Sunday, March 9, 2008

a "Webbed Vision"

“What might we see, how might we act, if we saw with a “webbed vision“?.....The world seen through a web…as delicate as spider’s silk, yet strong enough to hang a bridge on.”

Catherine Keller, FROM A BROKEN WEB

As the juices of spring flow (and it's well into high spring here in the desert), and the psychic juices of months of therapy also seem to be flowing in my psyche, I've been noticing a lot of syncronicities lately.

(I have many times noticed that syncronicities follow the threads whorls and weavings of my thoughts and imaginative processes. If one can understand that dreams are a conversation with the inner self by means of symbols that interact, then why can't syncronicities reflect the symbolic conversation World is having with us.......or perhaps we're having with World? )

I've been thinking about PENELOPE - the myth, its origins, and origins of the name itself. I've been reading the 1989 book "From a Broken Web" by theologian Catherine Keller. What struck me particularly are her reflections (as the quote above) on what kind of world we might co-create with if we could truly re-claim or truly internalize a new universal vision of a paradigm of interconnection. If we could see the world, as she put it, with a "Webbed Vision". She derives this concept from her analysis of mythologies about Spiders and Weavers, including Penelope, who wove and unwove a shroud every night as she waited for the return of her husband Odysseus.

The name, "Penelope" actually means, in Greek, something like "with a Web on her face".
Here's what I opened to in the Tucson Weekly's Theatre Section this morning, while still bleary-eyed over coffee:

The movie showing in Tucson theatres has nothing to do with the Odyssey, or weaving (it's a charming film about a woman with a pig's snout and a curse she has to resolve) - but following the threads of my thoughts about Penelope, suddenly there she was, with a kind of web over her face, looking up at me from my newspaper. I love it.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Penelope:
In Homer's Odyssey, Penélopê (Πηνελόπη) is the faithful wife of Odysseus, who keeps her suitors at bay in his long absence and is rejoined with him at last. Her name[1] is usually understood to combine the Greek word for web or woof (πηνη / pene) and the word for eye or face (ωψ / ōps), very appropriate for a weaver of cunning whose motivation is hard to decipher.[2] Until recent readings, her name has been associated with faithfulness,[3] but the most recent readings offer a more ambiguous interpretation.
Ambiguous interpretation indeed. It seems fairly clear that here is a much earlier Goddess. The Weaver who "sees through a web". Another variation, for me, on Spider Woman - the Fate, with her 12 maids. The 12 maids are interesting too - perhaps, as I'm sure many have speculated before me, is the magical Goddess number 13 (representing 13 lunations of the year, 13 menstual cycles, the very number that became so "unlucky" in later patriarchal myth spinning). Bythis same re-mything process, Penelope became gradually diminished in the Odyssey, becoming the faithful wife, waiting for her adventuring husband (he was kind of the last word n the "hero's journey") to come home. And when he does, after eliminating the suitors who have been infringing upon his kingdom, he hangs Penelope's 12 maids as well, (for having been seduced or raped by the various suitors).

A much earlier Goddess, an earlier paradigm of the Web and the Sacred Feminine. Perhaps, at last, Penelope, weaving her Spider Web, reveals another transparent thread, an ancient myth that winks at me, at least, from my morning paper.

Margaret Atwood, the Canadian novelist, poet, and feminist wit, had a few things to say about the Odyssey recently - from the point of view of Penelope - in her 2005 novel


I loved the book, would love to have seen it on stage as well - apparently, complete with the 12 hanged maids as Greek Chorus.

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