Tisiphone is one of the Erinnyes (Furies) in ancient Greece, sister of Alecto and Megaera. Her purview was to punish murderers, including those who killed parents or siblings. But as Ovid tells the story (Metamorphosis 4), Tisiphone brings about murder at the behest of Juno/Hera. She drives king Athamas mad and causes him to kill his children. He sees his wife Ino and their children as a lioness and her cubs, and smashes his son’s head on a rock. Ino grabs her daughter, runs away to the top of a cliff, and jumps into the sea.
This is the base story, which was resurrected in medieval Europe during the revival of Greek and Roman literature, and remythologized according to western European witch archetypes. Here is the first image that I came across, which had no visible connection to Greco-Roman mythology, since everyone is dressed in 15th century French garb. Tisiphone is no longer a goddess, but a witch holding two winged dragons (mischievous and adorable). She is shown causing Athamas to slay his family (wife as well as both children, thus diverging from the ancient story).
Suppressed Histories Archive : The Suppressed Histories Archives uncovers the realities of women’s lives, internationally and across time, asking questions about patriarchy and slavery, conquest and aboriginality. About mother-right, female spheres of power, indigenous philosophies of spirit– and the historical chemistry of their repression. Even more important, their role in resisting oppression. A global perspective on women’s history offers fresh and diverse conceptions of women’s power, as well as of men and gender borders. It overturns stereotypes of race and class, and the structures of domination that enforce them. It digs under the usual story of lords and rulers, looking for hidden strands, and reweaves knowledge from the divided fields of history, archaeology, linguistics and folk tradition. So we cast a wide arc, looking for patterns and gaps and contradictions which, where vested power interests are at stake, are trigger points for controversy. Some of the flashpoints are women’s power; neolithic female figurines; gender-egalitarian mother-right cultures; patriarchy; witch-hunts; “heresies” such as goddess veneration or shamans; and the rise and fall of empires, including the doctrines of supremacy and inferiority that prop up all systems of domination.
On 17 December 1869 twelve-year-old Sarah Jacob, the daughter of a Welsh farmer, died of starvation and dehydration. She did so in the midst of plenty, watched over by several adults, including members of the medical professional, who were seeking to ascertain whether or not Jacob could live without food and drink.
In the two years leading up her death Jacob’s parents were insistent that their daughter required no earthly sustenance whatsoever. Her father even went so far as to claim that to feed Sarah would kill her. She became a national celebrity, receiving visitors who saw her as a living saint. Yet it took only eight days of observation, during which she could no longer access whatever nourishment she had till then been taking in secret, to kill her.
In her last days Jacob stole a bottle of eau de cologne from one of the nurses observing her, concealing it under one arm. She also managed to open a stone hot water bottle using her toe, but it spilled over her bed before she was able to drink the contents. She was clearly very desperate, yet under intense pressure from so many credulous observers, she could not reveal the most obvious of truths: that she was not a heavenly being, but an earthly child with basic physical needs. …
Cross-posted from: Mairi Voice
Originally published: 21.09.16
“Most important the figure of the witch…in this volume is placed at the center-stage, as the embodiment of a world of female subjects that capitalism had to destroy; the heretic, the healer, the disobedient wife, the woman who dared to live alone, the obeha woman who poisoned the master’s food and inspired the slaves to revolt.” (p.1)
I have just finished reading this fascinating and excellent work.
I am avid enthusiast of the need for the reclaiming of women’s history and the necessity to document and learn about women’s past roles in our history. So it was with excitement that I came across this important work.
I thought it was time for another look at real cases that have their echoes in classic films. Last time I wrote about lost Lon Chaney film London After Midnight and it’s connection to the rather tragic case of Julia Mangan, killed by the obviously disturbed Robert Williams. This time we’re sticking with a horror film but the story has more than a whiff of the supernatural – the link might be quite rather tenuous but I’m going with it. It’s a great film and the cases that echo through the story are fascinating ones. Read more It’s in the trees…it’s coming…