Thursday, January 6, 2011

Postscript on "Coventry"

"Spider Woman" -  Mississippian culture shell gorget

I'm not much of a dreamer - if I do remember a dream, it's a rare event, and I roll it around for years, because I figure if a dream is memorable, it's the psychic equivalent of my unconscious throwing a brick at me.  But perhaps because I'm a visual artist and close attention to symbolic language is intrinsic to art process, I've come to think of synchronicities as akin to "waking dreams", many layered and  mysterious. Art process is as seamless, I believe, as dreaming, and partakes of the same weave as the attention that enables us to experience synchronicity.
 "If you go deep enough into yourself, you find yourself in a noisy place with a lot of other people.  And if you draw symbols from there, you plug into a collective form of consciousness." (Alex Grey)

"Universal Mind Lattice" Alex Grey
 Synchronicities are threads from the loom of Spider Woman, woven into a vast pattern; but they can also be funny, and deeply personal as well.  I often feel compelled to write about them, without necessarily understanding them, just as with dreams, their "meanings".  In the course of blogging this past year, I've been fortunate to meet others who've inspired and contributed to my appreciation of this phenomenon, among them the Macgregors,  authors of the book The 7 Secrets of Synchronicity, and  Robur D'Amour, author of two blogs, who wrote recently wrote two fascinating articles about Lady Godiva and the Grail).

I've been exploring the weird synchronicity of finding myself singing a 60's song about Lady Godiva    in several posts the past month, and its led me down a mythic and her-storic trail to the Great Goddess,  submerged and re-emerging into our world now.  Perhaps most personally, the threads of this synchronicity have helped me to rekindle my passion for my work with the Divine Feminine, re-energizing me as I flounder around these days.

I have often thought that the Goddess, by whatever name, has always been with me,  my particular work.  I remember when I was a little girl, the first paintings I ever did were of the bull dancers of ancient Knossos, and their  snake entwined  Goddess.  Memories from past lives?  The Collective Unconscious?  Or just an encounter with a National Geographic?   I still have no idea why I just had to do those paintings, but I've been true to the impulse ever since, painting many, many Goddesses.  And I wonder what  my teacher in the '50's   thought of  an 8 year old's renderings of a bare-breasted woman. 

Minoan Snake Goddess
from Knossos, Crete, c. 1600 BCE

So, as a postscript to my mythic, synchronistic wanderings, and following the logic that synchronicities can be followed as one might a dream,  I have to add this as the "grand finale".  It was sent very kindly  by Robur, who has been writing about the Grail, on New Year's Day:  a blurb from a British paper announcing that the Holy Grail is to be found in Coventry!

I'll take that as most auspicious!  Again, pursuing this as interpreting a dream, I remember that "Coventry" means in the dictionary "banishment". 

What is the Holy Grail?  To many feminist writers, the Grail is equated with the womb, a primal symbol, of course, of the the Great Mother.  In the Christian/Judea/Islamic traditions we have inherited, God does not have a womb.  How has or could culture be different, when the Deity or deities do have a womb?

"Womb symbols" abound throughout ancient mythologies - one prevalent in England during early Christianity is the Celtic "cauldron of Cerridwen" .  In the legend of the Grail, this generative symbol is transformed into the "cup of Christ". Riane Eisler, in her famous book "The Chalice and the Blade", used the symbol of the Grail, or Chalice, as a symbol for the Goddess, displaced, demeaned, and devalued gradually throughout patriarchal history.

The Grail Legend is the story of a great quest to find the missing cup, the cup that "heals all wounds".  One famous variation is the story of the Fisher King, in which all the great knights fail to find the cup needed to heal the wounded King.  Ultimately, it is only an open hearted fool, an innocent, who is able to find the Grail, and thus bring healing to the King.  To bring healing to the King is to bring healing to the whole country.  A wonderful contemporary version of this myth is "The Fisher King", with Robin Williams and Jeff Bridges (1991)

Exploring the meaning of all of these threads of synchronicities for myself,  based upon learning about Lady Godiva and her ride through Coventry in the Middle Ages, I would have to say they all lead me back to "the return of the Goddess", once the May Queen of the "coven tree (coven-tree)", then "banished (Coventry) ", now returning, with all the healing power of the Grail, to a world in the midst of  transformation. 

And at last, for me,  all Goddesses become one Goddess:  the primal Goddess, Gaia, Mother Earth.

"Gaia" (1986)


Gail said...

This whole article speaks to me. I am on a similar quest. Gail

Lauren said...

Thanks Gail.......may we both find our way to the Grail, in whatever form it may take.

Robur d'Amour said...

Those newspaper articles that reported the Holy Grail were no National Enquirers.

There was one review in The Independent, a top brand broadsheet:

Robur d'Amour said...

Speaking of coincidences, the January 2011 issue of the BBC History Magazine, which was published this week, has an article about Lady Godiva!

There's no mention of the fertility festival, only a few reasons why a good Christian woman would never have done such a thing. The article says that important Saxon women held land in their own right, and the land was 'probably' in Godiva's own personal possession:

Lauren said...

Thanks again, Robur......I see that I was wrong about the Independant. The "Grail" article is quite interesting - wish I could get a better look at the artifact. The idea of the Grail being a cup that collected the "blood of Christ" is mythically a very potent image as well - going all the way back to the most ancient Hebrew traditions of human and animal sacrifice; the "lamb of God", etc.

Interesting the "Godiva" article too. Tracing back myth and story leads to so much..........story holds the evolution of history.