Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Blessed Virgin Mary: The Goddess of the Piscean Age


While the Goddess has been dismissed from most of western consciousness for the past 500 years or so, young Catholic girls are still encouraged to love Mother Mary in all her forms.  Elementary school age girls dream of crowning the May Queen--Mary as Virgin.  Young girls and teens love the story of Christmas, imagining that we, like Mary the Mother, hold Baby Jesus to our hearts.  And as women grow older, we look to the Sorrowing Mother, Mary as Crone, who holds her son's wounded body and weeps over it. 

Michelangelo's  Pieta

The Virgin Mary is called the Blessed Mother by Roman Catholics.  And while many women searching for the Goddess believe she is nothing more than the patriarchal image of the perfect mother and obedient servant, she is really much more.  When Christianity banished the Great Goddess from western consciousness, it left us Mary, who has taken on the role of the ancient triple goddess.  As Maiden, Mary is the Virgin who is chosen to give birth to the Savior; as Mother, she is the archetypal caregiver and nurturer; as Crone, she knows the sorrows and grief of Life and accepts them.  She is filled with Wisdom.  She is an incarnation of Sophia, Lady Wisdom.

During the Piscean Age (1CE-2100CE) Mary became the symbol of the Divine Mother, the Comforter and Mediator between Heaven and Earth.  For 2000 years, Mary the Queen of Heaven was considered the co-redemptress along with her Son, and serves as a mediator between God and humanity.  
 
Mary is: 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…  (Geoffrey Ashe, The Virgin, p.161.)

The Great Mother is an archetype within all of us—and while we are very well acquainted with the archetypal negative mother and witch because of patriarchy, we often forget the Good Mother, who is kind and compassionate.   This is the Mother who listens, who forgives, who comforts, who guides, who nourishes, who understands and who accepts us for who we are.   

Rennslechateau Moon Madonna

As the most patriarchal culture in the world, the United States of America has a very deep negative mother complex.  So many Americans are insecure and depressed because we are so separated from our souls.  In Latin countries and in Europe, they have the Blessed Mother as a feminine icon and so love and respect some aspects of the Feminine Spirit.  For the most part, Americans are Protestants, who do not recognize the divinity of Mary and so only have a 'jealous' God and sacrificed Son to worship.    

The Virgin Mary is the merciful and sorrowing Mother of Humanity.  She is most like the Crone, the Spiritual Mother and Virgin who mediates between life and death.  And perhaps that is her role--the Wise One who has been sheltering us as we go through the lessons of the Piscean Age--lessons of dissolution, death and spiritual rebirth. 

Among the many aspects of the Goddess that she symbolizes, Mary has been associated with the image of the Divine Feminine who comes at the changing of the ages:  a Woman, clothed with the Sun, standing on the Moon, crowned with Stars, in labor, giving birth to the Savior.  This is the image of Sophia I was drawn to after I had a BIG dream while studying at the Jung Institute.  

Woman Clothed with the Sun

In the dream there is a wounded Lion (I am a Pluto in Leo Baby-Boomer) and I am making sure my children are safe.  I go out to find it.  Suddenly I am sitting in a buckboard wagon at a triple crossroads.  I look up and see a waning Moon and then see a mighty wave rushing toward me.  I think, "This is it.  This is death."  Then suddenly the wave has passed through and I look up again and see a beautiful crescent Moon in the sky and I hear a voice say, "You will be the Mother of a Savior."

Jung would have loved this dream!  My first thought was, 'No way can I be the mother of a savior. I can't do that to my children.'  Then I thought, 'Maybe it's about me?'  So I searched until I found the image of the Woman  of Revelations, and discovered that she is Lady Wisdom/Sophia/Mary.  And I knew that the revelation was about all women.

The Woman Clothed with the Sun is the Image of the Divine Mother who is returning to us now, at the changing of the Ages, not as a father’s daughter, but as Woman in her fully divine nature.   And she is calling to women to become her daughters, to grow into ourselves as spiritual women and to be the Wisdom Speakers for our culture at this moment of great cultural evolution.

In honoring Mary, we honor a woman rather than a Goddess, who was so in touch with Divine Spirit that she became wholly herself and realized her own divinity.  Like the Woman of Revelations, Mary incarnated her goddess-nature through her ability to stand consciously (Sun) in the (Moon) lunar tides of life while centering herself in her spiritual (Stars) awareness.   

And in this new age, the Divine Mother is giving way to the archetype of the Divine Partner—the Sophia (Wisdom) who is married to the Christ (spiritual consciousness).  The Gnostics believed that there was not only a man of light (Jesus) but also a woman of Light (Mary Magdalene) who were co-redeemers or partners in the work of salvation.  Mother Mary was the archetypal energy of this redemption for the Piscean Age.  

Mary's Legend 

Most of us only know about Mary from the Gospels.  But there is a legend about her parents and her early life, before she was chosen to become the Mother of God.
  
The Hebrew parents of Mary are Joachim and Anna.  The name Joachim is a variation of Heli or Eliachim, substituting one Divine name (Yahweh) for the other (Eli, Elohim).   Joachim belonged to the royal family of David, and Anna was a descendant of the priestly family of Aaron; thus Christ the Eternal King and Priest sprang from both a royal and priestly family. 



According to the histories of the twelve tribes of Israel, Joachim was a very wealthy man. He brought his offerings twofold to the Lord, saying to himself, “This from my abundance will be for all the people, and this which I owe as a sin offering will be for the Lord God as a propitiation for me.”

Now the great day of the Lord drew near, and the children of Israel brought their offerings. Reuben stood up and said “It is not permissible for you to bring your offerings first, for you did not produce offspring in Israel.”

Deeply ashamed, Joachim left the city. In the desert he pitched a tent, saying, “I shall fast and do penance until the Lord deems me worthy.” He went into the desert and fasted for 40 days and nights. Anna wept to see her husband go.

All alone, she went into the garden and sat down beneath the laurel tree. Looking toward the heavens, she saw a nest of sparrows in the tree. Fresh tears welled up in her eyes. How she longed to have a child of her own. Anna entreated the Lord, saying” Woe is me! To what am I likened? I am not likened to this earth, for even the earth brings forth her fruit in its season and blesses you, O Lord.”

And behold an angel of the Lord appeared, saying “Anna, the Lord God heard your prayer, and you will conceive and give birth, and your offspring shall be spoken of in the whole inhabited world.” Anna said, “As the Lord my God lives, if I give birth, whether male or female, I will present it as a gift to the Lord my God, and it shall be a ministering servant to him all the days of its life.”: And behold two angels came saying to her “Behold your husband Joachim is coming with his flocks.” Anna ran and throw her arms around his neck saying “Now I know that the Lord God has blessed me very greatly, for behold the widow is no longer a widow, and she who was barren has conceived.”

Anna gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.   In gratitude to the Lord, Joachim vowed that once the child turned three years old, she would be sent to the Temple to be educated.

When she was six months old her mother stood her on the ground to see if she could stand. Walking seven steps, she came to her mother’s bosom. Anna held the baby to her and said, “As the Lord is my God, and He has sent me a miraculous child.” Anna then caught her up, saying “as the Lord my God lives, you shall not walk on this earth again until I bring you to the Temple of the Lord”. Then she made a sanctuary in her bedroom and prohibited everything common and unclean from passing through it.

When the child was three years old, Joachim said, “let us call the undefiled daughters of the Hebrews and let each one take a torch and let them be burning in order that the child not turn back and her heart be misled out of the Temple of the Lord”. Thus they did, until they had gone up into the Temple.

The priest received her, and kissing her he blessed her and said, “The Lord God has magnified your name in all generations, in you at the end of todays will the Lord God manifest his deliverance to the children of Israel”. He set her on the third step of the altar, and the Lord God gave grace to her, and she danced with her feet, and all the house of Israel loved her. At last it was time for Mary to climb the steps to the Temple. A halo of light encircled the blessed child and filled with joy, she began to dance. The child’s bright spirit could not be contained any more than the sun can be kept from rising. Her parents returned marveling and giving praise and glorifying the Lord God that the child did not turn back.

One day Zaccharia, the chief priest overseeing Mary’s education was discussing the scriptures with a small group of holy men. The child sat beside him, for already she was a great favorite with these revered elders. “The Lord made us to serve Him,” Zaccharia declared.

“And to glory in His kindness,” said Mary softly. Startled, the old priest looked at her. “The little one is fearless and yet all gentleness,” he told himself as the others exchanged smiles.

“The Lord can be merciful. That is true Mary,” he replied. “You are wise, for one so young.”

“Is it wisdom, good father, to see what is all around us?” asked the child. “The Lord must love us very much to have given us this earthly paradise to look after.”

When her chores were done, in the remaining hours of each day she went out alone just beyond the gates of the Temple. There she would distribute food and clothing to the poor and the elderly who came hoping for charity. In time the other girls followed her example, and the Temple became known far and wide for its generosity.

One day, as she bathed the brow of a young girl so sick with fever that she was not expected to survive the night. Mary heard angelic singing. She looked to her patient, wondering if the girl had heard it too. No, her friend was sleeping peacefully for the first time in days. Touching the girl’s forehead, Mary realized that the fever had passed. Surely it was a miracle – the girl would recover, just as Mary prayed she would. “Mary,” a voice suddenly said. “The Lord has seen fit to bring you into this world without the stain of sin. And you use His good favor to help others. By doing so you honour Him greatly.”

When Mary turned fourteen, Zaccharia told her, “It is customary for all young maidens at your age to marry.” That night an angel appeared to the old priest in a dream and said, “Do not worry, Zaccharia. Tomorrow have each suitor bring with him a staff. The Holy Spirit will give a sign as to who shall be Mary’s husband.”

The next day, the suitors crowded into the Temple, each holding a staff in his hand. Kneeling, they prayed for a sign. All at once a lily was seen to bloom from the staff held by the widower Joseph, a builder and carpenter. And then a snow white dove alighted upon the staff before flying off. “How can it be that the Lord has chosen me?” Joseph said, astonished “I have been widowed for some time and have sons nearly as old as this tender young girl.” But Zaccharia shook his head “The Lord has given a sign, Joseph.” And turning to Mary the priest asked “Mary what is your wish?” Moved by the events and Joseph’s humble words, Mary extended her hand to Joseph, saying, “I accept.”

That day the marriage contract was signed, and in twelve months the wedding ceremony would be celebrated. In the meantime, Mary returned to her parents while Joseph departed for a distant town where he was about to begin work on the building of a Temple. The commission was a great honour, but it would separate the couple for nearly a year.

At day break one spring morning, Mary went to draw water from the well before her parents awakened. All at once she heard a voice. “Hail Mary,” it said. “The Lord is with you. Holy is your name.” And the angel stood before her. “Mary, do not be afraid, “he said. “I am the angel Gabriel, God’s messenger. He has sent me to tell you that He wishes you to bear a son.”

“But how can such a thing be possible? I am not yet wed,” said Mary.

“The Holy Spirit will pass through you as a ray of sunlight passes through a drop of water, and so the child will be called the Son of God.” Mary shook her head in wonder.

“Your kinswoman Elizabeth has in her old age conceived a son, and she, like your own mother was once called barren,” the angel continued. “But now, thanks to the Lord, Elizabeth is in her sixth month. Indeed, only your consent is needed for such a miracle to be possible, for nothing is impossible for God.”

As she listened, Mary was filled with courage. She replied, “Then I give my consent.”

Bowing before her, the angel Gabriel kissed the hem of Mary’s robe and then vanished.




August 15th: The Feast of the Assumption of Mary

August 15th is the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, a celebration of the belief that Mary, like her son Jesus, rose into heaven.  Taken symbolically, this is the day that the Church finally acknowledged that Mary is indeed the Goddess.

                                                     Assumta: Titian

 
The Roman Catholic Church teaches as dogma that the Virgin Mary "having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory."  The Eastern Orthodox Church believes in the Dormition of the Theotokos (the falling asleep of the God-Bearer).   

This is the story of Mary's last days on Earth. 

While we know little of Mary's life from the Gospels, according to legend, Mary spent her life after Pentecost supporting and serving the early Church.  She was living in the house of the Apostle John, in Jerusalem, when the Archangel Gabriel came to her and revealed that her death would occur three days later. 

The apostles were scattered throughout the world, but they were miraculously transported to be at her side when she died. The sole exception was Thomas, who was in India and so was delayed. He arrived three days after Mary's death in a cloud above her tomb.  There he saw her body ascending to heaven. He asked her "Where are you going, O Holy One?" In reply, she took off her girdle and gave it to him and said "Receive this my friend" before she disappeared.  (The Life of the Virgin Mary,The Theotokos.)  

Thomas was taken to his fellow Apostles and asked to see Mary's grave so that he could bid her goodbye. Mary had been buried in Gethsemane, according to her wishes. When the Apostles arrived at the grave, her body was gone, leaving only a sweet fragrance. An apparition is said to have confirmed that Christ had taken her body to heaven after three days to be reunited with her soul.



                                            Rubens: The Assumption of Mary




The earliest traditions all locate the end of Mary's life in Jerusalem.  In some versions of the story the event is said to have taken place in Ephesus, where the Eleusian Mysteries were celebrated for over 2000 years—dedicated to Demeter and Persephone.  In the House of the Virgin Mary outside Ephesus, at the shrine there is a particular "wishing wall" which pilgrims have used by tying their personal intentions on paper or fabric.  There is also a sacred spring there, which is believed to have healing properties.



In the 7th century, Theothekno, bishop of Palestine, preached a homily on the feast of Mary's Assumption, August 15: 


"Rejoice with the Mother of God,
with angels and saints,
and celebrate this great feast:
the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
"On earth she was a fruitful virgin,
in heaven she intercedes for all;
through this blessed woman,
the Spirit's gifts still flow upon us,
and her words teach gentle wisdom.
"At her assent the earth blossomed;
she sought good things for the poor.
Now in heaven her care is undiminished,
near her Son she seeks the good of us all."
 

What does it mean for our earthly body to be taken up into the heavens (the spiritual realms)? " The Assumption proclaims the Mystery of the century, the return of Mother Earth to the Heavens and the end, therefore, of the split between Earth and Heaven and all the divisions, such as between flesh and spirit, that flowed from that. It heralded the unity of the universe and the unity of human personality." (Eugene Cullen Kennedy: http://ncronline.org/blogs)  

May it be so! 

 

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