Sarah La Rosa

The Un-Beautiful

Sarah La Rosa
The Un-Beautiful

The not-beautiful frightens me.

I have worked very, very hard at creating a beautiful life for myself.

Change and new growth may seem exciting to others, but I am struggling with feeling threatened at what it might require of me, its truest nature that I cannot know until I am in the thick of it.

I have such a sharp need to know that what comes will be wonderful, healthy, happy, manageable, bright, and beautiful.

But sometimes that knowledge is: unattainable, unhealthy, unwise.

No, that kind of foreknowledge is not meant for me.

Knowing how everything will turn out ahead of time completely defeats the purpose of the experience here and now.


To love, we touch the basic and not-so-lovely bony woman, untangling the sense of this nature for ourselves, bringing her back to order, letting her live again. It is not enough to haul the unconscious to the surface, not even enough to accidentally drag her home. It stops the progression of love to be afeared or disdainful of her for very long.  
Untangling the mystery of Skeleton Woman begins to break the spell- that is, the fear that one will be consumed, made dead forever.   
- Clarissa Pinkola Estes

My mind is piecing together other bits and images that form a pattern of the Life/Death/Life nature.
The images of Día de los Muertos, Day of the Dead, and that of La Loba, she who sings the bones to life once more- but only after spending time traversing the desert in search of those bones in the first place.

I even think about the Black Madonna, of the legends and stories of Mary Magdalen, whose bones are thought to rest somewhere in the south of France, along with those of her servant/daughter, the venerated Saint Sarah, herself thought to be a prototype of the Black Madonna and connected with the death aspect of the triple goddess in the Hindu Kali, celebrated even today.

She is Baba Yaga, the ugly old woman who lives in a house that dances on chicken legs, and Hecate- She Who Stands at the Crossroads.

She is Inanna in descent and death.

She is Sedna, who rests on the bottom of the sea floor.

She is Isis, who must reassemble the bones and body of her dead husband.

And I think about the synchronicity of finding a post by my soul sister Kristen Roderick, who presented an image of Skeleton Woman (in the form of Mary Magdalen) on her blog some time ago-
in the midst of my attempted escape from this unsettling crone figure.

Watching a documentary on this very image recently, I listened to one expert refer to this skull icon as "grotesque", as she wrinkled her nose is distaste at the local celebration and honoring of such an un-beautiful relic.

Yes, she is grotesque.
Certainly 'not-beautiful'.
And she is haunting, and compelling.

There is a dark and wise, beautiful 'not-beauty' that must overtake our sensibilities at some point in order for truly new life to take hold in us.

The rooting of that seed fights to survive in us.

My brain and body feel the pull of Her Life/Death/Life nature coming to me,
waiting quietly for me to look long and hard into her blackness.

She will not yell for me to pay attention.
She will simply follow me everywhere until I do.
Life must.

It is a primal truth that I cannot ignore or wish away, even when my logical self, my fear of change, my disdain for the unknown surfaces in me.

So, I lay in the bath tub, crying and knowing that Skeleton Woman has found me still and unmoving at last, and I gather the courage necessary to look up into her not-beautiful face.

There are no guarantees that what comes next will be lovely to behold, or easy, or always fun.

There is no simple comfort that this new chapter will be painless and wildly successful (as I have historically defined success, that is).

She does not nod at me in acquiescence to my desires and longings.

She just gazes back into me, seeing... everything. I shift uncomfortably.

My soul is reaching out, knowing this is where life and growth and awakening happens.
My ego is recoiling.
We both decide to stay in this moment.

But then, something miraculous begins to happen.

As I gaze at her, and fully face the fearful thing I keep running from, my tears blur and blend the edges of those bones, and something soft and fragrant begins to bloom inside of me.

I can feel the death of some over-read chapter beginning to close at last, yes.

But there is a new page on the other side, with words yet unwritten.

The un-beautiful and I will take up the pen together.