THE (S)HE-RO'S JOURNEY 4: Writing Another Kind of Hope
My friends and foes, we’ve been tumbling down a rabbit hole for nine posts now, and some of it was a bit volcanic.
“Nooooo,” you say, nocking your interrobangs and taking aim. “Volcanic rabbit hole?! Around here?!”
I know. Inconthievable.
But yes indeedy, it’s true. (Duh. Fire Sign.)
--A YIN-YANG RABBIT HOLE - If you haven't read this sex, language & violence content warning with its (non)binary discussion of the Feminine & Masculine polarity, I suggest you do before reading any more of this series. If you skip it...well...you've been warned.
--THE INCONCEIVABLE - ASSumptions About the Gladiatrix
--"WRITE WHAT YOU WANT TO READ" THEY SAID - So I Do
--FANTASY, ROMANCE, ACTION & SEX - Not Mortal Combatants
--ROMANCE *IS* FANTASY - Childish Dreams vs. Heroic Aspirations
--VIOLENT FEMMES - The Warrior/Prince Binary
--THE (S)HE-RO'S JOURNEY:
--1) Not Your Customary Character Arc
--2) Balance - The Disturbance In My Force
--3) Villains & Dragons & Fire, Oh My!
Do you remember this from the opening of that very first post:
It all started with an innocent critique of people critiquing my story about a woman who fights in the arena based on decades of:
Preconceived notions of what a gladiator looks like, since I write about a gladiaTRIX (female gladiator).
Widespread disbelief that gladiatrices had ever existed in the Roman Empire. They did. Turns out they weren't only comedy and titillation acts between real fights.
Preconceived notions of what a gladiatorial combatant is in general, based on Hollywood myths, historical inaccuracies, and androcentric assumptions/omissions.
Bechdel Test failure of countless well-loved tales, whereby all female characters are relegated to fluff, arm candy, hero glorification, a quest object, or a reward for completing a quest.
Bechdel Test failure of simply not having any women present at all, especially in heroic quests and action/adventure sequences.
The sexist belief that females can’t fight, and that historically, warrior women only existed in myth.
The alternative belief that the only way a female can be strong, powerful, independent, confident and take charge of her own destiny is by butching it up and following the hyper-masculine model.
The assumption that there's really only one way to tell a compelling heroic tale: the Hero’s Journey.
A cultural indoctrination that even dismisses the soul-searching and meaningful depth of the classic Hero’s Journey in favor of the American Monomyth.
The fact that I am not writing either of these types of tales. I am writing the Heroine's Journey with a completely different type of character arc and trajectory that--
Yeahhhhhh...hopefully you got all that. If you're unfamiliar with any of those terms or concepts, you can follow the handy links to our previous posts because I've covered all that vomitusly.
Hopefully not. Hopefully, if you've been here for this whole series you're as geeky about all this storytelling stuff as I am. If not, yeahhhh, my blog IS gonna become pretty exhausting to you. 🤪
Hence why I encourage cherry-picking it for the precise topics you dig via my handy Table of Contents.
Let's wrap up with the end of our story arc.
Warning: Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and Hunger Games spoilers ahoy!
...To hammer home the fear and revulsion of it, the American Monomyth keeps retelling the tale that the only way to find true redemption from going into darkness and violence is self-sacrificing death or obscurity. Or to just kill the villain. (And the next one. And the next...)
I, like Aang, have always needed to believe there is another way. I search for it.
DANCE WITH THE DARK SIDE
It can absolutely be dangerous to dance with our Dark Sides, just like it can be dangerous to dance with fire. (And dragons.) Here's what both Avatar and Star Wars totally nail: emotions, bodily cravings, passion, greed, ambition, fear, anger, and attachments--all these can easily get out of control if we don't have the proper tools to manage them, or if we choose not to apply those tools. Destruction is a slippery slope that can easily be taken too far.
To me, that means the Dark Side and the aspects of Fire within us need more training. They need more exploration, not staunch avoidance maneuvers of these things that exist within us all, banishing them into the closet, numbing them away, and ignoring them whenever possible.
The type of redemptive arc that Zuko and Iroh embark on requires the development of heart- and mind- muscles that my society doesn't traditionally value very highly, much less train from childhood all through life. This training requires looking in the mirror with an open mind--to see the good, the bad, the ugly, and the meh. It means poking around in our festering closets and basements, instead of looking for a numbing substance or for some outside power to miraculously give us a clean slate.
Any clean slate of a redemptive change-of-heart is where the messy work BEGINS. It's not a way of squeaking out of the work.
I've found that this work can be far harder and ickier than all those blood-sweat-n-tears skillz of badassery we hone in the Heroic Quests of our lives. Those give us ego gratification to counterbalance the hard work and the difficulties. But redemption? Transformation? True healing?
That shit tears down the ego and feels, mid-process, like it's the opposite of rewarding. We haaaaaates it, Precious. Very nasty. Trixxy.
But not false.
It's the devotional practice of learning to sit in one's own shit and then clean it up. It's a slow, steady, longtail commitment to living another way where one's actions have a positive effect on the world, rather than a negative one--choice by choice by choice, this hour, and the next, and tomorrow. And yes, it does mean making the hard sacrifices--not for one Hollywood-fabulous moment of a martyr's death with a lightning-rific background and then ZWOOP! Transported into the Light for eternity.
I mean every day. All day. For however many years one has left in a body. And yeah, with any length of time, it usually means fucking it up. Falling back into old habits. Again. And again. It means clawing back out of the ravines of the old ruts, sweating and swearing--in profanity as well as, "I swear I sooooo did not want to do that!" and, "I swear I will NOT do that again!" for the third time...once you notice that it snuck up on you and bit you in the ass.
This is why Zuko's redemptive arc means so much to me, and why Ben Solo's death outright incensed me. Because the martyr's sacrifice gives me no roadmap of inspiration for how to live with who I am and the choices I've made except...well...an option I really don't want to take, thanks. Maybe you have a personality closer to Rey's, closer to Katara's. Me? I'm way more like Zuks and Kylo. There is much of my fahhhhhtha in me and we are both volatile, moody Fire Signs.
Then you add Dain Bramage on top of that--the kind of damage that includes The Rage Thang and a broken frontal lobe that can no longer properly control impulses and emotional expression?
Yeah. I need examples of redemptive arcs from characters who successfully LIVE with it instead of poofing out of existence so society doesn't have to think about all that icky stuff that happens in the aftermath of the Quest Arc Goal Attainment.
Zuko's tale is not the heroic arc of some superhero savior who fades into the sunset once the battle is won. This is daily, common-folk heroism. Grungy heroism. The hardest battles are often unseen by the outside world and these acts are awarded no medals. They take place while shivering and reeling in bed, wracked with an inexplicable flu and life-altering fever-dreams.
Oh, you thought they were being melodramatic with Zuko's fever?
No, that's a real thing. I've been struck multiple times with those kinds of illnesses when I've made 180 degree turns in my life choices and in the energetic resonance I customarily run through my body. It's like the flesh-and-bone matter of me can't handle that rapid of a pivot the way my mind and spirit can, and the only way to let it catch up is to burn out what no longer serves.
This kind of heroism also takes place on the couch, night after night when the day's Doing-ness is done and the world falls silent. It's the battle of reaching for something other than the remote/video game controller/drink/smoke to drown out what we don't want to face. What we don't want to feel.
It takes place on the living room loveseat, sitting closer to someone and truly listening, then actively working to understand their point of view during conflict, rather than shouting, throwing things (or punches or people) across the room and storming out, then dodging the issue upon return--IF there is a return.
It takes place on the therapy couch, in the studio, in the classroom, on the meditation cushion or the healing table, intentionally doing something about our trauma triggers instead of arranging our entire life into stepping stones of safe spaces in order to avoid them.
Unfortunately, intense trauma therapy (not simple talk therapy or prescription drugs to shut up the symptoms) is really friggin' expensive and often not covered by insurance. Stupid bullshit. And smart on behalf of the Powers that endeavor to keep us hobbled, crippled and distracted, and on behalf of Big Pharma's bank account. It behooves them to withhold true healing so I don't believe this is coincidence any more than watching soldiers with combat-induced PTSD being diagnosed with "pre-existing personality disorders" or "lesser (and therefore not deserving of full monetary compensation and the depth of treatment needed) conditions."
Naturally occurring conditions that are helpfully mitigated by drugs are different from needing to eliminate externally acquired traumatic sources of dis-ease in the mind and body. Temporary pharmaceutical casts and crutches to help stabilize a mental health crisis is also something different from perpetually prescribing chemical substances with awful side effects when, if the root problem was addressed, we could actually heal and no longer need the drugs.
Alas. We've lost so many rites of passage that could teach these self-healing skills from the time we learn to speak, and most of us no longer live sandwiched in the same dwelling between our children and our elders, thereby reaping the benefits of both innovative imagination and the wise council of experience. The moment we become "adults," we flee the coop and never look back, then shove our elders into nursing homes and retirement communities, disparaging them because they shuffle too slowly and their physical maladies are an annoying pain in our asses. (8) They remind us of the impending doom awaiting us--noooo, no that! Not in our youth-obsessed selfie-and-swipe culture.
Death, disease, disability. Failure, regret, shame, grief, guilt. Terror. Agony. Horror.
We can't run from these things quickly enough with our ears plugged and our eyes shut, crying, "Lalalalalalal! I can't heeeeear you!"
But these demons don't travel via the cumbersome conveyance of legs. They don't even bother with faster-than-light. They seep up from within us while we're sleeping, and they undermine our greatest endeavors to create a life of meaning and enjoyment.
DESCENT TO THE UNDERWORLD
This is why myths like the Sumerian tale of Inanna's Descent to the Underworld are so important. (4) Inanna, shining Queen of Heaven and Earth, Goddess of Love and War, descends through the Seven Gates of the Underworld where she faces her dark sister, Ereshkigal, Queen of the Dead and dread ruler of the Underworld. Inanna is curious about death, you see, and even though it's widely known that you can't just stroll into the Lands of the Dead without dying, she figures that she's Inanna, so she'll be just fine.
This ancient story offers a way to deal with the skeletons in our closets and how to reconcile with our shadow natures. By descending into the dark, being stripped of every possession of power and glory, facing our shadow side, being struck down by it and hanging in the shit of our own mistakes that got us there, and then offering love, acceptance, and compassion to our deepest wounds instead of heaping more rejection and hatred upon them...
In this way, our darkest places transform from a tomb to a womb that can birth our most brilliant treasures, if we are brave enough to sincerely ask our shadow side what it needs and listen to what it has to teach. That kind of work is hard and it's messy. But so worth it. After this painful labor, we can return to the sunlight reborn, confident that our skeletons are resting more at ease, rather than rattling and rotting down there as badly as they were.
This kind of She-Ro's Journey does not require a literal uterus to undertake it. We all have that creative, innovative space inside us, as well as the festering demons, the curious learner, and the warrior of light.
This story teaches us how to rise up from our darkest days, now wiser, stronger, and more compassionate, carrying new elixir to share with the world. We no longer have to harbor so much fear or loathing of what creeps around in our own shadows. If we've done the work, and if the elixir has, in turn, worked its magic, the next descent doesn't have to be so scary or painful. It may even become a place we're...if not comfortable visiting...at least willing, because this is a cyclical journey, not a simple Hollywood ending where one-shot-cures all.
The tale of Ereshkigal and Inanna (the yin and the yang...the dark and the light of our inner selves) is one of my favorite stories that has ever been told. And yes. When Ariellah (6) and I danced a duet about these two sisters, 100% those are the colors/positions/movements of the 7 chakras to represent every one of Inanna's articles of power that are stripped off of her before she faces the Queen of the Underworld, nekkid, disarmed, and vulnerable.
You also better believe that the Almighty (Arrogant) Queen of Heaven & Earth's nekkid-costume is blinding (blinded) white for a reason, in contrast to the rich black-and-red of our glorious, instructive Dark Sider. And yes. The three days that Inanna hangs on Ereshkigal's wall before her resurrection is a motif older than human writing. It is the perfect example of the Transformation of Myth Through Time. (2)
This is all ancient `storytelling symbolism. It is all intention and Medicine.
But Inanna was basically Ishtar--that eeeeevil Babylonian Goddess who needed to be demonized and annihilated from worship, along with all the Medicine these ancient stories carried. (4) And Ereshkigal? In later tales, she was grabbed by the hair and flung off her throne by the God of Raging, Burning War and Pestilence. They did make nice and rule together, but you remember who the Lord of the Underworld gradually transformed into over the millennia, right? Satan--oh, crap, sorry. I mean Hades. (2, 5)
There is so much fear and revulsion surrounding the notion of even peeking over the ledge into this Dark Side journey.
Master Luke chastising Rey: You went straight to the Dark.
Rey: That place was trying to show me something.
Luke: It offered something you needed and you didn't even try to stop yourself.
This moment in The Last Jedi was one of the most heartbreaking for me, because this mindset is so prevalent--so limiting and damaging. It was a fitting reaction for a Jedi, even a disillusioned one. So the thing that crushed me was that they dangled this bold curiosity, but then we never got to see Rey fully explore it. One little blip in the Dark Side cave, and she was back trying to return Wayward Butterfly Ben to the Light. Neither did we ever get to see the Dyad gain true Balance and then unite.
As we covered in depth previously, there was just that teaser Red Room moment of true Yin-Yang Balance, followed by their reunion as two Light-Siders marching toward the American Monomyth's inevitable: the annihilation of the Evil Big Boss and the Dark Horde, a Big Kiss goodbye, the martyr's sacrificial death, and the hero wandering off into the sunset alone to hang up her lightsabers until the savior is needed again.
THE HERO'S RETURN HOME
I believe that this adherence to the trajectory of "Kill All Villains, Go Back Home Triumphant, The End" is why Katniss Everdeen's journey leaves her--and me--so unfulfilled at the end of her Hero's Journey. (2) She survives. Period. Upon reading the ending of the Hunger Games series I was heartbroken for her, and once again only semi-satisfied as a reader. (10)
Because our Female Spartacus has completed the Quest. Like a good rebellious gladiatrix should, she has led an army of the downtrodden to rise up against the Evil Emperor, blasted the cruel institution of the arena to smithereens, and--twist to historical Spartacus--taken down both The Old Evil and The Arising Imperial Enemy. Now she can go back home.
But to what?
Her father and sister are dead. A bunch of her dearest friends are dead. The relationship with her best friend/long time love is shattered beyond all repair. She's still got massive mother-wounds from how much she had to step up and be both parents to herself, her sister, and even her own mother. She has never made peace with her deep Feminine, much less found balance and healed the rift inside her. She certainly hasn't become One with the magic and the potent juice of it. She is trapped in that PTSD place, unable to truly and fully embrace the life she worked so hard to hack and shoot and carve out for her loved ones and the nation.
But too often, that's what the America Monomyth teaches us: that unless you're a Superhero whose powers and lofty quest miraculously nullify the effects of trauma, the hero is the sacrificial burnt offering who never gets to be healed by what they fought so hard to make possible.
"Naw, man. That's life."
Bullshit. Only because we keep saying it is. Once upon a time, we also said that going to the moon was science-fiction.
Ascending On High or Sailing Into The West is great and all. But where's the inspiration for the rest of we human fuckers still attached to our mortal coils? If we have such great, inspiring roadmaps, why do our elderly, our combat vets, our chronically ill, our disabled, and our brave, intrepid trauma survivors--especially in minority populations--have such high suicide rates?
Why do our males who are so heavily indoctrinated into being the Manly Man Hero only make up 49% of the population, yet they carry 80% of the suicide rate?
Why do the trauma survivors who do stick around have such rampant alcoholism and drug abuse, violent and toxic home lives, and crippling depression? (8, 9)
With Katniss, we learn that twenty years later she has found peace and happiness (sorta) with Peeta and their children. Not only is there no roadmap to how a hero even gets to this place--usually in stories, they just...miraculously get there with (skipped-over) time. Or...something. Or they do the American Monomyth thing and fade off into the sunset alone and we never see them actually live with the aftermath of everything that it took to become the hero.
Katniss' ending felt like such a "make do" happiness. An "as good as it's gonna get" substitute for inner peace that is all too often the norm in life. I truly believe it's because we've devalued and dismissed so much ancient Medicine--both the psychological/spiritual and the tangible. Storytelling is a huge part of this.
"Ohhhh, time heals all wounds."
Not mine. I suppose with enough time, yup, eventually death will take care of it, but I don't think that's what the platitude is getting at. For me, time has only ever engrained my wounds more deeply. The only thing that has ever started healing them is to give them the Medicine they need.
This is where the Hero's Journey/Quest Arc shifts into the Heroine's Journey/Balance Arc. Because at the end of all that questing and conquering, victory turns to ash in the mouth. The reality of that long-awaited homecoming is either awkward and painful or a complete shitshow. PTSD is a potent thing, and Katniss absolutely has it. Rey probably does, too--if she's written correctly. And Harry Potter. Frodo sure does.
Have you ever noticed that a bunch of those famous Greek myths show the cost of the Hero's Journey? So does Lord of the Rings. These authors and playwrites knew--better than many of us. They had lived it in the aftermath of war. (7-9)
No matter what we tout onscreen, and no matter how quickly we cut to a triumphant black, all of us immersing ourselves in these stories live it, too, in one way or another. Especially when we model so many of our cultural ideals and the stories we deem worthy enough to publish and produce based upon that almighty ending of Obtaining. Conquering. Triumphing. Protecting you, you, and you from Those Evil So & Sos.
(And then tap-dancing stage-left in a quick Hollywood "The End" because nobody wants to see the rest of that story. And nobody especially wants to see what it's like for the "losers" and the defeated.)
Well, you know what? I do.
I need those stories. I need to know--how do the vanquished go on to have amazing journeys--and truly heal--after getting their asses kicked? (11) How does Good Mayor Samwise wind up happy and contented with Rosie and their brood of little hobbitses? Maybe it doesn't require a quest of its own to show because Sam isn't built like me. He's far more upbeat and easygoing than my Fire Sign ass.
Sam also doesn't carry the Ring for as long as Frodo does. As such, he isn't the protagonist. Frodo is.
But Frodo doesn't have to live in the Shire with all the perfectly nice hobbitses who didn't go on the quest with him. I do, so these things are constantly on my mind. Which means they're what I'm constantly searching for in the stories I watch and read, and they inundate the stories I write in my own attempts to work out a roadmap. Because I'm still trying to figure out how to feel at home, every time I come back home and the dust starts settling.
MY FIRST SHE-RO'S JOURNEY
That's why it's more often that I derive so much deeper satisfaction and meaning from the Balance Arc compared to the Quest Arc. Where the Hero's Journey ends--and especially where the American Monomyth cuts off, the Heroine's Journey is just picking up steam.
Like Zuko, the protagonist obtains the quest but it leaves them unfulfilled and still wounded, so now what?
I've lived this multiple times in my life. I've worked and fought so hard for something, only to realize it wasn't remotely good for me or what I was truly searching for. When I discovered the Heroine's Journey around 2010, that helped me understand why my Gladiatrix tales weren't working among what the bookstore shelves were already stocked with, and what I kept seeing onscreen.
Because I wasn't writing a roadmap to "How do I take down the Big Bad Guy?" I was writing, "I got out alive with my ass kicked. Now what?"
I was writing, "I escaped the Big Bad Guy, but the poison in his knife is turning me into a Ring Wraith and the Health 'Care' System is not made of Elves. So how do I heal myself? How do I take down the Big Bad Guy when he's now living inside me, turning into cervical cancer and self-hatred?"
I was writing, "I don't wanna have to fade into the West just yet, so how can I have what Sam has when that stab-wound is still there and it always will be?"
When I first conceived of my Gladiatrix, I wanted to write a tale of:
Growth and soul-searching.
Busting out beyond the limitations of what The Almighty They say you're supposed to be--in gender roles, in who and how to love, in class roles, in one's cultural "norms."
Figuring out how to fly even if your wings have been burned off and you've crash-landed in ashes. Or if they got nipped off before you ever had the chance to fly in the first place.
Standing up against oppression and exploitation.
Speaking one's mind and following one's heart.
Surviving violence and abuse.
That was the Quest Arc of the story. RAWR.
But there was the equally important quest of figuring out how to thrive in the aftermath--to go beyond merely circulating blood, numbing agents, air, and brainwaves until I croak.
I wanted to write a tale that posits an inconceivable notion--and no, I'm not talking about the most basic plausibility of my Gladiatrix's existence. When I created her at twenty years old, the dust had just settled after I had battled my way free from nine months of domestic violence and sexual assault (which unknowingly left me with repressed memories that bubbled up in the guise of fiction). I was also only two years out from escaping my hometown of Hell where some atrocious things had been done to me by kids, older boys, and a few adults (more subconscious fiction bubbles). During the years when I wrote the original plotline, I experienced additional domestic abuse as well as multiple death and rape threats, so I definitely needed to believe that it was possible for a female to be capable of holding her own against a man while he's trying to do deep, dark evil things to her.
But I needed to believe something far more important and elusive. In this novel series, my female and male protagonist, as well as my side-characters and antagonists all quest for this same thing. They simply go about it in very different ways. They encounter different tools and allies, and they make different decisions about what to do with those tools, their allies' assistance, and their mentors' advice.
So what is this important, elusive thing they're all searching for?
The shreds of Hope, through my never-ending explorations into "what if."
What if someone who has been through trauma and violence could ever heal from it? Not merely keep breathing and limping along, surviving with their scars on a bunch of coping substances and toxic habits that reinforce neural ruts developed out of intense survival mechanisms. Not finding "as good as it's gonna get" make-do until they finally get to Fade Into the West.
"Make-do" has never been terribly inspiring to get me up off the floor in the worst moments.
Rather, I needed to tell myself the tale that someone who's known deep damage could find Balance between their internal warring sides. That someone who had descended into the dark could actually come out on the other side, thrive, find joy, learn to trust, and experience those enigmatic things people talk about all the time.
Why do you think I started writing Fantasy?
And then, why do you think my disillusioned writer's heart shifted from a "penis-heavy" genre entrenched in obtaining quest objects and annihilating evil into one that believes in joy, open hearts, and intimate connections?
Why do you think I write the Heroine's Journey, no matter the gender of my characters? Why do you think I imagine Heroine's Journeys for other people's characters that I love, but who have had their inspiring tales cut to black before the elixir could fully work its magic?
On the world they come home to.
On themselves and the people in their immediate vicinity.
Yo, I don't rap So millions of people will like me I rap 'cause there's Millions of people just like me. If you think I'm outta my mind I ain't gonna argue--I might be. But I am not on the stages Just for people to sightsee. I'd rather die than let this Dream go to waste. You can tell that I ain't playin' By the look upon my face. The world wants to tell us Who we are and who we ain't But the person that I am is Somethin' you can never change.
~ИF, Just Being Me
I have dreams for Katniss. I have dreams for the Alternate Universe Rey and Ben in my head. I dream that, in all those unwritten pages after their wars, each of these badass characters goes on a very different kind of journey. A truly healing journey, and I always hold out hope for a deeply satisfying ending that helps me envision a way out of my own jungles, shark tanks, and self-dug pitfalls.
An ending where, instead of saying, "Yeah. I guess I can live with that," it makes me want to throw my head back and scream an ecstatic, "FUCK YES!" (12)
Until more storytellers start giving me that, I guess I will just have to keep obsessing over the ones who do. And I'll have to keep committing my own acts of Spartacusian rebellion against The Establishments so I can learn how to give it to myself.
Alongside anybody else who wants to dive down that deep, dark well with me and swig.
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
--UP NEXT: Some of my most potent Medicine. WHEN THE UNIVERSE SAYS "NO" - I Hunt Down "YES"
--OR: UNIVERSE Wrapped In Skin - This whole series has been a great deal of what inspired this dance
--OR: My lifelong OBSESSION WITH THE GLADIATRIX
--OR: All my writing about TRAUMA, ART THERAPY & HEALING
--OR: All my writing about SEX, LOVE & VIOLENCE
--THE NAVIGATION TABLE OF CONTENTS
EEEEEEE! DOWN THE GEEK RABBIT HOLE
2) Joseph Campbell's The Hero's Journey.
--The Hero With a Thousand Faces
--Transformations of Myth Through Time
4) Going To Extremes
--Denigration of the Feminine/Yin/Darkness: Eden and the Serpent was not about the "fall of man," it was about "the fall of the Goddess"
--Inanna/Ishtar and the Descent to the Underworld
--"Our Bodies Are Evil" - Gnosticism, Purity Culture and Its Complex Trauma
--Those Dastardly Emotions - Good vs. bad, mind vs. heart: it really is all about Balance.
--My thoughts on Eve, Temptation, Passion & Prayer
--My fiery, fanged, ferocious thoughts on the subjugation of the Feminine
--My thoughts on Salome: Another Dark Side butterfly redeemed into blonde, blue-eyed, white-veiled salvation
--If *I'M* Not White Enough?! - my personal experiences in dark/light dualism growing up with French Canadian heritage in Northern MN in the 70s and 80s
--Yin-Yang: Light becomes Dark; Dark becomes Light
--Lucifer: Light-Bringer, Satan...Venus?!
--Transformation of Myth Through Time: Why Hades is Always the "Bad Guy" - And Why He Really Isn't
--Transformation of Myth Through Time: Why the Devil has horns
--How the Queen of the Underworld lost Her throne
6) Ariellah - My favorite Dark Queen of the Underworld
7) War, Trauma & Art Therapy
--Tolkein, Lord of the Rings, and Combat Stress: Writing As a Release
--How WWI shaped C.S. Lewis' life and writings
--The Iliad: And what it can still tell us about war
--The Odessey: A soldier's road home
--Ancient Greek Drama: Mass Psychotherapy? - Stories of war, theater & masks, music & movement, neuroscience & cognitive therapy, empathy & dissociation.
8) Heroism, Trauma, Coping & Suicide
**I'm not the person to ask about this stuff. These people are:
--Suicide & Crisis Lifeline - SMS 988
--Disability: The "noble sacrifice" of a disabled person's suicide. "You're so strong/brave/incredible. If I had to live your life, I would have killed myself." Something I've heard for two decades.
--30,177 Global War on Terror veterans have died by suicide, compared to 7,057 who have died while deployed in support of the Global War on Terror.
--Alcohol & drug addiction in Veterans
--Traumatic Brain Injury and Suicide
--An overlooked demographic with the highest suicide rate of any age: People over 85 years old
9) Trauma & Healing
--One of the best books I have ever read in my life: The Body Keeps the Score - Brain, Mind & Body in the Healing of Trauma
--Don't want to read the book? Here's the basic premise of what trauma does to the body and why talking about it, even in therapy, so often doesn't solve the problems: Short Version. Or Long Version by the author himself
--8 Signs You Might Be Traumatized
--Complex PTSD - how prolonged and repeated trauma rewires the nervous system and manifests in personality, self-esteem, and behaviors
10) Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games
11) The bullshit reasons why Firefly was cancelled - Can't give the Warrior Woman a healthy romantic relationship. Can't trust an innovative creator with their artistic vision, nope! But we rabid devotees are proof that dastardly "losers" can make for an inspiring tale. Hail Browncoats!