Whoosh! Issue 32 - May 1999

THE WAY:
A SPIRITUAL EPIPHANY FOR XENA

IAXS project #701
By Dana Hlusko
Content copyright © 1999 held by author
Edition copyright © 1999 held by Whoosh!
2055 words



Author's Note: This was written partly in reaction to the Hindu protest to THE WAY (84/416) and partly to explore how several small parts of this episode advanced the spiritual growth of Xena.




Introduction (01-02)
The Fates (03-05)
The Furies (06)
Hades (07-08)
Ares (09)
Aphrodite (10-11)
Other spiritual influences
Alti (12)
Dahak (13-14)
THE WAY (15-20)
Lessons Learned (21-22)
Biography



THE WAY: A Spiritual Epiphany For Xena



Xena and Boy George discuss singing in a dream


Xena gets counseling on the Way from an expert.



Introduction

[1] The gods and goddesses of Xena: Warrior Princess (XWP) neither deserve nor earn respect from the Warrior Princess. Over the years, she has had mainly negative experiences in dealing with them. So, in THE WAY (84/416), why does she listen to Krishna, and why does He have such a significant impact on her?

[2] How have the Greek gods affected Xena? I will use several of the gods/goddesses to illustrate that Xena has rarely had a positive interaction with the gods she knows. This would explain why she is so skeptical dealing with Krishna, a god she does not know.


The Fates

Who you gonna call?  Rugbusters!


The Fates contribute to Xena's learning of her Way in REMEMBER NOTHING.


[3] In REMEMBER NOTHING (26/202), Xena goes to the temple of the Fates to pay homage to her brother. She asks the Fates to bless her brother (is this praying?) and runs out when she hears the sound of a battle. She runs off the soldiers trying to take the temple, and, in so doing, kills a young boy. She is distraught over the loss of a young life and is disgusted with herself for ever having picked up the sword. The Fates could care less about the death of this child and give Xena a "gift" of a new life in return for her saving their temple. The catch is, she must never pick up a sword to fight again, or everything will revert back to the way it was.

[4] Is this a real gift or a trick? Her past is changed so that she never fought Cortese. Her brother Lyceus is still alive, her mother has died from the heartbreak of losing everything to Cortese, and Gabrielle has been enslaved. This is not the Gabrielle she loves but a hard, bitter, bordering-on-evil woman. Xena realizes nothing she can do in this new life will give her back the Gabrielle she knew.

[5] In the end, she must pick up the sword because she sees Gabrielle turning into what she was at one time, a blood-lusting fighter. She sacrifices her brother for Gabrielle. Although she learns that her life as it is has worth, she suffers the pain of seeing a different Gabrielle. She is reunited with her brother, only to see him die again. This encounter with gods could be looked at as either a positive or a negative one.


The Furies

[6] The Furies are a threesome of capricious, easily manipulated, shallow goddesses. They cause madness to those who do not avenge a parent's murder. Under Ares' urgings, they cause Xena a great deal of emotional pain [THE FURIES (47/310)]. Although Xena learns the truth of her father's death because of the experience with Ares and the Furies, they nearly cause her to kill her mother. This would be classified as a definitely negative experience with the gods.


Hades

[7] Xena has a helping relationship with Hades, but it is rather one-sided: she gives, and he takes. She saves his sister from King Sisyphus [DEATH IN CHAINS (09/109)]. She helps him retrieve his helmet of invisibility with Marcus, but Hades refuses to reciprocate favors by returning Marcus to life permanently [MORTAL BELOVED (16/116)]. She is forced to kill Marcus herself for him to return to the land of the dead after, together, they have saved the underworld for Hades. Hades shows his gratitude by allowing Marcus to stay in the Elysian fields. When Xena goes to him to ask for help in finding Gabrielle, he is unsympathetic and offers little help [ADVENTURES IN THE SIN TRADE (69/401)].

[8] Hades is a necessary god but not one Xena is close to. You could rate her interactions with him as fairly neutral, leaning toward negative.


Ares

[9] Xena has known Ares for a long time. He is now an ex-mentor and the root cause of Xena's evil past. All interactions with Ares end up as negative encounters. Xena must be extra vigilant when Ares appears since he is very sly and clever and has attempted, more than once, to lure Xena back into his fold. She knows she is very vulnerable to his machinations, so her tension rises when he appears.


Aphrodite

I broke a nail when I slapped that WHOOSH! guy upside the head!  Bummer!


Aphrodite can be the poster child for self-absorption, but is often more mellow on HERC.


[10] The goddess of love loves only herself. She is a very self-centered goddess. She's not concerned with the love between humans and does nothing to support human love. She's most concerned with getting what she wants [FOR HIM THE BELL TOLLS (40/216), IF THE SHOE FITS (80/412)), FINS, FEMMES AND GEMS (64/318)].

[11] She rarely causes real damage but wreaks havoc in Xena's life when she does interfere. For someone who is supposed to be equated with goodness, i.e. love, she ends up being a negative influence more often than not.


Other spiritual influences


Alti

[12] Alti is the epitome of evil incarnate (excepting Dahak), a powerful (evil) spirit-filled shamaness. It is from Alti that Xena first learned of spiritual power. Alti proved to be even more evil than Ares, causing Xena to lose everything she loved - Borias and Solan. Score another negative encounter.


Dahak

[13] Dahak is the all evil one. Xena's interactions with this god seriously damaged her relationship with Gabrielle, caused Gabrielle endless agony, brought about Solan's death and Xena and Gabrielle's attempts to kill one another, and Dahak still threatens the earth.

[14] This is not intended to be an all-inclusive list, but it does serve to explain Xena's negative feelings toward spiritual entities.


THE WAY

[15] When has Xena, prior to THE WAY (84/416), turned to any type of spiritual guide? In RETURN OF CALLISTO (29/205), Xena prays to an unseen, unidentified "anyone listening" to "please don't let that light that shines out of [Gabrielle's] face go out. I couldn't stand the darkness that would follow". This she did when she was desperate to keep Gabrielle from copying the pages of her own past by killing Callisto to avenge Perdicas' death. This was the only time Xena has ever actually engaged in prayer.

[16] With all of these negative relationships with the gods/goddesses and spirituality in general, why would she want to pay homage or pray to any god? Yet, she encourages Gabrielle on her spiritual journey in India. Why? Perhaps it is because Xena instinctively knows that there is a greater being somewhere, though she has yet to meet that person. Perhaps Xena also knows that Gabrielle is the "front man" for Xena as Xena herself searches for truth or "the way".

[17] In India, they met up with Hunaman, Indrajit, and Krishna, among others. Indrajit kidnaped Gabrielle and planned to kill her unless Xena intervened to save her. Hunaman guided Xena to Krishna to ask for help. Since all of Xena's interactions with gods have been so negative, it is natural that she was skeptical about yet another god. Hunaman told her, quite correctly, that she respects no gods, and she was astounded when she realized he wanted her to pray to a god. Hunaman told her that Krishna was different from other gods, that "to find him, you only have to look within".

[18] Hunaman convinces her that Krishna is her only hope, so even though she is skeptical, her love for Gabrielle compels her to trust Hunaman and pray to Krishna. Since Krishna appears, it seems that Xena's gigantic leap of faith is fruitful. The miracle of Krishna's appearance as an answer to prayer (since she has seen Greek gods many times before) is secondary to the one about to take place during their conversation:

XENA I'm just an angry, *ss-kicking... KRISHNA Warrior. XENA Yes, a warrior. KRISHNA You say that with disgust. XENA Well, it doesn't rank right up there with the saints. KRISHNA You have to embrace The Way. XENA The Way is not for people like me. KRISHNA You're wrong. You're very close to the Way now. (Xena denies that she is close.) KRISHNA Xena, you have seen what you're destined to be. You will walk the way of a saint. You will never achieve that life if you don't follow The Way you're on now XENA The Way of the warrior? KRISHNA You must not be hesitant to fight in a just cause. It is better to die following your own Way than to live somebody else's. When you ride into combat, act without attachment, and carry with you the confidence that you are fulfilling your calling in this life. Then you will know the Way. XENA I understand.
[19] In just a few sentences, Krishna validated Xena's entire life, something she never felt worthy enough to do for herself. Even Gabrielle's love and acceptance of her past could not make Xena accept her calling. She was always burdened by the knowledge of her evil past and knew that she could never actually make amends in this lifetime. Her spiritual development grew exponentially. She knew that Gabrielle's Way was not her way. She has her own calling, unique from anyone else's. Do not many of us look for a sign that what we have chosen to do with our lives is the right thing?

[20] Before she proves that she believes in and trusts Krishna, she first falls back into her old habits of depending only on herself. As she fights Indrajit, she uses all of her own powers, but they are not enough. As she lays dying, having failed to save Gabrielle and realizing that she has doomed Gabrielle, she calls on Krishna for help. As he promised her, he is there to help. Perhaps because Krishna accepted in Xena what she could not accept in herself, she trusts him.


Lessons Learned

My name is Indrajit and I'll be your waiter this evening.  Let me
tell you about our specials!


Gabrielle and Xena can learn lessons in the most unlikely places.


[21] There are several lessons to be learned from this episode, ones that the recent protest about the depiction of Krishna and purported lifestyle of Xena and Gabrielle fail to realize:

  1. Love is the greatest power on earth. It is demonstrated here by Xena's willingness, even eagerness, to lay down her life for her friend. That is the greatest of all gifts.

  2. Xena does have a spiritual side and was able to reach down inside herself to access it. We too can find our spirituality by looking within.

  3. Xena is capable of great leaps of faith but cannot be easily led to making a declaration of faith. A healthy skepticism is a defense against charlatans and those who have so often, in the past, led "believers" astray.

  4. Her conflict with her warrior path is unnecessary. She needs to be the best she can be at what she does. This is a defining and life-altering revelation to her and something we all need to realize.

[22] By pressuring Ren Pic to remove this episode from syndication, there are a great many people who will not get the opportunity to learn these lessons. That is most unfortunate.



Biography

Dana Hlusko Dana Hlusko
I am a Registered nurse working in the field of computers, trying to convince nursing that a computer is a good patient care tool. I have published scholarly articles in professional journals. Writing about XWP allows me to write on a topic about which I have a real passion.

I gave up my passion for Star Trek: TNG for Xena. I am the mother of two wonderful children who make fun of Mom for her passions. I have three more dreams in life: to study theology, work on an archeological dig and, first and foremost, I dream of being able to work on the Xena set.

Favorite episode: THE BITTER SUITE (58/312), FORGET ME NOT (63/317), ONE AGAINST AN ARMY (59/313), THE GREATER GOOD (21/121), REMEMBER NOTHING (26/202)
Favorite line: Xena: "I have many skills" KING CON (61/315), THE BLACK WOLF (11/111), etc.
First episode seen: THE GAUNTLET (H12/112)
Least favorite episode: Haven't found one yet

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