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

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
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

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.

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.