Manipura, city of jewels
Medusa’s wedding takes place in the city of jewels, the manipura, commonly known as the solar plexus chakra. It is an alchemical wedding, uniting the waters of the sacral chakra with the fire of the solar plexus chakra, it is also a union of the feminine and masculine polarities. This is the first of three alchemical weddings.
Medusa’s wedding is my shorthand reference for my personal experience and interpretations that relate to this stage of self-initiation as it leads to regeneration, aka the alchemical conception of the luminous child.
This is Part One of Two. Part Two will come after the Summer Solstice wedding.
The themes and motifs of this post include:
- the healing of the Medusa wound
- male and female polarities
- the alchemical wedding
- omens of nigredo and albedo
- the functions of the solar plexus chakra
The subject matter of this post is highly relevant to the current events, for healers, witches, sorcerers, artists and poets – those who work in the invisible world. Although I am writing from the feminine perspective, this is not to be confused with feminism. Male and female polarities exist in both men and women, running in different directions according to gender, as was known by the ancient alchemists and the taoists, among others. Women fire up the male channel whenever they focus on a task and men engage the female polarity within themselves whenever they are overcome by an emotion, or in more nurturing behaviour. The mind-body instrument is working as it was designed to do, it is just a matter of becoming more conscious of the energies and the sources of the energies that move through us.
These days the alchemical path of regeneration is one of many self-initiations and self-realizations; there are no schools and very few teachers to guide us, so we must get used to traveling alone in the dark. I’ve felt that acutely as I’ve circumnavigated the city of jewels, aware of its power but never quite getting in it, nor feeling its power in me. Recently, after an intense period of incubation, I was able to follow the prompts in a different way and make some new connections and the gates to the city opened. This is what I’m describing here, as a kind of confirmation to anyone else tugging on this thread.
Recognize: to know to be something that has been perceived before; recognize a face
1. To convert wood or other organic matter into a stony replica by petrification.
2. To cause to lose vitality or become impervious to change; deaden: a routine that petrified her thinking
3. To stun or paralyze with terror; daze.
Medusa and her story is the frayed end of a long thread that binds us to the archaic goddess of birth, death and regeneration. In her voluptuous and fertile form she was ravished by Poseidon, the god of the sea, whose tides of uncontrollable lust were driven by the moon. In the hunter-gatherer era, the lives and deaths of men and women were inseparable from the seasons and rhythms of Nature. The ferociously beautiful Mother Goddess was both feared and desired, but the desire to control the passion She provoked grew proportionately to the disconnection from the land that came with the development of agriculture and civilization.
The familiar iconography of the stony Medusa death masks are a mirror to our own fossilized perception. Much ancient art depicts the world as it was perceived, rather than as it was believed – belief is a relatively modern ‘development’. Looking into Medusa’s eyes, with the innocent desire to know her story, was like looking into myself. The spell dissolved, my perception changed and my reality has changed – my perception of reality has changed.
I used to like Philip K. Dick’s description of reality:
“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”Philp K. Dick
Now, I would describe it more like this: reality is that which you conceive, that can also be independently perceived.
In our modern-day society, most of us operate under the rigid illusion (belief) that the internal workings of our bodymind, our thoughts and emotions, have no effect on other living creatures in the world around us – afraid to look at the monster we have created. Medusa’s story is one of betrayal, exploitation, rejection and death, but it also tells of the eternal cycle of birth and regeneration with a hidden nuance that is highly relevant to these times, as I’ll explain below.
The young hero Perseus decapitated Medusa, thus ending her exile, but she was never killed. Her severed head was placed on Athena’s breastplate as a warning to anything that threatened the ordered society represented by Athena. Medusa in her disembodied form, used to protect society from her own destructive power. Unconscious, and therefore uncontrolled, oceanic emotions are a danger to civilized societies – the destruction of the Minoan Empire was no accident, but neither was it intended.
Medusa is a representation of Shakti, a word used to describe the female element of universal power or energy. Thought, the formless, unmanifested consciousneess can be referred to as Shiva. Some eastern traditions refer to Shiva as the supreme consciousness and source of all creation, but Shiva , the God of Sleep, can create nothing without Shakti and Shakti creates an explosive mess without Shiva; this is why the matriarchal societies failed. I use the terms Shiva and Shakti as a reference for the male principle and female element, as there are no useful equivalents in English. Some days I lean more towards the Egyptian version of Osiris and Isis – it’s the same energies at play. These energies flow through both men and women, but Shiva is more unconsciously active in men and Shakti more unconsciously active in women. Becoming conscious of how these energies flow through us and learning how to to bring them into balance is the quintessential task for men and women who are working on their own spiritual development and towards a new golden age.
I see it as the responsibility of all wise women to recognize Medusa in her death mask and welcome her back into our thinking and feeling, so that we can access her supreme protective and regenerative powers for ourselves and future generations – for freedom. According to Greek sources the name Medusa means guardian and one who rules as a protector. In the ancient language of Egypt and North Africa, Medusa relates to Medu Neter, meaning words of nature and Sa is an Egyptian hieroglyph meaning protection of young life.
“(Medu + Sa) = It is the language of nature that causes life to be transformed. Through its cosmic resonance, it shall protect the offspring of life and those that enter the gateway as a child. It is they who are granted immortality and the secret power provided by the words of nature. Now is the time they shall appear and speak.”
The recognition of Medusa as a necessary precursor to going full throttle on the manipura vortex – as the alchemical wedding, the coniunctio, or hieros gamos, cannot take place with only half of the feminine energy present. I also see it as necessary for healthy relationships between women, as well as between men and women, which is in turn part of what is needed to bring about the death of the old regime and the regeneration of a saner and more wholesome society. The concept of the sacred wedding has such deep archetypical significance for the human psyche that it has been described in almost all spiritual traditions, including early mystical christianity and it is only relatively recently that the female divinity has been banished.
This is easily understood, therefore made conscious and healed, by looking carefully at our relationships. Medusa’s banishment is unconsciously passed on from mother to daughter, as the prepubescent girl absorbs the behavioural patterns between her mother and father, or her mother and other men. Even in a non-traumatized family, chaste and nurturing type behaviour from the mother will be rewarded with affection, or at least acceptance, from the father, whereas he will move away from her anger or displeasure. Most men do not like their women to display any kind of sexual appetite or extreme emotions in public and some cultures, such as Islam, go to the extent of requiring women to hide their bodies as they cannot be anything but disturbingly erotic!
Uncomfortable and unappealing emotions do not disappear if they are suppressed; they lead to dis-ease within the individual and society as the ‘dis-owned’ parts of an individual get projected onto others. Guilt and shame power shadow projectiles. Projecting the shadow Medusa is like aiming a shotgun while blindfolded; you never get near your target, if you even had one, but you will cause a lot of damage to anyone in close proximity.
“The effect of projection is to isolate the subject from his environment, since instead of a real relation to it there is now only an illusory one. Projections change the world into the replica of one’s own unknown face. In the last analysis, therefore, they lead to an autoerotic or autistic condition in which one dreams a world whose reality remains forever unattainable.”
It is worth noting that shadow projection is most likely to be onto others of the same gender. It’s most obvious signature is to accuse others of your own unacceptable behaviour.
Shadow projection is only possible because we have the power to generate reality: to conceive of something that becomes independently perceivable by others. There is a great gift in the Medusa story, if you look at it closely. As society developed, the idea of a ‘successful’ man was one who was more intellectual, with material wealth, rather than one who was able to provide and protect through his own physical powers. This kind of man tended to prefer a certain kind of docile beauty, rather than the wildly erotic primal woman type, who was uncontrollable and therefore a threat to society – she had to be banished. This was achieved by the controllers over many generations by following the Shiva/Shakti rules of engagement.
Athena is, quite literally, the brainchild of the patriarchy; birthed motherless and fully armoured, directly from Zeus’ forehead. (I can’t help wondering how many years of fantasy it took before she became real.) She was needed so that women would willingly reject their dark and savage powers, thinking that this was necessary to protect society. The unconscious desire of women to attract men, that has been thoroughly manipulated by the controllers, who co-opt feminine power to maintain their false authority through various stimulus-response mechanisms – Shiva can do nothing without Shakti. This cleavage (sic) has stripped women of the power of death and regeneration, which in turn keeps society bound in a perpetual state of infantilization. And sadly, many men have lost their natural desire to impress their women with their own acts of courage and skill too. Medusa’s gift is the power to kill off the old gods (and all who believe in them) and generate new ones (supernatural powers) to protect the future of the species.
Unless women learn to recognize their internal male authority, the inner fire of the manipura, they will always find their power co-opted by the men around them, directly or indirectly. This in turn denies themselves the possibility of giving their power energetically and spiritually to the man of their own choosing. For men, it’s up to them to become more conscious of the Shiva within themselves and take responsibility for the effect this has on the women around them, if they want to participate in the creation of a sane and healthy society. If you have not considered where the male energy in your life comes from, it is unconsciously passed on from your father, or the predominant male presence in your childhood, for men and women. It too was mostly passed on unconsciously. It’s time to become conscious of these energies.
Losing Your Head to Find Yourself
Historically, records show that the death power of the Divine Feminine began to turn ugly around 750BC, when Gorgon’s heads showed up in Greek iconography. Perseus was mentioned in the Iliad of that timeframe, but there was no mention of Medusa until 700BC, when the power of the story had evolved sufficiently to allow Perseus to cut off her head.
Death by decapitation is a recurring theme in esoteric and alchemical literature and is not what it seems; although decapitated, Medusa never dies, retaining her full powers of birth, death and regeneration. Her severed head retained the power to petrify and as she seemingly died, she gave birth to two brothers from her fallen body, Pegasus and Khrysaor – Poseidon’s sons. The winged horse Pegasus, symbolises the power of the human imagination, through which her story came to be told. I didn’t know about Khrysaor until recently. The name means golden blades and he is sometimes depicted as a golden giant with a sword, but also as a giant boar with golden tusks. He symbolises the power of protection and the strength and courage to confront that which you find unappealing or ugly, especially within yourself – and that’s where you’ll find the alchemical gold.
The motif of decapitation also shows up in the Hindu tradition, in the form of the self-beheading goddess Chinnamasta, who nourishes her attendants with her own blood.
For me, this stage was about stopping thinking; letting go of the ash of the past stored in my head and paying attention to the wisdom of my body, including listening and observing what was actually going on around me. The lesson here was that there is nothing to be gained by tuning into the death throes of the suffering in dystopia, by thinking about how impossible it is for me to do anything about it. My reality is here and it is beautiful; to invite in suffering and dis-ease would be insanity.
Signposts in the Dark
Losing your head and all your familiar thoughts and habits puts you in the unknown, the nigredo of alchemy. When you stop thinking you begin seeing the signs that have always been there for you (if that’s what you’ve asked for). As I began formulating this post, a huge wild boar took to snorting around under our bedroom window in the wee hours every night for week. There is no food there and no logical reason for him to be there, driving the dogs nuts until we let them loose for the chase. When I read about Khrysaor I instantly recognised him as the wild boar and thanked him for his work. He hasn’t been back since, but I know I can rely on him when needed.
Looking back, the preparations for Medusa’s wedding began when a pair of crows moved into the pine trees behind our house – the first crows that have ever nested here. In alchemy, crows represent the beginning of the great work of alchemy, when the initiate withdraws from the outer world and moves his or her attention to the dark inner world of the soul – referred to in the alchemical process as the blackening or nigredo. The appearance of the crows corresponded to the start of the Great Incubation, 14 March. 2020. Of course, I didn’t know a wedding was on the cards at the time, nor that I was being guided through the portals into the city of jewels – that’s the nature of nigredo, the Great Unknown, where you are in the dark. For me, it is when I really learn to follow my guidance and also discover whether I have set myself the right course, or not – this is freedom.
During this stage I followed my instinct, and cut off most communications with the outside world and spent a lot of time in ‘the egg’, made especially for this purpose by the Southpaw Witch.
The work of alchemy and transformation reveal that there are always deeper levels of discovery and meaning. It came as a great relief to see myself as a work-in-progress, with no final goal or destination, but many satisfactory endings and beginnings and hopefully with greater refinement and more pleasure. These chaotic times offer the opportunity of a lifetime, when it comes to dismantling the building blocks of your life and putting them back together in a more satisfying way. Lockdown is last-ditch life-support for the dead body of society that is already putrified (another aspect of nigredo). Let it go – DNR. This is the message of the crows and decapitation.
The nigredo stage of alchemy is often referred to as caput corvi, which means the decapitation of the crow. Psychologically, this means focusing on a problem or issue by directing your attention inwards (darkness) and by processing in a non-intellectual way, with attention to the emotions and feelings. The caput corvi symbolizes the death of the old self, the ordinary individual. This is a necessary stage of self-initiation.
On the mythological level, nigredo signifies the difficulties man has to overcome on his journey through the underworld. Nigredo is sometimes called ‘blacker than the blackest black’. Hercules had to accomplish twelve, almost impossible, tasks. The pilgrim traditionally encounters shadows, monsters, demons. In the ancient mysteries the candidates had to undergo difficult, sometimes painful and even dangerous initiation tests.
“In alchemy, one of the symbols of nigredo is the ‘decapitation’, and also the ‘raven’s head’ (caput corvi). Those symbols refer to the dying of the common man, the dying of his inner chaos and doubt because he is unable to find the truth in himself. In one of his works, Hercules cleanses the Augias stables. It is the cleansing of all the impurities in oneself.”(Johann Daniel Mylius, Philosophia reformata, Frankfurt, 1622)
In the second half of May, we had an unusual heatwave and it was heavy going. In alchemy, intense heat is needed in the final stages of the nigredo, to burn off the dross to reveal the hidden essence. Paracelsus called this the ‘star in man’. This timeframe, leading towards the summer solstice, also corresponded to the appearance of the Swan comet. I didn’t see the comet, but felt its presence within myself as a significant change of perspective and I knew with certainty that Medusa was involved, because she had taken over my bodymind.
“The Black Crow sometimes also the Raven is the beginning of the great work of soul alchemy. This indicates the initial stages of the alchemist’s encounter with his inner space, through withdrawing from the outer world of the senses in meditation, and entering what is initially the dark inner world of the soul. Thus this stage is also described in alchemical texts as the blackening, the nigredo experience, and it is often pictured as a death process, as in the caput mortuum, the deaths head, or as some alchemical illustrations show, the alchemist dying within a flask. Thus in the symbol of the Black Crow we have the stepping out in consciousness from the world of the physical senses the restrictions that bind us to the physical body.
The next stage, is often shown as The White Swan. Now the alchemist begins to experience the inner world as being light filled – the initial inner brightness which is often erroneously mistaken for true illumination. This is merely a first conscious encounter with the etheric world, and in comparison with physical sense experience is for many souls so overpowering as to be pictured as bright white light. The alchemical tradition recognised this and symbolised this stage as the White Swan. The swan is a bird which is rarely seen in flight, but rather swimming upon lake or river, gracefully moving on the surface of water- in soul terms, on the soul’s surface, its etheric interface with the physical.”The Birds in Alchemy by Adam McLean, 1979, The Hermetic Journal No.5
On the 23rd May (my father’s birthday), the Swan was conjunct Algol, the position of Medusa’s third eye, in the Perseus constellation. The stories mapped out in the stars are prompts to the imagination that have been hijacked by the controllers and it’s good to look at them with fresh perception. The crows disappeared at this time and have not returned to nest, although they have visited now and then.
“The ancients mistrusted Algol’s blinking and inexplicable 8 hour disappearances. But it turns out it is a binary star, eclipsing itself every 3 days. Mysterious indeed and only adds to its allure. The poor star appears to die, but then it is reborn.”
This was when I recognized Medusa and saw that she had been in a long and brutal transformation, that could only move to the next stage when external conditions allowed and her daughters were ready, each in our own time. Having reconciled Athena and Medusa within myself the doors to the city of jewels opened and the wedding preparations began – but who was the groom?
The Manipura Vrittis
In ancient times, pre-nuptial purification rituals were customary in many traditions and still continue to this day in some. To recap briefly, for women to open the solar plexus chakra, we need to reunite the amputated parts of ourselves and then merge that and our moon-body emotions with the male/fire element, the alchemical marriage. I would guess that there are many ways to do that and my personal experience that I’m describing here is a prompt, rather than a recommendation. However, in addition to this very specific aspect of the split in the divine feminine, there are also more general disturbances to clear. These disturbances are called ‘vrittis’ in Sanskrit, which means waves, or whirlpool.
The 10 petals around the outer circle of the symbol for the manipura traditionally contain Sanskrit characters that refer to the vrittis, or disturbances that can be the result of blockage or energy imbalances – too much or too little.
The following meanings (there is no hierarchy and thee order is irrelevant)are ascribed to the characters, more or less:
1. Shame, shyness, embarrassment
2. Treachery, malicious gossip, over-arching ambition
3. Jealousy, envy, resentment
4. Laziness, foolishness, carelessness
5. Sadness, melancholy, depression, frustration, anger
6. Spiritual ignorance
7. Thirst, obsession, cravings
8. Attachment, delusion
9. Aversion, hatred, disgust (desire for separation from unpleasant experiences)
The manipura works as an internal GPS, guiding you on your path, and as a valve on energy flow. The downward pointing triangle indicates that the disturbance is coming from below, usually in the sacral chakra. When you identify the specific disturbance and take action to clear it your energy flows, you feel supple and confident.
I’ve find these three steps to be effective in clearing the solar plexus chakra on a day-to-day basis:
1. Notice that you feel ill at ease or unsatisfied and decide that you want to transform that feeling. Identify the disturbance, for which the vrittis are guidelines, you do not have to follow the exact wording.
2. Then you come up with a reason for the disturbance that satisfies you. This is using the creative energy of the sacral chakra. The key to making this work for you is recognition of the fact that there is no causal connection between the disturbance and the reason you create for it, but it satisfies you nonetheless. This is your creative power in action.
For example: you discover that you are jealous of a friend, because she has the partner, lifestyle, house [fill in the blank] that you want. How can she possibly cause you to be jealous, by living her life with no thought of you? The jealousy is simply showing you what you want, so you can move towards it and attract it to you.
3. The final step is to work out what you need to do, what action you need to take to clear the disturbance – this is the fire energy of the solar plexus chakra – and start doing it. You need to make a move to keep the energy moving and clear the disturbance. If this is challenging, it may be signaling an energy deficiency in your male polarity – I cover this in the post on the third eye chakra. Often the action will involve, self-acceptance and self-forgiveness.
The solar plexus is the home of your ‘mental body’ where the ideas you have about yourself become part of your physical experience, which I’ll describe below. Thought processes as described above assist in the process of clearing and opening, but physical action is also necessary. Friends of mine find yoga helpful in this regard, but my favourites are diaphragmatic breathing (the Wim Hof method) and Qi gong (Eight brocades).
The solar plexus chakra will often feel blocked because when you live as a free and sovereign human animal, you are going to find yourself in situations that make you feel uncomfortable; there is no magic in the comfort zone. Disturbances in the manipura are not an indication of lack of spiritual development or any kind of flaw in your character. On the contrary, it shows that you are on your path and that these are the problems that you need to resolve in order to progress on your personal journey.
Solar Plexus, the Gut-brain Axis and Kundalini
The exact location of the solar plexus chakra is debated, but the same could be said for other chakras too. In fact, there is no single definitive chakra system. The main chakra systems that we know of were each described within specific races and belief systems; so the ancient Egyptians had a 13 chakra system, following their complex cosmology, the Hindu and Vedic systems with a leaning towards liberation from the earthly plane noted seven, as did the alchemical traditions and the Taoist, which focused more on a fulfilled life on earth, had only three. Some yogic traditions report up to 144 minor chakras, in addition to the seven primary chakras. Desk research will always throw up contradictory data, but it is significant that they all recognised various energy centres that cannot be perceived with scientific instruments or the ordinary senses.
I view the chakras as ‘energetic focal points’ that help you fulfill your potential, physically and spiritually in all dimensions of existence. I use the term ‘energetic focal points’ quite literally, to mean that these ‘centres’ are energized into existence by focusing on them. You could, if you wanted to and were willing to put in the required effort and concentration, generate a chakra on your big toe, or your left buttock – but what would that achieve? There are compelling reasons for the location of the seven major chakras, especially relating to the endocrine and nervous systems and their functions in maintaining homeostasis, perception, sense of self and self-actualization.
I find that if you stand with your arms at your side, palms facing forward and you bring your arms in one at a time, to place your hands over your abdomen, where they naturally fall is the location of the solar plexus. A friend can locate this for you with a pendulum (as for all the main chakras). For women, if the chakra is open the pendulum will swing in a counter-clockwise direction and for men it will be clockwise. (Instructions for chakra correction with a pendulum can be found here: Grinding Gears and the Killer Chakra.)
The solar plexus chakra is the central sun of the body; its pranic fire (agni) is the primordial fuel for all our physical, mental, emotional and subtle activities. I feel this as kundalini, the desire of the Great Mother (Kundali) within us that moves towards the object of its desire, at all levels of existence.
Much of this energy is provided by the continuous biotransformation (alchemy) of the approximately 38 trillion bacteria and fungi that make up the microbiome in our gut. The microbiota produce enzymes that enable us to digest food, they breakdown toxins and pathogens and they also produce microRNAs that influence gene expression. The microbiome communicates with the rest of the body via the gut brain axis, which includes the HPA axis (hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands), the spinal cord, the vagus nerve, the celiac and hypogastric nerves (solar plexus). Information relating to the stomach, liver, gallbladder, spleen, pancreas, small and large intestines, kidneys and adrenals also travel along the gut brain axis. The communication mechanisms are biochemical and through electrical nerve impulses.
NB: if your vagus nerve is not functioning correctly (poor vagal tone) when confronted with a predator you will freeze – paralyzed with fear.
According to Jeff Masters, of the Himalayan Institute:
“The Sun and Moon in US
These two major nervous system divisions [the solar plexus and vagus nerves] impact the navel centre [manipura] powerfully and on multiple levels. As we will see from their effects, the sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions are easily associated with the dualities of the sun and moon.
Sympathetic = Sun
The fiery, stressor-based activation of the solar plexus and its associated neurochemicals mobilizes the entire body, inhibits metabolic functions and reroutes energy. This immediate mobilization and activation of the entire body is an overt expression of the solar energy within.
Parasympathetic = Moon
The calming, nurturing nature of the vagus nerve and its associated neurochemicals soothes the body and redistributes energy, promoting metabolic functions and embodying cooling, moon-based energy in neural action.”Jeff Masters, Himalaya Institute
The feeling of self-empowerment that arises from a fully open and correctly functioning solar plexus chakra depends on the condition of your microbiome. and your nervous system. I favour fresh, local foods, especially that which we’ve grown ourselves, over imports and processed foods as food is information as well as fuel. The subconscious dialogue between the gut colony, the brain and other cells in the body has a huge effect on mood and perception, which in turn affects gene expression, imagination and co-creation.
The effect of alchemical decapitation is listening to the body, rather than the false self, which is only a ghost in the brain.
Who is Medusa’s groom?
The sacred marriage takes place within yourself and is between any aspect of the divine masculine and divine feminine that you recognize. According to the principle of correspondence, any aspect is all aspects. You can see this rite playing through the pagan mysteries of the marriage between the sun and the moon, the references to the bridal chamber in the Gospel of Philip and the coded King and Queen in alchemy. These are all references to the primordial male and female supernatural powers, which are themselves unchanging and eternal, but which can be recognised and engaged with in an infinite number of ways. Individual recognition is the key to regeneration (resurrection in Gnostic terms) in these times.
“The archetypal significance of the sacred marriage within the psyche of the individual has been rediscovered in our modern era by the psychologist C. G. Jung. Jung made extensive studies of both Gnosticism and Alchemy because he realized that their representations of the “hieros gamos” or “coniunctionis” provided Western culture with the symbols that represent the psychological process of “individuation.” According to Jung, the “inner marriage” of the opposites within the psyche – masculine/feminine, conscious/unconscious, divine/human – gives birth to the Self, the archetype of wholeness. The Self archetype is both the guide and the goal of the individuation process, which is Jung’s psychological term for the Gnostic or the alchemical quest. This is the inner transformative process that leads to the illumination of Gnosis for the early Christians, the attainment of the Philosopher’s Stone for the medieval alchemists, and the realization of the Self for the modern individual. Like the Gnostic initiate who experienced the inner union of Christ and Sophia in the sacrament of the bridal chamber, so the individuated human being returns to the Garden of Eden with the transformed consciousness of Self-realized wholeness.”
I had chosen Polaris/Heimdal/Shiva Linga as my guiding male consort, but he didn’t feel right for Medusa. The full moon of 5th June, was close to the galactic centre in the Snaketamer – when there was also a lunar eclipse. Medusa and the Snaketamer?
On the 9th June, I got my answer. In the greenhouse that evening. I startled the biggest snake I’d ever seen here in Spain. It turned out to be an Aesculapian snake.
Aesulapius is the Roman god of healing and medicine, known as Asklepios in Greek. Asklepios was said to be the son of Apollo (a son of Zeus, as are all men who express the divinity within themselves) and the mortal Princess Koronis (Coronis), whom Apollo had killed by Artemis because she cheated on him. On her funeral pyre, Apollo cut the unborn child from her womb. Asklepios means “to cut open.” The motherless Asklepios was raised by the centaur Chiron who instructed him in the art of medicine. He grew so skilled in the craft that he was able to restore the dead to life. This was a crime against the natural order and so Zeus destroyed him with a thunderbolt. He was subsequently forgiven and placed amongst the stars as the constellation of Ophiuchus, the Snaketamer. Some say his mother was also set in the heavens as Corvus, the crow.
The ancient name of Galicia is Ophiussa, the land of serpents. The telluric currents, magnetic anomalies and vortices of this area are the serpents of the divine feminine power of this land, that rests like hair on your pillow and weaves its way into your dreams. This is not a fanciful idea, but a gossamer thread binding to the practices guided by Ophiuchus. The ancient healing temples of Asklepios, in Greece, Turkey and also Spain, were known as Dream Temples. Those in need of healing, especially those with serious illnesses, would go to the temples where they would undertake purification rituals and lay on couches, in deep relaxation and meditation, supervised by the temple priests and priestesses. Their dreams would be interpreted and there are accounts of non-venomous snakes being released and interpretations made from their movements. There are also reports of miraculous healings from these temples. This process was known as incubation.
The work of subtle alchemy is individual. What I’ve described here is my journey of recognizing and reuniting the lost parts of myself, to merge with the dreaming power of the land I love. It might not be to everyone’s taste – as with everything, take what pleases you and spit out the rest! But do that knowing that whatever you resolve within yourself is resolved everywhere.
“What is here is elsewhere, what is not here is nowhere.”The Mahabharata
In the magical kingdom beyond time, where it is always Saturday, Medusa merges her powers of birth, death and regeneration with the Snaketamer’s intention and skill, to eliminate the archontic infection and heal the damage it has caused. I see this symbolized in one of the oldest symbols of medicine, the Rod of Aescalapius, which shows a single serpent entwined around a wooden staff. It reminds me of the axis mundi, the swirling vortex of the earth encircling a motionless axis or pillar. By the time you get to the Caduceus, a much later symbol, the serpent energy has already been divided and the symbol is actually representing medicine as a business – Hermes is the patron of commerce and it is his wings at the top of the Caduceus.
So, how do we enact this story in the physical realm? I think the answer to that question will become clear after the wedding. We will be celebrating the wedding of Medusa and Ophiuchus over the new moon, summer solstice and eclipse on 20-21 June and Part Two will follow shortly after that.
You can find details of our Summer Solstice Ritual here.