Thursday, September 15, 2022

Verity" - Roman Goddess of Truth


I've felt compelled to make this mask (it's also a sculpture in progress).  I hope in time someone will come who wishes to use it, and create a story for it.  It seems to me that we live in a time of such disregard for Truth, for Verity, that it is very hard to move forward, to approach the real collective problems we face as a Global society, which are truly urgent and present.  And it is also hard to be a competent, functioning adult, I do believe, without access to as much as is possible, and a dedicated personal commitment to, the Truth. 

I think of what Jesus said in the New Testament of the Christian Bible: 

                                         "The Truth shall set you free"

That is so right, spiritually and functionally.  Seeking personal truth is a profound, and unending, endeavor, but the rewards of living without delusion, self-deception, false belief systems, and unaccountability are important to moving forward in our evolution.  

In Roman mythology, Verity (Veritus) is the Goddess of truth.  Veritas is also the name given to the Roman virtue of truthfulness, which was considered one of the main virtues any good Roman should possess.  She was the mother of Virtus, from which the word "virtue" comes.  Part of Her myth was that Verity  was elusive, because She  hid in the bottom of a holy well.  That, it seems to me, is a perfect metaphor for the sacred quest for Truth.  Often Truth must be sought in the depths, in dark waters of the self.  And yet, like the waters of a Holy (Wholly) Well (as in Wellness and Welling forth from the depths) that quest is transformative and life sustaining.

Truth (Victoria Memorial)”
 by Sir Thomas Brock
Verity was often shown as a young virgin dressed in white. Veritas was also  depicted nude, representing the "naked truth".  She is shown holding a mirror helping those who seek Her to "Know Thyself" The Goddess holds the mirror before Her,  confronting others with the irrefutable truth of their reflection. Sometimes she is also  shown with scales as well with a sword to cut away lies and deception.  Sometimes she is shown blindfolded. 

In this well known sculpture by Sir Thomas Brock, I find it also fascinating that the Goddess, in a Victorian era sculpture yet,  is shown offering both a mirror and a snake.  As the snake is a very ancient symbol representing the forces of nature, the cycles of life/death/rebirth, and the regenerative power of the Earth Mother,  I can't help but wonder if the sculptor knew this, or at least intuited it when he added his snake.  The story of Verity's roots are ancient indeed, as are pilgrimages to sacred wells, which are places of healing and vision.  

Another, much more recent and contemporary sculpture named Verity is the monumental 2012 stainless steel and bronze statue created by Damien Hirst.

The 66.4 foot tall sculpture stands on the pier at the entrance to the harbour in Ilfracombe, Devon, in the U.K., looking out over the Bristol Channel towards South Wales.   It has been loaned to the town for 20 years. The name of the piece refers to "truth" and Hirst describes his work as a "modern allegory of truth and justice".[1]

 (from Wikipedia)

The statue depicts a pregnant woman holding aloft a sword while carrying the scales of justice and standing on a pile of law books.  The other side of the monumental stature  shows the "skin" peeled away from the figure to reveal the unborn child within.

For me, here again is a truly perfect metaphor for Truth:  because the Truth carries within the birth of a new life, a new evolution, a precious Child to protect and nurture.  

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