As the story pointed toward its closing, an older woman/mentor (Miz Powell) gives spunky, sassy, wild girl/woman Haley (AKA Flash Jackson) some advice that I just can’t help sharing here:
“Don’t be afraid to be all the things that a woman can be…. [snip]“You can be a mother and still be Haley,” she said. “You can cook dinner for your family and still be free. I’m not saying your life is going to be independent of the people involved in it. You have to make the right decision. But you can have a baby and still be yourself. You can fulfill traditional roles if you want to, without letting them define you. Who you are will change when you have childen, of course, but you could let it be an improvement, not a detraction.”
“I don’t mean to be rude, but how do you know all this? I [Haley] said. “You never did any of those things.”
“No,” she said. “What I have done is be a woman, with all my feminine qualities intact, in a world that was run completely by men. And you know something? They appreciated it. They didn’t exactly move over and make room for me –I had to carve out my own space among them, but that was nothing different than any of them had had to do. That’s something some women don’t seem to understand. Nobody is accepted right away. Everyone has to prove themselves. The world will never make room for you– you have to make it yourself. You have to make your own place, and stick to it. And there’s nothing weak whatever about those same feminine qualities, Haley. That’s what I want you to recognize. They are not a liability. They are a strength.”
One would think that this novel was written by a woman, given the right-on Croney point of view, but it wasn’t. And adding to my delight in the book, the author, William Kowalski, brings my favorite myth, Lilith, into Haley’s final learning curve as the girl confronts her fear of snakes.
“The snake, she’d [Miz Powell] explained, is the oldest symbol of feminine power in the world. It’s not a FEMALE power — it’s a FEMININE power. Miz Powell was very clear on this point, because men and women alike have feminine energies within them — as well as masculine ones. People were too obsessed with gender these days, she said. Really, there weren’t nearly as many differences between us as we like to pretend.”
Who was this Lilith anyway? Miz Powell, ever the walking mythological dictionary, was only too happy to explain…..
“Lilith has been many things, my dear,” said Miz Powell. “There are goddesses similar to her in Hindu culture. The Israelites knew about her even when they were nothing more than a bunch of simple nomads, thousands of years ago. She is everywhere. She has a JOB.”
“She is that which does not surrender,” said Miz Powell. “She is indomitable.”
“In other words,” I thought, “she is Flash Jackson.”
Lilith and Kali. Miz Powell and Haley. And aspiring Crones. In Haley’s own terminology: LEGITHATA (ladies extremely gifted in the healing and telepathic arts).