Monday, December 8, 2014

Adrienne Rich's Vision

Adrienne Rich
I’ve been plowing through journal articles written about women’s friendships.  I’ve noticed that there are many more written about the problems women have being in friendship with another women and the numerous ways women inflict pain.  From a spiritual standpoint, this seems to affirm the numberous stories I’ve heard about how women in circle act towards other women.  The behavior includes: being cruel, talking behind another’s back or not acknowledging another.  When I hear these stories, it rubs me the wrong way.  It is in conflict to what I believe is supposed to happen in circle and is probably the main reason why some women choose to go solo - myself included.  Who wants to be in a group where you are rejected, ignored, experience the silent treatment, betrayed, ostracized or pressured to leave the group?  And, if you refuse to join into this behavior then you get the backlash of this behavior.  

Adrienne Rich wrote an essay in 1980, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence.”  The essay has been analyzed, reviewed, and pulled apart by numerous scholars, feminists and etc.  I see Rich’s essay as a vision statement for the future.  Who wouldn’t like a circle or a workplace where you could say, “it is the women who make life endurable for each other, give physical affection without causing pain, share, advise and stick by each other,” (Rich).  I see Rich’s vision statement up there with Martin Luther King’s dream of a world without racism.  

I think the question becomes how do we achieve this future? What do we need to do to make it happen?


At Willard Brook
by Adrienne Rich
November 18, 1961

Spirit like water
moulded by unseen stone
and sandbar, pleats and funnels
according to its own
submerged necessity —
to the indolent eye
pure wilfulness, to the stray
pine-needle boiling
in that cascade-bent pool
a random fury: Law,
if that's what's wanted, lies
asking to be read
in the dried brook-bed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Women's Friendship

The Two Friends by Toulouse-Lautrec (1894) 
“Friendship is born at the moment, when one man says to another: “What! You too?  I thought than no one but myself…” C.S. Lewis, The Four Lovers

“What is a friend?  A single soul dwelling in two bodies.” Aristotle

“True friends are always together in spirit. (Anne Shirley)” L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables

I’ve been given the okay for my thesis topic: women’s friendship shown in literature.  Specifically, I will be looking at positive friendships in contemporary literature that are not mean girl in spirit and can pass the Bechdel test (the novel has to have at least two female leads that talk about something other than men and getting a partner).  I’m interested in how authors show intimacy and conflict between friends.

I’ve been given many recommendations of favorite girlfriends books to read that have been published after 1985.  The books seem to cluster around: two friends, a group of friends, intergenerational friends and inter-racial/culture friends.  I’ve also noticed that many of these books haven’t been given the nod to be called literature.  In fact, not many books about women’s friendship have been given this nod.  Yet, these books seem to land and stay on the NYTimes bestsellers list and many have become popular movies (i.e., The Help, Beaches, The Secret Life of Bees, Fried Green Tomatoes, Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, Where the Heart Is).  NOTE: This is my observation and I haven’t analyzed these books for elements of literature.

Over the next seven months, I’m going to share what I find about women’s friendships.  It is my hope that what I write in my blog will help inspire my final essay.  Brainstorming, I plan on looking at the topic from a historical standpoint: Emma and Jane Eyre’s friendship are worth looking at; reading what Virginal Woolf has to say and other female writers.  Finally, I want to look at the spiritual aspect of friendship along with what psychology, feminist studies and sociology has to say. 

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Devotion – a place where all forces come together.

"At Eternity's Gate" by Vincent Van Gogh  (1890)
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

“I understand our mornings can be busy; however, if we cannot make time for God now, then when?” ~ Ashley Ormon, God in Your Morning

It’s been another rough week as a mom in Buckeye Land.  My heart has been heavy.  Words have been exchanged and feelings have been hurt on both sides of the dinner table.  This has also expanded outside our home too.   An unexpected task has now appeared on my desk and my heart hurts for a son because a young woman said yes and then stood him up.  My feelings and emotions are all turned-up-side- down. 

In situations like this I set off to find my grounding point.  For me, it is the place where all the forces come together within me.  That point where I know I’m connected with the divine spirit.  When I’m there; I’m balanced.  I can put the dark emotions into a perspective.  There, I know that I will survive and can move on.  The divine drives my emotions and no other forces.

Getting to that place and finding that place takes work.  It isn’t something you can buy at the store or an herbal spell you brew up.  It comes from daily practice of being devoted to MotherFather Spirit.  I have discovered the more I’m devoted to practice the easier I can come to that middle point where I'm not at where my emotions are out of control and the world looks dark and without hope.

A daily devoted practice to me means prayer, meditation, yoga, knitting, walking, exercising on the stationary book, writing, drawing mandalas, and etc.  I do it alone and I do it in fellowship.  My practicing time isn’t about calling the spirit for a 911 “help me request,” but putting in the thanks and joyful noting or citing WOWness.  I believe you need to see both (i.e., 911 and joy) in order to find your balancing point and center.  The world isn’t just about crisis; it has the joys too.  If you can see both, it helps you put things into a calmer perspective.     


Over Cherry Blossoms
by Shuntaro Tanikawa

Over cherry blossoms

white clouds

over clouds

the deep sky

over cherry blossoms

over clouds

over the sky

I can climb on forever

once in spring

I with god

had a quiet talk.


If you haven’t ever prayed before or don’t know how to start to find your center.  I got this from a women’s meditation retreat back in the 90s.  The key was meditation or prayer help FADES the crisis.  The FADES is a mnemonic describing things to consider when you pray to MotherFather Spirit.    

F= Free and Formed

A = Alone and Assembled

D= Desperate and Delighted

E= Explosive and Extended

S= Spontaneous and Scheduled

My instructor at this retreat was animate that prayer wasn't about sitting still in a room.  This was the first time I heard this.  She said prayer needs to be done while you are singing with friends; waiting at the check-out line when you see an act of kindness; or when you are pondering out what word should come next in your "blog."  She stated that the "Now the lay me" and "God is great" ritually at dinner is fine for a starting point - but prayer should be done on the seat of your pants.  You should think of prayer as a day long conversation with MotherFather Spirit.  


Tibetan Wind Horse Prayer

(Tibetan prayer flag is 'Lung ta', meaning 'Wind Horse')

As Wind carries our prayers for Earth and All Life, may respect and love light our way.

May our hearts be filled with compassion for others and for ourselves.

May peace increase on Earth. May it begin with me.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

In the spirit of Starhawk….. Authors as Social Observers: the effects of childhood trauma

Authors have been called social observers for their keen ability to see injustice and translate them into stories that make readers stop and ask questions.  Their stories have a way of punching through our mental walls and help us see things afresh.  Some authors have been able to uncover health issues that are a result of social conditions often ahead of research.  Jean Rhys 1966 novel Wide Sargasso Sea is one.  Her story relates a current leading topic for research in preventing chronic mental and physical health outcomes by looking at traumatic experiences during childhood. 

                Rhys offers a prequel to Charlotte Bronte’s novel Jane Eyre and finally gives Antoinette (Bertha) Mason Rochester her voice her story.   In Bronte’s novel, Antoinette was described as Rochester’s first wife who was insane and kept locked in the attic.  We learn from the story that Antoinette is a white Creole woman living in British-owned Jamaica after the emancipation of slaves.  It is through Rhys’ narrative Antoinette shares her experiences during childhood and the first years of marriage to Rochester.  Rhys identifies the consequences of childhood trauma, racism and gender oppression on Antoinette’s mental health and that ultimately leads to her suicide.       

                Thirty years after Rhys’ novel, American researchers began documenting the outcome of repeated traumatic events during childhood.  Neurobiologists took the research a step farther showing how trauma changes the neuropath ways developing brain (i.e., birth -25 years of age).  Untreated, the trauma increases a person’s risk for depression, drug and alcohol abuse and suicide (Felitti, 5).  In Antoinette’s case, she describes the dysfunction of her childhood household.  Her mother was raising her brother and her alone following the death of their father to alcoholism (Rhys, 473).  The cumulated stress of managing a plantation without any skills, having a lack of money, and having a son with Cretinism (i.e., congenital hyperthyroidism) her mother “grew thin and silent, and refused to leave the house” (466)  and begins to “talk to herself” (467).   When Antoinette tries to approach her mother, she is pushed away coldly and told to leave her alone (467, 485).  Her mother remarries and the step-father brings stability into the home until it is burnt by a mob.  Her brother dies as a result of the fire and her mother develops a severe psychosis (480).  Her step-father sends Antoinette to live at a convent.     Antoinette describes how she copes with being neglected: spending time in the kitchen, eating alone and being alone in the woods (471, 477).   She also relates that she didn’t feel safe as a child and had nightmares (478, 488, 493).  It is clear that Antoinette herself is beginning to some mental reaction responding to this trauma and dysfunction by disassociating.                                   

                It is important to understand how Antoinette racism impacted her life on Jamaica.  Both she and her mother were considered white Creole and a minority community living on the island.  She is born into a family that owned slaves and now despised by the emancipated black Jamaicans.  At the same time, the arriving English to the island considered white Creoles as not European born.  Antoinette is repeatedly called “white cockroach” (469) by the blacks and “white niggers” (470) by the English.  She and her mother had supportive place in society.  Antoinette’s first violent experience of racism occurred when her mother’s horse was poisoned by “black people” (465).  She befriends Tia, a black girl and they play together.  However, Tia steals her money and dress (470).  It is Tia who throws a rock at her from the black mob who burned down their house (483).   Rochester her husband, describes Antoinette as “beautiful, but” and that she has “long, sad, dark alien eyes.  Creole of pure English descent she may be, but not English” (496).  Antoinette continues to experience acts of racism after marrying him.  After being called a “white cockroach” by a black paid servant, Antoinette secludes herself and stating “I wonder who I am and where my country is and where do I belong and why was I ever born at all” (519).  Rochester responds that she is over-reacting.  Antoinette reaction is to disconnect from what is happening around her by falling back on childhood coping mechanisms.  

                Within less than two pages, Rochester already describes his wife as “not English or European either” (496) and before reaching their honeymoon cabin readers realize he was paid 30,000 pounds to marry her (498).  However, Rochester admits he doesn’t love her, but he loves her money and property that she came with.  His behavior isn’t uncommon for a man of his day.  Under English rule at the time, a man assumed all money and property and rights of his wife.    He begins to oppress Antoinette further by withholding sex and calling her another name, Bertha (523).  Rochester believes the stories of her half black brother and refuses to listen to Antoinette’s version of the story about her mother and brother.  Antoinette finally realizes Rochester doesn’t love her and wants only her money; she is stuck because of the law.  In England, Rochester sedates her and locks her up after she asked someone to help her leave him on their voyage (568).  Believing her brother’s story, he labels and treats her as insane.  Antoinette describes looking into the mirror and watching Antoinette “drift out of the window with her scents, her pretty clothes and her looking glass” in her locked room (568).  She explains how she is able to cope by dissociating from reality.  She tries to save herself by setting fire to the house and committing suicide done in a fashion that reenacted the fire was set to her childhood home.

                 Wide Sargasso Sea is able to describe what it was like for woman living as a postcolonial white Creole minority living under strict gender rule.  What makes the book remarkable is Rhys’ observations of how this can affect one’s mental health.  Many of her descriptions of how Antoinette and her mother react and coped with trauma had not been studied in the field of psychology.  In the 1960’s mental illness, child abuse and neglect and domestic violence were taboo and uncomfortable topics in both the home and in the medical community.  Still, Rhys chose to give us an alternative view to why Bronte’s Bertha ended up in the attic room and ultimately committed suicide by showing us the cumulative effects of trauma.  Her work was one of many authors who helped the public question treatment of those with mental illness.    



Bicknell-Hentges, L, and Lynch, J.J. “Everything Counselors and Supervisors Need to Know About Treating Trauma.” American Counseling Association Annual Conference and Exposition. Charlotte, 19 March, 2009. Presentation.  Web. 13 Dec. 2013.

Felitti, Vincent J. “The Relationship of Adverse Childhood Experience to Adult Health: Turning gold into lead.” Z psychsom Med Psychother. 2002. 359-369. Print.

Mardorossian, Carine M. “Shutting Up the Subaltern: Silence, Stereotypes, and Double – Entendre in Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea.” Callaloo. 1999. Web. 13 Dec. 2013.

Rhys, Jean. “Wide Sargasso Sea.” Jean Rhys The Complete Novels W.W. Norton & Company: New York. 1985. 465-574. Print

Wolfe, David A., Crooks Claire C., Debbie Chiodo, and Jaffe, Peter. “Child Maltreatment,Bullying, Gender-Based Harassment, and Adolescent Dating Violence: Making the 
Connections.” Psychology of Women Quarterly. 2009. 21-23. Print.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Candle Spells for new beginnings

Old Woman with Candle
by Matthias Stom (1640)  See it at
Hermitage Museum
You raze the old to raise the new.” - Justina Chen, North of Beautiful

Perhaps that is where our choice lies -- in determining how we will meet the inevitable end of things, and how we will greet each new beginning. ― Elana K. Arnold, Burning

Begin today. Declare out loud to the universe that you are willing to let go of struggle and eager to learn through joy. -Sarah Ban Breathnach

New Moon Energy

I’ve been taught that the New Moon’s energy is filled with new opportunities and new beginnings.  If you goofed up last month, you’ll get a new chance this month.  The New Moon is a time that you can pick yourself up, dust yourself off and move forward. 

Several of my teachers have compared the New Moon’s time of darkness to springtime.  The time right before a seed bursts out of its casing.  The New Moon is the fertile soil that cradles the seed.  It whispers good thoughts.

Most times, my New Moon ritual is dusting off my altar and changing the salt bowl.  This time allows me to reflect and clear out the mental cobwebs in order to see if I’m on course.  It allows me to return to MotherFather Spirit, because I’ve decided to march off on my own. 

It allows me space to shift my perspectives by clearing my mind.  This allows me to put forth an intention that isn’t mixed with daily living.  It clears away the static between me and Spirit.  It allows the life force to lead me where I need to go.


“For last year's words belong to last year's language
And next year's words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning."

(Little Gidding)” by T.S. Eliot


My candle ritual outline for new beginnings


  • Salt in a dish – to purify the space
  • Paper and pencil
  • Green Candle and holder
  • Pin or knife to mark the candle with the Rune - Fehu
  • New Beginning Oil – My belief is kind of different from other CCWWW.  I believe each CCWWW is their own person and are just as powerful.  My dreams and wishes are clearly different than yours.  Take time and research which essential oils should be part of your ritual.  Sure it is nice to rely on other’s recipes – but I’m one to make it my own.  Below are what I’m using this year. 
    • Juniper – release unwanted emotions
    • Sandalwood (Australian or Indian) – deep connection to your soul
    • Clary Sage – dare to dream, open crown chakra, purification
    • Lemon – refresh, reload
    • Tangerine – laughter, openness, creativity and good luck
    • Black Pepper – for spice and courage
    • Bergamot - Brings success & money
On the new moon – set aside some time in a quiet space.  I use my fireplace, because it is safe place to burn candles.  Also, most nights my family is in the TV room or up in bedrooms studying.

Take the paper and write down what your intentions are.  I also find helpful in bringing props.  (Example, I’m in graduate school and I bring out new notebooks and pencils and pens to put near the candle.  It helps me focus.)  In this case, I will have my little Booklet next where the candle will be burning. 

To me intentions, prayers and spells mean the same thing.  I believe it is also important to put it into your words.  Again, it is nice to use other’s pre-written words, but I believe it is even more powerful for each person to make up their own words.

I do use in my writings:  Thank you for all the gifts and blessings you have given me, May you guide me…, May you help me…, May you watch over me…, May you show me…,   I always end by saying not my will, but your will – so mote it be or Amen

Now that you have you intentions written, I next anoint the candle with essential oil and the Rune Symbol.  I continue to think about what my intentions are that I’m seeking help from MotherFather Spirit as I etch the rune into the candle.  Next, I anoint the candle.  Again, I’m thinking about what I just wrote.  (In my little Booklet’s example, I’m imagining the outcomes twelve months from now.)  Finally, I take the announced candle in my hands and meditate for about a minute. 

Place the candle in the holder. Before lighting the candle, I read what I wrote out loud.  I light the candle and burn the paper that the intention is on.

Candle Safety – do not let a candle burn unintended.  This is why I use my fireplace.  When I was apartment living I’d place the candle in a bowl of water in the sink.  I am one to snuff the candle out and continue to burn the next day.      

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Check out the blog party

2 Bags Full

What a wonderful way to spend a Saturday after finishing up homework and in-between baking cookies and cleaning.....especially when it is cold and snowing in Buckeye Land.  

Friday, January 24, 2014

2014 Year of Expecting a Miracle: creating a personal compass BOOKLET

"A Lady Writing a Letter"
by Johannes Vermeer (1665)
"Never put your faith in a Prince. When you require a miracle, trust in a Witch.” ~ Catherynne M. Valente, In the Night Garden

"Miracles are like pimples, because once you start looking for them you find more than you ever dreamed you'd see.” ~ Lemony Snicket, The Lump of Coal

"And now we step to the rhythm of miracles.” --from The Light, That Never Dies” ― Aberjhani, Elemental: The Power of Illuminated Love

So I’m back at writing this blog as a creative and spiritual outlet to graduate school and life in general. As you may know, I’m part of the Wild Woman Project and our New Year’s kick off project was to create a little book. This booklet is to be packed with: a prayer(s), wishes, affirmations and feelings – our intentions for the coming year. Additionally, the booklet would be our focus for the New Year or act as a compass to guide us.

The first step in creating this book – was to think of a theme we wanted for the year. I’m not one for dreaming up themes so I pulled from the Goddess Oracle Deck (Virtue) and “Mother Mary’s Expect a Miracle” came up for me. Without any hesitation, I wrote down as the title and theme of my year “2014: The Year of Expecting Miracles.”

Why not miracles? The world needs more of them and the world needs more of us to observe them. And, the world needs more of us to assist in making them happen.


Our booklet is to be used like you would affirmation statements. You read it front to back daily to keep you on track. (I’ve clipped it to my datebook and it is the first thing I see in the morning.)

The French pharmacist Émile Coué, in the late 1880's is considered the first person who wrote about the use of affirmations. In his practice, Dr. Coué had his patients daily recite the phrase "Every day in every way I'm getting better and better." He believed that this autosuggestion would assist people in healing themselves.

I learned about affirmations from my teacher Nettie Morse. She was a student from the Louise Hay’s camp. The affirmations created are to help you change negative beliefs and scripts you have about yourself. They help you see yourself in a more positive light.   


The second page of the Wild Woman booklet was to answer the question “What would I like to build this year?” During my New Moon meeting with my Wild Woman Friends, again I was being opened to MotherFather Spirit’s suggestions. A thought that popped into my head was about the lack of balance I’ve been feeling lately around being a good mom, being an advocate for sexual and intimate partner violence survivors and being graduate student and the lack of building in relaxation time. 

I admit my house has transformed into clutter heaven. My yoga and walking have been kicked to the curb, because I haven’t quite found the balance yet with these new graduate school requirements. And, I’ve been going through the motions of being a CCWWW and being silent on this blog. 

Once again, MotherFather Spirit is right on the money for what is essential for my sanity, spirituality and physical health for my heart. 

So on page two, I wrote “Building in relaxation time.”


Three incidences have occurred since creating and reading my book daily. 1) I was asked to join someone at Yoga class, 2) I found out that Yesherabbit Coven’s theme is centered on miracles, and 3) Eileen Cady’s daily inspiration.

Maybe these coincidences have been occurring all along, but I believe I’ve been so caught up in stuff and not recognizing them. I look at them as mini miracles or the miracle of messages that I’ve not been paying attention to.

With that in mind: I’ve recorded these occurrences on page 5 of my book.  


Eileen Caddy’s daily inspiration (1/15) – I chuckled – it was so right on. 

“Why not relax? Let go and let Me take over, for the more stress and strain there is in your life, the less you get done. Why not let yourself flow with nature, flow with the tide, and do what has to be done quite simply, naturally and joyously? Why not enjoy life, instead of going through it with grim determination, forcing yourself to do this, that and the other without any joy or love? Life is wonderful when you are in harmony with it and cease resisting anything. Why make everything complicated for yourself? Why not make today a special day, and see the very best in everything? Give thanks for everything. Enjoy everything as it should be enjoyed. I want you to enjoy life. Start off by seeing the beauty of nature all around you, and you will find that one wonderful thing will lead to the next, until your whole life is one of wonderment and joy.” 

Relax? I’ve just finished my second packet for graduate school and relax has been the word of choice. Thus I’m chuckling again at the above quote. 

Why? I have found that writing the two critical essays is a forced task for me. Each word generated is labor intensive like finding the right word for a crossword puzzle. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading the assigned novels and looking at writing concepts and themes, but transcribing these ideas down onto paper has been stressful and not a joyful or flowing experience – like say writing in my blog or writing a poem.

I wonder can one do an interpretive dance to help create a critical essay. I believe that would be relaxing. I took up an invitation from a friend to join her in yoga – that was relaxing. 

I wonder if the miracle this year is to learn how to be more relaxed writing these essays. 


Create your own booklet for the year with the Wild Woman Project:

Take a piece of 8.5 inches by 11 inches paper and cut it in half. Stack the two piece of paper together and fold in half. These are the pages for your book. 

Cover Page – theme by picking from the Goddess deck  

Page 1 – create a prayer to read daily that will help you focus on your theme and help you during the down times. 

Page 2 – “This year I will build____” 

Page 3 – “This year I feel ____” 

Page 4 – “This year I’m open to ____” 

Page 5 – Write down the dates you notice your theme happening. 

Sit with your ideas until January 30, 2014. Feel free to decorate the book and make it your own. I went through cards sent to me this past year and have added decorations. The booklet will be dedicated on the 30th the new moon.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Ordinary Women as Agents of Social Change: The Mirabel Sisters - The Butterflies


In Carl Theodor Dreyer’s silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), Joan sits in her prison without helmet or sword.  The film portrays her as an ordinary young woman.  Dreyer humanizes her by filling the screen with close-ups of her face.  We see Joan wrestle under the pressure of the inquisition.  Her eyes show that she knows her path leads to being burned at the stake.  But, she maintains the conviction of her faith.  Stories have been written about heroic women such as Joan, but for the most part they come across as having super human qualities with helmets and swords unlike ordinary women.  The majority of women who have been agents of social change have been silenced because of this ordinariness

In the Time of Butterflies, Julia Alvarez writes a novel based on fictional events.  It is told through the different voices of the four Mirabal sisters (i.e., Patricia, Dedé, Minerva, and Maria Teresa) also known as Las Mariposas (The Butterflies).  Each sister tells their story of how they became involved in opposing the Dominican dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo (1930-1961). In the end of the book, Trujillo ordered the assassination for three of the sisters on November 25, 1960 alongside a mountain road between Puerta Plata and Santigo.  The outcome of their death and the continued voice of Dedé, their surviving sister ultimately led the Dominican people to overthrow Trujillo.  Alvarez goes beyond this historic event by providing stories about their childhood, sibling jealousy and personal dreams.  Her use of multiple narrators gives voice to each sister showing they were unique and ordinary women, but not a mythic figure.  

            Alvarez is deliberate in separating the sisters’ voices by using different points of view.  We are introduced to Dedé as she is being interviewed about her sisters.  Written in third person, her actions emphasized she wants time for herself away from being care taker of her family’s legacy and underground movement’s stories.   She is blunt to the interviewer saying: “What is it that you want to know” (7).  Dedé wants the interview to be quick, but knows it can’t be.  Patricia story is written in first person internal monologue.  She is the most religious of the sisters and her voice brings forth her struggle with God.  Patricia’s story moves towards her death, it becomes her confession to the readers and God.  Maria Teresa shares her story through her diaries.  The first diary, a First Communion present, is written from a nine/ten year point of view.  There are short paragraphs with unending sentences.  These beginning entries include drawings like her new shoes and sister’s swimming suit (36) and her later diaries contain bomb making diagrams (144) and the prison layout (229).  She keeps a diary while in college and again during her imprisonment as a political prisoner.  The entries writing style changes as she grows older.  Maria Teresa is chosen to be questioned by the Organization of American States Committee on Human Rights Abuse in prison.  Trujillo believes she will be silent in order to save her family members, but she secretly passes her journal writings to the interviewers (254).  Minerva, the most political sister, writes in a personal essay format.  The essays are given a title such as: “What do you want, Minerva Mirabal? Summer” (84) or “House Arrest” (257).  Together her essay collection feels like a personal memoir by sharing events that have influenced her.  Alvarez use different point of view emphasizes the sisters’ different personalities. 

            The novel portrays the sisters’ personal struggles between work and romance are similar to contemporary women.  Patricia and Dedé choose a more traditional path for women.  They marry after graduating from high school and begin having children.  Patricia is a farmer’s wife while Dedé helps run both her father’s and husband’s business using her financial skills.  Minerva is hesitant to get involved with men.  She initially believes that men will interfere with her dream of being a lawyer and her leadership position in the resistance.  However, she finds and marries a man who respects and encourages these qualities, whereas Dedé’s husband becomes more restrictive in what she does.  Maria Teresa follows Minerva’s path by going to college and being involved in the underground.  However, Minerva meets a certain man in the underground and she sets out to win his heart.  Both women have children, like their older sisters.  When Minerva and Maria Teresa are in prison it is Dedé who returns to help take care of her nieces and nephews.  Ultimately, it is her that becomes a mother for all 10 children following her sisters’ deaths.  Alvarez shows that the sisters struggles with defining motherhood and work isn’t any different from what modern women experience. 

The strength of the novel lies in the different reasons why each sisters chose to become agents of social change.  Minerva writes in her essay “Complications” about her friend Sinita.  Sinita describes the assassination of all the men in her family and how the convent school has allowed her to attend for free.  Minerva writes, “I was shaking by the time she was through” (17).  It’s the first time she hears that Trujillo was anything more than the beloved President.  It is through Maria Teresa’s dairy we learn that 18 year old Minerva and several classmates have been attending resistance meetings.  Maria Teresa questions her sister wanting to be involved in something so dangerous; Minerva replies: “She wanted me to grow up in a free country” (39).  Maria Teresa joined the summer following Minerva’s graduation from law school.  Maria Teresa had witness compounding events that Trujillo inflicted against her family.  Specifically, he had tried to make sexual advances towards Minerva.  The family’s response led to the imprisonment of their father and his death.  The event that pushed Maria Teresa was at Minerva’s graduation from law school.  Trujillo let Minerva study law, but did not give her the license to practice (138).  Patricia joined after witnessing a massacre by the guardias (national army) during a religious retreat.  Patricia saw herself as a mother in the eyes of God.  When she witnessed a young boy seeking sanctuary of the church being shot, she saw her own sons and all Dominican sons.  Patricia and her husband joined with their sons to fight justice in accordance to God’s laws along with many Dominican Catholic clergy.  Dedé was last to join.  The assassination of her sisters gave Dedé the strength to stand up against her husband and finally become involved in the “trouble Minerva and the others were cooking up” (149).  She stood by her sisters’ caskets and at each military stop she would shout “Assassins! Assassins!” (308).  She became vocal advocate to speak the truth against the Trujillo regime and now is the care taker of the stories for us to remember.  Alvarez reinforces through the sisters voices that there are many reasons how people find the courage to speak out against injustices.

The Mirabel sisters are viewed in the Dominican Republic as martyrs for freedom.  In the Time of Butterflies, Alvarez shows us four ordinary women who lived under a dictatorship and why they each chose not to accept the way things were.  She does this by humanizes them and having each sister share their stories as a sister, mother, wife and daughter.  As multiple narrators, they bring different perspectives of how to work towards justice and become closer to us.          



Alvarez, Julia. In the Time of Butterflies.  1994. New York:Penguin Books, 1995. Print.

Harper, Rachel. “Rules of the relay race: Writing a novel with multiple narrators.” Spalding           University. Louisville, KY. 22 Nov. 2013. Fiction Lecture Fall Residency 2013.

Ink, Lynn Chun. “Remaking identify, unmaking nations: Historic recovery and the            reconstruction of community In the Time of Butterflies and The Farming of Bones.”    Callaloo. 27.3 (2004): 788-807. Web. 2 Dec. 2013.

“In the Time of Butterflies: Julia Alvarez.” Big Read. National Endowment of the Arts, 24 Nov. 2013. Web. 6 Dec. 2013.

The Passion of Joan of Arc. Dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer.  Société Gėnėrale, 1928. Film.