These last few days have felt like spring in Manhattan with brilliant blue skies and a carnival atmosphere on the streets of the East Village.
Yesterday I walked by children carrying bunches of cut daffodils and people dancing to jazz music in Tompkins Square Park.
I was on my way to a friend's house with my dogs, weighed down by bags of produce from the green market, when a man passed me a little too closely and shouted some rape-y comments. Really violent things.
That almost never happens to me. I have a pretty good force field, but it was down. I wasn't prepared after a winter of automatic shielding by the cold and layers of warm clothes.
What popped into my head was the chant we all learned in elementary school, 'I'm rubber and your glue whatever you say bounces off me and sticks onto you', which I muttered as I passed.
I'm blessed to know lots of men who actively discourage cat calling. I'm grateful too to all of the parents and teachers who work had to bring up boys with respect for women (such as my mother in law). But the most instantaneous way I've found to discourage cat calling is to change my posture, my attitude, my vibe. I don't allow it into my space.
Today I'm off to the park to restrengthen that force field. I want to see if artemisia vulgaris, mugwort, is popping her head up yet. Artemisia has the namesake of Artemis, Goddess of the hunt, the moon, protector of animals, the young, and the wilderness. Like the goddess Artemis, Artemisia vulgaris is a moon plant. The backside of the leaves are silver, like moonlight.
The plant artemisia is very subtly psychotropic (mind-altering) when ingested or burned as smudge. It can enhance the vividness and recall of dreams, strengthen intuition, and deepen a person's relationship to nature. It grows all over the world in various forms.
This plant has helped me to gain a sense of independence and inner strength. I've enlisted its (her) wisdom to help others also come to trust their own intuitions, their 'gut' feelings.
Its a plant par excellence for wild, fearless women and men, and I'd go so far as to say that its a remedy for cat calling. Artemisia brings out the peaceful warrior in women and the wise woman in men.
There is a fierceness about the plant that has nothing to do with aggression. Artemisia helps us to stand tall with our shoulders back while moving with precision, grace, and a steady gaze, effortlessly discerning when we can relax, and when we need to be alert.
Right now I'm imagining Mr. Rapey-Comments sitting in the park somewhere with a large clump of mugwort. He finds himself drifting off. He starts to dream.
In the dream he comes across Artemis. He was watching her bathe. She looks at him. He thinks, 'oh shit', his brain tunes into the collective unconscious and he remembers the part of the myth where Artemis turns a dude into a stag who is torn apart by dogs. Only this time she transforms him into a woman in Manhattan in the spring.
There are lots of men out whistling, shouting, and hooting at women on the street. He, now a woman, comes across himself as a man. He hears his male self speak violating, ugly words. They reverberate inside his female body.
He opens his eyes, changed. He has heard his words as a form of self-hatred, and with this knowledge he begins, slowly, to heal.
Do you have a good cat calling story? Some time when you were able to shift the energy?
Wishing you a wild, happy Moonday.
There's lots of fantastic info on the medicinal uses of artemesia vulgaris. Here are some links to great sources: Susan Weed,
When its very young, artemisia is a light mint green and tastes pleasantly bitter. Its used a lot in cooking and medicine in Asia. In acupuncture its burned as moxa. Like all bitters, its excellent for the liver and digestion, and so is a potent addition to the diet this time of year when our livers are all craving some t.l.c. after the winter.
Pregnant women should avoid it internally, though they can still benefit from its dream and intuition powers by sleeping with it in dream pillow or hanging out with the plant in the park.
Artemisia is everywhere, so once you know what it looks like, you'll always have a friend around.