Saturday, December 12, 2015

Our Lady of Justice


XI Seat of Wisdom
Sacred Mysteries of Mary deck
Notre Dame Sous Terre de Chartres
Our Lady Underground
The Black Madonna hidden below the Cathedral of Chartres.

I read a wonderful book by Sybil Dana Reynolds
called Honey and Ink which brings
Our Lady of Chartres vividly back to life.

Since then I have visited Chartres twice.
The background tapestry in this shrine
I drew and stitched myself.  It is a replica
of the one that hangs behind Notre Dame Sous Terre
in the underground chapel of Chartres.
The image of the hand seen here is also painted above the door
which leads to the chapel and it is called
'The Hand of God'
and it is as though you are being blessed
by merely entering the hidden chapel
of the Underground Madonna



The artist that did the original tapestry said
that it depicts the Source of all Life
and she sees the Black Madonna seated
at the centre of the chaos of creation.

The hidden Black Madonna under the earth
is seated on the throne of wisdom and justice.
One has to descend through the Chartres Cathedral
to access these underground passages and
chapels, all of which are dimly lit and often
only by candle light.  You can only visit
this chapel under the guidance of an appointed
tour leader and you are not allowed to linger in
the chapel to pray or meditate.

The Black Madonna in the upper Basilica is
no longer black, but has been repainted and
redressed in a more modern European style
as part of the renovation of the Cathedral.

Oh Lady of Justice,
Seat of Wisdom,
where will I find thee?


“There is a reason Mary is everywhere. I've seen her image all over the world, 
in cafés in Istanbul, on students' backpacks in Scotland, in a market stall in Jakarta, 
but I don't think her image is everywhere because she is a reminder to be obedient, 
and I don't think it has to do with social revolution. 
Images of  Mary remind us of  God's favor. 
Mary is what it looks like to believe that we already are who God says we are.”

― Nadia Bolz-Weber, Accidental Saints: 
Finding God in All the Wrong People


Blessings
Hettienne

Triumph


Triumph
Mary and her Child's return to Nazareth
Six of the Suit of the Holy Rood
in the path of Beauty
(traditionally Six of Wands)
Sacred Mysteries of Mary Deck
www.hergracesacredart.com

The return of Mary and her Son through the
gates of Jerusalem.

The traditional Six of Wands look like this :


and its meaning is victory, success or triumph.

Many people are familiar with the fact that Joseph and
Mary fled with the infant Jesus to Egypt at the threat
of the massacre of the innocents by King Herod.
This event is well covered by many artists
and it is seen as one of the seven sorrows of Mary.

However, what is not clear, is the amount of time that
was spent in Egypt and what transpired there.
The two accounts in the books of Matthew and Luke
do not correspond at all.  Luke mentions nothing about Egypt
and Matthew says nothing about a trip to Nazareth
soon after Jesus' birth whereas Luke describes in detail
how Jesus was taken to the temple in Jerusalem
'after Mary's purification according to the law of Moses.'


 And when they had performed everything
 according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, 
to their own town of Nazareth - Luke 2:39

The town of Nazareth is in the 'kingdom' of Jerusalem
and here we see Mary on the donkey riding
through the gate of Jerusalem.



In The Hebrew Goddess, a book by Jewish historian
and anthropologist Raphael Patai, we learn
that the Hebrew goddess Asherah was seen as the
mother of Yahweh.  
In the time of King Joshua the Hebrew goddess
had to go 'underground'.  The use of her name and images
were forbidden and her devotees replaced her with
the tree, a pole or rod and the branches of the menorah.
She was known as the Lady of Jerusalem;
the Gate of Jerusalem and the Eastern Gate.
The Lady of Jerusalem was also depicted as an arch.
According to the Dead Sea Scrolls and
The Mother of the Lord by Margaret Barker,
 the ancients
believed Mary to be the incarnation of
the Lady of Jerusalem.

In Christian iconography from the East
we see Our Lady of the Gate of Dawn.
Her image is above the city gates (in Lithuania
and Poland) to protect the city and its inhabitants
and many miracles have been ascribed to her.

In Ezekiel it is written that the eastern gate of
Jerusalem has been shut
and that it will only re-open for the divine One.


So here we have Mary returning victoriously
through the Eastern Gate of Jerusalem
into the light of a new dawn.

A marriage of eastern and western iconography
and cultures and more importantly,
a marriage of masculine and feminine values
for our world.
This card is a way shower of the return of Mary
and her hidden and lost meaning to our world.

The deck takes us on a journey through the 
life, the initiations and the mysteries of Mary
as the Sacred Feminine and what it means
to our natural world as well as our spiritual,
emotional and social health.

May the values of mercy, compassion, forgiveness and acceptance
of all diversity as embodied by Mary
return to a place of honour and respect in our world.

(the above is an extract from the Sacred Mysteries of Mary Deck -
a work in progress and to be published in 2016
Each tarot card is a handcrafted shrine)

Blessings
Hettienne

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Four of the Holy Rood - The Wedding of Mary and Joseph

The Wedding of Mary and Joseph
Four of the Holy Rood
(traditionally Four of Wands in the Tarot)
Sacred Mysteries of Mary tarot deck
www.hergracesacredart.com


The story  of Mary and Joseph's wedding and the miraculous
flowering of the rod that he carried,
is found in the Protoevangelium (New Testament apocrypha) 
and thence in the 13th century Golden Legend, 
which was an important source-book for artists.

It tells how Joseph was chosen from among a number of suitors by a sign,
 the miraculous flowering of his rod. The miracle was witnessed by the 
seven virgins who were Mary's companions during her upbringing in the Temple. 

Joseph's attributes as a saint and as Mary's husband 
are a Lily (for chastity); various carpenter's tools, and a flowering rod or wand.




The story of the miraculous flowering of Joseph's rod is as follows:

 According to St Jerome the suitors of Mary each brought a 
rod to the high priest of the Temple. 
Joseph's rod blossomed, a sign from heaven 
that he was chosen to be her husband. 
The apocryphal Book of James relates that a
 DOVE came forth from the rod and settled on Joseph's head. 
He is usually depicted with a flowering rod, 
sometimes with a dove on it. 
The theme was condemned by the Council of Trent
 in the mid-16th century 
though thereafter Joseph retains the rod as an attribute. 
It was seen as a symbol of the Virgin's state because 
it flowered without being fertilized.
 The story closely resembles the Old Testament account, 
of the flowering of Aaron's rod.


  -  extracted from the Sacred Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck



It is said that the rod was a branch of the Hawthorn tree,
sacred to many goddesses in the ancient world and today
sacred to Mary.  And did you know that the hawthorn
rod that Joseph of Arimathea planted on WearyAll Hill 
in Glastonbury flowered every year during winter
and that a branch was sent to the Queen every Christmas?
Vandals cut the tree down a year ago and many people
mourned its loss and its symbol of hope and illumination.

There is also a hawthorn tree standing at Glastonbury Abbey
near the well of Mary and legend tells us that she was
taken to the safety of Glastonbury by Joseph of Arimathea.
This tree also inexplicably flowers in winter.

Can you imagine the sight of a white blossoming hawthorn
in the midst of the snow of Avalon?
(the mystical name of Glastonbury)

If you would like to hear more about the hawthorn and its
significance as the holy rood in the Mysteries of Mary
I write about it here :
 http://www.hergracesacredart.com/2015/10/some-of-themes-of-sacred-mysteries-of.html


blessings
Hettienne

Mary the Empress

Virgo Maria Potens
III The Empress
Sacred Mysteries of Mary Tarot deck


Today I bring to the Twelve Days of  Mary love
Mary as The Empress Virgo Maria Potens
in the Sacred Mysteries of Mary Tarot deck.

Here Mary is the strong,  powerful and positive Feminine, 
Empress and Mother of the World.
She is pregnant with Life and the absolute abundance of creativity
and beauty and she is the womb of potential 
for ever-returning life;  the possibility of birthing 
sustaining and fertile life both within the psyche,
the spiritual and the physical.

The Empress
The Mysteries of Mary tarot deck  www.hergracesacredart.com

Mary as the Empress embodies the powerful feminine force which is within
both the masculine and the feminine.  This strength is not limited to the masculine
action of this world. The receptivity of the feminine does not make
her only submissive and dependent and the activity
of the masculine does not make it only divisive and cutting.

The strong positive feminine power within the Soul and
within the person, is often regarded as wild and chaotic
and it is also mostly deeply feared and our culture
believes that she should be controlled and harnessed
for our own use and benefit.
In a simplistic fashion, mother nature is seen
as the pure expression of the powerful feminine.
But mother nature, and our instinctual nature, is only a
part of the feminine power.  The soul is, and in earlier times,
the Holy Spirit was as well, most often depicted as a woman
and if the soul is only seen as a wild force of nature which
should be dominated and controlled, where does that leave us
as human beings?  And where does that put women
in this world of organisation and structure?  And
what happens to traditionally womanly values
and enterprises and to whom is the mothering of
the world relegated?   We end up with a world in
which the ideal and image of a
 positive nurturing mother and the powerful empress 
is completely absent.

She is surrounded by the symbols of the Mother of Nature
and the Mother as Earth as known to mankind
through the ages and throughout many cultures.
  She is standing in the stream of living waters, 
as they are eternally birthing through her.
She has the bee, the Queen bee, the sheafs of wheat, bunches
of grapes and is standing on a mountain covered in roses.

She is the Queen Bee surrounded by bees.
In the ancient world those who worshipped Demeter and Artemis 
were referred to as 'bees' or 'melissas'.
The bee was also a symbol of Potnia, also referred to as the
pure Mother Bee in the Minoan mysteries.
The priestess at the sacred site of Delphi was known as
the 'honey bee' and honey has many sacred and profound metaphysical
and physical properties and metaphoric meaning.

In Samuel 1 "Jonathan... put forth the end of the rod 
that was in his hand, and dipped it in a honey comb, 
and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened."


The Empress
The Mysteries of Mary tarot deck http://www.hergracesacredart.com

Mary as The Empress embodies the great positive
Mother of the World.  Through her courageous
acts of meekness and mercy she manifests
the positive feminine force in this world.
She is the icon and symbol of our own
positive feminine strength and courage
and of the great mothering power that we possess.
We are capable of great acts of kindness,
we are capable of staying present in life with an open
heart and being present to our own vulnerability
and allowing the infinite waters of compassion
to flow through us to all of creation and to all living creatures,
including ourselves.

(extracted from my work in progress
 Sacred Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck
at www.hergracesacredart.com)

blessings
Hettienne

Five of Vessels - The Temple of the Dove




Mary has her own folk mythology unrelated
to the mainstream Christian myth.
In the mythological sense she is like the goddesses
in all cultures of the world.
The legends about Mary illustrate that Mary
is a force in people's lives.

 -  extracted from The Breath, the soul, the Divine female
by Rasa Luzyte


Mary's presentation in the Temple of the Dove
from the Suit of Vessels
Sacred Mysteries of Mary Tarot
www.hergracesacredart.com


My card from the Mysteries of Mary tarot deck 
depicting the young Virgin Mary as
Temple priestess in the Temple of the Dove
as told in The Mystical City of God:

Joachim and Anne set out from Nazareth, 
accompanied by a few of their kindred and bringing
with them the true living Ark of the covenant,
the most holy Mary,
borne on the arms of her mother in order
to be deposited in the holy temple of Jerusalem.

They arrived at the holy temple, and the blessed
Anne, on entering, took her Daughter and Mistress
by the hand, accompanied and assisted by Joachim.
All three offered a devout and fervent prayer
to the Lord, the parents offering God their daughter,
and the most holy Child.


She heard a voice saying to her :
Come my Beloved, come my Spouse,
come to my temple where I wish to hear they
voice of praise and worship.

The mystical city of God 
by venerable Mary of Agreda


blessings
Hettienne



The Two of Vessels - The Annunciation

I am Thy Handmaiden
The fiat of Mary's consent

The Angel said to her :
Hail full of grace,
the Lord is with you;
Blessed art thou amongst women

Two of Vessels in Tarot Deck
The Path of Compassion
Sacred Mysteries of Mary Deck


Rejoice, depth hard to contemplate even for the eyes of angels!
Rejoice, you who are the King's throne!
Rejoice, you who bear Him who bears all!


Two of Vessels in the Suit of Compassion
Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck
www.hergracesacredart.com

Rejoice, star that causes the Sun to appear!
Rejoice, womb of the Divine Incarnation!
Rejoice, you through whom the creation becomes new!
                                                 -  Romanus Melodos, Akathist Hymn to the Virgin


Today I start the Twelve Days with Mary once again.
This is now my fifth year of participating with Rebecca
at Recuerda mi Corazon in A Virgin a Day

I share with you my shrine/card from the
which is based on the Mysteries of the Rosary
and the Tarot Deck.

This is the Two of Vessels, 
from the suit of Compassion
and the mystery of Mary as Virgin
Archangel Gabriel, divine messenger,
gives her the news that she is the chosen one,
the Godbearer.  This is a pivotal moment in
Mary's life and her response changes the course
of the world.




I am Thy Handmaiden

 Archangel Gabriel is standing on 
two vessels.  The vessels are mainly used for
water or wine and here they are  symbolic of
the living waters of consciousness .
And indeed Mary is to become the vessel
of the Holy Son.
We are reminded of our own individual roles
as vessels of consciousness and our own
birthing of the new, be it art
or hope or inspiration or consciousness.

And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; 

be it unto me according to thy word.

The fiat of Mary is Mary's consent to the divine plan.
Her acceptance and consent
has created a new world of grace and
it is within the potential of each one of us
 to birth such love and grace.

Down the side of the card are tiny forget-me-not flowers,
one of Mary's sacred flowers and the white lilies
in the background.


The flower garland on Mary's head shows
that she is a virgin. 
It is also predictive of her future
state as Theotokos and
Queen of Heaven and  Earth.

blessings
Hettienne

Sunday, November 22, 2015

MARA - the first card in the deck

Mara, the holy fool
Card 0 Major Arcana
Sacred Mysteries of Mary tarot deck
Drink the poison and find the cure

Mara is the archetypal woman representing the self
on the inner journey of Self-Realization.
She is the holy fool who sets out on an unknown
journey towards an unknown destination, leaving
behind a limited understanding and perception
of the inner life and its manifestation into this world.



Mary had a little lamb 
Its fleece was white as snow
 And everywhere that Mary went 
The lamb was sure to go 

Here she is accompanied by the rabbit,
symbol of the goddess and the fertile nature
of the divine and nature as well as the
vulnerability and tenderness of all life
and all living beings.

Mara carries the Lamb, symbol of the Soul,
as well as the soul's purity, enduring innocence
and its incorruptibility.

She also wears the garland of the virgin
symbolizing a potent truth of 
the true metaphysical meaning of the virgin :
'one unto herself'.  

Behind her are the trees of the forest
that she is leaving behind as steps out on her journey.
On the tree top sits a dove, the Holy Spirit, or
messenger of the heavens, accompanying her on
this journey.

The tree represents the archetypal Tree of Life and the
Tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  This theme
is more fully explored in the Suit of the Holy Rood.

Here we see the fir tree for the first time and
we are reminded that this is the shape of the pineal gland, the
seat of consciousness and enlightenment in the human brain.
.
She is surrounded by the elements of the
Sacred Mysteries of Mary :
the white hawthorn blossoms,
the red berries, the black seeds
and the green branches.
Read here more about the symbolism of the hawthorn
in this deck.

Mara's story unfolds through the journey of Maryam,
the Jewish prophetess and the hidden Hebrew goddess;
through the wisdom of Maria-Sophia,
the three Marys, Mary Magdalene, the handless maiden
and finally, through the initiations of
Mary.

The name 'Mara' forms part of the word 'amara',
a medicinal plant called bitter-ash or bitter-wood;
the most bitter plant known to us with a characteristic black
elixer which is known to aid digestion and healing
for stomach disorders.  It is also known for its blood purification
properties and cleansing of the gallbladder and liver. 

'Mara' from the Hebrew means 'bitter' or 'strong' in taste.  

This first card introduces us to the sacred understanding
that our journey will lead us through the purification
of fire and flame.  And most importantly, 
Mara teaches that we have the 'cure' for our malaise
within ourselves, accessible by and through the self.
'Drink the poison and find the cure"

As she sets out on her journey she will move through
the lower and also the higher mysteries of initiation
towards self-realization.


Another important message that Mara delivers
is the unity and oneness of divine and nature,
as well as the sacred knowledge that all
paths lead to the same mountain.  It does not
matter which culture you belong to and which
myths guide your story, there is the One and the Many.
One Divine Being and many different names and traditions.

The Kingdom of Grace cannot be achieved.  
It arrives when the ego is surrendered.
When all desire and goals fall away
and when the fullness of life is truly experienced.
When all desire for perfection is no longer
existent and when innocence is born.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The symbol of the flowering cross, the Holy Rood

The Three of Holy Rood (Three Marys at the Cross)


The flowering crucifix is a symbol of Divine Love,
absolute forgiveness and rebirth.

It is also a promise of regeneration and a new vision.

It symbolises the Life Force also known as the kundalini
or the Sacred Living Fire, which gives life to
all that is alive.  

An object of torture and death becomes a symbol
and an embodiment of the greatest power : Love.
Each human being has the power and the ability
to know Love and to become Love and the act of
forgiveness truly speaks of Love.



The crucifix theme is a continuation
of the theme of the sacred tree or tree trunk as
seen in the myth of Isis and Osiris where a tree
grows around the chest containing Osiris' corpse.
Isis through various tasks resurrects Osiris from the tree.

Death is a journey through the Underworld
in order to be born again.
In contemplating the hidden or esoteric meaning
of the metaphor of spiritual and religious stories
we enter the realm of sacred psychology.
The marriage of the personal life and the 
inner divine life, give birth to the divine
child of Love within.  
This marriage initiates one into an amplified
life, one that is more cherished and more cherishing.
It requires that we undertake the task of
dying to our habitual, reactive, personal selves
and being reborn to our eternal selves.

The flowering crucifix and flowering rod is a symbol of eternal life.
It is a reminder that we, as Spirit, live eternally and that
death is merely a transition and not the end.
Love is eternal and by embodying Love
we become One with the eternal.

The crucifix is the ultimate symbol of the Holy Rood,
the Holy Wand or Holy Rod.

We see an example of this miracle of the flowering branch
the first time
in the Old Testament with the flowering of Aaron's rod.

Then again at Mary and Joseph's wedding and
later with the flowering of the hawthorn rod planted
by Joseph of Arimathea in Glastonbury.

The story  of Mary and Joseph's wedding and the miraculous
flowering of the rod that he carried,
is found in the Protoevangelium (New Testament apocrypha) 
and thence in the 13th century Golden Legend, 
which was an important source-book for artists.


Four of the Holy Rood - The marriage of Mary and Joseph


It tells how Joseph was chosen from among a number of suitors by a sign,
 the miraculous flowering of his rod. The miracle was witnessed by the 
seven virgins who were Mary's companions during her upbringing in the Temple. 

Joseph, the husband of Mary's attributes as a saint 
are a Lily (for chastity); various carpenter's tools, and a flowering rod or wand.





The story of the flowering of Joseph's rod :
 According to St Jerome the suitors of Mary each brought a 
rod to the high priest of the Temple. 
Joseph's rod blossomed, a sign from heaven 
he was chosen to be her husband. 
The apocryphal Book of James relates that a
 DOVE came forth from the rod and settled on Joseph's head. 
He is usually depicted with a flowering rod, 
sometimes with a dove on it. 
The theme was condemned by the Council of Trent
 in the mid-16th century 
though thereafter Joseph retains the rod as an attribute. 
It was seen as a symbol of the Virgin's state because 
it flowered without being fertilized.
 The story was a borrowing from the Old Testament account, 
which it closely resembles, of the flowering of Aaron's rod.

  -  extracts from the Sacred Mysteries of Mary Tarot Deck

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Some of the themes of the Sacred Mysteries of Mary Deck

Three of Holy Rood - The Three Marys at the Cross


The Mysteries of Mary deck
 is a reweaving and remembering of many stories and
themes.  It is inspired by the Lesser and the Higher Mysteries
of Mary.  Some of these are told in the Christian Bible, 
some in the Koran and many are retold through myth and
folklore.  There are also esoteric and apocryphal books
that tell the stories of Mary, the feminine counterpart
of the Divine Creator in the Western religion and myth
and many of these stories have been included to
create The Mysteries of Mary deck.

Woven into the tapestry of myth, metaphor and
inspiration, are fairytales and in particular, the
folktale of The Handless Maiden.  And so are
the Greek, Roman, Egyptian, 
pagan and especially the Judaic
history which is the precursor to the Christian mysteries.

The deck is a marriage of opposites, a living
hieros gamos which follows the sacred journey
of the Holy Fool through the nine lesser mysteries
and through the five higher mysteries.

 The four suits are based on the cycle of life
as embodied by the life of the hawthorn tree and by 
the four mysteries of the Rosary sacred to Mary.

The hawthorn tree has long been held as sacred
to the goddess in various cultures and history.
The tree was revered as the sacred tree of
the celtic Goddesses Olwen and Brigid.  The Hawthorn was 
also held sacred to the Greek Maia and the Roman Flora
and the list continues.

Today the Hawthorn tree is one of the trees and plants
that are sacred to the
Blessed Virgin Mary.
There was a time when the
tree was called the 'May'.  The month of May is
regarded as the month sacred to Mary and there
are special Marian devotions held in the Roman
Catholic Church during the month of May.
These include the symbolic crowning of Mary
with a head garland of flowers.

A large part of Mary's story takes place in Glastonbury
and here we find the magical Hawthorn tree on
Wearyall hill  (This tree has recently been cut down
by vandals and thus eradicated a part of history)
The Hawthorn carries the symbolism of the three stages of
life, also seen as the Three Fates, or the Divine Trinity
or the Triple Goddess
 in its natural stages
of white blossom, red fruit and black seed.
During Spring the tree is covered in fine white blossoms
and appears like a bride in her white gown.  Maybe
this is why the Hawthorn tree also represents
The White Goddess in pagan belief.
The white blossom of the tree has five distinct
petals.  The shape of five petals are linked to the
divine feminine and specifically to Venus as it
imitates the planet's course through the heavens.
We also find the five petals in the rose,
a flower seen as a living embodiment and
metaphor of the feminine and the
divine feminine.

When you cut open an apple, you find
the same configuration of five in the
centre housing of seeds.

Both the rose and apple are very
important themes in the Mysteries.

The juicy red berries of the Hawthorn follow
after the white blossoms and the tree
is a mass of the red fruit, shimmering in the
summer sun.  This represents the summer of one's life
and the manifestation of one's creativity and the fulfillment
of the potential of the white bridal blossom and 
ultimately the fruit that your life bear.
While the last of the red berries are still on the tree,
they become the black withering berry which contains
the seed but also is the death of the berry - life and death
deeply entwined.
Seeing the red fruit and the black seed together on the tree,
reminds one of the bitter-sweet nature of life.
In these three seasons and cycles we have the
red, white and black threads of life :
attributes of the Great Goddess and the three
cycles of VirginBride, Mother and Wisdom.

The sacred tree and its Holy Rood (rod or branch)
became the Suit of Wands in the
Sacred Mysteries of Mary.



The symbolism of the sacred tree is seen in
the holy wood of the cross,
the Tree of Life,
the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil,
the second tree in Paradise,
the Holy Rood planted by Joseph of Arimathea
in Glastonbury and which flowered every Christmas
and more.  All of these form part of the weave
of the tapestry of insight and knowledge
into the guideposts on our journey as
depicted in the
Sacred Mysteries of Mary tarot deck.


blessings

Hettienne




Tuesday, September 15, 2015

III Empress - Virgo Maria Potens

The Empress
The Mysteries of Mary tarot deck http://www.hergracesacredart.com

In the Mysteries of Mary Tarot deck the Empress is
Virgo Maria Potens :  
Mary as the powerful and positive Virgin*.

Here is the Virgo Potens as  
the strong, powerful and positive Feminine, 
Queen and Mother of the World.

She is pregnant with Life and she is the womb of potential 
for ever-returning life;
 the possibility of birthing sustaining and fertile life, 
both within the psyche,
the spiritual and the physical.

The Empress
The Mysteries of Mary tarot deck http://www.hergracesacredart.com

Mary as the Empress embodies the powerful feminine force which is within
both the masculine and the feminine.  This strength is not limited to the masculine
action of this world. The receptivity of the feminine does not make
her only submissive and dependent and the activity
of the masculine does not make it only divisive and cutting.

The strong positive feminine power within the Soul and
within the person, is often regarded as wild and chaotic
and it is also mostly deeply feared and our culture
believes that she should be controlled and harnessed
for our own use and benefit.
In a simplistic fashion, mother nature is seen
as the pure expression of the powerful feminine.
But mother nature, and our instinctual nature, is only a
part of the feminine power.  The soul is, and in earlier times,
the Holy Spirit was as well, most often depicted as a woman
and if the soul is only seen as a wild force of nature which
should be dominated and controlled, where does that leave us
as human beings?  And where does that put women
in this world of organisation and structure?  And
what happens to traditionally womanly values
and enterprises and to whom is the mothering of
the world relegated?   We end up with a world in
which the positive nurturing mother and the powerful empress 
is completely absent.

She is surrounded by her symbols as known to mankind
through the ages and throughout many cultures.  She is standing
in the stream of living waters, eternally birthing through her.
She has the bee, the Queen bee, the sheafs of wheat, bunches
of grapes and is standing on a mountain covered in roses.
More on these symbols later.

She is the Queen Bee surrounded by bees;  in the ancient world
those who worshipped Demeter and Artemis were referred to as 'bees'.
The bee was also a symbol of Potnia, also referred to as the
pure Mother Bee in the Minoan mysteries.
The priestess at the sacred site of Delphi was known as
the 'honey bee' and honey has many sacred and profound metaphysical
and physical properties and metaphoric meaning.

In Samuel 1 "Jonathan... put forth the end of the rod 
that was in his hand, and dipped it in a honey comb, 
and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes were enlightened."


The Empress
The Mysteries of Mary tarot deck http://www.hergracesacredart.com

When we split the world into two we become wounded
creatures.  When we turn women into Holy Mary and
Sinful Eve, or the penitent Mary Magdalene,
women become wounded and lost.

When we only see the negative feminine we separate
men from their positive feminine expression
and they become burdened and wounded as well.
When we turn God into feminine and masculine, the world
becomes wounded and separate, filled with fear,
eternally cast out into the darkness.

Through the union of the opposites, that is, through the marriage
of two opposing forces, a magical child of love and hope
is born.

The feminine is often referred to as the negative
and the masculine as the positive, but in our psyche
and our consciousness, there is no separation and no divide
between these two.  The one contains the other.

The feminine has a negative and positive pole as does the
masculine.  And as we dance and weave with the tension
of desire and repulsion between these two opposites,
we discover new potentials, new experiences and we
weave a new story.  The braid of life contains three
strands which can be symbolised by the white, red
and black.  In the ancient cultures
the hawthorn tree was regarded as a sacred tree.
Today the hawthorn tree is sacred to Mary and the goddess as well.
This specific tree contains all three elements of the
thread of life and even more importantly, they overlap.
The white blossoms start to form whilst the red
berries and black seeds are still hanging on the thickly leaved branches.
 The white is regarded as the 'virgin', the
cycle of spring and new beginnings;
the red berries represent summer and the fullness
of the season and the action of
mothering and the black seed contains
the potential of fathering the new life and it also
is the end of the life of the berry.

In the symbol of the trinity, or the triple goddess
or the triple spiral or triskele often seen in celtic
and other ancient cultures, this overlapping
is clearly visible.
In the same way can we move from the receptivity of the feminine
to the activity of the masculine without getting stuck
in either corner and without losing perspective of the
bigger picture.  For instance,  the feminine act of receptivity
is an act and a choice;  it is an application of the personal will.
It is not only through weakness that someone becomes receptive.
It often takes great courage and strength to stay open
and true to your vulnerability and to stay
without defences in the face of change.

When Mary says "I am Thy Handmaiden" it is a great
act of personal will and courage.  To accept the challenge
that life deals you is an act of inner strength and a willingness
to stay open to learn from an experience and to
allow Life to guide you towards the unknown.

Receptivity does not automatically imply submissiveness.
That which is regarded as weakness are often great acts
of strength.  Closing down and putting one's armour up
are not acts of strength, but resistance.



Mary as The Empress embodies the great positive
Mother of the World.  Through her courageous
acts of meekness and mercy she manifests
the positive feminine force in this world.
She is the icon and symbol of our own
positive feminine strength and courage
and of the great mothering power that we possess.
We are capable of great acts of kindness,
we are capable of staying present in life with an open
heart and being present to our own vulnerability
and allowing the infinite waters of compassion
to flow through us to all of creation and to all living creatures,
including ourselves.

The strong positive feminine does not fall into self-pity
and narcissistic self-gratification.  The strong positive
feminine is an archetypal virgin force, one unto herself,
not dependent on the opinions and actions of others,
but one that lives detached from the projections
and expectations of the world.

The Empress Virgo Potens is the powerful act
of surrendering the fearful will to the sacred
will of the Heart.

The number three also represents creativity and a weaving
of the third possibility and the various manifestations
of The Empress in our lives are seen in the Three
of the deck, that is the 3 of vessels, the 3 of lilies and 
the 3 of roses.  I will share these in upcoming posts. 


*virgin is not a term denoting sexual innocence - it a term
indicating one onto herself - a woman who is free from
psychic and emotional co-dependence

Monday, September 7, 2015

II High Priestess

II High Priestess - Mysteries of Mary Tarot deck

She who Priestesses the Holy in the Ordinary

'To seek God without already having Him, is of all things the most impossible'

The Mysteries of Mary and the Christian mystery of the incarnation
of the Divine into earthly matter, is the ultimate sacred marriage,
the hieros gamos, the marriage of the greatest opposites,
that of heaven and earth.
We cannot fathom how does heaven and earth unite as one
and we cannot fathom that all of earthly matter is sanctified
by the divine essence that lives in all.
We cannot accept the open invitation that the Soul
does exist in this body and we cannot accept that all is
blessed by the Presence of God.

We continue to look for signs and manifestations and
confirmation that the God does exist and the God may
be present here and now.  But instead of looking within
and trusting the inner voice and the inner Self,
we look without.
We turn to others for their wisdom.
We look at the stars in the sky;  we turn to books,
to those in authority, we look at the tribe.
Sometimes we see what we think of as God
in the world outside of us, but mostly the God that
we seek we never find.  It does not look like God.
It does not act like God.

In the Mystery of the incarnation, no earthly matter
or place is too humble or too low or too ordinary
for divine presence.  Mary, an ordinary woman,
bears the Son, straw, stable and animals, the worthy
audience and guardians of this self-disclosure
of God among us.

Awake to the Inner Presence and you will
experience matter as matter and God as the
Mystery and the reality that these two both
co-exist here and now.
There is no separation between holy and ordinary.

The Mystery of the Incarnation of the divine into the ordinary
has been told through many aeons of time and through
many cultures and traditions.  It is not only now
in the new unfolding age that we are being reminded
that woman metaphorically and in human
consciousness, represent matter (mater) and that
woman (matter) mothers the Divine.  Isis held the suckling
Osiris to her breast as did Inanna and other ancient goddesses.

Awake to the Inner Presence by discovering your story that
lives within you.  In the High Priestess card in the Mysteries of Mary Tarot,
she has stepped off the wheel of fate (usually symbolised by your
astrology chart which has fixed your destiny in time and space) and
she has stepped off the half-moon.  Often the High Priestess,
the Virgin Goddess, the Queen of Heaven, stands on the half-moon,
symbolising amongst other things, the influence of the hidden
world of emotions.

The Soul within you is priestessing the healing balm for your own
personal story, but first you have to learn to let go of the ideas
of who you think you are and what life should be like, and
start to pay attention to the unlived story within.

'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water'
What is the myth that you are living?
Myths are alive in our consciousness and they reflect our cultural
understanding of the personal and transpersonal stories that 
are playing out in our time and in our personal lives.
There is an unconscious and preconscious myth 
which is forming you and unfolding through you as your life.
It dictates your reactions, your responses, your defenses
as it is rooted in an archetypal mythical story and 
until you uncover the story and find its healing balm,
you will not be able to truly become an autonomous being.

Mostly we believe that when we are acting in the opposite
way of our upbringing, or our wounding, or our parents, or our
tribe, that we are autonomous, but this is not true.  We are then
still being run by this script as we are not free to act
autonomously and holy (healed).

Each one of us is born into a personal myth.  We did not
choose the race, culture, place and time into which we were
born.  These factors make up the personal and historical myth
which will unfold in our life.  We have a choice what we will
do with this myth.  Through our growing up process we will
have many experience and we will have many learning
opportunities and these will all add to us - through the losses
that we had to endure and the victories that we may have claimed,
we will grow into adolescence and then we  no longer need
those experiences.

Sometimes we inherited a deep psychological and spiritual
wound.  We need to know what we were born into so that
we can wake up and realise that our perspective of the
world is not true, that it is skewed through our inheritance
or our upbringing or our experiences.

In order to cope with your early life experiences, you may
have created an anti-myth for yourself in which you became
someone other than yourself.  It is also important to uncover
this anti-myth because this is also not your true story that
wants to be lived.  This is a fantastical story that also
shapes the way that you see the world and which will
not serve you any longer after childhood.

These two aspects of your personal myth will overlap and
both have contributed to whom who you have become.

In order for the spell to be broken, you need to become
disenchanted.  Unless and even if, you do your inner work
and face the myths that you created about yourself, life
may still confront you with shattering life experiences in order
to shatter the mirror of illusions that you continue to stare into.

Once the disenchantment is allowed to take place and you step
off the wheel of fate, the High Priestess within will start to
pour the living waters from which you can continuously
drink.  She is in complete balance, the waters contained in two
sacred vessels, the hieros gamos of heaven and earth, 
alive within you.

'To seek God without already having Him, is of all things the most impossible'

Thursday, July 23, 2015

XVI The Magdalen, Changemaker



'scarlet woman, penitent sinner, Sister-Bride,
whore, Black Madonna, High Priestess of Isis,
Mistress of the Elements,
beloved wife of Jesus, favoured disciple,
Mary of Bethany,
Miriam of Magdala, Magdal-eder, the tower-stronghold,
Daughter of Sion  .......
- extracted from Hymn to the Eternal Feminine by Teilhard de Chardin



In the Mysteries of Mary tarot deck The Magdalen is the Tower 
in the Major Arcana suit. 
The tower is often seen as a bolt of lightning
coming down from the sky, and I suppose by inference,
from the 'God in Heaven'.

Here is Mary Magdalene, the woman from
Magdal-elder, the tower-stronghold,
Daughter of Sion seen as the embodiment of
the Immaculate Conception of Wisdom and the Changemaker.

She wears the halo of the Immaculate Conception and 
the closed book of the Mystery in her hand.
At her feet is the skull, another symbol of Wisdom
and the ability to overcome the fear of death.
In the right hand corner she is depicted as the consort
of Jesus and her sacred oil and jar is displayed
as a reminder of her role as the woman who
anointed the King.

The iconography of Mary Magdalene is part of the Gnostic
tradition, amongst others.  The Gnostic religion has
virtually been stamped out by the dominant Roman
Catholic Church of the time, but the past sixty years or so, the
hidden wisdom has been coming to light once again.
These symbols of Mary the Magdalene speaks loudly and
clearly of her role in the history of humanity's psyche and
consciousness and our understanding of the role of 
organised religion as opposed to the religion of the soul,
or the inner way.

The Mysteries of Mary tarot deck is based on the Path of Love,
the hidden inner way which is not always that obvious.
To connect with one's own inner way and to embody the
Immaculate Conception of Love within the self, many ivory towers
will have to come tumbling down within the personality
and its mindset and attitudes.



The tower represents the principle of "living in one's own tower"
This symbol is often used in fairytales, think of Rapunzel and her tower and
also in the story in the Bible of the Tower of Babel.
In both these cases, the tower separates one from the communion of
others;  it places you 'above' it all and it highlights the differences 
between you and others.  It also implies
that you are not safe and obviously intensifies the
fear that you are not safe in this world.
 What might have started out as a good idea,
soon becomes a problem.  The tower is a stronghold, a structure of
defense and protection.  You can see this in the personality. 
One develops certain traits of your personality to protect you 
from emotional and psychic harm, but at the same time you
separate yourself from others and from the experiences of the heart,
that is, you create an inner stronghold which keeps painful
experiences out.  This aspect of The Magdalen card can be seen
in the red heart that she holds in her hand on the right hand side
of the shrine.

This keeping out and defensive attitude is not limited to
personal relationships.  It will permeate all layers of your
being and mind and for those on a spiritual path, it will
affect the way that you relate to the idea of God and Goddess
and the sacred inner authority.

Your soul will allow this stronghold to exist as long as it is necessary
and then you will be given many opportunities to let go of those
attitudes and outlooks which uphold this ivory tower.
And when you do not heed the many opportunities, then
a bolt of lightning will bring your tower down and the
stubborn, fearful inner child will come tumbling down,
safely into the lap of Wisdom.

The path of Wisdom is not always pleasant and comfy, but
she does promise change and rebirth into a new consciousness
and new enlivening circumstances.

In the same way The Magdalen is bringing change in our own
religious structures and she is bringing enlivening in the way that
the old mythical gods are seen and understood.  She also highlights
the equality of both the masculine and feminine, both within the psyche
and within the world of knowledge and structure.

When you draw this card in a reading, you can be certain that
change is finding its way to you.  And not gradual slow change,
but an unexpected disruption of the state of affairs;  a shock to
the system and an overthrow of the current status quo.

Our Lady Mary Magdalene is overseeing this change in your life
and you will not be lost, but a new you will be found.

In celebration of the Feast Day of Mary Magdalene