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Athena & The Daddy's Girls of "Interstellar"

“I don’t seem to have the same impact on you I used to,” says my dad teasingly, but we both something has changed. I grew up a "Daddy’s Girl," feeling more connected to my father than my mother. As a little girl I worshiped my father, looking forward to when he got home from work and craving his approval above all else. Unlike some fathers, my dad was very involved in my childhood and encouraged me to be strong, independent, and self-sufficient.

This strong identification with the father I also noticed in the female characters of the film "Interstellar." While the film is a classic Hero’s Journey of a man moving up and outward into the world (and in this case cosmos), I felt curious about the female characters. In Interstellar Murph (Jessica Chastain) and Dr. Brand (Anne Hathaway) both barely exist except for their relationships to their fathers.

Both Murph and Brand seem very detached from their feminine nature. Throughout the film I noticed they were praised by their fathers for their intellect above all else and barely spoke of their mothers or anything emotional for that matter. The few times they were emotional it was dismissed (though later it turned out their intuitions were correct). I will never forget the tear-jerking scene of Murph leaving her father and attempting to communicate to him the message she had learned from the books falling off the shelf.

And while I appreciated Brand’s diatribe of love being the unifying force of the cosmos it was so quickly brushed off by Coop (Matthew Mcconaugh) that it barely felt real. I was beyond annoyed when Murph’s long -waited reunion with her father was rushed as he then quickly left to tend to more "important" things.

Author and therapist Maureen Murdock acknowledges the importance of identification with the masculine/father leading women toward ambition and power and ability for relationships with other men. However, she also quickly agrees the dangers of connecting to the masculine so overtly that the values of the feminine are lost.

Daddy’s Girls like myself tend to be very out of tune with ourselves as our own authority, we seek an outward father/savior/lover to fill the void. This pattern tends to ignore our inner knowing and feminine intuition. We reject our bodies and instead prefer to look down on women who are overly emotional, seem weak, or too girly. Simply put, we want to be more like our fathers and the masculine or be as pleasing as possible to the masculine.

The options for this sort of father/daughter dynamic cultivate either “puellas” or “armored amazons.” Both as a reaction and a rejection of the inner feminine nature and usually also the mother. Demetra George, author of "Asteroid Goddess," describes the puella as the girl who hides her strength and inner need to rebel with submissiveness. The armored amazon is the puella’s extreme opposite “tomboy” who seeks to imitate the masculine power of her father to protect her inner helpless and dependent little girl.

In "Interstellar" neither woman discussed their mother and their displays of emotions were quickly dismissed as silly and over-reactive. (A classic move from a male unable to connect to his own inner feminine that then becomes projected outwardly onto women.) Both women also seemed underdeveloped in many ways and immature. Murph seems more the puella, displaying classic signs helplessness (she holds onto her father leaving for decades without moving more fully into her own life). Dr. Brand takes on more of the armoured amazon who has one emotional moment, but otherwise is difficult to understand or relate to.

Even though I'm just now beginning to understand the "Daddy’s Girl" archetype, it is an old one, and shows up very notably in the mythology of Athena. Athena was born from the head of Zeus’ (Saturn’s son) head (in full armor I might add), instead of her mother’s (Metis) womb. Her identification with Zeus and the seemingly elimination of her mother represents (as Maureen Murdock points out in "The Heroine's Journey") the transition in Greek cultural history “from matrilineal society to masculine, ego-dominated world.” In fact, Athena seemed ignorant of the fact she had a mother at all.

Athena was a beautiful goddess warrior who protected the Greeks and even had an entire city (Athens) named after her. She fought with Jason and the Argonauts and wore Medusa’s head (a symbol of the wild feminine) on her breastplate. In one story she cast the last vote to side with patriarchy and free Orestes who had killed his mother. All in all, Athena was bright, ambitious, and got things done. As Murdock points out, she has little value for emotional relationships or vulnerability.

In astrology the asteroid Pallas Athena reveals or signifies our father complexes. She is our gift or ability to see understand and perceive patterns, which require both intuition and intellect. In men’s charts she represents a man with intellect who is fearful of being rejected for not being masculine enough. She is the ultimate duality of head and heart, or wisdom. In our charts she offers insight into where our gifts lie for the mental and creative urges. In "Interstellar" Murph was a true Athenian woman in her ability to find patterns and Morse code in the books falling.

Of interesting note, the wormhole in the film is located near Saturn who represents patriarchy and the father (our parental unit and also father as in God). Our culture’s wounds have come from an over identification with masculine principles, it is time we come back into balance inviting more of the feminine present,and cultivating a new relationship to the masculine. Athena and "Interstellar" offer us insights into a way out.

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