Tell the Truth and Be Damned!
I guess it was fated that a lot of my life would focus on issues about truth considering my name is Cassandra. It’s a name from Greek Mythology and is about a Trojan princess who was a daughter of King Priam of Trojan War fame. According to the account from The Iliad, Cassandra was a Priestess of Apollo who was visited by the god who offered the gift of prophesy to her in return for her ‘favours’. Cassandra accepted the gift but when it came time for Apollo to receive his due payment, she reneged on the agreement and refused him, fearing that she would be consumed by fire and perish. Greatly angered by this Apollo knew that he couldn’t take his gift back but demanded at least a kiss, and as their lips met the god spat in her mouth. This caused the gift to change into a curse which was: that although Cassandra would always prophesy the truth, no-one would believe her! She went on to prophesy against Paris returning home, and famously against bringing within Troy the Trojan Horse shouting warnings of ‘beware Greeks bearing gifts’ to no avail. Some sources said she went mad, others that she was taken by King Agamemnon back to his home where she was hacked to death with an axe by his wife, Clytemnestra – either way Cassandra came to an unhappy end and she was known as The Prophetess of Doom. No pressure living with that name then!
Very early on in my life I lived with the utter frustration of not being believed when I was telling the truth, basically because it was expedient for certain others to keep things that way – this is how a lot of abusive people operate. Even better if as a result of that inner torment that one has to work through the shadowy hinterworld of psychological and emotional breakdown/breakthrough, then if there are queries surrounding your integrity then your mental suffering makes you a prime target for unscrupulous and manipulative types. However, in spite of these difficulties during my younger years I still stood by my word irrespective of whether I was believed or not.
Some situations did puzzle me though. Often when an injustice was evident to others as well as myself and they appeared to support me until it came time for standing up for the truth. So many times I have turned around to appeal to others for that support only to find that they had evaporated like a summer’s morning mist. I’ve always been one of life’s Whistle Blowers and I guess I always will be, but I have to say that it can also be a lonely and isolated place to be a lot of the time and can land me in deep trouble – and then you can feel very exposed out there on your own, a prime target for snipers! At least I comfort myself with the thought that I have a clear conscience and can live with myself, which I would find next to impossible to do if I compromised my convictions by saying nothing and letting injustice flourish.
Many years ago I made the decision, which I have never regretted, of having honest friends in my life. That sounds pretty normal until you realise that so many folks prefer to have so-called friends in their life who don’t tell them the truth but instead tell them what they want to hear instead. If you have truly honest friends then you will learn a lot about yourself, if you don’t then you learn nothing new and often will end up living in some kind of a fantasy world. If one of my friends asks what I think of what they’re wearing/or their new hairstyle or whatever, I will tell them exactly what I think – not what I think they want to hear. This approach doesn’t mean that you have to smack people round the face with the truth – diplomacy of delivery is very important. There have been many times in my life when I have had to deliver the truth to someone, knowing that it will be received badly. I give an inward sigh, take a deep breath and tell them politely but firmly what needs to be said. It’s what I call Tough Love or Plain Speaking – I have no wish to be unkind but some things just have to be told to set the record straight.
Unfortunately there are a lot of people out there who have an overblown impression of themselves which is fuelled by other ‘friends’ or followers telling them what they want to hear about how wonderful they are – these friends do this because of either fear, sycophantic behaviour, misplaced loyalty or infatuation. You can usually recognise this type of person, who basically has a very fragile ego and finds it next to impossible to take or receive criticism in any form, thereby once again learning nothing new and remaining in some sort of illusion or fantasy world and lack the robustness that is required to live in the real world of hard knocks and character building experiences.
When I first wrote my book, ‘Village Witch’ I was in a dilemma as to whether to include certain details of my past which I knew would probably have repercussions in one way or the other; but in the end thought that it was best to include it, so that people could see how my difficult journey through life directly informed the practice of my Craft as a wisewoman/witch. So in a way I was prepared for a backlash and I wasn’t wrong…but more of that later – I have written enough for one night. Time for a cup of Horlicks before bedtime!