The Sacred Marriage
The Re-Union of Nature and Spirit
The mythic images we’ve studied tell the story of the evolution of consciousness. Through studying images, consciousness tells its own story. The myth of the goddess and of the god(s) register the way humanity looks upon itself and its world. Today, the myth of the Goddess is excluded from the prevailing myth of the god.
To recap Her myth—
1. In the beginning, the Great Mother Goddess gives birth alone to the world out of herself. Everything is living and sacred. Humans and nature share a common identity. Paleolithic, Neolithic, and Bronze Age Crete. This state of mind and heart still prevails in “primitive” societies, goddess worship, and poetry.
2. Thereafter, the Mother Goddess unites with the god, once her son, now her consort. Everything is still alive and sacred, but the duality of that inexhaustible source—(Zoe) and it’s expression in time—(Bios) prepares the way for the distinction and separation between nature and spirit, energy and form, male and female. Inanna and Dumuzi in Sumeria, Isis and Osiris in Egypt, Aphrodite and Adonis in Greece, Cybele and Attis in Anatolia are examples of this union.
3. In the next stage, the Mother Goddess is killed by the god— her great, great, great grandson—who then makes the world from her dead body. This leads the late Bronze Age into the Iron Ages, starting with Babylonian Tiamat and Marduk. This is the beginning of the destruction of nature and holy wars.
4. Finally, god creates the world alone, without reference to the Mother Goddess. Egyptian Ptah or Atum masturbate the world into existence, the Hebrew Yahweh spoke the word and created the world. The creator becomes transcendent, not immanent, the earth is cursed, nature becomes a punishment, women are hated.
We can see this long historical process as the gradual withdrawal of humanity’s relationship with the female divine, and with it, an end to participation with and in nature—the ever increasing separation, until today, almost every human culture world-wide exists in opposition to nature.
Relationship to Human Consciousness— Humans’ relation to the Mother is one of identity; and to the father is one of dissociation. The perception of difference leads to pairs of opposites, and dualism— spirit/nature, good/evil, transcendence/immanence, male/female.
This current iteration of our tribal myth has lasted 4,000 years, but it is not over. There is no end to evolution. Now we have the splitting of the atom where we can destroy life due to our scientific “progress” and ability to restructure the material world— matter— the linguistic and spiritual source of the Goddess. Through a new understanding of myth from disciplines like archetypal psychology, archeology, anthropology, and Feminism, we can begin to understand this human consciousness journey, and trace the path back to our primal relationship with creation and the numinousity of Nature and the Great Goddess, dating from our original Stone Age/Paleolithic Unity.
Relationship throughout the cosmos, between all of creation is revealed through subatomic physics and depth psychology. What we need now is a new way of thinking— an evolution in our consciousness— beyond duality and opposition. The myth of this union was The Sacred Marriage, the re-union of transcendence and immanence, Bios and Zoe, spirit and nature, and through this, there can be a child, who represents a fresh start, a new perspective, an opportunity to grow and learn.
In The Sacred Marriage, both images are required to do justice to the fullness of life. Without the archetypal balance of both masculine and feminine, our society and our psyches become one-sided and thus, distorted. All is relational. We must re-learn this primary truth. We are co-creators of consciousness. Opposing principles must be reconciled into harmony. The union of the two creates a third—the divine child, or a new vision.
The initial rites of any new stage of consciousness begins with opposition, of victory over the old order— what is left behind has to be opposed so you can let go of the habitual hold of the past. But, once the new stage has been achieved, there is no further need for the challenge of an enemy and both terms—goddess and god, order and chaos, can be dissolved and reunited at a higher level.
If you don’t move beyond that transitional stage, you get stuck, and what was originally simply relative becomes absolute. The threat of the indigenous goddess culture, the inherent chaos of nature, the dangers of participation is where we are currently stuck. This tribal thinking, based on survival of a certain time has become our unconscious standard for consciousness. We’re still locked in that battle, killing wildness everywhere and engaged in endless holy war.
We disregard “others” and project endlessly, ignoring our mutual connection and dependency on the whole. We see opposition instead of complementary relationship. We are still locked in the phase of conflict and hierarchy.
We need a wider framework. Unconscious projection, caused by oppositional thinking keeps us in dualism, and prevents genuine relationship with what is there. This is a profound distortion.
The structure of consciousness is but one form of the sacred. There are others.
The mythic images can be guides for the evolution of the species. Since it is all relational, “feminine” and “masculine” are not things in themselves,not absolutes, but terms in continual relationship, which take their meaning from each other. Some examples of this relationship is how light doesn’t exist without dark. The same goes for concepts such as containing and emerging, receptive and active, conserving and dynamic, the whole and the part.
The more complex the experience, the less valuable is the language of simple opposition. We need a new poetic language that’s holistic, animistic, and lunar in origin that explores flux, continuity, and phases that rise and fall as infinite cycles of transformation.
Such an example of a metaphor of Unity is The Chinese Yin-Yang symbol — “Here, dark (yin, feminine) and light (yang, masculine) are equally contained within a circle, divided by an S curve, each “half” containing a spot of the others’ color and nature….the black and the white are not divided down the middle with a straight line, so creating opposites that are absolutely divided, but instead, the distinction is provisional, alternating, continually in play. Each contains the other in embryo, and the force of the curve is to send the mind around the circle, and not allow it to become fixed in one part, nor begin in one place…..not so much in terms of opposition, but in terms of complementarity…mutual dependence….not as opposites that tend to conflict, but as complements that tend to relate.” We havw nothing like this available to our culture, and we seem to have forsaken the process of The Sacred Marriage, although it recurs in fairy tales like Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, and Sleeping Beauty, as well as in almost all romantic comedies.
How do we get back to original participation? Only through the imagination. There was an original primal participation that was ruined, but now there is another participation possible, which builds on that/this cycle. It involves a dual relation to nature, in which our contemporary experience of ourselves as separate is honored, but transformed by a conscious participation, and thus, in which our identity with nature is experienced at a new level of unity.
The imagination is “the thought of the heart”— to the ancient Egyptians, the hieroglyph for thought was a heart. Jung says that “Imagination is a transcendent function in which conscious and unconscious aspects of the psyche are re-united at a new level.” Coleridge says, “Imagination is the soul that is everywhere.” It brings together the inner and outer worlds— it is a moral vision. It ushers in a way of knowledge that is won through a total relationship with the all. It is a pre-requisite for any new mode of thinking to emerge.
How we feel about nature is relevant. This is conscious participation. Our horror, our grief when we learn what’s happening, what’s been kept from us, reflects an awareness of belonging to a UNITY, where what happens to a part happens everywhere. This is the web imagery of Chief Seattle. “What we do to the web, we do to ourselves.”
The ancient imagery of the Great Mother Goddess comes forth in new physics and new interpretations of biology, such as The Gaia Hypothesis, the ocean of energy, the cosmic web. Nature’s continued existence ultimately depends of the kind of consciousness we bring to bear on it. This, on a new level, is a restatement of the old symbolic life of the original participating consciousness in which the rising of the sun and the coming of the rain were believed to require the assistance of human rituals.
“Originally, we were all born out of a world of wholeness and in the first years of life are still completely contained in it. There we have all knowledge without knowing it. Later we lose it, and call it progress when we remember it.” (Carl Jung).
Remembering this knowledge can lead to a reversal in our ways—to a full and final participation—humanity can assume that original creative delight in nature as the greater form of itself. In the language of mythology and metaphor, this is The Sacred Marriage of the goddess and the god.
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