The Duality of Women: Warrior and Goddess

Xena_Delicate Flower
“Xena” ~ Meme Maker Unknown

I cannot express how much I love this meme! Whenever I am in need of delightful amusement, this certainly does the trick.

Here we see the fictional character Xena, Warrior Princess set in ancient Greece, proclaiming in her angry, fierce battle cry that she is “a delicate feminine flower.”

This image and meme speak to me of the duality of the female spirit and characteristics: Women can in fact be “delicate flowers”: gentle, nurturing, compassionate, and wanting protection. Women are also warriors full of strength, resilience, and, much like the lioness protecting her cub, capable of ferocity and determination.

I must admit that I am a huge fan of Xena and all she represents; I also adore the actress Lucy Lawless and her portrayal of Xena. In my opinion the Xena character is worthy of deity stature, and she does certainly seem to be inspired by a multitude of cross-cultural heroines, such as Durga, Athena or Wonder Woman. She is known as the “Warrior Princess” with an evil, bloody history who seeks redemption by “doing good” in a land overrun by warlords and oppressive rulers. She has led battles, murdered, as well as protected. She has loved and sought peace. She is beautiful as well as battle-scarred.

The mythologies are filled with warrior women who also embody mothering, nurturing qualities. The Greek mythological goddesses such as Athena, Artemis, Hera, and Aphrodite may be the quickest to come to mind. All are beautiful yet powerful in their own ways. Hera is Queen of Mount Olympus; Athena and Artemis are warrior goddesses, skilled in hunting, protection, and warfare; and Aphrodite wields the power of seduction, love, and lust.

Durga
“Durga” ~ Artist Chadwick J. Coleman

I find that within the Hindu traditions an eloquent, complex example of the female duality is portrayed in various aspects of the principal form of the Goddess. In her gentler, more nurturing aspects she is Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Parvati. In her more wrathful, protective, and violent forms she is Durga and Kali. Each form embodies varying degrees of these personifications.

It seems to me that the “Old Ways” – the ancient traditions practiced in an array of polytheistic cultures – seemed to more successfully identify and embrace the unique characteristics of the male and female genders. This is not to at all suggest that either gender is “stronger” or “weaker”, as those are incredibly vague terms subject to interpretation. As a woman, I can speak as to my own feelings and experiences, and it is my finding that, particularly in our westernized and metropolitan lifestyle, the balance of our duality is blurred, if not completely obscured. The result is confusion as to what a “strong, independent” woman may mean; and that her desire for relationship may define her as “weak” or “needy”.   She may also be labeled as a “bitch” or otherwise overly aggressive and assertive, be it sexually, professionally, or otherwise.

Duality of Women
“It’s Always the Quiet Ones” ~ Photographer Unknown

I practice forms of martial arts as well as dance: in the martial arts I have studied Aikido, Kung Fu, and Capoeira; the dance styles I have studied are numerous but are predominately Middle Eastern bellydance and ballet. It is clear that a martial art provides fighting skills, confidence, clarity in thinking, and the reason required to assess a situation. The styles I studied are not only lethal, but fluid and graceful.

Ballet dancers appear fanciful, fairy-like, and as light as air. These movements require a power and a strength that may surprise the spectator. Likewise, the Middle Eastern bellydancer holds an exotic power of seduction and intrigue.

It is the duality of characteristics that have always contributed to my fascination, respect, and attraction to these particular martial arts and dance styles.

099A
Photo by Sean Chandler; Model Selena Madden

To acknowledge these characteristics and find balance among them is to be a Goddess: strong, capable, fierce warriors pursuing goals and ambitions; nurturing, warm, and loving to her community, her family, and her romantic partner.

May the mythological goddesses serve as role models to encourage and guide us in connecting with our feminine powers.

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2 thoughts on “The Duality of Women: Warrior and Goddess

  1. I am glad to see that a woman can accept that with awesome beauty comes incredible power as well as great responsibility, and is deserving of respect and awe. I help my girls see all the time that they have skills and worth and are part of my heart no matter what. Thanks for the many cultural descriptions.

    Like

    1. I very much appreciate your comment, and even moreso, that you enjoyed the article. Your girls are fortunate to be influenced by someone who nurtures their beauty in all forms and accompanying responsibility. Cheers 🙂

      Like

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