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.
The September new moon places asteroid Persephone at 8 degrees Capricorn conjunct the MC, and asteroid Bacchus, or Eleutherois (“the liberator”) conjunct the Sun at 6-degree Libra.
Today (23rd September) in ancient Greece marks the end of the Greater Eleusinian Mysteries, a death and resurrection initiation reenacting the story of Persephone’s descent into Hades. Before the initiates, or the mystai, could enter the sacred temple (Telesterion), they would recite, “I have fasted, I have drunk the kykeon, I have taken from the kiste (“box”) and after working it have put it back in the calathus (“open basket”).
After witnessing and embodying the mysteries, and sworn to secrecy, the initiates returned home to continue their daily lives. Having undergone profound transformation – a meeting with the chaotic and the divine – and facing, if not actual death, then certainly ego death, they are now liberated from fear and limited conditioning…they have met the gods.
Situations or people who may have suppressed, controlled or intimidated them previously are now cast aside as non-threatening pale comparisons of the true power and inner light that now possesses them.
As with many of the ancients gods who are often different expressions of the same energy, Hades and Dionysus may be viewed as one in the same according to Heraclitus.
Horned god figures such as Bacchus and Dionysus can lead us on a wild descent into the non-rational, chthonic and ecstatic states, for a confrontation with the divine in its most terrible aspects. The purpose of these experiences is to release trapped libido, to shirk off false conditioning and to find and own our true power.
It is not an easy journey and there is always the danger of no return. As with all initiation it is a confrontation, if not with death, then certainly the terrifying, the non-rational and the mad aspects of the unconscious. Many are lost by the wayside or fail to grasp the bitter gift of such dismantling experiences choosing to remain instead victimized and controlled.
The gods have become diseases says Carl Jung. If the gods are ignored or suppressed or we do not answer their call to initiation and renewal, we get sick. Liminal gods like Dionysus and Persephone who move between the underworld and the rational world offer the opportunity of death and rebirth.
The descent is annihilation but only of the old outmoded and limited parts of ourselves that the wild gods insist we sacrifice.
The next Canterbury Moon Lodge explores how as modern women we may be confronted by the terrible and wild power of the liminal gods in the repressed aspects of ourselves bursting through rational conditioning and initiating encounters in the world that while strip us to the bone, ultimately strengthens us and offers redemption.
Full moon at 05.52 on Saturday 14th September.
With a strong 1st house, 7th house axis, this chart shines a light on relationships, inviting us to consider what good, healthy, respectful relationships look like, and whether are we cultivating those ideals in our lives.
With a stellium of planets in Virgo in the 1st house, including the sun at 21 degrees, feminine earthy Virgo is seeking a certain quality of relationship, discerning between the ones worth investing in and the ones that are unable to engage in respectful union at this time- and this does not only apply to lover relationships.
With Juno exactly on the ascendant, this rising energy is concerned with marriage, commitment, give-and-take, power and compromise, toward creating harmonious and satisfying relationships in which both parties are seen, met and valued.
Juno also suggests the empowerment we may experience while we are embedded in such relationships. When we feel valued, loved, safe, and respected we thrive and from that union we are brought closer to the truth of who we are.
If we are not inviting and sustaining nurturing relationships in our life, if instead we are finding discord, imbalance, disrespect and relationships driven by unowned shadow aspects, it may be tempting to project the blame outward, however Nessus on the descendent in the 7th house flags up a cautionary warning to examine how it may be ourselves and the not the other who is responsible for creating disharmony.
Nessus asks us to go even deeper to consider the ways in which we may in fact be harbouring the things which we resent and resist in others. This may be a very tough reckoning on the root causes of trauma and disconnection, asking us to review early relationship imprinting and conditioning.
According to astrologer Melanie Reinhart, Nessus offers the possibility of putting an end to outmoded and detrimental dynamics in our life- Nessus is the centaur who says, “the buck stops here”. What in your life, particularly regarding relationships are you simply not prepared to tolerate any longer? And is it really a feature of the other, or a hidden aspect in yourself that needs to be worked on to be released?
And what are your deepest longings for union with another, or others?
With strong Virgo energy it may be time to discern exactly who and what we want in our life. If we are attached and find it difficult to let go of toxic or unhealthy situations, it is time to get honest about what really holds us in positions of lack and disempowerment.
Meditating on moon and Neptune in Pisces in the 7th house, it may become clear that in the end, self is other and other is self, and all is one. This insight shows us that how we treat others and allow others to treat us reflects our relationship with our self.
To see the world and the people in it as a cosmic and sacred mirror through which we can see into the depths of our own soul may be the teaching of this moon.
This lunar cycle began with asteroid Magdalene on the north node, highlighting a potential collective shift toward qualities embodied by that archetype. The relationship between Mary Magdalene and Yeshua has been felt to be one of the most honouring, sacred, respectful and powerful ever witnessed or documented.
As the moon comes to fruition tomorrow, the full lunar illumination may also shine a light on our deepest desires for sacred union and what it takes to create that.
Celebrate Friday 13th as a day to reclaim all that has been exiled about the divine feminine, the Goddess of love, the mysteries of death, resurrection, renewal, and the moon.
While the number 13 has been much maligned in our culture and is thought to be a harbinger of bad luck and evil, it is in fact an auspicious day connected to the Goddess, the sacred feminine,Venus and Mary Magdalene.
In ancient times there were 13 months in a year as there were 13 moons in a year and 13 menstrual cycles. The 13 month, 28-day, relationship to time was dominant on our planet for 6000 years before the turn from lunar to solar consciousness.
The Maya, Celts, Egyptians, Lakota, Essenes, Polynesians, and Cherokee all used a 13-month calendar. The Druid 13-month calendar was connected to their alphabet and tree calendar – each consonant of the Druid alphabet represented a moon cycle. In both Mayan and Druid cultures, the extra day was a ‘non-calendar day’ or a ‘day out of time’, traditionally a day of ritual and renewal in preparation for the coming year.
There is a technical term for fear of Friday 13th- ‘friggatriskaidekaphoboa’, the ‘Frigga’ prefix comes from the name of the Goddess from whom Friday was named. Frigg, or Freyja, like Venus or Aphrodite, is associated with love, fertility and erotic love.
Superstitious beliefs about Friday 13th can be traced back to the capture of the Knights Templar and according to Margaret Starbird, even further back to the Hebrew bible and the capture of the Jewish people.
On Friday 13th 1307, the French King Philip 1V ordered the mass arrest of 60 odd Knights Templar, including their grand master Jacques de Molay. The official reason given for this capture is that the Templars had become too wealthy and powerful, and that Philip the Fair was also a rather greedy King who wished to amass more wealth. Unofficially, the story becomes much more esoteric suggesting that the wealth possessed by the Knights was not of a material nature, but a mystical treasure linked to the Goddess, the Egyptian mysteries, and Mary Magdalene who some call the 13th disciple.
For Starbird, fear of Friday 13th goes back to the Hebrew Bible, the book of Esther, when Haman persuaded Esther’s husband, the King of Babylon, to arrest and execute her people, the Jews, en masse. She says that the faith of the Templars was based on ancient “Ebionite” or “Judaic-Christian” roots that included the full humanity of Jesus (including marriage and parenthood). This points the way to claims that attest to the union between Mary Magdalene and Jesus and the birthing of a holy blood line- whether physical or spiritual and probably both.
The number 13 is symbolic of feminine power, creative life force, and wisdom. Though Death is number 13 in the tarot deck, feminine wisdom teaches us that death also points to rebirth and renewal. On the inner planes ego death or death of the old self, heralds deep transformation necessary for conscious awakening- spirit incarnate.