The Madness of Mis #2

The Madness of Mis ~ original oil on cradled panel 24″ diameter

So here’s the painting that emerged from the sketch in my previous post.

I’d been super busy ignoring all the physical signs of burnout. I’d started practicing yoga, and meditating every day, getting up super early, just to fit it in…I’d convinced myself that everything was fine, that it would get better if I just made me better. On the outside, my life was great. Sweet husband, awesome kids, successful business…it looked pretty perfect. So I thought it was my fault. I just needed to learn how to cope and I thought yoga and meditation would help. But the reality was that life was getting hard. I worked between 12 and 15 hours a day. On my days “off”, I forced myself to paint, because that’s my passion, and I started having trouble sleeping. I was having panic attacks in my sleep, and horrible nightmares. I ended up in the emergency room with crazy heart stuff. And then the Wild Woman showed up.

She will unravel you. She will strip away everything that doesn’t serve you and throw your own shit in your face. She is all about getting real, about truth, tears, rage, blood…all of the things. She won’t let you settle for less than who you were born to be. She won’t let you make lame excuses anymore. She won’t put up with anyone standing in your way. Everything you thought was real will be torn to shreds until you are naked and vulnerable, standing in your truth. Like her sister, the Full Moon behind her, she will force you to look into the deepest, darkest parts of yourself, to find the gold that is hidden there What have you been ignoring?

Sharon Blackie has a few incredibly insightful things to say about the Wild Women Archetype: ” … Mis is the original wild woman, that archetypal madwoman who lives deep within each of us. She speaks for us all: for the rage which we cannot express, for the grief which eats our heart out, for the voices we have suppressed out of fear. This old story shows us a brutal descent into darkness during which all illusions are stripped away and old belief systems evaporate, and in doing so it suggests that the extremities of madness or mental breakdown, with their prolonged, out-of-control descent into the unknown, might offer us a path through which we can come to terms with the truth. Like other legendary geilta (the Irish word for madwomen) Mis is driven to extremity in her grief, shape-shifting into bird form, flying away into the hills and woods, growing fur and feathers, eating wild and raw food, leaving the intolerable world behind her. But a geilt cannot emerge from her madness and come back to the world until she has achieved some kind of personal transformation. Through her ordeal – her removal from society and her time spent in the wilderness – she must find a way to reclaim a more authentic sense of identity and belonging. She finds it with the help of a man; she finds it in the union of the masculine and feminine.” She also has an amazing retelling of Mis’ story over here:

I highly recommend it.

“You thought you were calling a wild woman, something beautiful — a goddess with sex-tossed hair and skin that glowed like the moon.

But you called La Loba. You called Baba Yaga. You called Kali Ma. You called Inanna. You called Pele. You called Hecate. You called the Crone.

You called the Dark Goddess to you.

She is the One who walks with sword and flame. Her face and hands are stained with blood and dirt. The earth shakes when she moves. The ocean swells.

You thought she would set you free. You thought she would give you power. You thought she would help you find something of yourself you lost.

Perhaps you did not know that first she would turn you to ash. First she would have to destroy everything that you think you are.

And when she arrives, most who called her forth will run away in fear, they will take back their prayers and wish they had never seen her face.

Only a few will stop, turn towards her, and in that secret place of their heart, whisper,

“Take me.” ”

~Sevapreet Hesser


Published by Tahirih Goffic

After a tumultuous past as a goat milker, laundress, fine art major, waitress and restaurant owner, I've now downscaled to running my own Cafe/Gallery in an effort to maintain a social life and make a few bucks. I live a ridiculously idyllic existence in a fairytale village called Bella Coola on the West Coast of British Columbia with my charming musician husband, two amazingly creative children, and a dog whose favourite past time is eating rotten dead fish and rolling in poo. In my not so spare time I love to invent healthy whole food recipes, write YA fiction, play guitar, or curl up in my favourite chair with a great book and a gigantic mug of strong black coffee, all while daydreaming of living in Ireland...

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