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Female Sovereignty and Erasure

I have a notion for a ritual, y’all. Right now I’m reading a biography of Hatshepsut, and it got me thinking about all the ways in which women and women’s power has been erased from history.

I’ll start with Freyja, because not long ago, She told me to know Her as Syr, and damned if I could find anything about Syr other than its name meaning, which is sow. I found another Freyjaswoman who does work with this aspect, and said that as she understands Syr, that She is a goddess of sovereignty.

We don’t even know Freyja’s “real” name. We know so little about most of the Goddesses of the Northern Tradition. Power and sovereignty has been stolen from Them, and in turn, it’s robbed us of our sense of sovereignty.

And it’s true of ancestral sovereigns too – the history left on King Hatshepsut is scattered, unreliable, and often incredibly biased and sexist.

I’m thinking about doing an ancestral working for the Forgotten Female Sovereigns.

Cleopatra, renowned for her beauty, despised for her cunning.

Wu Zetian, Emperor of China.

Queen Jezebel, murdered for being a polytheist.

Rani of Jhansi, queen of resistance to capitalism and imperialism.

Queen Elizabeth I, for people worry more about her virginity than her accomplishments.

Anne Boleyn, for people ignore her good works and her devotion to the Reformation.

Zenobia of Palmyra (yes, that one that was just defaced)

I looked for Native American and Native Mexican queens and there is an incredible lack of information, which I find depressing, but if anyone has names of someone that they’d like honored as a female sovereign, I’m all ears. I’d also really like more African queen names –I’ve got a couple Egyptians on there but Africa’s a big ass continent; we could certainly have more.

For my own ritual, I’m also going to honor matriarchs in my blood family who have crossed over, and if it feels right to you, feel free to do it as well.

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Lokean nun, writer, swamp witch. Heather is a Pagan monastic, writer, editor, and mother. She has written and edited for a variety of publications and social media, including science journals, romance novels, and technology blogs. She also holds degrees in education and speech-language pathology, and has a passion for historical linguistics.


  • Anthony Gresham
    Anthony Gresham Tuesday, 10 November 2015

    Hind Bint Utbah - Pagan woman who led the opposition to the muslims at the battle of Uhud.

    Check your local library and see if they have anything on Meroe or Axum I believe one or both of them had powerful female sovereigns. One of whom established religious freedom for Jews, Christians and Pagans.

  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia Wednesday, 11 November 2015

    Hi Heather! I love the idea of your Working. Count me in. And if you want to do a guest post at Between the Shadows about it, I'd love to host you. I'll do some digging; Hatshepsut is one of my favourite historical figures; and indeed, in many ways an idol. But there are so few such stories that have come to us. Others that come to mind: Catherine the Great, enlightened despot, who steered the helm for the Golden Age of Russia and who, among other things, presided over the establishment of the first state-financed institute of higher learning for women. Boudicca, Celtic Queen whose act of rebellion and vengeance against Rome is remembered as being one of the most badass acts of rebellion in history. Or how about Queen Victoria, Empress of the greatest empire in human history? (Or maybe they don't count as "forgotten?")

  • Heather Freysdottir
    Heather Freysdottir Wednesday, 11 November 2015

    I'd love to, Sable!

    Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I certainly aren't forgotten, but some of the things that people remember them for aren't flattering and are often sexist - Anne in particular is treated like a sexpot instead of a religious reformer. So I don't think they have to be completely forgotten; I just want their accomplishments celebrated.

  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia Wednesday, 11 November 2015

    You're so right about the portrayal of Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I in particular.

    Cool! Okay, send me what you want me to print, and I'll print it, with a link back here or to your blog, and a blurb with your bio. I have a contact form at my website to send me email (would just post it here but dislike data-mining bots; hope that's okay). :)

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