Thirsty for a Fresh Take on All Things True Blood?

WELCOME! Thirsty for a fresh take on all things True Blood? Pull up a virtual barstool at the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern where sisters Rachel and Rebecca are serving up juicy feminist analysis with a twist and opening a vein of thoughtful sociocultural dialogue on HBO's hit series.

Like the epic literary salons of eras past - theaters for conversation and debate which were, incidentally, started and run by women; where the spirited debate about the issues of the day ran as copiously as the actual spirits did - but updated for the digital age, the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern is a fun forum for exploring questions ripe for discourse about the human condition & today's most crucial social issues through the medium of True Blood.

Your salonnières are not peddling liquor per se, but they are offering up new and alternative ideas informed by such diverse influences as pop culture, art, music, cultural history, Goddess studies, transformative theory, literature and poetry, and archaeomythology, filtered through the sieve of their own lived experiences as feminist women of a particular age, background, and culture.

This is a space where you - patrons and passersby alike - can view and engage with these perspectives through the lens of True Blood and contribute your own thoughts. So, no matter if you're a Truebie or a more casual viewer of True Blood, or your drink of choice is a pomegranate martini - one of Rachel's favorite cocktails to drink and Rebecca's to mix - an herbal tea, a frothy double mocha latte, or a can of Fresca (wink, wink) you're invited to join the conversation on the show's complexities in a way that can spark transformation.

Hopefully you'll find something to sink your teeth...err...straw, into! PLEASE ENJOY RESPONSIBLY ;-)


The Pierced Pomegranate Tavern is dedicated to exploring social issues and more through the lens of True Blood. As such, you may encounter:

related to the often provocative and adult themes presented by the show

If you choose to enter and participate in this virtual salon, please be prepared to do so in a thoughtful, respectful, and mature fashion with the above in mind. Click here to check out our comment policy. Thanks!


No copyright infringement is intended, all rights to True Blood belong to HBO, credit is ascribed to sites where images appearing here were originally found.

Monday, February 28, 2011

It's Still the Month of Love...For All!

All over town today I saw St. Patrick's Day flags flying; it's an encouraging sign of spring but it's too soon...don't get me wrong, I want to see the patches of snow here and there along with their larger, more imposing dirty pile counterparts dotting the neighborhood melt away as much as the next girl,'s still the month of love!

I can't bring myself to put out the greens until the first day of March, and while that's right around the corner, let's stay in the present -  like it or not, February is for Valentines.

I know that V-day (pun intended!!!) has both supporters and detractors, but it can't be denied that the month of cupid, chocolate and flowers kicks our culture into overdrive for the ideal of romantic love; an ideal that is usually represented in a manner consistent with heteronormativity.

That's where GLAAD comes in...
You may know that True Blood has been nominated for a GLAAD Media Award in the category of Outstanding Drama Series. YAY TB!

Put on by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) (a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote understanding, increase acceptance and advance equality by amplifying the voice of the LGBT community, empowering real people to share their stories, holding the media accountable for the words and images they present, and helping grassroots organizations communicate effectively) the GLAAD Media Awards are  - according to the organization - the largest, most visible LGBT gala in the nation. And this year, GLAAD is celebrating it's 25th Anniversary with awards shows held in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco bringing 5,000 attendees, corporate partners and celebrities together to recognize outstanding representations of the LGBT community in the media and GLAAD's vital work to achieve full equality.

While I was checking out GLAAD's website for information on the New York awards show (who knows, the PPT may have to make an appearance on the scene ;-) I discovered a timely piece on Valentine's Day; it's a resource kit for crafting V-Day coverage that integrates LGBT couples' romantic celebrations. While aimed at the media, I think it's such a great resource for everyone - a real awareness and sensitivity raiser - that I've pasted some of it below; click here for the whole thing, plus links to local and national organizations and resources for marriage, marriage equality, civil unions, and commitment ceremonies:

Valentine's Day Media Resource Kit

Valentine's Day receives a great deal of media attention. Print and electronic press outlets nationwide share stories of couples proclaiming their love and commitment for one another. However, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) couples are often excluded from Valentine's Day media coverage—and LGBT couples of color receive even less attention in both mainstream and people of color media. GLAAD hopes that the following resources will help you produce Valentine's Day stories that reflect the true diversity of our society by including LGBT couples in the coverage of this romantic holiday.


LGBT people and relationships are often excluded by the kinds of language media professionals choose to use. Consider the language used to describe couples in general: Does it assume that all couples are heterosexual? Does it allow for non-traditional families? Does it subtly endorse opposite-sex relationships while marginalizing same-sex commitments? GLAAD encourages media to use words and descriptions that can be universally applied to all couples – gay and straight – and that respect the significance of their commitments.

LGBT people use a variety of terms to describe their relationships and significant others, including: partner, spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, lover, husband/wife, companion, same gender loving couples (for couples from communities of African descent), marriage, partnership and family, among others. We encourage you to ask people which term they would like you to use. Also, please do not put quotation marks around the description, as this implies the described relationship is somehow illegitimate.

GLAAD'S Media Reference Guide contains a comprehensive glossary of LGBT-related terminology.


A growing number of newspapers are committed to reporting on weddings, civil unions and commitment ceremonies for gay and lesbian couples. In 2008, six years after persuading The New York Times to open its Weddings/Celebrations pages to same-sex couples and launching its Announcing Equality campaign, GLAAD now reports that 1,049 newspapers – nearly 72 percent of all daily newspapers in the United States – now accept wedding and/or commitment ceremony announcements for gay and lesbian couples. In late 2002, only 70 newspapers said they would print such announcements.


In reporting on LGBT couples, please also remember that they are as diverse as the rest of society, crossing lines of gender, race, age, income, class, family structure, religion, geography and political affiliation. We encourage you to reflect this diversity in your coverage.


Please consider integrating LGBT couples into your Valentine's Day feature story. You might cover topics such as:

- Couples looking back at how they met

- Valentine's Day weddings and anniversaries

- Dating trends (meeting online, dating services, blind dates, etc.)

- Anniversaries of marriage equality legislation: Massachusetts (2004), Connecticut (2008), Iowa (2009), Vermont (2009), Washington, D.C. (2009) and New Hampshire (2009)

- Valentine's Day events for singles

- Long-distance relationships

- Surprise marriage proposals on Valentine's Day

- Retired couples re-igniting romance

- Planning a Valentine's Day getaway

- Couples' favorite poems, songs, vacation spots, etc.

- Choosing the perfect Valentine's Day gift

- High school sweethearts

- Celebrity couples and break-ups

- Wedding-day successes and disasters

- Balancing romance and family obligations

- Workplace romances

- Bi-national couples’ stories

- Making Valentine’s Day dinner reservations – especially at the last minute

-Finding a babysitter on Valentine’s Day


- Include romantic lesbian/gay-owned restaurants in your area in your list of Valentines Day dating recommendations.

- Include lesbian/gay-themed comedies or dramas in your list of all-time most romantic movies.

- List relationship development books for same-sex couples in features about keeping romance alive.

- Talk to local jewelry stores, wedding planners, bakeries, florists and other companies that offer services and products for same-sex couples' commitment ceremonies.

- Talk to pastors who conduct same-sex ceremonies at inclusive churches, particularly in communities of color.

So I'm thinkin', in our current media and cultural climate, how might True Blood couples like...

Lafayette and Jesus

Russell and Talbot

Sophie-Ann and Hadley
...negotiate the joys and pitfalls of Valentine's Day? Would there be venues for their tales of couplehood to be heard, validated, celebrated?

I make no judgement on these relationship in the sense that I'm neither lifting them up as model unions nor denouncing them for their flaws; these are not perfect relationships (if there were such a thing) but I have singled these couples out for a reason.

Sure, hooking up is fun and who am I to say that recreational sex is bad (I wouldn't say that, but that's neither here nor there) whether you're gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, queer, or...Pamsexual (OK, OK, a silly play on words - I mean pansexual which is the way Kristin Bauer van Straten describes her character Pam). But for the purposes of this post, hook-ups aren't what I'm talking about... 

Pam and Yvetta
Nor am I referring to vampire blood-induced homoerotic dream sequences played out for comic impact:

Bill and Sam...saved by the cell!
 The reason I chose to highlight Russell & Talbot, Sophie-Ann & Hadley and Lafayette & Jesus is that despite the problems of representation that we see in some homosexual couples and couplings (i.e. the camera cuts away from love scenes with Lafayette & Jesus just before, as Nelsan likes to say, they "do the do" yet the camera stays fixed as Eric, posing as a gay man, graphically "seduces" and stakes Talbot, etc.), in each of these couples, Alan Ball and the writers have allowed us to see moments of true caring and connection and moments of tenderness - physical and otherwise. Evil as he is, Russell's pain and grief at Talbot's death is palpable. As it turns out, Hadley really is the closest person to Sophie-Ann, human, vampire, or otherwise. Lafayette may just be willing to get out of the player game for Jesus.

We don't often see complex and nuanced homosexual relationships on TV, but that's changing. Back in October fellow TB blogger sunnynala posted on True Blood Underground, True Blood found to be the most inclusive television program of LGBT characters. That piece also draws from GLAAD - as mine does - and gives good stats on LGBT characters on broadcast and cable TV plus a good discussion in the comments section  on the topic.  

Even Sookie and Bill - who at the end of S2, were it not for the no-good-rapscallion-V-head weres kidnapping the groom-to-be would have been celebrating a very special engagement, since human-vampire marriage does not yet enjoy universal marriage equality in the world of True Blood - bring issues of injustice that are relevant to the LGBT community to the fore...

.reinforcing for me that, as Alan Ball says, while the vampires are not stand-ins for the LGBT community per se; the show is conveying a broader message more like that of Martin Luther King, Jr., "Injustice anywhere (and to anyone) is a threat to justice everywhere (and to everyone)". [parenthetical phrases are mine, but I think are in MLK's spirit].

On that note, nighty-night all!

~ Rachel

Monday, February 21, 2011


I know what you're thinking: "Judging from its title (well, all of it except for the 'blood' part), what does this post have to do with True Blood, Rachel? Unless I'm mistaken, isn't that a lyric from a Green Day song? Have you decided to switch gears here at the PPT and dump TB in favor of sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll?

Not in the's actually interesting how all things are connected...especially for us, the connoisseurs of pop culture in some way socially or politically conscious that we are...and besides, the title of this post does come from a song, just like the titles of True Blood episodes do - so in that way (and more) the PPT theme is intact :-)

This past Saturday night, Rebecca and I (accompanied by my husband Bobby) braved the punishing 60mph winds and trooped into NYC to take in Green Day's rock opera American Idiot.

In the interest of full disclosure, we started out at the Hard Rock Cafe, where I did, in fact, have a Pomegranate Martini!

Hark Rockin' it!

yes, we like to stage our drinks

Rebecca holding my drink; isn't her ring awesome?
 No, we didn't meet or get autographs signed by Billie Joe Armstrong - the lead singer of Green Day who, for a limited time only, is playing the pivotal role of

in the stage production...

...but something we did see in the dazzling, high-energy show took us a little off guard in terms of its connection back to True Blood.

The American Idiot set features many flat screen TVs of varying sizes inset into the backdrop, rising from stage level to ceiling on all walls. These screens, at times, flash video montages meant to convey the meaning and feel of the scenes as they play out; images bursting and shimmering in time with actors singing, dancing, and swinging from harnesses in aerial numbers.

During one scene in particular, the screens frenetically flashed war imagery juxtaposed with former President George W. Bush speechifying; these images and sound bites punctuated and underscored the movements of the actors - who were now in military fatigues - whirling and diving onstage to give the impression of the bombs and bullets of any given theater of war we're now engaged in exploding and flying around them.

And then - for several startling moments - this image flashed:

Look familiar? It should...this politically-loaded image which was created by comic book artist and illustrator Alex Ross and ran on the cover of The Village Voice in October 26, 2004 is hanging on the wall of Fangtasia!

What do you think?

With the surge of interest around vampires in our culture, is this image becoming a potent touchstone for dissent?

Your opinion is valued, so please weigh in on this one...and oh, by the way...Happy President's Day ;-)

~ Rachel

And Pluto Can Start Bein' A Planet Again, Connected To Stuff...

Aahhh...Jason Stackhouse. Poor, gorgeous Jason Stackhouse. He of the farm boy good looks, perfect abs and wide-eyed man-child persona.

As Kirsty Walker writes in her essay appearing in the book "A Taste of True Blood: The Fangbanger's Guide" titled True Stud, "The people of Bon Temps don't take him seriously and, for the most part, neither do we. Both Jason and his storylines are usually played for laughs" (p. 111, 2010).

Perhaps Lafayette described Jason best, "that boy is sex on a stick!" (S1E1 Strange Love). But he's so much more than that, too...

A recent "Science Friday" on my local NPR radio station featured a piece on Pluto's demotion from planet to dwarf planet to FLR (Fairly Large Rock - I know, ridiculous and kind of sad, right!?!). For the past several years the former ninth planet of our solar system has been caught up in a wholesale redefinition of planethood that has seen it's celestial status bumped down a few notches.

What does this have to Jason Stackhouse, you ask? Or, more accurately, what would anything related to science ever have to do with Jason Stackhouse, you ask?

Not that I really need an excuse to think about Jason and his many charms ;-) but listening to the promos for this piece on Pluto reminded me of an exchange between our boy and Amy Burley right before they partake of V together for the first time:

Amy: God, I love your place, man. It's very un-self-conscious. So off-the-grid.
Jason: It was my parents' house. Haven't really done much with the place since they passed.
Amy: That's even better. I mean, this place goes back to like a more legitimate time, you know, before everything got totally out of whack.
Amy: Your parents are part of Gaia. You know what Gaia is, right? Theory of Gaia?
Jason: Yeah!
Amy: The earth is a living organism. Makes weather, which is good for us. Plants give us the chemicals we need. Everything is connected. But you know that.
Jason: Yeah, I don't like how they keep takin' stuff away. Like Pluto's not a planet anymore and a brontosaurus stopped being a dinosaur. You can't say somethin' stopped being what it's always been.
Amy: Do you live by yourself?
Jason: Yeah. Come on, let's do the V's.
Amy: Slow down, baby. Do you even know how this stuff works?
Jason (softly): No.
Amy: It's blood. It carries oxygen to our organs, right? That's what makes them function. So it keeps us goin'.
Amy: It's like gas in a car engine.
Jason: OK.
Amy: Vampires, they don't need oxygen. Everything just runs directly off the blood.
Jason: Ah, like those cars that run on corn.
(Amy holds up a vial of V and looks at it)
Amy: I've had this blood for like...forever, so we're gonna need to take some steps to keep it from coagulating.
Jason (whispering): Coagulating...!
Amy: Aspirin. Thins it.
(Amy opens the jar of aspirin, and places two in the mortar)
Amy: We'll get the full effect faster, and more intense.
(Amy opens the vial of V, puts a dropper in it, and withdraws some of the V. Jason gets off the sofa and kneels beside Amy as she places a single drop of V onto each of the white aspirin pills. The V quickly turns each pill blood red)
Amy: You just know this is what Holy Communion is symbolic of. This is the real deal here. None of that lame-ass empty ritual. This is nature's greatest gift.
(Jason smiles as he watches Amy grind the V-soaked aspirin pills with a pestle)
Jason: I thought they'd get all mushy.
Amy: No. See, the V adapts. It wants to be in us.
(Amy scrapes the red powder from the mortar with a blunt knife, and places the powder in two small doses on the small plate. Amy bows her head and prays)
Amy: We honor Gaia, and seek the deepest relationship to her.
(Amy looks at Jason, who wasn't praying. Jason bows his head, and Amy does likewise)
Jason: Uh, yeah. Me too. And Pluto can start bein' a planet again, connected to stuff.

Transcript for S1E7 Burning House of Love courtesy:

The bolded part of dialogue above points to how very much - at this particular juncture in his life  - Jason longs to restore the familiar. There's been an awful lot of change swirling around him and it seems to me that Jason would love nothing more than for the spiraling Milky Way to slow down a bit and for his universe to go back to being fixed and stable.

slow down already, will ya! you're making me dizzy with all this spinning!!! 

Why can't Pluto be a planet again, just like his matronly third grade teacher taught him it most certainly was? Why can't the status quo remain enshrined? Why must the proverbial they take things away, shake things up, make things change?

BECAUSE AFTER ALL, I'm just saying there's a reason things are the way they's called, "this is how we do it!" (Jason Stackhouse to Bill Compton, S1E2 "The First Taste").

Jason spat this defensive retort to Bill when Bill pointed out that the reason things are the way they are is called injustice; it's not just the normal, established and right order of things maintaining itself. With Amy, however, we see Jason take a less aggressive stance; his tone is one of yearning, an innocent plea for life and the world to be as he knows it once again.

In True Stud, Kirsty Walker writes that True Blood shows us a society in a unique state of change. In many ways Jason's journey since Season 1 is the perfect barometer for the impact of a society in flux. According to Walker, as a white, heterosexual male (and I would add, a handsome former football god in the deep South where high school pigskin is the only game in town and its gladiators the home town heroes) Jason should very clearly be part of the dominant group in this patriarchal society. Except, in Bon Temps - backwater outpost that it is - even here vampires are "coming out of the coffin" and they, along with other supernatural (and supernaturally endowed) males like shifters and werewolves are threatening his elite status.

You see, especially in Season 1, Jason's identity and sense of self are very much wrapped in in the neat little package of masculinity; the "traditional" version of masculinity in which his physicality and sexual virility mark him as male - as master of his realm. As Walker writes, Jason can't seem to gain the respect of the female characters - his sister Sookie who tells him he doesn't have enough sense to pour piss out of a boot, or any of his various liaisons who call him a "moron," a "horn dog," and a "loser" (p. 115).

But Jason's never pinned his sense of worth or value on his smarts (although, in our estimation, he's underestimated himself and been similarly written off by most people he knows) - it's when his sexual potency is challenged (and fails) that he really starts to feel second best to the supes who seem to be beating him out "in the masculinity stakes" (Walker, p. 115) at every turn. When he loses his erection with Dawn, for example, she rebukes him, yelling that he was at one time the best sex she had ever had until he distanced himself from her, she hooked up with a vampire (likely Eric) and found that such uber-males never go soft, so to say.

Seems like Jason's manhood is shrinking like the diminished Pluto...

...and all the crude "size matters" jokes kind of apply - since a man can effectively be reduced down to his penis, right? (you're picking up the facetious tone I'm putting down here here, yes?)
 We know that in times of change the "haves" who feel they are losing ground seek a scapegoat to blame (usually the "have-nots") for their perceived loss of power and privilege. 'Cause as rights that were once accorded them exclusively are now more equitably distributed, they must be losing out, right? (more facetiousness)
In a semi-comical, semi-tragic sequence spread over several episodes in Season 1 we see Jason start to experience vampires as the bane of his existence...they're inescapable - on every TV channel, moving into his 'hood, "dating" his paramours, and now even putting the moves on his (virtuous) baby sister!

Jason's fear and loathing of vampires and his animosity towards them as they continue to unseat him from his throne of former glory and upend his comfortable and familiar - if narrow and unfulfilling - world climaxes in Season 2 when he joins up with the creepy/scary Fellowship of the Sun and is recruited into the paramilitary arm of this fundamentalist cult. At the FOS's summer/boot camp the Light of Day Institute, he takes the idea that "God hates fangs" to heart and funnels his hurt, rage, and alienation into his training to become a Soldier of the Sun.

Fortunately, this is not a straight path to destruction for Jason. Although we've seen his attempts to "man up", as Walker writes - in Season 1 through sex (and love) and in Season 2 through power and violence - by imitating overtly masculine male role models and stereotypes blow up in his face, it is the Lukenator, and not Jason, who blows himself up for the cause of preserving the status quo at all costs.

Jason - who prayed in S2 "Scratches" for God to give him a sign, "'Cause I'm lost. I'm so fucking lost" (Walker, p. 117) - finds a way to renegotiate the deconstructed concept of masculinity. According to Walker, sex and violence prove to be failed ideologies by which Jason could become self-actualized yet we find that we has taken steps in the direction of growth and development as a man and as a person.

Specifically, Walker sites 2 shifts; one in his (sexual) relationship to women and another in his relationship to vampires (or at least one specific vampire - Bill Compton).

We see Jason move away from sex as tool of selfish gratification, conquest and domination and towards sex as a mutually pleasurable and bonding experience - contrast his "American Psycho" nod, pointing at himself in the mirror in a self-congratulatory way while hooking up with Dawn with his practically melting together with Amy. Granted, his relationship with Amy was built upon a foundation of manipulation and glued together with V, but Jason does seem to have moved away from a "hit 'em and quit 'em" attitude towards women with her.

As Walker writes, "he had begun to use his masculinity to compliment femininity, rather than dominate it" (p. 121).

We know that by the time Jason had seen the error of his FOS ways and saved the day by nailing false prophet Rev. Steve Newlin right between the eyes with a paintball, he had also reconsidered his blanket condemnation of vampires and was willing to accept Bill if Sookie loved him. Yeah, yeah, he pulls a 180 on Bill after that nasty little incident when Bill nearly (accidentally) drained Sookie in S3, but it was a start, right?

And so, as his world continues to change; as the idea of masculinity and what it means to be a man, his family relationships, his town and the larger culture, and yes, even that distant rock-that-used-to-be-our-ninth-planet Pluto continue to be defined and redefined, Jason continues on his journey of self-discovery. Maybe things are spinning a little too fast for him at times; maybe it's hard for our Quixote of the Grabbit-Quik to keep his bearings as more than windmills turn around him.

But maybe, it could also be that Jason - like the oft-maligned Pluto - is part of a wholesale reconfiguration and realignment of life in the 21st century. If what we know, or take for granted, about our very heavens and the hunks of rock, metal and ice that hurtle through them can change, be reclassified and evolve, can't we? Can't our societal structure? Can't the way we think about and and femininity....self and Other...power and equity?

I, for one, cast my vote for progress...and I'm rooting for you, Jason!

~ Rachel    

Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy Birthday Rebecca!

The PPT wishes the happiest of happy birthdays to it's salonnière extraordinaire Rebecca!!!

Come on down and "buy her a drink", will ya?!? And here's a BLACK HAUS!


~ Rachel


O nether and nocturnal, and infernal
Goddess of the dark, grimly, silently
Munching the dead,
Night, Darkness, broad Chaos, Necessity
Hard to escape are're Moira and
Erinys, torment, Justice and Destroyer,
And you keep Kerberos in chains, with scales
Of serpents are you dark, O you with hair
Of serpents, serpent girded, who drink blood
Who bring death and destruction, and who feast
On hearts, flesh eater who devour the dead
Untimely, and you who make grief resound...

~ Papyri Graecae Magicae, a 2nd century C.E.
Hymn to Hekate

I found this darkly intriguing verse in a fascinating book titled, "Savage Breast: One Man's Search for the Goddess". Author Tim Ward opens his chapter on Hekate - a primal torch-bearing Goddess of transitions who, by the time of Classical Greece, had degenerated into a vessel for the terrible, destructive aspect of the feminine divine - with this hymn.

Not unlike the Goddess Kali in India, to the ancient Greeks Hekate was a drinker of blood, a muncher of the dead...she was, as Ward writes, The Rotting Goddess.


For Tim Ward, writing his chapter on Hekate was part of his way of processing his admitted :"fear of the feminine" (pg. 149). Let's stay with this theme for a moment...

The images you see above of Kali and Hekate above are probably NOT the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Goddesses, right? The word "goddess" probably conjures mostly positive vibes; images  connected to life, love, maybe sex, fertility, the earth, children and childbirth, etc. Goddesses are lovers, mothers, virginal maidens with flowers in their hair...but reapers? Bringers of darkness and death? No...

But here's the thing - death is part of life. It's not the opposite of life - and our most distant ancestors in dimmest history knew that. We need Kali, Hecate, and other dark Goddesses to re-inject the reality of the cycle of life, death, and regeneration - we can't have everlasting youth and life without chopping down and composting the old and decaying back into this ever repeating cycle. But in our society we deny death. We are viscerally repelled by death and aging; we fight them kicking and screaming. We demonize the death aspect because we reject and fear it.

We've splintered the feminine principle into myriad diminished forms. Where once She embodied the cycle of life, death, and regeneration - she's now scattered, her aspects most terrifying to our modern sensibilities relegated to a remote, lower place where her sharp blades and tearing teeth can't touch us.

It wasn't always so, but this mindset has been deeply ingrained in our collective psyche for such a long time that it seems the dark Goddess, the horrific feminine, still skulks in the shadows to menace us because we are not fully ready to accept her particular kind magic as part of our world.

Only now her wardrobe is a bit more fabulous...




Richard Rudgley, author of "Lost Civilizations of the Stone Age" wrote that Ward's deeply personal encounters with the goddesses' statues, frescos, temples and sacred sites he visited while researching "Savage Breast" remind us that "these artifacts are not sterile stones but the touchstones to a still living world of human experience".

Honestly, I am blown away by how a few of the darkest-of-the-dark ladies of True Blood do the same; at least for me, they exhume and reanimate Hekate in our contemporary culture. Sure, they may not look like Hekate 1.0; the hideous hag or flesh-eating ghoul of the later Greek imagination - her skin pallid and decaying, her robes a shroud (Ward, 2006) - but they certainly do resemble her in ways that run more than skin deep...

...if you're wondering how just take a look at the bolded words in the poem above for some hints!

I intentionally chose images representing some of the darkest-of-the-dark ladies of True Blood at their very darkest, so to speak, because while there are other female vampires (Pam, Jessica) and assorted supes who have had their menacing moments (Debbie, Daphne)...


and Sophie-Ann seem to really project the "fearsome forces of the feminine divine" (Ward, 2006, p. 152) that Hekate became the repository of millenia ago.

What psychological need do these ultimate bad girls fulfill for us today?

Tim Ward writes that he gets "a flicker of something vile" when he contemplates the image of the Rotting Goddess. "She viscerally repels me, yet draws me, as if she holds a secret for me inside her fetid mouth, a flicker of truth about men's revulsion towards feminine flesh" (p. 155). In this vein, he recalls when, in his 20's, during his his travels through Thailand and India he learned Buddhist techniques for eliminating sexual desire. He was instructed to imagine a woman's body split up into heaps of skin, nails, hair, teeth, and internal organs, or to...

..."visualize a woman as nothing but sacks of blood and pus and shit" (p. 155).

"Feel desire for that"? Ward writes; "Thus men learn what it is to treat women like dirt (as matter, not Mater) and break their spell over us" (p. 155).

Unlike the Hekate of Classical Greece our True Blood dark ladies are beautiful to be sure, but look at what they're reduced to - burned or boiled down to quite literally - in death. Violent death. Sophie-Ann hasn't met her end yet, but we'll see what fate has in store for her, possibly at the hands of Bill Compton. Of course, male vampires and weres have met similarly erupting, oozing and bloody deaths on TB. Still, there's something about the glee with which many watched the demise of two of these ladies in particular - Lorena and Maryann - that feels quite telling.

Did they - do they - play Hekate's role as death aspects of the Goddess for whom our culture collectively feels a fusion of need and fear?

For some insight, let's briefly consider a motif from a crucible of civilization of the the deepest past that might help us understand the strange push-and-pull the deathly and deadly feminine exerts upon us: Catal Huyuk.

Between 7500 and 5500 B.C.E. about seven thousand or so people lived together in an unprecedented massing of humans the world would not see again until the city-states of Mesopotamia 3,000 years later. Wall paintings and other art work have been unearthed at this site that open a window on the ritual life and belief systems of the people of Catal Huyuk; for instance:

vultures feeding on human corpse and head atop elaborate burial platforms
 Ward writes that vultures - carrion eaters that were well suited for the excarnation mode of burial they likely practiced at Catal Huyuk - seemed intimately connected with birth.

vultures, mother and child

Look at the peculiar symbolic pattern in the wall painting to the right that hints at the meaning of their rites - double rows of vultures face each other wingtip to wingtip; inside each diamond is the body of a woman, and inside the belly of the woman is the dark outline of a child.

In this art the people of Catal Huyuk expressed their belief not in a gruesome death cult, but in a cycle of regeneration in which the vulture would munch the bodies of the dead back into the circle of life, to be re-birthed by the mothers of the community.

Ward describes aspects of the shrines discovered at Catal Huyuk that some experts (I would add, experts looking at relics of a bygone worldview through the lens of today) find sinister and disturbing: molded breast-like shapes protruding from the walls. Some resemble anatomically correct breasts, others contain the skull of a vulture with the beak sticking out in place of the nipple, or the jaws of a jackal (another scavenger). 

Whereas Michael Rice, author of "The Power of the Bull" views these breast-shaped protrusions as evidence that, for the people of Catal Huyuk, "the Mother's breasts do not deliver life sustaining milk but are rather agents of death..." (Ward, 2006, p. 161) archaeologist Marija Gimbutas saw in these artifacts symbols of regeneration.

Lorena and Maryann are, in many ways, cast as what Ward calls the "cannibal mother". Lorena is Bill's maker/lover/mother and Maryann took in/seduced the much younger Sam; in the act of drinking his blood and giving him hers Lorena birthed Bill into his vampire life thereby ending his human one, and Maryann sought to sacrifice Sam to reap his heart for her God Who Comes.

Here's a striking excerpt from "Savage Breast"; Ward is imagining what it would have been like to enter the ancient world of Catal Huyuk within which people experienced death not in the abstract, but as viscera, exposed and eaten.

Picturing himself going down a ladder into a dark shrine with painted black vulture wings spanning the walls, he writes:
I search for the clay breast, take it in both my hands and out the vulture-beak nipple to my lips. As I suck I feel the beak in it tear at my tongue, the flesh inside my cheeks. White milk gushes into my mouth and my red blood flows back into the beak. No way to escape the longing I have for that breast. Though it wounds me I go to her as a child, my cannibal mother, bleeding into her and clinging to her. It's little comfort that she eats back the living when I'm the one that she's gnawing on. It's too real, this fusion of need and fear. (p. 162) 
Do parts of Ward's imagining evoke a "turning" for you?

Will we in the 21st century be able to embrace the cannibal mother; she who gives us life, nurtures us, and - at the time of our death - welcomes us back into the cocoon of her womb-tomb as the 2nd century Greeks did: Night, Darkness, broad Chaos, Necessity?

Lot's of questions, huh?

What do you think?

Don't be shy, please let us know!

Until next time...

~ Rachel