Editor: Molly Claire Benjamin, Independent Scholar & Writer


The Wise Woman & the Death of Carrie Fisher

My Master’s Degree was in Interdisciplinary Studies and I believe in the importance of weaving together seemingly disparate topics and fields in order to acquire new viewpoints, new questions and facility with new ways of being.  So far I’ve posted three rather lengthy essays here on straw & spindle and although these essays wrestle with some complex ideas, those ideas needn’t be overwhelming. In fact, I believe that, handled properly, these three theses can combine to provide an excellent jumping off point for further discussion on issues at the core of straw & spindle’s r’aison d’être.  Over the next few weeks I will be posting some shorter pieces that will do just that.

In Myth & Community I explore the interesting phenomenon of the diminishing sense of community in American culture, and how much we differ from our Progressive Era predecessors, that Robert Putnam presents in his book Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.  I expand on Putnam’s ideas and unfold some of what I see as the important causes and possible solutions to this problem.  In my piece discussing Riane Eisler’s theories, along my own work on the novel Pollyanna, I introduce Eisler’s partnership ways of interacting and show how they have always existed and are, in fact, our natural tendency.

In The Journey of The Princess article I talk about the power of Joseph Campbell’s Hero's Journey, but how that journey excludes an acknowledgment of the feminine archetype and Her journey.  The thread I would like to expand on in today’s post is that of what the Princess archetype is on her way to becoming - an Empress or Priestess.  In other words, the Princess’s journey is one towards metaphorical mother-ness.  She will become a civic or spiritual mother to her community, whether or not she physically gives birth.  And after the experience of mothering and nurturing community in whatever way her gifts suit her, the mother becomes the crone, the wise woman, the elder or the grandmother.

Last week, when we lost Carrie Fisher, we lost a cultural wise woman.  Although her portrayal of Leia, the archetypal Princess, will live on as a cultural story or myth, Carrie herself, a woman who had earned the respected role of communal elder, she will be missed profoundly.  As a mature woman, a survivor of life and love and bi-polar disorder, of motherhood and daughter-hood and Hollywood, Carrie was willing to share her wisdom with us.  More importantly, she did so in her own unique way.  In other words, her wisdom was dispensed in a manner that reflected how Carrie had acquired that wisdom.  And she acquired it through living as her own authentically unique self.

We each have within in us a unique and priceless gift — our own personal combination of talents as well as faults.  The Journey of the Princess is, like Joseph Campbell’s Journey of the Hero, is an important tool we can use to explore who we are and the gifts we have to offer.  In acknowledging the existence of these gifts within, and through making our life’s journey one of discovering how to express them, one truly shines.   Carrie Fisher shone an outspoken spokeswoman for awareness about mental health disorders and as a spectacular cheerleader for those suffering from such disorders.  She was a wise woman within our community and she will be sorely missed.  I like to think that she has gone to join the community of our collective ancestors who watch over us.

We can, however, take some valuable lessons away.  One way in particular is that we can recognize how important it is to seek out and acknowledge the wise women in our communities.  Rebuilding our relationship to the wise woman means healing for She has much to teach.  But in order to rebuild this relationship we must once again give this role an honored position in our community.