Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Mystic Crystal Revelations
One of my holiday presents this year from my parents is a book that I'm eagerly devouring: A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, & Other Subversive Spirits. Written by Carol K. Mack and Dinah Mack (a playwright and her writer daughter, both with degrees in religious studies), the book is a sometimes cheeky, but often really informative and fascinating, look at the spirit beings of various cultures throughout the world.
One passage in the chapter titled "Origin of the Species" really made my ears perk up:
"Starting in the fourth century, B.C.E., after Alexander had changed the geography of Greece by adding vast conquered territory, borders widened and villages became urban and people no longer knew their neighbors. For many, a sense of alienation set in...We begin then to see a major downgrading of belief in the sacrality of earthly life as the ancient world became seen as 'sublunar.' The ancient gods fled for 'higher places' and without them, it was darker here."
I think, as pagan folks, New Agers, whatever, we often think that the proliferation of Judeo-Christian traditions was the chink in the armor that grew to full-out catastrophe, but this, and other sources, have pointed out that humanity's separation from the cycles of enchantment happened long before that.
Was this patriarchy, valuing hierarchical thinking and structures that took us away from the feminine inclusive model? (Is that a myth, too? As the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow points out in his wonderful poem "Mezzo Cammin," when viewed from the present, the past is seen only in half-light.) Check out the story of Tiamat, the serpent-like goddess of Mesopotamia, later killed by one of her descendants, the warrior Marduk. It's a classic example of solar/sky gods "taming" the seemingly anarchic feminine primordial types.
So, now what? Do we fight like hell to return to a matriarchal model? Somehow, I don't think that's the answer. While I don't think it would be a bad thing, I do believe that we're a little too lost at this point to make that return an easy one. Also, how did a matriarchal worldview contribute to some feeling of alienation that drove sky gods/male identity to fall out of whack. I'm not blaming that feminine power - I'm just wondering what the contribution was.
No, I think with the rise of Aquarius in the heavens, perhaps it's time for a queer model to come into being - a creation of a both-and culture, insteand of an either-or, duality-based culture. Instead of cycling back to a previous time, we need to walk through into something else entirely.
(The first image is of Barberini's Faun. Originally created in second century B.C.E. Rome, the statue was rediscovered in the 1600s as belonging to Cardinal Francesco Barberini - now what's a good Catholic boy doing with a statue like this? I chose the image partly because it's a faun, enchantment of the world, blah, blah, blah - mostly, I chose it because it's smoking hot. Our next picture is a line drawing of an Assyrian relief of Tiamat and Marduk. The final image is of Ganymede, a.k.a. Aquarius, done by two gay French artists Pierre et Gilles.)