Sunday, June 17, 2012
The Return of Wisdom: The Woman Clothed With the Sun
There is an image in the Book of Revelation, often ignored by Christian fundamentalists, which I consider very important to this issue of the End Times. It is the image of the Woman Clothed with the Sun. She is the pivot point, the crux of the matter. For she gives birth to the Divine Child, and afterwards, the war in heaven against the dragon and his legions brings about a new heaven and a new earth. Amidst death and destruction, a new birth. A birth which is not without peril, for the dragon, the deadly pull of the old order, the inertia of unconsciousness that is so much a part of human nature, will be waiting to swallow up this new being. It is this image of Conscious Woman that speaks to me when I imagine the purpose and power of women today.
Now a great portent appeared in heaven: a Woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant, and in labor, crying aloud in the pangs of childbirth. Revelation, 12: 1-2.
This is the image of a Goddess, yet She is also a Woman. It is an image we first saw in July 1969 when the first men landed on the moon and sent us pictures of Earth, hanging above the moon, surrounded by the stars. We saw another version of this image in the heavens on both June 8, 2004 and June 5, 2012, when the planet Venus passed in front of the Sun. Venus/Aphrodite, the planet that represents, love, sexuality, connection and wisdom, made herself known to the world.
This Woman is Goddess, Earth and Woman, and all three are laboring to bring forth Life for all people and for the planet. She is clothed in Light, for Light banishes the darkness of injustice, unconsciousness and ignorance. She has Her standpoint on the Moon, the regulator of earthly rhythms and tides and the eye of the Unconscious. And She is crowned with twelve stars, which represent the twelve zodiacal signs that symbolize the archetypal human journey toward consciousness, wholeness and wisdom. It is a most painful and dangerous journey, yet like labor, once begun it will not stop until it has run its course. The Woman cries out in anguish, for the convulsions of birth are overwhelming. The Child She is giving birth to wants to be born. And She is birthing something awesome and something new, otherwise the old dragon of unconsciousness would not try to destroy Her and Her Child.
This Child is what the Christian theologian Matthew Fox calls the Cosmic Christ, the awakening to our own divinity, as well as the honoring of our humanity. Meister Eckhart, one of the great creation-centered mystics of our own Western spiritual tradition, celebrates the divine presence in all of creation.
There is only one birth - and this birth takes place in the being and in the ground and core of the soul. . . Not only is the Son of the heavenly Creator born in this darkness - but you too are born there as a child of the same heavenly Creator and none other. And the Creator extends this same power to you out of the divine maternity bed located in the Godhead to eternally give birth. . . .The fruitful person gives birth out of the very same foundation from which the Creator begets the eternal Word. It is from this core that one becomes fruitfully pregnant. 10
This is the Child being birthed by the Woman in these times by every conscious individual. This is the Child of our creative vision for a different future. This is the archetype of the possible human. It is said that this Child will rule with a rod of iron. Iron can represent fetters and hardness, or it can represent strength and firmness. Perhaps if the Woman can raise her child herself, and teach him the gifts of feminine spirit to complement those of masculine spirit he gets from the Father, he will become a man of spirit, strength and purpose, as will the world they create together.
This Woman calls all women to our purpose and destiny. It is a time for women to reclaim our ancient powers and wisdom as we deal with the anxieties of these apocalyptic times. These are the powers of inner sight and vision, of empathy and healing. These powers have always come from women's connection with the Earth, and as women re-discover their own spiritual power, it is not surprising that they return to an earth-based, body-based spirituality. The Feminine Spirit is the archetypal energy of the incarnation of Spirit. This energy wants to bring spirit down into life; it is concerned with the spiritualization of matter, with the knowledge that all created things and beings are full of spirit, consciousness and life force, just as our quantum physicists are proving. We cannot afford to believe that this world is an illusion and that our true rewards lie in some heavenly paradise reserved for the Elect. It is this very idea that has led us into the trouble we now find ourselves in.
The Heavenly Woman
So who is this Woman – goddess and energy – and why is she important in these times? For Roman Catholics, the appearances of Mary in the past century have led church officials to proclaim this the 'Marian Age'. Mary, the Mother of God, has reappeared to remind our rational age that we need to turn to Spirit if we are to get through this End Time. One of Mary’s first appearances was as the Virgin of Guadalupe in 1531, who is the very image of the Woman, standing on the Moon, surrounded by the golden rays of the Sun and crowned with Stars. She is the patroness of Mexico.
Then there was an appearance of Our Lady, as millions of Roman Catholics speak of her, to a French nun in 1830. Her visions were of Mary standing on the globe of the world with stars surrounding Her head. A great light shone from Her, and rays of many-colored lights came from many rings on Her hands. These were the graces that She promised to shower on anyone who asked for Her help.11 This image, so close to that of the Woman from Revelation, has brought many Catholics back to a connection to the Divine Spirit. The Church also believes that this next age will be the Age of the Holy Spirit, when divine blessings flow to humanity. The dove of the Holy Spirit is a special bird of Aphrodite, goddess of Love and of Lady Wisdom.
The Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, is the form the Goddess has taken during the Christian era. Many women who are trying to reconnect with their inner goddess have rejected Mary as 'nothing but' a patriarchal image of the perfect mother and obedient servant. But throughout the history of the Catholic Church, Mary has taken on most of the aspects of the ancient Goddess. As the Queen of Heaven, She became the Co-Redemptress with her Son, and served as Mediator between God and humanity.
Deathless, pure, and by inference, without sin of any kind; at home in the courts of heaven, no mere spirit but body and soul complete; an ever-active intercessor and comforter; a friend of individual mortals, close at hand in their earthly pilgrimage. . .12
Such is the Virgin Mary, the Merciful and Sorrowing Mother of all humanity. In many ways, Mary is the Crone aspect of the Goddess, the spiritual mother and virgin who mediates between life and death. And yet, she is most truly a human woman. The Church took away her human sexuality, and that is the split that women have to heal, for to be 'no mere spirit but body and soul complete' entails the reclaiming of our bodies as temples of the spirit.
Throughout the ages, men seem to have had a great lust for and yet a fear of the body’s instincts and they have created religions to help them tame those instincts. Unfortunately, they have projected their fears onto women, who are much more in touch with the body’s instincts. Since Christianity split the Feminine Spirit into Virgin Mother and Scarlet Whore, we now have to heal the virgin/whore split in the Western psyche. And the image of the Woman Clothed with the Sun heals this split by making the instincts of the body, and Earth’s natural laws, conscious. To be clothed with the sun is to make the natural rhythms of the lunar life of the body/Earth conscious; to be clothed with the sun is to be crowned with the stars of spiritual consciousness.