Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Archetypal Journey to Wholeness

Crowned with Stars: The Archetypal Journey to Wholeness

            The Woman Clothed with the Sun is crowned with stars.  The crown is a symbol of honor, victory and sovereignty, as well as of wholeness and completion.  The crown sits on the top of the head and so represents the wisdom and knowledge of the crown chakra, the spiritual energy center that unites us to the Divine, and is often depicted as radiant energy surrounding the head of a goddess, god or saint.  The crown of stars represents this archetypal journey of the awakened soul. 
            The twelve stars in the vision are believed to symbolize the twelve signs of the Zodiac.   Just as the solar hero has to go on the hero’s journey through the twelve zodiacal signs to become whole, Lady Wisdom also offers Her daughters the same possibility of wholeness.
            The Zodiac, made up of the twelve constellations on the elliptic, describes the twelve archetypal journeys the human spirit experiences here on Earth.  The signs represent different energies of the four elements: fire, earth, air and water and they represent three different modes of energy: cardinal/initiating, fixed/concentrating and mutable/dispersing energies.
l  Aries is the first fire sign and its cardinal energy drives us to discover our self-identity.  It is original fire that comes out of nowhere, the light out of darkness.  Aries is the archetypal Virgin Huntress, Diana and Artemis, the scout, adventurer and wild woman who tests herself against the world to find herself.  Artemis was the goddess of teenage girls before they married, teaching them to listen to their instincts and be true to themselves.   The Celtic Morrigan, the battle goddess, as well as the Amazons and Valkyries, are also Aries goddesses.  For a woman , Aries can represent the Virginal phase of adolescence.  Self-discovery is the task.   Aries calls women to freedom, return, and renewal.
l  Taurus is a solid, fixed earth sign, concerned with establishing our self-worth, our talents and our values.  The archetype is Gaia, Mother Earth and the whole realm of matter and our relationship with it.  The Spring Maiden, Maia (the Pleiad who gave her name to the month of May) and the Celtic blossom-faced goddess, Blodeuwedd, symbolize the beauty and pull of desire of this astrological month.  The cow-headed Egyptian goddess Hathor oversees fertility and pleasure, and the Hindu goddess Lakshmi watches over abundance and joy.  Aphrodite/Venus, as the goddess of the body, love and connectedness, is the archetype of the wisdom of our instinctual nature symbolized by this earth sign.   Changing Woman is a Native American personification of this Earth goddess. Taurus is beauty, fertility, sexuality and wealth, all the good things in life.   
l  Gemini is a mutable, airy mental sign, and symbolizes the Mind and how it works - the need to understand and learn and experience.  The archetype is the Teacher.  Minerva is the goddess of wisdom, strategy, schools and commerce.  Pallas Athena symbolizes the mind's quest for knowledge and the ability to communicate it.  The Indian goddess Saraswati is the Goddess of Knowledge and all literary arts. Her name literally means the one who flows, which can be applied to thoughts, words, or the flow of a river.  The Nine Muses are also teachers of knowledge.   The Egyptian goddess Seshat, the divine measurer, is a scribe and record-keeper, the goddess of knowledge and writing as well as building and mathematics.  
l  Cancer is the cardinal water sign, quickly able to feel the emotional atmosphere, motivated to do something about it.  Cancer symbolizes the archetype of the Mother, the emotional energy that nurtures souls and life and creativity.   The Moon represents this aspect of Wisdom: the changing energy which engenders growth as well as the ability to feel what the other needs and be able to love and nurture beyond the ego self.  The Virgin Mary is a Mother goddess, the Mediator who helps us in times of need. The Lady of the Lake is such a watery mother, as well as Cerridwen, the Welsh goddess of the cauldron of death and rebirth, the moon, inspiration, poetry, prophecy, shape-shifting. Hestia, the goddess of the hearth, is also the goddess of the home, which belongs to Cancer.  At best, our inner Self is our true home, our secure refuge.
l  Leo is a fixed, steady fire sign and symbolizes the self-confidence of the archetypal Queen, source of Creative Power, the creative artist as well as the individuated person.  The Egyptian Lioness goddess Sekhmet is the fierce sun aspect of Leo; Guinevere as well as Cleopatra are the guides to Leo's vitality.   Bast, the Egyptian cat-headed goddess of pleasure, joy, music, dance, health and healing, embodies the cat energy within women.  The Celtic goddess Brigit was the goddess of smiths, and healing and craftsmanship, especially metalwork, as well as a patron of learning and poetry. She is a fire goddess who creates out of fire.
l  Virgo is a mutable, earth sign and symbolizes self-knowledge and healing in a mindful, practical way.  Demeter and Persephone, the divine Mother and Daughter, are the Virgo teachers of the harvest and the seed, the fulfillment and renewal of purpose. They are the archetypal need for completion and renewal and appear as goddesses of agriculture, grain, harvest, fruits, flowers, and the fertile earth.   The ancient Egyptian goddess Isis is a healer and the goddess of ritual magic, among other things.  She searched for and recovered the 14 pieces of Osiris and brought him back to life.  She was the Divine Mother with her son Horus. Many of the Black Madonnas of Europe, renowned for their healing miracles, were once Isis and Horus statues.
l  Libra is a cardinal, airy, socializing sign that motivates us to accommodate of the Other, the Beloved.  The Archetype is Marriage and Partnership.  Hera, goddess of the Full Moon, symbolizes the need to unite with another, the urge to be perfected by the beloved or to actualize our true passions.  The tale of Psyche and Eros speaks to the requirements of conscious love and partnership.   The Courtesan is also an archetypal image for Libra, the woman who uses sexuality, art and intellect to influence men of power. 
l  Scorpio is an intense, fixed water sign, concentrating on the hurtful emotions that need to be released.  It deals with the energies of death and rebirth on an emotional level. But it is a watery death and a fiery rebirth.  Scorpio demands that we confront the overpowering emotions that can threaten to swamp the ego. The Dragon Tiamat symbolizes the titanic struggles within our own feeling nature that show up when we are intimate with others.   Scorpio’s archetype is the Death Crone, Hecate of the Triple Crossroads, Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, or the fearsome Kali, the Hindu Great Mother of Death and Rebirth.  In Russia, there is the Baba Yaga, another fearsome old hag who deals out death and rebirth.   
l  Sagittarius is the last, mutable fire sign and represents our search for Wisdom and Truth, and the archetypal energy is embodied in the High Priestess and Wise Woman, Storyteller and Priestess.  White Buffalo Calf Woman brings a new teaching and a new ritual to the People and sets the highest value as Peace.   Sagittarius asks, 'How do we honor truth in our lives?'  The Egyptian goddess Maat personified Truth and Justice, Law and Order.  The concept of Maat represented the divinely appointed order of things, the equilibrium of the universe within the world, the regular movements of the stars, the sun, the moon, the seasons and time.
l  Capricorn is a cardinal earth sign that symbolizes the social order we live in and our desire to contribute our talents to the world.  It represents the societies we create.  Lady Sovereignty symbolizes this commitment to administer the Earth's bounty for her people.  Goddesses with specific 'jobs' would belong to Capricorn.  The Hours, who regulate time, and the Seasons, who bring forth the changes in seasons.
l  Aquarius is an idealistic, fixed air sign which is concerned with high ideals.  It represents our search for freedom and equality for the group, and the archetype is Paradise. Star goddesses rule this sign that symbolizes the archetypal realm. Spider Woman spins the web of fate.  Fata Morgana, Morgan le Fey of Avalon, works the warp and weft of our lives.  The Ancient Queens of Heaven, Nut and Hathor, Isis and Aphrodite, all find their place here as well.
l  Pisces, the last, mutable water sign, opened to the feelings of the collective Unconscious.  It is the Cosmic Woman, Lady Wisdom.  Aphrodite, born of the ocean's foam and the phallic power of the heavens, symbolizes the final goal of our earthy experience – the Wisdom of Love.   The Goddesses of Compassion and Mercy - Kuan Yin, Sophia, and Lady Wisdom belong to Pisces.   For centuries, Kuan Yin epitomized the great ideal of Mahayana Buddhism in her role as "bodhisattva - a being of bodhi, or enlightenment," who is destined to become a Buddha but has foregone the bliss of Nirvana with a vow to save all children of God.   Pisces knows we are all in this together, and this water sign gives birth to the highest forms of Wisdom.

Starting with Aries, the original energy comes into Being.  In Taurus, it takes on the many forms of life.  In Gemini, it achieves consciousness.  And in Cancer, it grows into an emotional body and soul.  From Aries to Cancer, incarnation takes place.  Then starting with Leo's fire, we engage in creativity, in Virgo we learn service, in Libra partnership and in Scorpio we undergo renewal.  From Leo to Scorpio, we learn the lessons of the Heart, how to tame our passions.  Finally, from Sagittarius to Pisces, we find our place in the cosmic order.  Sagittarius teaches cosmic law, Capricorn strives to build viable structures and processes to serve the group.   Aquarius envisions a more perfect use of the collective mind and Pisces opens us to the Wisdom of the cosmos.
            The twelve stars of the Woman’s crown speak to these astrological symbols and life paths.  Each one of us has our initiation to complete, our wisdom to be learned, our purpose to be contributed to the world.  We each get to wear the crown of stars when we tread the path of Wisdom.
Besides the Goddess crowned or adorned with the stars, there is also the image of the body of the Goddess covered with stars.  Nut, the Egyptian sky goddess, was the personification of the heavens and the sky.  Her body was covered with stars, and she was said to give birth to the sun out of her womb each morning and to swallow him each night.  She represented the great watery abyss out of which all things come and to which all things return.  She was called Nut, the great Lady who gave birth to the gods.8
            The Celtic goddess Arianrhod was another Queen of Heaven, especially of reincarnation.  Her home was Caer Arianrhod, in the constellation Corona Borealis or The Northern Crown.   It is in the area of the circumpolar stars, those stars which circle the North Polar Star and never set.  Here at the court of Arianrhod, she is the Goddess of the Silver Wheel of birth and rebirth, and the stern mistress of Destiny.  Taliessin, the great Celtic bard, says that he remembers three periods of time spent in Arianrhod's ever-spinning castle in the Corona Borealis, where he underwent initiations, perhaps in former lives.  It was believed that souls went to Caer Arianrhod between incarnations.9
            Very often, the Goddess as Queen of Heaven was regarded as a literal star, usually the morning star and evening star, which is often the planet Venus.  There are many myths and legends which connect the morning star with wisdom, and it is depicted as a place from which a savior of the people comes.  Isis was associated with the star Sirius, called the Nile Star.  It rose in the east just before dawn on the first day of summer, heralding the rising of the waters of the Nile.10   For the Egyptians, this star literally stood for new life, since the Nile's yearly rising was and is the source of life for them. 
            These goddess-images of the starry heavens offer us the promise that the Divine Feminine has the power to give birth to new life.  The Divine Feminine offers us the Wisdom of life.  The starry realms hold the ancient wisdom of the Cosmos, which is at the center of the mystery of the Divine Feminine.


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