by Sue Oxley
The beauty of nature is in the circles She creates, the spinning of the galaxies and the twining of the sweet pea, the turning of the seasons and the circle of our lives. 'Nature hates a straight line' my grandmother used to say, 'probably even more than a full-stop'.
Let's dance and move through the Circle of the Goddesses of Time, thinking about the shining reality of each while leaving behind Her clothes, sorting out what is real and valid and what is shimmering mist, as the circle twirls around us.
Persephone, the Child that sings in the meadow, that rolls down the hills through the flowers, that leaves behind the Mother and yet comes back at night when the dark is frightening. Remember the wonder of moving so easily that it is like jumping on the moon, think of the loveliness of no worry, no knowledge of evil and hate, with just the dark to fear.
We pick up the Joy and leave behind the carelessness as we move to Artemis, while shouldering our fear of being alone, of having no apron to hide behind.
Artemis, the Maiden who hunts alone, surrounded by the other maidens that she would leave in a second to find her prey. She is the babysitter, the mother's helper, the wanderer in the dark woods, the Shadow of narcissus. She sees nothing, feels nothing, hears nothing except that relates to her alone. How lovely to be the centre of your own world, that fabulous 'I'm all right, so everything is all right' selfishness.
We leave her the fear of loneliness, and take from her selfishness the Wholeness of Self and the knowledge that we are not always responsible for everything.
Aphrodite, the Lover, calls us back to need, not to finding our mother but to searching for the Twin, the other, separate and yet ourselves. She pushes us to swim and plunge into the Waters of Life, to taste the salt of passion and sweat and to turn it into newness, creation, magic. Her gifts are the openness that leads to change, the ecstasy of orgasmic creation , but we leave her the mists of addiction, to sex, drugs and rock and roll. We get out of the water and get dressed and get warm, make a cup of tea and are happy to be ourselves again.
But Aphrodite leaves us the greatest and most terrible gift. She marks out on us the path to Demeter. Through horrendous pain and the dark passage of birth, we can find the way to Love. For as the waves of agony finally wash away we look at the face of the child we have created, and feel that which lasts through life, in unconditional pure joy.
Demeter, the Mother, whose gift is huge and boundless, takes us from the Self of Artemis, into the Wholeness of the MotherSelf, the reflection of the Mother Goddess who always laughs and cries with us in our motherhood. We feel for the pain of birth in other mothers, for their sorrow in loss and their joy in healing. Our journey through creation has become our path to empathise with all birth, all change.
For carefully and over time Demeter pulls away the cloak that we have used to shield our children, and shows us that the children are gone from under its covering and making cloaks of their own. Quietly she helps us see that MotherSelf is now to look out in love to all Creation, not just the creation we have made in our own bodies.
As we look out and then move into Hera, we realise that we reflect the Circle of the Goddesses more and more clearly, and that we are coming to the summit of our lives. We deserve respect for the scars we carry on our bodies and in our minds. We have survived, we have success, we have grown. We are Woman.
Hera, the Queen, laughs and sings at our innocence and at that point, the peak of our confident and regal womanhood, she gives us Change.
Cold is hot, happiness is misery, water is dryness, fertility is barren, creation is tired sleep. And eight hours sleep is a sad memory from long ago. Slowly, even more slowly than she took away the Cloak of Motherhood, She helps us adapt to the change, so that we forget in some way how we were, and we become the true Queen, the broken persevering one that carries on, no matter what the discomfort and pain, because it beats the Alternative.
But when the bones are used to aching and the soul is used to thinking about then instead of tomorrow, then Hecate, the Crone, sits with us in the Circle and we laugh about it all. We look at the women we have known and whose lives have taken many courses.
We wonder at the time that it takes to pass around the Circle of Goddesses, and how different our journeys have been. Some of us have bonded so closely to one Goddess that they have spent their lives sitting in Her presence and looking devotedly at Her face. Others have picked up their Gifts and moved on, rich in experience.
We stare again around the Circle, at Her face, the faces of ourselves, the mirror faces of our own mothers, the lined, worn wise faces of Woman and we wonder about the last Goddess, the hidden One that is in the centre of it all and the One that will take us to walk among the stars.
No-one can tell us about Her, the One that holds all the others in a rainbow of endings. All we know is that the gifts we have taken from the Goddesses will just be memories in the minds of those that love us.
When it is time to leave may She take us peacefully into her arms.