Saturday, February 23, 2013

Oracular Snakes


I've been at Pantheacon, and up in Willits, California, to meet with Annie Waters and Mana Youngbear about the performance they will be doing in March with the Numina masks............I am so delighted to be able to share my art with them and their community!  More later.........

I' ve been thinking about the photograph above  Mana Youngbear portraying DAWN, standing before the "Evolutionary Cauldron" for the Winter Solstice ceremony created by Ann Waters and the Community of Willits on December 21, 2012.  Having had some dramatic (and quite beautiful) "spirit photographs" occur in  my own ritual theatre performances in the past, I pay attention to visual "signals" that occur when we enter the sacred circle of ritual, the realm of the Goddesses and the Archetypal Powers.  Carolyn Myss talks about Symbolic Thinking, and no where is it more dramatic than when we enter the collective, and yet deeply personal, Mythic Realm.   And the language spoken is the language of  metaphor, dream and oracle..........
It is the Year of the Snake in Chinese reckoning.  Above is a very old  Greek bas relief of Demeter, who became Ceres in Rome, the Goddess off nature and the cycles of nature that produce, ultimately, the grains (she hold wheat in her hands) that sustain  life.  Just a few days ago, on Valentine's Day, women around the world danced  and  demonstrated against violence toward women for Eve Ensler's One Billion Rising.    In the old kingdom of Egypt, the word for "snake" and the word for "goddess" was the same.  I cannot help but reflect, seeing the image above, that what is  rising in Dawn's Cauldron is a snake, the ubiquitous symbol in the ancient world for the serpentine energies, the winding waters and cyclical seasons of the Goddess, of  Mother Earth.

Snake may have been diabolized in the Bible, but elsewhere snake is an ubiquitous symbol for the feminine divine, the interwoven forces of nature, for healing, and in the East, "Raja Naga" is associated with Tantra, the snake of the  Kundalini force of generation and sexual/spiritual union.  Snakes received a bad rap in Biblical terms, with the "fall from grace" occurring because snake (sometimes identified with Lilith)  tempted Eve with an apple.  Which is too bad indeed, as the  life/death/rebirth cycle represented by snake, whose shedding skin is a symbol of regeneration and rebirth, is among the most primal metaphors.  The Biblical "Fall from Grace" of Eve, and of Snake, represents the fall from grace with nature we have inherited  which at this time in hisstory is becoming catastrophic. 

Klimpt's HYGIEA
Yet the old origins of Snake Medicine are still to be found everywhere, for example, in the ubiquitous symbol of pharmacology, the Chalice and Snake of the Greek Goddess Hygiea.   The “Bowl of Hygeia”*** is  the most widely recognized international symbol of pharmacy, along with the snake entwined staff of the healing God  Aesculapius (and there, by the way, you find the "chalice and the blade", the male and female symbols entwined with the powerful creative force of the rising or entwined Kundalini.  All over Walgreens.)  The pharmaceutical association doesn't see it that way, but rather describes the universal symbol as "Hygeia's classical symbol was a bowl containing a medicinal potion with the serpent of Wisdom (or guardianship) partaking it.  This is the same serpent of Wisdom, which appears on the caduceus, the staff of Aesculapius, which is the symbol of medicine."   

Snake is good  MEDICINE. apparently, and the conversation in the garden of Eden may have been misunderstood!
In ancient Egypt, in the earliest of iconography, the word for Cobra and for Goddess were virtually the same.  The Uraeus  (from the Egyptian jʿr.t (iaret), "rearing cobra") is the  upright form of a cobra used as a symbol of  royalty, deity, and divine authority in ancient Egypt.  The Uraeus was  a symbol for the goddess Wadjet, one of the earliest Egyptian deities. She was the  patroness of the Nile (and here again one sees the personification of the serpentine movements  of water identified with snake and with the feminine).. The pharaohs wore the Uraeus as a head ornament: either with the body of Wadjet atop the head, or as a crown encircling the head; this indicated Wadjet's protection and reinforced the Pharaoh's claim over the land.  There is evidence for this tradition even in the Old Kingdom during the third millennium BCE.

So I reflect, as we enter the year of the snake, 2013 (thirteen is another ancient feminine symbol or number that has been diabolized by patriarchal process - there are 13 lunations or menstrual cycles in a year, thus, the magic number 13, sacred to the Goddess Freya, becomes "bad luck" on Her day, Friday the 13th)......that perhaps the rising now is the arising of the Goddess in our world, the Goddess that rises practically with feminist activism, and spiritually with reverence for the Earth, and for the universal  source of life.

Snake has so much to teach's to her arising in the Year of the Snake!

***"The “Bowl of Hygeia” symbol  is the most widely recognized international symbol of pharmacy.  In Greek mythology, Hygeia was the daughter and assistant of Aesculapius (sometimes spelled Asklepios), the God of Medicine and Healing.  Hygeia's classical symbol was a bowl containing a medicinal potion with the serpent of Wisdom (or guardianship) partaking it.  This is the same serpent of Wisdom, which appears on the caduceus, the staff of Aesculapius, which is the symbol of medicine."

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