A most unlikely place to hide a promise. But here it lies. Within the writings of a little-known first century Roman, Lucius Apuleius, whose character, a hapless magician, turns himself into an ass. He cries to the Goddess for help. Suddenly, shining like the sun, she is there. She rescues him, refers to her many names, then makes this promise: I am come with solace and aid. Away then with tears. Cease to moan. Send sorrow packing. Soon…shall the sun of your salvation rise…. Eternal religion has dedicated to me the day which will be born from the womb of this present darkness.
That darkness would envelop the sacred feminine presence, forgetting her many names, abandoning her temples, sending her into two millennia of hiddenness…
Well, almost, but not quite.
The light of the feminine holy, like the Buried Mother Moon of the old English folk-tale, would find a way to break through. The Shekinah of the Jewish Kabbalah, the Sophia of the Book of Wisdom and the Gnostic Gospels, Mary with her wonderful names drawn from the beauty of the planet: Mystical Rose, Star of the Sea, Our Lady of the Pines, of the Lakes, of the Mountains, Madonna of the Rocks… would find her way into hearts ready to receive her light.
We have been born into the time of the great recovery of ancient wisdom from story, myth, legend, from sacred writings, poetry, and ritual, from the peoples of earth-honouring religions: American and Australian Aboriginals; the Ancient Egyptians; the Celts. Within these rediscovered traditions, we find the presence of a Sacred Mother, a womb of life who calls us to honour the earth and all her living systems, to honour ourselves, to honour our bodies which are part of the earth. She calls us to accept the wisdom of the circle of life: its rhythms of dawn to day to dark to day; of spring to summer to autumn to winter to spring; of birth to life to death to rebirth. She calls us by our true name as she invites into the adventure of life in a time when each of us is needed to live fully.
She calls us into joy, through allurement to the hope, to the stunning beauty of a promise born in light. She reminds us that the universe herself is drawn, not through duty, despair, grim determination, but through allurement: the earth is allured to the sun, caught up into a dance of spinning wonder; the moon is allured to earth, circling her in ecstasy; the tides of the seas are allured to the moon, as are the cycles of women’s bodies. Each planet in our galaxy, like each of the galaxies of the universe, of the multiverse, twirls in a passionate dance of awe and delight.
Sophia calls us to awaken on this day which is being born from the womb of this present darkness. Her time is now.
From a Ritual for Epiphany, created by Kathleen Glennon in her book Heartbeat of the Seasons, (Columba Press, Dublin, 2005) I offer this chant/prayer:
Chant: The wisdom you desire will be given unto you. (Eccl. 6:30)
Dance of Wisdom
Wisdom of the Universe, come to me/us/all
raise hands over your head and bring down to your head
Wisdom of the Earth, come to me/us/all
bring hand upwards from the earth and bring to heart
Wisdom of the Ancestors, come to me/us/all
For the following verse, extend arms upwards,
palms facing upwards and sway to the music
Wisdom of the maiden, come to me/us/all.
Wisdom of the mother, come to me/us/all.
Wisdom of the crone, come to me/us/all.
May Sophia, the Wisdom of the Ages, the Wisdom of the Universe,
continue to journey with us.
May she meet us at our gates in the morning.
May she lie down with us at night.
May all who seek her find her.
May she bring the spirit of discernment into the lives of all.
May her company bring joy and happiness to all. Amen.