Five Feminist Ancestors You Can Summon to Banish Winter SADz

Call it Seasonal Affective Disorder, or as we like to call it in the House, “The SADz”. Or call it lotska, the Russian practice among peasants to align with nature and literally sleep through winter. The winter solstice approaches, and despite the long hours of darkness most of us still have to blunder through our days ignoring mental urges to disappear into a dark cave with a fluffy blanket and a three-month’s supply of macaroni and cheese.

But when you have to drag your sunlight-deprived, vitamin-D deficient butt out of bed to work, care of children, or –for those in worst case scenarios—bathe, I recommend an equally natural way to align with the solstice and move with a purpose: get in touch with your inner-pagan and summon some bad ass ancestors for aid.

Summoning ancestors doesn’t require a lot of effort, which makes this a perfect activity for those who haven’t the energy to open an eyelid, much less create an altar or an incense portal. It can be done with eyes closed (PERFECT!) and a simple call (NOT EVEN ALOUD!) to those who’ve tread the earth before you. All you need to do, as you lay in bed in stark terror or utter apathy, is ask for help.

Emma Goldman commands you to get your ass out of bed.
Emma Goldman commands you to get your ass out of bed.

Why, just yesterday morning I found myself near panic at the thought of a shower, but I had work to do. Serious work. So I summoned Emma Goldman, the Russian anarchist who, in the early 1900’s, lectured and wrote tirelessly on social justice topics. (I had some work to do to support low-income mothers accessing higher education that day, so she seemed like a good choice.)

Immediately upon summoning, and using no special language other than, “Emma Goldman, please help me get the fuck out of bed,” I felt an urgency to get the fuck out of bed. The thought of Emma Goldman hanging out in my bedroom, full of restless energy, compelled me to push through—on her behalf—to continue what she could no longer do.

Also, I admit, that feeling of disappointing a radical Russian anarchist lit a fire under my ass.

But Who Should I Summon?

Not sure who to summon when you find yourself succumbing to the riptide of winter bleakness? Here are a few handy suggestions:


MAYA ANGELOU

Let Maya Angelou whisper into your ear.
Let Maya Angelou whisper into your ear.

Our recently departed warrior of words will inspire you to get up and get moving if you can just imagine her Southern voice, deep enough to rattle your spine, murmuring just for you:

I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

– excerpt: “Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou


 JOAN OF ARC

YOU'RE having a bad day??
YOU’RE having a bad day??

Not Catholic? Not religious? Doesn’t matter. This girl held onto her beliefs like a lock jawed barracuda. Picture her in the armor worn exclusively by men at the time, asking you to repeat her famous lines: “I am not afraid… I was born to do this.”

Then mine your wardrobe for metallic embellishments and pointy edges to don for the day’s battle.


QUEEN VICTORIA

Your winter SADz require more "royal" than Queen Bey can handle? Here's your woman.
Your winter SADz require more “royal” than Queen Bey can handle? Here’s your woman.

After the death of her beloved Albert, Victoria went into deep mourning, neglecting her duties and languishing in despair.

But is she known for that? No.

After she got out of bed, she defined an era in her name. She busted up parliament, laid down the law, and ruled over an era of prosperity and innovation. She wasn’t the most progressive woman in history, but she championed self-determination.

Call upon this matriarch when you need empathy, not sympathy, followed by tough love like this: “We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat. They do not exist.”

Then spend the rest of the day talking about yourself in the third person or using the “Royal ‘We’” mode, i.e. “We are not amused.”


SOJOURNER TRUTH

Scaring men into doing the right thing since 1870.
Scaring men into doing the right thing since 1851.

Born to slave parents, relatively little about Sojourner Truth’s life was easy. She fled her deceptive freedom-promising master with her infant, then went on the lecture circuit with abolitionists.

At six-feet tall, she towered over delegates at the 1851 Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio, to deliver her famous speech:

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I could have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man-when I could get it- and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman?

-excerpt, “Ain’t I a Woman,” Sojourner Truth

Summon Sojourner when you need a righteous voice to make it through your day.


YOUR GRANDMOTHER

Not dead yet? Then summon your great-grandmother. And all your grandmothers before her. Summon them all to your bedside and hear their call to RISE AND SHINE. Feel that energy flowing, that need arising to make them proud… or to prove them wrong. Whatever works.


Who will you summon when you need to beat the SADz? The majestic ruler, the activist, the warrior, the righteous voice, the blood ancestor?

Whomever you choose, remember to offer your thanks. Nothing beats that end-of-the-day nod to your badass spirit guide when they finally deliver you, empowered and empowering, back to the loving folds of your fuzzy blanket for a long winter’s nap.

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