Woman. Girl. Lady. Whore. Mother. Virgin. Her.
You have been called the fairer, weaker, prettier, pettier sex.
But is that who you are? Do you know?
I know who you are.
You are the first.
Not the second, not the last, not the least. Believe it, for it is written in the marrow of your bones. You are not a rib. A subset. A hybrid. You are the Originator. The Creatrix. The Womb. The Void. In the absence of all things, you persist. And your whisper lies at the heart of everything in existence. Your breath runs through the veins of trees. Your blood courses with the thunder of rivers. You are the current of divine energy pulsing through a mysterium of infinite dimensions. You are the clamor of life. And when that pulse subsides and the clamor wanes, you are the stillness that ensues. You are the silence of the grave at the end of days.
Look in the mirror. Who do you see?
I see the face of god staring back. Do you?
I see the wheat, the moon, the tides. I see the loam. I see the heart of creation. I see the pride of heaven. In your eyes are set Inanna’s stars. From your lips usher the sighs of Venus. Your breasts are the joy of Hathor. Your hips, the bounty of Demeter. Your vulva is the gateway between worlds, and your feet are Gaia’s kiss.
Say the word “goddess” over and over until you can say it without laughing or weeping or sighing or rolling your eyes. Etch it in your soul with the pen of your own voice. You are not a joke, or a myth, or a story. You are the earthenware of life. You are the gift of an ancient mother poured out on her beloved children. You are the keeper of miracles and mysteries older than the farthest star. You are the legacy of a heritage greater than the open sky. You are the daughter of a hundred thousand mothers. Beloved. Adored. Blessed.
Your beauty is innate, undeniable, indefinable. It is not subject to the dictates of peevish mores. It is wilder than an unbroken mare, and truer than the beat of your heart. Own it. It starts in your soul, unfurling from a single point, the singularity of love, rippling outward like the threads of Ariadne to shape your thighs and belly, to number each finger, toe, eyelash, to work the magic that is your divine face.
Look in the mirror.
Do you see the gaze of Athena staring back at you, clear as well water? Her mind is sharper than forged steel, her strength the backbone of legend. Her wisdom is your wisdom. When you cry, it is with the tears of Persephone herself, weeping for the sacrifice of her innocence. Your pain is also hers. Her metamorphosis is also yours. You move with the many arms of Durga. You speak with the voices of the Oracles. You stand with the power of Hera, Isis, Ishtar. You rage with the vengeance of Kali, and tremble with the nightmares of Hecate.
Do you see your mother’s eyes? Your grandmother’s cheekbones? Do you see the generations of labor, love, suffering, fighting, giving, striving, wanting, taking staring back? The queens and whores who made you? Can you recognize the shadow of their shame in the lines across your brow? The mantle of their struggle in the pucker of your skin? Would you hide their immeasurable beauty from the world, hang your head low with scorn for the story they each have written across your face? Yours is the courage of every woman in childbed, the longsuffering of every female slave, the dishonor of every little girl who has been used too soon, the fearlessness of every suffragist, the grace of every priestess, the embrace of every mother.
Your story is the true hero’s journey. Your story is their story.
Do you know who you are?
You are more than black, or white, or young, or old, or fat, or thin, or straight, or gay, or transgender, or even female.
Your darkness is Her mark of honor. Your paleness is Her virtue made flesh. Your youth is Her morning prayer. Your old age is Her hymn of the evening. Your fullness is the overflow of Her heart. Your leanness is the endurance of Her spirit. You cannot diminish Her.
Your pleasure in men is the quickening of Her womb. Your hunger for women is the height of Her rapture. Your longing for a form that matches the essence of your soul, a soul that knows what it truly means to be feminine without the trappings or the labels, but with the authenticity of desire as it rises from the censer of the heart like a sweet musk, is Her birth in a new age. You cannot diminish Her.
Do you know who you are?
The muse. The beauty. The sacred. The forgotten.
Languages rise and fall unable to capture your essence with an array of tongues. When the first man uttered his first word, it was only to speak your name. When the last man forms his final cry in his breast, it will be for your intercession. You have known gods and men, lovers and husbands, masters and slavers, kings and servants and none could wipe your memory from the annals of the multiverse or the dream of humankind. Your DNA is threaded with the cords of time, entwined with the fate of the Ten Thousand Things, and yet knotted and bound to an immortal loom of your own making. You are the weaver and the thread, the fibers and the tapestry. For every suffering you endure, you are the medicine of the world. Every violation against the least of you serves to raise your celestial station higher. And when despair overruns your transgressors, when their eyes are sealed with tears and their curses turn to ashes in their mouths because they have denied the fundamental truth of your Beingness, denied the blood and spirit which ties them to you, the anchor of all souls, and in so doing discovered the design for their own misfortune, then you alone will summon the power and compassion of the healer …
Or the magic and tranquility of the tomb, and begin again. For you are the circle of the wheel.
Look in the mirror woman, girl, lady, whore, mother, virgin.
You are Her.