Excerpt: Puerto Rico

LILITH OF THE NIGHT

autumn 1999
rincón

We of the Western world live under the influence of Lilith – ironic, considering she has been largely hidden from us. But when James and I began reading the Bible again, we found her there, between the lines. How did Woman and Man ever get into the War Between the Sexes? We viewed the Fall from Grace story as highly suspect, so we pulled out the Bible and opened to the first page. According to Genesis 1, God fashioned a man and woman from clay, telling them to “be fruitful and multiply.” Then in Genesis 2, God causes Adam to fall asleep so that he may make him a mate. He takes a rib from Adam, makes Eve, and presents her as his “helper”. Obviously the two versions do not jibe, and Lilith is what happened in the interim. According to other Hebrew scriptures, God first created man and woman: Adam and Lilith. Lilith, a woman of her own mind, refused to be subordinate to Adam, citing that they had been created at the same time of the same material. Lilith, whose Hebrew name is Adamah, the feminine word for earth or soil, is probably derived from Belit-ili, a Sumero-Babylonian goddess, also known as Lillake. When Adam, wanting sex, tried to force his wife to lie beneath him (the “missionary position”), she cursed him and flew away to the desert. After Adam complained, God gave him a more submissive wife, Eve. From the start, the Bible dispenses with a goddess figure and replaces her with a frail female.

Temptation and Fall (detail), fresco on Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1509) Note serpent depicted as Lilith

Temptation and Fall (detail), fresco on Sistine Chapel ceiling by Michelangelo Buonarroti (1509) Note serpent depicted as Lilith

Our Bible reading soon brought us to the story of the Fall from Grace. In the Garden of Eden, Eve tempts Adam to eat the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge and Recognition. Eve was offered the apple (or fig) by a serpent. To our surprise, we found much medieval and Renaissance art depicting the serpent with the face and breasts of a woman! It is Lilith, trying to open Eve’s eyes to her condition. Lilith, a woman secure in her sexuality and aware of the freedom that comes with carnal knowledge, would not have sanctioned Eve’s disempowering relationship. According to the tale, once Adam and Eve ate the fruit, they became ashamed of their nakedness, were cast out of their earthly paradise (Eden) by an angry God, and condemned with all subsequent humanity to eternal toil (tilling the soil, making a living) and suffering (early death, the pain of childbirth). Eve’s actions became the justification for the damnation of the flesh, the subordinate position of women, and the Original Sin from which no one – not even newborn babies – can escape. The message is clear: God = good, and Eve = evil.

These Bible stories served to eviscerate the cosmogony of goddess-worshipping cultures and the partnership values of ancient times, and establish instead a hierarchical, dominator mentality. It would take awhile for James and me to uncover just how society had gotten so patriarchal, but just starting off, our feminist sensibilities were outraged! The Bible recorded the shift. With women under control, men could insure the transference of property through male lines of inheritance. From archaeological finds of Mother Goddess sculptures (25,000 BCE) to the recorded histories of ancient Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Minoan, and Indus River valley cultures (3500BC), it is now evident that goddess-centered religion was predominant throughout most of Earth’s known history. In matrifocal tribal communities, women passed power, position, and possessions from mother to child. Whereas paternity might be debatable, people always knew who the mother was. Along with supplanting goddess symbols and practices with those of the new god, Hebrew patriarchs would have needed to establish patrilineal inheritance. In order to do this, a woman’s sexual freedom had to be bound up in monogamy. The Sumero-Babylonian ancestor of Lilith, goddess Belit-ili, exalted female seductive arts in the sacred sexual rites of the temples. Belit-ili also was a patroness of childbirth and protectress of babies. In the new dominator order, however, no longer could a woman (or goddess) assert rights over her body, her children, or her work. As Simone de Beauvoir states in The Second Sex, “Woman was dethroned by the advent of private property.” [The Second Sex, p.82] Actually, the problem was that Woman became property.

Joseph Campbell, from his studies of mythology and history, noticed a radical shift in human attitudes around 600 BCE. “And, in fact, in the long and varied course of the evolution of the mythologies of mankind, there have been many addressed to the aims of an absolute negation of the world, a condemnation of life, and a backing out. These I have termed mythologies of ‘The Great Reversal’.” [The Mythic Dimension, p. 219]. Campbell notes that around that time, Buddha came up with the Four Noble Truths, the first of which was “All life is sorrowful.” The Great Reversal, also known as the Axial Age, demarcates two different expectations: Life is fair became Life is suffering. From Buddha in India, to many classical Greek philosophers (Aristotle, et al), to Zoroaster in Persia, to Confucius in China, to the Hebrew Old Testament prophets: all based their philosophies on the belief that human nature tended toward evil without the disciplines they proposed. The temptress that led men astray, by the way, was Woman. The Goddess, who represented an embodiment of Nature and Earth – which included the sexual expressions of the body – became the antithesis of spiritual aspiration. Instead of finding salvation here on Earth, the luminaries of the Axial Age sought Ascent to Heaven.

Queen of the Night (relief), ancient Babylonia (3000-2000 BCE)

Queen of the Night (relief), ancient Babylonia (3000-2000 BCE)

What happened to Lilith? As Goddess, she ruled the mysteries of the life cycle: birth, life, sexuality, death, and rebirth. She understood planting by the moon, giving birth and mothering, the practice of solitude, and the process of transformation (the way a snake sheds its skin). Such an Earth-grounded worldview ran contrary to the new heavenly religion of Yahweh. Consequently, Lilith was relegated to the night, which became a frightful realm. Described as a night demon, she was blamed for erotic dreams, nocturnal emissions, stillbirths, and child-stealing. This wild woman chose the wilderness over a marriage, her own sexual rights over docility, and her freedom instead of subjugation to another. So threatening was this image of woman that she was virtually removed from Judeo-Christian mythology except as a warning, a bogey-lady. Many a medieval man and woman would lock their windows lest the “Night Hag” (as she was called in the Bible) swoop in to terrify them or smother their children.

James and I felt compelled to tell Lilith’s story. It is in many ways the story of Woman in “his-story”. The conflict between Lilith and Adam has been perpetuated for the last 3000 years of man-woman relationships, with the Adam-Eve model offering no equitable solution. The great religions of the world provide shaky ground for healthy relationships because of an age-old sexual inequality. Venus and Mars would have to embrace the male-female conundrum by embracing Lilith, Adam, and Eve. That is what James and I set out to do.

It was not easy. To begin with, it took a little while to realize that the character sketched into the paintings was Lilith. Once we did, she made her presence felt. James’ painting flowed and improved with each piece. I had many changes that I would suggest to the paintings-in-progress, which he for the most part took. My contemplation of Lilith, however, led me into the dark corners of women’s psyche. Lilith lurks in the shadows. James and I clashed over some artistic decisions, and I found myself remonstrating that I needed more time alone. Rather funny that is, considering how much time apart we usually spent. His 20-year career as an artist and lifelong tendency as a loner had already established our separate spaces. Still, I felt I needed more, and we agreed on my having some nights alone. Truly I was brooding with Lilith.

I delved into books on women’s history, which opened my eyes even more to how much our worldview has been shaped by the last 3000 years of male-dominated civilization. I read Lilith’s story and many others. As I read accounts of the Dark Ages – witch hunts and the Inquisition – I would often have to put the book down. It was too appalling. In 1487, the Malleus Maleficarum (The Hammer of Witches) was published in Europe. In it, Jakob Sprenger and Henrich Kramer, two Dominican friars, explained to the powerful men of their day all they needed to know in order to identify, torment, and kill “witches”. Naturally, the homes, land, and possessions of these women became booty for themselves and/or the Catholic Church. The new profession of witch hunter overran every town and hamlet, looking for suspicious signs (hailstorms, failed crops, miscarriages, illnesses) and then rounding up the “perpetrators”. They believed calamities were caused by the “evil eye” – the powerful glance of a woman. An accused witch could be thrown into a river. If she drowned, she was innocent. If she floated to the top, she was obviously a witch. Grandmothers, pregnant women, and even little girls were brought to torture chambers to extract their confessions. Professional “prickers” used a small needle to find “the witches teat”. If a light prick into a mole, skin tag, or genitals did not elicit a cry, then witchcraft was confirmed. Otherwise, the women were tortured until they confessed to consorting with the Devil. During subsequent weeks chained in a dungeon, innocent people would be tortured again and again to name the members of their witches’ coven. Out of their minds with pain, women named friends and neighbors, branding them with now official accusations. Many died before that point.

If a woman exhibited her Lilith nature – living alone, owning property, being playful at work, healing the sick, criticizing her husband – she was accused of being a witch. Accusation was as good as a death sentence, for she had no right to her own defense. Women were raped and branded, had their fingernails ripped out or legs crushed, and were violated in the most sadistic ways so as to extract their confession. With or without it, they were burned alive. I saw how the Inquisition, arguably a property-grab, was the vehicle through which sexually-repressed men tortured women. Modern psychology shows that sexual repression leads to aggression and hostility: generally, sadism in males and masochism in females. Here was an institutionalized reign of terror that lasted 500 years and killed hundreds of thousands – perhaps millions – of innocent people.

So obsessed were the witch hunters that they even killed cats, which were known as “the witch’s familiar”. (Even today people consider black cats bad luck). Exterminating cats resulted in a population explosion of rats, which carried the plague. Nature, with its inexorable justice, rewarded the Inquisitors and their society with the Black Death.

The Holy Inquisition had begun in the 13th century as a way to quell any religious or political groups that might challenge papal supremacy, and Inquisitors were appointed throughout Europe to root out heretics. Forbidden to shed blood, they developed their preferred methods of torture: the rack, strappado, thumbscrews, water torture, poking and cauterizing with hot pincers, and the final solution, death by fire. Through a systematic terrorizing of the populace, Inquisitors first called for heretics to denounce themselves, for which they were rewarded with penance (repeated whippings or another punishment). [The Inquisition, p. 27-30] The volunteers were released upon their confessing the names of a dozen of their alleged heretic cohorts, and from this database, the sadistic Inquisitors rounded up their victims. Naturally women were easy targets, though no one – man, woman, nor child – was safe from accusation. Witches became quite the craze. Many commoners – ostensibly Christians – still practiced paganism, a religion based on Nature (“Fallen” Nature to the Church) and reverence for the Goddess and Earth, which was considered a “demonic” affront to the God-ordained order and perfection of the Church.

The fears that created the Inquisition survive still. I thought of the foot-binding of Chinese women, the circumcision of African women, the stoning of Muslim women for the crime of showing their ankles in public . . . these images echoed the unfolding environmental disaster of modern times: the continuous rape of Mother Earth that I witnessed on a daily basis. At the root of it all was the justified logic of the dominator system, and the lopsided threat posed by natural freedom and feminine wisdom.

As I was writing the first poem (for “Daughters of Lilith”), my chest filled with congestion and I felt slightly feverish. It was not so much sickness as suffocation by a long-suppressed grief. A harrowing feeling grabbed my body in its clutches and squeezed. Rage came through in the poem I wrote. James rejected my first draft as too angry and militant. “Remember, Becca?” he told me. “We are doing this work from a loving approach. We said from the beginning the only way we could even broach the topic of equal relationship through sexuality was to present it with beauty.”

I knew from his rantings about goddess culture and the oppression of women that he felt passionately about injustice, so I did feel understood by him. But the crimes committed against Lilith and 600 generations of her daughters were overwhelming me. I felt their pain. Neither my poetry nor my practices could contain it.

As James and I submerged ourselves in the tragic condition of Man and Woman during the Goddess’s hiatus, Lilith clawed at us, like a drowning person who fights to the surface to breathe. Nothing James did could console the grief I was feeling, and I could not tend to him in the exacting process of painting, either.

After a night of frustrated lovemaking, James awoke the next morning, and said softly, “The Father has failed.”

“What are you saying, James?”

“It hit me like a revelation, Becca. The Father as Failure . . . As a man, I feel in some way responsible for the terrible injustices suffered by women throughout the ages,” he said.

“But James, it’s not you! It’s . . .” I started to comfort him, but he cut me off.

“As far as our society is concerned, we’ve committed matricide. No wonder we’re a bunch of screwed-up orphans!” he lamented.

I saw tears moisten his sad blue eyes, just as my vision blurred with my tears, too. We cried together for Woman who has been denied and for Man who could no longer carry it all alone. For thousands of years, the world had suffered our dysfunctional imbroglio, and in this moment we were both letting in the horror of it all.

Then James stood up and put on his shorts. “I need a smoke,” he said.

“James . . .” I began, thinking I would coax him back to bed, but not really wanting to. I wanted to be alone.

“I’m going for a paddle,” he said, and walked out of the bedroom. Lying back in the bed, I heard him on the porch, then his uneven steps down the stairs, and his jeep starting up and crackling the gravel as he left the driveway. He was going to take his sorrows out on his surfboard, and beat them into the ocean, arm stroke by arm stroke.

Father as Failure

When I came home later that day, I found James in our screened-in lanai, hunched over a pile of books at the dining room table, and scribbling into a notebook. “You’re not in your studio today?” I said, hugging him.

He shook his head and said, “Ya know, I never thought that painting Lilith would lead me to open the skeleton-filled closet of the Patriarchy. So much depends on that seemingly harmless fairy tale about a creator god and some mud!”

“You mean Adam and Eve?” I asked.

“Yea! What a hum-dinger of a story! It sets the foundation for everything that comes after it. The whole barbaric Patriarchy is still creating chaos, and claims to have everything under control . . . and that’s the problem. But how could they get away with that first story? When has a man ever given birth? I mean, instead of the concept of Father the Creator, it used to be the reality of Mother the Creatress, which at least makes sense. But with the one and only God, it’s all yang and no yin! Where is the harmony in that?”

“Well, actually we should be talking about a Creatrix,” I interjected. “The Creative force would certainly be masculine and feminine. Everything on Earth derives from a mingling of the sexes.”

“Right!” James exclaimed. “A single-gendered deity simply does not jibe with the true nature of existence! Look – I found out that Allah was just a masculinized version of the Goddess Al-Lat. How many Muslims would like to hear that one? And Jehovah came from Anat, his Creatress! And . . . I didn’t realize this before but, the Big Three – that’s what I’m calling them – Yahweh, Allah, and Jehovah – they’re all the same guy! Jews, Muslims, and Christians are all children of Abraham! All with the same ‘garden-variety’ Creation myth. Did you know that?”

“Actually, I think I did know that, but they seem to emphasize their differences, not their common relationship . . .” I commented.

“You can say that again!” James was on a tear. “Just look at the Middle East – it’s a focal point of hostilities. The birthplace of three major religions is the world’s most explosive hot spot. The Patriarchy is up and running, and it looks like a showdown among the Big Three – Fathers, all of them! People took them at their word . . . the repeated commands in their so-called ‘holy books’ to smite all the nations and kill all the men, women, and children of those non-believers. Oh, and ‘no other gods before me’! Who do you think the omnipotent God the Father was talking about? The Goddess!”

“Well, the problem is that mythic believers took all the stories literally,” I commented.

James continued on his train of thought, which was barreling down the tracks. “Mythos-pathos! That’s what I’m calling it. They believe in their myths to the point of psychosis. It’s a mythos-pathos! What makes it pathological is the lack of balance – no Divine Feminine. Just a bunch of angry gods! These Fathers up in Heaven who watch over their human children and keep them in line with lightning bolts, plagues, and other punishments. They’re sadists! And then you get all these tough guys with their tales of valor and violence. Heroes, kings, warriors fighting each other, wreaking havoc. Like fathers, like sons!”

Suddenly James fell silent, staring out at the sparkling sea. My seashell wind chimes tinkled and clacked in the afternoon Caribbean breeze.

“James?” I probed.

Keeping his gaze upon the curling waves, he spoke, now barely above a whisper. “I was raised by such a man. He used to beat me while my mother stood by and did nothing. He would stand there and undo his belt – my sister and brother and I would just be frozen to our spots, too terrified to run – and then he would start whipping. ‘Grab your ankles and take it like a man!’ he would yell, ‘and if you cry, you get it double!’ . . . Take it like a man,” James repeated, looking down, fingering a cigarette on the table, “He didn’t have a clue what a real man was . . .”

“Your dad was an alcoholic, so obviously he was hiding his own pain,” I said, reaching for a tissue to blow my nose.

“Oh yea, he was very successful, very creative, but he stuffed himself into a white-collar job and had the wife and the kids, and needed a martini every night when he got home. I think he was a frustrated artist. He had such talent, and poured it all into the aerospace industry, which is, ya know, the military . . . destruction. He could really draw, but that talent turned into rockets.” James explained.

“Well, I’m sure he wanted to be a good provider. And you had all those medical bills, so he couldn’t quit his job. In the 50’s, men were the breadwinners. He had to be the strong man,” I said.

“I don’t remember him playing with me, or helping me with homework. And the only emotion he showed was anger. My parents would drink every night, and fight. That’s why I ran away from home – first when I was six, and then for good when I was sixteen. I couldn’t stand being there anymore. Talk about father as failure . . .

“But ya know what? I’m grateful to him. I’m not angry at him – he was a victim of this upside-down culture, this dominator paradigm. I’m grateful he showed me how not to be . . . My brother wasn’t so lucky. He followed in my dad’s footsteps and Johnnie Walker mentality and was dead in his 40’s. Drunk and angry, just like Dad. In fact, our family had alot in common with Adam and Eve and Cain and Abel . . . husband ruling over wife, woman against man, father against son, brother against brother . . . The perfect dysfunctional family . . .”

“So much suffering has been caused by this dominator system!” I sympathized.

James looked me in the eyes, his gaze full of pain and passion, and said, “Our art stands up to that dysfunctional history, and says, No more. It doesn’t have to be like this anymore. I realize now, more than ever, that a father in any form – man or god – that does not recognize and appreciate the divine nature of Woman is in trouble – and so is his world.”

The Serpent

Weeks passed. My psyche haunted the murky dungeons of the Inquisition, relentlessly driven by a despair that gnawed at me from the inside out. My cold enshrouded me in a cloud of melancholy. I tried to write, but my thoughts were dull and muffled. Had the tragedy of Lilith slain my muse? My daily yoga sadhana gave only temporary relief, until the thought of the continuing torture of women today jabbed me with its sharp reality, and I curled up, fetus-like, in the hammock with another book, obsessed with finding the solution somewhere in our history. James was similarly tormented, and alternately threw himself into his painting or the books. Neither one of us believed it was human nature to torture one another, so how had Woman become the whipping post for society’s ills? Regarding Western civilization, we kept coming back to the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve, and the Fall from Grace. We kept coming back to that one notorious character in the story: the snake.

One evening, in bed with our books, we discussed what we had been learning.

“The snake has always been a spiritual symbol – I mean always – from spirals in cave paintings, to the twin serpents of kundalini energy that wind their way up the spine,” I said.

“Like the emblem of doctors,” James said.

“Right, the caduceus, symbol of healing,” I answered. “Then there’s the Cosmic Serpent Ophion encircling the World Egg – that’s old Hermetic knowledge – and the ouroboros, the snake biting its own tail, which represents the repeating cycles of Life to infinity. And the Rainbow Snake in African and Aboriginal mythology that created the oceans and animals.”

“But what’s relevant to the Adam and Eve myth is that the snake was a goddess symbol,” James stated. “I read that Egyptian royalty wore the uraeus, the cobra rearing up, on their crowns. And that the hieroglyph of the cobra meant ‘goddess’. On the front of their crowns, it stood for mystic wisdom and insight.”

“Insight, at the third eye . . . interesting,” I commented.

“Mystic wisdom of the goddess,” he reiterated.

“Right!” I continued. “Pythia . . . she was the oracle at Delphi who sat up on a stool above a pit of volcanic steam. She’d go into trance and make prophecies. The python was her symbol. It was always a priestess, even when it changed from a shrine of the Great Goddess to one of the god Apollo. The oracle was always a she . . . feminine intuition on the throne!”

James said, “The serpent was sacred to the Goddess’ creative powers, and her immortality, because it sheds its skin. People used to think snakes didn’t die – instead, they were reborn every time they shed their skin.”


Thinking of tantric yoga, I said, “Well, kundalini is renewing. It’s our life force, it’s the life force of the Universe flowing through us.”

“OK, if the Goddess represented that, then who would need a patriarchal religion or priests? So they had to get rid of it.” James looked into his notebook and began reading. “Hera, queen of the Greek pantheon and Mars’ mother, placed the serpent Ladon to guard her trees that bore the golden apples of immortality. Heracles, the hero, killed it. Hera’s husband, Zeus, killed the snake-dragon Typhon, son of primordial goddess Gaia. Apollo killed the serpent Python. Indra, the Hindu God of Rain and Thunder, got his power by slaying Vritra the serpent. And even in the Bible, in Psalms and Job, Yahweh killed the snake Leviathan.”

“Leviathan . . . that sounds like the Levites, the Hebrew priest tribe. Maybe they originally got their power from Leviathan, a snake?” I wondered. “Well, they sure turned against it, and the goddess!”

James opened his notebook with an agitated look on his face. “I’ve been reading the Bible . . .”

“Can you believe it? You reading the Bible!” I chided him.

His face stayed serious as he said, “Yea, and the Qur’ran, too. Listen to this:
In the Book of Splendor, the Kabbalists describe Lilith as a harlot, the evil tongue, the Impure Female, and Queen of the Demons. But Eve is little better; Mohammed stated, ‘When Eve was created, Satan rejoiced.’ [When God was a Woman, p. 194]

“Clement of Alexandria asserts that Christ said, in the Gospel According to the Egyptians: ‘I have come to destroy the works of the female’. [When God was a Woman, p. 194] What works of the female could he be referring to? Her embroidery, maybe? Her herbal medicines? More than likely Clement was aiming at her religion, which both men and women practiced, so they were considered infidels or pagans. In the Qur’ran 4:16: ‘The pagans pray to females – they pray to a rebellious Satan.’ In Deuteronomy, God curses all who do not obey his commandments about worshipping other gods, and he meant, in particular, goddesses. He instructs his followers to ‘surely destroy all the places’ where they served their gods and ‘tear down their altars’, ‘dash in pieces their pillars’, ‘burn their Asherim’, ‘hew down the graven images’, and ‘destroy their name out of that place’. He instructed them to cut down the trees in the groves where they worshipped. Anyone who would follow those orders would be embarking upon continuous conflict and aggression. Obviously, people took this Father God seriously – check out any of the ‘Holy Scriptures’ . . . and then check out our history books. Both are full of lists of military campaigns, conquests, genocide, and destruction.

James’ voice was rising. “There has been no shortage of bloodshed since the Big Three have been inciting their followers to butcher each other in their holy names. As the Qur’ran instructs, ‘Prophet, rouse the faithful to arms’ [Qur’ran 8:64], and ‘Most idolaters are evil doers – make war on them’ [Qur’ran 9:8]. Make war! Allah thinks that’s a great idea! It goes on: ‘For those who say, ‘Don’t go to war! The heat is fierce!’, say to them, ‘More fierce is the heat of hell-fire!’ [Qur’ran 9:18] In Joshua 6:18-19, the Hebrews are instructed to reduce Jericho to rubble, yet ‘ . . . all silver and gold and vessels of bronze and iron, are sacred to the Lord.’ At least they kept their priorities straight! Gold and silver are much more valuable than human life, right? As far as I’m concerned, God and Allah are failed role models. They both threaten vengeance if their followers don’t obey, and where has that led us? Back and forth through our blood-soaked history! We as a society have been worshipping and serving the agenda of power-hungry, warmongering, women-hating, child-killing, nation-destroying, insecure, lonely little boys – when all they really need is to be nurtured by the warmth of Woman!!”

“James,” I butted in to interrupt his tirade. I knew that nothing incensed my warrior guy more than injustice, but my chest hurt. My breathing was constricted. I was so damn tired of the patriarchal rationales.

“OK, OK, sorry, Becca. I get carried away,” James said. “OK, so we have the Hebrews, many still worshipping the goddess Asherah – with her serpents – in the sacred groves. The tree and the snake – which used to represent wisdom, healing, and feminine power – now become the cause of all the problems for humanity,” James said.

“And Eve!” I added.

“And Lilith!” James cried. “Because Lilith is the snake, using her powers of prophecy and knowledge, to wake Eve up to her situation.”

I continued. “And Lilith is feminine sexuality and magic. She uses her instincts, she makes her own decisions, like saying ‘no!’ to Adam.”

“She refuses to lie beneath him when having sex – she wants to be on top . . . just like you do!”

I laughed, “Well, sure, when I’m on top, I can control the pace, and can really take you deep inside me. Talk about the power of pleasure!”

James and I stopped and glared at one another. He said, “So that’s it? Lilith insists on her own sexual satisfaction, and that threatens Adam so much, he can’t handle it? This whole thing is about sex?”

“Lilith won’t give up her own pleasure, her own body. She insists on being equal and not dominated by her husband, so she splits.”

James continued the story. “Enter Eve, the obedient helpmate, who is content with being a mother, who won’t insist on being free. Still, she does commit the sin of curiosity, and takes the apple – or fig – that Lilith offers her.”

“Curiosity, yes, but the real sin was disobedience. Eve disobeyed Yahweh’s orders, and then used her feminine wiles to tempt Adam,” I said.

“Like how you make yourself irresistible to me? Of course, I’m not resisting! . . . I ain’t no fool!” James said, and leaned over to kiss me. As our lips pressed together and tongues gently explored each other’s mouths, I felt my shoulders relax. The grip on my chest loosened. If denying sex had been the cause of all this trouble, maybe allowing sex could be the solution, I thought. The connection between us soothed me, calmed me.

Our lips parted, and we looked at each other, really saw each other for the first time in days. I smiled. We are in this together, I thought. Thank Goddess!

James broke the stillness. “Could it be, that sex is at the bottom of this Biblical dysfunction? It doesn’t really say so in Genesis. It just makes it out to be Eve’s transgression that Adam went along with, and they get thrown out of Paradise ‘cause of their disobedience.”

“Right,” I said, “It wasn’t until much later that the idea of Original Sin came along. Christ never even mentioned it. It wasn’t until centuries later . . .”

My comment seemed to electrify James, who cried, “Augustine! I’ve been reading about him!”

“Saint Augustine . . .”

James cut me off, saying, “You can’t call him a saint! He’s Unholy Augustine to have come up with the idea of Original Sin!”

“I know, James, but he was a brilliant man. I read about him as a teenager, when I was doing Bible study. He believed in the indisputable presence of the soul and the transcendental power of God, of Spirit.”

“But, Becca, he had to be sick to think that everyone is born a sinner!”

“Everyone, that is, after Eve,” I corrected.

James carried the idea forward. “Yep, after Eve, and through Eve, sin passed to every single human being. And only the grace of God – through the Church – gave any hope of salvation. Not in this life, of course – you had to die first to go to Heaven. And that was only because Jesus took our sins up on the cross – paid the debt to Jehovah, I guess. Which means . . . without Eve, there’s no need for Jesus Christ! No sin, no savior! But instead it’s the opposite: sinners need salvation, which just happens to be dispensed by the Church. What a racket!”

“Yea,” I agreed. “Because Augustine was a rising star when the Roman Catholic Church was consolidating its power, he sang a tune that was music to their ears. Since human nature was incurably infected with sin, people were obviously incapable of self-governance. Therefore, everyone needed the Church and the government, which at that time was the Roman Empire.”

“So God allowed Adam and Eve to sin to prove to themselves what screw-ups they were. Eve, more than Adam, of course, which is why Adam must rule over his wife, the way the Church and government rule over people,” James said.

“That’s the justification for slavery right there,” I commented.

James reached for a book festooned with bookmarks to read to me. The book was Adam, Eve, and the Serpent by Elaine Pagels. “But like I said, he was sick. This is Augustine speaking: ‘ . . . sexual desire [libido] of our disobedient members arose in those first human beings as a result of the sin of disobedience . . .” [Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, p.111]

“Disobedient members?” I cried.

“Yea, dig it,” James said, and continued reading, “Because of this, these members are rightly called pudenda [parts of shame] because they excite themselves just as they like, in opposition to the mind which is their master, as if they were their own masters.’ He talks about the ‘insurrection of members’ as ‘proof and penalty of man’s rebellion against God.’ Which he goes on to show, just like you said, that people have no capacity to govern themselves.” [Adam, Eve, and the Serpent, p.113]

“That explains why Augustine’s theology of the Fall from Grace was adopted by the Church. It was politically expedient,” I said. “Original Sin is based on the idea that sin is transmitted through the act of sex – which is all because Woman is an irresistible temptress to the ‘disobedient members’ – and then incubated in a woman’s womb. Everyone is tainted from birth. There’s no escape.”

James thumbed through the book and began reading Augustine’s words again. “Because of a perverse will, desire was made, and when I was enslaved to desire [libido] it became a habit; and habit not restrained became necessity. By which links . . . a very hard bondage had me enthralled.”

I gasped. James stopped reading when he saw the look on my face. “What is it, Becca?”

A deep sadness pooled inside my heart. “Don’t you see, James? Augustine was suffering from his own natural desires! He had no wife, but he had a sex drive and a need to love – just like everybody – and thought he was betraying God. He was wracked with guilt! He was suffering! So he projected that terrible struggle outward in his writings, which became Church dogma, which became the justification for totalitarian government and slavery. His frustrated sexuality became the very basis of our civilization!”

James cocked his head, listening. Then he said, “And every time he masturbated – which apparently he did ‘cause he said it became a habit – he only plunged himself into more guilt.”

“And more suffering, and more denial, and more need to control others, especially the Divine Feminine.”

James slowly shook his head. “So we’re saying that the Lilith and Adam and Eve story, and Augustine’s monumental fiasco of Original Sin are all because of sexual frustration?!? That’s too simple! A few instances of sexual repression have caused thousands of years of slavery and violent empires and the War Between the Sexes?!? Becca, is that what Lilith is trying to tell us?”

Breakthrough

Our invoking Goddess Lilith, the First Woman, was shaking us with a heavy dose of reality. As it ravaged us, we marched forward, led by our visions of Mars and Venus, to bring Lilith forward with all the love in our hearts. With every revelation about our painful past, we re-dedicated our warrior and mother talents to let Lilith come through us as we felt she wanted to be portrayed.

Unhappily, my attempts at writing poetry did not seem to be going anywhere. One night after witnessing my state, James suddenly perceived the entire Lilith series as one work, one continuous narrative. He had walked in with a pencil sketch on canvas for us to discuss, and stood there surveying the four completed paintings hanging on the wall.

“Becca, look at this!” he cried. Using a stick to move the highest paintings, and propping two of them on my low bookshelf, he began speaking.

“Look! Here’s ‘Daughters of Lilith’ dancing in the sacred oak grove. This is when Lilith was suppressed, and feminine wisdom had to go underground . . . Then, here’s Mars and Venus visiting Lilith.”

“Oh my Goddess!” I exclaimed. “You painted an apple tree! They’re under the apple tree in the Garden of Eden! Mars and Venus have come to rescue Lilith, because everyone else was cast out of Paradise, but she is still there! I see!”

James talked excitedly, pointing to the next painting with his stick. “That’s right! Then, they take her to Venus’ temple. OK, Bacchus is there. But why not? It’s a temple of sexual initiation. So they brought Lilith there, and the man laid out is Adam. They’ve come to redeem Adam!”

“He’s on the bottom now, and he doesn’t mind!” I noted.

“Well, of course not, look at him! He finally gets it, that to surrender to woman in sex only benefits him – and her! So that finally,” James stood up the fourth painting, saying, “Lilith is let back into the realm of spirituality. She’s here inside the Church.”

“So is that Mars on the bottom? With Venus and Lilith?” I asked.

“You know what? That could be Adam, or Mars, in other words: Man. And the two women are Lilith and Eve. Finally Lilith and Eve – the two sides of woman – are embraced by Man!” James broke into a big smile.

“Eve and Lilith together again. And the serpent is there! Fierce and proud and wise! That is the crowning piece, James! I exclaimed.

“And this,” James said, setting the sketched canvas on the floor, “is the first one. See how in the fifth painting Eve and Lilith are together again? Well, they always were from the beginning! Here are the two of them recognizing their double nature, before the split.”

“Fully Woman,” I said, uttering what would become a line in my poem.

“It’s a five-piece series,” James said.

“Yea! Each one is a chapter in a coherent story we’re supposed to tell. It’s the new myth of Lilith! How astonishing that the paintings hanging on the wall, staring down at me all these weeks, have been holding a new myth within them!” I marveled. “Who would believe that we could produce this art without knowing fully what we’re doing?”

James answered, “I’m only the piano player! I didn’t write the music, I didn’t build the piano!”

As if a switch had suddenly been turned on, I could write again. I re-wrote “Daughters of Lilith”, and James approved of the tone of the writing. The day after completing that poem, my congestion cleared up. My health returned. Each poem that I wrote was another step higher as I climbed out of the pit of my despair. James and I continually conferred on my writing and his painting, like two troops pulling each other through an obstacle course. If it were not for our home life that hauled us out to do chores or play with kids, we might have been totally consumed by Lilith’s pain.

When the smoke cleared, there were five works of painting and poetry – there’s that tantric number five again! And we discovered a new myth – enacted with Mars, Venus, Adam, Eve, the Serpent, and Bacchus – to bring Lilith forth. Our realizations about Augustine would surface later in a painting called “Augustine’s Dilemma”, in which Venus got the opportunity to directly challenge his sexual repression and projected anger. Venus and Her Lover would not let the doctrine of Original Sin remain standing.

The night I completed the poem “Sanctuary” – the fifth piece of the Lilith series – James sat quietly listening after I finished reading it, until he said, with emotion, “You got it, Becca. You nailed it with that poem. I, for one, can no longer tolerate the schizophrenic split the Patriarchy put on Woman by separating Lilith and Eve. In the natural world, life perpetuates itself through the Mother, the Father, and the Child. These are divine principles we can no longer deny. We have the Mother in us; we have the Father in us; and we are the Child. Like this, humanity is born again.”

He stood up to hug me. As we both beheld the five completed paintings hanging on the wall, James declared, “Welcome home, Lilith! Welcome home.”

  • §  To place the shift in man-woman relations and the Patriarchy in an evolutionary context, please see our realizations noted in the Chapter, “Why the War”  in Venus and Her Lover – The Memoir. [does not appear on this website].
  • § The Lilith Series, in order:  “Goddess”, “Daughters of Lilith”, “Under the                Apple Tree”, “Redemption of Adam”, and “Sanctuary”.
  • §  See mythological characters:   ADAM,  EVE,  LILITH

DREAM YOGA AND THE TANTRIC WISDOM GODDESSES

Photo Shoot: Kali Strikes Again

When Shakti arrived, we got together for ocean swims, beach walks, and meals, our conversations always coming back to the common ground we shared as strong women and spiritual seekers on a Tantric path. Basking in the sun at the beach, we talked seriously about the world’s predicaments, while sucking on fresh oranges and grapefruits. Neon blue Caribbean, salty sun-warmed skin, tart juicy citrus . . . we reveled in a shared hedonism.

She was up for a photo shoot. This was the first session with James as exclusive photographer, and he found it a challenge to not get caught up in the erotic scene before him. As Shakti and I kissed and caressed each other, I could hear James exclaiming, “Ooooo!”, echoing the sentiment of my own comment, “Yummy!” At one point, it was sounding like a symphony of “Oooo!” and “Yummy!”, and Shakti decided those were perfect names for James and me. “I can see it now,” she said, “Venus and Her Lover, by Oooo and Yummy!”

Kali Yantra, Hindu symbol of the goddess, used for meditation and devution

Kali Yantra, Hindu symbol of the goddess, used for meditation and devution

Waves of passion rolled through us – which I knew full well how to ride – but when Shakti was exploring my yoni with her finger, my feelings hit a wall. Something inside me rose up and took control of my body. Instead of thawing, I started freezing up. While my mind was at play with the beautiful scenario, my sense of body disintegrated into a thousand pieces. How awkward . . . what was wrong with me? I took great comfort in James’ support, but he said later he did not feel acknowledged by me. Shakti said she felt like my body was in shock. She kept in touch with where I was and responded gently and accurately.

When Shakti is sexually charged, intense energies come through her. I had seen it before, and always found it very seductive. Whether or not she was conscious of it, she was channeling something directly into the core of my being. During the session, I had a terrifying flash of a sword goring my first and second chakras. How could such a horror turn up during the safety and pleasure of sex? Arousal had led me to a secret dungeon within me where the wires had gotten crossed: desire and surrender were entangled with fear and violence. I cowered at the ledge of what felt like a pit of harrowing Dominator history, too terrified even to peek in.

Overwhelmed, I could no longer continue. The three of us embraced, and ended the session lovingly.

In the corner of the room, Kali stood silently on my altar, with a fierce smile that showed all her teeth.

Getting to the Root

This photo shoot was to be the basis of my own inner work for many months to come. James was understanding in giving me time alone, so I could devote myself to meditation and breathwork, and in giving me gentle attention in our lovemaking. What was frozen inside me? I wanted to get past the “guardians at the gate” that were shielding my first and second chakras. What were they keeping from my awareness? I felt I was keeping a secret even from myself. Whatever the cause, I wanted to get to the core of my sexual issues.

Margo Anand, author of The Art of Sexual Ecstasy, would say that I had bumped up against my genital armoring. Any massage therapist can tell you that our bodies carry tensions, emotions, and memories. When we swallow our anger or suppress tears, for example, where exactly do we think they go? For men who were circumcised as babies or who furtively masturbated as teenagers, and for women who have faked orgasm or undergone abortion, the attendant pain, guilt, fear, or self-doubt can become lodged in the pelvic area. If a woman has a selfish, hurried lover, her vagina may react by blocking out the whole experience. Of course, the psychological armor that blocks pain will also block pleasure. Lovemaking will then require athletic foreplay, or the reverse: the most delicate stimulation to invite erotic sensations to return.

We do not have to be victims of rape to have installed genital armoring. Just receiving disapproval of our bodies taught us that there was something “wrong” about our genitalia. Our embarrassment or disgust when we even talk about our sex organs indicates genital armoring. One of the vignettes from the play The Vagina Monologues repeats the word “vagina” and its synonyms – “pussycat!” “twat!” “cooter!” “cunt!” and so on – and I think it does a public service by getting us used to simply hearing the words! In our society, sex is taboo. From this fortress a million “dirty jokes” have sallied forth.

Barnaby Barratt, a psychoanalyst and sex therapist, in his book Sexual Health and Erotic Freedom, talks about the “primordial ‘No!’ experience”. He asserts that we are born polysexual, capable of the whole gamut of sensual expression and enjoyment. He writes:

The infant – that proverbial ‘bundle of joy’ – is, in fact, a packaging of neurons engineered with a wondrous potential for an abundance of joyous pleasuring. Moreover, this potential is open, in the sense that it permits all sorts of developmental possibilities. It can be reductively shaped in any number of ways . . . we are not born with a gene for shame and guilt, nor are we born preprogrammed to suppress and repress our natural erotic exuberance.
[Sexual Health and Erotic Freedom, page 89]

In other words, repression is learned behavior. What truncates our development, Barratt goes on to say, is a repeated behavior modification against erotic feelings that begins when our caregiver – the one on whom we depend for every element of our survival – severely tells us “No!” when we touch ourselves. Babies naturally seek pleasure, but quickly learn that genital stimulation invokes the primordial “No!”, usually accompanied with strong emotion. Thus a universe of possibilities begins to be closed off – a traumatic lesson about the world of separation and non-feeling.

Tami Lynn Kent, a women’s health physical therapist, does hands-on therapy with the goal of guiding a woman to know her pelvic bowl, the womb of her creative and expressive energy. In her book, Wild Feminine, Kent stresses the importance of healing wounds in the pelvic bowl:

The experiences that lead us as women to psychically and spiritually disconnect from the roots of our bodies (and the full capacity of our creative range) vary, but one fundamental issue maintains this separation: the spirit naturally moves away from places that are dishonored. The female body is still often a source of shame rather than celebrated as sacred space. The feminine nature is widely perceived as unnecessary or even a weakness. We will not inhabit our dishonored regions; hence, we become blocked in the root, cut off from our source of feminine power.

[Wild Feminine, p. 29]

Whatever the cause of self-protective blocks – whether from childhood traumas, sexual habits, social censure, or karmic influences – the path to healing is through a re-integration of the pelvic area back into our bodies and sense of self.  Genital massage can re-sensitize this most vulnerable part of ourselves.  In addition to working with breathing and meditation, I devoted time to self-pleasuring, a practice I usually neglect when with a steady lover.  Affirming safety and ease, I methodically massaged my pelvic bowl, letting each part of it relax to my touch.  Next I invited James to give me a vaginal massage, keeping my focus on breathing and relaxation.  There are sex therapists and neo-Tantra workshops that teach these techniques.  Pelvic-heart Integration, promoted by Deborah Taj Anapol, is one such technique.  Margo Anand, in her book, The Art of Sexual Ecstasy, the above-mentioned Tami Lynn Kent in Wild Feminine, and Mantak and Maneewan Chia, in their Healing Love through the Tao  series, offer step-by-step exercises to heal women’s ravaged sexual centers.

After the troublesome photo shoot, I pursued personal therapy to probe my lower chakras.  One night while doing Transformational Breathwork alone, I snagged the initial image of violation by sword, and dove into the ominous swamp from whence it had emerged.  Images slashed across my mind of my yoni being split with a sword.  My body shuddered, wanting to collapse into itself to escape, but I was so numb, I could not move.  I no longer felt my arms or legs.  As my life force surrendered, I felt shame and guilt for giving up.  Was it tribal justice, a blood sacrifice?  Torture of the Inquisition?  It seemed like a long, long time ago.  There were men present in a dark, underground chamber.  I felt the cold blade thrust up my yoni and turning, turning.  The men’s lurid gaze riveted me to that horrific moment.  No escape.

Inhaling and exhaling, I followed my breath till I was out of the scene, but I was left feeling weak and very sad.  This trauma would take more work.

As desperately as I wanted to liberate myself from the clutches of the memory, whenever I got close to grasping it, I backed off, feeling I needed to gather more power and knowledge before I would be strong enough to face it.  I made a vow to see it through.

It would end up taking years of peeling layers off an ancient wound.  On the way there, in my meditations, I hit up against emotional blocks about material security – survival is a root chakra theme – in addition to grief about the Earth.  I also felt pain in the womb of the Mother.  While I did not know how to heal the whole Earth, shining awareness on my womb did much to unwind the torment that had been seething all this time in my secret swamp, unbeknownst to my conscious mind.  It took the shattering power of Kali – another sword wielder – to break it open.

In addition to whatever murky karma seethed in my sexual shadows, I had to admit that I was a baby in the 1950’s, and my mother believed in sex only for procreation.  Although any memory of her severe judgment was long buried, it was not hard for me to imagine her smacking my hand if I had touched my crotch, and her thundering the Primordial “No!” at any free expression of my nakedness, or even body joy.  I was raised, like so many of us, to suppress such joy, to keep myself under control at all times, and to accept the severe discipline of an angry God. I did not believe in the value of shame and guilt, and my natural eroticism had led me out of the “sex as sinful” wasteland, but certainly I had carried some souvenirs of my childhood with me.

With so many Venus influences in my life, I had obviously chosen sexuality as a means of expression and growth.  Just like everybody, I needed to make my journey of personal liberation through my own tangled jungle of past wounds.  This lifetime I determined to be conversant in sexuality – an appropriate language for my mission during these sexually repressed, and painfully unenlightened times on Earth.

The Holy Trinity

Kali is a predominant goddess in Tantra – as we were finding out in a big way – but she represented just one aspect of the Trimurti, the Hindu Holy Trinity.   She was one face of the Triple Goddess (Sarasvati the Creatress, Kali the Destroyer, and Lakshmi the Preserver).

As James and I invoked the Hindu Trinity, we experienced the anguish from the travails required by Kali as well as the rapture inspired by Sarasvati’s creative impulse and continuation ensured by Lakshmi.  They were part of the Feminine Force, whose general qualities are manifestation, receptive beingness, softness, contraction, dark and instinctual Earth, the cauldron . . . the Mother.

Of course, in a world of duality there is no yin without yang, so there was a male Hindu Trinity:  Brahma the Creator, Shiva the Destroyer, and Vishnu the Preserver. They exemplified the Masculine Force:  energy, outgoing desire, resistance, hardness, consciousness, shining sun in the Heavens, the thrust of action with the skills to accomplish . . . the Father.

Just as energetic Mars and attractive Venus were drawn to each other – and celebrated their sexual union in James’ paintings – so traditional Hindu sculpture and iconography show Shiva penetrating Shakti, who sat upon him in a lotus posture.  The image was repeated with Brahma making love with Sarasvati, Shiva making love with Kali, and Vishnu making love with Lakshmi.   Their Tantric connection demonstrated the Kosmic union that is continually happening.  The forces of the Kosmos (negative-positive, contraction-expansion, matter-energy) are at play on all levels of reality, from the forces of Nature to our inner motivations.  Through Tantra, James and I were gaining an awareness of this play of energy.

Hindu Trimurti

ENERGY CREATOR DESTROYER TRANSFORMER PRESERVER
Male Brahma Shiva Vishnu
Female Sarasvati Kali Lakshmi

In the spring, Sarasvati and Lakshmi presented themselves for our art project in the form of Dr. Light Miller. Of Indian descent and trained in a Tantric ashram, Light certainly looked the part. She and her husband, Bryan, just happened to be touring Puerto Rico and stayed in the same hotel as visiting family members, and it was there we first met them. Liking them immediately, James and I enjoyed enlivening conversations with them about their work in Ayurveda, herbology, and Tantra – our shared passion. From our chance meeting sprouted a friendship. Despite my reluctance to get naked in front of the camera again – I was still wading through the morass of pain stirred up by the Kali series – their appearance seemed such an obvious gift to Venus and Her Lover that I agreed to do a photo shoot. Whether it was the healing aura exuded by Light and Bryan or the trust in my lover’s eyes, during the Tantric Commitment Ceremony, feelings of love and safety melted away the tightness in my body. We invoked the Hindu goddesses and played with their personas all afternoon, while Bryan and James took turns as photographer. The photo shoot was a great success. One result of the session was the painting, “The Blessing”, what was to become a signature piece for Venus and Her Lover – a portrayal of unconditional love and Tantric union among equal partners, blessed by Lakshmi’s sustaining presence.

Dream Yoga

To understand Creation, Hindu Tantrikas engage the Great Goddess in her ten principle forms.  Worship of the Dasha Mahavidya  (“Ten Great Knowledges”) was said to reveal to the devotee the secrets of The Great Mystery behind the manifest and unmanifest worlds.  Every morning on my yoga porch, I did my sadhana of asanas(postures), prayanama (breathing), and meditation, to which I now added chanting the Sanskrit words to the ten different Wisdom Goddesses.  Naturally Kali was one of them.  As I worked with the wounds in my pelvic bowl, not only was Kali schooling me in death and transformation, she was enchanting me with her beauty.  I was reading English versions of Ramprasad’s (18th century Bengali poet) ecstatic poetry to the Divine Mother Kali, and they were transporting me.  I was coming to appreciate – even love – my difficult healing process.  I could sink my teeth into the tough substance of Life, and savor its bitter, succulent, and sweet flavors.

One night four goddesses came to me.  I was sound asleep and very deeply dreaming, yet I had a fully aware “witness” presence.  The Tibetan goddess Tara appeared as Mother of the Universe.  Tara wants to be in the art project, I thought, making a mental note.  Her chant was resounding like a beautiful song.

Om Tara Tutare Ture Suwaha

Although it was outside me, the song was also emanating from within me. Tara swirled through the air, trailing silks and necklaces as if in an underwater ballet.  Her dangly earrings – no, long earlobes capped with solar disks – pulsed to the beat.  With each pose she reached, her youthful complexion changed hue:  vibrant green like moss, smooth red like earth, satiny white like milk.  Whenever I caught her eye, Tara beamed at me, encouraging me.

The rhythm of her chant moved our bodies, as we tumbled and writhed in an ecstatic dance.  I noticed that although I was dreaming, I physically felt myself moving.  The physical contortions were extreme, but I performed them effortlessly, in a constant flow of movement.   I had the thought that this was the mystical yoga that my practice of yogic asanas aspired to . . .  like Alice’s sadhana through the looking glass.

Then I thought of Kali, and magically, Kali was there, and I was dancing in perfect unison with her.  A constant drum beat made me wonder if Shiva was marking the rhythm, for I felt on the verge of understanding his Kosmic dance.  I did not perceive floors or walls nor up or down; Kali and I moved through outer space, and yet it felt perfectly normal.  Maybe we were in a plasma field (originally identified as “radiant matter”), or some kind of watery medium that registered vibrations from the Universe that we were responding to.  I do not remember Kali’s face now, but I was awed by the endless depth of her black skin.  It was so inviting.  I was also aware of her terrible, dangerous nature, but it did not repel me in any way; on the contrary, I was comforted by her apparently full comprehension of the cycles of creation and destruction.

Then Saraswati appeared, accompanied by the sounds of a rushing river.  Saraswati was luxuriously dressed in tassels, jewels, and ornaments.  Understanding that I needed her, I knelt before her and then began drinking from her yoni.  I felt her smiling upon me, and soon I was bathing in a rush of warm, healing liquid that emanated from her yoni.  Floating on a stream of divine creativity, I understood its infinite source that I could always access as an artist.  At the same time I felt the blockages in my lowerchakras, realizing how far I had to go before I could flow so freely.  There was no recrimination in this, for I also knew that as Saraswati was flowing, so was I flowing.  It was part of the dual awareness I had throughout the dream:  I knew that even as I was replete with human foibles and faults, I was also divine perfection.  My healing was fully underway, and . . . my healing was already complete.

Then I found myself swimming in golden light.  A goddess, adorned with jewels, was barely visible, but I knew I was in the brilliance of Lakshmi.   I had the sensation of falling through layers of crimson cloth streamers fluttering on breezes of perfumed humidity and bedazzling gold glitter.  The air was teeming with life and at the same time pregnant with as yet unknown wonders.

I must have been falling to Earth, because without warning, I found myself on solid ground.  The dream shifted to a series of quick vignettes:  I was working on an environmental campaign with a group of people; I was digging in my garden; I showed my house to people who wanted to buy it, but before I could even consider the option, the house dissolved, and I found myself in a bar.  In walked a gallant man, and we embraced as old friends, like brother and sister.  We held each other tightly as we danced, swaying joyously to the music.

As I was awakening in the morning, I slowly pulled the images from the dreams back with me.  Having dived deep into the surging river of my subconscious, I could still feel the physicality of my body moving in the ecstatic dance with the goddesses.  Once fully awake, James and I lay in bed for some time while I shared with him the wonderful events of the night.

“What do you think it all means?”  James asked.

I answered slowly.  “More than meaning anything, I think it’s what happened.  I mean, last night, I really did advance my healing, I really did connect to a source of divine creativity, I actually was dancing with the Triple Goddesses, and then with my inner Masculine . . . it was all so real!”

“And your house dissolving in your hands?  We’re still here in this house,”  James said.

“I don’t know . . .” my voice trailed off.  Inside my belly, however, there quivered a seed of an idea – just planted – that my beloved home on the beach was not as stable as I thought.

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