Wonder Woman, Leadership and Power

“………Wonder Woman’s head piece has several functions, one of which makes her invulnerable to “telepathic attacks”… (she) can resist psychic pressure from power being misused against her….. Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth, a magical golden lariat compels anyone it encircles to be truthful. And there are deep truths surfacing in these days.” Read on……

Letting go, loss and feeling lost are not commonly associated with leadership or power, but the capacity to let go, let die, and be in the unknown is a powerful and much needed aspect of feminine leadership. Wonder Woman left her home and never returned. She left everything she knew behind and stepped into an unknown “other” world.

Power dynamics and leadership are in focus these days. Curious about the roots of the words leadership, loss and lost, I found, to my surprise, the roots of all three words run back through military associations.

The etymology of the word “lead” is an Indo-European word “leith” which means to go out into the world, or to cross a threshold or, to die. It was used in times past in the context of men going off to war to fight for something greater than themselves. They, like Wonder Woman, crossed the threshold of their homes fully aware they might die and never return. It would seem that overcoming fear and stepping into the unknown is at the core of what it means to lead.

The etymology of the word “lost” goes back to an Old Norse word “los” which meant the disbanding of an army. In her book A Field Guide To Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit writes of the Old Norse word los; “….…this origin suggests soldiers falling out of formation to go home, a truce with the wide world.”

This “disbanding”, or letting go, at endings seems to me part of what’s required at every threshold in life. Long overdue is some much needed disbanding of inner armies of cultural certainty and any perceived safety in having answers. In my own experience of unknown paths, I access subtle directions wholly through the power of surrender. I’m then guided in unanticipated ways. And if I learn to trust the unforeseen, I am also sustained in unexpected ways.

Wonder Woman’s power builds at each threshold she crosses. While “lead” and “loss” appear to have masculine roots involving men and armies, the Old French use of the word armée, meaning “armed”, is feminine. This feminine word refers to a ground force operating on land. I have a sense of the word’s ancient roots in feminine power enabling creative action on behalf of the Earth herself. Gaea’s armée, valued and sustainably led into the unknown, willingly incurring necessary losses. Loss is cyclical and embodied in all life sustaining contexts.

I went to see the movie Wonder Woman. There was scant regard for symbolism and little meaningful reference to the power of her mythic back story. I felt there was a missed opportunity to portray a true Sovereign as Queen. But crucially, there was no elucidation of the power of the headpiece Wonder Woman wears or of the bands on her fore-arms. For me, they are symbols of the power of an armée.

The bands on Wonder Woman’s arms represent honed feminine capacity to connect inner power to outer action on behalf of something greater. What was portrayed in the movie is that the greater Wonder Woman’s love, the greater her access to a flow of power when she needed it. Also included in the movie was the symbolism of Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth, a magical golden lariat that compels anyone it encircles to be truthful. And there are deep truths surfacing in these days. One is that cycles of death and renewal must be respected at every level; economically, environmentally and personally. Loss and the ability to participate in cycles of return are inherent in right use of power.

Wonder Woman’s head piece symbolically has several functions, one of which makes her invulnerable to “telepathic attacks”. Wonder Woman can resist psychic pressure from power being misused against her. The head piece also allows Wonder Woman to “telepathically” connect and be receptive when she wants to. This speaks to me of an ability to hold steadfast in personal deep truth in the face of mainstream pressures. It also speaks of an ability to connect with others from a place of deep feminine authenticity and powerful vulnerability.

Wonder Woman’s origins are the Roman goddess Diana, associated with the Greek goddess Artemis. Of interest to me is a little known side story involving Demeter, Greek goddess of agriculture and fertility. The story goes that Demeter gifted Diana with strength drawn from the Earth spirit Gaea. It was this gift that gave Wonder Woman her accelerated ability to heal provided she was in physical contact with the planet.

This gift from Demeter communicates a healing, receptive, grounding force that operates only on land; an armée symbolised by Wonder Woman’s arm bands. There is that sense again of the word armée having ancient roots in feminine power that takes outer action on behalf of the Earth. Gaea’s armée willingly incurs the loss of what is no longer needed; isn’t that at the very core of profound healing? Deep healing most often isn’t pretty, but it’s always powerfully beautiful.

There is another well-known story involving arms. “Silver Hands”, also known as “The Handless Maiden”, is the story of a young girl whose hands are amputated, sacrificed by her father who makes a deal without understanding the true cost of it; his daughter’s hands and power to act on her own behalf. Is that not the story of our times? Deals are made on a daily basis, by men and women, with no respect for the undervalued feminine power to act creatively. The consequences of this are devastating and all around us.

“Silver Hands” is a tale of endurance by the daughter to heal her injured instincts and return to a life made by her own hands on her own unknown road. Importantly, her endurance isn’t for the sake of it, but is in service of crafting a hand made life of her own. She too leaves everything behind and going into the unknown, becomes a force armée, a creative power for wholeness and life. And on her journey, in the unknown, she is sustained in unexpected ways, fed by what she comes upon at each threshold. She is constantly navigating the unknown and resourced in unforeseen ways.

A feminine force armée is gathering in men and women and re-membering an innate capacity to act on behalf of right action and address harm caused. It re-enables through the re-deployment of abandoned aspects of embodied listening, heartfelt seeing and inter-connected action in service of way-finding on unknown paths. Way-finders learn early on that support and sustenance are unlikely to come in mainstream ways. But it’s there and it provides enough, for now.

Gathering inner resources to nourish and feed the necessary inner conditions that enable outer steps in the unknown is a learned art that requires a soft, steady attention. It is an art anyone can apprentice themselves to because we are each built to do what we’re here for. The challenge is that each of us is called only to our own work. So no one can know what’s ours to do, or how to do it, except us. So, we are each always in a personal unknown. What we can do is support one another in our way-finding.

Leadership relates in my experience, to private ongoing connection to a flow of power, energy, not a position of certainty. Authority comes from connection to a sense of right-place on my path that very rarely has anything to do with an outer position. In my right place I find I have access to resources that enable me to be sustained at the edges of what’s known. From my right place I find I am willing to let go and move into the unknown which only ever requires just one step. And then another. And, like Wonder Woman, when engaged in my true work, meaningfully connected to the planet, I find the healing of my injured instincts and capacity is accelerated.

There’s a flow at the edges of things not present in the more formal settings of mainstream, much of which is in dissolution anyway. Out on the edges, stories nourish, work heals and small groups of people led by an inner call to gather around a crackling fire of inherent purpose are fed deeply. Authentic leaders may have much in common with powerful healers.

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