2010 | 20″ x 24″ | mixed media on vellum
This year I re-watched every single episode of She-ra ever released, and it proved an absolutely fascinating study of the moral imprints embedded within each story, not to mention the strong archetypal characters, including both ancient throwbacks and newer personas created for our times.
Cast of She-ra characters and corresponding archetypes:
Adora/She-ra and Adam/He-man of course — straight out of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey; the great warrior/seeker who lives within us all
Bo — to me, Bo represents the modern Renaissance man, a team player, comfortable serving under women, while also reminiscent of The Archer, The Sagittarius, and Tantra’s Santipa; steadfastedly aiming for the goal
Hordac and Skeletor– evil incarnate, Hades-like, lives in a realms of death where nothing grows, driven by fear and greed
Frosta — elemental figure like The Four Winds, personifying Winter
Glimmer — Eos, the Dawn
Cat-ra — Bastet, the personification of feminine cat-like behaviors; sensual and dangerous
Sorceress — Oracle of Delphi
Tela — Amazon, warrior princess
Light Hope — Godly Pure Goodness / Enlightenment
Madame Razz – kindly grandmother white witch
Shadow Weaver — Hera, wife of Zeus; insecure, jealous, proud, sorceress
Mermista — water nymph
She-ra, like Wonder Woman, represents Amazonian strength and self-sufficiency. Researching the Amazons turned up all these amazing female characters who fought in wars and built temples and lived separate from men.
Queen Hipp (or Hippo, or Hippolyta), as appropriated by the Wonder Woman creators, gave her this advice: “let no man chain [you] together or you will be forced to obey him…” The bracelets on Diana’s wrists were to “teach you the folly of submitting to man’s domination.” (http://www.wonderwomandvd.net)
In ancient story, Hipp was a famous queen who helped found the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Cyrene, and Myrina. She conquered the Asia Minor and Syria, and then set up a wooden statue of Artemis next to a beech tree in Ephesus. Amazons would often go there to perform rituals like the shield dance, beating the ground in unison to the accompaniment of pipes playing a wild, warlike melody.
“Amazonism is a universal phenomenon. In time and reality, the Amazon Kingdoms not only comprise an extremist end of matriarchy but also are a beginning and a purpose in themselves. In the bright light, their boldness turned into wisdom.”
~ H. Diner (http://www.warriors-wizards.com/famous_amazons.htm)
For me, this posture, these bracelets, the glint in Virginia’s eye, all embody that feisty fire within. It flames up when we’re called upon to stand up for each other, as superheros and mythical figures do. But we all do this in our mundane lives too, when we fight for our friends to be treated with respect and when we make choices to encourage justice for animals and when we march against the WTO. These myths imbue in our children the moral code, and they become essential tools for our society to evolve.
With this work I offer up my small glimpse of the sacred heroic strength to add to our human collection of inspiring figures. I can recognize that mythic face right here.