The Psychic Vortex
Those with background in mythology, early cultures or wiccan or pagan religions are aware that a conception of Triple Goddess preceeded the male forms of Triple God: Father, Son, Holy Ghost (Catholic); Brahma, Siva, Vishnu (Hindu). The Triple Goddess was usually portrayed as maiden, Mother, Crone (Creation, Nurturance, Destruction) and represented the three phases of the sexually adult female.
In the contemporary West, the first two aspects receive tacit recognition: the magnetic allure of the young woman; the sustaining care of the mother. The crone, however, finds little understanding, and the few 'positive' images we retain of female old age represent eccentricity or resistance to the process of aging - a 'youthful' attitude. We are a culture which does not know what to do with our elders, who all too often do not know what to do with themselves; and at our best we try to parent and nurture them as they 'revert to childhood'.
In allusions from ancient texts and through inner vision, I have a very different picture of the elder. At a time when our lives were less separate from one another, when women menstruated together at the time of the dark moon, the psychic vortex thus created drew in the entire tribe; the elders were those who had made the journey into this inner vortex many times, learning to maintain consciousness as they were drawn down and in. This collective vortex drew them to a place of origin, a Source, which I sometimes like to call Great Mystery or Dark Mother.
It has always been a tenet of ancient mystery religions that any center is connected within to all; that the center of Self is linked to the center of Earth, Galactic Center, Universal Center. The ability to pass consciously from our external life into Center or Source was the ancient victory over death; the bridge between dimensions and the guarantee of immortality. It was the elders, in effect living in both worlds, still present physically but dreaming in eternity, who kept open the paths between the worlds.
The Dark Goddess - a Hindu Kali or Egyptian Sekhmet - expressed the outer visage of horror, fear and resistance to death, while within she offered to those who surrendered to her their bridge to immortality. But death through the Dark Goddess, the Crone, was not an overt act, not physical murder; it was a psychic surrender. For the elders and the crones whispered into the sleep of the younger members of the tribe, at night, during dark moon, at any time of inwardness - whispered that they, as well as the spirits who resided on 'the other side', were still with the living. That, in body or no, we were still one tribe.
Without that relation to the dark, to mystery, of surrender to the feminine, our forms of immortality become external or static. External, such as wealth and reputation, grave stones or monuments named after us. Static, such as forever 'sitting at the side of God the Father', cloud-perched on insubstantial butts that presumably will never get sore. But what about bored? Even a muslim heaven of endless 'virgins for the martyrs' must eventually be tedious. (And what do the women get? endless studs? or are they all lesbians, and is that what the mullahs have been keeping under wraps?) Even children as our expression of immortality lead into an indefinite future which must at some point forget its ancestors.
In the West our 'arrow of time' from a fixed past to a mutable future can promise either 'progress', the perpetual improvement of temporal conditions (until, as our scientists promise, the sun burns out or we arrive at entropy, the 'heat-death' of the universe); or we achieve some form of heaven or nirvana, a static perfection at the end of time. Our choice is thus endless darkness without light; or endless light without darkness or change.
Unless we return to the power innate in the idea of the Crone or destructive feminine. To clarify what that power is, I recall a phrase in vogue on university campuses in the mid last century: 'ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny'. Stated simply, that meant that the evolutionary development of the individual human fetus repeats the evolutionary development of life as a whole. Beginning as a one-celled organism, the fetus passes through stages which correspond to multi-cellular organism, fish, amphibian, reptile, mammal, primate, human. This is the direction of evolution, while the direction of involution, as understood by the crone, or perhaps as experienced psychically in the act of surrender to sexual union, retraces the direction back toward its beginnings. Evolution, up and out, is what I call the male direction; involution, down and in, the female direction of energy flow. It is the power and wisdom of the conscious crone or elder to be able to direct energy through herself back to the original source, this changing 'time' from a one-way street with no outlet except Absolute Dark or Absolute Light, into a rhythmic pulsation back and forth between the present and the eternal.
The fully developed crone is capable of literally pulling the patterns of present events and present forms back into more and more elemental patterns. She implodes or dissolves the structures which do not truly serve the life of the tribe. In this sense, her work is like that of a reprocessing plant or auto junk yard where old and useless material is melted down into elementary metals and compounds, which can then be recombined to new purposes. In short, the destructive feminine recycles.
- Exodus 22.18
The power of the feminine in general is simply the power of polarity: that the 'positive pole' which we usually designate 'masculine' inevitably must return to the 'feminine' or 'negative' pole in order to resolve or complete its action. The masculine extends outward, the feminine calls home. It is our misunderstanding that the interactive nature of masculine and feminine is governed solely by the masculine, while the feminine is passive, or 'receptive'. In fact, the feminine must have as much control over the energies as the masculine to assure that balance is maintained and creative purpose achieved. A 'witch' is any woman (or man in his feminine aspect) who has the power to attract male energy. In fact, the masculine, or the individual male, experiences power only in contrast to and in proportion to the feminine power. That 'no man is an island' states simply that, whatever our adventure, its value comes only when we return from our hunt with gifts for the tribe.
To kill our witches, or to deny their power through religious or secular legislation, is to kill our human potential. We replace the internal act of surrender, to each other and to our common humanity, with the external will to control and if necessary exterminate each other - a projection of our own death wish as we seek to escape from the impossible pretensions of our distorted masculinity.
The power of the destructive feminine is the call within to destroy, by involution or implosion, the excesses both of fundamentalism, which suppresses the feminine; and of consumerism, which exaggerates the importance of our individual appetites and consumes the resources of the Earth Mother faster than she can replenish them.
As to how the inner work of power takes place: the
mind directs, the heart holds and softens, the sexual
and base chakras pull the energy back into earth. For
those who cannot quite follow the logic of energy flow
through the physical, etheric and subtle bodies,
perhaps it is enough to appeal to courage: from the
French 'coeur', the heart, and 'rage'. The heart rages
against those who would, from selfishness or hatred,
waste the beauty of our world. With that rage, and
the spiritual intention of bonding to others of like
mind and will, a different future can be forged.