With a partial solar eclipse and a new moon, it was a very special Spring Equinox this year. The day before our Wood Sisters Gathering on the Saturday, I (Sam) had spent the Spring Equinox on Dartmoor. In the misty sky, I watched the sun become like a silvery crescent moon and seemingly change from waning to waxing as the disc of the actual moon moved across the sun. I was standing with my colleagues from the Karuna Institute for a closing ceremony on the final day of a three year mindfulness masters degree and feeling blessed and grateful for such a special time.
The next day with the Wood Sisters, I was reflecting on how seasonal change is always the result of relationships on a cosmic scale, as earth and sun move through their yearly dance, and yet it is so easy to forget that all the changes we focus on and celebrate in the world of plants and creatures are reflecting this vaster pattern of relationship, which the eclipse powerfully reminded us of this year. I guess this is true in daily life at many levels. How easy it is to be preoccupied with the details and forget the bigger picture. One of the many good things about gathering with others for seasonal celebration is the mindful marking of deeper rhythms and the interdependent nature of life, including the chance to listen to many others’ different experiences, perspectives and stories.
For our mythic story this time, we were touching into the Hebrew tradition through exploring the creation story from Genesis, the first book of the Bible. Spring is a yearly celebration of the creation of life and a time when the natural world can feel very like a paradise garden. Our story telling began with a Kabbalistic meditation to remind us that creation is unfolding in every moment, manifestation emerging from the mystery of the unmanifest (called in Hebrew Ayin /No-thing), and that the Garden of Eden and the Tree of Knowledge and Tree of Life exist within the depths of our being as states of consciousness.
Moving from meditation to story, we met not only the familiar figures of Adam and Eve but also the less known ones of Lilith and Samael. We imagined the serpent of wisdom inviting a fall from unconscious union into a tasting of the knowledge of opposites and separation, the pure soul taking on its coat of skin as a journey of awakening into a fuller knowing of being part of the source of all.
From these meditative and mystical depths we returned to a delicious and grounding lunch, followed by our spring crafts. Once again I was struck by the pleasure of simple hand work carried out with care and awareness. This is a unification in itself, bringing together head, heart and hands. Jo gently guided us in creating simple spring flowers from tissue paper, with each woman creating something uniquely beautiful.
During tea, the Easter bunnies or Eostre’s hares were out in the garden hiding eggs in the spring sunshine. It’s a treat for women who are often offering egg hunts and giving gifts to others, to have some fun and sweetness for themselves! Then our day concluded as usual with meditation and ceremony as we planted hopes and intentions for the year, along with seeds into little paper pots and lit candles of blessings for ourselves, loved ones and the world all around our central mandala.
In the Beginning: Spring Equinox 2015
In the beginning was…. Nothing: Ayin
Dark, silent, without form.
In which began a vibration
That caused a sound to arise.
In the beginning was Nyx, night
As the sound grew louder
Chaos became criss crossed with patterns.
In the radiance of Ayin Soph,
All became possible.
Back in those days, those very first days,
Father Enki set sail for the underworld.
There was resistance.
The waters of the Euphrates rushed at his boat
With windstones and hailstones and
Uprooted a Huluppu tree.
That tree was a good beginning for Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth.
She took it from the raging waters and planted it in the ground
For her shining bed and gleaming throne.
But as the trunk grew thick and the branches luxuriant
A serpent who could not be charmed made its nest in the roots,
The Anzu bird set his young in the branches of the tree
And the dark maid Lilith made her home in the trunk.
Inanna began to weep and called her brother Gilgamesh.
Gilgamesh took his bronze axe and struck the tree trunk.
He split the Huluppu tree in two.
What had been wild became civilized.
The wild things fled back to the beginning.
In the beginning there was the Word
And the Word was God and the Word was with God.
The spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters
Like a mighty wind, and called for Light.
His Light is like this: there is a niche and in it a lamp,
The lamp inside a glass, a glass like a glittering star
Fuelled from a blessed olive tree from neither East nor West
Whose light, Al-Nur, glows even when no fire touches it.
The light from the source was reflected in the Shekhinah,
Generating all forms of life.
This radiance, like a great sea, was the first creation.
In our beginning Lilith, the dark one, the first woman, was created equal with Adam.
She was promised equality but experienced its opposite.
So she left Eden and whirled in a dust storm to the edge of the world
Where she could reach out and touch Kaos
And hear the sound of creation still vibrating in the air.
In the beginning the world was without form, and void.
And our Great Mother Euronyme rose naked from the abyss and, looking about her, found that she was alone.
She danced in the darkness, and by her dancing the air was set in motion.
A wind blew upon her face from the North and she took it in her hands to rub it, rolling and shaping it into a speckled serpent.
This same serpent lusted after our Mother and she allowed him to cast his coils around her body in the embrace of sex.
But as yet he had no name.
Some time later our Mother took the form of a dove and brooded upon the face of the water and was delivered of a great egg
Which the serpent coiled about to hatch
So that it split open
And all things were created.
The egg floated on the ocean.
Then a sword began to move towards the egg,
And the sword cut the egg in two.
The parent’s love for the child, the man’s love for a woman, the woman’s love for a man, the bee’s love for the hive, the worshipper’s love for God:
The sword brought them all into being.
In the beginning the world, our world, was without form and void.
A tree was rescued from the first flood
A great bird flew over the face of the waters
The first woman emerged dancing
And the snake coiled around her and they made love.
Lilith held darkness and light as equals
The snake hatched the egg
The sword of discrimination and separation rose out of the waters
And made the first cut.
Eros emerged and with him appetite, desire, joy and anger rushed into the world.
And the wild things retreated
To the way things were before it all began
And the woman embraced them
As if knowing herself for the very first time.
Isabel Carlisle 8.4.15
Section two comes from the Sumerian myth of Inanna as re-told by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Kramer
Section three is based on the creation myths of the Abrahamic faiths: Genesis and St John in the Bible; Surah 24, Al-Nur from the Qur’an; and the Kabbalah
Section four comprises two versions of the Pelasgian (Greek, pre-Olympian) myth of creation. The first from “Goddess: Mother of Living Nature” by Adele Getty and the second from Robert Bly’s “Iron John”