Mythic Wisdom: A Greek Author’s Perspective

Connecting the past with the present has always been a powerful experience for me, maybe because I live in a land rich in history. In this blog I am going to explore a variety of topics, which I find deeply meaningful: women’s roles, gender and sexuality issues, activism, goddesses and gods, etc. By examining myths, symbols, and archetypal figures, I feel that we gain a fresh perspective on our lives and society. Ancient history, art, and literature can become amazing sources of inspiration. By learning from the wisdom of the past, we can transform ourselves and the world we live in.

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The Pandemic and the Magic of Solidarity

How can we deal with the coronavirus pandemic while also pursuing our dreams of a different world? Here are some thoughts from an introvert spiritual activist.

Greece too has been affected by the novel coronavirus pandemic, just like many other countries. Every day we hear about the growing number of those infected and those killed by the virus. Hospitals are already overloaded. We’re repeatedly warned to stay at home and those who venture outside without proper justification have to pay a fine. Restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and most retail stores have closed and the whole country is under lockdown. The police are everywhere in downtown Athens and our civil liberties have been significantly curtailed

Our everyday life has been seriously disrupted and many people are losing their livelihood. Others are forced to stay at home with toxic partners or relatives while relationship abuse is escalating. Mental health issues had already been on the rise during the 10 years of recession; now they are being exacerbated by fear, stress and loneliness.

I feel lucky because for years I’ve been working from home. I’m an introvert and I live alone by choice; thus, physical distancing isn’t particularly hard for me. I count my blessings because over the years I’ve learned how to turn loneliness into solitude. With lots of practice, I’ve developed the precious skill of meeting my own emotional needs by meditating and generating plenty of self-love. It hasn’t always been easy.

Staying at home comes naturally to me—my house is my temple and I’m its priestess. I feel an affinity with Hestia, the Greek Goddess of the Hearth; she may be little known today, but in antiquity she was the first to be given offerings in any ritual. Hers was the sacred fire of the city. She was the eldest of the Olympians and a virgin as she chose to never marry. Virginity, from a psychological perspective, is not a physical state but a demonstration of independence. For feminist Jungians, she symbolizes the archetype of the Self, being complete in herself.

Jean Shinoda Bolen, a Jungian analyst and one of my favorite authors, has written extensively about the Hestia archetype in her books Goddesses in Everywoman and Goddesses in Older Women. She points out that the Hestia archetype is also manifest in the women who choose to become nuns. Interestingly, an old friend used to tease me by calling me “Sister Harita.” In a way, he was right: I sometimes feel like a hermit, withdrawn from the hustle and bustle of mundane life. My home is my sanctuary where I can feel safe. In it I can distance myself from the chaos around me and focus on my inner world. In a sense, staying at home these days feels like a gift that allows me to deepen my spirituality and practice self-care.

Finding inner peace amid a chaotic situation is no small feat, but I can’t allow myself to fall into escapism. During these harsh times, caring for others is just as important as caring for ourselves. The pandemic has highlighted how we’re all interdependent; now we can clearly see how one’s health condition can affect that of others. We no longer have the luxury of ignoring other people’s suffering.

I have been an anti-racist activist for a long time, so I know firsthand that one of the most vulnerable groups is the population of refugees. Thousands of people from Syria, Iran, Afghanistan and other places have arrived in our country in recent years; Greek governments have put many of them in crowded camps, where they mostly live in tents, with little access to basic hygiene and healthcare. In the time of the novel coronavirus, it’s only a matter of time that this situation will turn into a bomb, not just for refugees but for all of us. To avoid this catastrophe, the anti-racist movement is demanding that the government provide safe housing for all. You can read more about this situation here. (Please consider signing the petition by filling out the form on the bottom of the page. Every signature matters!)

The pandemic has exposed many of the weaknesses of the social and economic system we live in; healthcare is exploited for profit, public hospitals have been left underfunded, and countless lives are put at risk. But the problem goes a lot deeper. Rob Wallace, an evolutionary biologist and public health phylogeographer, has shown in his book Big Farms Make Big Flu how capitalism creates modern epidemics. In an interview entitled “Where did coronavirus come from, and where will it take us?” he points out the following:

Capital is spearheading land grabs into the last of primary forest and smallholder-held farmland worldwide. These investments drive the deforestation and development leading to disease emergence. The functional diversity and complexity these huge tracts of land represent are being streamlined in such a way that previously boxed-in pathogens are spilling over into local livestock and human communities.

In other words, big companies invading forests aren’t only destroying nature; they’re also exposing humans to viruses they would have never contracted otherwise. Wallace also highlights in his book how large-scale agribusiness, which includes the meat industry, contributes to the creation and propagation of new diseases: large numbers of domesticated animals crammed together (think of thousands of chickens one right next to the other) lead to high rates of transmission and weakened immune systems.

It’s easy to sink into despair when considering how the kind of world we live in leads to disease, destruction and death. But the pandemic also has its positive side. Strikes are happening in many countries around the world as workers realize that their working conditions are putting their lives are at risk. Here in Greece many people are stepping up to stand in solidarity with others any way they can. Some of them are feeding the homeless or providing care to those who are disabled. Others venture into the world to do activism while taking all possible safety measures (masks, antiseptics, etc.).

Thousands of people are signing petitions, speaking out on behalf of all those whose bosses make them work in unsafe conditions. Doctors, nurses and other hospital workers have been mobilizing to demand adequate funding for the National Health System so they can stay safe and keep saving lives. They’re gaining wider support since “Health Before Profit” is a demand that can unite all of us, no matter which part of the planet we inhabit.

No matter how catastrophic the pandemic currently seems, we need to remember that every crisis has the potential to transform us, as well as the world we live in. We can see these harsh times as an ordeal of initiation that can eventually make us stronger and more compassionate. We may be staying at home, but we also need to stay active and work towards social change.

How to do that? Luckily, we live in the era of the Internet. Instead of feeling isolated and helpless, we can be in touch with countless other people who share our concerns and are taking action. Blogs, apps, websites, social media, and email lists can become our magical tools through which we can make our voices heard and stand in solidarity with each other. Let’s take advantage of this opportunity to show that it’s possible to create a different world, where people’s lives matter more than profit. What could be more magical?

How are people in your town, city or country standing in solidarity with each other? Please let me know in the comments. Also, if you have found this article helpful, please consider sharing it on social media.

Recommended Reading

(I have compiled a short list of the most interesting articles I found regarding the origin of the pandemic and the course of action that should be taken. If you find them valuable, please share them.)

Choonara, Joseph. 2020. “Socialism in a time of pandemics.” Last modified on March 22, 2020.
Rosenthal, Susan. 2020. “A Socialist Response To Covid-19.” Susan Rosenthal. Last modified March 15, 2020.
Rosenthal, Susan. 2020. “COVID-19: A Question of Power.” Susan Rosenthal. Last modified April 8, 2020.
Spinney, Laura. 2020. “Is factory farming to blame for coronavirus?” The Guardian. Last modified on March 28, 2020.
Wallace, Rob [interview]. 2020. “Pandemic strike.” Uneven Earth. Last modified on March 16, 2020.

Top image: photo by Evgeni Tcherkasski on Unsplash

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Harita Meenee is a Greek independent scholar of classical studies and women’s history. Her graduate studies were in the field of archetypal and women’s psychology. She works as a writer, translator and editor while also being a human rights activist. Harita has presented cultural TV programs and has lectured at universities in Greece and the US. She is the author of five books, as well as of numerous articles and essays published in Hellenic and international anthologies and magazines.


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