Another Monument of Another Dead White Man

I’m tired of monuments to dead white men. 

I know too much of them and too little of the things that are mine. I know the day men stormed beaches and shot muskets and rose from the dead, but I don’t know the feminine things. I don’t even know how to name all the things we’ve lost: the rhythm of growth and death and rebirth which should be ours. We’ve lost red tents and blessings with frankincense and our sisters’ hands on our bodies while we labor. We’ve lost the susurrations of healing and the lullabies of death. 

“We lost track of the purpose and reason for life. We began to forget our songs. We forgot our stories. We could no longer hear or see our ancestors….”*

 

Joy Harjo warned us there are no female deities in the Trinity and I think about that every day. Religious phalluses break the skyline and the tithes used to build them represent food taken from the poor, medicine from the ill, homes from the unhoused. There is blood on those bricks, literal and figurative, blood that will cry from the ground for…what? Vengeance? Men have created a wrathful God, a God of fire and brimstone, a god who doesn’t speak to or for me. When the god of men is angry, he sends floods and plagues, turns women to salt. We need less destruction and more creation. Pele-honua-mea brought fire and life to the islands Maui pulled from the ocean. Pele, Maui, Nāmakaokahai together, created land where life thrives. We need their expansive creativity.

The quotes of white men consume our religious spaces and pop psychology. Freud said we were primitive and now we can’t speak in boardrooms unless we drown our feminine in the masculine. Someone misread Darwin and now his sycophants tease white women with the allure of proximal power with one hand while they suffocate us all with the other. If we want less division, we’ve got to understand how and why we’re divided. We need to stop stepping on our sisters while we climb the ladder of white patriarchy.

Men designate buildings ‘sacred’ and then control our entrance to those buildings. They stand at the altar and decree light and dark, earth and water, but their binaries have left out the twilight and dawn, the marshes and ocean strands. We’ve lost the sacredness of these transitional realms.  

Elijah tore down our holy places and burned our prophets. I crave woods so dense we tell stories of dryads walking. I long for selkies in the salt water, huldrene in the forests. I want Baba Yaga, walking.

Men invade our myths and make them ugly. They call us “Scylla” or “Medusa” and we believe them. I want new stories. I want Daphne to love Aphrodite. I want Medea to wear the crown. I want Jezebel redeemed.

Statues of white men crowd each other with their consuming greed. Men who ravaged the land and the people now gaze down from pedestals they erected for themselves.

 

I’m tired of symbols of oppression littering our view. I see their flags on the land they devour, celebrating the wars they start. We commemorate those we lost, but not those we stole. We honor those we sent to die but not those we bricked up in the walls of our empire. 

Our heroes enter coffee shops, walk down streets, drive through our neighborhoods as a violent reminder that our system functions by force, not community.  

They’ve named everything after themselves, from rivers to my body parts. They rename pieces of Earth “Big Boobs” and “Bald Knob.”

They cage the earth. They steal the land, all the land, and then they suck it dry and leave it barren. 

 

I want Freya to unveil a future better than our present. I want Yemaya to cover up our sorrow.

I want Ala to send earth surging over concrete and steel. I want flowers and vines to agitate borders. I want a riot of colors breaking boundaries.

White men have beaten their heads against the pillars of our world. The corners of the earth are caving in. We need the living Nüwa to rebuild them. A wrathful, jealous god tore us apart and scattered our pieces; we need Isis to gather us together and make us whole.

I want curves instead of angles. I want twilight and marshes. I want a soft spring rain to feed our parched earth. I want the wind to whisper the stories we can’t remember, the ones we understood wrongly. I want moss to creep over their monuments; kudzu to fill their halls and museums; bamboo to crowd their manicured groves. I want vistas unfenced, rivers undammed.

I’m tired of all these white men taking up all our space. We’ve been relegated to a postscript: a tool for the gods or a cautionary tale. I want to see us, in our power, rise up and regain what they’ve tried to take from us. I want us to become the legends we need, to pull together the threads of our stories and make them epic, mythical, earth-filling and life-giving.

We know too much of the destructive and not enough of ourselves. We have lost more than I can bear. 

I want I want I want…. 

*Joy Harjo, “Rabbit Is Up to Tricks,” Conflict Resolution For Holy Beings.

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15 Responses

  1. Cass says:

    My soul resonates with this.

  2. TenneSea says:

    This white man LOVES this badly needed post! Thank you for so beautifully expressing what my divine-feminine-starved soul has been yearning for…

  3. LHL says:

    Wow. What a downer. You must be an absolute joy on Thanksgiving.

    • Bryn says:

      I absolutely am a joy on Thanks giving as I relay the history of genocidal colonization. #landback #ColumbusWasARapist

      • LHL says:

        Yes, Yes, I’m sure you are. A “real life” (female) Don Quixote. Touching…..Articulate….with just a wee bit of Virtue Signaling……and, it doesn’t change a thing. Live rolls on….

  4. Scott says:

    Thank you, Bryn! You sing the song of many of us yearning for Goddess and the creative whole-making that can only come from Her. This lament buoys my soul. Thank you and blessed be.

  5. Kaylee says:

    “but their binaries have left out the twilight and dawn, the marshes and ocean strands” Swoon. The borderlands that are full of life and beauty.

    Also, all the mythology bits reminded me of the book “Circe” by Madeline Miller, which was less nerdy and more feminist than I was expecting. And please tell me you’ve seen “Song of the Sea”. It’s my favorite.

  6. Sue says:

    I’m sure you did not intend this, but your repeated references to the “white man” comes across as racist. Imagine the backlash if you made the same sort of comments about the “black man” or the “red man.” Such references would be clearly out of line. Patriarchal dominance is a feature of all types of cultures and prevalent in many races throughout history. Try to avoid racist comments in the future.

    • Bryn says:

      While many cultures do have a form of patriarchy, the system we live in is based on a specific type of patriarchy that came from England, Germany, France, and Spain. It’s the type of patriarchy that built our educational, political and social institutions as well as Christianity. If you look at the monuments I talk about, or just look at the huge majority of monuments around, in the US, Canada, UK, Germany, France, Spain, etc, they are to white men. White patriarchy still currently runs all of those same institutions.

      I encourage you to read So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo or How To Be Antiracist by Ibram X Kendi. This article is a good run down of some of those principles: https://www.aclrc.com/myth-of-reverse-racism

  7. JC says:

    This spoke to my soul.

    I, too long for more Pele, Namakaokaha‘i, Baba Yaga, Daphne, Aphrodite, Medea, Jezebel, Freya, Yemea, Ala, Nüwa, Isis, and so much more. I also want more curves and softness and less sharp angles, more of the feminine divine, more places for women to commune together. I feel you on the I want, I want, I want.

    The lines, “Religious phalluses break the skyline” and “They’ve named everything after themselves, from rivers to my body parts. They rename pieces of Earth ‘Big Boob’ and Bald Knob'” got a cynical laugh out of me. I know that I couldn’t be the only person who facepalmed when the church announced the official name of the second temple to be built in Rexburg, Idaho.

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