Diana and Beltane

December 27, 2007

SHE
WHO BLEEDS YET DOES NOT DIE…SHE FLOWERS AND TAKES HER POWER..
.

To me Diana embodies the spirit of this holiday which I have named after Her, though most witches call it Beltane. She is a warrior and an independent woman who will stand up for her beliefs and defend the precious and the tender.

Diana
is the Virgin Goddess, "Whole Unto Herself." She and Her Greek
counterpart, Artemis, run wild in the forest with their hounds and their
sisters.

She
is the Crescent Moon, said to be Her magical Bow from which She aims Her
unfailing arrows.

She is young Womanhood in the fullness of Her Power, as the year waxes and She claims Her Selfhood and Her Path in Life.

San FranciscoShe
is the vanguard of the women’s movement, the archetype that has informed our breaking free, risking for our truth, and coming into our own.

She is the Amazon Goddess who belongs to no man. People leave offerings at the
feet of this statue in San Francisco. The place has become a kind of grass roots shrine.

She
is in a small but very lush and green little park, windswept by the sea She
overlooks. There is magic there, and I have made pilgrimage to this sacred spot
a few times…sometimes alone, sometimes with circle sisters. One time I went
brokenhearted by myself to weep at Her feet and ask Her why the sisterhood of
women is so scattered, so fragmented …why is there so much competition,
jealousy, betrayal, disconnection between us? What happened to the wonderful
vision of women together in circles, safe, mutually supported, every voice
honored and heard?

And
Diana answered me through my inward hearing. She said: "Women need to learn
to walk strong alone before they can walk strong together."

Yes!!
I thought. That explains so much. Women have been dependent on the system for
so long and it has weakened many of us. We must develop the ability to survive,
to love ourselves, to stand on our own, to walk our talk, to attend to our
healing and our souls, to have good boundaries, to take risks for our truth, to
pursue and reach our goals… all qualities embodied by the archetypal
Diana/Artemis/Durga/Oya/ and other cognate Goddesses of cultures worldwide…

She
is the wild part of us that needs to be strong and free. On my way home, riding
in a car down the west coast along Highway One,

Mama
Sea embracing us and the land to our right, wild grassy windblown hills to our
left, and a sparkling blue sky above us…

I
looked up and saw a flock of seagulls flying in the same direction as our car. They were flying in synchronized formation, several arm-spans apart from one another… yet flying as one. I felt breathless when I saw
that. It was a message straight from the Goddess that even when it looks like
we are flying by ourselves we are still part of something larger and we are
still connected.

Alone together. All-one to-get-Her. Most Pagans I talk to nowadays tell me that
they are solitaries. There has been a decided movement inward and a necessary
seed period. Part of this is the need for inward growth and healing. Part of it
is from disillusionment with groups. Many of us have experienced betrayals,
disappointments, and irresolvable differences in groups. I believe this happens
because of our old patriarchal ways of interacting; that it is possible to
frame circles in a different way. 

I
look for the time when we will reach the next stage, when we will be able to
truly walk strong together. I still believe that lasting circles of sisterhood
are key to true world transformation.  I
think we are getting closer to this every day. Nowadays it is still a pretty
radical idea to set aside a holy time that celebrates women’s autonomy. Yet the
ancient myths stated that men dared not invade Diana/Artemis’ sanctuary, lest
they be torn to pieces by Her hunting hounds. 

Personally
I have no inclination to eject males so violently from my universe, so I wonder
why Diana’s stories would include such an extreme reaction? Perhaps to bring home to the reader how sacred and important it is to preserve the female
divine and that the wild energy of the Goddess, unmixed with that of men and
gods, is needed for the health and balance of our world. Without it we see what
happens; societies deteriorate, wilderness dwindles.

WashingtonHonoring
this Goddess is poignantly relevant right now, this April 2004, when the March
For Women’s Lives has just taken place and though none invoked Her
out loud, Diana, the pro-choice Goddess was surely there. For what is Her inviolable
sanctuary, if not the bodies of women? None knows so well as She that that no one has the right to invade a woman’s sacred rites of womb
and sex, of birth and blood.

It
is time to welcome back the Amazon Guardians of our Holy Gates. Whenever anyone
stands up for the women’s right to control our own bodies, Diana is present.
Or, perhaps those were patriarchal versions of the myth that expressed men’s
fear of women’s power and painted the independence of the Goddess with a
violent brush?

An
autonomous self-fertilizing Goddess says to women that we can be ourselves, we
can be free, we can make it on our own, we do not have to be dominated or
controlled by anyone; if we choose to make commitments and interact with men or
women we can do so from a place of true desire and equality. Diana’s day, then,
like all the eight holy days on the Wheel of the Year, has a strong political
side.

This
is a good time to take stands on the issues, to demonstrate and speak out.
Since mainstream pagans are usually celebrating the union of Goddess and God and erecting phallic Maypoles, it is radical even among our own. But in the Women’s
Wheel we need a time to honor our Selfhood. Diana’s wholeness was not about
celibacy and the word "virgin" meant whole, not a-sexual. She could
make love as much as She pleased and still belong to Herself.

I’ve
often wondered if the original Maypole was actually a Goddess Tree, changed
later by patriarchs to represent male sexuality. Or, why don’t we dance around
a representation of the Yoni, the sacred genitalia of woman? Menarche, the
onset of menstruation is, after all, a primary theme for this time. The Goddess
grows up and becomes Woman, and her sexuality awakens. It is not the full blown
sexuality of Summer Solstice but the opening of the flower.

"She
Flowers" is another epithet found in ancient texts that described Diana’s
menstrual celebrations. Spring rains were understood to be the Goddess’ mens-
truation, the magical fertilizing liquid that brings new life forms. In early
times people were in awe of "She Who Bleeds Yet Does Not Die," for
men can only bleed through injury or cutting.

The
earliest takeover of patriarchy was the theft of menstrual rites, replaced with
male circumcision and "infibulation" – the slicing of the male
genital lengthwise, that men might call themselves "the one with the
Vulva." Thus, the first cut, that separated the genders and set men
"opposite" to women. From the adoration of Hera, the Great Mother, we
went to the emulation of Heracles/Hercules, the heroic god who represented the
bloody cut through acts of violence, prowess and war, for the "proving"
of "manhood."

Before this, bleeding was usually gentle and pleasurable, associated with
fertility and darkmoon time. Since the moon was the biggest light in the sky,
women generally all menstruated at the same time. Priestesses would put their moonblood
on the altar, the original sacrament that later became the wine, just as the
bread of the body of the Goddess later became the wafer. Sisters would save
their moonblood and use it to water their gardens, and of course the plants
loved it and flourished. For Hers is the Body that offers us nourishment, and
Hers is the Blood that gives us hope of renewal; without suffering, without
violence.

In
Marija Gimbutas’ amazing books The Language of the Goddess, and The
Civilization of the Goddess there are references to the menstrual rituals women
had in ancient times. Tiny sculptures of women were found among the archeological
icons she explored with zig-zag designs painted on them that represented
menstruation. These statuettes were found placed in circular bowls in the
temple ruins, so that they were seated together in a ring. Clearly women had
their powwows at the time of their flow, and deepened together to find insight
and make decisions for the tribe.

Bleeding
time, as many sisters know is a very psychic and sensitive time. How wonderful
it must be to live in a world that honors these things, and taps into their
uses and blessings. How differently women must have felt about themselves and
their bodies, compared to our current society where menstruation is cursed and
taboo, hidden, shameful, called unclean, frought with "PMS," and yes,
commonly referred to as "the curse!"

In
our age we have the task to remove all the curses placed on women’s blood
mysteries, and return to them as blessings. Thus our Beltane rites honor the
natural blood cycles of women, as well as our autonomy, our strength, our
power, and our selfhood.

Shekhinah

From Moonspell Library

 

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