Hero Was A Woman

Written by Cris Williamson on . Posted in Blog

hero journal

For some time I had found myself reacting to the word “heroine” and the subsequent attempts to strengthen a woman’s claim to heroic qualities with such cobbled words as “she-ro.” This last one irked my sensibilities as a wordsmith and seemed even weaker, just as weak as heroine, that diminutive assigned to all strong women for centuries. Men “gave” it to us, this feminized version of hero. It’s a gesture of inclusion, but so weak, it seemed to me. It held no water for me.
 
My curiosity led me to many places, searching for that water of strength, for something, I knew not what. I have many, many reference books, and in many of them, when I looked up the word “hero,” what I found confirmed my feeling that the word assigned to brave, strong women, that word “heroine,” was not only unnecessary, but was a result of something that was stolen, or at the very least, borrowed and never given back.  When I looked up the word, “hero,” I found that Hero was a woman, a priestess of Aphrodite. I looked up from the information I’d found, and knew that I had to help reclaim her name – not only for her, but for all women who find themselves ducking out from under a weak appellation. Let me tell you her story…
 
Hero was given by her parents to serve as a priestess to Aphrodite, the Goddess of beauty, fertility, and sexual love. One of Hero’s many duties included attending a festival, dedicated to Aphrodite. Hero’s beauty was legendary, and many young men swooned at the sight of her, including the beautiful youth, Leander. He fell hard for her, and she for him, and before she left to return to her sacred work at Sestos on the European shore of the Hellespont, they agreed to meet every night, all summer long. Leander swam across to her night after night, guided by the lamplight from Hero’s tower. One night, during a terrible storm, her light was blown out, and Leander lost his way and drowned. He washed up the next morning and lay at the foot of her tower. Out of her mind with grief, Hero threw herself from the tower, joining her lover on the rocks below. In the subsequent poems and operas and various tellings-of-the-tale, the word hero is transferred to Leander and his valiant deed, his nightly swim. We never hear of our Hero again, nor does her name stay with her. Her name was lost to her, and if we do not know her story, it is lost to us as well.
 
In Old French, the word “reclaim” originally meant: “to call back the hawk.” In this regard, and out of great respect for the original power of words, I have made it my mission to call back the hawk and place it on Hero’s arm. So whenever you hear or read the word “heroine,” please reclaim Hero’s name, Hero’s hawk. It’s a great and powerful teaching moment. Hero Was A Woman is now a song and will be found on this new cd I am wrestling to the ground, like the blessed angel it is. Perhaps we women will find some clarity in this story, and in this reclamation, and above all, a proper name for our strength and courage in this world.

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POSTCARD FROM PARADISE

Written by Cris Williamson on . Posted in Blog

chrisColumbus

I am so proud of my city, Seattle, whose City Council just named Columbus Day as Indigenous Peoples’ Day.  There are other sides to this story of discovery, things that were set in motion and disturbed forever. Discovery is like that. Columbus Day has become a celebration of Italian pride, and while I get that on some level, I feel strongly that this day needs to be seen in all its light. Every Columbus Day for years now, I’ve played two songs here in PTown,” Postcards”, and “Wounded Knee”.  Postcards revisits and re-imagines his “discovery” and provides a what-if moment.  What if his heart turned toward Paradise and he ordered the ships to go home without him, burned the maps so no one would know this place existed, and grew old there, lying peacefully in the sun and sand.  “Wounded Knee” tells us what happened over and over as Manifest Destiny rolled over the people who lived here.

Columbus had wanted to sail east to find Japan and all its fabled riches, but was unable to get the funding for his venture.  After hanging around the Spanish court forever, he finally got enough money for three small wooden ships, and sailors to man them.  Armed with Portuguese maps, they sailed to the east and bumped into an island where lived the Taino people.  The history of these indigenous people nearly disappears with this contact.  Violence and disease pretty well took them from their home where they had lived until Columbus came.  This moment in history is a hinge upon which swings the lives of so many.  Discovery is like this.  Claims are made that land has been “discovered”, while all along, people are already there, but people who had a different land ethic.  This ethic said the land owned them, not the other way around.  This ethic fell beneath the driving wheel of the landless Europeans who set out to take land for themselves, and take it they did, claiming it in the name of one country or another.  This day known as Columbus Day, could now be given a new name, one that honors a woefully uncelebrated narrative…the other side, the Indigenous Peoples of this continent, the islands in between, South and Central America, Mexico, Tibet, Russia…the list goes on and on.  It’s time, I think.  Time to honor the rest of the story.

Listen to Postcard from Paradise

THIS NEW YEAR

Written by Cris Williamson on . Posted in Blog

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As the New Year turned, I was fortunate enough to begin this next life-voyage on a beautiful sailing ship in the Caribbean. This was the 5th in a series of Olivia's 40th Anniversary trips, beginning last year and into this year with 3 cruises and 2 resorts.

I was so honored to be a part of it. I've always been honored to play a part in this Olivia adventure, beginning with the birth of a women's record company. The talent and strength and friendships that filled these trips were totally indicative of the thing itself and how women can be and, in fact, are.

I lead a musician's life – which I love! But truly in this way, on these Olivia trips, I've been able to travel, and see some of this amazing world upon which we live. I applaud all the work that goes into making these trips safe and joyous for women.

Fall 2013

Written by Cris Williamson on . Posted in Blog

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Home in Seattle, rehearsing today, getting ready for a gig this coming weekend up in Victoria, BC. I'm going to take the Victoria Clipper, something I've always wanted to do, and in three hours, I'll arrive in Victoria for the gig that evening. God, but I love my job! For two hours I am on stage, pouring my heart out and getting such beautiful response. Whatever I've poured forth is returned two-fold, and thus, there is more in the chamber, more to rain down in evenings to come. It's a relationship, a conversation between my Self and the listeners.
And if I sing it right, on any night, miracles can happen.

The Bridge

Written by Cris Williamson on . Posted in Blog

Four years ago, I wrote a Signpost, and then stepped away from my public journaling for a moment. My website is being re-born, so it seems seemly to send you a signpost while standing on a bridge between that time and this.

The idea of a good bridge is to take us from one familiar place to another, crossing a place of difference – a chasm, a piece of chaos that changed us, birth, death, loss, some piece of beauty that awakened us in some way – arriving finally on the other side, changed, yet still within the continuum of the familiar.

Blessing of the Animals

Written by Cris Williamson on . Posted in Blog

Outside the window, the sun still shines. The leaves on the red maples are beginning to turn, and some to fall. The joggers are wearing more layers, and oatmeal feels just about right for breakfast. It's Autumn. In a day or two, I head to Provincetown, MA for my annual 10-day run at the Post Office Cabaret. It's Women's Week in Provincetown...always busy, the never-ending tribe of comediennes roaming the town, a few musicians here and there, some drama of some sort (of course), either on stage or in the theater of relationships. With the economy in choke-hold mode, it's hard to say if women will choose to come at all. Here's hoping! It so will help the local women survive through the winter-to-come, and I venture to say that the various performances around town will help all of us survive yet another season. We need to support our artists, our culture, our sisters.

New Tunes

Written by Cris Williamson on . Posted in Blog

Sitting in my friend's backyard in Oakland, just having seen a gorgeous filly run a mile and 1/2 to win the Belmont Stakes...remembering sitting in a car with my friend Susan, up in the Big Horn Mountains over 30 years ago, listening to a horse race over the radio, the day a filly ran and fell...a filly named Ruffian. We just burst into tears on that long-ago day, and my girlfriend and I just burst into tears on this day, too. Today... she won; Rags To Riches in the winner's circle, and it set us thinking about the power of the Woman in this lonely race we human beings run.

As Summer Wanes

Written by Cris Williamson on . Posted in Blog

Greetings everyone! I want to apologize for being absent from the online journaling for so long. I've missed all of you, and hopefully, you've felt the same. Summer is on the wane, the mornings already darker at six am. It's funny how all of a sudden, Fall is almost upon us. I'm always surprised somehow. But with the Fall, I am returning to performing after taking a long time off. I've been doing other things which have taken up a great deal of my time. I've been writing a book, for which some of you have begged for so long. It's going to be a collection of memories, stories of things which changed me and made me a changer of things. More about that later.

Irons in the Fire

Written by Cris Williamson on . Posted in Blog

I haven't written since February. In that Road Sign, I meant to say we'd gone to Jazz Alley here in Seattle, so I wanted to correct that, and let you know about that great jazz venue which, by the way, features a lot of great women players and singers among the jazz greats appearing there. If you have a jazz venue in your town, check it out. Jazz is for everyone, as is Opera, grand and Country! Music is either good, bad, or something in between. It all deserves a listen.

CONTACT 

Booking/Management/Media: Suite 5 Artists
5215 Ballard Ave NW, Ste 5, Seattle WA 98107  206.706.7960 Email
Licensing/Distribution: Wolf Moon Records
PO Box 30067, Seattle WA 98113 Email
Contact Cris
PO Box 30067, Seattle WA 98113 Email