Owls and flowers, a divided self

I first encountered Blodeuwedd as a child, and was instantly struck by the woman who is made of flowers and turned into an owl. From very early on I understood flowers as pretty, delicate, socially acceptable femininity. Owls were clearly dangerous – night creatures, predators, pointy and unacceptable. I was already encountering issues with my own unacceptability.

Through my teens, I focused on trying to keep the flower face visible, and to hide my owls. I found that my ideas, passions, hungers, needs were all things the people around me didn’t much like. I tucked them away. Somewhere around that time I also encountered the language of seelie and unseelie, and that seemed like a good match, too. I have my acceptable, hard working, house elf seelie self, and my dark, unspeakable other half. I became increasingly troubled by my unseelie owl side, and kept on squashing it down.

It’s only as that side of me resurfaces that I properly appreciate what it is. Much of my confidence, my ease in my own body, my sexuality and passion is tied up with my unseelie side. Wicked humour, and a willingness to be considerably less gentle with people who mess me about. Self defence, and self assertion, going after what I want and need for me, rather than what everyone else wants and needs… these are the things a younger me deemed unacceptable and hid away in the darkness and did not speak of.

The best of my creative energy comes from the parts of me that I’ve deliberately suppressed. Perhaps it has an impact on my physical energy too – that remains to be seen. My scope to be fierce, intense, full on, and to feel more wholly myself is part of what I have called my unseelie side.

I have ventured to let parts of this out before, in brief, uneasy forays, and then watched people I loved back away from me. I had considered this part of me unlovable. This time, as I’ve started easing off the mute button, and taking off the flower mask, I’ve found welcome and encouragement for what’s underneath. This is the point in the story when I get to say yes, you wanted me to be flowers, because that was easy and convenient for you. I am not what you wanted to turn me into. I am myself, and I have claws.

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About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

17 responses to “Owls and flowers, a divided self

  • lornasmithers

    Oooh I do like this way of looking at Blodeuwedd’s mythos. I guess you’ve read Alan Garner’s ‘The Owl Service’ which provides a beautifully sinister portrayal of Blodeuwedd who doesn’t seem to have much choice about whether to be flowers or owls… I wouldn’t have thought to link it to seelie/unseelie. I don’t think I’ve ever been a flower maiden or had a house elf seelie self. Maybe that’s why I find Blodeuwedd as a whole difficult to connect to. I’ve always felt more at home with the clawed dusky creatures!

  • Wol Ulchabhan

    Oodles of goodies in this. Love it! Surely you know of Jung and The Shadow? Embracing the Shadow is a good and necessary thing. But Oi Vey! How some folks back away! And it stings deeply when it those closest to us who do so.
    Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. Of course, I am biased. You had me with the “Owl” part. (For a clue, see if thee can Kythe my name!)
    Shalom!

  • Jim Verheiden

    Yea babe, no emotional prostitution. Let’s be ourselves and speak about wherever, whenever and whatever we want. Fuck the rest of the world. Isn’t? Of course, you are the will of the strong. You said you have the claws. You the alpha predator. That one we must avoid and don’t mess up.
    Oh, my dear. What about love. I’m an incorrigible romantic till the end. And I know that it only happen one time in our lifetime. How blind we are? We seek so meticulously in everywhere for our “true love” through the years… and we fucking miss the opportunity. We turned our backs without knowing how to recognize it.
    The Love. We lost it. Now we are alone. We have as company, beyond this personal computer screen some wicked humor and sometimes even despising people inside of our darkness thoughts. We are so fucking wise, isn’t? Sadly wise and alone. Now we are some sort of spare tire stored in the trunk of the car. In the dark. While the others still riding their journeys in the light. Taking chances. Because there are no scprits ready in this life. Where we just only need follow the instructions. Like roads opened. No my dear. Life is like a closed forest. We need open our own way with our own barely hands. There is no safe journey in this path called life and love. No excuses and sarcasms to deal with our own mistakes. Life goes on and on.

  • Cadno Ddraig

    Excellent. Been on a similar journey myself. Not at all easy.

  • BeckiesMentalMess.wordpress.com

    You can’t make all of the people happy all of the time. Whats the most important is accepting yourself, and be happy in your body, mind, heart & soul.
    Excellent piece.
    Beckie

  • ninamgeorge

    So much to identity with you in this… I’ve always seen the tale like this… also makes me think of the saying of what little girls are made of (sugar and spice and all things nice), with no option to be anything else (slugs, snails and puppy dog tales)… I love that Blodeuwedd doesn’t stay all flowery as bidden… that she does her own thing/is a complete bitch… and how to access that in ourselves… thank you, love it…

  • Tom W.

    This post moved me. Thank you for sharing. It’s all about balance. Being ‘the nice guy’ who was told that we are supposed to ‘finish last’ I had to develop what I’ve come to call the FUA: F-ck You Attitude. It is wonderfully liberating in moderation but difficult to switch on and just as difficult to switch off. The owl I see is the owl in the Rats of Nimh. Just as the great oak stands in the light yet is firmly rooted in dark soil, all-encompassing compassion grows from absolute detachment (Zen has its own FUA sometimes, doesn’t it?).

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