by Bruce A. Smith
Cate Montana, a Yelm resident since 1989, has written a book exploring her life-long quest to find a healthy balance between power, success and her femininity. In my assessment, a read of Unearthing Venus, reveals that Cate has blossomed wonderfully on all levels.
To begin, her book is being published by Watkins Press in five countries – the UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada and the United States. Such a literary achievement is understandable given that Cate is a woman who excelled as a television videographer for ABC Sports and covered the Olympics, Monday Night Football and other decidedly masculine sporting events.
“I was taught to think like a guy and succeed in a guy’s world,” she told the Mountain News.
But she intuitively knew there was more to life than the fast cars, big money, and plenty of exciting lovers.
“I’ve had several turning points in my life, and one of them happened when I was 30, just after I got my first divorce. I just knew there had to be more to life.”
In response to this dark night of the soul, Cate packed her van and horse trailer, and with her dogs and horse headed to a deserted stone cabin nestled deep in the hills of northern Georgia. After three years of solitude, spiritual readings, and playing her harp by the river she decided to travel west, finding something new.
Eventually, she landed in Yelm and studied at Ramtha’s School of Enlightenment. To pay the bills, Cate turned again to journalism and became the Pacific Northwest Bureau Chief for Indian Country Today. She also did a lot of freelance work and her features have graced the pages of the Tacoma News Tribune and The Olympian.
Seeking to satisfy an inner longing, Cate traveled to Los Angeles to interview an Indian mystic named Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev and write about his perspectives on women and femininity.
“I had scheduled an interview with him and when we sat down he looked me in the eye and asked, ‘What do you know about woman?’
“He caught me flat-footed.
“’Besides being one?’ I asked. But he didn’t laugh. In fact he just sat there for fifteen minutes, quietly. Then he said that we could have a standard interview where I could ask my reporter questions and he would give me his reporter answers. Then he looked right at me and said, ‘You should write a story,’ and my book is a direct result of that conversation.”
Cate returned to Yelm, and even though she says that writing a memoir went against every journalistic bone in her body, she knew it was what she had to do.
“When I was twelve years old I knew that I wanted to write – I wanted to write about the beauty of life.”
Propped with a pen and a pad of yellow paper, Cate began her journey. She started by describing how she thought of herself as a woman, and how she had parlayed her skills in a man’s world to become successful and admired.
She went deeper and wrote about her life as a young girl in the horse country of northern Virginia, riding with Carolyn Kennedy and other luminaries of DC’s political elite. She delved into her mother’s life, a woman who had wanted to be a boy when she was young, and as an adult was cramped in proper society.
“She had no room to express herself,” Cate said.
Cate also wrote extensively about her step-father, a man she describes as a “brutal, emotionally sick man” and someone wounded by a twisted society.
Her step-father also ran off Cate’s first lover, which soured a gloriously sweet teenage romance.
Cate then headed off to college and her description of a date rape in the dorms is riveting. So, too, is her analysis of why she continued to date the guy.
As she wrote of this harrowing episode, Cate said she began to move into a deeper understanding of her femininity and how depleted our culture is of goddess energy.
“I realized I was completely ignorant of my value as a woman.”
(On a personal note, when I read Unearthing Venus I was so moved by her date rape story that I contacted two of my former girl friends from college and apologized to them for my aggressive seductions. One accepted my acknowledgement, but maintained her icy rage. The second said an apology wasn’t necessary as she enjoyed the encounter, but she was still angry at me over the crabs I had unwittingly given her.)
Another turning point occurred when Cate interviewed John Perkins, a shamanic writer and the author of the New York Tines bestseller, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. Perkins told her an amazing story of how Amazonian people had a real balance between the masculine and the feminine.
Perkins described men as the protectors and hunters, providing safety and food for their people; but women, besides raising the children, cooking and raising gardens, had a critical role in their societies – they told the men when to stop so that they wouldn’t deplete the river of fish or harvest all the trees.
“It’s the nature of men to keep hunting until all the animals are gone, to extract all the timber from the forest until everything is cut down.”
But Cate said it’s the power of women to know when it’s time for the men to stop. The women are able to see the bigger picture; they can perceive the bigger needs of nature and their own community. Plus, they have the courage to stand up to the men and tell them something they may not want to hear.
This was Cate’s first deep realization of the unique, transcendent power of women. When asked if she had any female role models, Cate pondered and then shook her head.
“No, not really. Hillary Clinton? Nah. Sister Theresa? Nah. Those are all strong-willed women acting like men. Feminine power is more invisible, more universal – like a mother’s love.
“Kindness, feelings, emotions, sensitivity and empathy – these are all elements of the power of women. These aspects are so valid, but so undervalued,” Cate continued.
“These are massive strengths, and should not be hidden or embarrassed about,” Cate added.
By contrast, Cate said that masculine power is expressed by a dynamic intellect or a competitive spirit.
“The men’s world is a dog-eat-dog world, and I used to be very driven when I was at ABC Sports, but I was not loved. Nor could I ‘be there’ for others, or be kind. I was a tough cookie – and toughness was all that counted.”
Further, Cate said that the traits of women the world characterizes as weaknesses – unpredictability, lack of structure, and comfort with chaos – are actually strengths.
“Women are boundless, free, and do stuff that doesn’t make logical sense. We do stuff based on intuition.”
As a result, the powers of women lead towards creativity and innovation.
Cate sees herself as in the process of blending the powers of men and women, finding a balance that is transformative.
I want to inspire people,” Cate proclaimed. “We’re moving past sheer survival and are developing the ability to evolve and grow – moving past the control, fear, and power-tripping of the world today.”
As for her feminine expression, Cate is circumspect.
“Some days I grind it out in a masculine way – marketing, phone calls, and getting the book out to the world. But others days I let it go – I hang out with buds, go for a walk, and feel completely open to all possibilities. When I’m in my feminine power I feel that I am in a place where all things are possible – that I am receiving all good things – joy, pleasure, and love. I‘m working both sides, striving for balance.”
To meet with Cate, she is hosting several local book-signings:
– Saturday, October 12, Lemuria Book and Boutique, Yelm, 4-7 pm, with a reading at 5 pm.
– Tuesday, October 15, Barnes and Noble, Olympia, 7-9 pm.
In addition, Cate, along with Francesca White of Lemuria, has made a charming and light-hearted video about Unearthing Venus:
Also, Cate delivers an insightful view of the issues expressed in Unearthing Venus in a broadcast with TV personality Sandie Sedgbeer:
For more information about Unearthing Venus, see: www.unearthingvenus.com
Lastly, Cate did get at least one quote from Sadhguru that pertains to her search for the feminine: “Life is far beyond meaning…. which is why it’s so beautiful.”