Transcript of podcast to be found here: Archetypal, Mythic Strong Women and Patriarchy -- A Conversation with Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD
Thanks to Tsara Shelton for helping with the transcript editing.
Rob: Welcome to the Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show, WNJC 1360 AM out of Washington Township reaching Metro Philly and South Jersey, and online at opednews.com/podcast or at iTunes where you'll look for my name, Rob Kall, K-A-L-L.
My guest tonight is Jean Shinoda Bolen, MD. She's a psychiatrist who specializes in the study of Jungian archetypes and mythology. She's an author of many books and the one that I'm bringing her on to speak about, in particular, is her newest one titled, Artemis: The Indomitable Spirit in Every Woman. Welcome to the show.
JSB: Thank you Rob, it's good to be with you.
Rob: So I wanted to start off...you titled the book Artemis, but most of the book is about Atalanta. And we'll get into the details of that, but maybe we can introduce it by explaining the differences.
JSB: Well Artemis was the goddess of the hunt and goddess of the moon, and as a goddess, her interests...she came to the protection of the young girls, rescued women, had brotherly egalitarian relationships with men and was a ?????competitor, a runner a hunter. She's kind of the Katniss Everdeen of the Hunger Games in modern imagery. And she also has the goddess of the moon side so that reflective seeing the world by moonlight, which brings up beauty and oneness -- she's an amazing archetype and she's certainly one that I have felt in myself over the years. So as an archetype, it means that she's a potential pattern in all of us. And some of us come into the world with stronger gifts in one direction than the other, and so some of us come in as...with Artemis as a major pattern that we live. So that's Artemis, she's the goddess and she's the archetype.
And Atalanta is an amazing mortal who without having....if I hadn't found her I wouldn't realize how big a place she has...she had in actual Greek mythology -- that she has two major stories that were big in the realm of the Greeks, and then in Ovid of in the Romans as well. And she is a woman, mortal woman, who resembles Artemis the goddess, and is a stand in for us as stories can be. You know that stories resonate with us when they ring true, and Atalanta is a mortal who got abandoned on a mountaintop and left to die just because she was born a girl, so she's very much in the pattern of how the patriarchy, how the king in this story reacted to having a girl instead of a son and heir. Only, Atalanta was found by a mother bear -- she was considered under the protection of Artemis and she was suckled and raised by a mother bear, which is one of Artemis's symbols. You know you don't cross mother bears when she is guarding and looking after her young. So she's a bit of a ferocious archetype.
Rob: What does that mean being...in terms of a person growing up being suckled by a mother bear? I know some moms who are like mother bears...
JSB: Well, archetypally, often it means that you raised your...you were a little girl who found Mother Nature supported you. Often a girl -- indomitable is a word that in the title of the book that has stayed...I did change the name at one point from Atalanta to Artemis, but indomitable was always part of it because indomitable means untamed and unsubdued. And when I see girls and women who have been victimized and one would think that they were victims, but they, in effect, there's a part of them...you could say, for example, a raped non-victim -- yes she was raped, yes she was abused, but there's a part of her, an indomitable part of her that is not touched by that...that has some part of herself that...I love the one line by the poet Mary Oliver...who referred to "What shall we do with our one wild and precious life?" Well indomitable is that one wild and precious part that no matter what else has happened, still has energy and vitality and that's the part that was...that Atalanta personified and that so many of the women that I have seen leading NGOs at the UN have had. For example, they may have been abducted and sold to a brothel and gotten free and turned around and rescued other women and girls...that kind of a spirit, that doesn't give in and go under is a quality that I'm celebrating in the book Artemis.
Rob: So, what is the message? What's your elevator pitch for this book? What's the short message of what this book is about? And why should people get it? And it's a wonderful book and I really enjoyed it and got a lot out of it.
JSB: Well this is the deeper element in every activist. Every activist, especially a feminist, an environmentalist -- the part...when you recognize yourself as the girl who when you were young said 'it's not fair' and stood up for somebody that was being bulled and now maybe through the years you've done various things but been pretty much caught up in life of, especially if you had both children and work in the world. And then somewhere after 50 or 60, here she comes again...this Artemis energy that now can look at what needs to be done and actively step out to do it.
I realize Rob that I didn't quite get around to saying what does it mean to be suckled by a mother bear -- it is a metaphor and so much of what I appreciate and people do appreciate is the depth of a metaphor... So suckled by a mother bear would be the same as raised by Mother Nature. The kind of childhood in which a girl is in a dysfunctional family, is being maybe abused...but she goes out and out in nature, often with a pet dog or a horse, finds solace and stays in touch with her strength in spite of the fact that at home or in school the world is really not good to her. Yet, there's a part of her that remains strong and loving, often through her love of animals when humans have not been good to her. This is someone who has been raised by mother bear.
Rob: Okay, what about mothers who are like mother bears? That's a whole different thing I guess?
JSB: Well it's interesting, the mother archetype in Greek mythology could not protect her children -- the ones who are primarily mothers. Demeter, who is a goddess of the...you know the mother of Persephone...she couldn't do anything about Persephone being abducted into the underworld.
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