Sunday, April 30, 2023

The Mystique of the Woman Warrior by Elizabeth Clark-Stern

 The Mystique of the Woman Warrior                      

by Elizabeth Clark-Stern



 She is legend from the dawn of time: an army of women, strong, brave, caring nothing for fashion or male approval, advancing out of the mist to protect her community, her female sovereignty, her very life. From ancient Greece we have the myth the playwright Aeschylus called, “The warring Amazons. Men-haters.” Sadly this anti-male stigma prevails even in our modern time, where women who display Amazon-like qualities--confidence, independence, certainty, and, yes, fury--are condemned by people of both sexes who are intimidated by female power.

 Yet, I argue that even people who are threatened by strong women are fascinated by the “otherness” of a band of female warriors. Why? What makes them so different from a band of brothers? Does it have to do with our deeply engrained cultural expectations: men do the fighting, women stay home? Or does it go deeper than cultural conditioning, into the deepest longing of our souls?

 In her essay, Structural Forms of the Feminine Psyche, Toni Wolff gives us clues. Arguably a warrior herself at the dawn of the creation of the science of psychology, Ms. Wolff wrote and first delivered this paper in 1934 at the Psychological Club in Zurich. She was an intimate and collaborator of Dr. Carl Jung, though the title of collaborator was never given to her in her lifetime. She was known more notoriously as his secret lover in a relationship that spanned forty years, alongside his marriage to Emma Jung. One glance at this essay, and an investigation of her life, reveals a woman of brilliant intellect and sensuality who served as Jung’s analyst during his mental collapse after the breakup with Freud.

 Ms. Wolff writes, “For self-knowledge and self-realization, it is important to understand structural forms of the psyche that may or may not correspond to the cultural period concerned. “ 

 Deep within our unconscious mind, archetypal structures have a life of their own that may be in conflict with external cultural or familial expectations. This has caused a great deal of anxiety, depression, and mental confusion in women  in whom the external role was dictated by society for a life of devotion to motherhood and family and nothing else. And yet, there she is, from antiquity: the Amazon, beguiling us not only as a myth, but as a vibrant archetype in our very souls.

Ms. Wolf writes, “She is independent of the male, because her development is not based upon a psychological relationship to him. Her interest is directed towards objective achievements which she wants to accomplish for herself.”

 If we look at Toni Wolff’s perceptions in light of revolutionary thinking about gender in our modern world, it is important to know that the archetype of the Amazon is a symbol of qualities that apply to a human of any gender, sexual orientation, trans-gender, or non-binary. You don’t have to identify as female to comprehend that there is a longing for wholeness in the psyche of every human being. In Ms. Wolff’s view, this wholeness is embarked upon when we become aware of structural forms within our psyches, ie, the Amazon, the Mother, the Medial Woman (one who mediates between the world of the psyche and the material world) and the Hetaira, one who has the ability to awaken creativity and originality and lead people beyond societal restrictions to the formation of the total personality.

What if the fascination with the woman warrior is a call to the heart of our souls to become unpredictable, bold, original, and true to our deepest nature? We see evidence of this fascination in our cultural media today. The brilliant Netflix film The Woman King has appeal for humans of all genders and sexual orientations. I watched it with two gay men, who were captivated. For my dime, the part of the story I loved the most was the relationships, those between the women warriors, the fierce young warrior trainee and the clueless but well-meaning Portuguese man and, most wonderfully, the mother and daughter who struggle to find love.  To me these relationships showed the full spectrum of a warrior woman, taking down the “man-hater,” stereotype of Aeschylus and showing us fully integrated, fully original human beings.

 I confess to a bias in this regard. Relationships are at the core of my novel, The Language of Water (Aqueduct Press, May 1. 2023 release) which features the women of the Kurdish YPJ in the northern Syrian province of Rojava. Our setting is 2100, a world teaming with too much water or, in Rojava, far too little. A war commences between the women warriors of the YPJ and the woman president of Turkey, a powerful and conflicted woman who controls the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates. At stake is the health of planet, the lives of thousands of “water refugees,” and the fate of patriarchal values that have ruled our planet for millennia.

Be on the lookout for women warriors in your life: the office manager who commands and organizes with brilliant authority, the mom on the playground who starts up a creative activity that inspires all the children, the basketball player who raises money for Ukraine. Explore how observing Amazons in life and art can bring you closer to the soul-making archetype deep within, an adventure into wholeness that can bring substantial rewards.

 Elizabeth's debut novel, The Language of Water, will be released on May 1 from Aqueduct Press.



Sunday, April 16, 2023

Numinous Stones by Holly Lyn Walrath


 I'm pleased to announce the release of Numinous Stones, a collection of poetry by Elgin-award winning author, Holly Lyn Walrath. Although it has been previously been published in an Italian edition, this is the first English-language edition, which Aqueduct is publishing in both print and e-book editions. It's available now from Aqueduct Press at

 This haunting collection of poetry about grief and the sacred digs deep beyond a fairy-tale world into the grave. Told in the circular pantoum form, Numinous Stones is a poetic graveyard littered with horror—from sentient scarecrows to silent skeletons to scorched sacred spaces. As each line repeats, new meaning gleams like bones unearthed in a shattered realm of monsters, dark forests, and dusty ghosts.

“Walrath poetically constructs tombstones (what is poetry if not construction?) imbued with a sacred, powerful, and majestic presence that both attracts and terrifies. They are sacred tombstones that serve the poet, and we will see this in the reading of her texts to celebrate, mourn, cry out, and, finally, accept her father’s death…. The collected poems constitute a journey, a slow path that we could also define as a slow coming to consciousness. A becoming aware of a pain to be understood and experienced to be, finally, accepted.”
 —From the original Introduction by Alex Tonelli in Numinose Lapidi

"Numinous Stones is a collection of speculative pantoums, a form derived from the Malay verse pantun berkait, which is a form of interwoven verses of alternating lines. This is a difficult form to accomplish, as the repeated lines need to seem fresh each time the reader encounters them, but also echo back to the previous stanza. The tightly entwined stanzas, when executed well, create a rhythmic and incantatory experience for the audience, hypnotizing them in a sonic spell. 

Readers, if you read Numinous Stones, be prepared to be hypnotized. 

Holly Lyn Walrath has tapped into some dark subjects in these poems, and views them through a distinctly speculative lens....Overall, this is a striking collection of poetry. It’s a rich and layered collection that taps into mythic, albeit nightmarish, images, twisting and weaving them into dense, multi-layered gems."--Joshua Cage, Cemetery Dance  (read the whole review at

Read a sample from the book here:

Sunday, April 2, 2023

From Voyages Unreturning by Deborah L. Davitt



 I'm pleased to announce the release of From Voyages Unreturning, a collection of poetry by Deborah L. Davitt, in both print and e-book editions. From Voyages Unreturning is Volume 88 in our Conversation Pieces Series. You can purchase the book

From Voyages Unreturning tells the tale of a woman who sought escape from her own life. Skimming through time and space at light-speed, she comes to realize that she’s left everything that she loved behind. She forges a bond with a living ship, and together, they dare to dream that life can be more than perpetual loss.…

Read a sample from the book at

 You can purchase the book at