February 26, 2011

{The Goddess Bride} Part Two: “Epiphany of the Goddess”

[excerpt from the upcoming book - The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: How Princess Diana Exposed the 'Princess Myth' for All Women]

Royal Marrakech bride
A practice from ancient cultures—that continues today in parts of the world—heralded the bride as a heroine, honoring and attending her like a queen. These intimate bridal rituals included being bathed, perfumed, painted, pierced, bejeweled, coiffed, wrapped, draped, veiled, adorned with flowers, extravagantly dressed (sometimes changing costumes several times over days- or week-long ceremonies)—and elevated to goddess stature!

Wedding celebrations were the time for women to shine in these villages and communities, taking over the precious nuptial proceedings to guide and prepare the next young woman for marriage and instill her goddess legacy. And in so doing, the women were reminded of their own goddess nature.

In these goddess or nature religions, goddesses were the life-giving, self-renewing Protectress of human life, the embodiment of human energy; they were known as the Primeval Mother and, as described by Professor Marija Gimbutas in The Language of the Goddess, a “cosmic Creatrix, life and birth giver.” For thousands of years, honoring the goddess, according to mythologist and writer Joseph Campbell, was a “primordial attempt on humanity’s part to understand and live in harmony with the beauty and wonder of Creation.” Therefore it is no surprise that brides were the representation of the goddess in these world cultures.

Most modern cultures may not worship a goddess, but they do continue to be enchanted with the “goddess-like” image of the bride. Is that because on some deep level, she is a reminder of that harmony we still strive for? In her feminine essence, does she represent the continuity of life, love, and all that our hearts hold dear?

Seeing Lady Diana Spencer (in her ivory pouf of a floating silk bridal gown) pause and look back before entering the grandeur of St. Paul’s Cathedral and begin her remarkable journey—peering through her shimmering veil looking mysterious, innocent and womanly all in the same breathless moment—was like seeing the epiphany of the goddess. She became in that defining gesture the representation of the feminine archetype of, as Carl Jung described, our “collective unconscious.” She magnified what every bride embodies: the desire to be loved unconditionally.

I’ve worked with thousands of brides of all ages in my career and I find that a woman’s intuition is heightened during her time as a bride. And her intuition expands exponentially the more she opens to the intimacy of her bridal rite-of-passage. A bride steps into a spotlight of inner and outer examination and, if she is willing to explore this introspective wellspring of wisdom and foresight bubbling up, her choices become easy and inspired—no matter if it’s about her dress, her ceremony or her partner! When she tunes into her intuitive connections from her little girl dreams, or her goddess nudges, or her inspirations on a soul level, a bride easily fulfills these stirrings of the heart. I had brides come to my former bridal art-to-wear store in Atlanta and be lead tothe” dress immediately. You could see in her body language, how her face lit up, how some glow just poured from her that this was the one—even if she began to doubt herself, or doubt that life could truly be this easy.

As an inexperienced teenager, becoming the bride of the heir to the British throne in a wedding spectacle of unimagined proportions, making life changes she was uncertain about and unprepared for, Diana, possibly through some divine cosmic plan, was indeed “self-possessed” about her gown choices! In The Diana Chronicles, Tina Brown speaks about “The Dress” in a language that women understand. Left to her own devices to choose her gown designers (the team of Elizabeth and David Emanuel for their romantic inspirations) and then “in those secretive visits for fittings…[where] she always knew exactly what she was looking for,” Diana created the “fulfillment of her Princess fantasy.” She allowed her intuitive juices to flow! It was as though Diana knew the impact that not only her appearance would make on her wedding day, but she also had a sense of the message that this “looking like goddess” image would send to the world regarding her life purpose: to forge a heart-opening pathway to return the nurturing, compassionate, female aspects to the world. And she needed to be a true “princess bride” to get the world’s attention and fulfill this goddess destiny.

A girl or woman may dream of being a bride in order to be rescued or adored or cared for; she may want to marry in order to create a partnership, a family, a kingdom! Or she may just want to have a wedding and dress like a princess. Perhaps these “bridal dreams” of whatever sort are the stirrings of some deeper ancient ceremonial impulse to feel like a goddess…to be the goddess she is! A woman’s goddess lineage runs deep. So when she taps into her own “inner knowings” of wisdom and confidence, of being beautiful and womanly, of compassionately giving and receiving love—she is in the full-tilt-boogey open heart of the goddess! ~

[Other excerpts from "The Goddess Bride" chapter of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride upcoming book can be found by clicking on "The Goddess Bride" in the Labels list below.]

February 22, 2011

{The Goddess Bride} Part One: "The Emerging"

[excerpt from the upcoming book - The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride: How Princess Diana Exposed the 'Princess Myth' for All Women]

29 July 1981
Lady Diana Spencer’s glorious emergence from her royal glass carriage on her wedding morning set in motion mythological conversations of a fairy tale bride…a heavenly vision…the return of the goddess. Her bridal beauty and magic elicited a spark that re-lit legends. There was indeed a light about her. Diana’s appeal went deeper than our fascination with feminine beauty, or with brides and weddings, or royalty and pageantry, or mysterious ancient rituals. It stirred something deep within—even if we were unaware of being affected—something mystical was afoot.

Did this young woman, who became a princess on her wedding day (and the ‘queen of hearts’ upon her death), indeed ignite a pathway for a consciousness shift of the heart...for an opening to spiritual partnerships for couples worldwide...for the return of the nurturing spirit of the goddess?

Did that bridal moment on the red-carpeted steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral—an impossibly exquisite sight veiled in the mystery of womanhood—nudge along the occurring paradigm shift where we see a flowering of feminine strength and influence? A time when all women embody the female essence of beauty, power, forgiveness and love.... ~

[Other excerpts from "The Goddess Bride" chapter of The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride upcoming book can be found by clicking on "The Goddess Bride" in the Labels list below.]

February 4, 2011

{The Two Ladies Spencer: The Duchess & The Princess}

[excerpt from the upcoming book - The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride]

from “The Duchess”
Before the opulent costume drama “The Duchess” was released in 2008, the marketing campaign highlighted parallels with its eighteenth century heroine, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire with Diana, Princess of Wales. “The two were related by ancestry and united by destiny,” declared the movie’s trailer. “History repeats itself!” The marketing campaign received a great deal of criticism about the comparison (including from its star, Keira Knightley, and from Amanda Foreman, the author of the bestselling biography on which “The Duchess” is based), although the movie’s young director, Saul Dibb, disagreed.

Georgiana Spencer was Diana’s great-great-great-great aunt—certainly the two most famous members of the Spencer family. In an interview with UK writer Andrew Pettie, the film’s director shared: “‘There are lots of connections. Georgiana and Diana are related to start with. And they married as girl-women in their late teens after a sheltered upbringing, probably with a romantic notion of what marriage is, to men who understood the marriage contract differently.’”

from “The Duchess”
In June 1774, seventeen year old Lady Georgiana Spencer married the older, reserved, and haughty 5th Duke of Devonshire, whom she barely knew. “Her bridegroom was ‘the first match in England’, 26 years old and immensely rich,” English historian Ann Monsarrat wrote in her book, And the Bride Wore…The Story of the White Wedding. The historian reports that the wedding itself was “slightly less dashing” than the very opulent affair of her parents, but in the custom of the day, it took place “in the midst of birthday celebrations and was wreathed in mystery.” The birthday was that of King George III and the “mystery” was such a tight secret that Lady Georgiana herself didn’t know about the wedding. After dancing with the Duke at one of the King’s celebratory balls on a Saturday evening, Georgiana was told the next morning by her mother of the wedding plans for that same day. (It was revealed later that the marriage had been arranged for some time, but without setting the date.)

As the movie portrayed, the marriage was an unhappy one. “He expected subservience and a male heir. When Georgiana produced only daughters, the relationship deteriorated. And while the Duke continued to have affairs, the duchess looked for love and attention in public life, where she became a shrewd political operator for the Whig party and a feted trend-setter,” wrote Andrew Pettie.

Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire

However, the parallels with the two kindred spirits—Georgiana and Diana—are “more temperamental than biographical,” Pettie explained. As dramatic as Diana’s very public beyond-rock-star-status life was, “much of Georgiana’s story is too extraordinary to be echoed by anyone else.” It was a life “bigger and messier” and more grand-soap-opera-like than even the movie portrayed! Pettie said that although the biographer Foreman didn’t approve of the film’s marketing campaign comparing the two Spencer women, she had previously described Georgiana as a “‘cross between Marilyn Monroe and Lady Diana.’”

“‘One of the resonances with Diana is that Georgiana was one of the first celebrities,’ says Dibb. ‘When her face appeared in newspapers, they sold more copies. But, for me, the most fundamental connection between their lives is that Georgiana did lots of things she wasn’t supposed to, and Diana did the same. The establishment has never liked rebellious women, particularly if they’re sexual women.’”

This is very telling about Princess Diana’s life within the royal family—British royalty being an exemplar for the patriarchal establishment box that all women had to maneuver through. In her study focusing on the portraiture and image of Diana, Representing Diana, The Princess of Wales: Cultural Memory and Fairy Tales Revisited, Colleen Denney explores the “assumptions that cultures make about women and their behaviors.” She explains how the British monarchy—with the assistance of imagists, journalists, and the mass media—negotiated the future of Diana and other female members of the royal family based on their Victorian ideal of “feminine respectability.” 
No wonder the monarchy—and the restricted aristocratic society it spawned—struggled with their “desire to maintain the feminine fairy-tale construction” they had created when free-spirited Diana came along or even when any powerful woman broke or pushed those limiting, out-of-touch bounds!

Arms of the Earl Spencer
For both the young and beautiful Ladies Spencer, Georgiana and Diana—one becoming a duchess, one becoming a princess, both becoming fashionistas, social trailblazers, and influential women of their time—searched for self-empowerment in their own way, stumbling and falling into addictive, disempowering behaviors. They became the darlings as well as the ridiculed targets of the patriarchal-mindset press. In both lives we see how the media, as Colleen Denney says in her book, “represents and treats all women who step outside the good girl model.” Nonetheless, there are subtle shades of this double standard for women fading in the aftermath of the Diana era. This was an era which came at the time when “third-wave feminist thinking,” deeper global awareness, and communication technology were pushing through the cracks of a stale world order—leading the way into a new millennium of possibility. Princess Diana indeed stirred a revolution of change. Her revolution, however, came through the heart. ~

[Excerpt from The End of the Fairy-Tale Bride. Stay tuned for publication date information.]