by Sylvia Linton, a.k.a. WoodSpirit
As I was writing the ritual for our Summer Solstice celebration, I was thinking about the Goddess in her Mother aspect, the fertile Earth Mother in the fullness of Her creativity and fecundity whom we celebrate and honor at this time of year, but I couldn't help wondering if she didn't feel just a slight let down at this turning of the wheel. The time of Her Maidenhood is just a memory; long past are the days of running through fields of blooming flowers, hair flowing behind her, full of the energy of springtime. Of more recent memory are the days of the young Horned God chasing her through the woods, courting her at Beltane, celebrating their young love as their Pagan children danced around the Maypole. Now She and the Sun God are at the height of their powers, committed to each other, partners in bringing forth and sustaining all life on Earth. But when the seeds have awakened to life and the young sprouts have grown, when the corn is high and the kids leave home, so to speak, what does the Mother do then?
For many women, motherhood is the most fulfilling time of their lives. To see the new life they have created is to experience the Goddess in her most creative Mother aspect, but for others, both men and women, creativity will never evidence itself in the offspring of the womb. Even for those who do become parents, the days of bearing and raising children will pass. Yet there will be many years of adulthood remaining. Samhain is still far in the future, so it is not yet time to cross over. What then does adulthood mean for us?
The urge to be creative is a universal human drive and it may be that in that respect we are closest to the Divine, but it is too easy to think of that drive only in terms of procreation. I think it is time that we turn our thoughts to other possibilities for creativity to manifest in our lives. Yes, we need Demeter, but we also need Brighid, who whispers words of inspiration in the poet's ear, guides the hand of the artisan as a work of beauty emerges from the wood, heals the wounds of the past, and opens the door to health and wholeness. Those too are the creative work of adulthood.
One way that all of us participate in divine creativity is in the creation of a Self. On this adventure of self-creation, the unconscious, dreams, memory, and personal experience merge with the conscious, rational decisions we make in our lives. Together they craft a new Self, forged in the fires of transformation rather than in the womb. This is a psychological and spiritual journey, and the individual psyche that emerges will be far more complex than the fruit of the field. I would suggest that the Self in this sense is not only a product of the creative urge, but also a process, always in motion. We sing "She changes everything she touches, and everything she touches, changes," but that is true not only of the Goddess, but also of ourselves as we strive for wholeness and for the healing of mind and body on our journey to mature selfhood.
Artists work with this metaphor of transformation all the time. Eleanor Wilner, in her book Gathering the Winds: visionary imagination and radical transformation of self and society, says that artistic vision "collects the heretofore broken parts of the self into a single entity. This is the moment of the imagination's triumph not the moment of the greatest art, but the moment when myth and reality merge, which is the end of art."1This may also be the goal of the Self, which in Jungian terms is the archetype of wholeness that connects the personal with the Transcendent or the Spiritual. This work is often relegated to the last third of life, to the Crone or Sage, but I would suggest that it is part of the creative work that is done throughout life, at every stage.
Because I work in the visual arts, the form that my creativity takes is the visual image, but it could just as easily be the product of the wordsmith, the musician, the one who crafts rituals, the teacher, or the mentor. There is a phrase found written in the artist Frida Kahlo's diary that explains the process that was occurring through her self-portraiture. She had written: "The one who gives birth to herself."2What a perfect expression of the creative power that we all have, for we are all, men and women, young, middle-aged and old, maidens, mothers, crones and sages, in the process of creating both ourselves and our world. We are all participating in the Divine creation of the Mother Goddess. It is the midsummer of our lives and we need to find new ways of defining ourselves that allow that creativity to continue throughout our lives. Yes, Demeter is the Mother Goddess who ripens the grain, but even She must accept the fact that her child will not be forever with her and that there is other work to be done.
1 Wilner, Eleanor (1975). Gathering the Winds: visionary imagination and radical transformation of self and society. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, p. 184.
2 Meskimmon, Marsha (1996). The Art of Reflection: women artists' self-portraiture in the Twentieth Century. New York: Columbia University Press, p. 13-14.