If I could eliminate only one thing in the world, it would by Misogyny.

The hatred of women is the source of evil in the world. It is the most common denominator among the mass murderers of the world. In the manifestos of every mostly white male who opened fire on schools, movie theaters, and churches in America.

As cultures go through changes due to environmental strain, war, and other traumas, the mothering of children necessarily shifts. If our mothers endured great pain, they often preserved it in stories, songs, and old wives tales meant to instruct against danger and indicate who the children should trust. If they were abused or suffered great traumas, they often abusde their children or became addicts to numb the pain of their oppression rendering them unable to develop emotional maturity. These things are passed to their children and dysfunctions are perpetuated across the culture throughout generations in this way.

Women’s self esteem, emotional maturity, and healthy family and community relationships are proportionate to the self esteem, emotional maturity and healthy family and community relationships their mothers had. The kind of fathers women choose for their children depend greatly upon the ability to make functional and emotionally mature choices. Things that limit this ability include loss of legal rights, lack of community support and education, incidence of rape (the cultural acceptability of rape, female mutilation and infanticide) and family of origin issues such as addiction and abuse. These limiting factors manifest in cultures who have undergone oppression, occupation, and genocide by outside cultures.

The Native American community in the United States has been working on this very issue since the understanding of colonialism’s impact on the existing culture became a study! The impact and memory of ancestor trauma lives on in these cultures.

Holocaust survivors have been working on this issue which they term Historical Trauma. Survivor guilt, stunted emotional development, shame, drug/alcohol use…these are the symptoms of a cultural/personal trauma.

The women of Northern European found their respect, status, rights, and freedoms in community eroding with the influence of patriarchy from Roman contact and eventually through Christian conversion by the sword.

I began my journey towards a healthy self esteem as a European American by turning to the oldest known word for a woman of high spiritual and cultural esteem, Volva, Old Norse for staff carrier. I deconstructed two major works left to me by my ancestors, the Voluspa Edda (prophesy of the staff carrier) and Kjerringe med Staven (Dear lady with a staff). The poem Voluspa was written down in the 1100’s ACE and has its roots in oral tradition. The antiquity of the Volva Tradition is attested to in the Archeology and Petroglyphs dating to the Scandinavian Bronze Age circa 2000 BCE where the richest grave finds in Scandinavia belong to staff carrying women.

Kjæringe med Staven, is a well known Norwegian folk tune dating from the 1800’s or earlier. 

Kept alive in the United States through oral song tradition, community dances, and Sons of Norway and other preservation societies. In the US, the word Kjæringe still has it’s pristine meaning of endearment.

While in Norway (May 2009) filming the Norwegian reality show “Alt for Norge,” I had the opportunity to explore the current meanings that volva and kjæringe have in modern Norwegian culture and whether Norwegians still had a cultural memory of women’s traditional power. I found that the word volva has become equivalent to cunt, said in a socially demeaning way rather than a socially uplifting way. Kjæringe said with a certain inflection has come to mean bitch, said as a demeaning and mean spirited put down of women.

As a Norwegian American, it was a bit shocking to find this.Yet, in a way it was no surprise. Even in Norway where women are represented in government and business in high proportions, the patriarchal hatred of women manifests in the word meanings, commercial images, and other ways.

Cultural healing must begin with women’s self esteem, legal rights, and ability to raise the next generation with emotional maturity. And let us not forget to reclaim the words, songs, and stories – and thereby the history of our traditional ways as women.

Releasing the grief of generations of Nordic women whose gifts to the community have been shamed, disrespected, or completely ignored and half forgotten heals the oorlog of my culture. It helps me to help women in any culture! Uplifting women is the key to healing the world.

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