Sacrifice in the Bluets
pastel on board
16 x 20″
Snakes were long ago considered to embody the energy of the Goddess, specifically life-fore energy, and were revered by the ancient Goddess-worshipping cultures that developed and flourished from 30,000 BCE to 3000 BCE. To our ancestors the Goddess was All. She was the Life-giver, Death-Wielder, and Regenerator. She was the Source from which we arose and to which we returned.
The rise of patriarchal cultures destroyed this.
They accomplished their domination with violence, surely, but to truly subvert a culture one must get to its roots, and that is where the stories are. Stories are the codes of a culture, rich with symbolism and spiritual power. We live and die by story.
But you cannot make a story out of nothing. So they refashioned the stories to suit their new paradigm of power. Hence we have the tale of Adam and Eve, in which the snake resides in the Garden of Eden with the First People. Woman and Snake are both reviled as the originators of wrongdoing and the reason for humanity’s exile from the Garden.
But a point often overlooked is that it is the snake who tells Eve the truth about the Tree of Knowledge––and this is a clue that points us to an older story, one that belonged to the aforementioned Goddess-worshipping cultures before they were overthrown. The story at the root of the story.
There are remnants of the Goddess cultures that are still encoded within us––in our bodies and in our stories. Every social movement for equality, for the dismantling of hierarchies of power and wealth, for women’s rights, for care of the Earth, all have their roots in our deep history, in our love for the Goddess as the Creator of human culture.
These remnants from our deep history follow a pattern which can still be gleaned from the myths we have now.
The scholar Heide Göttner-Abendroth provides a fantastic analysis of these remnants her book “The Goddess and her Heros” (heros as in the Greek word meaning consort). Of course it’s much too envolved to go into here, but part of the story involves a king who is sacrificed. He travels then to the Underworld where he is restored by the Goddess. This pattern plays out in the oldest stories we have on record from Egypt, Greece, Germany, the British Isles, India, and elsewhere.
Nowadays when I think about our culture, about how insane it is, how destructive it is of life and a meaningful, joyful existence, how insidious it is in its perpetration of cycles of violence and despair––I see the patriarchy. The Patrix, I call it, that paradigm that stands in opposition to the Matrix, the Earth and all the Life and Mysteries she contains.
When I first read about the sacrificial king––which Heide Göttner-Abendroth maintains was physically re-enacted on a yearly basis, by a man who willingly volunteered for what was considered the deepest honor––to be sacrificed for the Goddess and the good of the people––I found it unsettling.
But there is a wisdom at work here. For what happens when the king is not sacrificed? What happens when the Divine Masculine is not held in balance to the Divine Feminine? Take a look around.
The cornerstone of patriarchal culture is hierarchy. Where one group–in this case, men, in various arrangements––has power over others: other men, women, children, animals, Earth herself. That’s what happens. The life force of the Earth is subverted to the will of those on top.
So this is not, really, just a pastel of a snake about to eat a red salamander (not a red eft, those darlings are highly toxic, you should not eat them either). It’s an image that evokes this very old mythological pattern, the spiritual symbolism of the king who sacrifices himself to serve the Goddess. It’s a pattern that is embedded deep within us, and one that will rise again and again, from the Earth herself, and from the deepest roots of our bones, where are ancestors are singing, and calling us forth, to the Garden, to the Garden of Life.