Struggling with the Warrior Goddess

This is a post that has been festering in my mind for quite a while now, but I have been putting it off. The main reason for this is because I still have no definitive answer or conclusion for it, and I find that difficult. The reason why I'm posting it now is because of a dream I had last night, which has brung these thoughts to the fore. Anyway, I shall try my best to articulate what I'm trying to say for you. I'm afraid that it is intricately tied in with some life story, so sorry if it's going to bore you!

There is a large part of me that identifies with the 'warrior aspect'. Ever since I was little, you'd be more likely to find me scrapping with the boys and climbing trees than playing pretend tea parties or nurse. In my secondary school years, it continued. I had a few fights (actual fist fights mind you, always with boys), played sport as good as any of them, refused to be treated as the damsel in distress. Back in my teens, I identfied with Artemis - wild, independent, tomboyish and untouchable. Unfortunately, or rather fortunately, this was challenged.

I ended up joining the army when I finished school under the encouragement of my mum. I had just turned 16, and was off to a military base for 6 months to complete training as a trainee soldier before joining permanently for 5yrs if I passed. The corporals and higher ranked all had high hopes for me, and I thought I was up to the challenge. How wrong I was. I hated the discipline, the mindless orders and institutionalised bullying and homesickness. But, I didn't want to let my family down, or be thought of as weak. But I was weak - the rest of the trainees considered me the wimp. I ended up in the military hospital with an injury for a month, two months into training, and it turned out to be a blessing. The solitude gave me the opportunity to consider what it was I was actually getting into. I had mindlessly joined because I wanted praise and respect, to be feared a little even. How juvenile. I left as soon as I was well. Unfortunately, my return was not welcomed by my parents. My mother thought I was throwing my life away. Without going into too much detail, the next few years were very hard. It still is, though not as much. I came back from the army a very hurt person, which had more to do with the time after it than during it.

I went to college and tried to get on with life. My experience though had changed me somewhat. I now considered myself weaker, of less worth. So during my college years people only saw a shy, friendly, quiet girl. This continued until one day when I got into my biggest fight to date. At college with some friends, a group of young men came over and tried to take something from us. I took it from my friend, told them they couldn't have it, and the main guy pushed me really hard, I almost fell over. That was all I needed - I kicked off. I started fighting with this guy, had him up against the fence, hit him to the floor, shouting, everything. He tried to punch me back, but he kept on missing (thankfully). His friends tried to then hit me with their belts, but it didn't deter me. Thankfully, someone from my class got his bike chain and scared them all off before I got well in over my head. Once they had left, I couldn't calm down for hours. None of my friends had tried to help me fight them off (considering they were tough, large guys, I was slightly disapproving!). They told me they had just been in shock. I was the reserved little goody-goody up til that point. That soon changed, for good or ill.

Thankfully, since then I haven't had any more actual fights. That was 4 years ago now. Whenever I meet new people, I'm always conscientous, quiet, helpful, nice etc. It isn't a front, I'm actually like that. But then little things will set me off, like a drunk at the pub, or a yob in the street, and they see a new side to me. Nowadays though I have so much more patience, and my anger now never really rises.

The problem for me now is swinging between being a doormat, and being too aggressive. And internally I really struggle with this. I'm much happier with who I am now - I'm more thoughtful, sensitive, allow myself to be more vulnerable, and much more peaceful. But when I hear people regard me as someone really nice, who wouldn't hurt a fly, I hate it. I feel like a pushover, underestimated. When I'm with my older friends, who know about what I have been like before, they talk about how no one should mess with me or that I'm tough, I really like it - I feel empowered. But amongst all this, I feel disgusted with myself for feeling good about it. What kind of a person feels good about fighting?

These feelings all come into play when I consider a matron Goddess. As I've said before, in the past I've identified with Artemis. But in recent years I wanted to connect to a Goddess of my own celtic heritage. Eventually, Morrigan found her way into my life. The raven is one of my totem animals, and led me to her. A lot of her aspects resonate with me. Shapeshifting: I work a lot with animal totems, and do a lot of it in my dreams. War: From this post, you can guess! Death: Something that always fascinates me (not in a morbid way), because only with death can new life and change happen. But I think to myself "Is this a Goddess that I should be working with? A Goddess of war? Is that really something that is good for me?" Yet, I don't really feel anything when looking at the other Goddesses - I respect them, appreciate them, but I can't connect with them.

So recently I have pulled away from the Goddess. I feel frustrated and confused. I don't want to be violent or aggressive, but I don't want to be underestimated or weak either. Sometimes I just get the urge to start a fight! How terrible! Part of me really craves the thrill of 'battle', but the rest of me thinks how barbaric. But also, I can be quite a pushover now. I'm overly emotional and doubtful a lot of the time.

As I said, it's been a long time now since I've kicked off. Last night though, in my dream, I was back in secondary school with my two friends (who seriously wouldn't hurt a fly!), when a whole bunch of pupils tried to beat them up. I dealt with them all effortlessly, and protected my friends. But I didn't have a kind of 'battle rage', it was more of an unshakeable conviction that they wouldn't get by me. And it felt great - I felt like the 'real' me, if that makes any sense.

I don't know. I really have rambled here, and not made a lot of sense. I just wanted to vent my frustration, and get some feedback. I just can't seem to move beyond this paradox. Do I embrace the warrior Goddess, or do I reject her?


Celestite 8 February 2009 at 14:00  

You don't choose a goddess, the goddess chooses you. The Morrigan is not just one goddesses, she appears to the Celts as the goddess of war, but also as the river goddess and patron of animals. She has more than one face, she may be more than one goddess.
Try looking into all of her myths and stories, not just the ones relating to war and see if you see yourself in her multiple faces.

Celestite 8 February 2009 at 14:01  

and once more, I need an edit key for comments!

Celestite 8 February 2009 at 14:04  

I will be sending your interview as soon as I write it! :-)

Hibiscus Moon 8 February 2009 at 17:03  

I think its good that you are looking to ritual for focus. Sounds like Celestite's advice here is spot on. Would you ever consider therapy for the angry feelings? I know from experience that therapy can help you to learn to deal with that. It's great that you're writing about it and working it out too.

Brian Charles 9 February 2009 at 01:08  

I cannot improve on Celestite's advice. No goddess has only one aspect - for example, Inanna is goddess of both love and war - among many other things.

I think there is also a major difference between a warrior and a soldier. The first is autonomous and fights from inner conviction not because of any external commands. It was the warrior that came to you in the fight you describe - you fought because you felt it was the right thing to do. The soldier, on the other hand, fights those whom she or he is ordered to fight - normally other soldiers who are similarly under the command of others - or, all too often, non-combatants.

The path of the true warrior, as far as I can see, is not that of aggression or conquest but of defending who or what is seen as valuable from attack from others. It is the refusal to allow injustice to go unchallenged. It is standing in one's own power and accepting the consequences.

Anger is not a negative emotion - it is essential to human survival. It only becomes negative when it is unexpressed, suppressed and then turned inwards. There is much to be angry about in the world and I think the trick is to choose where and how to focus the anger and express it. If anger pushes anyone into constructive action to remedy wrong, then I cannot see how it can be a bad thing to enjoy that action. Even when, as in the fight you describe, it takes the form of violence. You did not seek it but neither did you flee it when the situation was forced on you. I doubt that I would have been as brave.

DarklyFey 11 February 2009 at 05:41  

Everything Brian said is really resonating with me. I would also suggest a little counseling, too, just to figure out why you need to feel 'strong' and 'tough' and think of nice and considerate as 'weak'.

Jan 16 February 2009 at 17:50  

You have received much wise advise here, my dear one. What comes to me is how we all have every aspect of light and dark within us. The journey seems to be to accept them both and integrate the wisdom found in each. Just as we are all male/female, 'tis integration for the purpose of wholeness we seek.

I do not mean to sound condescending, but you are so young, have been through so much, and it seems you may be being hard on yourself. Expecting so much of yourself, especially to know your life path. The only path that is worth embracing is the path into your own authenticity-- your own sacred expression -- and that takes time, perhaps even a whole lifetime.

The key is to be gentle with ourselves as we "unfold." We, women, especially, are so very hard on ourselves to get it all figured out-- and now! Can you be more gentle with yourself, tender, compassionate? I hope so. As you do, you will find a way--your way.

And, I agree with your friend who said that the goddess will find you. She will. It just takes slowing down, noticing, listening deeply to your heart (not your head) and feeling where all that takes you. Mine found me. I did not seek her out. "The wailing of broken hearts is the doorway to god/dess." (Rumi)

I am so happy you left the army. My daughter did a tour of Iraq and 4 yrs. in US military and is still suffering the horrors of the that horrible escapade, esp. concerning how women are so horribly treated. Your "illness" was a blessing it seems.... I know you will heal. Be kind to yourself. Time...blessed time...

Much love to you, Haley.

Haley @ Iridescent Dark 18 February 2009 at 13:33  

Thanks so much to you all. I don't know what to say, other than I never knew I could find support from people I've never even met in real life. Despite my few words in reply to your comments, do know I appreciate them. xxx

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I am a pagan, special needs teaching assistant, BA Hons Drawing graduate, artist, amateur tarot reader, half-welsh, big sister, eldest daughter, lover, volunteer, bookworm, intense dreamer, nature and animal lover, over-protective friend, ex-barmaid, fledgling activist and general eccentric. Nice to meet you =D.

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