Saturday, August 20, 2016

What's Duality Got to Do with It ? - Defining the Ancient Goddess

Last night, in a Facebook thread, an astrologer asked me, 'what makes you think the [ancient] Goddess was dual ?' He didn't see how the Goddess had anything to do with duality, per se. I didn't have all night, so I sent him a link to 'The Thunder: Perfect Mind' (lines from which are quoted in my previous post: The High Priestess - Tapping into Divine Feminine) and some images.
I guess it can be confusing - what's the diff between the Divine Feminine and the Goddess and the dual and triple and multi-faceted Goddess, the Feminine Principal, Moon, Gaia, Venus, etc, etc ?

As written about, previously, I think of the 'Divine Feminine' as an energy or rather, an energetic, luminous space. Once it is referred to as a 'Goddess', she becomes a personified deity. Usually, the ancient Goddesses of Mesopotamia were dual - most of the Gods/Goddesses either had their counterparts or embodied their opposite, symbolizing day and night, good and evil, love and war, life and death, physical realm and spirit realm, etc. (It's true for the male ones as well, although once monotheism became the norm, the mono was decidedly male). This was based on nature, especially Venus (aka Ishtar/Inanna), because she had a cycle each of morning and evening star, different sides of the same Goddess. Similarly, the full Moon and the new Moon.
In astrology there's the Moon and then there's her shadow, Black Moon Lilith, who is not the nurturing sort. Venus gets to be the love Goddess, but depending on whether she rises before or after the Sun, in a chart, she can have qualities of either morning or evening star - different Venusian expressions. Because she is naturally a dual Goddess, her sign, degree and aspects will also swing her personality one way or the other.  A double sign might be more likely to colour her dual, causing her affections to alternate hot and cold. I'm simplifying, but feel free to do your own research.

Isis and her funerary sister, Nephthys, preparing Osiris.

L: Ishtar with her double helix staff (one snake is poisonous, one is healing, usually), Iraq c 2000 bc.
R: 'Queen of the Night',  possibly Ishtar or her underworld sister, Ereshkigal, or a combination of the two.
(British Museum)

Then there's the Goddess in her triplicity, as the waxing, full and waning Moon (maiden, mother, crone), the 3 Graces (giving, receiving, returning), past, present, future. Think Hecate, with her three faces. The Greeks were fond of separating the deities into parts, because their dramas were akin to operatic, group therapy being cathartic and healing - so the more masks and scenarios, the better. The nine Mousai (Muses), for example, were daughters or manifestations of the Goddess, Mnemosyne, 'memory.'

Goddess Hecate in a magical plate from Anatolia (Berlin Museum).

Hindu, Tibetan and Egyptian Goddesses have seemingly infinite incarnations and it can be difficult at times to try and segregate them individually. Suffice it to say, the Goddess takes as many forms as needed. That's her wardrobe. Each archetype tailored to a specific area or purpose, be it warding off evil, funerary rites, bountiful harvest, fertility, guidance in legal matters, health, sex, childbirth, music, manifestation, plants, animals, safe travel, parking...  Each has their specific preferences, prayers and incantations, rituals, temples, Lunar mansions, colours, hours and so on.

But as an energetic, cosmic, non-form, again, the feminine is, in simplest terms, space. I don't mean outer space, (although that's included), but rather, the receptive space through which all connections are made and of which all wombs are microcosms. Thus, she self-recreates (and self-destructs) in infinite forms, the first and simplest form being as the dual Goddess. Ultimately, because women  ovulate and menstruate, we physically embody the life-bringing and life-shedding duality, so hmm...maybe that's what makes me think it so.

Snake Goddess  plaque found in Athens, possibly Demeter.


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Friday, August 19, 2016

High Priestess - Tapping in to the Divine Feminine

Look upon me, you who reflect upon me,
and you hearers, hear me.
An old, close friend was here, today, visiting, for the full Moon in Aquarius. She uses the Thoth deck and had recently pulled the High Priestess, depicted with outspread arms, so different from the traditional image of her, sitting on a throne, holding a book. We got talking about what that signified. What is the Goddess or Deity, exactly ?

In Tarot and numerology, 2 is receptive energy personified. The Arabic numeral is in the shape of an ear, because it has to do with hearing, listening. 1 embodies vision, literally a first ray or bolt of lightening. [As a side note, Taurus rules the second zodiac house. Though Aries rules the head in general, ear, nose and throat are more Taurus' jurisdiction.]
If one puts the Marseille Juggler (Magician) beside the Priestess, one could imagine him as listening to her. The wand he holds is parallel to the strap across her front, directed to the book she's holding. His lemniscate hat, with it's two, distinct loops, is open to receive and is a symbol of the eternal return. That he is 'merely' a performer means he himself is not the source of this magic, but a trickster who, by listening and creating space, can 'bring it.'  Interestingly, by casting cards, you yourself become the Magician, with four types of tools, while the vehicle of space, as personified in the Papess revealing sacred wisdom, is Tarot.

Hear me, you hearers
and learn of my words, you who know me.
I am the hearing that is attainable to everything;
I am the speech that cannot be grasped.
I am the name of the sound
and the sound of the name.

 ~ From The Thunder:Perfect Mind, Nag Hammadi Texts

In ancient times - as with any rock concert or belly dance performance or Baptist sermon, today - the performer or priest had to connect with and exchange energy with the audience. The uplifted audience then became as one, through synergy. The Deity was the collective spiritual experience, larger than the individual, but felt inside, by each. The sacred space being accessed (or summoned) for the spirit to flow through and become alive in - one could say that was the feminine principal, regardless of whether people considered the Deity to be male or female. She was/is present in connectivity itself.
Sometimes psychogenic substances were used to enhance the experience, just as they are today, although now people use substances solely because they have lost the ability to open.
This ever-present, but invisible space was concretized as the temple or church, but nature was the original temple, and birds her priests.

We spoke of singing to both people and animals - my friend, to a Tibetan lama, me, to a crow - and how the subject inspires the song. For this giving, receiving and returning to occur naturally, a space needs to open, sesame. That is the threefold way of Goddess. Every time you open space to listen to and understand another living thing, or to receive inspiration with which to playfully create something (as opposed to having to do it for work, noble as that may be), you bring the Divine Feminine into being. The resulting creation then embodies spiritual aliveness, and can be a catalyst in opening space for others.

The modern world seems to be set on eliminating space and imposing will, in one form or another.  Rather than listen to a tree, we think of it in terms of how it can be useful to us. We keep other living beings in cages or kill them for sport and raise our children in institutions, where the same lessons are imposed on everyone of a certain age. Few of us have any energy exchange with what we consume in the way of food - energy just means caloric intake. We want things how they 'should' be, not as they are. Silence is feared, space is the blackness 'out there.'

I am the one whom they call Life,
and you have called Death.
   ~ Ibid

Merely replacing the male godhead with a female is a superficial and symbolic step, but unless we begin to re-open the space that is the living Goddess, through which the spirit flows between every living thing, we will continue on the path of death; eating dead food, wasting knowledge, being ignorant to the root of illnesses, plundering nature/each other, and so on. Then and only then will we finally experience space, for she is also the space between lifetimes and lifeforms, through which both karmic and genetic information is passed. And if we die without listening, we are in for more of the same. That is probably why the first words in the Tibetan Book of the Dead are 'Oh nobly born, listen undistractedly.' Passages are recited to the dead person's soul, to which they must be receptive, instructing them on navigation of the in-between realms.

To the attached person (and we all have some attachments), space feels like a void, equated with Death, and must therefor be a-voided. Silence, stillness and aloneness must be filled with sound, motion and other people.  Their experience of the Goddess space is finite - an empty vessel, from which one might hear an echo, but little else. Patriarchal religion sees the Divine Feminine only as a vessel for the male God, imposing will on that which has no form, but silently provides, sustains and returns life to all creation.

This is not to deny the importance of masculine energy in creation. Going back to Tarot, we see that the Juggler/Magician is the spirit or spark that exists in everything. He has all his tools set before him, and will use the appropriate one, based on what he hears and where the energy wants or needs to be directed. When these two are combined - the spirit and the space - we get the threefold return, a directed movement that is a reverberation and microcosm of the original.

In Tarot, cups are indeed feminine vessels, but the Ace is usually depicted as a threefold fountain, rather than just an empty cup, wherein the waters of life are flowing. It's the natural space, depicted as a church in the Marseille Ace of Cups - likely both a metaphor and a disguise.

And yes, of course the Goddess takes many forms - the Earth, the Moon, and everything in between - but ultimately this initial space is her 'formless form,' via which she gives birth to the infinite manifestations of herself.

I am the knowledge of my inquiry,
and the finding of those who seek after me,
and the command of those who ask of me,
and the power of the powers in my knowledge
of the angels, who have been sent at my word,
and of gods in their seasons by my counsel,
and of spirits of every man who exists with me,
and of women who dwell within me.                      
                                            ~ Ibid

All written content herein, except the Nag Hammadi
excerpts, is copyright ©Roxanna Bikadoroff 2016.


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Sunday, August 7, 2016

JUSTICE and STRENGTH in the Cards and Life


8 is the number of BALANCE, KARMA and TRUTH, in esoteric Tarot, based on the numerology. There is a reason it's 'LA JUSTICE,' in Tarot Marseille. Waite changed it around, because he thought that certain cards represented the 12 zodiac signs, and that these had been placed in the wrong order.

This really doesn't matter, if you are giving an intuitive reading, as the cards of your favorite deck will have personal significance and associations. But if you want to understand the universal teachings of the cards, it's kind of essential to apply the numerology to the images - that is, to view the pictures as being illustrative of the number energy itself. Especially this week.


The Waite card clearly shows the Goddess closing the jaws of the lion, which he saw as Virgo taking over from Leo season. But in the Marseille deck, we are not shown whether the jaws are being opened or closed, only that the Goddess is in control of them. The Lion is positioned between her legs, too, which is significant - she's the source of the Force.

'LA FORCE' does not necessarily mean 'strength' in the Samson sense. Think of the slogan, 'May the Force be with you.' The Force may be the source of one's strength, but it can also mean force of will, force of nature, or the energetic force that flows through us all.
As we are shown by her lemniscate (8) hat, the Goddess embodies the eternal return, wherein the divine is made manifest on the material plane. There is a karmic element to this, but the  'weighing' part is more the subject of 8, the (winged) Goddess holding scales and a sword. These are masculine and feminine symbols, but also represent alpha and omega - the beginning and end of the Greek alphabet (i.e, spoken or written word or logos - logic appeal, reason, truth), and of the universe. So already you can see this is quite a different animal than 11, the mute number.

It is interesting that the lion's mouth - where it's roar emits from - is at the center of the image. Perhaps this indicates that the Divine doesn't utter in words, but in phenomena. Indeed, 11 is the number of God, while 8 is the number of Heaven. 11 is also a prime number that is both masculine and feminine (11 or 1+1).

[Angeles Arrien talked about an old Tarot card that had Justice printed on one side and Strength on the other, which I have yet to see. But maybe this also gave the impression that they were interchangeable.]

August 8 is 8/8, in Leo, which psychic astrologers are referring to as the Lion's Gate Portal (until the 12th, but, hmm...maybe the 11th) So, now we do have an opportunity to combine the 8 and 11, not just 8.
My take on this - and I'm an 8 life path with an 11 birthday - is that a period of potential, karmic grace, where there will be an abundance of 'LA FORCE' available with which to overcome and release some karmic debt, and let some new, abundance energy in.
These 'grace periods' happen from time to time, kind of a cosmic parole hearing. Imagine you are standing before the lions at the gate and making your case.

Perhaps you feel that you are finished with a karmic debt, but the residual habit is hard to kick, or that you have worked very hard at paying off some debt and now feel it is justifiable for you to see some retribution. The important thing is that within yourself you feel that there is a correct balance, and would like this to now be reflected in the material world.  The noble lions of your conscience will not recognize anything but pure and good intentions. Merely wanting something, a la 'The Secret' is not going to work, or could end up bringing on more karmic debt. Recognition = reckoning.
Each of us, deep down, has a sense of what we've earned and what we owe. But sometimes it gets tainted  by outer imprints, intentional or not. Some examples of what I mean:

- Your church/community does not recognize your same-sex marriage, and this has polluted what you know in your heart to be true.

- You have been holding a parent or sibling's guilt that is not your own and are ready to rip up this contract.

- You have absorbed a societal bias that says working in the creative arts means starvation or it's not real work.

- There is a relationship that it is not possible to distance yourself from (work, family, etc), but you would like be able to maintain an emotional neutrality and not create further karma with them.


If your intentions are honorable and what you desire for yourself will benefit the whole, then the power is now available to clear a path through which to receive it.

Meditate on these two (Marseille) cards - the 8, to receive fair judgement from your higher self, and the 11 to create space and open the portal through which to receive divine assistance.
As ye sow, so shall ye reap !

Images: Marseille Trumps 8 and 11, Waite Trumps 8 and 11, portrait of animal tamer Isaac van Amburgh ©British Museum, vintage photo of Lion's Gate Bridge in Vancouver, Breviario di Renaud de Bar1302-03

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