What We Can All Learn From Queen Penelope of Ancient Ithaca
Fun fact about my little girl for you! I didn’t know it at the time I named her, but I was so surprised to learn in my deep study of the divine feminine and women’s history and wisdom, that Penelope was actually a Queen of ancient Ithaca!
The story goes that Queen Penelope’s husband, Odysseus, was away for over 20 years fighting a war which he won but apparently took his sweet time returning home. So Queen Penelope governed the kingdom in his absence. Eventually everyone thought Odysseus must have died so Queen Penelope started getting a whole slew of suitors wanting to marry her.
Here’s the key:
Of course any woman in Queen Penelope’s position would worry that all these men were wanting to be with her only for her wealth and position. I’m sure you can relate in some regard and have at times in your life worried that someone was showing interest in you for motives other than for purely loving you for who you are. A fear might have been for example that if this person were truly being honest that maybe they deep down really wanted to be with you primarily for your looks, or maybe your body, your job/position in life and prestige, or your possessions, your social status, your talent or whatever. No doubt this is a terrible feeling and I will admit, I’ve felt it myself several times before. Yet Queen Penelope displayed immense wisdom, intelligence and self-control and was able to bide herself some time by creating a brilliant plan.
Queen Penelope demonstrated a type of self care, self preservation and wisdom by instead of panicking or feeling like a victim or even simply swallowing her fate, yet instead make the decision to go on the offense and TAKE ACTION in her life for what SHE wanted. But here’s the cool thing, she did it not in a violent or destructive way. Rather she used her intelligence and what was available to her at the time. How brilliant – we can all learn from this!!
So here’s the thing: Queen Penelope also raised a son that she and Odysseus had and therefore when she started getting suitors her son felt his position as king would be threatened. In addition, unfortunately many of Queen Penelope’s maid servants and assists where also very jealous of her and had their own motives to undermine her. To quote author Harriet Ruben: “Penelope was vulnerable to those she should’ve been most able to trust.” Boy that stinks. So she had to devise a plan. This is what she did:
She told everyone that she would not choose a suitor until she finished weaving a shroud she was making for one of her relatives. This would allow her to buy some time. So she would weave all day but secretly unravel it at night! No one was the wiser! 😉
And this is one of my favorite parts of the story that blew my mind:
The shroud is known now as “Penelope’s Webb” and the term is now used as a reference to any task that remains “cleverly or mysteriously” unfinished. Makes sense. Plus if you think about it, when most of us think of a web, we think of spiders and how they painstakingly take the time and care to build something that will ensure the outcome they want. Another example of how nature and animals can be our greatest teachers if we just take the time to pay attention and notice!
I hope this classic tale opens your mind and helps awaken your imagination as well as your creativity in your own life. We have a lot to learn from the wisdom of ancient cultures and people and if we then take it a step further and actually take action and apply it to our own life then things really start to get interesting!
For me, the take away here is to be resourceful and open my eyes and awareness to what resources are around me and not be fixated on what I think is “lacking” or missing and causing me to be powerless. I hope it inspires you to do the same!
And I’ll say in closing, perhaps the coolest thing of all is that I never knew there was such a thing as a Penelope’s Web – did you?! All I can think of it of is the amazing parallel of this with my beloved little Charlotte🐶 because I’m sure you’ve hear of the famous fable of Charlotte’s Web! So now I’ve had two little girls that are famous for their ingenious webs! Great Spirit works in mysterious ways indeed! AHO!✨
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