Goddesses in the Dust: Kalliope and Finding One's Voice

Unearthing the divine feminine, one archetype at a time...
Urania and Kalliope, Simon Vouet, 1590 - 1649
Kalliope, eldest of the nine muses. That's her on the right, holding a copy of The Odyssey and sitting with her sister Urania. Known as the muse of eloquence and epic poetry, her name means "beautiful voice."
Kalliope, 1869
Kalliope, Giovanni Baglione
Finding one's voice. We hear it a lot, but what does it actually mean? It doesn't refer to just the act of speaking. More to the point, it refers to the ability to express one's self, one's wishes, one's desires, one's needs, one's deepest beliefs. It is equated with being authentic. And the path towards authenticity is an ongoing one.

I believe we all come into this world with our voice intact, with knowing how to use it. It is only through our upbringing, no matter how well intended, that our voices become trampled by our elders - our parents, our teachers, our bosses. You name it.

Voice is something writers talk about a lot. The ability to have inspiration and the ability to communicate that inspiration freely and abundantly. More often than not, writers fear that won't happen - the inspiration won't come or the ability to communicate freely won't be present. Alexandra Fuller, author of Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, has perhaps the best advice:

I think you have to write about a million words to clean out the pipes. I think we are afraid of our own voices and are very self-censoring, and we write as if the book is going to publish and be read by people. Once we realize we're never going to get published and we just write; that's our voice.

That last part about never going to be published is a hard one to hear. But it is a necessary obstacle to overcome mentally. If we write to please someone else, to serve a certain demographic, we are doomed. Because that isn't our voice - that's a voice that's bending to the authority figures. As Joseph Campbell says,

When I'm writing, I think of the whole academic world: I know how they think about this material and it is not the same way I think about it. I just have to say: Let the guillotine come down. You are still going to have this message. I always feel as if I am going thorough the Clashing Rocks, and they are just about to close, but I manage to get through before I let that thought overcome me. It's a very strange process: actually holding that door open and getting the sentences out. Do not think about the negative side. There will bw negatives that are going to come down, but you have to hold the door open if you are going to do anything that has not been done before. You have to suspend all criticism to do your work. In writing, you have to do this all the time in order to get the sentence out. Suspending criticism is killing the dragon Thou Shalt. 

Kill him. 

I've completed my manuscript. I've read it over countless times, polished and edited it to where I feel it's ready to go. This book is my voice, and I guess it shouldn't come as a surprise that my protagonist is named Kalliope. I didn't choose the name because of its meaning, it just came to me. Serendipitously. The Universe always seems to be nudging us towards what we need to learn. And so we must learn to not be afraid of speaking our truth and being heard. We must begin the work of rediscovering our voice. It's down there, somewhere, waiting for us to reclaim it.
Me, with my voice intact at an early age

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