“Everything you can imagine is real.” ~Pablo Picasso
Here in the Northern Hemisphere, Mother Nature is in labor once again. All winter long she’s been hibernating, gestating powerful new forms in her underground womb. Atoms and molecules have been moving around in the dark, separating and connecting, ebbing and flowing, and now she’s giving us front row seats, as she does each spring, from which to view Act IV of her Birth/Growth/Death/Rebirth passion play.
Signs of her new life are sprouting everywhere, even here in Central Florida where most of our vegetation stays green throughout winter. On this morning’s walk I photographed tightly folded buds that will be transformed into lemons this summer, brilliant red bottlebrush blossoms still laden with unopened buds, and fresh unfurling leaves of crape myrtle trees that spent the winter naked as skeletons.
Where does all this new life come from? Well, that’s the Big Question isn’t it? The Mystery that’s always confounded us, that we have yet to solve. Humanity has always reflected on it. When our ancestors sank deep into reverie, opening their minds and suspending their judgment, images entered their awareness as they observed the creations and forces of nature. Some images were borrowed from nature; others came from depths we still cannot fathom. Hungry for understanding, our forebears interacted imaginatively with their images, examined them from all angles, anthropomorphised them, embellished their attributes, furnished them with motives, and imagined nefarious plots until they’d created stories that satisfied their spirits and souls.
They told their stories, each culture in its own way, to the people around them, with images and themes that would captivate and instruct. Like the 5,000 year-old story of Sumeria’s Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, who descends to the Great Below to visit her sister, Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld. Inanna…who is hung on a meat hook to rot while Ereshkigal suffers birth pangs. Inanna…who, with the help of loyal friends instructed to wait for her, is resurrected with the water of life three days later and returns to the Great Above.
Or the story of Egypt’s king Osiris, first told around 4,400 years ago. Osiris…who is murdered by his brother and becomes God of the Underworld, the dead, and the afterlife. Osiris…whose wife, Queen Isis, restores his body and conceives a son from it. Osiris…who in dying and being symbolically “reborn” in his son Horus, is worshiped as God of transition, resurrection, and regeneration. Osiris…a merciful judge of the dead in the afterlife and the granter of all new life, including sprouting vegetation and the fertile flooding of the Nile. Osiris, the “Lord of love” with whom the kings of Egypt were associated at death; then, “as Osiris rose from the dead they would, in union with him, inherit eternal life through a process of imitative magic.” (Wikipedia)
Or Greece’s Persephone who, according to the 3,500 year-old story, is kidnapped and raped by Hades, God-King of the Underworld. Persephone…beautiful daughter of Demeter, Goddess of Fertility who, in her mourning, allows vegetation to die and people to starve until Zeus allows Persephone to return. Persephone…who, according to the Eleusynian Mysteries, brings the green new shoots of vegetation with her so the cycle of life can begin anew.
And Israel’s Jesus, son of a virgin who is married to a carpenter. Jesus…whose story from about 2,000 years ago tells us that he grows up to challenge the prevailing religious authorities with his gospel of love and social justice. Jesus…who heals the sick, raises the dead, makes disciples of women and fishermen and forgives prostitutes their sins. Jesus…who is killed by the Roman authorities who have invaded and conquered his land. Jesus…who is hung on a cross, buried in a cave, and reborn after three days.
“My whole endeavor has been to show that myth is something very real because it connects us with the instinctive bases of our existence.” Carl Jung, Letters, Vol. 11, Page 468.
The universal story about the sacred Mystery of Life is told in myths. Each of us participates in this story, physically and mentally. Like Mother Nature, we too go through cycles. Like her we go into labor during winters when our souls have grown weary and cold. But beneath the surface, in the underground womb of our unconscious, our life energy continues to ebb and flow, separate and reconnect in new images of insights, possibilities and potential. And if, when they emerge in dreams and fantasies, we will see our images and use them imaginatively, our story can rebirth us into a new spring of hope, meaning, and resurrection.
“You are the Hero of your own Story.” ~ Joseph Campbell
I love the way you write, Jean – the way you wove nature and myth together and the question you pose: “Where does all this new life come from?” It truly is mysterious and remarkable.
I am in South Australia and was delighted to see an image of one of our native plants blooming on the other side of the world. I thought I would share these images I took some time ago. It is autumn here but our seasons blend more gently into one another than in other parts of the world. Even the bottlebrushes flower sporadically throughout the year although these were taken in spring.
Gloria OELMAN 203/1-25 Captain Robertson Avenue Golden Grove South Australia 5125 (08) 8251 0803 Mob 0411 163 391 dreamysteries.net
Thank you, Gloria. I appreciate your kind comment about my writing, and I’m glad to know this post touched your sense of mystery too. Nature almost always touches mine too.
How lovely to hear from someone in South Australia. And you have bottlebrush trees there too!
I’m sorry that somehow your images did not translate into this site. I guess WordPress can’t handle images that come with comments. I look forward to checking out your site: http://www.dreamysteries.net. It sounds like we have much in common.
Blessings on this spring/autumn day,
Reblogged this on lampmagician.
I so appreciate your repostings of my posts! Many thanks.
As always Jeanie, this is a wonderful, poetically penned post! PPP! Divinely inspired by Mother Nature and her deep mysteries. I’m in awe of how your inspiring words awaken me today from my own deep winter sleep. Hmm, if only I could become more aware of my own dark descents and disappearances into the Earth … yet spring is here, and once more I’m awakening. Ha-ha! I’ve even revisited the little blue (Twitter) bird too!
In preparation for yesterday’s World Poetry Day I recently penned a poem ‘Dear Poet’ which hopefully is a timely tribute to all poets and writers. One inspired by the Great Mother with all her creative mysteries and natural rhythms. Alongside my words, I include a photo of myself sitting with a spectacular view. I love your finishing question and my reply is … during spring I hope to find more balance and wish to celebrate my rebirth.
As my 12 week Animus Diet draws to a close I find myself now making decisions about my life which have taken me by surprise … I’ll write more about that next month. Yet in order for these changes to go ahead I realise first I had to descend into ‘winter’ itself and only there in the pregnant darkness did I learn to value ‘winter’ in a way that I’ve never done before. Thank you for all your inspiration, great article! Bright spring wishes, Deborah.
PPP! I love it. Of course, yours are always PPPs!
Thank you for letting me know this post awakened you from your own deep winter sleep. It can be difficult at times, to recognize these descents in ourselves and see them as not just normal, but necessary. It’s certainly taken me a long time to acknowledge this. I had to keep reminding myself that periods of dormancy are vital to my need for balance. That spring would never come without winter. That new life cannot be born in me if I cannot slow down and slip into quiet reveries, allowing what wants to enter my awareness to make itself known. That my ego cannot and should not try to control or cut short my psyche’s natural cycles. That the Self knows best in these matters and I need to learn how to trust it.
I look forward to reading your “Dear Poet” as soon as I can. So much going on at the moment….all good, but time-consuming. Balance and celebration….both so marvelously restorative!! I’m imagining a private ritual with an old-fashioned balance scale, paper and pen, and confetti!!!
I also look forward to reading your future posts about your Animus Diet. That is such a marvelous, original, ongoing ritual that must have been enormously instructive and healing. How wise you were to acknowledge the necessity of your descent.
You’re welcome for the inspiration. Back at you, my sister!
Dear Jeanie, Thank you so much for your great reply and sharing your deep knowledge of those vital descents. I shall be feasting on your words at leisure for one cannot digest such richness in one sitting alone! Oh how the image of those balancing scales, pen and paper, and confetti now sear through this poet’s heart and mind … in pure synchronicity in the last five minutes I have just posted a reply to Susan’s blog whose latest article is all about her son’s wedding! You couldn’t make it up could you! Blessings always, Deborah.
No, you can’t make up synchronicities, or the soul-stirring “Ahas” they bring. You can only enjoy and be grateful for the gift. J
Jeanie, thank you, this is very powerful, I know I’ll be reading it again. I’m reminded of the alchemists and their labours and the insights they arrived at about themselves – and the gnostic knowing of Mother Earth and her cycles and how it is so with ourselves.
Good grief, I’m glad I got to this now – so much has been happening – and still is. I saw your post yesterday and wanted to read it but not in a rush. And now I have – I think too of the honest soil in which we are born, that continues to nourish us when we partake in the mystery of Life.
Thank you Jeanie, and a blessed Easter to you and family.
Thank you, Susan. Yes, the alchemists and gnostics all understood the same language, mythos, which has the power to refresh and make meaning and heal. Of course, the originators of the stories understood that language too; it’s only we who have forgotten it, who think anything that can’t be scientifically measured or factually proven is of no value.
Yet it was Albert Einstein, one of the most brilliant scientists of our modern age, who said, “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
A blessed Easter to you and yours too.
I’ve tried twice today to post a response to your latest poem, “Dear Poet,” and both times it was rejected. First I got a message about this being an unprotected site and asking me if I wanted to go ahead and post anyway. When I clicked that I did, my comment got trapped in the ‘wheel of doom’ (you know that round thing that keeps going around and around on your computer screen and never stops until you click out of the site? And then when you go back you find out that what you wrote was not posted? That thing….) So now I’m posting it below and hoping you receive this comment:
Thank you for your always warm and generous-spirited comments on my blog. Thank you especially for your recent comment in which you mentioned this, your latest poem.
For some reason, known only to the blogosphere gremlins, I’ve not been receiving notification of your new posts and have greatly missed your “beautiful, timeless words that not only slow me down, they draw me in, like the Great Mother with her creative mysteries and natural rhythms.” I’ve just re-subscribed and hope the situation will be rectified soon.
Frankly, I’m in awe of your gift of seeing into both the inner and outer worlds and weaving them together on Athena’s loom with the silken threads of words. The goddess has blessed you richly.
In this season of rebirth and renewal, may Persephone also bless you with continuing balance between the two worlds and ever more joyous and inspired celebratory odes to both.
Dear Jeanie, Thank you so much for your email, and for your wonderful comments re: ‘Dear Poet.’ Sadly, my website has several ongoing issues at present including commenting that no longer works. I hope to get this all resolved soon … could take some time! Thanks for letting me know, I had no idea, but had thought hmm, I haven’t heard anything for the last week or so. So many things don’t work as I found out yesterday when I posted part two of my animus diet … which I then had to promptly take down as this is when I first realised something was up. As soon as it’s back to working, I’ll certainly let you know. Blessings, Deborah.
The plants! I want to take my comment about ‘Braiding Sweetgrass’ on another post back and put it here. This is a beautiful post with wonderful mythological examples. In my childhood Christian experiences, I never imagined that death and rebirth could be described in other stories, ancient and new. For me, it makes the stories of Jesus richer, not less significant. It makes them connected to all cultures and all people.
When I think of rebirth, I can’t leave out the Green Man who appeared in a dream just eight days after my husband’s death. I knew this pre-Christian northern European god of death and rebirth was telling me I would live again. I could hold that image and promise alongside dismal grief. It made sorrow bearable.
Thank you, Elaine. Like you, as a child I never imagined another death/rebirth story. How sad that our religion separated us from our common home, Mother Earth, and all the ancient myths about Her cycles instead of helping us reconnect and learn from Her. And I agree with your statement, “For me, it makes the stories of Jesus richer, not less significant. It makes them connected to all cultures and all people.” It also helps me trust and find meaning and reassurance in my own journey through life.
What an extraordinary gift Green Man was to you in those first, devastating days. Fortunately, by then you had already experienced the healing power of dreams for yourself, a power the earliest religious patriarchs were well aware of. Sadly, contemporary collective thinking has lost that awareness too, but I see many hopeful signs that it may be re-emerging. There’s hope for our species yet. 🙂