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Aphrodite Does Lunch

It is hard to remember when the world of the Goddess was not part of my daily life. Much travel and adventure had placed me at the doors of her sanctuaries while still in my early twenties and those gateways had summoned me inward to a world which began to occupy my thoughts ... until the very fabric of Her song had moved into my immediate consciousness. The Goddess has been summoning me to her tea party for quite some time now.

At the age of six, I was found sleep-walking in the middle of the night. Poised on the sofa in the living room, I was about to plunge head first to the floor when my parents found me and asked what I was doing. I said I was just diving into the swimming pool as the Queen had said I might, since I had been invited there to her garden tea party.

The Heavenly Tea Party had been a regular myth in my family and always a source of jokes while I grew up. The prevalent story was that all old ancestors, particularly aunts and grandmothers, were up in Heaven having tea, gossiping about us. The absence of Mrs. God in the bigger picture, not at the cosmic tea party, caused me to really question her whereabouts and lately wonder just how that absence was reflected in my own life.

The more I pondered the concept of Goddess and her a priori ways, the more it seemed that all of her attributes and manifestations danced knowingly across my path. Bird patterns in every cloudy afternoon, feathers falling at my feet, gifts of great love, a sudden penchant for long skirts, long hair, long holidays.

Following a classical life of childhood , studenthood, parenthood, I had found myself at the crossroads of We and They, young and old, child and adult, mid - life; in itself one of the most profound non - events of our lives: the turning point, the moment when victimization is truly no longer an issue, when that was then, and this is now. Mid - life, the time when despite all else your life is, somehow psychologically finally your own, up for grabs, access to the Gap as Deepak Chopra would call it.

It would seem that my own mid - life transition required a profound surrender to here and now to the Chopra Gap. And in those liminal moments as Murray Stein calls them, I heard a summons, not the calling of my ancestors but the ancestors of my calling, seeking me out, bidding me follow.

The old myth of the little girl who says the emperor has no clothes on was dying. New voices were being empowered, the little girl was being revisioned into a more contemporary story. And yet as a t-shirt my husband gave me says, “I know that when one door closes, another door opens, but damn these hallways are dark.” Hallways, passages, mid - life.

These mythic passages have a life of their own and mid - life seemed to come with a propensity to ruminate, to ponder, to wonder. Not the kind of wondering I had grown used to.

For suddenly the well - organized intellectual worl d of my business had been overtaken with a mellow wash of pink which gave rise to melodic meanderings, soul searchings, a need to dance, dance, dance. Not something you do in the office from nine to five. No, the well - ordered world of my past was suddenly just that, past.

The signs had all been there. There had been no sudden insight or hindsight into meaningful existence, no Transendent made manifest; to the contrary, Life had been full, abundant, luxurious. But dreams, visions, changes of interest and changes of heart had all been tugging. As soul searched for it’s overcoat and bid the plants good bye, spirit blew the old black daytimer one last little kiss. Good bye life in the city; hello yellow brick road.

For the underlying call of mid - life is the call to SELF; to find out who you are, so you can be who you are. “Who am I” has long been the mantra of East-Indian sages: Ramana Maharshi in particular, known for his one pointed meditation on the Who, who is asking the question. Soul food. So with vipassana meditation, dream work, taichi, psychotherapy, journalling, yoga and curiosity among the pails and shovels in my sandbox; I set out in search of the call.

The call to create, to imagine your very heartbeat into existance is not one to ignore. History has shown how our cultural bias toward civilization takes us to our Apollonian view of Life. To do over to be; skewing our values and ideologies, giving Logos full - rein, and The Word full power. In Jungian terms, the repression of the Feminine by the Masculine has led to this divinity fostered onto the God of Sun and Light, discernment, and discrimination. Without some sense of the divine presence of the ‘rest of the story’, the Masculine becomes the filter through which all is envisioned.

To give imagination its own sandbox, it is necessary to get out of the way. For ego will jump to its own defense and only when it is no longer threatened or feels appeased will it move aside. Sometimes through Grace, epiphany and in sha’allah, allah (by the will of Allah) imagination is blessed. All roads lead to Rome and there are many ways to entice the imaginative state; and although suits, daytimers and schedules are not conducive to such a quest, song, dance, and artistic expression, have long been known to nourish the longing heart.

My first stop was a mirror. Through creative expression, artistry, and play; I explored the backside of my imagination. Narcissistically, I sought to catch a glimpse of myself, to hold for but a fleeting moment a fragment of my soul. I heard low whisperings through the first mask I ever made. Just the act of putting sunglasses on it gave me hints of how bright the Light can be and although it felt very Hermetic, it was somehow much more tenuous; the young Maiden overwhelmed by the lights of the big city; New York, Times Square, 42 nd Street, Night time. Psyche seeking Eros.

In 1995, I was in Ireland pondering Psyche and Eros, thinking about choice and preference and was called once again to remember that childhood question I had asked and been reprimanded for. “Where is Mrs. God?” I had asked when 5 years old. Where is the rest of the story? And from the sandbox of my imagination, riding on a bus in Ireland, I heard some part of me whispering in longing:

Where is Mrs. God I said
Oh my goodness is she dead
How can God then live a life
What is man without a wife
Where is Mrs. God I ask
to find her is no small time task
Where is Mrs. God I say
Still hidden in the light of day
Is she gone
Is she forgot
Salted by the Lord of Lot
Is She bound or yet still free
Rooted in the family tree
Where is Mrs. God I cry
Without her I will surely die
Oh there she is in still of night
And always was there shining bright

Rokie, Ireland
1995

It is the mystery of Mrs. God, the Goddess, the Great Mother, the archetypal, feminine ... rouge in all her glory, that has been tugging at me, and I realized that this Great Mother had begun, in concert with the onset of my mid - life a dialogue with me.

Davis and Leonard in their book The Women’s Wheel of Life remind us that reason is not the homeland of the Feminine. Knowledge itself is not the end of the line.

No woman today needs to be told that Reason has long been defined by men as the only legitimate way of acquiring knowledge - that in our culture, Reason is king. (1)

Unlike the Appolonian brilliance of the keen intellect Goddess wisdom is much more erotic, more intuitive, it evades explanation ... given voice through song and dance, dream and story. It is the voice of Night, of palm trees swaying eternally on moonswept island shores; and so to search out that wisdom, echoes of my Hermetic Maiden Mask, I attended several dream workshops and once again The Mother came to call.

Making my second mask was an entirely different experience. No longer tentative, this mask claimed a voice, a presence from the first feathers. The first glimpse of tin foil had made me feel the Hermetic connection to the Maiden Mask but this mask sought a sense of age and demanded to be veiled; and from the inside. The mask had a Dionysian quality, a Baba Yoga feeling and a deeply rooted sense of age; and so it was not surprising that as I gazed at her she told me who she was.

Adam Adam meet your Madam
flying through the night
Poor Adam took a look at madam
And nearly died of fright.
dark demonic, not platonic
Nothing seemed to please,

One minute this one minute that
She really was a tease
Twirling
Whirling
Ever Swirling
Always this and that:
tall and thin with pointed chin
and yet sometimes quite fat.
Who was this Madam
Bequeathed to Adam
And then again by Who
Known to all when asked to call
Sweet Lulabelle to you

Rokie, Pacifica
1996

David Feinstein and Stanley Krippner have written about updating old myth and in their book

Personal Mythology they say ...

“we are emphasizing that it is possible for you to develop a set of skills for revising your personal mythology in ways that will benefit you. When you alter a guiding myth, decisive changes in your perceptions, feelings, and behavior follow.” (5)

So the dreamwork and maskmaking, poetry and urge to dance were all the call to a deeper layer of the Feminine. No longer in the era of my childhood, I had come through the hallway and found myself in the prime of my Life, mid - life, and yet this face of the Feminine seemed much older and very much more chthonic. This was definitely an OLD LADY, a very eccentric, rather Grand Old Lady, long past her prime but very present none the less with passion tempered by the seasons, experience matured into wisdom. I could only hope that this was an to aspect grow into and not one that announced in some way the onset of decay, that I was old before my time. The mind roams everywhere.

The Lulubelle Mask seemed to reflect my ongoing dialogue with MOM, my quest to get to know her, to touch all her many faces. After existing in the highly differentiated world of the Masculine it was time to leave the OLD BOYS, packup my suits, get out my skirts and keep on truckin’ down that yellow brick road.

Slowly, consciousness was shiftinig; no longer focused in the world of choice, the idea of “as well as” began asserting itself regularly into my vocabulary. I heard the call of Lulabelle as a call to an enlarged life: all - inclusive in fact; both sides of the coin, nothing preferred, feathers, and all. I like the way Deepak Chopra put it in his book The Return of Merlin:

As the story unfolds for you, I ask you to look at the characters and the incidents as symbols of your own life experiences, and, bit by bit, as you traverse the vast landscape of your own consciousness, you will awaken the Merlin inside you. But before you encounter Merlin - the spirit - you must go past the dark alleys, the secret passages, and the ghost-filled attics of your own mind.

You must confront your own Fairy Fay, your shadow self that accompanies you wherever you go. Fairy Fay exists in all of us; we are a conglomeration of ambiguities, an agglutination of different archetypal energies, where the sacred and the profane, the divine and the diabolical, the sinner and the saint all coexist. (6)

With the Goddess and her mythopoetic entourage all knocking at my door, calling me to play, I felt a strong call in my personal life to another face of the Madam, Aphrodite, Goddess of Love; and as I began to give voice to a more current expression of my call, the ancient mysteries of Eros insinuated themselves into my Life: sensuous fabrics, a touch of lace, chocolates, long painted fingernails, more chocolates.

It would seem that mid - life, or at least my mid - life needed that third face of the Goddess, having had Maiden and Crone announce themselves through past masks. Aphrodite Does Lunch was a wonderful gift ... a journey through the Feminine at mid - life with Beauty, Exhuberance and Charm all tempered by the passage of time. For what does a Goddess do when not called upon ... where must She wait while fortunes come and go and what must we do when Her absence leaves us longing.

For when the longing becomes pathetic it becomes neurotic, and then the lure of the divine to the dance floor can take a disastrous turn. Hubris: or as Cashford and Baring put it in Myth of the Goddess:

Individuals take upon themselves the powers and attributes that, they believe, belong to a deity, even to the extent of believing the deity is incarnated in their own persons or that they are enacting the will of the deity. (171)

So the danger of the quest, the danger of answering the mid - life call is the pitfall of mankind; to accumulate power without seizing control, to avoid the Hubris, to be God - like without appropriating authority.

What I found most significant was that the archetype does not just speak through the mask but influences the mask with its very being. Pink is definitely for girls and interestingly enough it is the colour which mediates the passion and purity of Eros and Logos. So that archetypal force of relationship the mystery of attraction is breathed into the very soul of the mask itself. Feathers dancing into the Crone mask are reminiscent of a description of the Paleolithic Mother Goddess, Cashford and Baring in Myth of the Goddess describe a ‘strange, dark’ sculpted Venus circa 25,000 B.C.:

Her face has two upward slanting slits for eyes and a downward stroke for the nose, and in the top of her head four holes were made in the wet clay to hold flowers, leaves or feathers, forming her ‘hair’ or ‘head-dress’ - and image, perhaps, that explores how plants grow. Again, it is the feeling of fecundity that predominates. (11)

Mom in all Her glory, not mine. To be of Her and not Her. To avoid the hubris, to avoid trying to outguess the Universe it was necessary to let Aphrodite breathe Herself into life. Bright pinks became muted with violets, pearls were essential and a touch of red mandatory. The birth of Aphrodite Does Lunch reminded me of one of my favorite poems by T.S. Elliot ....

I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be light, and the stillness the dancing. (28)

Dancing; if ever there was a Goddess who reminds me of dancing it is Aphrodite and it is She who dances the Young Maiden into the flowering of her Life and it is She whose gentle rhythms hold the heartstrings of the Crone. The Goddess of Love plucks my own heartstrings quite regularly and leaves herself in present memory as a few scribbles on a piece of paper:

Aphrodite Queen of May
Let your fair hair loose, I pray
Let sunlight kiss those wrinkled tears
Let go of sorrow, gift of years ...

Works Cited

  • Baring, Anne and Cashford, Jules. The Myth of the Goddess. Evolution of an Image.
  • Penguin Books. 1991
  • Chopra, Deepak. The Return of Merlin. Harmony Books. 1995.
  • Davis, Elizabeth and Leonard, Carol. The Women’s Wheel of Life. Viking Arkana. 1996.
  • Eliot, T.S. Four Quartets. Harcourt Brace. 1988.
  • Oliver, Mary. Dreamwork.( Wild Geese ) Atlantic Monthly Press. 1986.

WILD GEESE
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting
you only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

Betwixt and Between

Life is seldom simple, to talk about it is not simple at all. Even the responsibility of this paper came with five choices ... five different but equally useful roads leading into the heart of Rome. Rome? Depth psychology in this case...an investigation into the fundamental meanings given to this process we call Life.

There are many clichés about what Life is and many factioned authorities on who said so...from cherries to beaches, from voodoo to zen, Life is what happens between then and now. It is birthed out of movement, out of the simple into the complex, into the labyrinth and it would seem that we then spend all of our time between now and then longing for a return to the simple, looking for a way back through the labyrinth.

But of course one of the fundamental rules of Life is that there is no going back, no possibility of regression; time as they say marches on, waits for no man. The only way out of the labyrinth is one step at a time, movement forward, involvement breath by breath.

Now since a journey outward is also a journey inward as each out breath expanded man’s mind each in breath expanded man’s heart, and out of this crucible was born the tension of the opposites, the crux of Life’s complexity...to serve the mind or the heart and the compensitory balancing between the two.

When Life is simple no explanation is required, Life simply is; but with the birth of an I/Thou relationship, with the movement out of unity into multiplicity, out of stasis into the world of choice and preference, Life assumes a complexity. There are many roads to Rome yet choice is the archetypal dynamic underlying each journey. Without choice Life simply is, with choice Life is a bowl of cherries. And though they all look the same, no two cherries of course are alike; look alike, taste alike, yes, but only alike, not the same. So choice can lead to preference or preference can lead to choice but either way it is this eternal dynamic which underlies the path through the labyrinth.

With its twists and turns, dead ends and dark corners the labyrinth serves as a metaphor for Life’s process but where does the labyrinth come from, what creates the possibility of choice and the desire to heed the call and move through the labyrinth; where did the in breath come from and where does the out breath go, and why; what determines preference and what, when, where, why and whom do I ask?

Questions: announcing the recognition of complexity, the acknowledgment of the I/Thou relationship and the beginning of the possibility of influence. Always implicit within choice is reference ‘which one to choose’, ‘which way to go’; always the search for answers to these questions has determined the path through the labyrinth both personal and collective.

The problem with choice is in fact that it poses THE problem for ‘which one to choose’ implies that there might be a better choice to make: which path leads to a dead end, which one circles back, which one moves forward; how to know, decisions: good or bad, better or worse, positive or negative, sickness or health: alternatives which give value to choice.

All in all, a very angst-creating process this need to decide in order to move, in order to birth Life, in order to sustain...sustain what...sustain whom...questions, more questions; the same questions put a thousand different ways, yet these questions are still fundamentally the same questions and the seeking of answers to these questions is always reflected by the mythopoesis of the journey through the labyrinth.

This ability to ask questions and the need to seek answers have given rise to the I/Thou relationship and man’s ongoing dialogue with the labyrinth itself. Who am I and who are you...how are we the same and how are we different...how do we know each other...shall we dance?

Those who sought to know Life outwardly became known as scientists, those who sought to know Life inwardly became known as mystics and yet each sought the answers to the same questions, investigating in its most intimate varieties the I/Thou dynamic.

And like all relationships between this and that it is the borderline dynamic existing at the meeting of this and that which becomes the liminal space of Hermetic lore: the frontier, at the edge, old meets new, the land of transformation, the land of metaphor becomes the heartland for the investigation of I/Thou. From Shaman to Shaker man has sought answers in the land beyond time and indeed it would appear that the search was successful and many answers have yielded themselves up to consciousness.

So exactly where is this heartland of cosmic wisdom, where does one buy tickets, how does one get there; if in fact just anyone can go? Can anyone go? It depends: depends on what; on what you believe in, probably not much else once all is said and done. And whether you shake, rattle or roll your way to it there is a moment between moments where I and Thou meet in ecstatic silence. Within the heights of reverie and the depths of dispair Life remains suspended in the moment, and it is from this moment that the labyrinth is birthed and it is to this moment we are dedicated in our life long journey.

So in fact pretty well everyone can go. This once upon a time land is accessible and it is here that we access the storehouse of Life’s memoria, a treasure trove of truth cross filed in a plethora of language and symbol; everything there is to know, all of Life’s possibilities held within this temenos.

And so the journey gives birth to the question and the question gives birth to the journey, the labyrinth flourishes and time spirals on.

Every breath is a step on this odyssey through Life and it is not possible to avoid the questions but it is possible to avoid the answers. It is possible to step hesitantly, seek out dark corners, fear the unknown. Within the complexities of Life it is possible to complicate further even the simplest of responsibilities; a simple step becoming home to neurotic urgings, a simple breath home to psychotic longing.

Life is not simple and the mystery of our very existence puts a question on the

wings of each breath Life calls forth. Where did the in breath come from...where does the out breath go?

Mystery entices. It beckons and it lures...with a seductive wink it suggests an unfathomable richness of knowledge at the same time warning of the hubris in seeking the power of the Gods. To follow the question into the heartland searching for a glimpse of truth; to undertake a heroic journey, a seeking to know Thou without and within; to follow the question is the first act of faith. The act of belief born on the border of this and that is the mythos of a civilization, it is the prayers of its sisterhood the ritual of the brotherhood, the laughter of children.

From here it is possible to shine lights in dark corners, moving with clarity and sureness of foot. From this storehouse of truth it is possible to sip at the well of remembrance, in fact it is an archetypal experience itself, this land of all possibilities. From here come nightmares and daydreams, visions and spirits, story and song; each an expression of the I/Thou relationship, each an expression of the truth we hold dear.

But as dear becomes darling, as we become married to these truths clasping them securely to us we behave as jealous lovers hovering narcissistically over these mirrors of our souls. Rather than ecoming ‘one with’ we seek control, the struggle between logos and eros begins and necessity is born out of desire, habit and dogma serving as godparents.

From pyromania to Beatlemania we are seduced by our desires, overcome by our urges and held hostage by our longing; mythos becomes pathos and the way becomes haunted with dangers real and imagined. Whether it’s Life on the fast track or Life at the edge this labyrinthian house of mirrors is not a fun place to be, the long vanished Garden of Eden with its simplicity and joy fades into the distance a much cherished memory.

Weighed down with the baggage of our misconceptions Life seems difficult, the journey a burden of great stress and terror. It becomes difficult to stand tall, to have courage, to move on; anger turns to dispair, all roads lead to nowhere, there is no place like home.

Lost in the wilderness of sorrow and guilt, of closed doorways and long shadows Life hesitates. Without clarity it is not easy to make choices, without clarity it is not easy to see ahead. From the producers of Dreamtime will come monsters at the door, reminders of all that we call precious, all that we hold dear. And right there is another version of the same basic rule...to have and not hold. Life demands full presence at the experience but no holding on - no judgments of which moments are better, which monsters preferred: no expectations of what ought to be, no planning ahead. As the labyrinth unfolds, so must one follow, moving ahead as each breath beckons; no hiding in corners, no running from monsters, no avoiding the next choice, and the next choice, and the next.

So back to the crux of the matter, to make choices without being attached to the outcome, to prefer something that prefers you, to balance the in breath and the out breath: Life is not simple. Like a moth to the flame we are drawn to our destinies choice by choice, action by action, moment by moment; always seeking to juggle intuition with instinct, balance thought with deed, mind with heart. And so we negotiate.

But exactly whom do we negotiate with, who sits on the other side of this bargaining table, with whom do we seek to share power? Since what is not I is Thou it can only be thou and with divinity projected onto Thou without and within, all aspects of the labyrinth are seen as sacred, as authentic voices of the mystery.

As this dialogue dances its way through the labyrinth it births pattern, an essential reduction of the path to mathematical precision: if this then that. From mambos to cha-chas, waltzes to swing, each mythos echoes the somatic arche of its creators. ‘The face you show God is the face God shows you’ over and over and over again. As the waves roll onto the beach and the cherries pile up in the bowl, Life undulates through the labyrinth and the wave and the particle dance laughingly through time.

But when tears outweigh laughter, when sorrow outweighs joy, when dispair becomes the light by which the path is reckoned; when dance and dancer are not in accord, cries of rejection and fears of abandonment echo across the dance floor. To prefer something that prefers you is to hope that it prefers you back forever, to hope you can somehow keep a good thing going, but this very hope, this desire to hold on, for marriage, for permanence, for belonging, creates the very attachment it is necessary to forgo. To dance each dance as the only dance is to enter each moment in service, hands out to give not to take, letting go of all else.

Here Life is simple. Now there is nowhere else to be, now there is nowhere else to go. Here and now on the dance floor as dancer and dance become one Life momentarily ceases to be complex. Here at the crossroads of yesterday and tomorrow, now and then, this and that, Life enters the moment and time is the servant, no longer the master.

And so it would seem necessary to journey to this crossroads, or perhaps they journey to us, in order to enter between moments, to hang out betwixt and between in the land without time. For here lies salvation, redemption of the past and a glimpse of tomorrow; seen as time out it is really time in...in touch with the self, in touch with the universe in touch with Thou.

Now if it were only as simple as a long distance call, or a touch of the help key - if only this place was just a plane ride away.

Lived in real time this crossroads is accessed through the mirror...pause, center, shift, going in... to gain perspective of the complex, one must return to the simple, the beginning of things... recalling the dance steps... retracing the archetypal experience to its home in the depths of our history, revolving into the start of our story. It is from ‘Once upon a time’ land that the hero’s journey always begins.

But when the dance gets confusing, steps are hesitant; it becomes necessary to stand aside, take a moment and reunite with the rhythm. “Take a moment’. How is it possible to stop time, to call time out? How is it possible to untangle the complicated and return to the simple? How is it possible to realign with the pattern, catch the beat, be in sync? How is it possible to reestablish connection with the cradle of Life? Where is the strand of fairy tale peas which lead out of the woods back to a place known as Home?

It is to this land that we seek a return; heading east to the land of the rising sun, to the border of the land without time at the door to the labyrinth; the crossroads of here and there, now and then; the announcement of the I/Thou relationship, the beginning of pattern. Birth.

All roads lead to Rome, all roads lead back to the center. From Vipassana meditation to Nichiren chanting, from sandbox therapy to psycho drama, from the discipline of craftsmanship to the liberty of song, Life is offered many opportunities to catch a glimpse of itself. Gazing through these mirrors into the land without time, Life sees itself clearly, knows itself intimately. From Shaman to sooth sayer there have always been frequent flyers on this imaginal voyage through the looking glass for there are many paths which instill centering, many traditions which instill mindfulness: from candles to flashlights there have always been ways to light up the dark, to peer into the mystery.

Light is born at the horizon, it is the good morning kiss of the sun and the moon. It is the lovechild of the I/Thou conspiracy. Finding this light at the end of the tunnel is a rekindling of the faith, a return to the first act of belief, a return to the simple.

So, it seems by honoring our roots, by singing the songs of our genesis we can reconnect to our psyches, caressing the cheek of our souls as we pass through the gateway of time and space.

It takes only sincerity and the allegorical blink of an imaginal third eye to convince the gatekeeper to stand aside. To slip inside the moment between moments, to step into now without stepping out can be the work of a Lifetime, or the grace of a moment. Either way it is the basic requirement.

To check up on Life it is necessary to check-in, to stop the action, freeze frame, be still. To catch the pattern it is necessary to stand aside, pay attention and watch, looking for the rhythm which finger prints each Life with its singularity, looking for the leaf camouflaged by the tree. By focusing attention, intention is declared and the price of admission is paid - the crossroads is reached, all of Life hangs in the moment.

From here it is possible to see the oak in the acorn, the acorn in the oak. From here it is possible to ‘know thyself’; to see who we are so we can be who we are. From here it is possible to gain persective, know the leaf from the branch, the branch from the tree, the tree from the forest. Here live the angels and guardians, devas and spirits. Here lives the question, here lives the answer, here lives the mystery.

‘Who am I’ seems to echo the core of the mystery and the question gives rise to the quest - the journey is born on the first breath we take and so the search for the Self begins.

So Life is not simple. Life teeters and totters. Complicated by each choice we make, each path we take, the labyrinth seems endless. The way forward is shadowed, the way back appears cluttered and closed...too many dances, too many rhythms too many...too much...too...too...too... . Which leads back to rule number one...there is no turning back...no reforming the given no wishing Life otherwise. Cards dealt must be taken - the next move must be made. It is only by converting too to so..by stepping aside that we step back into our lives.

It is only by stopping the dance and by converting our attitude that Life becomes simple. For ‘too’ implies judgement ‘so’ implies suchness. When there is no choice but to ‘Be Here Now’, when the space between here and there is closed, when there is no time between now and then, when we live in the moment betwixt and between, without judgment, without expectation, Life becomes simple. Life simply is.

Four Quartets...
I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting
Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought:
So the darkness shall be light, and the stillness the dancing. (28)

TRILOGY
On wings of light
I learn to fly
Throu ocean’s bliss
I hear my cry.
O sweet mother hear
My pain
To be with you
And home again.
1 2 3 4
almost out the door
1 2 3
woe is me
1 2
what to do
back to
1
life undone.
and LIFE BEGUN
Birds of fire
Hearts torment
Gifts of laughter
Heaven sent
Little black shoes
on too big feet
At the crossroads
take a seat.

Rokie, Arizona
March 1993

Works Cited

  • Carody, Denise Lardner. Carmody, John Tully. Mysticism, Holiness East and West. Oxford University Press. New York. 1996.
  • Eliot, T.S. Four Quartets. Harcourt Brace. 1988.
  • Huber, Cheri. That Which You Are Seeking Is Causing You To Seek. A Centre for the Practice of Zen Buddhist Meditation - publisher. Zen Centre, Mountain View, California. Monastry/Retreat Center, Murphys, California. 1990.
  • The How You Do Anything Is How You Do Everything Workbook. Centre for the Practice of Zen Buddhist Meditation. Mountain View, California. 1988
  • Ibn ‘Arabi, Muhyiddin. Journey to the Lord of Power. A Sufi Manual on Retreat. Translated by Rabia Terri Harris. Inner Traditions International. Rochester, Vermont. 1981.
  • Jung, C.G. The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. (Concerning Mandala Symbolism). Translated by R.F.C. Hull. Bollingen Foundation Inc. New York, 1959. New Material, Princeton University Press. 1969.
  • Ladinsky, Daniel. I Heard God Laughing. Renderings of Hazif. Oakland, California. Dharma Printing Company. 1992.

Catnaps

Between, what is
and what is not
is the entire realm
of philosophical thought
The fine line of logos
giving eros a kiss
a philosopher lives for
such a moment as this.

Rokie, Pacifica
March 1997

AND THE WEATHER TONIGHT
Storm tossed I land in the
heart of your affections and
I am home.
Wrinkled and worn I sink into the
soul of your laughter and
I am home.
Overwhelmed with fatigue I am
lulled into the cradle of your
breath
and I am home.
And when I am lost in the desert
of my despair you come as the
wind, howling your raga call,
seeking me out, bidding me follow
tempting me home.

Rokie, Pacifica
1997

Winds kiss me
Trees whisper to me
Sweet grasses caress me
Pines whistle at me
And yet I yearn for you
You are the winds that
nuzzle me
The trees that enfold me
The grasses softly bathing me
The pine trees winking gently at me
And so I yearn for you.

Rokie, Pacifica
1997

Circling the Square

Firelight flickered, footsteps quickened,voices lowered to a hushed whisper, then lowered still further and as heart strings were plucked tenderly the Sufis danced their way through the starlit night; leaving Arabia Felix they danced their way westward across a sea of sand, through Egypt and the desert across to the oases of Morocco and up through Spain as far north as the French Alps. As the Soldiers of Islam sought to convert the world to ‘In Sha Allah’ Sufis danced symbiotically along knowing that Allah was and would always be there to welcome them. Where else? Where else would Allah be; for wherever Allah lives Sufism serves as the call Home.

Sufism, sometimes called a tradition,is also known as the Way or the Path. It emerged into the west during the middle ages as other calls to Divine love were being heard from sea to sky. ‘In God’s name’ and Allah be praised rang across the land as righteous Christians and fanatic Muslims sought to debate the finer points of theology through extreme violence.

Early in the seventh century out of Medina in Arabia rose the Prophet Mohammed, midwife to the Koran, and from nearby Mecca soon rose a viewpoint of the Divine which threatened the very foundation of Christianity. For although Islam is based on the God of Abraham as are Judaism and Christianity, it is lived through Ishmael son of Hagar not through Isaac son of Sarah. It was founded on the concept of 'complete surrender’ and did not allow it possible for there to be a Son of God. Like the Jews, these Muslims, followers of Islam closed the door at the end of the old testament. For after all ‘There is no God but God ... ‘ the first of the five pillars of Islam and so Sons of God...their God...God of Abraham...were not allowed.

And so the beginning of the Middle Ages was heralded by the sons of this new faith riding forth to bring Islam and its call to surrender to the world; and on its coattails Sufism, the inner call to Divine love. Using religion as the means and not the end, Sufism saw Alice’s Wonderland as just so and through the Looking Glass as the next stop. Sufism started where ordinary religious doctrine ends and is predicated on the establishment of a personal relationship with the Divine which need not be mediated by time and space, temple or temple-master.

So the call to prayer, second of Islam’s five pillars, became inseparable from the call to arms. Everywhere it seemed was the sound of the drum, footsteps on the march. Sound and movement, footsteps in a circle, Sufi circles moving with the sound of the drum, moving west as the east exported itself from its very foundations both artistic and spiritual. From the ashes of the Prophet’s death in 632 AD rose the phoenix of Islam spreading almost uncontrollably both east and west so that by the fourteenth century the influences of the heathen Saracen, in fact of the entire Arabic empire had been permanently translated into the more modern contributions of the Moors.

The faith of Mohammed had insinuated itself lastingly into the smoldering ashes of the old Greco-Roman empire as Lyn Wilcox summed up in Sufism and Psychology:

“During the European Dark Ages, Islamic science and literature flourished, and Sufi scholars proceeded in scientific and mathematical experimentation and discovery while Europeans who attempted the same were being tried for heresy. While the richest Christian monasteries then might be endowed with 300 to 400 books, the Muslim University at Granada had 105,000 volumes. Interaction between Judaic, Christian and Muslim scholars was widespread, particularly in Spain, where Muslims ruled from 711 to 1492, and allowed freedom of religion even during the Crusades. Sufi teachings were made known throughout the “Western” world through Spain and provided the foundation for the Christian mystics--St. Theresa, St. Catherine, Meister Eckhart, Richard Rolle and others-- who began to appear in the eleventh century. The best known, St. Francis of Assisi, visited the Sufi-influenced court of the Sultan of Egypt in Damietta in the midst of the Crusades.” (13)

And in fact it was the Crusades, the call to reclaim Jerusalem that was the prime catalyst in calling Sufism west. In 1095 Pope Uban II sanctioned the Crusades and the eventual invasion of Jerusalem was to last two centuries after which the converted Ottoman Turks redeemed the city in the name of Allah, and of course where Allah lived Sufism served at the inner altar with reverence and adoration.

And so the cradle of civilization moved westward bringing gifts, this time of science and mathematics, astronomy and poetry, not the usual baggage of a crusading warrior nor the more esoteric gifts of the three wise men those last famous gift bearers out of the east. These were the tools of the new-age yet age old warrior, God’s own self appointed soldiers but not soldiers on the battlefields of Europe and the Holy Land, although the war torn Holy Land, heartland of Christian Jew and Muslim alike, mirrored man’s inner torment. It reflected his need to acquire Truth, to serve righteousness through deed while God’s own spiritual warriors sought to battle another enemy, those seven deadly sins, on another field of truth. And it was here on that inner field of truth that the crucible known as Sufism was born out of man’s desire to live life as a true warrior, impeccable, a man of sincerity, a man of integrity dedicated to life through a love of God; a Sufi. So investigating Sufism somehow leads us into the world of the warrior, intellectual, spiritual, and military.

As above, so below. Like so much of the wisdom Sufism has given to us, this short phrase contains untold truths, particularly a truth about Sufism, that only it’s latest guise is through the theater of Islam. For to understand Sufism’s rise in the middle ages is to see it mirrored in the rise of courtly love and chivalry. But not chivalry by the sword against the enemy; more in a sense of the archetypal heroic, the sword of Inner Truth. For usually what is happening in one level of society is being played out metaphorically in all arenas. ‘Only the names have been changed’... as above, so below.

Despite the fact that Sufism in the middle ages rode into the west on the wings of Islam it is much older as Idries Shah says in his book The Sufis:

“Exactly how old is the word “Sufism?” There were Sufis at all times and in all countries, says the tradition. Sufis existed as such and under this name before Islam. But, if there was a name for the practitioner, there was no name for the practice. The English word “Sufism” is anglicized from the Latin, Sufismus; it was a Teutonic scholar who, as recently as 1821, coined the Latinization which is now almost naturalized into English. Before him there was the word tasawwuf- the state, practice or condition of being a Sufi.” (54)

and he continues:

“The Sufis appear in historical times mainly within the pale of Islam. They have produced great theologians, poets, scientists. They accepted atomic theory and formulated a science of evolution over six hundred years before Darwin. They have been hailed as saints, executed and persecuted as heretics. They teach that there is only one underlying truth within everything that is called religion.” (55)

For whenever man goes out, man goes in; as above so below. As man has explored the planet and encountered the unknown he has sought to explain and classify, his version of “to know”, his logos; but there have been some courageous seekers who have ventured inward not forsaking outward, still seeking to make sense, to know; but through sense itself, through its eros, to know something instead of knowing of it; to know it through connection, relationship, compassion, love.

Love is a word inseparable from the word Sufi, in fact at the very heart of its meaning for a Sufi lives life through acts of love and yet this differs from Christian devotion as Laleh Bakhtiar points out in Sufi, Expressions of the Mystic Quest:

Every spiritual way emphasizes a particular aspect of the Truth. Christianity, for example, is essentially a way of love; the Christian is tied to Christ through love. To the Sioux, on the other hand, the most important element is self-renunciation. Islam emphasizes knowledge. Sufism begins with the way of knowledge, but carries it to its highest form, knowledge which illuminates.

The way to illumination is often described as consisting of three attainments: the Knowledge of Certainty, the Eye of Certainty, the Truth of Certainty. The distinction may be understood by taking fire as the symbol of Truth. To attain the Eye of Certainty is to know fire from seeing the light of its flames. The highest attainment, the Truth of Certainty, belongs to those who know fire from having been consumed in it. (7)

As well as being lovers of God, Sufis are seekers of truth; seekers of truth implying that something is hidden, unknown, a mystery, beyond explanation. These seekers of truth through the lens of true love explored the universe enticing it to yield up its secrets. Searching for the ideal marriage of organic truth and the anonymity of the primal participation mystiques these mystics as they were called lived both inwardly and outwardly. Living in the herd, yet knowing it ... the cosmic leap ... knowing it and remaining present.

As Judaism, Christianity, and Islam became key players in the How Will You Spend Your After Life Game; each developed its own FBI and CIA. Only this wasn’t just intelligence Logos stuff this was real knowledge, true understanding in fact, when knowledge was still basically revelation-type stuff, like the Earth is not the center of the universe, the Earth is not flat. And in fact a lot of ‘nots’made banner news.

These medieval seekers of Truth, ultimate Truth, Truth as the divine metaphor became known as mystics and each served at the alter of Love, in each case a form of bhakti with relentless devotion to the Father, the Son and the Teacher. Although Sufism is known to be a mystical tradition of Islam, it has been said as Idries Shah pointed out, to be much older than that. In fact, it might be said in modern terms that Sufism is the birth of the I/Thou relationship, assuming a continuous personal dynamic with the Divine. While it is true that Sufism is tied to Islam by its present environment it would seem that Sufism is much more archetypal - the essence of the primal longing to know God intimately; a longing which crosses all boundaries, all faiths, all dogma - or as Idries Shah in The Sufis puts it “In addition to the unscalable wall of Sufi experience, there is the problem of the Sufi personality. Any ordinary survey of Sufic writings and careers would be enough to bewilder the least doctrinaire investigator. Among the Sufis have been former Zoroastrian, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist and other priests; Persians, Greeks and Arabs, Egyptians, Spaniards and Englishmen. There are in the ranks of the Sufi masters theologians, a reformed captain of banditti, slaves, soldiers, merchants, viziers, kings and artists. Only two are well known to many contemporary Western readers. They are the poet and mathematician Omar Khayyam of Persia, and the prince Abu ben-Adam of Afghanistan-- the subject of a poem by Leigh Hunt : “Abu ben-Adam, may his tribe increase....” (47)

Sufism is endemic, here to stay and wherever There is it goes. In fact Sufism causes from here to there. It is the ability to access an expanded sense of consciousness, a bigger universe, a wider view of life, always as seen through the desire to serve the Beloved.

Sufis are in the true sense of the word Hermetic for although strict monasticism, asceticism and isolation are not practiced, Sufis are frequent visitors to the liminal space of Hermetic fame. Finding silence within the throng is much more Sufi, combining inward and outward, attempting the balance betwixt and between.

While Sufism itself has been called a tradition it has an underlying structure; albeit an extremely dynamic one. For to be a Sufi implies a decided sense of discipline in support of a commitment to inner truth. To live within such a framework requires guidelines and in fact a guide or teacher is an absolute prerequisite.

To be Sufi one must be willing to explore the farthest corners of one’s own empire taking all it’s citizens to heart both inwardly and outwardly. Trying to live life in the moment and paying attention, suspending judgment and expectation, being accountable and responsible for one’s own actions; these are basic requirements of an aspiring Sufi.

Like all ‘isms’, Sufism has a clear subdivision into several families, each with its own bias. But the underlying principal is always the same, an I/Thou relationship. And this relationship is to be viewed from two levels, inner and outer...whether it is our extroverted relationship to the Divine or our introverted relationship with the Self, Sufism is the call to dance with the Beloved.

As man searches Life for a sense of meaning, man searches for the Beloved; and it is this archtypal longing which gives us story, which gives us history; and behind every good history is the search for the Beloved...and Life goes on circling out of the dark into the next well lit campfire, settling comfortably in the starlit night as Sufis dance their hearts into being.

Works Cited

  • Bakhtiar, Laleh. Sufi, Expressions of the Mystic Quest. London, England. Thames & Hudson. 1976.
  • Translated Barks, Coleman. With Arberry, A.J., Moyne, John; Nicholson, Reynold. The Essential
  • Rumi. New York. Harper Collins Publisher. 1995.
  • Burchhardt, Titus. Translated by Matheson, D.M. An Introduction to Sufism. London, England. San Francisco, California. Thorson’s, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers.
  • 1976,1990,1995.
  • Carmody, Denise Lardner. Carmody, John Tulley. Mysticism. Holiness. East & West. New York. Oxford University Press. 1996.
  • Nicholson, Reynold A. The Mystics of Islam. London, England. Penguin Group, Arkana. 1989.
  • Platt, Richard. Foreward by Lubar, Steven of National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. Smithosian Visual Timeline of Inventions. London. Dorling Kindersley Ltd. 1994.
  • Shah, Idries. The Sufis. Introduction by Robert Graves. New York. Doubleday. 1964.
  • Edited Spiegelman, J. Marvin Ph.D. with Khan, Pir Vilayat Inayat, and Fernandez, Tasnim.
  • Sufism, Isam and Jungian Psychology. Scottsdale, Arizona. Falcon Press. 1991.
  • Vaughan-Lee, Llewellyn. Foreward by Irina Tweedie. The Lover and the Serpent. Dreamwork
  • Within a Sufi Tradition. First published in Great Britain in 1990 by Element Books Ltd.
  • Longmead, Shaftesbury, Dorset. Rockport, MA. U.S.A. Element Inc. 1991.
  • Wilcox, Lyn. Sufism and Psychology. Chicago, Illinois. ABJAD Book Designers and Builders. 1995.

Hymn to Gaia

Gaia mother of all
foundation of all
the oldest one
I shall sing to earth
She feeds everything
that is in the world
Whoever you are
whether you live upon her sacred ground
or whether you live along the paths of the sea
you that fly
it is she
who nourishes you
from her treasure-store
Queen of Earth
through you
beautiful children
beautiful harvests
come
The giving of life
and the taking of life
both are yours
Happy is the man you honour
the one who has this
has everything
His fields thicken with ripe corn
his cattle grow heavy in the pastures
his house brims over with good things
These are the men you are masters of their city
the laws are just, the women are fair
happiness and fortune richly follow them
Their sons delight
in the ecstasy of youth
Their daughters play
they dance among the flowers
skipping in and out
they dance on the grass
over soft flowers
Holy goddess, you
honoured them
ever-flowing spirit
Farewell
mother of the gods
bride of Heaven
sparkling with stars
For my song, life
allow me
loved of the heart
Now
and in my other songs
I shall remember you

My Sufi Dream

It is fitting that this poem by Hafiz seeks to begin for such a ‘wonderful and wild companion’ as Hafiz is just so likely to burst right into the beginning of things. Although it seemed spontaneously chosen when I first opened the book, the poem is in fact a great metaphor for my Sufi Dream , and Hafiz’s poem is the perfect introduction. And as the Friend appears in Hafiz’s poetry, it would seem the same Friend lives in my Sufi Dream; in fact, that same Friend seems to echo throughout the dream-time I have chosen to investigate.

Seeking the Friend. Dancing desire into Being. Catching that one moment that gives Longing to Life ... both the dream and its courtship, this dance of discovery, have lately joined into nudging me through a remarkable voyage spanning infinite strands of mystical time. Sufi time. Even writing about it invokes mystical experiences. Sufism has been the lens of my very being these past six weeks and it still seems too soon to focus, freeze/frame and check-in ... although living Sufism creates constant check-in. Going to school at Pacifica has required some refocusing, and so each term I see myself revisioning my life from some theme central to my studies. January of 1997 it would seem that Sufism announced itself as the path which beckoned; so although investigating a dream from both a Jungian and a Sufi perspective seemed a tad audacious everything, including the dream itself, conspired to this end.

It’s all about Longing and God and Love. Love is the big word along with Beloved and Dance, and Desire: the desire to serve, to deserve, to live with life as the Beloved. To seek the Beloved. To return Home. And the road Home for the Sufi can certainly be guided by dreams as Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee points out in The Lover and the Serpent:

“The Journey Home is a lover’s return to the center of himself, where He is waiting. And on this journey dreams are of immense importance, for it is through dreams that the inner world communicates to us, and guides us through its maze. The wisdom and understanding which we need for this quest lies within us, and it comes to us most easily in the form of dreams, when our conscious mind is asleep. Thus Sufis have always valued dreams and sought to understand the guidance which they offer.” (introduction xvi)

Even as I write this paper, the extraordinary eros of the dream with its mindful tending carry me through my life and I awaken this morning remembering but a lingering fragment of last night’s dream.

“I am watching this woman walk through the streets to her friend’s where she is to find a box full of old Sufi dreams. And in that box will be some very, very old dreams which will be just what she needs next ”

Sufi dreams. In The Lover and the Serpent, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee discusses dreamwork within a Sufi tradition and he says that:

“the great love affair which is the essence of the Sufi Path, will take the dreamer into the very depths of herself.”

And it was into my own very mythopoetic depths, to the affairs at the bottom of my heart that My Sufi Dream, as I have come to call it, took me. I had this dream October 27, 1993 in Arizona while on a “Darkside” Workshop with Brugh Joy during three days of fasting and silence. In the dream...

“I saw dark baggy panted legs dangling off an edge and feet hanging idly in old well-worn comfortable shoes/sneakers. At first, I was fearful to look up and see where they came from. I did so and as my eye traveled upward, I found myself looking at a gentle old man, sweet and content with himself. He reminded me very much of an old Jewish Rabbi because he had on an old black Hassidic type top hat. All of sudden we were infused in a momentary dance and we bumped our hips together laughingly. As his hips met mine, the most peaceful energy moved through and there was a mellow sunlight around us and especially around my left hip. I wondered who he was and heard a voice say Uncle Joseph ... then from the innermost being of my soul, I felt it go - oh Grandpa Joseph and I felt I had met a friend.”

“Met a Friend”. Friend ... how that word does weave itself throughout my life, especially lately, living Sufi dreams in Sufi time. It’s amazing to look back and see that three and a half years ago Sufism had already moved into the long-body of my vocabulary. Hillmans’s acorn was well planted and rooting nicely. In many ways the dream seems rather simple; not a complex saga spanning the cosmos; and yet the very naivety and innocence of the dance speak of somatic arche both primal and divine--feet, shoes, hat, black, old, sunlight, hip; each word rooted in mythic vocabulary. To dance, to laugh, to smile; each verb an echo of the collective heartbeat. So moving out of my mind into my heart...

It was such a sweet dream ... such a very sweet dream and as I have recently been learning ... a very Sufi dream. Sufism made simple...I, Thou and the Dance. The dance with the Divine. For the Sufi, God is Everything and all of Life is lived from that perspective. Although it has its ascetic moments, Sufism is very alive, very vital, extremely romantic: like its counterparts, Chivalry, Kabbalism, and Rosacrucianism, it has as it’s underlying dogma a relationship with the divine through the act of love. The ultimate love affair; Sufism is an extremely seductive path and it’s eros is echoed in my dream, “bumped our hips together laughingly”, even the retelling of it causes me to smile ... the power of seduction, the power of the archetype.

For Grandpa Joseph is definitely an archetype come calling. Perhaps the wise old man; the senex redeeming my narcissistic (puer) kid-self; perhaps the super - ego in “the old Jewish Rabbi.,” Tradition Incarnate; perhaps the guide, the wise animus; in historical perspective perhaps the man who wore the coat of many colors, Joseph of the Bible, interpreter of dreams, father of a Sufi lineage. It is this face of Grandfather Joseph which is so present in this dream and calls to my attention. To pay attention - one of the great Sufi traits: particularly when ancestors are involved.

I came home from the Brugh Joy workshop and was telling my father my dream. A few weeks later he appeared at my house with a picture. “Your Mother’s Grandfather Joseph,” he said ... a picture I had never seen of a man I had never known, or had I? For of course it was the very man of my dream, Grandpa Joseph. Great Grandfather Joseph was very much alive and well in Dream time. I shouldn’t even be surprised; for that’s how it is in the Sufi world. Like last weekend, Saturday at five: I had a spare one-half hour to recolor my nails and I suddenly decided to do something extremely uncharacteristic, I just switched on the television ... to channel 24 ... the Islamic Hour. Now really! Now really ... or as Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee might remind us in The Lover and the Serpent:

“But a psychological phenomenon of this Path is that ordinary, everyday situations become more highly charged, as the activated contents of the unconscious seek expression. Thus, situations that from a ‘normal’ perspective might seem trivial or unimportant can become highly dynamic psychologically.” (12)

Synchronicity reigns supreme and its been like that for the last six weeks since Sufism and I walked onto the dance floor, Dance floor of Life, the Sufi might say. “Who visits?” is the question and My Sufi Dream was the epitome of the calling of my ancestors and the ancestors of my calling meeting, and I want to say mating, in that most mythic of spots the Dance floor of Life, “dangling off an edge” in that most mythic of lands, Dreamtime. Edges, liminal space: Hermes the guide ... perhaps it is he who visits in the land of all possibilities, the interface between here and there ... ah here and there ... reminiscent of last week’s dream which resounded with

from here to here
from here to there
to is the key
to = 2
even the way it’s written

Sufi’s dreams. Hmm ... like my life lately, like my dreams lately, this paper itself goes to the same edge, liminal space, Dreamtime, exploring all of its possibilities: life’s edge, life’s possibilities: and as Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan in Sufism, Islam and Jungian Psychology puts it:

“For a Sufi scholar browsing through the monumental plethora of C. G. Jung’s literacy legacy, even the most perfunctory perusal strikes a resonant note as meaningful parallels flash through one’s mind.

Foremost, both Jung and Sufis seek access to no-man’s lands beyond the middle range compass of the psyche where a sense of meaningfulness is attained that defies our common-place thinking yet may prove decisive in one’s self image. Both Jung and the Sufis nurture a holistic view of the psyche.” (35)

“No man’s lands,” the edge, eros at the edge “beyond the middle range” ... dances are like that ‘beyond the middle-range,’ although often set within a form there is enormous eros in the tangled tango... words and paper, thought and deed, from here to there ... echos of my recent dream ... the eros of the Sufi Dance floor has definitely invaded my life, singing it’s own tune, keeping it’s own time.

So Great Grandfather Joseph awakens in me a deep sense of longing and yet an even deeper sense of connection; the dance celebrating an alchemical coniunctio perhaps... for as Llewellyn Vaughan - Lee says in The Lover and the Serpent:

“In the very depths of the psyche are the archetypes, the primordial beings or energies that form the very basis of our existence. They form the structure of the psyche. Revered in the ancient world as gods, it is the archetypes which give meaning to our individual lives - Jung called them ‘determinates of meaning’. And yet, over the past centuries, with our belief in rationalism and our devaluing of the inner world of the soul, we have have forgotten about them, just as we have forgotten about the importance of the symbolic images with which they communicate with us. We are only just beginning to rediscover the meaning of this language of images, we are just beginning to reconnect ourselves with these inner gods. For these great beings or energies are a part of us, and only need to be remembered and revalued for their healing and transformative power to flow into our lives. Our relationship to the archetypes can restore much of the sacred meaning to life that for many people appears to been have lost. They can help to heal our wounded world.” (64)

A conversation I had with my friend Jordan seems indicative of the elastic borders of a Sufi life. Jordan asked me, if I could make just one cosmic leap in time where I might want to go. “Back to the beginning”, I replied instantly. “Why there?” he asked. “What’s the rush; if I got here before I can get here again.” I said “and I wouldn’t mind a check in with the Beginning, be that what it may!” Such a conversation. So like the uroboros, my history marches full circle into my future as Grandpa Joseph waltzes into my life, and as I delve deeper into my dream I spiral deeper into my dance. As time marches through my memory all of Life becomes my alphabet and age-old symbols summon: like shoes, especially the shoes in My Sufi Dream.

For me, the most haunting part of the dream, the part which resonates at the very deepest level has been the imago of the shoes. As a motif, shoes have starred in many of my dreams and black shoes in particular are amongst the regular cast of characters. Shoes; all kinds, all styles, all black. One’s stance in life; the interface of sole and The Mother ... Sole and soul; the Dance floor of Life, “no man’s lands”, life at the edge, on one’s feet ... dancing. Black boots, feet firmly on the ground. In my dream, those well - worn Rabbi boots are also a far off memory of black dancing boots summoning Eros onto the dance floor! Come to me... come to me.

The dance ... the magic part of the dream, alchemy at its finest moment or the Daughter redeemed by Dancing with Dad or Grandfather Wisdom comes calling ... the dance announces the probability of Birth, meta-physical to be sure perhaps around nine months later. And of course nine months later at the end of July 1994, I had a dream where

“I entered my bedroom and found an ever growing number of moths in cocoons on the ceiling with a large three foot one in the center...”

Birthing Psyche; quite the off-spring! And as I go downstairs this morning a small moth dances out of my hair into the hallway; living dreams; Sufi dreams. So that is how Sufi dreams can go, and what happens when one has the impertinence to try and untangle them.

It is no small matter to take any single moment out and dance with the Divine, surrender to the here and now, the Isness of Life ... to do so with any sense of consistency to regularly tune in and be present ‘more often that not at least,’ demands a decided sense of discipline, and as I have learned, an immense devotion to the Love of God in all of God’s infinite forms.

To regularly be thinking about God, about dancing with God, about serving God with abject devotion, about the thousand loving ways a lover loves... to use this thought as the summoning mantra ... to continuously center on the Sufi concept of existence these past six weeks has taken me to my most organic core, constantly re-imagining the metaphor of Dance seducing the imago of the Moment. Life lived daily at the heart of the affair. Heart, another word basic to Sufi Life.

My Sufi Dream also reminded me of Angeles Arrien’s profoundly simple question “When’s the last time you danced?” and I treasure the dream for that heartfelt reminder; to touch the earth sole to soul. “It’s enough with that dream already,” I can hear my ancestors calling, “Get a little sunshine. Go play. Too soon it will be cold again.” Or as Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee in The Lover and the Serpent says:

“For the wayfarer, there comes a moment when a psychological approach is no longer appropriate,...” (21)

So, I have not only dreamed the dream, I have lived it ... am living it, in fact the dream and I are dancing quite clearly together, weaving our stories into the Dreamtime. The many coats of Joseph have come to offer themselves in my dream: just maybe the inheritance of my calling. My affinity for the dreamtime, for tending soul through dreamwork... affirmation from the Homefront. I had asked to touch center, “Back to the beginning,” I had said to Jordan: and centering on My Sufi Dream put me at the center of the Sufi universe ... dancing with Grandfather on the Dance floor of Life. Home. Such a gift ... dancing with Grandfather Joseph ... dancing with my Friend.

Works Cited

  • Al-Akili, Muhammed M. I.B.N. Serrin’s Dictionary of Dreams. According to Islamic Inner Traditions.
  • Cover painting by Deis, Ishaq. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Pearl Publishing House, 1992.
  • Ladinsky, Daniel. I Heard God Laughing. Renderings of Hafiz. Oakland, California: Dharma Printing Company, 1992.
  • Spiegelman, J. Marvin and Fernandez, Tasnim, and Khan, Pir Vilayat Inayat. Sufism, Islam, and Jungian Psychology. Scottsdale, Arizona: Falcon Press, 1991.
  • Vaughan-Lee, Llewellyn. The Lover and the Serpent. Dreamwork Within a Sufi Tradition. 1st published Great Britain by Element Books Ltd, 1990. Rockport, MA: Element Inc, 1991.

Old Goddesses Never Die

Somethings never change - and most of our ancestral problems are mirrored in the myths that they created to give meaning to Life and all of its mysteries. What to do with Mom and Dad is the plaintive cry of the child as Mom and Dad grow old and progeny end-play each other in a bid for their share of divinity. How to get rid of the old folks, move them on to retirement, ease them out of their inheritance and reapportion the power amongst the new contenders; it’s a family problem, a tribal problem, a national problem, a universal problem, it is even a cosmic problem, for old stars must also die. The problem is part of the eternal story; off with the old and on with the new; who inherits the magic wand of power? In this case the old is the Goddess Eurynome and the grandchild knocking at her door, Zeus, is the divinity pre-eminant, the herald of our present call to worship. Zeus of the Sky; the young thunder God, Masculine, full of vigor, lusty, dynamic, brilliant, all-knowing, all-wise: a Father God, self-styled creator of the universe.

Reading the myth of Eurynome is a momentary peek at the last fragments of a long forgotten past. There was a time when man honored the inheritance of his Being. The awesome majesty of his very existance, engendered prayer and ritual daily. For him, Creation was just a moment ago and Life a very fragile, precious gift. The forces of the universe were not only contemplated, they were given Life and form, named and honoured, propitiated and entreated. They ruled the very fabric of early man’s existance and his place in the nature of things.

This very mystery of Being was enshrined in the symbol of The Mother Goddess. Long before the nomadic warriors swept down from the sky with their pantheon of Sky Gods, The Goddess had been the ruling face of the divine. As Buffie Johnson points out in Lady of the Beasts, it was absolutely clear why early man gave Creation a Feminine bias:

Explanations for the mysteries of life and death often included the idea of a supreme being, one who might govern both birth and death. This supreme being was logically female; if one looked at nature, it was clear that the power over birth, human and animal, belonged to the female. By extension therefore, the goddess controlled birth and fertility on a larger scale. Thus creation myths developed with female deities as those who gave birth to the universe. (124)

For the Pelasgians of Northern Greece, Eurynome was the tribal face of such a diety. The very telling of her story on starry nights in woods on the edge of neverland would recall the moment when all began. It was the Birth of Life, the beginning of her story. And in the beginning, Eurynome, source of the story, rose naked out of Chaos, reminding us of the vision of Aphrodite rising out of the foam. Birth and rebirth. The old and the new.

With the invasions of the warlike barbarians, the play was recast and roles were rewritten to serve a higher Truth. Lost Goddesses of Ancient Greece explores the expression of all the old forms of The Mother, in many of her familiar mythical guises. According to Charlene Spretnak:

Strains of the earlier tradition are evident in the later myths, which reflect the cultural amalgamation of three waves of barbarian invaders, the Ionians, the Achaeans, and finally the Dorians, who moved into Greece from 2500 to 1000 B.C. These invaders brought with them a patriarchal social order and their thunderbolt God, Zeus. What they found when they entered Greece was a firmly rooted religion of Goddess worship. (17)

Unlike their semitic neighbors, the Greek invaders had not opted for monotherism. Like Yahwah, his counterpart, Zeus was young, aggressive, all powerful; but in Greek Mythology this young God was also extremely potent, giving the modern phrase “stud muffin” new meaning. Whereas the young El remained emasculate, the end of the line, no progeny, no future; Zeus fathers a dynasty and this basic difference in the face of the divine as it wrests power from the old Mother will determine how the old Mother is reintegrated into the new myth.

In the Hebrew myth, there is no room for MOM. Here, in Greek myth, MOM is given a back seat, retired, sent off to the Olympic Home for Seniors. As Baring and Cashford point out in The Myth of the Goddess, in the beginning her relationship went from Supreme divinity to Mother sharing her domain in a Mother / Son - Lover relationship. In that capacity she often served to guide, offering wisdom, or as they put it:

The hero becomes the son-lover who can accomplish his task only with the help of his ‘mother’, the goddess, who in many tales becomes his bride. In Medea, Ariadne, Athena and also Penelope, who nightly unweaves what she has woven by day, the lineaments of the ancient goddess are revealed. These female figures personify the older layers of consciouness that have to be sought out by the hero, who cannot reach his goal without them. Where the image of the feminine is dramatized only as evil, as in the Old Testament, the transforming power of the wisdom stored in the archaic experience of the psyche - the ‘mother’ - is unavailable, and the ‘hero-son’ is left without guidance or inspiration. Only his fragile rationality remains to confront the terrifying image of the father who demands to be obeyed. The natural response to this image of the father who demands to be obeyed. The natural response to this image is fear, which obstructs understanding and change. (296)

In the Pelagasian myth we are called to witness primal rumblings, the Mother / Son-Lover relationship explaining the birth of Life itself, the creation of the cosmic dance. For it really doesn’t matter whether we read Eurynome, Gaea, Nox, Thetis, Tethys or Aphrodite as THE MOTHER. All represent some aspect of her primal nature. Each is just a mirror of Life’s possibilites for as Charlene Spretnak writes in Lost Goddesses of Early Greece:

The Great Goddess was known by many names in many cultures. At various sites of her worship, certain attributes were stressed. Because the traits that were emphasized came to be associated with the local name for the Goddess - and may have been inspired by a particular woman - any erivative forms evolved. The seeming multiplicity of deities is misleading since each was a facet of the one, omnipotent Goddess. Eventually, some of the Goddesses reproduced, always parthenogenetically in prepatriarchal mythology. If the child was a daughter, she joined her mother in administering supernatural powers. If the child was a son, he became his mother’s lover and held a subordinate role in the mythology. In graphic representations the son/lover is always pictured as being smaller than the Goddess and is usually in the background. The original perception of the Goddess as the parthenogenetic source of life was still held sacred long after certain biological facts were recognized among her worshippers. (20)

One of the oldest sources of Greek myth is Hesiod’s Theogony. Here, Eurynome is represented by broad-bosomed Earth. The tale is universal, the characters reminiscent of others:

Chaos was first of all, but next appeared
Broad-bosomed Earth, sure standing place for all
The gods who live on snowy Olympus’ peak,
And misty Tartarus, in a recess
Of broad-pathed earth, and Love, most beautiful
Of all the deathless gods, He makes men weak,
He overpowers the clever mind, and tames
The spirit in the breasts of men and gods.
From Chaos came black Night and Erebos.
And Night in turn gave birth to Day and Space
Whom she conceived in love to Erebos.
And Earth bore starry Heaven, first, to be
An equal to herself, to cover her
All over, and to be a resting -place,
Always secure, for all the blessed gods. (26)
In another translation by Richmond Lattimore, the same fundamental image is named Gaia:
First of all there came Chaos,
and after him came
Gaia of the broad breast,
to be the unshakable foundation
of all the immortals who keep the crests
of snowy Olympos,
and Tartaros the foggy in the pit
of the wide-wayed earth,
and Eros, who is love, handsomest among all
the immortals,
who breaks the limbs’ strength,
who in all gods, in all human beings
overpowers the intelligence in the breast,
of all their shrewd planning. (130)

And so as Buffie Johnson concluded, not only do the myths themselves present various names and titles for the original Great Mother...

Scholars do not agree whether the deity, sometimes called “The Goddess of Many Names,” remained a single entity in the minds of the people, or was thought of as numerous individual deities. Possibly the various goddesses functioned as aspects of the same divinity, just as the various animals symbolize different aspects of her powers. The Great Goddess may have united a variety of other sacred beings, such as the Moon Goddess, the Goddess of Death and Transformation, the Earth Mother, and the Mountain Mother. She would likewise be the Lady of the Plants and Mother of the Beasts. (168)

With such overwhelming evidence as to her presence ‘in the beginning’, it would seem impossible to think She was no longer important. It is of course true that her regenerative powers were no longer needed. They had been used by the Gods of the conquering nomads. It is also true that it was difficult to believe in a Goddess who could not protect against such a devastating change to a long-established way of life. And it is definitely true that such a face of the Supreme deity would never have sanctioned the violence and terror perpetrated in Her name by her noms de plume... Anathe, Ishtar, Astarte, Athena, The Goddesses of Eros had become the harbingers of Eris. Aphrodite turned housewife. Hera the Shrew. According to Charlene Spretnak:

There are a number of reasons why this chapter of our cultural history has been “lost.” The most obvious is that the pre-Hellenic myths are the religion of a conquered people, so they were co- opted and replaced for political reasons. Second, pre-Hellenic mythology was an oral tradition, and many of the clues to its nature have been lost over the past 3500 years. Third, a culturally imposed bias among many Victorian and contemporary scholars prevented them from accepting the evidence that deity was originally perceived as female in most areas of the world. (22)

Or looking at it another way, we can see that the myth may have socio-political overtones. Spretnak continues in Lost Goddesses of Early Greece:

As successful conquerors, the invaders blended certain aspects of pre-Hellenic religion, i.e., principally the Goddesses’ names, with their own patriarchal Gods and themes. For example, Hera had long been associated with the “sacred marriage” - the merging of the lunar cow and the solar bull. However, “sacred marriage” is used in Olympian mythology to refer to Hera’s marriage to Zeus. The fact that their union was always a stormy one is thought by many classicists to be a historical reference to the forced merging of the two cultures: Hera is the powerful native queen who is coerced but never subdued by the alien conqueror. (92)

Although Eurynome is a Pelasgian mythic creation, she was adopted into the Olympic Pantheon and enters the evolving myth as a Goddess retired to the sea with her sister Thetis. Here we see her in the role of ‘wise old woman’ helping the young Haephaestus when he is cast out of Olympus. No longer rising naked out of Chaos she is once again submerged in its depths but this time she is chastened by the onset of time. For in a sense, Eurynome, at this stage is an empty nester; no kids at home, conjugal responsibilities over, early widowhood. A familiar story. Neither Maiden nor Mother, she is CRONE, for as Bonnefoy says in Greek and Egyptian Mythologies her marriage was not a happy one and she did not live in the palace happily ever after:

Oceanus and Tethys do not merely define the initial state of the world or the power that presides over its generation. They continue to exist in the organized universe, but are relegated to its borders, driven back to its extreme limits. Moreover, the couple has split up: Oceanus and Tethys no longer sleep together (14.304-6 and 205-7), which is another way of saying that their activity of engendering has now halted and that the cosmos, in the form of a divine society organized under the reign of Zeus, has attained its definitive form and stability. are we to understand by this that the primordial divine couple no longer has anything to do, that its presence on the borders of the world serves only to evoke the memory of a bygone time? (67)

No, there was no happy ever after, in fact, just the opposite occurred. Whether as Tethys and Oceanus, Eurynome and Ophion or Gaia and Uranus, the primal couple split. There was no longer to be a dance; death to the old Father so that the young son might be empowered. The transfer of divine right ensured by violence had tipped the face of the divine away from The Mother. According to Bonnefoy:

Through Kronos’s transgression - a transgression that places rebellion and disorder at the foundation of order - the children of Night spread even into the divine world; responding to a need for vengeance, they deliver that world, still in gestation, to war and combat, trickery and deception. (74)

This very act of destruction sets forth a new moral code, a metaphor we see re-enacted today. Having permitted violence in the name of man, having usurped Mother Nature’s right to Chaos, we have given the power of Nature over to the whim of the Sky Father and the Sky Father has not done well with it. From Greek and Egyptian Mythologies:

Nevertheless, this liberating act is at the same time a terrible infamy, a rebellion against the Sky- Father. It is as if the cosmic order, with his hierarchies of power and the differentiations of competence among the gods, could only be instituted by means of a guilty act of violence, a treacherous trick for whih a price wuld have to be paid. The mutilated, rejected, and impotent Ouranos brings down a curse upon his sons that institutes for all time the lex talionis from which Kronos, who has become the lord of the sky by virtue of his cunning audacity, will be the first to suffer. War, violence, and deception all enter onto the scene of the world with the slash of Krono’s blade. (73)

But as Bonnefoy also points out, the myth is not without its redemptive vision. For the death of the Son / Lover, the Mother’s consort not only engenders a call to WAR; it also engenders the call to LOVE. For the death of Uranus in Olympian myth leads also to the birth of Aphrodite. And if Aphrodite were to look back she might see Eurynome as ‘one of my past lives’; there is a thread between these goddesses, archtypes of the primal MOTHER.

For the Greeks, it was not possible to remove MOM out of the myth of creation and so they rewrote the story. Updating Her, they kept her chthonic heritage but gave to her a new and separate regenerative aspect. As Bonnefoy comments:

The castration of Ouranos thus engenders, on Earth and in the Ocean, two sets of consequences which are inseparable in their opposition. On the one hand, violence, hatred, war; on the other, sweetness, harmony, love. This necessary complementarity of the powers of conflict and the powers of unity, both issued from the sexual organ of Ouranos, first makes its mark in the system of the procreations inauguarated by the mutiliation of the god. When Ouranos united with Gaea in an indefinitely repeated embrace, the act of love - due to a lack of distance between the partners - resulted in a kind of confusion or identification between them which left no room for any of their progeniture. Henceforth, with Aphrodite, love is accomplished by the union of principles which , even in their coming together, remain distinct and opposed to one another; but they do not fuse. As if quartered, the primordial power of Eros now operates through the differentiation of the sexes. (73)

This was the Pelasgian myth, revisioned by the Olympians for the Olympians were self-serving and like their Hebrew counterparts could not allow the Goddess centre stage. The Eurynome of the North was no longer seen as the fecund Mother Earth; Aphrodite embodied all of that Eros / Mother energy and Eurynome was left to age as Mothers do. Charlene Spretnak reminds us that:

When compared to the religions of the Goddess in Europe and elsewhere, the Judeo-Christian tradition was “born yesterday.” In fact, the very notion of supreme deity, i.e., ultimate power, being male is a relatively recent invention. Zeus first appeared around 2500 B.C., and Abraham, the first patriarch of the Old Testament, is dated by Biblical scholars at 1800 B.C.; in contrast, some of the Goddess statues are dated at 25,000 B.C. Therefore, what we see around us, that is patriarchal religion and social order, is not “the natural order” for all humankind since Day One based on “the Natural Law.”

The new, patriarchal religion co-opted the older mythic symbols and inverted their meaning: The female, Eve, was now weak-willed and treacherous; the sacred bough was now forbidden; and the serpent, symbol of regeneration and renewal with its shedding skins, was now the embodiment of evil. The Goddess religion and its “pagan” worshippers were brutally destroyed in the Biblical lands, just as they had been conquered, co-opted, and destroyed in Old Europe, the Middle East, and India by Indo-European invaders. (26)

These new patriarchal religions were also indicative of the change in consciousness occurring throughout Bronze and Iron Age civilizations. Nature was no longer so uncivilized. The invention of agriculture had been man’s triumph, and order, justice, and law were now rising concerns of the displaced hunters turned warriors. Consciouness was shifting from a Maternal Agrarian mythopoetic base to a highly spirited Patriarchal vision of Life. Whereas Life had been seen as part of a whole, the birth of the Son - Lover had announced a new consciouness; it was the beginning of distinction, of preference, or as James Hillman might see it, the myth announces the divergence of spirit and soul.

Psychologically, and from a Jungian perspective, it might be said that the separation of heaven and earth, the divorce of Eurynome from Ophion is the triumph of Apollo over Gaia for the oracle at Delphi. For Apollo is the world of spirit, and Gaia the world of soul, and with his triumph, wisdom rules from the head and not from the heart. Hillman provides us with one of the most inciteful glimpses into the realm of spirit in Blue Fire. Here in this anthology he explores the cosmic dance through Eros and Psyche and as he says, the world of Spirit is not the world of Psyche:

The world of spirit is different indeed. Its images blaze with light, there is fire, wind, sperm. Spirit is fast, and it quickens what it touches. Its direction is vertical and ascending; it is arrow straight, knife sharp, powder dry, and phallic. It is masculine, the active principle , making forms, order, and clear distinctions. Although there are many spirits, and many kinds of spirit, more and more the notion of spirit has come to be carried by the Appollonian archetype, the sublimations of higher and abstract disciplines, the intellectual mind, refinements, and purifications.

We can experience soul and spirit interacting. At moments of itellectual concentration or transcendental meditation, soul invades with natural urges, memories, fantasies, and fears. at times of new psychological insights or experiences, spirit would quickly extract a meaning, put them into action, conceptualize thim into rules. Soul sticks to the realm of experience and to reflections within experience. It moves indirectly in circular reasonings, where retreats are as important as advances, prefering labyrinths and corners, giving a metaphorical sense to life though such words as close, near, slow, and deep. Soul involves us in the pack and welter of phenomena and the flow of impressions. It is the “patient” part of us. Soul is vulnerable and suffers; it is passive and remembers. It is water to the spirit’s fire, like a mermid who beckons the heroic spirit into the depths of passions to extinguish its certainy. Soul is imagination, a cavernous treasury - to use an image from St. Augustine - a confusion and richness, both. Whereas spirit chooses the better part and seeks to make all one. Look up, says spirit, gain distance; there is something beyond and above, and what is above is always, and always superior. (122)

And it is this loss, this abstraction of soul out of the story, that calls to us today. Inspiration without imagination is not enough. For air must have fire to move it about, soul and spirit must marry. Whenever there is spirit without soul, there is as Hillman adds the dilema of dispassionate intellect or as he puts it:

They differ in another way: spirit is after ultimates and it travels by means of a via negativa. “Neti, neti,” it says, “not this, not that.” Strait is the gate and only first or last things will do. Soul replies by saying, “Yes, this too has place, may find its archetypal significance, belongs in a myth.” The cooking vessel of the soul takes in everything, everything can become soul; and by taking into its imagination any and all events, psychic space grows. (123)

And it is this psychic space that we are after for we cannot go back, the way forward is clear. It must be to an enlarged view of Life. In that sense, it must include the past for an enlarged view of Life. Life must be allowed its cycles of abundance and decay: we can not stop the wheel. It leads right back to The Mother of All Things. Life must be allowed.

The Myth of Eurynome reminds us that our imaginations will sink slowly into our childhood memories if we do not honor their origins. A divine gift from the Great Mother herself our cosmic link to immortality, we must keep the image of the Great Mother alive, we must honor any of her faces as just one of the many; understand that a Mother of great age carries great wisdom.

There is nothing quite like the fleeting momentary kiss of the Beloved and here in the myth of Eurynome, as the old Goddesses never die one can feel all the primal tensions. The myth explores the core of the eternal dance between all that oppose each other, light and dark, good and evil, peace and war. I and Thou, young and old. But it is not possible to remain in the past and so we must not idealize Eurynome: she too must have her life. For as Ann Barstow points out in The Book of the Goddess:

I know what I felt when I first saw the ruins of a shrine at Catal Huyuk: the goddess figure above the rows of breasts and bull’s horns, her legs stretched wide, giving birth, was a symbol of life and creativity such as I had not seen in the Western church. But fertility symbols are no longer a sufficient image for twentieth-century women, just as the agicultural society that produced those symbols no longer relates to our day. (268)

No going back ... revisioning perhaps. What must be is an appreciation for what was; cosmic forces, mystery beyond explanation, defied and mythified by our ancestors to give meaning to such concepts.

Yesterday’s Goddess is not tomorrow’s spiritual guru. We cannot move back into a land before time, perhaps only forward beyond it - and here we can take the Goddess with us, move Her forward, revision Her into a face of the Feminine more suitable to our present fantasies. The future imago lies deeply in the heart of Eurynome and all her sisters in their many colours, shapes and sizes, for in Her past shall be Her future and in Her future Her Life.

Works Cited

  • Bell, Robert E. Women of Classical Mythology. Oxford University Press. 1991.
  • Bonnefoy, Yves. Greek and Egyptian Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. 1992.
  • Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Mythology. Bantam Doubleday. 1995
  • Flaum, Eric. The Encyclopedia of Mythology. Gods, Heros and Legends of the Greeks and
  • Romans. Running Press / Friedman Group. 1993.
  • Grant, Michael. Myths of the Greeks and Romans. Mentor. 1986.
  • Hillman, James. A Blue Fire, selected writings. Harper Perennial. 1989.
  • New Larousse Encyclopedia of Myth. Prometheus Press (Hamlyn). 1972.
  • Jobes, Gertrude. Dictionary of Mythology Folklore and Symbols. Scarecrow Press. 1961.
  • Johnson, Buffie. Lady of the Beasts. Inner Traditions International. 1994.
  • Lattimore, Richard. Hesiod. The Works and Days, Theogony. The Shield of Herades.
  • Ann Arbor Paperbacks. 1991
  • Spretnak, Charlene. Lost Goddesses of Early Greece. (Hymn to Gaia). Beacon Press. 1984
  • Muten, Burleigh. Return of the Great Goddess. Shambala. 1994.
  • Olson, Carl (edited by). The Book of the Goddess Past and Present. Crossroad Publishing. 1983.

So Where’s Mom?

This paper is about God. Nothing small. Nothing we could actually put in a box. Actually, it’s about Mrs. God. Also nothing small; but interestingly enough that’s exactly what happened to her. In our story, in a box, behind walls, behind veils, behind bars, sealed up ... vaporized... gone.

I began this paper wondering about my basic dissatisfactions with the inherited religion of my birth, Judaism. For as long as I remember, my religion was not the container for my faith - - for I had found no faith in the dogma of a stern Yawahistic version of creation and yet I had found a great deal of angst around being “a chosen people”. Those “not chosen”, always worried me. It seemed that “choice and preference” was the underlying theme of my ancestral raison d’ etre.

Mg 10 “The drive for power as well as the ever-present fear of being attacked goes far to explain the need for an ever more powerful - eventually a ‘supreme’ - god who would unite his people in a common cause of defense or attack. This god was everywhere a sky-father, ruling from the heights of heaven, where all things can be seen, foreseen and overseen, and where the minute particulars of earthly life are diminished before the vast planetary scope of space.

The rise of sky gods with solar powers can be followed in Babylonia, Anatolia, Persia, Canaan and Greece, and the same rise to power of father gods may have taken place in Vedic India.

Choice and preference. Why did we choose as THE basic story one which allows no room for MOM; for the feminine, for the nurturing material face of divinity. Why choose such a righteous imago for Dad? Why in fact have Mom and / or Dad at all?

Why this need to give meaning to life? Never mind the later question of polytheism vs. monotheism; atheism vs. theism really is the bottom line question and on this point at least, my ancestors and I agreed. Divinity was definitely to be factored in.

For many years one of the premises of my faith has been that there are only 2 basic choices in life. And everything else is colored by this preference. ‘You’re born, you life, you die’; it means nothing , has no room for imagination, while on the other hand, ‘You’re born, you live, you die”, it means something, leaves the entire universe for channel - hopping. There is no mythopoesis in an atheistic philosophy. There is no dance, no need for song, no soul, no imagination.

And since I a song and dance kind of girl, imagination is my mythic native land. So here we part, my ancestors and I. For their vision of divinity, of a higher power, the Lord God of my father’s fathers is not an inspiring source of awe to me: and since part of my life is to live into my myth, I must have inspiration - a hidden partner my imagination. Does that mean that the Lord God is not inspiring - or just not inspiring to me. I can only speak for myself and say - not me, not here, not now. For my ancestors, life was different. Different basic needs treated different values, created different preferences, different stories. Which gave rise to different stories.

1996 Vancouver rainforest Canada little resembles the Caananite mud eastern coast of ancestral biblical times and so in recognizing that my own choice of story is Guidio Sy inspiration I chose to investigate the road by which my ancestors traveled to this vision of God.

“In the beginning”, always a good place to start - although it turned out that the beginning as in Genesis, was in fact really quite far into the story.

“Where is Mrs. God?”, I had asked my bible studies Sunday School teacher. With no Mrs. God in the picture and life at home, my grandfather’s home, very patriarchal, my young soul seemed to sense the loss of a vision of wisdom as Grandmother or ‘Great Mother’. LIFE seemed very skewed toward a masculine bias. In my youth I only knew this as the lack of Mrs. God; in my quest I have come to know it as the voice of authority order and clarity given precedence over soft murmurings and stolen moments. Logos over Eros.

Not only was there to be no Mrs. God in my world, there was to be no explanation and it is in search of this explanation that I found myself stepping backward off the edge of time into the sands of history. Literally, from the sandy Caananite shores **** the desert into upland forests to working eastward and northward the story beckons.

Mg 1 “In the course of the Bronze Age the old myth of the hunter grew into the myth of the warrior - hero and came to overshadow the myth of the goddess, which was gradually relegated to the unconscious psyche of humanity. Yet we can find the lost primordial myth scattered throughout the symbolic images, myths and fairy-tales of every civilization, equently unrecognized, often unconnected with each other, but always present. The goddess, and the vision of the whole that the image of her embodies, has not been lost but obscured by the pressing claims of the other story, the myth of the hunt and the need to survive.” Or in fact, Mrs. god was not intended as part of the story. Both *** turn out to be true. She is there and not there. How can that be? “How can that not be,” I marveled ... or so not the essence of the Feminine - without form, without definition.

Mg 2 “In the Enuma Elish there is already the germ of three principal ideas that were to inform the age to come: the supremacy of the father god over the mother goddess; the paradigm of opposition implicit in the deathly struggle between god and goddess; and the association of light,order, and good with the god, and of darkness, chaos and evil with the goddess. This was also expressed as the polarization of spirit and nature, mind and body, and one divine and good, the other ‘fallen’ and ‘evil’. This opposition was extended to the categorization of gender in all aspects of life, which then polarized into conflicting opposites, instead of following the earlier model of differentiation and complementary. When this opposition was crudely oversimplified, as it often was, the ‘male’ aspect of life became the identified with spirit, light, order and mind, which were good, and the ‘female’ aspect of life became identified with nature, darkness, chaos and body, which were evil.”

To really understand, I knew that I needed to use Genesis as my epilogue and look back to the old Caanite goddesses, back further to Babylonian mythology, further to the Enuma Elish to the **** of Aramat *** Marduk, and yet if I continued still back further **** Persian and Vedic myth I came to a place where the feminine existed in realistic and imaginable celebration.

Catel Hayak and the dawning of civilization .... Goddesses painted, sculpted, engraved, adored and adorned, and not just at that moment in time. As we see with Maria Gimbutus work, the Goddess existed 30,000 years ago throughout our western cultural both physical and imaginable.

Mg 3 “Figures of goddesses, images of the moon, the crescent horns of bison and bull, the bird, serpent, fish, and wild animals, the chevrons of water or bird’s wings, the meander, labyrinth and spiral - all these reappear in the myths and images of later ages, often clearly reminiscent of their earliest beginnings. Together they point to a culture with a highly developed mythology that wove together all these elements in stories long since lost to us, but whose traces may still linger in the enchanting convolutions of fairy-tales. The miraculous survival of these images of the Mother Goddess throughout 20,000 years is a testament to a surprisingly unified culture - or, at the very least, a common nexus of belief - lasting for a much longer period of time than their successors, images of the Father God. Campbell summarizes:

From the Pyrenees to Lake Baikal, the evidence now is before us of a Late Stone Age mythology in which the outstanding single figure was the Naked Goddess ... She was almost certainly a patroness of childbirth and fecundity. In that Paleolithic age she was specifically a goddess of the hunt, but but also, apparently, of vegetation ... The Mal’ta burial suggests that it was she who received the dead and delivered their souls to rebirth.

Our assumptions about human nature, in particular our beliefs about the capacity of human beings to live in harmony with the rest of nature and to shape a peaceful world, are crucial to whether or not we can actually create a better way of being. If we hold that human beings are and always have been primarily hunters and warriors, then we are more likely to overlook evidence to the contrary and conclude that war-like aggression is innate. No evidence has been found that Paleolithic people fought each other. It is then moving to discover that our Paleolithic ancestors have something to teach us, specifically about the way we have misinterpreted their art, and so their lives, by pressing them into a world view belonging to the twentieth century.”

So it might seem that only recently have we lost her from the story of it by Goddess is a concept we create then it must somehow serve. If it no longer serves then it will be left behind, left out of the story.

It must have been difficult to justify all that war, all that killing, all the torture and violence without God’s authority, but in the name of God. Once upon a time as people first settled into life by giving up a nomadic existence for someplace called home, in these most are of modern times, our ancestors lived in rhythm with nature and so saw nature as divine. Both her abundance and her violence were honored. She treated and she destroyed. Within the feminine is always the call to chaos to the informed, the indefinite. So which being revered; the Goddess in all her manifestations ‘em ‘em ‘em. One of the things we do know is that life on a pedestal can be precarious and an inflated value as I might say will require compensatory action.

*** can often breed Mama’s Boys and these myths all show the story progressing to Goddess of Bull of Heaven & Goddess of Son-L, nev. From absolutely divine authority, the Goddess is slowly sharing her empire; the masculine young as it yet is , is becoming a divine voice and this in itself heralds a new era. It is not until about 2,000 years later that the divine child himself is killed; the end of it is the **** is the end of the basic story. The end of Christ ... the beginning of Christianity.

Am 1”.Mother of all Mothers, She who gave birth to all........”

Despite the threats of Ishtar the Bull of Heaven’s killed by Narduk, the voice of the Goddess goes unanswered. Marduk the ‘twice - divine’ beloved of his fathers, kills the son - lover of the mother. The old order is dying and with the death of tiamat matriarchy falls off the pedestal and the masculine sequis its climb.

Mg 5 “One way of interpreting the hero myth is historically, in terms of a god culture overcoming the mother goddess culture. But the myth suggests another level of meaning, more directly related to the psyche of the time. Symbolically, the struggle between hero and serpent-dragon represents the power of human consciousness to gain mastery of instinct and unconscious patterns of behavior, to rise ‘out of nature’ and, at the same time, out of tribal, collective attitudes and patterns of behavior that endlessly repeat the unquestioned beliefs of the past. It symbolizes the need for individuals to separate from these collective responses by challenging the tribal values with their own vision. Where the hero myth perceived in terms of the growth of consciousness, it becomes an tanqust for illumination. Here the conflict is not so much between good and evil, but rather one between a greater or a lesser understanding. The ‘dragon’ is then ignorance or unconsciousness, not so much chaos as the fear of it. This is one meaning of the ‘conquest’ of darkness - his fear or the limitations of his knowledge, both, ultimately, the same thing. This idea is expressed in Persian Zoraastrianism, in which humanity’s role was conceived as one of helping the light to establish itself against the power of darkness.”

Four thousand years later the masculine still rules, the power of computer technology is given evidence , and war and violence still run virtually throughout our communities. Not much has changed. The Wand is still the Law. Logos over Eros.

So it is understandable that MOM gets written out of the story. For MOM herself was creation and as such all her acts divine. But with a masculine face of ****, the ability to disein, to separate , to forge ahead to be single Murduk to *** **** ***** **** Meaning of Life; which could justify the hubris - the *** out of chaos. Violence in the name of man. Chaos confirmed and given form. **** on the playing field. The Eros subdued by Logos let out like a house pet; instinct in search of life. Animus in action; WAR.

But as stated earlier, just because MOM was written out of the story, because there is no Mrs. God does not mean she’s not there.

Am2 “From ancient settlements along the waters, the Tigris, the Euphrates, and the Jordan, Semitic peoples spread across the Levant, often calling upon the Holy Mother as Asherah, Highest Queen -- knowing Her as Lat, Elat or Elath, Exalted Mother, Goddess. She was the Holy Lady Who Walked the Sea, remembered even in Arabia, and at Mesopotamian assur, where the most ancient shrine was the sacred Asheritu.

Mother of all Wisdom, Her ancient oracles of prophesy renowned, She gave the knowledge to diviners, helping them to see far into the future, while they remembered that She alone gave birth to the Seven Deities of Heaven. In her sacred groves, they knew Her as She Who Builds, providing the timber of Her trees. Teaching Her people the art of carpentry. On the flatness of the land, they knew Her as She Who Builds, providing the clay of the earth, teaching Her people the knowledge of the bricks. So it was that Asherah taught those who revered Her how to build shelters from the heat and cold, and how to build the sacred shrines in which they called upon her name.”

For her very absence out of the story left Biblical scholars scrambling for some allegoric clue. From the pre-Genesis Hebrew Goddess personas of Asherah, Anathre Astarte we can sense in the biblical accounts a turning point. No longer a matriarchal society the Father God, known also as **** became the God of War to a Semitic nomadic tribe. Yawah as he is known center of the modern Hebrew as a war god in search of a people.

Mg7”A deity that is only a tribal deity reflects the moral values and cultural attitudes of a specific people a particular historical time - in this case those of the Iron Age Hebrews. On the other hand, the image of the divine is transformed as the moral consciousness of a people evolves , and so it is in the Old Testament when the tribal image is challenged through the passion, and often the suffering, of the individual. Mythology in this sense reflects the evolution of consciousness.

The history of the evolution of consciousness, reflected in the divine images formulated by all peoples, shows how images of divinity gradually change and evolve over many millennia. It could be that the individual’s personal experience of the numinous, together with the pressure of historical events, urges the psyche to search for a new image of the divine or to press the old image into a new form.”

The young hero having conquered the dragon know requires his own kingdom. Just as God the Father demanded eternal sacrifice and tribute so too does God the father’s earthly divine son require sacrifice and tribute. “In to be name of the Father” echoes through the next 3 -4 thousand years and ritual and sacrificial killing give way to a terrorism unknown to the creative Mother. Whereas before, life was seen as part of the grand round, Life was now seen as part linear. Something with boundaries, the feminine circle of life had seen replaced by the 4 square vision of the emperor and his territorial imperative. WAR the face of the divine had turned. (Perhaps Queen Elizabeth would have done well to have considered this!)

Mg8”Now a father god established a position of supremacy in relation to a mother goddess, and he is gradually transformed into the consortless god of the three patriarchal religions known to us today:

Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The god is then the sole primal creator, where before the goddess had been the only source of life. But the god becomes the maker of heaven whereas the goddess was heaven and earth. The concept of ‘making’ is radically different from ‘being’, in the sense that what is made is not necessarily of the same substance as its maker, and may be conceived as inferior to him; while what emerges from the mother is necessarily part of her and she of it.

In this way the essential identity between creator and creation was broken, and a fundamental dualism was born from their separation, the dualism that we know as spirit and nature. In the myth of the goddess these two terms have no meaning in separation from each other: nature is spiritual and spirit is natural, because the divine is immanent as creation. In the myth of god, nature is no longer ‘spiritual’ and spirit is no longer ‘natural’ , because the divine is transcendent to creation. Spirit is not inherent in nature, but outside it or beyond it; it even becomes the source of nature. So a new meaning enters the language: spirit becomes creative and nature becomes created. In this new kind of myth, creation is the result of a divine act that brings order out of chaos.”

So with no visible Logos, if such a paradox can be entertained, Bilblical scholars extrapoluted, initiated and otherwise recreated the feminine in various forms over the last two thousand years. Called Sophie, Martronite, Shebricah, Bride of God, Community of Israel or even Lillith; a feminine face aspect to the divine has been breathed into the very pores of a story which denounces it. In the very creases of the margins of the page have been added. Some very old notes of longing. Love notes

Hg 1 “The Zohar and later Kabbalistic works are replete with references to the Shekhina, the female divine entity already familiar to us from her appearances in the earlier Talmudic and Midrashic literature. In the next chapter we shall discuss in detail this feminine divinity whose favorite Kabbalistic name is “the Matronit,” i.e., the Matron. What we wish to consider here is the question of the relationship of the Shekhina to God, and the issue of polytheism versus monotheism represented by it. The learned among the Kabbalists were undoubtedly aware of the problem, grappled with it, and succeeded in solving it in a manner satisfactory to them. One can imagine that by extraordinary mental effort they were able to remain unfailingly aware of the absolute oneness of God even while their imagination was assaulted by the most outspoken descriptions of passionate embraces between the male and female “elements” of the deity.”

Love, longing Eros ... in a box, behind a veil. Modern interpretation has it that MOM isn’t really MOM at all, not like Dad. She is precious, needs security, needs to be kept in a box and carted about. Somehow the MOM who created us is in need of care herself. Precious, reminds me of the dog in the well in ‘Silence of the Lambs’; so back to preference.

Hg 2 “The visible expression of their separation was the destruction of the Temple, their bedroom.

Invisible, but no less painfully felt, was the consequent impairment of the King’s power, an idea reminiscent of the notion of Hindu mythology that the male god (Shiva) is powerful only when united with the goddess (Shakti), but is unable even to stir without her. As expressed repeatedly

in Kabbalistic theosophy: “The King [i.e., God] without the Matronity is not a king, is not great, and is not praised.... Therefore, the separation of the King, and the Matronit was a calamity for both the people of Israel and the godhead itself.”

Had the myth lives out today in the preference of mid eastern customs. Women wear veils, one kept in Zenanas or women’s quarters, are not allowed out unchaperoned; boxed in, precious. But as every good physics student knows there is no such thing as solid. What with the wave and the particle there are leaky margins everywhere. and between all those waves and particles which seem to present a wall of reality there are imaginable loopholes allowing the Goddess out. And the Goddess will get out.

Mg 9 “From the dancing shamans of Les Trois Freres, through the labyrinth dance of Crete to the circular dance of Christ’s disciples in the Gnostic Gospels, there is a constant thread of transmission that has much wider implications for out conception of the human psyche than has not been fully recognized. the crescent moon in the hand of the goddess of Laussel leads forward to the crescent on the head of the Babylonian Astarte of 200 BC (Figs. 42a-b) and again to the crescent moon resting beneath Mary’s feet (Fig. 43). From the Paleolithic cave sanctuary with the animals painted on the walls to the stable of Bethlehem with the ox and ass, from the ancient Mother Goddess to the Virgin Mary, there runs an ancient and extraordinary pattern of relationship that can be traced only through a knowledge of the symbolic image. In the Neolithic era, as we shall see in Chapter 2, these images

explore a new dimension of the myth of the goddess with the discovery of planting and the art of agriculture.

If we entertain the idea of Jung’s 2 - million - year - old human being - woman and man - who is present in each one of us, then the Paleolithic vision is still accessible to us today. As Jung also note: ‘Nothing to which the psyche belongs or which is part of the psyche is ever lost. to live fully, we have to reach down and bring back to life the deepest levels of the psyche from which our present consciousness has evolved.”

For the repression will always lead to pressure and tension. And have the pressive is his fold. One, the Eros of Goddess must be allowed it’s rightful place in the scheme of things ,and two Eeros must be a nomad to mate with Logos. A symbol for Therosgamos must emerge.

As the millennium closes we find ourselves thinking holistically, a buzzword of the nineties, and Biblical holistic thinking might have us reclaim the feminine out of the box. To do that we need a symbol. Something which will help us reimagine the story into the future. We are no longer cave-dwellers, no longer hunters and gatherers, shepherds or herders. Most of us in the west no longer till our won soil, plant our own crops. We are a technological society, melding the ***** of the Goddess with the mind of man and this new relationship the dance of Eros and Logos must be learned.

So for now, MOM is in a box, leaking out in small but culturally important ways. After two thousand years of red and pink nail polish, vamp became the polish ‘di rigeur. Last winter a menses blood color which swept through western **** followed by an abnormal interest in ‘animal print.” It is a chthonic version of MOM leaking out of the box. No doubt about it, for she is after all the breath of God, and without breath there is no life and like breath she is everywhere.

Where is Mrs. God? I said
Oh my goodness is she dead
How can god then live a life
What is man without a wife ?
Where is Mrs. God? I ask
To find her is no small time task
Where is Mrs. God? I say
Still hidden in the light of day ?
Is she gone
Is she forgot
Suited by the Lord of Lot
Is he bound or yet still free
Rooted in the family tree.
Where is Mrs. God? I cry
Without her I will surely die
Oh there she is, in still of night
And always was there shining bright!

Rokie, Ireland
1995

The Myth of Eurynome

Beginning birthed out of Chaos, the impulse to Life, Animation; this concept of genesis, gave centre stage in the early Greek Mythologies to a very great and old Goddess, a distant echo of primordial longing. Eurynome is the Pelasgian Mother of All Things, most ancient of original imagos; she embodied all that was born out of Chaos, she was godmother to her own destiny.

The Pelasgians had settled in the hills of Northern Greece in the Bronze Age and just as Orphic, Homeric and Olympian stories all foretold the retirement / death of their Great and Grand Matriarch, so too did the Pelasgians imagine their story through the mythic life of their Mother, the Goddess of All Things. Eurynome, one name for the many faces of the Great Mother of ancient Greece is a mythopoetic sister to all of her manifestations; particularly those we have become familiar with through classical literature. As Gaia, Themis, Nox, Thetis, Metis, Demeter, Tethys, Aphrodite or even the young and newly consecreated Psyche; the Great Mother, as Eurynome, signifies the beginnings of Life as we know it. And like all beginnings She is often left behind as time marches roughshod over memory. As Her importance fades the birth of creation becomes a footnote in history and Her story loses its original awe, and yet Her story was the story of awe itself.

Riding on the waves of her delight, Eurynome rose joyously from the foundations of her Being, her very ecstasy giving birth to Sea and Sky. Naked out of Chaos the very rhythm of her Being swept her forth, leaving magic, mystery and a terror in its wake. Lured toward the south, she seized the tail of this beckoning north wind, chasing herself ever further into existence. The serpent Ophion, child of this original cosmic dance the genesis of Her desire, became the symbol of Her creation. Inspired by such lust, Eurynome and Ophion continued their all- consuming dance, giving birth on the waters to Life in the form of the Universal Egg. With Ophion coiled protectively seven times around the Egg, Life continued to renerate, until the Egg split in two, spilling forth all that is.

From their lofty home on Mt. Olympus, these archetypal parents gazed protectively over their brood including the Seven Planetary powers each with its twin lineage. Not content with consortship, Ophion began to claim authority, seeking recognition for producing the Universal Egg; and such claims aroused the wrath of Eurynome. Her authority questioned, Eurynome retaliated; banishing Ophion to the furthest reaches of her vast empire.

And the fates conspired yet further as Life flourished, and the discordant couple soon were overruled by their offspring; the proxy dethroning enacted by Cronus, his mother’s agent of destruction. Eurynome sank despondently into the sea , her despair unnoticed as the children of Cronus sought to re-enact the parental death / rebirth by which they too would seize authority and all of the power it conveyed. As Cronus has been empowered by the destiny of Ophion, so too was Zeus, Son of Cronus, wafted to Heaven on the wings of his father’s defeat.

Although Eurynome no longer danced She lived quietly in the waves of her Birth, rocking gently back and forth, giving shelter to the rejected Haphaestus; giving birth to the Charities (the Graces) by the young Zeus. Gently rocking, she remains there yet; The Mother of All Things, Goddess of the eternal dance.

To achieve both an informative yet lyrical style, giviing substance to an ancient fragment of a story, I used the following books to guide me

Works Cited

  • Bonneyfoy, Yves. Greek and Egyptian Mythologies. University of Chicago Press. 1992.
  • Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Mythology. Bantam Doubleday. 1995.
  • Flaum, Eric. The Encylcopedia of Mythology. Gods, Heros and Legends of the Greeks and
  • Romans. Running Presss / Friedman Group. 1993.
  • New Larousse Encylopedia of Myth. Prometheus Press (Hamlyn). 1972.
  • Jobes, Gertrude. Dictionary of Mythology Folklore and Symbols. Scarecrow Press. 1961.
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