My Beloved lifts up his voice,
he says to me,
“Come then, my love,
My lovely one come.
For see, winter is past,
The rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth.”
(The Song of Songs 2:10-12, Jerusalem Bible)
On the theme of the Sacred Marriage, Anne Baring writes: Four thousand years ago in the courtyards of the great temples on the banks of the Nile the Sacred Marriage of goddess and god was celebrated. The theme of the Sacred Marriage has come down to us in myth, in fairy tales like Cinderella and the Sleeping Beauty, and in the Biblical Song of Songs. Alchemy sets the supreme quest for the treasure in the context of a marriage between the lunar and solar aspects of the soul, the fiery gold of the masculine element and the volatile silver of the feminine one, a union between our mind and our soul, our head and our heart, between the solar King and the lunar Queen. This marriage also united the invisible dimension of the subtle world of spirit and the material world of our experience, rendering the latter transparent to spirit. The Sacred Marriage is the age-old image of this mysterious double union. (The Dream of the Cosmos: A Quest for the Soul, 2013, 470-472)
Anne Baring tells of the alchemists’ understanding of how this inner marriage would take place: … in order for consciousness to be transformed from base metal into gold, both king and queen have to undergo a process of dissolution and transformation… resulting in the birth of the child of the new consciousness.
To awaken the consciousness personified by the king to the values associated with the wisdom of the soul, he has to undergo a symbolic death, vividly described by the shamanic initiation. He makes a descent into the watery realm of the soul, the realm of the emotions, feelings, instincts, that has never been associated with anything of value and has been both feared and despised and has consequently remained largely dissociated from consciousness…(and) largely undeveloped.
The queen as the personification of the soul is also transformed as the king enters into a conscious relationship with her. She is no longer forced to remain in a dissociated state. She is no longer in thrall to the deficient values and limited perception represented by the Old King; nor is she any longer bound by the powerful unconscious drives of blind instinct to which he also was bound. The values of the heart begin to be heard and strengthened. Feeling begins to function in a more conscious related way as both king and queen are transformed.
Anne Baring notes that in our time this process as described by the alchemists is necessary for both man and woman: … woman has been educated in the same way as man, has absorbed the same values and has been imprinted with the same ideas and may give the highest value to the masculine principle and the rational mind, knowing nothing of the deeper dimension of the soul and the invisible dimension of reality.
There is another kind of Sacred Marriage associated with the king and the land. In her program on Celtic Shamanism, (Shift Network, 2019), Jane Burns speaks of the ancient custom in Ireland: When the rightful king was sworn in, he was said to marry the land, because it was to the earth goddess, the goddess Sovereignty, he was to pay homage, make personal sacrifices and give allegiance. Here we return to this notion of the marriage of the masculine, the king, and the feminine, the goddess, as a necessity if prosperity is to reign. This is a marriage of equals. That marriage… must exist within us if we are to be sovereign and prosperous.
Referring to the teachings of esoteric astrologer William Meade, Jane said: If we are going to achieve mastery of our soul, we all have to bring into balance within us the divine masculine and divine energies and potential that are resident there….Each strength, the masculine and feminine, has its own contribution to the soul’s pathway to mastery. Each has their own wisdom. What (William Meade) says is that the divine feminine knows what to do and the divine masculine knows how to do it. It’s a very necessary marriage. The divine feminine holds the potential. She creates the design, conceives the design, nurtures it. She knows what the purpose is. The divine masculine executes the design or brings it into manifestation. It’s the same agreement as the relationship between the goddess Sovereignty and the king who serves her. The feminine…what are its attributes? It observes. It receives. It nurtures. It embodies. It grows and flourishes. Through that experience comes the wisdom of what to do. The masculine acts. It changes the circumstance. It fixes things, it executes things, it puts things into play because it has this greater connection to the world. That affords it the opportunity to know how to do it.
The Spring Equinox invites us to reflect on our inner marriage, the union of our feminine and masculine qualities needed for wholeness. At this season when darkness and light, night and day are in balance, how might we come to a healthier, more joyous balance between our inner feminine and masculine? Might we consider creating for ourselves a ritual of “Inner Marriage” with music, poetry, flowers, dance?
One thought on “The Sacred Marriage”
How wonderful this piece, Anne Kathleen…I too am pulled, pulled outside in late afternoon/early evening, to interact with trees and the emerging stars…feeling myself linked to them in indescribable intimacy…one with them. You verbalize it so well…