The Goddess Re-Visioned:

Treading Stars across Earth, Shadow & Soul

by Maureen B. Roberts, PhD

It seems that dreams announcing this apotheosis of the Goddess are cropping up with increasing urgency, as though they're crying out for a mythic context in which to embed them as prophetic gifts to the world. Conceived through the seeds of new vision, such dreams ripen through Nature as their maternally enfolding context and gestate in World as the crucible in which we are challenged to refine pathology and shadow into soul.

It seems that many, then, are being called upon to give voice and substance to that which is vaster and weightier than their merely personal concerns. As a shaman and psychotherapist, I see and hear the struggle of this new God-image to be born in the desperate visions and voices of schizophrenics (as potential shamans), and in the lives of those deemed mad, eccentric, inferior, sick, or weak. Many who feel the pressure of this impending birth are now being called to bear - through embracing the tension of soul's innumerable opposites - the preceding weight of pregnancy. Such is the price we pay for divine Incarnation on Aquarian terms - the only gods who can help us are now indistinguishable from the polytheistic chaos and symphony of our own divine humanity.

Soul's Fate & Lunar Vision

If this Aquarian holism undermines all Piscean dualisms, including human and divine, it also subverts the age-old privileging of the masculine. As Jung prophesied, the Aquarian age will be dominated not by the masculine "Logos" of discriminating rational analysis - the harsh, solar light of dissection, division specialization and compartmentalization - but by the feminine principle of "Eros" as the milder light of lunar blending, intermeshing and relatedness. Eros, symbolized by Moon's cyclic change, honours darkness as well as light, death as well as rebirth, growth as well as decay, the Dionysian explosion of the isolated ego as well as Apollonian focus, order and integration.

Through our nurturing of this new *Erocentric vision, the status of feminine, shadow, and matter go hand in hand in hand; these three entwine as counterparts of the multifacteted Goddess who, in turn, counterbalances the Trinity of light, masculine and spiritual that has been privileged throughout the waning Piscean Age. And if the fates of shadow and feminine embrace, given that shadow gravitates to depth, to dark valleys and labyrinths, to the night sea journeys that moisten soul in its four Hadean rivers, then the destinies of shadow, feminine and soul are likewise entwined.

The 'Erocentric' Net of Indra

A key facet of the Pisces-Aquarius shift is the reversion of a patriarchal, hierarchical paradigm - God at the top of the pyramid, descending down through the spreading ranks to human, thence to animal, plant and mineral levels - to a lateral, non-hierarchical and organic web of relatedness, a Net if Indra in which each, equally vital gem - human, animal, vegetable, mineral - needs, affects and reflects the beauty and uniqueness of all the others. The following two thematically related dreams, shared by Teresa and Kath respectively, evoke this reversion to an Erocentric perspective in terms of a re-visioning of Mary as one form of the Goddess.

Teresa's dream: "In this dream I am praying in the right side of an old church before an altar which holds an old wooden statue of the Virgin Mary. The statue is worn smooth but is colourless and pale. I look at it and think I could use my artist paints to restore its colour, but I decide to go home and consult my husband about which colours to use, because he has such a keen colour sense. When I return to the church the next day I find the altar area completely renovated: two smaller altars have been installed side-by-side and all the artifacts have been replaced with white, gleaming porcelain, very fresh and new. The old carpet has been removed and the old wooden floors have been restored. I am moved to enter the sanctuary and begin to paint a mandala-like portrait of the Virgin using impasto painting technique on the floor - painting on my hands and knees again. The colours are partially laid in when two old peasant-type women carrying shopping bags enter and begin to riffle through a rack of used clothing hanging on a newly present rack. I don't seem to mind their presence and keep painting away, but I caution them to be careful not to step in the paint and track it across the new floor. When they have left and I get up on my feet again I can see that they have tracked the floor badly. They are wearing identical heavy-soled shoes which have star imprints and there are start prints everywhere. I am fearful that the people who own the church will be upset."

As above, so below; the Dream earths the celestial realm, including Mary as Queen of Heaven, by treading across the floor the stars that are reflected in the stellar depths of the psyche. But I am reluctant to violate the dream's seamless weave and flow, a reservation which in itself subverts the Logocentric assumption that analysis is a preferred reply to the dream realm's mythic continuity. Through analysis we (literally) break down a dream into its components; the whole becomes a sequence of parts rather than a radiating web that spirals outward from its core symbolism.

'Mater' as Mother Matter

Contrary to the analytic bias, the dream feels saturated with a vision of wholeness (as 'holi-ness'), drenched in religious depths (given that religion stems from L. 'religare', meaning on one level the linking back to an original unitary ground of being). Here 'ground' takes on a literal significance to become grounding as the linking back to Earth, matter and the simplicity of Nature which is implicit in the wood that forms the old Goddess statue.

In the dream, Mary is more like a Gaea, Demeter, or Earth Mother than a sanitized, pale, one-sidedly pure Virgin. In terms of the Christian splitting of the Mother archetype into light and dark (earthly), Mary has for the most been a rather ineffectual and lacklustre Goddess image, precisely because she's been severed from her passionately chthonic shadow, the repository of much of our creative and instinctual energy.

Jung also dicusses the Virgin as Virgo, the fruitful Nature Goddess who compensates the one-sidedly spiritual Christ, who embodies Virgo's astrological antithesis, Pisces. The wood of the Cross is thus a link to Nature, but a dead tree in the crucifixion, hence dead or dormant throughout the Piscean era. As we are embraced by a new Natural dominant, the tree as a symbol of the rejected feminine facet of God, comes to life again. As the dream suggests, no longer are the wooden floors of our sacred spaces covered by carpet, but are instead 'brought to light' again and re-polished.

Significantly, the dreamer consults her husband about the statue's renovation, such that the alchemical marriage - as the restoration of both divine and human androgyny - comes into play. Only through the sacred marriage of male and female, symbolized in alchemy as the peacock's unfolded tail, is the rainbow spectrum of the dream artist's palate complete. Following this male-female communion, twin altars appear, imaging perhaps the challenge for each marriage partner to find his and her own altar, hence the dreamer's need to retain her unique identity, to dance to her own drumbeat in her own marriage relationship.

Creativity & the Madwoman

But it's the two old peasant women who grab me at the soul level: what a fine Goddess Trinity the dreamer plus these two makes, with her husband, perhaps, as the fourth member of a '3+1' feminine quaternity. The old women remind me of roaming 'bag women', one form of the Madwoman archetype. As Hillman discusses, she is a key ingredient in the restoration of Dionysian creative madness to a collective consciousness which has for too long been dominated by Apollonian detachment, order and reason. Not surprisingly, then, this tramping about by decorum-despising, unruly feminine figures annoys the church 'owners' - the stiffly senex-dominated patriarchs.

Significantly, the dreamer is an active, creative force in the dream; it is she who paints the mandala as the universal symbol of divine wholeness, incarnating it on the floor. No longer, then, is the God-image purely 'spiritual' or light, illumined high above by stained glass; rather s/he has been earthed through the reclaiming of the denied feminine principle, such that the God-image is once again reunified through the bridging of Above and Below, spirit and matter (as the maternal 'mater'). Hiding underfoot a secret treasure, the two old women tread across the stellar realm of paternal Uranus, co-ruler of Aquarius, uniting heaven and earth by earthing the heavenly. And it is their mad and mischievous spoiling of order that imprints the Cosmos - as the chaotic yet ordered Shivaic Dance - across the artistic ground of this new mandalic wholeness.

These two also remind me of the sweeping hand that destroys the Tibetan sand mandalas, reminding us of the impermanence of all. I confess I was carried away imaginatively by the dream - and perhaps that was part of its intent; to fire anew our gift for the imaginal as soul's most eloquent mode of articulation - and as a lead player in the unfolding drama of a new consciousness struggling to be born through the earthing of our dreams and visions.

The Dancing Goddess Circle

This same honouring of the inseparable 'soul trinity' of creativity, organic unity and the Goddess, and the associated displacement of patriarchal orthodoxy surfaces in the following dream by Kath:

"In the dream situation I was required to participate in a ritual inside a church. There were no pews in the church. People had formed a circle. They were sitting in a meditation position on the floor. I joined them. Each in turn was required to stand up, complete a sort of fancy foot-work, and then run around the circle to where there was a gap. I was about to begin the ritual, when a voice said, "You can't start there! The whole circle must move away from that corner because the Prime Minister's ashes are there!" The circle moved away as one organism. I then stood up, did the fancy footwork and ran around the circle until I came to the gap. There was a tiny white statue of the Virgin Mary in the gap and I knew I must clasp hands in prayer attitude and pray in praise of the Virgin Mary."

In this dream, as we jointly discovered, the right angle of the corner is the 'wrong angle', a one-sided focus on one corner, or orthodox ('right thinking') bias, which in this case is a dead attitude, symbolized by the Prime Minister, who, as the dreamer intuited, personifies on one level the authoritarian, patriarchal God-image. The circle is the Erocentric symbol of wholeness par excellence; the square the imaging of the clear division of unity into discrete and orthodox ('right angled') corners.

In the dream the waning patriarchal dominant is transformed, or alchemized through death by fire and so has birthed an enantiodromia, or Phoenix-like resurrection, a reversal of perspective symbolized firstly by the human circle, the organic and Erocentric dance (as opposed to the rational Logos of the preached Word); secondly, by the Virgin Mary, who as the emergent Goddess is still small but nonetheless coming to the fore of the collective psyche as an embodiment of Eros. Everyone has a part to play; the circle is not complete until we each perform our own steps in the dance and find our unique place of relatedness in the temenos of the circumferential whole.

The Dionysian Soul Vine

With the collapse of organized religion, including patriarchal Christianity, we've been left in an ethical vacuum - unless we can rediscover within us the sense of the divine that infuses Nature and the wider Cosmos as soul. If the destructive masculine - in the form of power, aggression, and disrespect for Nature - has accordingly been largely responsible for the mess the world is in, the constructive feminine as a respect and reverence for life, can heal the world's wounds and help restore the dialogue between nature and culture, science and the sacred, Apollonian order and the maenadic wildness of Dionysus.

Dionysus as the myth of the laterally speading vine that symbolizes fertility, individual freedom and connectedness, doesn't gel with the assertive paradigm of Zeus-like, removed omnipotence, but does mesh with the more earthed invitation to re-connect with humanity's shared vault of wisdom by tapping through the vine root into the primal ground of being within us all.

The irrational, the feminine, the Dionysian are not, in other words, equivalent to unconsciousness per se (an androcentric persepective), but are resurfacing as equally valid modes of consciousness - even if they initially have to cause havoc, or drag us down to the depths of soul - to get our attention.

And it's this facet of soul that will be explored in The Goddess Re-visioned: Part Two: Dreaming the Depths of Pathology as Soul

Text c.1999 Extracted from The Erocentric Vision: The Mythogenesis & Dreaming of a New Wholism Not to be reproduced whole or in part without the author's permission.

'Erocentric': a term I coined to denote this new weblike consciousness grounded in Eros as the feminine principle. Note also that all original dream material has been used with permission.


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