For the past 35 years I’ve had a front row seat to the trials, the traumas, and the triumphs of women as they do their best to navigate and create a life that is in alignment with who they are and what they desire. A life worth living.
Before I ever had a thought about becoming a psychotherapist, women confided in me in the most unlikely situations and circumstances. They told me things about themselves and their lives that they had never told another living soul.
In the late ’80s I worked in a shelter for survivors of domestic violence. When I was in graduate school I interned at a non-profit organization that served women in the Southeast Asian community. Most of them were survivors of domestic abuse. Some were victims of human trafficking.
These experiences, along with those in my own personal life, created in me a still unanswered prayer for all women everywhere to be free.
To live in safety and peace. To be seen and treated as human beings rather than as objects. And especially for them to know their inherent worth.
When you know your inherent worth you more fiercely stand for your freedom and your safety.
And you are not unduly discouraged by those who — because of their own unconsciousness — see you as object or Other.
Because it IS possible to triumph over systems and structures that don’t acknowledge or honor the faint memory you may still have of your inherent radiance, I want you and every woman to know how to return to your authentic truth. To reclaim what is yours. And to receive everything that is meant for you.
Return, Reclaim, Receive are the essence and heart of The Radiant Threefold Path.
In a world where women are centered in the core of who they are and who act from a place of abundance — rather than from the habit of compulsive, martyred, over-giving — these women regenerate themselves, their loved ones, their communities, and the world.
In the mid-90s I woke up one morning with a faint memory of a dream. The dream consisted of 11 words that came from a disembodied voice, along with a painterly image with only two colors: red and blue.
The words of the dream were:
“The Tao is revealed as if it were her ancient body.”
There was nothing more, other than the words and the red and blue abstract image. No explanation, no translation, and no clue of its meaning. But it was clearly a message not to be ignored or forgotten.
The words were iconic and they stayed with me and lived in me like a koan — which is a kind of sacred riddle particular to Buddhism.
Koans are murky pronouncements or completely nonsensical questions like, “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” They’re meant to bypass the logical, reason-seeking mind for the sole purpose of breaking through deluded thinking and waking you up.
“The Tao” is translated as the Path or the Way. I tried to understand what it might mean that a path would be revealed as if it were a feminine ancient body.
At the time, Venus of Willendorf was the oldest known physical representation of the female form on Earth dating back about 30,000 years, so I thought maybe it was related to her. But how?
Venus of Willendorf, c. 28,000-25,000 B.C.E.
The dream and the inquiry into its meaning silently and quietly gestated inside me for years.
Then, in the summer of 2018, by seeming chance, I discovered one of the earliest known creation myths, the Enuma Elish1, an ancient Babylonian creation story from the 7th century B.C.E. Many Biblical scholars agree that there are similarities between the Enuma Elish and the book of Genesis in the Bible.
In this creation myth, heaven and earth are created by a couple named Apsu and Tiamat. Tiamat is described as the mother of both heaven and earth, and she is the myth’s ill-fated female protagonist.
In the story, Apsu, the father becomes angry and frustrated with his adult children who are not behaving as he wishes. And as mothers tend to do, Tiamat tries to be a peacemaker between her husband and their children. But eventually the conflict escalates to the point that Apsu is killed by his own offspring.
After Apsu is killed and Tiamat prepares to avenge his murder, she is described both in the story and by commentaries about the myth as a vengeful, murderous, evil mother bent on killing her offspring.
I don’t know about you, but if my husband was killed for no good reason, I would be looking for justice. Wouldn’t you?
When she rises up to seek justice and avenge her husband’s death, she is destroyed by one of her own sons. As the myth graphically describes it, she is literally split in two, dismembered by her son, Marduk. And, of course, he becomes the ruler of the world.
After Marduk destroys Tiamat, the myth says that he takes her severed body and turns it into “a covering for heaven.”
Because the tablets of the Enuma Elish are not completely intact we don’t know what happened to the lower half of her body. But it’s reasonable to assume that if one half was used as a covering for heaven, the other half was used as a support, or covering, for the Earth.
Modern feminist commentaries challenge the traditional characterization of Tiamat as the negative stereotype of womanhood — venomous, evil, and bent on deceiving and destroying. Seen through this negative stereotype, she becomes object and Other.2 (Rivkah, p. 86-87)
When anyone or any group of people become Other, they are unacceptable, intolerable, and easy to destroy without conscience.
On the other hand, when she is freed from the veil of the negative stereotype, Tiamat is seen as a mature, complex woman — independent, authoritative, and powerful as she seeks justice for the death of her husband.
Like so many women who have been tested by life and who have emerged scarred yet stronger, she is no longer willing to trade submission and conformity for safety and security.
This is a bargain women have been making for centuries.
This creation story and the fate of its female protagonist mirrors the reality of the modern woman’s everyday life in the following ways:
- She is misunderstood for being who she is in the same way Tiamat’s quest for justice is misunderstood.
- She is shunned and attacked for claiming her rights or speaking her truth, in the same way Tiamat is attacked and destroyed for seeking justice.
- And as much as we don’t want to see it, modern women are dis-membered just like her — divided in mind, body, and spirit — by means of spoken and unspoken rules about how we should look, how we should speak, how we should spend our time, where we can go, where we are safe, or what we are deemed capable of accomplishing in the world.
- Women are rendered invisible and unseen as human beings, yet endlessly and ubiquitously displayed as Object. The invisibility of their humanity is one of the mechanisms that holds the system together, in the same way Tiamat’s body holds together heaven and Earth.
Through this process of misunderstanding, shunning, attack, dismemberment, invisibility, and objectification woman is remade. But not in her original form — which is Creatrix of her world.
If you resonate with these experiences, you are living an ancient story of the feminine that is thousands of years old.
And as sobering as these truths are, we must begin with the truth if we want to be free.
In Tiamat’s story, I saw the enduring experience of what it means to be born in a female body even today. And I saw a Path available to every woman who wants to re-member and reclaim her authentic self.
A path from darkness, and fragmentation to light and wholeness.
As primordial Mother, the story of Tiamat invites you to become Creatrix — Mother to your Self —liberated from invisibility and servitude — re-membered, healed, restored, regenerated. Radiant.
The Radiant Threefold Path — Return+Reclaim+Receive — is an invitation to return to re-discover your original self, reclaim the deep knowing and expression of who you are, and to receive.
And through this path of Return, Reclaim, Receive, you are regenerated, so that you can offer what is uniquely yours to give to your loved ones, your community, and the world.
© Victoria Priya (2023)
- Enuma Elish:The Seven Tablets of Creation; the Babylonian and Assyrian Legends Concerning the Creation of the World and of Mankind. Leonard King (2010). Cosino.
- Gender and Aging in Mesopotamia: The Gilgamesh Epic and Other Ancient Literature. Rivkah Harris. (2000). University of Oklahoma Press.
I want to support you to Return to the authentic truth of who you are, Reclaim what is yours, and Receive everything that is meant for you. So that you can Regenerate your life, your relationships, community, and the world.
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