Sheela-Na-Gig, St. Patrick, and the Serpents of Ireland.

Le Diable de Papefiguiere, by Charles Eisen

‘Le Diable de Papefiguiere’ from ‘Contes et Nouvelles en vers’ by Jean de la Fontaine *engraving *

The wheel of the year turns to the gateway of Spring- the first day of Spring heralded by the Vernal equinox when primordial forces of fertility, life and renewal are strong. It is a balancing point between the opposites, inviting integration and wholeness… beyond duality.

In the old Celtic calendar, the Sheela na Gig was celebrated on March 18th- the day after St. Patrick’s Day- the Saint who allegedly eradicated the serpent form Ireland and converted the people from pagan to Christian.

The unflinching Sheela, shamelessly opening and exposing her vulva for all the world to see is in stark contrast to the pious Christian missionary bearing book and cross.

It may be no coincidence that Saint Patrick is celebrated on March 17th (other than it is said to be his death day) as it is at this time of the year when the serpent energies, risen on Imbolc and celebrated by honouring the Goddess Brigid are sweeping thorough the land and people, gaining strength towards the fertility rites of Spring, and onward to Beltane.

This fertile power is connected to the mysteries of the womb… life, death, renewal, and transformation. Killing the serpent can be read symbolically as crushing the feminine wisdom deemed to be dangerous by the Church Fathers… kundalini fires of awakening that forge empowered people for whom an intermediary to Source is redundant. It is also a confrontation with death not as an end in itself or a prelude to the heavenly hereafter but as an organic cycle.

Fertility and the rites of the spring points to more than the greening of the land or the fertilization of the egg- it is the physical manifestation of divine processes able to facilitate a deeper anchoring of Spirit in the material world. It is the sacred marriage of Heaven and Earth, the union of opposites expressed so perfectly in the equal day and night of the equinox and offers a portal into the mysteries of the ‘twice born’, as expressed through the mythos of the resurrected Christ.

The gaping black-hole of the Sheela’s yoni invites us in, challenging us to enter even as we instinctively know that part of us will die. Her plump, fleshy and fertile vulva is in stark contrast to her deathly skinny crone body with protruding ribs and swollen staring eyes that refuse humility.

Sheela Na Gig

Sheela Na Gig

This is the initiation… the resolve of opposites, life and death, heaven, and earth, in one whole and eternal cycle with no beginning and no end, no good or bad, or hierarchy of dark and light… a knowledge which surely challenges our ego, constructed through illusions of safety, control, and superiority… and separation from the Great Mother.

Blessing of Spring!

Persephone’s Power

2 saatchi-art-artist-henry-shmulevich-painting-e2809chades-and-persephone

Art work~ Persephone and Hades by Henry Shmulevich

Following on from a previous post about the mother wound, and as my focus on relationships continues, this full moon calls me deeper into psyche through the myth of Kore/Persephone and the Eleusinian mysteries.

At the time of the full moon on Friday 18th March, Persephone is at 9 Gemini 0’ 56” and Ceres is at 8 Gemini 49’ 45”; mother and daughter are in tight conjunction just at the time of year- early spring- when the ancient Greeks marked the Lesser Eleusinian Mysteries, when Persephone leaves Hades and the underworld to be reunited with her mother… but she is changed, she is no longer Kore innocent maiden goddess, she is now Persephone Queen of the Underworld.

What can the Eleusinian mysteries teach us about feminine consciousness today?

Myths are shapeshifters, they meet us where our own consciousness is; they are multi- faceted, offering up many interpretations depending on where we are in our soul’s journey or psychic transformation. Myths cannot be pinned or fixed to one interpretation; each interpretation shows different aspects and angles, all are valid, all are true. Myths move in spirals. Astro mythology (exploring how myths unfold in our own life through our natal birth chart) is a powerful way to dance with the archetypes and meet ourselves at a deeper level.

How is the myth of Persephone speaking to you, or through you?

Discovering where Persephone sits in your own astrology chart can be a key to the mystery. For myself Persephone is 2 degrees from my descendant and 3 degrees from my north node- this points to Persephone as an archetype that is connected with my soul’s journey but… also suggests that I do not- or have not- fully owned this part of myself… until now.

What is it that I am owning? The dark feminine yes, but it also linked with two main themes: Meeting with my animus including the dark animus; and a separation from the maternal cords that have bound me to not my personal mother perse, but the mother wound that has entangled and prohibited me from growing into mature womanhood. With this aspect I am likely to encounter Persephone in others or be attracted to this quality in others even while I overlook my own Persephone and personal power.

A descent to Hades, the unconscious, sheds light on the forces, beliefs, stories, wounds, fears, and ego identifications that allow us to stay trapped, and to a degree powerless, vulnerable, and limited. It is often the case that a daughter will unconsciously remain small or less than in order to appease her mother who is unconsciously angry or resentful at her own unlived life. This powerless state leaves a woman (daughter) open to manipulation because she unconsciously occupies the role of innocent maiden sometimes long after she has arrived at the stage of life where what is required is mature womanhood.

To an extent the collective is guilty of infantilising women.

The other important aspect of the myth is that during her descent Persephone confronts and integrates death… no longer are the summer meadows endlessly blooming with pretty flowers, the hand of death has risen to ensure that the old dies away allowing the new to flourish…the laws of death and rebirth are honoured for the sake of renewal.

The Eleusinian mysteries can be read as a menstrual myth but also as a menopause myth; a first sexual encounter; a meeting with the animus; a confrontation with death; any transition, or rite of passage. It can also be about accepting the darker aspects of human nature both individually and collectively as well as understanding and coming to terms with power and its operations.

Claiming our own power might not look like good girl behaviour!

Individually if we exist, or strive to exist, only in the light we become unbalanced; our darkness is cast to the shadows and projected onto the outside world or onto others leaving us vulnerable to attracting what we don’t own in ourselves.

This full moon is an opportunity to dive into the depths, a soul retrieval, to reclaim the parts of ourselves that have been banished to the underworld which in the case of modern women where we find our treasure and power. Lilith is an excellent guide in this.

It is also a potent time to consider how we- now that we have owned ourselves- go forward in our relationships, particularly those relationships which have been based on an imbalance of power. Will we forever appease others and carry their unowned stuff, or will we finally place it where it belongs? This question is especially relevant when considering our own mother daughter dynamics… bearing in mind that we find mother in many faces.

I am inextricably linked with my mother line, it cannot be otherwise, but I also hold the power to transform the dynamics of my psyche through what Marion Woodman calls “soul making”, to restore my instincts and live directly from my centre and become a woman who is conscious of herself as a living soul.

I transform my psyche and claim my power through bringing my unconscious to light and through meeting and integrating my animus.

Contact me if you would like an astro- counselling consultation to explore this myth in your own chart and explore how it plays out in your life.

Night Rose

Suhair Sibai

Image by Suhair Sibai.

Some of the hardest wounds to heal are the distortions that come through the mother-line. If as a daughter you lacked a mother’s love through your own mother’s absence, trauma, and fragmentation; or if she loved you in the only way she knew but either consciously or unconsciously handed you her unhealed pain… and the pain of all mothers… if you carried it in quiet desperate smiles, in fevered rages, placid resignation, and lonely spaces then you have lived the mother wound.

If- as daughters do- you absorbed your mother’s wounds and carried them as your own, as she did for her mother (whether she knew it or not), the burden getting heavier with each unacknowledged generation. If you lived the pain and felt the deep knife of intergenerational trauma cut your soul like shards of broken mirror; when the person who should have been your foundation, the matrix out of which you rooted was damaged at the core, as you believed you were too, you know the pain of the mother wound.

If you found The Mother…

in hidden forests; musky damp earth; the smell of rain; the silver trail of snail, and the serenity of the moon; your stirring animal soul; coloured stars like street lights calling you home; shy lips of your first love; the smell of your knees as you lifted them to your chest; feet that begged to be free… and to dance; bells from a distant time; flickering candles and exotic smells; night trains certain that other places exist; strange dreams and the daimon who courted you; endless days of hazy sun and lapping sea, perfectly at peace in your red and white polka dot swimsuit; trees that knew your name; mysterious sap that flowed in dark rivers inside of you; darkness that wrapped you in her arms as you learned to not be afraid; laughter that hurt your head and made you cry; the taste of tears, yours and his.

But still there was the world, the unmothered world that hid its pain and asked you to do the same. Maybe you forgot and remembered The Mother many times over.

If after living the wound- or the wound living you- you found a way to heal, not by being “fixed” by some textbook model unable to guess at let alone know what feminine wholeness looks like, but by rebirthing yourself through the Womb of your Soul, by repeatedly falling into and through the valley of shadows… if you survived… if you rose… if you learned to see in the dark… many beautiful flowers bloom at night. Night rose.

If you followed your inner light no matter how dim… if you set out on your Grail Path… yours and no one else’s and if somehow, piece by piece you put yourself back together and, in that strength, sent love back down the line on the wings of Venus’ dove… through webs and spirals, pumping new life from the sacred heart, purifying the waters of life, the blood… your blood line.

If you forgave; if you saw and came to know the true face behind the pain, the fear, the sad tear of God, and the love of Sophia; If you did that, or are doing that, you are among the strongest this world has known and through you there may yet be redemption.

Words by Karen Mullen-Smith- International Women’s Day, 2022

International Women’s Day: One Tiny Seed at a Time.

Leonora Carrington
“Play Shadow” by Leonora Carrington.

Today is International Women’s Day, celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women globally.

What are we really celebrating?

Women who against the odds and in the face of adversity, economic hardship and cultural repression have risen time and again in systems of patriarchy that sought to sever her from the ground of her being… body and soul.

And still, she rises…

Like water she finds a way up through the parched earth, a tiny droplet of moisture extracted by the light of the moon, enough for one tiny seed to sprout and grow. One tiny seed at a time.

Women are reforesting the deserts of the inner worlds, pushing from the inside out, breaking the petrified mask of Medusa… watering the wasteland.