Queen of Heaven
A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. Rev. 12:1
This re-unification of the divine masculine with its feminine counterpart is full of promise which goes way beyond the confines of the catholic church. The symbolism is nothing less than that of the Sacred Marriage - an alchemical blending of estranged opposites heralding the birth of a divine child - a whole new beginning.
Clearly this is not what was intended in 1950 when Pope Pius XII declared that the assumption of Mary was a dogma of faith.
If the myths of Atlantis represent a Golden Age - the matrilineal world of the goddess a Silver one, the Sumerian, Babylonian, Egyptian & Greek, a Bronze Age and those of the last 2000 years, an Iron Age dominated by Islam, Judaism and Christianity - then the relatively recent Papal decision of the 1950's is an absolute game changer! So it seems fitting that we pause mid-stream as it were, to celebrate its significance.
Those who know me well will know that whenever talking about such matters I habitually quote Carl Jung who was reputedly delighted by the church 's decision to elevate Our Lady. The symbolic significance of this act is immeasurably important he felt and perhaps,
‘the most significant event of the twentieth century.’
We have all lived in exile from our roots, which have been severed and cut away from beneath us. We have forgotten we ever had a mother with whom we were once one.
In our present phase of right-brain sophistication, we understand that we could not remain in the womb forever, the mythic Golden Age. The chord that connected us to her body had to be cut. To develop normally we must realise our separateness. Our survival as adults depends upon it. We must stand on our own two feet as it were - and eventually leave her domain completely.
The rise of the god and the development of the patriarchal religions are an inevitable part of this process, part of a much wider story of the development of human consciousness. Yet each phase of this vast story, each branch of this inconceivably vast tree, reaches back to a root, a root which sinks down into the depths of the earth, which the most ancient peoples of the world conceived of and worshipped as the womb of the mother.
Like so many of us I have lived in the mists of forgetfulness interspersed with flashes of remembrance. For the most part I have not understood their meaning. How could I? Yet always they have affected me deeply. They have been like strong pulls inside, arising when least expected, taking hold for periods of time, only to be forgotten and put to one side as the demands of everyday life asserted themselves.
My first encounter with the Virgin Mary is a case in point. I was fourteen years old at the time and had been taken by the school to a Latin Mass at a Catholic Church in the city where I lived. Stepping off the street into the hushed interior of that strange place felt like stepping into a dream. The evocative combination of the sung Latin refrains (never heard before) - sprinkled holy water, candle light and heady plumes of incense sent me reeling. Yet I immediately felt at home, lost and found - all at the same time.
The church was full of mystery and wonderfully exotic, with a rich, gold inlaid domed ceiling. There were and lots of paintings too and side alters with golden cherubs and statues of various saints. And the Virgin Mary, clothed in a deep blue mantle and crowned with a circlet of glittering silver stars. The flickering flames of numerous candles and curling wisps of perfumed smoke surrounded her.
Oddly, I had never seen a statue of her before and had never been to Italy, or Spain or even France, where such sights and smells are common. I had no knowledge of the Reformation of the 16th century and certainly had no idea that the Virgin Mary, with the infant Christ nestled in her arms was a far distant relative of the great mother goddess, for I had no conception the word goddess back then, apart from that derived from the Greek and Roman myths we studied at school - and myths we all knew, were lies, which had nothing to do with religion and truth, which was the story of one god and his divine son. The Virgin Mary was simply a very nice young girl whom god had mysteriously made pregnant, though she was not his wife and she was not divine.
I took her straight to my heart where she has remained ever since - and though we were not Catholics, I continued to visit her sanctuary in secret for several years, fetching home small replicas of her image, bought from a nearby shop, that I tenderly arranged on a shelf in my bedroom wardrobe. I tried for many a month to convince my parents to let me become a catholic but to no avail. Retrospectively I am glad, for it was not Catholicism as such that was pulling on my heart strings, though I still do attend Mass, but the lovely lady in blue, the unnamed goddess from which I had lived in exile.
Unwittingly I thereafter joined a stream of similarly enamoured souls drawn to her image throughout the centuries - (including all the artists featured here who adoringly re-imagined and rendered the image of her assumption & coronation hundreds of years before it was accepted by the church) - unaware for the most part - as I was - of her ancient heritage - and her deep roots in our collective psyche, but responding to them never-the-less. Somehow we all know her - no matter what she is called, Ishtar, Inanna, Isis, Sophia, Artemis, Venus... ...no matter the name - we are still drawn, like moths to her eternal flame.
And this is what we see reflected - every year on the 15th August - and most particularly in countries that still honour her - this primal recognition and celebration that somehow brings together the essence of all the forgotten Goddesses and fallen Queens of Heaven and re-admits them to our hearts, to their rightful royal home.
Anne Maria Clarke