Dinner with Ladies
Art by Roland Winkhart
Ensio Kataja sent me a challenge to take part in spreading a meme. It´s about six historical women I would like to dine with. I thought about this while having my morning coffee and ended up having two saints, a queen, a witch, a countess and a fashion designer on my list. Here´s the list, in chronological historical order.
Saint Birgitta (Saint, mystic, pilgrim, and founder of the Bridgettine Order. 1303-1373 CE). Without doubt, Saint Birgitta was one of the most powerful women in Europe during her lifetime. My childhood´s hometown Naantali would not be what it is today without Saint Birgitta´s visions. No matter what kind of magic this might be called, it nevertheless was very antinomian in its time and it brought some concrete results (that I do appreciate) into the world. I would like to learn from Saint Birgitta about working against established social order and about spirit of dedication and will. Without doubt we would also have an interesting theological debate.
Karin Månsdotter (Queen of Sweden, wife of Eric XIV, king of Sweden. 1550-1612 CE). Here´s another lady who has something to do with the places I have lived in. Karin entered the Swedish court with low status. She saw some really hard times during her life, some of them in the prison of the Turku castle (which is not too far away from where I am living currently). Karin lived the latter part of her life in Finland and was well loved here, contributing notably to the Finnish culture. She is buried in the cathedral of Turku. I find her extraordinary rite of passage into the Swedish court and her endurance of her life´s trials fascinating, and her influence on Finnish culture noble. She must have been a strong yet humble person with a good heart, someone to admire and certainly learn a thing or two from.
Marketta Punasuomalainen (Convicted witch. 1610-1658 CE). Marketta Punasuomalainen was a nature healer from Vaasa, West of Finland, who lived largely on begging. She had a reputation of being a witch and she apparently also used this to boost her success as a healer. She was beheaded as a witch after being convicted of using magic in killing two men, causing illnesses and spoiling beer. As such, she was one of the first witches sentenced to death in Finland during the witch trials of the 17th century. This date for a dinner would be very different from the first two names on my list. Marketta could give a very interesting and different perspective to what life was like during those times and what the religious atmosphere was like back then. I would also like to get a first-hand account of a witch-trial from someone who was convicted as a witch. If Marketta Punasuomalainen would accept my invitation she would be welcome to take Marketta Parkoinen (another witch who lost her head due to witchcraft in the same place and the same day as Marketta Punasuomalainen) with her to the dinner. Background reading for this dinner: Malleus Maleficarum.
Julia Ostrowska (Countess, a member of the Czar’s court, G.I. Gurdjieff’s wife. 1889-1926 CE). A woman who was G.I. Gurdjieff´s wife must have been very interesting individual in her own right as well. Meeting her would probably also tell me such things about one my greatest heroes that James Webb (author of The Harmonious Circle) or nobody else could tell. Besides all the Fourth Way stuff I would like to ask her what St. Petersburg was like in 1912 CE when she married Gurdjieff there. Around that time I had relatives who regularly visited St. Petersburg and I am amused about the idea that they could have seen this just married remarkable couple there. If Julia would accept my invitation, I would be happy if she would take Jeanne de Salzmann (1889-1990 CE), another Fourth Way legend, with her to the dinner.
Leila Ida Nerrissa Waddell (Thelemic saint and priestess, violinist, and love of Aleister Crowley. 1880–1932 CE). Leila Waddell must have been a special individual in her own right just like Julia Ostrowska, although they both are generally known via other people. Evidently, Waddell was of enormous inspiration to Aleister Crowley. Waddell must have been a powerful woman, probably one of those who had most power to effect the Great Beast´s inner life. I would like to talk with her about music and magick and hear her views about fylgja and optimal dynamics involved. Being a saint Leila Waddell was a bit different from saint Birgitta - the thelemic saint is known to have said It's nice to be a devil when you're one like me.
Coco Chanel (Fashion designer, couturier. 1883-1971 CE). Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel had something in common with Karin Månsdotter. They both had some really tough times in their lives and they both survived those times with success. I grew up spending lots of time in my mother´s sewing room. I got familiar with different clothes, buttons, zippers, and the rest, you name it. I bet there were no other young man in the city who knew better the latest fashion magazines, Finnish and foreign, than I did. As a teenager I almost decided to follow my mother´s (and her father´s) footsteps into the world of fashion and clothes, but the philosophical spark that Friedrich Nietzsche had hammered out of my young long-haired head had started to burn fiercely and books won clothes on the cosmic scales. I would like to talk with Chanel about how to get things done when there is huge amount of opposition, how to bring something new into the world. She would also be welcome to give me few tips on how to update my garderobe. And of course, I would be happy to thank this Maga of fashion for bringing Chanel Platinum Egoiste into the world – I have weared it almost exclusively since I was around 17 years old.
Having finished my list here, I throw this same challenge to my friend Petri Laakso.