VI. The Woman Girt with a Sword
John Whiteside Parsons
(excerpt from Freedom is a Two-Edged Sword)
It is to you, woman, beautiful lost redeemer of the race, that I dare address this chapter. That which stirs in you now is not madness, is not sin, is not folly, but is life, new life, and joy and fire that will beget a new race, and create a new heaven and a new earth.
When you were a child, did not the wind speak to you and the sun? Did you not hear the mountain's voice, the voices of the river and the storm? Have you not heard the tidings of the stars, and the voices in the silence, ineffable?
Have you not gone naked in the forest, with the wind over your body, and felt the caress of Pan? And your heart has swelled with spring, blossomed with summer, and saddened with the wolf of winter. These things are the covenant, and in them is the truth that is forever.
And you have sought companions as high-hearted as yourself, and found them not, save in elusive memories in dream and song. For you found a blight over the world, a blight of silence and sorrow, and your companions walked in guilt and shame, in fear and hate, sin and the sorrow of sin, and you were alone. Ah, there was laughter, but a hectic laughter; pleasure but furtive pleasure, unsatisfied and ashamed. And now your heart is saddened. But be not sad, my beloved. Be joyous and unafraid. For within you is the song that shall shatter the silence, the flame that will burn away the dross.
It is you that are the redeemer; the redeemer of sin and sorrow, of guilt and shame, you, woman, oh splendor incarnate! How long have you served in chains, a slave to the lust of pigs and the guilt of pigs?
How long have you writhed under the foul degradation of your holy name, whore, or suffered silently under the infamous degradation called virtue?
How well have you known the stake, the rack, the whip, bar, chains, imprisonment, entombment in the service of your master.
And was the bond fear, was it weakness, was it cowardice and inferiority? Oh, shame of man, it was none of these, it was love. A man was crucified in a redemption that failed. Yet were ten times ten million men crucified, this infamy were not redeemed.
Priest, father; husband, lover; jailer; judge, executioner; despoiler; seducer; destroyer; this has been your lover; your master; oh, woman defiled.
Yet pity him, for he too sought love.
But there is an end, and a beginning and the beginning and all the future is with you. For you are the mother of the new race, the redeemer and lover of the new men, the men that shall be free.
Now I shall speak to you of men. Men desire three things of woman, a mother greater than themselves, a wife less than themselves, and a lover equal with themselves. Against the mother they are ever in revolt, the wife they hold in contempt, the lover ever eludes them.
Consider the husband; how he hates woman and flees himself, fearing that he will slay her.
Consider the great lover; how he grasps for love and his hands close upon nothingness.
These are bewildered, frightened children, playing games against the dark. And those who wear brass and swords, who strut and slay, are they not the most frightened of all? Therefore pity them, therefore forgive them.
In the ancient world there were men for a season, then cities arose, and leisure, the riddle of the sphinx, and they turned to gilded popinjays, gracefully accepting futility.
Then Christianity, an anodyne for slaves, an enteric for barbarians whose deeds gave them indigestion, a whip for slave masters.
Yes, Faust is the prototype of the middle ages, but not the Faustus of whom Kit Marlowe tells. It is a darker Faust, Gilles de Retz, who betrays the Maid in his lust for power; then, smitten, prays to God in his Chapel and ascends to all horror in his cellars.
And so the dreary story until man, appalled by his own nightmares, turns at last to the dream of liberty.
It is the voice of Voltaire, jaded, cynical, weary of folly, that sounds the opening bar of a tremendous and mocking prelude; Tom Paine, one man, one real man, broken and at last betrayed by all the wooden champions; Cagliostro, plotting the revenge of the Templars with a woman and a necklace; Will Blake speaking uncomprehended with the tongue of angels; Shelley and his beautiful futile gesture; Swinburne, that almost recreated Helas before he too was broken; Byron, Pushkin, Gautier; all instruments in a prelude to a symphony that was never played.
And science, how it was to save us. That brave new world of Huxley, Darwin, Hegel and H.G. Wells, with only the voice of Spengler to dissent. Science remaking the world, an international language, a universal brotherhood, beyond nationality or prejudice or creed. That house of cards, beautiful vision, how it has fallen. These creators of the new age, who dare not speak or think or move without permission of the military. Unboundaried titans, who will hang for speaking across one border; where is your new world?
Champions, where is freedom? what has gone awry? A man can guess but no man can solve. We must turn to woman for the answer.
It was many thousand years ago, before histories were written, that the change came. We must turn our memories even farther. why can we not, who sprang from those loins, though it be long ago, the age of Isis that is mistakenly called the matriarchy. It is not a matriarchy as we imagine it, a rule of clubwomen, or frustrated chickens. It is an equality. The woman is the priestess, in her reposes the mystery. She is the mother; brooding yet tender; the lover; at once passionate and aloof, the wife, revered and cherished. She is the witch woman. It is coequal. Undifferentiated, the man, chieftain, hunter; husband, lover; thinker; doer. The woman, priestess, guardian of the mystery, sibyl of the unconscious, prophetess of dreams. Thus balance; stability.
Then, catastrophe untellable, the patriarchy, archtypified by the demonic monosexual monster; Jehova. And now, in the rule of priests, woman is an inferior animal, man a superior god, isolated, and at the mercy of his merciless intelligence. It is war, total war without quarter; between the emotions that must and the intellect that will not. Every religion in the patriarchy is a self contradictory monstrosity - Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Mohammedism, facism, communism, democracy, science and every other faith of the historical world. It is dogma, creed based on axioms that shift like straws in the wind of the intellect, and upon this shifting structure man has failed, and must fail, for he knows their futility and fights for them with all the sick fury of frustration. He knows that he is a little boy playing with erector toys and chemical sets, playing cops and robbers in a game that goes too far.
He has lost his mother; his wife fails him, his lover eludes him. The mystery has gone out of the temple, banished by a senile and self sufficient council of beards.
Woman, woman, where are you? Come back, woman, come back to us again! Forgive, forget, sit in our temples, take us by the hand, kiss us on the lips, tell us that you love us, that we are not alone. Witch woman, out of the ashes of the stake, rise again!
You see, it was in the dianic cult that the old way continued. Those splendid and terrible women, Messalina, Toffana, La Voisin and de Brinvilliers, took magnificent revenges. And others, women and men too, sought the forbidden mystery in secret rites, and purchased a brief reunion at an awful price.
This was the hope in the maid of Orleans, the hope of hopeless millions that at last was come the woman who would redeem them. May her fate and her failure teach you that innocence is no protection.
Be cunning, oh woman, be wise, be subtle, be merciless. I have said, understand, forgive, forget. But forget not overmuch. Trust nothing but yourself
I have spoken of those great poisoners, but there is a worse revenge. Know that all revenge is revenge on self and most terrible is that taken by the frigid woman. Count her in the millions and in the ten millions. Heed not what she tells her husband or lover; heed well what she tells her intimate, her doctor.
But with many the cause lies deeper. It lies in two things, the failure of her mate to be a man, and her failure to be true to herself.
There is the black murderous guilt with which parents poison their children, and that is a cause of frigidity.
There is suppressed incestuous love.
There is fear of disease, and of children.
But you, who have known something of these things, have no shame therefore. Strength is not born, it is gained by understanding and overcoming.
Then go free! Then sing the old, wild song: EVOE IO, EVOE IACCHUS IO PAN IO PAN EVOE BABALON!
Go to the mountains and the oceans and the forest, go naked in the summertime that you may regain the old joy and love gladly and freely under the stars.
But the body is not beautiful? Here is a secret. The body is molded by the mind. Embrace fear, repression, hate, then look upon the body - or rather do not look upon it. But go free, love joyously, without restraint, run naked a little. Then watch the cheeks flush, see the breasts swell, the supple contours, the flowing rhythm. All disease and all deformity are bred in fear and hate. Therefore, oh woman, are you called healer.
Woman, priestess of the irrational world! Irrational, but enormously important, and how deadly because it is unadmitted and denied.
We do not want to be drunken, murderous, frustrated, poverty stricken, miserable without cause. These things are not reasonable or scientific, yet they do exist. We say we do not want war. But the cause of war is a psychological necessity and war will continue until that necessity is otherwise fulfilled.
We do not avail in saying that we will love this person or hate that person because it is reasonable. We are moved willy-nilly despite our reason and our will forces out of the unconscious, irrational world, forces
that speak to us in dreams, in symbols and in our own incomprehensible actions, and that would only be redeemed by understanding, whose name is woman. Only after understanding can will and intelligence prevail, for they are otherwise no more than blind, self destructive force.
Woman, put up unworthy weapons. Put up malice and poison, false frigidity and false stupidity. Draw the sword, the two-edged sword of freedom, and call for a man to meet you in fair combat, a man fit for your husband, fit father for your eagle brood.
Call upon him, test him by the sword and he will be worthy of you. For you two are the archetypes of the new race.
Somewhere in the world today there is a woman for whom the sword is forged. Somewhere there is one who has heard the trumpets of the new age, and who will respond. She will respond, this new woman, to the high clamor of those star trumpets; she will come as a perilous flame and a devious song, a voice in the judgment halls, a banner before armies. She will come girt with the sword of freedom, and before her kings and priests will tremble and cities and empires will fall, and she will be called BABALON, the scarlet woman. For she will be lustful and proud; she will be subtle and deadly, she will be forthright and invincible as a naked blade. And women will respond to her war cry, and throw off their shackles and chains, and men will respond to her challenge, forsaking the foolish ways and the little ways, and she who will shine as the ruddy evening star in the bloody sunset of Gotterdamerung, will shine again as a morning star when the night has passed, and a new dawn breaks over the garden of Pan.
To you, oh unknown woman, the sword pledged. Keep the faith!