12:12 Full Moon, the UK election, and the goddess of love.

Image- Mars and Venus Surprised by Vulcan by Alexandre Charles Guillemot (1827)

Image- Mars and Venus Surprised by Vulcan by Alexandre Charles Guillemot (1827)

Venus the eternal goddess of love is somewhat challenged today (astrologically speaking). Slotted between mighty Pluto and Saturn, she is having difficulty breathing.

Pluto/Venus and Saturn/Venus placements in natal and relationship charts can be tricky and in the case of Pluto/Venus may suggest a tendency for intense, obsessive and even abusive relationships.

As well as being placed in the zodiacal sign of Capricorn, which is ruled by Saturn, Venus is conjunct Saturn by 1 degree. Saturn/Venus contacts may show a rather authoritarian or aloof relationships, or a feeling of being unloved.

I write this on the train and only a few moments ago a uniformed guard sternly tried to remove a young woman from the train, not by physical force but with a very earnest and authoritative manner. The woman was being accused of inciting political sentiment inappropriately on public transport (I doubt she was rooting for Boris Johnson), and was told on no uncertain terms to leave the train. An interesting scenario given that I was at that very moment contemplating the Venus/Saturn relationship, and the relationship of the masculine to the feminine generally.

In tonight’s Sun & Moon Lodge we will be exploring through shamanic journeying and astro drama, the relationship between the masculine and feminine. Using the mythology of Venus, her husband the blacksmith Hephaestus and her lover Mars, as well as her imposition between Pluto and Saturn, the intention is to get a glimpse of the current collective climate, as well as our own personal dynamics in this regard.

With Mars also on the ascendant of the full moon chart, can the goddess of love temper all this strong masculine energy?

Hephaestus- known as Vulcan to the Romans- is depicted as the jealous husband who, furious by his wife’s infidelities, weaves a fine net to trap the lovers and present them before the gods of Olympus. This story however may say more about the nature of Venus rather than her scorned partner… though Venus has many relationships with both mortals and gods, and although to some extent she is not whole unto herself without a consort, she is also a goddess who cannot be possessed- even although I am sure the dark lord of the underworld, Pluto might like to try.

The relationship with Hephaestus and the feminine is an interesting one for he is also the god who created the first woman, Pandora, as a punishment for men for whom Prometheus stole the fire of the gods. Imbued with femininity from Aphrodite (Venus), and the skill of crafts form Athena, Pandora is described as being ‘beautifully evil’.

What is the relationship between your own inner masculine and feminine like, both in its balanced state and shadow state? To explore this, you can journey to the inner spaces using images or journeying, dream work and any other resources able to facilitate an opening to the imaginal realm- or simply look at your astrology chart!

For myself, when my inner masculine and feminine are balanced it is a beautiful relationship in which the masculine is in service to the feminine, however with fiery Mars in Aries conjunct Chiron (the wound) at the top of the chart, in its shadow aspect this relationship has a tendency toward Mars being a bit of a bully, rushing the softer more intuitive aspects of my feminine self which needs space and the gift of unfolding in her own good time.

On a collective note, I hope that the over masculinised influences of today’s full moon chart don’t influence voting too much.

Here’s to the deep need we have to integrate, anchor and weave feminine and soulful values into our public and political spheres. Here’s to Venus the goddess of love in her many aspects.

Image- Mars and Venus Surprised by Vulcan by Alexandre Charles Guillemot (1827)

Living Mythologies: The Sisterhood Wound

Ladon and the Hesperides

In this Thursday’s Moon Lodge, myself and a small band of women will be exploring sisterhood, and what it means for modern women. Do we have a sense of its existence in our lives… or not and if not, what prohibits us from owning this rite of the feminine? And what must be done to reweave this torn web?

Canterbury Moon Lodge works with the natural cycles, the zodiacal placement of the moon, astrology, the mythic realms, symbolism and shamanism to lead us through the barriers of the rational mind and ego consciousness… beyond our limited stories.

The key to Moon Lodge is found in the weaving of myths, symbols, and archetypes with our own soul experiences and the contemporary cultural condition which we inhabit… but which may, if we are not careful, inhabit us.

Myths are living entities- on one level they are rooted in cultural and spiritual history and may reveal a lot about the lineage of our shared human consciousness. On another level they exist in an astral space of flux, change and movement mirroring our evolution process. They liberate us from the hardening mechanics of our own small stories and the engine of our ego mind. They can be a healing balm for the soul- provided we do not get too rigid about their meaning and are able to flow in the primordial waters and drink from the fountain of life.

There is no fixed meaning to myths, they are fluid expressions of the journey of the human soul both individually and collectively, revealing ever deeper layers of our relationship with the divine.

Working with myth enables us to take flight from the weight of our personal stories and prisons of the mind, freeing us into archetypal realms that have much to teach us about what it means to be spirit incarnate in the material world. Myths exist in the imaginal realms- they join body- soul- mind and spirit.

Exploring sisterhood through myth:

I am struck by the many stories of groups of women, nymphs, witches, graces and sirens from the mythological archives- from the Gorgons, Graeae, and the Stygian Nymphs in the myth of Medusa, to the women of the Isle of Lemnos in the Argonaut story, to the many daughters of Atlas… the seven sisters of the Pleiades, and the seven Hesperides guarding the Golden Apples. Myths and fairy tales are full of groups of women who possess magical powers or supernatural gifts especially when they join forces. Often, these groups of women are guarded by primordial beings such as snakes or dragons – as with Ladon the dragon who guards the sacred tree in the garden of Hesperides (this echoes the serpent who guards the Huluppu tree in Babylonian myth of Ishtar).

But what meaning can this have for modern women? What can these stories teach us?

Certainly, there are far fewer tales of groups of men who, by and large, appear in myth, stories, and fairy tales as solar heroes on lonely quests for individuation, or to prove themselves worthy by achieving feats of high danger or seeming impossibile tasks (or to get the girl). Often, they must obtain the power of women to set them on the next leg of their quest, and sometimes the feminine power or wisdom is stolen, or as the case of Medea is taken on false promise thereby betraying the feminine. Stories of stealing feminine power and wisdom are told through many sources and can also be witnessed in more concrete ways throughout history… this can be quite hidden and occult too.

What then is it about groups of women? Could it be that something incredibly powerful is initiated when women join forces? When I talk to women about sisterhood, they often report a feeling of being thwarted against other women. As I see it, this sometimes looks like who can be the most ideal feminine based on a standard of masculine values.

In a patriarchal culture where hierarchy and competition are esteemed values of solar consciousness, one might wonder, where is the space for people, and especially women, to come together on equal terms, encouraging and invoking the unique gifts of each member while in turn creating something much larger and more powerful than the sum of the parts?

Historically, groups of women have been feared and accused of witchcraft and malice.

What I have learned from three years of holding moon lodge circles is that it is indeed very powerful when women come together. Sometimes I feel nothing much more than gathering in circle with open hearts and good intentions needs to happen. Being witnessed in truth and authenticity is deeply healing – to see and to be seen as we really are.

But how real can we be?

Can we be vulnerable enough to show ourselves… the wounds we carry, the trauma we have suffered, our hopes and aspirations for our lives, our innermost truths about who we profoundly know ourselves to be without the need to play small… or big? Are we angry when other women tell their truth, or shine their light? Do we pity women who dissolve and unravel, unable to keep themselves together as we calmly don our mask of ‘got it all worked out’?

Who triggers you and why?

Can you truly love and support other women? Can you receive the enormous power and magic that wants to enter your life when you are able to open to other women?

I own in myself that in the past I have found it easier to open to men and reveal more of my truth to them than I have with women (although this is a whole other stone to be turned!).

When I look into this, I see that as a little girl I feared being subsumed by my mother. I felt on some level as if I existed only as an aspect of her and not as a person in my own right. I was an appendage of her, and she needed to hold the power so that I would not defy our mother-daughter complicity which was designed to continue living-out the false woman image. While the true or authentic woman was devastated by unresolved inter-generational and inter-cultural trauma, a mask had been created to prevent the pain from showing- which also meant that the trauma could not heal. In the culture I was born into it did not take much for a woman to be considered crazy. Many women were socially rejected, labelled and judged for dispalying symptoms of trauma- my own grandmother included.

I was strongly encouraged to hide behind the false woman mask because if the terrible wound that my mother and I, and my grandmother carried was exposed, it would have felt like certain death. And with compassion I can see that my mother did not feel she had the tools and resources to make the descent into the deepest soul wounds and come back to tell the tale.

This dynamic of complicity set me up for a lifetime of feeling unable to own myself in the company of other women- especially ones who wielded patriarchal type, control-over power, who denied the feminine in themselves and who would therefore no doubt punish me for it. But what is the experience of being in our authentic woman in the presence of other women (or anyone for that matter)? As the archetypal psychologist James Hillman says, we do not know what a real feminine consciousness looks like. It has been a long time since this has been anchored on the planet.

I and others are involved in the work of returning the exiled feminine.

At some point I realised that in not owning the truth of who I am in my full woman, I cannot fully support and love another woman to express that integrity either because of feeling threatened on some level. Feelings of jealousy, envy, suspicion, judgement, and any number of negative emotions keep us separate from other women- but in truth this is only separates us from ourselves.

Deeper still is the fear that if we really show ourselves for who we really are we will be abandoned, unloved, rejected or ridiculed. But it is silence and complicity that prevents us from coming home to ourselves.

These are some of the questions that we will be journeying with in Thursday’s Lodge, however if this post has inspired you please add your comments.

 

Re-Visioning Medusa: A New Myth of Serpent Power & Instinctual Wisdom

'Serpentarium' By Patricia Ariel

In re-visioning the myth of Medusa, I begin to see it as a teaching for modern women about the journey back to our instinctual selves so that we may become co- creators in our own life. It is the teaching of the Dark Goddess, and the dark moon mysteries. It is also a teaching about menstrual rites, and the ability to reset ourselves during menstruation which acts as an inner barometer checking how aligned with ourselves we are.

As a priestess in the temple of Athena – goddess of wisdom – Medusa is primed to be Athena’s top girl. She is diligent, devotional, chaste, reverend and respectful. She is the ‘good girl’ doing what is expected of her but ultimately responding to the will of another, and as we shall see, denying her true nature.

Medusa’s story begins with consciousness- though it is controlled and inauthentic, then her descent into unconsciousness when she is turned into a hideous gorgon, and finally her rebirth into her true self as the moon horse Pegasus, and healer of others through the power of her blood. In exploring feminine consciousness, Medusa’s myth also sees parallels in the myth of Lilith. In astrology the triad of Lilith consciousness- asteroid Lilith- Dark Moon Lilith- Black Moon Lilith- tells a similar story of reclaiming banished feminine wisdom. Looking at Lilith and Medusa points in a natal chart can describe the possibility of feminine rebirth.

In the most common reading of the myth, Medusa’s liaison with the sea god Poseidon is seen as a rape, in much the same way as Kore’s abduction to Hades is also viewed through the lens of violation.  But what if Medusa, originally a sea nymph, ‘protector of the dark moon mysteries, who celebrated the sexual rites with the lineage of sea gods’[i] was in fact initiated back to herself, in a sacred homecoming in which she reconnects with her instinctual energy?

In the temple of Athena, Medusa is a dutiful Priestess but serving the chaste goddess of wisdom Athena – a goddess who was born from the head of the ultimate solar god, Apollo – may be a self-sacrificing act that denies her access to her true self. Essentially Medusa is mistress of the dark moon, occult teachings, and sex magic. To deny these aspects in herself is to deny her essence and her destiny. A tantric union with the sea god, King Poseidon offers Medusa a return to her true nature even while she deeply offends and is punished by Athena – reason- and cast out from the temple precincts- ordered society.

It could be that originally Athena and Medusa were one in the same, derived from an ancient Libyan goddess, or rooted in Egyptian mythology through the goddess Neith. As the solar gods assumed precedence over matriarchal and lunar consciousness, the temples were often burnt and desecrated, many of the priestesses became destitute, whores, or nuns, and the Sun god Apollo boldly steaked his claim in the Temple of Delphi- a name whose etymology has its origins in the same word a womb- and where the famed Oracles of Delphi advised the great and good of the land though a mysterious power that rose form the earth- serpent power.

In mythology, particularly Greek mythology, but also Roman, Christian and Celtic, fragmenting the goddess into opposing aspects was a way to undermine Her power, or set Her against Herself in the form of the ‘Other’.

In our next Moon Lodge, we will be exploring Sisterhood and addressing the blocks that modern women have in joining forces with, loving, and supporting other women. Divide and separate is one the oldest and simplest methods of bringing things, and people, into a weakened state and many modern women have a hard time supporting other women. One reason for this is that is hard to support/love another when you cannot be that for yourself. Women often report issues around trusting other women, or feeling that other women are out to get them, undermine them… or steal their man. When female power is in short supply, patriarchal values such as survival of the fittest, power over, control, and undermining the enemy comes into play. When women do not feel empowered to get their needs met, they are often accused of using tactics of manipulation. A friend once told me that she thought the hardest thing for a woman to do around other women is to hold her power. Whatever way I look at it, I can see/feel that the issue of sisterhood is deep wound of our time that is ready to be healed.

Imagine Athena and Medusa as one in the same- a mighty power of instinct, wisdom, the ability to merge, and the ability to separate. Soli/lunar magic unified in one awakened being.

When Medusa’s head is severed by the demi-god Perseus, the drops of blood falling on parched African desert as her flies away form the scene of the crime, causes little plants, flowers and shoots to spring up in an otherwise arid land. The blood of Medusa is a holy substance with life giving properties, and death dealing powers. Fertilizing barren land with the healing waters of life echo Medusa’s role as ‘mistress of the waters’ and connects her with a lineage of grail priestesses including Mary Magdalene whose knowledge of how to materialize spirit are at the heart of the gnostic and grail teachings.

The flowers that spring up from the drops of Medusa’s blood represent the power of renewal- which are the secrets known to the dark moon goddesses of transformation, renewal and initiation.

On receiving the blood of Medusa, Athena makes a gift of it to the god of healing Asclepius who separates the liquid into two vials. The blood in the left vial can destroy and cause death, while the blood in the right vial restores and heals and can bring life back to the dead. This is the mystery of the serpent wisdom- it has the power to destroy or create. Medusa herself has the power to destroy by rendering those who gaze upon her to stone, while in her beheading she unleashes the winged moon horse Pegasus, symbol of creative inspiration, revered by artists for centuries.

I prefer to read the myth like this… a rebirthing story for Medusa, her creative power finally unleashed by the death of her old persona and the restoration to her natural state. Medusa is sometimes originally depicted as a sea mare, and her name means “I come form myself”.

For modern women we might read the myth of Medusa as a caution against rejecting our essential selves. When we do this, we are in some way punished and we punish others… we can turn others to stone in our jealousy and frustration at our unlived lives. We, daughters of the patriarchy, often carry the burden of the unlived lives of our mothers’ who may have bitterly resigned themselves to a life of denial, and like Athena punish their daughters who dare to turn away from this feminine denying conspiracy.

Returning to one’s primal essence is often viewed by others as not very rational and indeed can at times look quite mad to the rest of the world. And in one way or another we will be punished for such a transgression against the social order. But sometimes we have no choice. Afterall, you cannot turn down the great sea god Poseidon.

In astrology, Neptune- Poseidon’s Roman counterpart is an outer planet taking us into the transpersonal realms. This suggests that when we are in the grip of an outer planet god, it is not about our self-will, wants and desires, rather the experience weaves us into the non- rational mystery of our soul’s journey and homecoming.

Of course, the shadow part of working with the myth of Medusa is undoing all the ways that we betrayed ourselves and were betrayed by others- often our mother- healing the wounds… we might even say sins, of going against our true nature.

[i] Mysteries of the Dark Moon by Demetra George. P. 159

Shamanic Mask Work

Using masks as a shamanic practice is deeply powerful and healing. In last night’s Sun & Moon lodge, wearing a mask gave me permission to be more theatrical, more confident, and removed from my usual persona so that I was able to open and channel an energy that is both me and at the same time is the point where I meet the gods. Mask wearing as a shamanic practice grants us access into the transpersonal realms where we are liberated from the burden of our conditioning.

In shamanic mask work the ego is silenced, our normal persona falls away and something else comes in- latent parts of ourselves, shadow parts, gifts, sacred insights… we become a transmission for something much larger than our ego identified self and beliefs about who we and others think we are.

Wearing a mask also has a strong effect on those around us… their preconceptions of us drop away, they can no longer hold onto who they think we are- which in turn challenges them to also redefine who they are. They are brought in that moment into a new space of knowing nothing about us or who we might become. And they are not sure who they will become in this new dynamic.

Last night we worked with the mask of Medusa which as a symbol is more than the myth of the terrifying gorgon abandoned in the cave at the edge of the western world. The mask of Medusa was donned by priestesses who worked with dark moon magic and wished to keep their workings secret from the uninitiated. The serpent headed crowns and monstrous masks were an emblem of the serpent rites and mysteries.

When considering the mask in a modern context and working with it for collective and psychological healing, it is interesting to consider the many masks we wear in our lives and the expectations that we fulfil for others. By refusing to accept the masks, by refusing to wear them, and instead explore hidden parts of ourselves by dropping our persona and stepping into something new is so liberating!

In ‘Mysteries of the Dark Moon’, Demetra George says that in order to transform the mask, we must recognise and acknowledge the wrathful face that we present to others. In working with Medusa, we must recall her from her banishment and reclaim the serpent headed Queen by honouring the dark moon wisdom that arises from our sexuality. Medusa is the source of our deep, regenerative healing power. The menstrual blood of the Serpent Goddess that could heal or kill, and even raise the dead is reflected in the twin serpents of Life and Death twinning about the winged staff of the caduceus- today the emblem of the medical profession.

Finding the point where asteroid Medusa is placed in our natal birth chart offers clues to understanding how this power may be activated in our lives and the ways in which we wear masks to deny and supress this power in ourselves, or project it on to others.

Please contact me if you would like an astro-shamanic consultation.

Medusa as Shamanic Guide to Reclaiming Feminine Serpent Wisdom

Medusa – Serpent Goddess of female wisdom whose name means “I come from myself”, may have a lot to teach us in reclaiming our wise woman- but we have to reach behind the mask… a very scary thing for us modern women to do, as the mask has kept us, if not entirely connected to our feminine wisdom and power, then at least alive in a culture that has largely rejected these aspects of the feminine.

In the beginning the mask of Medusa was a protection to guard the feminine mysteries from those who had no ‘rite’ to know them, or those who could misuse, damage or destroy this sacred knowledge. Unfortunately, as women became less sourced in their feminine power, the mask of stone that could be turned turned either outward or inward, replaced the true face of feminine power.

Medusa- serpent headed monster, once priestess, primordial sea nymph, stony-eyed death giver, cave dweller on the edge of the world…

What can the myth of Medusa mean for modern women?

Like all myths the Myth of Medusa is a living entity, morphing into new shapes and interpretations with the continual unfolding of human consciousness.

The most commonly known version of the myth is that Medusa was a priestess in the temple of Athena, goddess of wisdom before her terrible transformation. In this myth we witness Medusa very much as the victim, rather like Persephone whose journey of initiation is also corrupted to portray the feminine in a passive state. In both cases, the myth of Medusa and the myth of Persephone may instead be read as journeys of initiation in claiming our Queendom by accepting our true essence.

Originally a sea nymph, her beauty was beyond compare and men travelled far and wide just to catch a glimpse of her- though in her vows of chastity appropriate for Athena’s temple she would give herself to no man. But the mighty sea god Poseidon had other ideas… so enraptured was he by Medusa’s beauty that he vowed to have her by hook or by crook. Poseidon raped Medusa in the temple precincts thus enraging the chaste and virtuous Athena who, rather than avenge Poseidon, instead punishes Medusa by changing her beautiful tresses into hissing serpents.

Medusa at once is banished from the temple taking up residence with her two gorgon sisters, Sthenno and Euryale, in a cave on the edge of the world, on the ocean’s edge near to the border of night and death. So horrifying was Medusa’s monstrous appearance that any mortal who dared to look upon her was immediately turned to stone- stories spead far and wide about the lands and caverns in the area being strewn with pertified men.

Of the three hideous gorgons, Medusa was the only one who could die and the solar hero Perseus on a mission contrived by King Polydectes set out on a mission to slay the head of Medusa. The gods were on his side… donning a mirrored shield given by Athena, golden winged sandals from Hermes, a sword form Hephaestus, and a helmet of invisibility from Pluto, the young demi-god son of Zeus and the mortal Danaë, was invincible.

Taking care not to look at Medusa directly, Perseus captures her reflection in his mirror as he slowly steps backwards, then with one fell swoop cuts of her head. From her severed body spring the winged horse Pegasus and the golden sword wielding giant Chrysaor. The other two gorgon sisters arrive on the scene, but Perseus escapes wearing the helmet of invisibility given to him by Pluto. Some people say that he flew away on the back of Pegasus holding in his hand the grotesque head of Medusa and that wherever the drops of blood fell to the earth, flowers, plants and other verdant life sprung forth.

Thereafter the goddess of wisdom Athena wore a breast plate of the Medusa’s head on her person as a symbol of protection. She gifted the blood of Medusa to the great healer Asclepius who separated it into two vials- the right vial it was said had great healing properties- even the power to bring back the dead- while the blood of the left vial was said to destroy and kill.

The Myth of Medusa is immensely rich with its origins rooted in north Africa and the Egyptian goddess Neith, who was known as Anatha in Libya, and Athena in Greece. In her book, ‘Mysteries of the Dark Moon’, Demetra George tells us that Neith emerged from the primeval floodwaters, and her name means, “I have come from myself”. As part of a triple goddess figure with Neith/Anatha, and Metis, Medusa embodies the third dark aspect of the destroyer/crone, and was revered as the Queen of the Libyan Amazons, the Serpent Goddess of female wisdom.

Feminist and Jungian scholars have made much of the layers of symbolism embedded within the story. For George, “Medusa in her association wit the serpent and the menstrual blood that could both heal and destroy, embodies the dark moon mysteries of the goddess. In her red-faced gorgon mask mounted by a crown of snakes, Medusa in women signifies a source of feminine wisdom that is connected to their sexuality.”

Kundalini serpent power is the life-force, prana or chi that lays dormant at the base of the spine until such time that it is activated and begins its journey up the spinal, passing through and activating the chakras (power centres) before arriving at the crown chakra. At which point cosmic consciousness is awakened. This force can then be used for regenerative healing and renewal, open doors of creativity, oracular wisdom and spiritual power.

Like Demetra, I see the hissing crown of the Medusa as feminine serpent power that once activated moves one beyond the constrictions of duality into a cosmic consciousness where there is a union between human and divine. Another way to say this is that the human body becomes the earthen vessel able to be penetrated by and hold divine energy.

This power has been repressed and punished by centuries of culture that have feared it, and women themselves have become cut off from the root of their feminine grounding. The monstrous aspect of Medusa is the mask we wear to protect ourselves from the vulnerability that we feel in being cut off at the root. Either we turn the mask out toward those we feel we must protect ourselves from- and in the case of modern women this often translates as many aspects of culture. If we turn the mask inward on ourselves, we despise all that makes us powerful and feminine- our menstruation- shamanic birthing- sexuality- magic, and Dark Goddess wisdom. This power has been so feared and so rejected in our culture that we have learned to disown it in ourselves and punish it in others.

Rather than see the myth of Medusa as another story of female disempowerment and victimisation, I see Medusa as a shamanic guide who can lead us to the places where we have blocked Dark Goddess power in ourselves. One way to do this is to acknowledge the mask of bitterness we wear, and the situations where we can petrify others and ourselves in our stony rigidity and insecurity.

However, this tale comes with a huge caution- these mysteries must be approached carefully and with great respect, and at the right time. Like a kundalini awakening the serpent power must not be unleashed prematurely or in ways that are dangerous, for then it can kill.

The clue to approaching the feminine mysteries lies in the fact that Perseus, or anyone else for that matter, cannot look directly at Medusa. With a lot of help from the gods in the form of magical tools, and by only looking upon the reflection of medusa rather than her actual person, is Perseus able to slay her.

This tells us that the feminine mysteries cannot be approached in a rational way, and that we must seek the help of the gods to contact the divine. That is why we need ritual, ceremony, initiation, rites of passage and prayer, and return to our bio-mystical rites.

It is said that at one time Athena and Medusa, along with the sea goddess Metis were all part of the tripe goddess archetype- from Athena we receive wisdom, intellect, valour and courage, from Metis intuition and creative expression, and from Medusa sexual power, magic and psychic abilities. Before patriarchal consciousness separated these aspects of femininity, this trilogy of power and attributes was the bedrock of the feminine wisdom and essence.

If you would like to work with Medusa and begin to see behind the mask in your own life, looking at the placement of asteroid Medusa in your chart can point to the area of your life and rulership under whose power Medusa operates.

Contact me if you would like a consultation.

Samhain and the Stars of Secret Knowledge

Image by Annelie Solis

October is a time when the veils between the worlds are thinnest, gifting us an opportunity to merge the world of matter and spirit, life and death. At the threshold of Samhain, we may transition more easily beyond the usual restrictions of duality.

For the ancient Celts, Samhain marked the end of the old year and the beginning of the new year, holding for a moment the past and present in one eternal continuum.

It is traditionally a time to honour our ancestors, the ones who walked before us, and all our relations in the cycle of life. As embodied expressions of our lineage, we walk with, and sow the seeds of their consciousness.

This year, the October new moon happens on 28th, 3 days before Samhain. This adds double availability in accessing liminal states as dark of the moon is also a time when the veils are thin… a time when the workings of the goddess are being woven within the mystery of Her darkness. At the balsamic moon, in the void of creation, the old is being released, returned to the womb of creation while the new, not yet known, is being dreamed, or birthed, into being.

At this time we also have an opportunity to release that which has served its purpose and dream ourselves into being.

At the end of October, we stand before the threshold of the old and the new not just as a spiritual ideal but also as a natural phenomenon. All around nature is retreating into herself, into her centre, deep within the earth, releasing the harvest of the old year, composting the energy in order to fertilize the seeds of the new… seeds that are not yet realised on the physical level for they are transiting from the world of spirit to the world of matter.

And this is the secret of Samhain.

What is it that we need to compost from our past to fertilise our future? As a sacred substance compost cannot just be disregarded, forgotten or disposed of in a vacuum, for it contains the essence and power of all that has gone before. This is our lessons learned, our wisdom gained, and our evolving consciousness.

We cannot forget our ancestors; they have learned much and have much to teach us. They have a seed intention and in spite of the wounds that may have afflicted them, the essence of that intention wants to be realised.

The process of transformation is not only witnessed in the world of matter it is also reflected in the dance of the cosmos in the stars… ‘As above so below’.

On October 27th, just before Samhain the fixed star Symra joins the Sun at 4 degrees of Scorpio, one day before the sun/moon conjunction of the new moon on the 28th. Three days later, and one day before Samhain, fixed star Khambalia joins the Sun.

Both stars are within the constellation of Virgo, the Virgin, whose esoteric knowledge has to do with the mysterious secrets of life-death, and renewal, and spirit in matter.

The configuration of Symra and Khambalia conjunct the sun and moon just before the threshold of Samhain reflects the occult workings that take place behind the scenes- ‘beneath the skirts of the virgin’, or the mysterious processes of nature that the alchemists have long attempted to know and master.

Symra, which means the ‘train of the skirt of the goddess’ relates to the 3rd tarot, the Empress who is the gateway to source, and keeper of a secret knowledge, available to us if we know how to access it.

Other archetypes that hold the key to this wisdom are the Virgin Mary, Inanna, Ishtar, Demeter, Persephone, Kali/Shakti and Gaia.

While Symra is located at the left shine of the Virgo constellation, Khambalia is located on the left foot and is an old Coptic word meaning ‘crooked claw’.

Khambalia has connections with the swastika, which far from the corrupted meaning imposed upon it by the Third Reich, is in truth an ancient symbol of life, power and the sun. It is a visual depiction of the harmony and equilibrium of the changing seasons and the innate wisdom of nature.

The word ‘Shambala’ has a similar root to Khambalia, as has the pentagram and the Arabic word for five, ‘Khamsa’. For the ancient Arabs these were the most auspicious of stars.

The pentagram has associations with Venus and again points to the mysteries of merging spirit and matter. It is no coincidence that ‘crossing into the dark’ time of year is presided over by the goddess, the crone and her feminine mysteries of renewal.

This myth is an analogy of the cycle of Venus in the sky from Morning Star to Evening Star.

The solar gods having expressed their energy and brought forth the harvest, like Dumuzi, now descent into the underworld for 6 months of the year where he will be transformed ready to take up his sovereignty again with the return of the light.

While the Empress wears a starry crown her throne is placed firmly in the material world- in a field of corn. Traditionally associated with matter, the Empress has dominion over all growing things. Manifesting spirit in the material world is the deep mystery known to the Empress, Virgo, the Virgin Mary, and many of the feminine archetypes who operate in the occult knowledge of renewal.

The birth of Christ, birthing Christ consciousness is the processes that happen in the mystery of the goddess. It is She who births solar consciousness by an occult process that is beyond the bounds of rationality. It is magic.

Women have the capacity to experience something of this wisdom every lunar cycle in the process of menstruation.

As women we can connect to this wisdom through our womb, the alembic from which we create our lives, and affect the lives of those around us, and in the world. The womb is the living chalice that when cleared and opened has the potential to connect us with the  divine and empower us to be creators and leaders of our world.

If we are cut off from our womb – the seat of our power- the portal, or doorway, to source is blocked and our ability to create and manifest is lost or weakened.

Samhain, the teachings of the dark moon, the secret wisdom of the goddess, the bio-mystical experience of menstruation and birthing, and the womb as cosmic portal between spirit and matter are the teaching that are open us- as men and women- as we enter into the dark of the year.

The teachings are below our feet in the earth and above our heads in the stars, and we, conduits of spirit and matter are creators far beyond what many of us have been led to believe.

We are part of the same cycle of renewal and in this process we have potential to grow and evolve, carrying the most sacred seed of our ancestors forward so that it flowers and blooms in us.

Samhain teaches us that while everything changes, everything is circulated in the great cosmic womb, returned to the earth as primordial matter and recycled as energy to rebirth the new. By honouring and accepting the past, and by understanding that it is all part of one eternal continuum, we too free ourselves to be renewed in the cycle of life.

October Full Moon: The Mother’s Body

 

Sacred-Relationship Inner Ecology

As the moon reaches her fullness at 20° Aries, somewhere in the region of 30 000 people are actively protesting what many feel is our extinction crisis.

Extinction rebellion, or XR as it is known is a socio-political movement actively engaged in civil disobedience, and non- violent disruption to confront the potential, if not likely, social and ecological collapse.

An article in last Thursday’s Guardian revealed the 20 firms behind a third of all global carbon emissions. Not surprisingly they were oil, petroleum, gas, energy and other mining companies. Some were listed as ‘state owned’, while most are shareholder owned with CEOs reaping yearly salaries in the region of $20 million plus.

Mining deep into the earth’s body the mantra of corporate growth is “more” and, not content with trawling the depths of her flesh we have created ever more sophisticated technologies to suck the marrow from her bones.

And what is it for? A breakdown of world spending reveals total military expenditure by all 29 NATO members was $963 billion in 2018, accounting for 53 percent of world spending, while the global market for pharmaceuticals reached $1.2 trillion in 2018. These figures were taken from a quick google search and may not be entirely accurate, however it is clear that many of the earth resources are fueling these giants.

In the full moon chart, the sun- what is conscious- is at 20° Libra. The sabian symbol for this degree is:

“A revivifying contact with the Mother-force of nature and of social togetherness”

It continues:

“It is very good and healthful to become revitalized by collective experiences and deep feelings of undifferentiated unity as they merge in the vast refreshment of the planetary “Mother” where “she” is most dynamic, unlimited and unconfined by boundaries.”

This is the deep longing of the soul, to merge with the Mother, and yet, in the age of shareholder led corporatocracy, military-pharma-culture, and the unlimited harvesting of the earth’s resources where do we witness the “Mother” in her unlimited and unconfined boundaries?

It seems that every part of her body is cut up, fenced off, mined, or built upon.

As the hermetic principle states: “As within, so without; as without, so within”. We might ask ourselves where can we witness the Mother in ourselves? Where can we merge with the vast refreshment of our inner planet? And are not the two inextricably linked so as to be one in the same?

With asteroid Bacchus exactly conjunct the Sun, we may find illuminated pathways to the wild places within ourselves.

A T-square with Pluto at 20° Capricorn, moon at 20° Aries, and sun at 20° Libra- points to the great transformation underway reflected in the Saturn/Pluto conjunction culminating in January 2020.

Pluto, the great revealer has left his calling card, Saturn lord of karma, time and structure is ready to do his books- the collective checks and balances, and an appraisal of how on or off track we are for the next step of our evolution.

It might be said that the Pluto Saturn conjunction is a collective Saturn return.

Pluto associated with the resources and riches of the earth, squaring the sun and moon reveals a truth about both our conscious reality- the story we tell ourselves- and the unseen workings of the situation.

Asteroid Gaea in a trine with expansive Jupiter and the full moon illuminates the bigger picture coming into focus, binging us a step closer to genuine insight beyond the polarisation and splintering of surface level distraction, inward to the divine cells of our body and the wise guidance of the heart.

Dionysus and the Undivided Self

 

The Maenad by John Collier

How do we contact the parts of ourselves that have become split off, exiled, or buried beneath layers of social control- either our own or imposed by others?

What lurks beneath the masks that we wear and how do we find ways to connect with and release those hidden parts of ourselves? Would we even want to?

Dionysus as ‘The Undivided’ god (or archetype) can lead us to the wilder, untamed parts of ourselves so that they may be reclaimed. His method of doing this is not necessarily talking things over in a rational way, he is more likely to lead us through the portals of ecstasy, dance, spiritual intoxication, passion, sensuality, sexuality, and the pulsating blood and flesh of our own body.

Dionysus is all about bringing spirit into the material world. He is after all one who can descend into the pit of Hades, come back to tell the tale, and then take his place in the abode of the gods. He is the quintessential walker of the worlds, or Shaman.

The ecstatic methods of Dionysus differ from what we have come to recognise as mainstream western analysis, or ‘talking therapies’ practiced in many a treatment room. Traditional psychotherapy tends to engage the ego- mind in a bid to reason with our scattered fragments and have them return home. This is the main aim of therapy and in psychological parlance is known as integration. Therapy like this works when feelings attached to suppressed material are finally acknowledged and felt. There may be tears, screams, anger… a whole host of strong expressions in the releasing of bottled-up emotions.

But what if we can’t coax our exiled parts back home? What if the structures of the ego are simply too hard? Or too clever?  What if despite our best efforts to heal we are in fact a tough nut to crack, or we have too much conditioning for words alone to dismantle?

 And what if we just sense that to reclaim all of ourselves in the most authentic and liberated way… to allow our bigness… we need more than western-style analysis… more than to be fixed so that we can operate in society even while we have an uneasy feeling that we have not brought all of ourselves to the party?

Outside the parameters of mainstream psychotherapy shamanism – which is itself a largely Dionysian practice – describes the process of becoming whole in terms of ‘soul retrieval’. Dionysus and shamanic practice are less about analysis and more about a direct route into the trapped or lost parts of ourselves. Amnesia, illness, mental disease, psychological complexes, physical illness, neurosis are all ways of describing what for the shaman is loss of soul. Dionysus can deal with collective soul loss.

In his book, ‘The Myth of Analysis: Three Essays in Archetypal Psychology, James Hillman exposes the limitations of analytical psychology when he says: “The analytical viewpoint tends towards divisions: consciousness from unconsciousness, cure form neurosis, individuation from collectively, even eros from psyche. The main aim may be a synthesis, but the means and methods are division. Dionysian consciousness proceeds otherwise. One of the names for Dionysus was The Undivided.”

Over and beyond analysis there are other ways to unblock psychic energy, reclaim libido and connect with the ‘Prima Materia’. There are other ways to release the ‘demons’ so that they might, in the end, become as William Blake suspects, ‘our greatest gods’. For Blake, who it could be argued was himself a Dionysian character, sexual energy is not an inherent evil, but the repression of that energy is. He says, “The preachers of morality fail to understand that God is in all things, including the sexual nature of men and women.”

But Dionysus is not only about the expression of sexual energy he is ultimately concerned with liberation of the soul… liberation from the tyranny of the ‘oughts’ and ‘shoulds’ that weigh down the human heart. And freedom from the safe-playing- small-self that would rather reject unpalatable feelings and emotions than face them. This is the same small self who, terrified to reveal his or her true nature, judges in others what it cannot tolerate in itself.

The ego fears rejection and separation from our culture and kin but with Dionysus who leads us to the group, and to the like- minded, we are not alone.

And here is the power of Dionysus- he is ultimately involved with group processes and the collective. Collective enthusiasm – some may say madness or hysteria – initiates a phenomenon much larger than the sum of its parts- you only have to watch a big football match, or the aftermath of a sports or political victory to witness this. I am thinking of the collective energy released in Paris last year after France won the world cup. I was so overwhelmed by the intensity of the celebrating, verging on frenzied crowds that I needed three days to recover (see blog post Paris, Mars, Football and Intrigue).

In ancient Greece, many indigenous cultures, and in cultures where initiation and ritual were a part of life, people bonded together in a purpose larger than themselves through the sharing of divine experience. Transformation induced in the initiates was witnessed, acknowledged and sanctioned by the wider community for the benefit of all. There was a ritualistic container to hold and transmute the strong spiritual energies that were being evoked and passed through the people, and in this way, change was affected.

When Dionysian energy is not contained within a ritualistic context there is propensity toward chaos. Examples of Dionysian energy in our modern world can be seen in the casualties of the rock world… sex, drugs and rock & roll; the acid and other casualties of the tune-in -drop-out of the 60’s; in the burgeoning pornography industry; the sex and sex trafficking industry; and in the young women who are swallowed up by unrealistic ideals of glamour and feminine allure. It can be witnessed in protests and political movements that degenerate into violence with the unspecific venting of primal rage.

Sometimes movements that start out with good intentions can quickly descend into mob mentality and stupidity… or are co-opted to do so.

The rave scene of the late 80’s and early 90’s was Dionysian in its expression, though again there was no ritual context in which to meet and hold the gods , and like many openings in human consciousness it was quickly exploited by the cold hand of capitalist economics, misuse of power, and personal interest.

Dionysian energy as wild as it is also needs containment- it is a bringing of the so called sacred and profane together – which is just a Christian way of saying heaven and earth, or body and spirit.

Today in the UK sees the beginning of this year’s Extinction Rebellion protests, to ‘shut down the heart of the government’ for the next 14 days unless demands are met. Here is an upsurge of collective energy that challenges the social order, not with remote ideas and manifestos but with active participation, group solidarity, music, celebration, and at times human bodies… I am thinking of the people who last year glued their hands to the trains in London’s financial district, Canary Wharf.

Dionysian collective uprising is often feared and maligned as mob rule – a remnant from some of the darker aspects of Europe’s past – it can instill fear into the rational order of Apollonic consciousness and therefore be subjected to further control and suppression. But the Dionysian outburst whether it be moral, or ecstatic is essentially ritualistic in its enthusiasm, it is ultimately for the higher purpose of breaking down stagnation and outmoded attitudes either in the individual or in the collective psyche.

This ‘ritualistic enthusiasm’ is a healthy expression of the human being and is not to be pathologized by an overly rigid, overly rational society imposed by those with a vested interest in maintaining a passive and docile populace.

While Dionysus may be an archetype of bottom up power, he is also a champion of the feminine… it is no coincidence that his followers were women who existed outside societal bounds of patriarchal control- women in Greece at that time were largely oppressed and controlled. The followers of Dionysus, the ‘maenads’ enjoyed rites that included wild dancing, music and ecstasy in the remote mountains, and unashamed divine intoxication … barefoot with untied hair, and wearing animal skins the women were free to unleash pent up emotions, trapped libido, psychic and sexual energy, and connect their bodies with the spirit without imposition.

It could be said that Dionysus is a bit like Lilith, the exiled shadow feminine who, repulsed with the oppressive laws of society, willingly banishes herself to the wild places to cavort with demons. But while Lilith is very much alone in her exile, the strength of Dionysus comes from the collective.  It is one thing to assert and release our untamed selves in the privacy of our own fantasies and it is quite another to reveal those selves to others.

How do we meet the wild gods? How do we invite Dionysus into our lives and our collective experience in a sacred way untainted by the corruption of our post capitalist world, a world that has long separated body from spirit, and that deems mad, bad or dangerous, anything beyond the rational mind?

 

September New Moon- Bacchus Conjunct the Sun: The Wild Gods.

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Two- Satyrs- Pieter Pauwel Rubens- 1618- 1619- Munich

September’s new moon on Saturday 28th at 7.26 GMT places the Sun & Moon at 5 degrees of Libra. The Sabian Symbol for this degree according to Dane Rudhyar is:
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A MAN WATCHES HIS IDEALS TAKING A CONCRETE FORM BEFORE HIS INNER VISION.
KEYNOTE: The need to visualize clearly one’s dreams or ideals in order to make them truly effectual.
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Given that the luminaries along with a stellium of other planets fall in the 6th house where spirit finds it full incarnation in the material world- this new moon opens a gateway to explore how we bring our dreams into vision. Not the dreams that we have constructed to fit a socially acceptable, safe and rational society, but dreams fueled by the passions and fires of our creative truth and primal energy.
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This is about raw spirit incarnating on the material plain.
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Also in 6th house Libra are Venus (17 degrees), Mercury 23 degrees), and Bacchus conjunct the Sun at 6 degrees. Dionysus is at 16 Libra.
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In working with the energies of the ‘Wild Gods’, we (moon lodge participants) have been exploring how as modern women we may meet this energy in the outer projection of another who appears to possess Dionysian or Pan-like qualities as a force who sweeps us off our feet, turns our world inside-out, and takes us to the brink of madness. Dionysus is also known as the ‘Great Liberator’- the one who dismantles and dismembers the inner psyche, or the cultural order when it becomes too stultified, too rigid, patriarchal, controlling, or tight.
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Dionysus is a god of the goddess and may well be a cultural icon for the reinstation of the sacred feminine.
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In the myth of Dionysus, the stifling energy of patriarchal control is embodied by the King of Thebes, Pentheus who does not believe that Dionysus is a God. Unfortunately for him he meets a Dionysian- like shamanic death when he is torn limb from limb by the women of Thebes who under the frenzied spell of the God of ecstasy have retreated to the wild mountains to enjoy the rites of Bacchus. To make matters worse, Pentheus meets his gruesome death at the hands of his own mother who in her abandoned state has failed to recognize her own son.
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In psychological terms this speaks of the dismantling of the old structures of the psyche that must be dissolved, sometimes chaotically and wildly so that the new, more authentic and natural expression can manifest.
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Dionysus, like the great Hindu goddess Kali, takes no prisoners.
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In the psyche, Pentheus and Dionysus are placed on a diametric axis representing the battle between the wild, ecstatic, and irrational aspects of ourselves pitted against the mortification of too much control and empty civility. In an embodied sense Dionysus may be the life force, prana, chi, or libido that seeks to find expression and be released from the body armoring that we have attempted to protect and control ourselves with.
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On a collective level the systems we have created that does not allow life to flow freely is the cultural body armoring where the heart of the matter has been lost.
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How do we meet the instinctual and irrational in ourselves? What access do we have to release this energy? If we do not find ways to honor this god, he will surely have his way with us by appointing an actor or an event onto the stage of our life to initiate this release for us. As Jung says, the unmet gods have become our diseases. When we don’t allow expression of our natural energy, we may fall sick. Or we meet it in another.
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How many women have crawled from the dance with a Dionysian man, broken, stripped bare and on her knees… but stronger and more aware of her own wild power?
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As we discovered in our moon lodge, Dionysus does not always manifest in the form of a wild god and many Dionysian women have also led one on a merry dance to their disintegration.
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But we rise, and maybe now we can find a way to own that energy in ourselves so that we do not need someone to enact it for us. What does it mean in your life to own that wild power, and use the energy to bring your creative dreams to manifestation? How do you tap into your instinctual nature and your spirit’s calling?
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This new moon is a portal into exploring what it is we are doing with our sacred energy. How we are using it to manifest and create in the world while honoring both the rational and irrational, male and female, and solar- lunar energy?
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Saturn and Pluto up on the midheaven of this chart are preparing for their great meeting in January 2020 when this mighty merging will be expressed in the collective. Pluto is sometimes equated with Dionysus in the ancient world and when met with Saturn, the father of structure, rules and tradition, the showdown between the irrational and the rational will be under sway.
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Here is the dance of Dionysus and Pentheus in the collective sphere.
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What has become outmoded in the collective that needs a good Plutonian or Dionysian shake-up?
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I recently watched the film Citizen 4 about Edward Snowdon, a whistleblower who leaked classified information from the NSA (National Security Agency) that implicated the U.S government in the unlawful spying on its citizens. I was intrigued by the force of conviction held by Snowden and his willingness to put himself in grave danger for the liberation of the American people. Snowden who was born on the summer solstice has a tight Pluto Saturn conjunction- Pluto at 26 Libra, Saturn at 27 Libra.
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Here is an example of the person who will go to extreme lengths in defense of liberation which for him, is freedom to remain private from the spying eyes of the government.
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Dionysus and the Maenads -the wild women who followed him- did not perform their rites in the Market Square for the amusement of all, they performed them in remote wild places ensuring total freedom and abandonment without danger of being co-opted or appropriated as so many ‘movements’ are. Watch out green ecology movement.
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Untimely, Dionysus and Bacchus point to the need for the feminine in all her sacred and terrible aspects to be released from the bondage of a patriarchal sensibility that through fear has attempted to restrain the creative well spring of death and rebirth.
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The laws of the Goddess- renewal and transformation- will always find expression both individually and collectively for it is the law of life and cannot be stopped anymore than summer turning to autumn.
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If the great gods Pan, Dionysus or Bacchus, asks you to dance, I suggest you take your shoes off and head to the mountains.
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From the Heath Where Witches are Kept Alive

Circe offering the cup to odysseus by John William Waterhouse

Now women return from afar, from always; from ‘without’, from the heath where witches are kept alive; from below, from beyond ‘culture’.

– Helen Cixous

In Scotland there are plans to erect a light house on the Firth of Forth in memory of the thousands of women who were murdered because they were accused of witchcraft. An article in the Scottish newspaper says.

“In 1563, the passing of the Scottish Witchcraft Act made witchcraft – or consulting with witches – capital crimes in Scotland, after which thousands of women were publicly accused between the 16th and 18 centuries.”

The photo below is from a recently published interactive map. It tracks more than 3,000 Scots women who were accused of being witches in the 16th and 17th Century.

Scotland was only one country where women were burned at the stake or endured humiliating trials at the hands of the church fathers and the courts. All over Europe the story was repeated.

Malleus Maleficarum (Hammer of the Witches) is a treatise authorized in 1484 by Pope Innocent VIII – Malleus outlines and sanctions inquisitorial practices to exterminate witches. It ascertained that all witchcraft stemmed from “carnal lust” (quoted in Shuttle and Redgrove, 1978, p.54). In a chapter entitled ‘Nine Million Menstrual Murders’ Shuttle and Redgrove propose that being a woman was enough to be targeted in the campaign:

“In the middle-ages, it scarcely mattered whether you were an organized dissident or not. You were a dissident by being a woman. One aspect of women’s dissidence, so far as men are concerned, is that they magically menstruate, and produce magical blood” (Shuttle and Redgrove 1978, p.204).

The interactive witches map of Scotland is part of a growing trend to resurrect the story of the witch trials, a campaign that is taking root in many places as people come to terms with the ‘gendercide’, that occurred in this dark chapter of human history. From a deep instinctual place people are realizing that although the crimes happened centuries ago, the legacy lives on… sometimes all too painfully in the body memory of women who were the scapegoat of these dark projections and who continue to bear the emotional scarring.

It is time this wound is healed.

Articles like the one in the Scottish newspaper, the interactive map, the light house, the awareness raising of places like Crossbones graveyard in London are all involved in bringing the emaciated and rotting skeleton of crimes against the feminine out of the cultural closet and the shadow of the collective psyche.

And that has got to be a god thing, and yet…

I am ambivalent – on one hand of course it is good that a mass tragedy inflicted on the feminine by the patriarchy is finally being brought to light. On the other hand, there is a danger of bypassing the root of this wound by not addressing and challenging the consciousness that festered in the minds of the church fathers and other upholders of extreme anti- feminine attitudes. Attitudes that one may feasibly question if still exist today.

Is this misogynist consciousness truly healed? Is it true to say that the toxicity that led to this terrible blight has disappeared? Deep beneath the surface of everyday civility and politeness have we truly cleaned out this this wound? Are we now a woman loving culture?

On Canterbury’s river Stour just, a short distance from my house and from the towering Cathedral, a wooden seat is raised a few feet above the water. It is a replica of a torture device affectionately known as the ‘ducking seat’. Its purpose at the time of the witch trials was to plunge women who were suspected witches into the water to determine their innocence or culpability. If the woman drowned, she was not a witch, it she did not drown it proved that she was a witch and she was murdered anyway.

Historically a device of torture now a tourist attraction, symbols like the ducking seat are disturbing reminders of a dark misogynist past that find their way unchallenged into our contemporary landscapes. Will the lighthouse be the same? Will it be a tourist attraction? A photo opportunity? Or will it open the possibility of a gateway into understanding the collective psyche in relation to the feminine?

For me the true healing comes when women clear this vibration from their body-mind-spirit and reclaim their power.