Reading The Book of the Courtesans and enjoying Susan Griffin’s turn of phrase and insight. Daily reading always influences where my mind travels, especially when a topic shows up multiple times, unplanned and unexpectedly, in a matter of days–and in unrelated references. In this case, references about clothing, costuming, and culture:
Clothing is not just practical. What we wear on our bodies speaks to others, expressing intent and mutual understandings, while acting as a public calling card, telling others, even strangers, who we are, or at least who we pretend to be. But not all dress does. Aside from protection and expression, clothing can also be read as a sign that reveals the Zeitgeist of a culture, a spirit that is always changing. Indeed, fashion is one of the principal signatures of time. What is desirable at one moment will not be acceptable at the next. To know what color to choose, at what length to measure your hem, which shoes you should wear for what occasion, requires an acute awareness of the present moment. – Susan Griffin, The Book of the Courtesans: A Catalogue of their Virtues
Another read last week was How to Live Like a Lady: Lessons in Life, Manners, and Style. This one spoke of fashion and etiquette and what was customary for a young lady to wear for any given occasion. It was instructive, well-defined and proper; a nice little reference guide for one in corporate and or more traditional, formal society.
Interesting to note also, how the learnings required of courtesans paralleled those of royal social classes…and professional standards. For one to be noticed and taken out of her state of lesser circumstances by a protector, she had to cultivate a certain presence, intelligence, fashion-sense, charm, and be able to fit in to that formal, very visible society.
We reveal much about ourselves in our colors, clothes, and ways we wear them. I’m aware–and also in awe of those who seem to have this personal style thing flowing consistently and naturally. A long time ago, I started a ‘style file’ for clippings and pictures of clothes (and rooms and furniture and colors) I love. My style is now more playful and personal.
And then there’s beauty, an incredibly subjective virtue.
Every woman wants to look and feel beautiful and confident every time she steps outside in public view. And even indoors, in the privacy of our own spaces, isn’t it divine to feel wonderful, comfortable. There is something energizing and creative about wearing clothes and colors in ways that complement us, and living in our body and presenting ourselves in a way that pleases us. What I’m wearing underneath has to match… It makes me feel good and smile… Clothes, colors, body image–elements of confidence and beauty, pleasure and vitality.
The arts women have employed to create beauty are ancient. The hetaerae of Greece, women who were priests and courtesans at the same time, were also healers. They were known to use herbal formulas devised to nourish the skin and hair, as well as sustain the vitality which is so much a part of beauty. – Susan Griffin, The Book of the Courtesans: A Catalogue of their Virtues
My word for 2017 is Radiance. Exploring women’s virtues uncensored–through art, literature, fashion, spirituality, and sensuality–feeds this muse. Did you notice in that one, that there were women who were priests, courtesans, and healers at the same time? This is the stuff you don’t get in regular religion classes. It’s the kind of stuff I can explore and teach here. A woman’s soul is richly radiantly bright, beautiful, and powerful–and so is the rest of us. We are divine beings living life through all of our body’s senses. Explore, own, and love all of it.
As [Zora Neale] Hurston tells us, at the moment when the priestess is asked by the celebrants, “What is the truth?” she responds by throwing back her veil to reveal her body. A body which, according to the Vodou view of the cosmos, is the source of all life and thus also the answer to all mystery. … Though he was frightened and scandalized by her, through her eyes, the world could be reborn to him each day with new beauty. – Susan Griffin, The Book of the Courtesans: A Catalogue of their Virtues
When experiences and circumstances take a person outside of respected, proper, traditional views, religions, lifestyles, a creative adventure begins. For those ready for more uncensored exploring of your feminine virtues, worth, and soul, spring is a good time to begin.
Have a great week. – Anne