Sunday, February 21, 2016

Power and Darkness: or, The Difference Between Sheep and Wolves

"A sheep without its shepherd is lost; a wolf without its pack can survive."
(John J. Coghlin, Out of the Shadows)

It's interesting, isn't it, to see sheep mentioned in the same title with power and darkness.  Other than the term 'black sheep', which usually refers to someone who embarrasses their family by appearing odd or disreputable in some way, we almost never think of sheep as being anything but helpless, stupid, and always in a group, dependent on others to guide them.  I've talked before about being a 'shiny black sheep', and how it's actually a good thing. 

And yet, any group of people who feel angry, frightened or threatened in some way can become a dangerous mob of sheep, turning from prey into inadvertent predators in an extremely short time.  Think of the townspeople in Frankenstein, a stampede to exit a burning building, or a riot in any country.  This can occur whether or not there is a leader; sometimes it's the leader who incites the action, while at other times the leader gets left behind or even killed if s/he tries to calm things down.  A mob of sheep is mindless, running entirely on the instinct of "fight or flight", and the voice of reason frequently goes unheard because no one is capable of listening.

Ironically, the term 'lone wolf' also has negative connotations, since wolves normally live in packs with a definite hierarchy.  A lone wolf is usually someone who is very introverted and/or antisocial, preferring to live and spend most of their time alone instead of with a group.  Most of them are perfectly harmless, and are often very good people.  However, because they act differently from what is expected of wolves, they are often looked upon with suspicion by everyone, sheep and fellow wolves alike.

When you look closely at these two seeming opposites -- the black sheep and the lone wolf -- you find they have many things in common.  Both are mavericks who will not or cannot accept the hierarchy or rules of the group, choosing instead to follow the beat of their own drum.   

In fact, they are almost the same

When I read Coghlin's quote (at the very top of this post), it really resonated with me. I've been more or less of a lone wolf for a good portion of my life.  As a child and young adult, I tried being a sheep because that was what I was supposed to be, but the skin just didn't fit me properly, and I probably looked and sounded a lot like a wolf version of the sheep in the cartoon below.  Then I went through a period of trying to be a pack wolf, but but that didn't fit me, either, and it was obvious.  It wasn't until I "found myself" a few years ago (to use an old 1970's saying), that I realized I was a shiny black sheep all along.  And that skin fits me "just right", like the smallest chair, bowl and bed in the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. I am content.  Life is good.

So what about the power and the darkness?  The way I see it, the power belongs to those who think for themselves.  That would be the shiny black sheep and the lone wolves.  Pack wolves also have some power, because they choose to work as a team, and although they usually follow the rules of the hierarchy, they will argue with each other if they feel the need to do so.  However, their individual power is less because they usually do follow the hierarchy to avoid being turned out of the pack.

But the darkness truly belongs to the sheep.  Because a LONE sheep really is lost.  Without someone -- anyone -- to follow, a non-black sheep has no idea what to do or where to go, and is in serious danger of being devoured by any predator that comes along.  So the first order of business for a lone sheep is to find a flock.  Whether it's a club, a religion, a gang or a cause doesn't matter; it's having a flock to identify with that's important.  And if that flock ends up taking a header off a cliff some dark night, well, at least they went together.

So whether you identify as a shiny black sheep or a lone wolf, just remember: 

I think the power is worth it, don't you?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February: "I'm SO Goth..."

I found this on the Elders of Goth FB page, and am sharing it here...  It just seemed SO appropriate for someone with eight cats (3.5 of them black) to post this:

I think this just says it all.  ;-P

(Although I think I'd upgrade that last one to Death Metal...)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Medusa: Eyes of Stone

Here is a poem I wrote back in 2010, when I was studying and working with Medusa as a matron goddess.  I've always seen Her as a guardian and avenger of abused and threatened women.  It goes well as a precursor to my short story, although it won't be published with it.  So you get an exclusive here...  Hope you like it!

Eyes of Stone

You look at me with
Your eyes of stone
But I stare back at you
And still breathe

Don't try to petrify me
With your gaze, honey
It won't work on me
We have the same wounds
The same anger

The same eyes

It probably wasn't your fault
He came after you
Any more than it was mine
But who believes us?
Obviously we asked for it
Or it wouldn't have happened

After all
It's not like they have any self-control
You can't expect them to take
No for an answer

Yeah, I don't believe that
Any more than you do

Got any extra snakes?