shared.

Jacinda Ardern
The lineup, photographed for the cover by Peter Lindbergh, includes models/activists Adwoa Aboah, Adut Akech and Christy Turlington, Somali boxer Ramla Ali, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, diversity advocate Sinéad Burke, “Crazy Rich Asians” star Gemma Chan and actress and LGBTQ+ advocate Laverne Cox, notably the first trans person to ever appear on the title’s cover.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
It also features actresses/activists Jane Fonda, Salma Hayek and Yara Shahidi, Royal Ballet principal Francesca Hayward, body positivity warrior Jameela Jamil, feminist author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and teen climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Additionally, there’s a 16th spot on the cover featuring a silver reflective mirror, so readers can see themselves amongst these change-makers.

Also inside the issue? An exclusive interview between Markle, 37, and former first lady Michelle Obama as well one between Prince Harry and legendary primatologist Jane Goodall, along with a guest editor’s letter penned by Markle.

Adut Akech
“These last seven months have been a rewarding process, curating and collaborating with Edward Enninful, British Vogue’s editor-in-chief, to take the year’s most-read fashion issue and steer its focus to the values, causes and people making impact in the world today,” the Duchess of Sussex told the magazine.

“Through this lens I hope you’ll feel the strength of the collective in the diverse selection of women chosen for the cover as well as the team of support I called upon within the issue to help bring this to light. I hope readers feel as inspired as I do, by the ‘Forces for Change’ they’ll find within these pages.”

Greta Thunberg
Enninful told British Vogue that Markle declined to appear on the cover herself. “From the very beginning, we talked about the cover — whether she would be on it or not,” he explained. “In the end, she felt that it would be in some ways a ‘boastful’ thing to do for this particular project. She wanted, instead, to focus on the women she admires.”

Still, according to Lindbergh, that didn’t stop Markle from being hands-on when it came to photographing the issue’s cover. “My instructions from the Duchess were clear: ‘I want to see freckles!'” the famed photog told the glossy. [end of Page Six article]
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July 1, 2019

{Goddess Journey} Part Three


The third and final part of the "Goddess Journey" chapter of my book-in-slow-progress, A Memory of Love: The Spiritual Mission of a Princess.
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Glorious Inanna
The Sumerians were one of the world’s first known civilizations, taking form in the fourth millennium BCE, and, according to Joseph Campbell, its mythology was the source of Babylonian, Assyrian, Phoenician, and Biblical traditions. The glorious Inanna, Sumer’s primary deity, was the goddess of love, sensuality, fertility, procreation, war, and rebirth. Throughout the centuries, as the world’s centers of power changed, she was worshiped in ancient Babylon as Ishtar, then identified with the Greek Goddess Aphrodite and, because she was seen as the morning and evening’s bright star Venus, Inanna also later became associated with the celebrated Roman Goddess.

Inanna has a rich, multi-dimensional legacy, celebrated as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. “She embodies the Divine Feminine in all its splendor: a sensuous courtesan and a timid virgin, a life-giving mother and an eternal child, merciful and wicked, wild, passionate, untamed,” wrote Lana Adler in “7 Goddess Archetypes of Empowerment.” “In other words, everything (with the exception of the mother, perhaps) patriarchy aimed to demonize and destroy.” (You only have to look as far as the Bible to see evidence of this.)

Inanna is synonymous with transformation. In The Hero With A Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell wrote that “the oldest recorded account of the passage through the gates of metamorphosis is the Sumerian myth of the goddess Inanna’s descent to the nether world.” Abandoning heaven and earth, she “abandoned lordship, abandoned ladyship,” this goddess “from the ‘great above’ she set her mind toward the ‘great below’”—the hero’s journey. Her courageous descent and transformative return, the ultimate rite of passage, is legendary, her story told for thousands of years—with many faces and in many incarnations. “As we are told by the Vedas: ‘Truth is one, the sages speak of it by many names.’”

The legend of Inanna, encompassing a mythological journey, intersected with Diana’s life, even beyond its end. Well-known British astrologer and author Nicholas Campion made some profound royal observations following Diana’s death. But first, a little background: “After the second world war,” Campion explained, “Carl Jung [founder of analytical psychology] wrote that the phenomenon of Nazism could be partly explained by the eruption of the archetype Wotan, the Teutonic god, into the German collective unconscious.” After watching the funeral service for Princess Diana, Campion made this declaration: “I would say that what we have just witnessed was the eruption of the archetype of Inanna, the archaic Venus, into the contemporary collective unconscious.”

Campion, also a historian of cultural astronomy, believed there were people who would doubt him and found it “astonishing” that it had not been realized before, but it was his “contention that monarchy has never lost its magical, mystical functions, merely that the steady creation of a constitutional monarchy with a determinedly ordinary royal family, has concealed it.” During the last two decades of the twentieth century, Campion saw that “from the moment Diana appeared she constellated the archetype of Inanna. She was connected far less to the contemporary royal family of good works and middle class values than to the ancient magical monarchy of ancient cosmology of life and fertility; sacrifice and resurrection. Her life and death were unique in our lifetime, though perhaps not in British history.”

“As an archetype,” Lana Adler added, “Inanna symbolizes the powerful seductress who uses her considerable female persuasion to her advantage.” However, we’re reminded that “sensuality is a gift; but it can also be a powerful weapon. When we trade on it or use it to control others, we give away a part of ourselves.” Women don’t have to look to history to know how easy it is to give away our power, whether we’re being manipulated or we are the manipulator. And when it’s through our sensuality, through sex, Adler believes that it can be seen as a “symptom of deep self esteem issues and subconscious fears.” I sensed that Diana was waking up to this awareness at the very end of her life, perhaps in the last hours. Frustrated with being in the throes of a superficial affair, she was unhappy and ready to be home with her children, to get back to her newfound passion for her work in service to others; to restore her inner power and, with divine guidance, find love within. But her bigger mission took over, and her life moved into legend. ~ 

June 28, 2019

{Women's Suffrage Centennial Celebration}


In celebration of the Suffrage Centennial in the United States, from June 2019 (one hundred years after Congress passed the 19th Amendment) to August 2020 (one hundred years after it was ratified), I am giving various “Dressed to Protest: What Women Wore to the Revolution” presentations. In addition to showing how women used costume as “political armor” to finally get the vote, I share stories about a number of the courageous women involved in the seven-decades-long campaign. 

I ended my first presentation recently with this short story below about Carrie Chapman Catt, with a powerful quote from her still relevant today. She was a protege of Susan B. Anthony and president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association from 1900 to 1904 and then again in the dramatic final years of the campaign from 1915 to 1920.
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Once Carrie Catt returned home to Juniper Ledge in New York after the hot, exhausting Tennessee fight—and after the glorious NYC parade honoring women’s newly-won suffrage where she stood in the back of a car in her royal blue “ratification dress” to salute the cheering crowd, tall and proud, her hat tilted to one side, the other arm holding the gigantic bouquet of blue delphiniums (her favorite flower) and suffrage-yellow chrysanthemums, where “she seemed at once the victorious general and the beloved queen,” as Elaine Weiss described in The Woman’s Hour—Carrie sat at her desk and, looking out at her garden, wrote “a poignant charge to the women voters of the nation”: 

The vote is the emblem of your equality, women of America, the guaranty of your liberty. That vote of yours has cost millions of dollars and the lives of thousands of women. Women have suffered agony of soul which you never can comprehend, that you and your daughters might inherit political freedom. That vote has been costly. Prize it!

The vote is a power, a weapon of offense and defense, a prayer. Use it intelligently, conscientiously, prayerfully. Progress is calling to you to make no pause. Act! ~


[First of several random posts about the Suffrage Centennial over the next year plus.]

June 4, 2019

{Dressed to Protest}


Join me Western North Carolina (lovely Sylva) to kick off the U.S. Suffrage Centennial celebration!




May 19, 2019

{A Gracious Year of Kindness}


In honor of the first wedding anniversary of Prince Harry and  Meghan Markle (and their spiritual partnership shared with the world), I'm reconnecting you to the article I wrote following their inspired ceremony last spring..."A Day of Gracious Gestures and Love Power"...enjoy.

Also, a link to the "Sussex Royal" Instagram account where the couple shared never-released photos from the May 19th wedding! xoxo



April 29, 2019

{Happy Anniversary...with Love}


In honor of Prince William and Duchess Catherine's wedding anniversary—they married eight years ago today—Vogue is highlighting “A Look Back at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s Royal Romance”….enjoy their story and slideshow!



April 14, 2019

{Goddess Journey} Part Two


Sharing another section from the Goddess Journey chapter of my book-in-progress, A Memory of Love: The Spiritual Mission of a Princess.

 The Reappearing Goddess

“In the middle of the 1970s,” a decade before most of the world became aware of Lady Diana Spencer—and before she added her own ‘goddess’ essence to modern culture“a paradigm shift took place, partly inspired by the rapid development of the women’s movement,” wrote Lanier Graham. The author of Goddesses told of various books of the time that “revolutionized how people looked at the roots of their spiritual heritage.”

Before books like The Goddesses and Gods of Old Europe by archaeologist Marija Gimbutas and When God Was a Woman by art historian Merlin Stone, then later in 1987, a heralded game-changer, The Chalice and the Blade by Riane Eisler, “history textbooks had been stating or implying that the male had always been dominant in Western theology.” The consciousness-shifting winds of the more open-minded Aquarian Age were blowing through—energies we saw in the social upheavals of the 1960s and ‘70s—and a truer history of women was being revealed. “Western culture had been dominated by the male-oriented values of Indo-European culture for so long that it took a social revolution—the women’s movement—to start to bring it into balance,” explained Graham.

Discoveries in archaeology, studies in mythology, scholars of social history and linguistics were finding that “goddess cultures tended to be egalitarian, earth-centered, and nonviolent,” and these findings were then being taught in colleges and universities. “The image of the earth as sacred and society as balanced between male and female,” Graham wrote in 1997, “has become a powerful inspiration to people in the women’s movement, the ecology movement, and many other new ways of thinking.”

Joseph Campbell reminded us: “The goddess represents nature. The god represents society. And when you have a mythology that accents a god over a goddess you have a religion that accents society over nature. Then with the Fall, nature itself is cursed.” As we felt these goddess nudges in the first years of the twenty-first century, it was only natural that women and family issues of health and well-being and concerns about the environment were in the headlines. (Our Mother Earth, after all, is metaphorically represented by women’s bodies.) “There is something coming up in our own consciousness now, with the ecology movement,” Campbell wrote over fifty years ago, “recognizing that by violating the environment in which we are living, we are really cutting off the energy and the source of our own living.” It is this “sense of accord” that is so disrupted today. No wonder humans are so out-of-sorts; they have not been in accord with themselves, their very nature, since this break in consciousness. No wonder with the power of this reappearing goddess energy that so much fear-based, women-bashing backlash has been stirred up!

I had a real-life experience of this years ago, and a reflection of the hateful conflicts now on the rise today. In the late 1990s, a friend and I went on a day-long road trip from Atlanta to Huntsville, Alabama, to see an exhibit at the Space Center, where neither of us had ever visited. We turned off the expressway and while driving through the rural countryside, I saw a sign with huge, hand-painted letters; it was like a punch in the gut similar to what I felt on November 9, 2016. The message read: “FATHER CHURCH, YES. MOTHER NATURE, NO.”

That seems to sum up this violent backlash coming at us today, as I sit here writing in 2018—with the toxic masculine and the dark feminine trying to destroy the “mother” in all of us, the nurturing spirit of humanity, the health and well-being of our life-sustaining home, our sacred mother, our “Mother Earth.”

Lanier Graham gives us this history, writing at the end of the twentieth century:

...a few thousand years ago many goddess-oriented civilizations were destroyed by extremely aggressive Indo-European tribes. They demolished the old cities and then reconfigured civilization throughout most of the settled world from Greece to India. These barbarians worshipped aggressive sky gods and had scant room in their theology for goddesses; to them, women were little more than property and sexual objects. Not only did male gods become supreme, but females lost their sacredness, in a dramatic turning-around in human history that my friend Joseph Campbell called the ‘patriarchal inversion.’ It was even argued by some fathers of the early Christian Church in Rome that women had no souls. Twentieth-century men have at last started to realize that when males lost their reverence for that which is female, they also lost something within themselves.

The grasping, last-gasp obscenities of this “patriarchal inversion” were on display in the dignified halls of the United States Senate Building in Washington D.C. in the autumn of 2018 when leering, screeching white men defended their outdated network of cruelty and cronyism—no matter the cost or number of souls squandered—against one lone, brave woman speaking her truth. (And whether anyone was aware or not, she was representing the goddess spirit in us all.) This cowardly mischief was cheered on by a president whose motto seems to come directly from Dr. Victor Frankenstein’s patched-together monster, as written by Mary Shelley two-hundred years ago: “If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear.”

This is what happens when humanity is disconnected from the “spiritual feminine,” Jim Fitzgerald wrote in “The Death of the Heart,” his essay for When a Princess Dies. “Since Reformation times, there has been a dearth of religious imagery, particularly of women, through which both men and women might maintain a connection to the spiritual feminine.” What imagery that remained left “a divine King but no Queen” in both the consciousness and unconsciousness of men and women. This created a split, according to Fitzgerald, as the feminine spirit became an object of “the rational mind”—and its profane opinions and deprived thoughts. “This split—of mind from matter, of spirit from nature—has continued to the present.” However, when he wrote this at the time of Diana’s death, near the end of a millennium, Fitzgerald was among many who sensed things were changing. “The values of the heart, not those of the mind, have begun to be sought after and appreciated. A new relationship to the Earth and Nature is growing. We are witnessing a change of heart.” 

The rise of Trumpery—and the hate it stands for and the “loss of soul” it reveals—is a desperate strike against this new heart energy. “I think it was this that Diana, as a woman of the times, equally a sufferer from the ills and neuroses of modern life, it was this new heart that she represented,” Fitzgerald added. And it is this “new heart”—a sacred calling of the “spiritual feminine”—that Diana and Charles’ sons inherited and now speak its message, as well as live its values, from their spot-lit world stage. These are aware, awakening men—who attracted and married aware, awake women—and they are rallying the “new heart” troops, encouraged along by the reemerging goddess consciousness their mother helped crack open!

I think of Diana and her sons when I read lines from a Sharon Olds’ poem about feeling less raw after experiencing such heartache, “as if some goddess of humanness within us caressed us with a gush of tenderness.”


[Glorious Inanna,” third and final section of this goddess-focused chapter, posted soon.]

March 24, 2019

{Goddess Journey} - Part One


This is the first of three excerpts from the Goddess Journey chapter of my book-in-progress (tentatively titled) A Memory of Love: The Spiritual Journey of a Princess. Enjoy....xo 

GODDESS JOURNEY 
{Part One}
“Diana was an ascendant female,” explained Jungian scholar Josephine Evetts-Secker, “who could flout both the patriarchy and matriarchal order, fulfilling and negating feminist ideals; lauded as independent woman by some and by others castigated as a Barbie-doll princess.” Naturally charismatic with star quality, Diana attracted a variety of stars from the entertainment worldElton John, Pavarotti and Freddie Mercury (there’s a story of Diana going clubbing, in disguise, with Queen's lead singer and his pals)—just as she befriended well-known people who were “aspirants to justice” like Nelson Mandela and Mother Teresa. Writing in her essay “The People’s Princess,” Evett-Secker continued: “She bridged the glittery world of fashion and the seat of Establishment power. She was as much the female trickster as goddess; so seen, so mysterious, hiding quixotically behind apparent transparency; unconsciously manipulating concealment and revelations, echoing archaic mystery conventions.” 

Like many scholars from the Jungian school of thought, Evetts-Secker compared Diana to various goddess archetypes. To Aphrodite, who “dissolved resistance” and inspired a dynamic of “an ancient strategy, through love to power.” To “girlish Persephone” because of Diana’s playfulness while tiptoeing around danger, and to Demeter as “the raging mother protecting her sons from public assault by those who wanted to peddle their images.”

As a daughter, sister, friend, bride, princess, wife, mother, divorcée, lover, fashion-plate, healer and ambassador, Diana’s life stages, her womanly rites of passages, were lived out in a world arena for all to see. And since her life was and still is examined like few others, its complexity offers an intriguing milieu, connecting the spirit of all women. “Diana was a divided, unhappy and bewildered Princess,” Evett-Secker added, “as well as an ebullient beauty, graceful, opulent and full of vivid, if vulnerable and threatened, life.”

Or as counselor Steffan Vanel stated in his book, Charles and Diana, An Inside Story: An Astrological-Karmic View: “Diana embodied a complexity of contradictions which would enable virtually everyone to see and hear their own story or agenda in her life.” Diana’s contradictions were indeed our own. 

Ann Shearer, writing through a Jungian lens about her observances of Diana’s memorial service, noted the paradoxical images used about the late princess, from powerful goddess to helpless victim. “And here is a central paradox: the forces of unity that ‘Diana’ became grew the stronger for the very complexity of contradictions she contained. As we learned more of her real and fictitious selves,” Shearer continued in her “Tales of the Unfolding Feminine” essay, “and the legends around her grew, she carried for us an incontestable truth: that we humans must struggle with a mass of inconsistencies within ourselves and somehow learn to honour them.”

Another Jungian analyst, Ian Alister, shared this take in his essay “Your Cheating Heart” from When A Princess Dies: 

An extraordinary feature of Diana’s life, from her engagement to her death, was the extent of public exposure, providing many personal details and characteristics which could act as pegs for our own individual projections. It had all the qualities of a soap opera except that this was real. We could watch this drama which involved the suffering and sacrifice of a person who carries a symbolic charge for most of us, whether consciously or not. We can feel it, think about it, and try to relate it to continuous psychological processes within us. To make sense of it in this way, to give it meaning, is part of our struggle to make body and mind whole. 

Perhaps that was a gift of Diana’s life, in support of both women and men, then and now, to make sense of and to honor our whole”—body, mind and spirit. And, in turn, a deepening of soul. It’s an inner journey calling forth our wise intuitive intelligence and a depth of feminine-grounded compassion, tapping into mythological longings and long-ago legends that can reveal a magnificent peeling-away-of-layers kind of journey. A journey where we all can hear the call of the goddess.

In the words of Rumi, the thirteenth-century Sufi mystic: “There’s a voice that doesn’t use words. Listen to it, as the personal self breaks open.” Such a break open of self holds the possibility of an extraordinary rite of passage into an intimate journey, measured only by the level of our courage, where we just might discover the authentic spirit of, for men, the empathetic side of masculinity, and for women, the authentic spirit of our womanliness, indeed, our own goddess nature. Not unlike one princess-swirled exploration in all its archetypal glory once upon a time.

[Part Two next time, “The Reappearing Goddess”...then Part Three, Glorious Inanna]