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  Peter Rogers - Artist's Essay  
     
  The Return of The Goddess

Introduction

   Prior to around 1500 BC, and as far as we know for at least the previous 20,000 years, the peoples of the world venerated a Mother Goddess. She was the creator of everything and, at the same time, immanent in everything. The Earth was sacred and was treated as such. 1500 BC, however, marked the beginning of a long period of war and turmoil in the Western World. Society became patriarchal and the dominant deity became male instead of female. The Earth was no longer sacred, but something to be used. The Goddess immanent in Her creation had been replaced by a God separate from His creation.
   

    This is not to say that Goddess worship came to an end immediately. It continued openly until around 300 AD when Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. (What is less well known is that he also had a wife boiled alive). After that, the temples of the Goddess were destroyed and her devotees persecuted, but the myth of the Goddess refused to die. Sophia, Wisdom, Mother of the Universe, remained central to Gnostic thinking, the Shekhinah central to the Kabbala, and the myth was later to be kept alive by the Knights Templar, the alchemists, the troubadours and, to this day, by millions of Roman Catholics in the person of Mary. It is, however, significant that Mary is Queen of Heaven, not Queen of Earth.


   We have lost a great deal by our rejection of the Goddess as Mother Earth. Our failure to recognize the divine, not only in ourselves, but in all of nature has resulted in our sense of separation from God, and ecological disaster. Because we now have a Father God enshrined in all three religions of the West -- a God separate from His creation rather than immanent in it - earthly things have been denigrated and the human condition has become something to be transcended. Transcendence is a masculine philosophy. Immanence is a feminine concept stemming from a feminine philosophy.


   It is significant that, in spite of all our technological achievements, human nature remains much the same as it ever was. Why is this? The answer is, I think, that neither the feminine principal nor the masculine are, by themselves, capable of changing human nature. The female principle lacks the motivation to transcend, while the male principle, without the spiritual nourishment of the female, remains blind to the immanence of the divine and blind to the very possibility of transcendence. Prior to 1500 BC the female principle dominated and since 1500 BC the male and, because they have only in rare instances been fully united, nothing has changed. When they are united, a different quality of consciousness is born - what we in the West call Christ consciousness - and a change in consciousness is the only thing that can effectively change human nature.

  
 I have long felt that the so-called Second Coming has nothing to do with the literal return of a man called Jesus, but rather that it implies the birth of this new order of consciousness, or the opening of what I call the Channel of Awareness. The life of Jesus, though undoubtedly historical, was I am convinced really meant as a metaphor of the life of the Christ as it manifests in you and me. I shall be saying more about the Christ later. For now I would just like to make the point that, in the language of the metaphor, there can be no Nativity without Mary. In other words, until the feminine principle is reasserted, there can be no Second Coming.
   

   Until recently me have not allowed the feminine principle to be reasserted. Men have, however, created such enormous problems for the human race that they are, perhaps, losing some of their confidence, and this has opened the door to women. I am speaking on a mundane level, but what goes on in the world is determined by what goes on in consciousness, and the outer evidence goes to show that a lot is going on in consciousness that is both positive and good. I put this down to the fact that the feminine side of the psyche in both men and women is beginning to influence the masculine side. In mythological terms this signifies the return of the Goddess, and with her return there is the potential for Nativity.
   

   Of the inner journey that is required to bring about a personal Second Coming, and of the part played bin that journey by the Goddess, I have attempted to speak in these paintings. In doing so I am merely presenting a timeless myth in a new way that I hope will be found relevant to the times in which we live.


Peter Rogers
San Patricio
March 1993

 

1. The Three Lords

   "The seeing of the eyes and the breathing of the nose bring messages to the heart. lt is the heart which causes all decisions to be made, but it is the tongue which reports what the heart has thought out. All is in accord with the command which the heart has devised and which has appeared upon the tongue. Thus is determined the peculiar nature of everything."

  
 Those words were written in ancient Egypt. Of course we no longer "think in the heart", we think in the mind. Many yeors later we find the same idea in Tibet. The Three Lords of Materialism of Tibetan Buddhism, who were Mind, Speech and Form, equate precisely to "The thoughts of the heart," "the tongue which reports," and "the peculiar nature of everything." The ancient Egyptians and the Tibetan Buddhists were both trying to account for "reality" as we perceive it. Both realized that we create our own "reality" by the way we think, and both realized the power of the spoken word as intermediary.


   So the Three Lords symbolize not only the root causes of the human condition but the condition itself. Unfortunately the "messages brought to the heart" by "the seeing of the eyes and the breathing of the nose," and our other senses, generally trigger some sort of judgment; everything is either good or bad etc. Consequently that is what we experience. lt is a vicious circle, for once the judgment is made, the word spoken, and the new form created, it is then judged again. This circle cannot be broken--it is in the nature of things--but, as we shall see, it con be transformed.


   Potentially the Three Lords are the Lords of Transcendence, but human consciousness was, and remains, largely materialistic and so the Buddhists called them the Three Lords of Materialism. Materialism devoid of spirituality leads to strife. ln this first painting Mind concocts his lies and Speech transmits the lies to Form. The result is the scene we see on the left. Note that the man (intellect) has the horse (instinct) on a rein and that the woman (intuition) is merely a helpless passenger. Strife leads to further disaster. Sometimes we are swept away on a tide of events-often disturbing, sometimes catastrophic events-that we feel powerless to control. Such experiences are known in myth as Trials by Water. These trials are purposeful, for they are goads to the Quest, but they also demonstrate what always happens when life is dominated solely by the male principle.


2. The Three Muses

   As l have said, the vicious circle of Mind, Speech and Form connot be broken, but it can be transformed. But how and by what? We need an agent of transformation and we can find one tailor-made if we look to ancient Greece. The original Three Muses of Greek myth (as opposed to the later Nine) were Meditation, Memory and Music. They transform the nature of The Lords in a manner that I shall be describing as, one by one, they enter the picture. For now, suffice it to say that the effect of the first Muse (Meditation) on the first Lord (Mind) is obvious. The Three Muses symbolize the spiritual life of humanity.

  
 On the left of the painting the man and woman step out of the sea and reach out to The Muses. They are reaching for the spiritual dimension that they have lacked, the implication being that they are turning their backs on the material values that have caused them so much grief. The sea is now calm for it symbolizes the waters of baptism. The rejection, or washing away, of material values is the true meaning of the first baptism, as opposed to the second baptism, or baptism with fire, which we shall come to in the final painting.


   On The right, they remove the reins from the horse; from now on they will give the horse its head. The dove, The Spirit of Truth, awaits in the foreground to lead the way. Above in the sky the clouds form a template of The Channel to be.


3. The Coming of Meditation



   People embark on The Quest for all sorts of ostensible reasons-- even a lack of money-- but deep down it is usually because they sense the lack of a spiritual dimension to their lives. The very awareness of something missing acts as an invocation to The Muse of Meditation. At first it may be but a dim awareness. ln this painting the face of the first Muse hovers on the periphery of the group of Lords.


   On another level one might say that today the first Muse is being invoked because of humanity's increasing concern for Mother Earth, for the two equate. Mother Earth was the Great Goddess of antiquity, but she was not only Mother, she was Hag and Maiden too. The three were associated with summer, fall/ winter, and spring respectively, but in Greece The Triple Goddess was also associaled with Meditation, Memory and Music, i.e. the Three Muses.


   On the left of the painting the man and woman, astride the horse and led by the dove, plunge off a cliff, which is what embarking on the Quest tends to feel like. There are several possible reasons for this. For instance, some people leave safe jobs in order To "follow their bliss," to use Joseph Campbell's expression. Others find themselves no longer able to accept the belief system that they were brought up in, which leaves a void into which they must step in order to find out the truth for themselves. But no one can ever know what they are really plunging into. ln this painting it appears to be the sea, and this is good, because the depths of the sea symbolize the depths of the Collective Unconscious, which is the great repository of all knowledge.


Jesus expressed the idea of the quest as "seeking the kingdom." "Seek first the kingdom of heaven wilhin", he said, " and the rest shall be added unto you." The first thing that those who genuinely embark on the Quest discover is that the promise is good--their materlal needs are mysteriously taken care of. On the right, an angel supplies the man and woman with food and drink.


4. The Coming of Memory

   "The myth of the Garden of Eden could also be understood as symbolizing the memory of an original wholeness, which is forgotten in the eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, drawing us into time and consciousness, and sending us each on a unique journey of exploration. But the fruit of the Garden that has been ingested, continues to live inside us as the impulse to remember the state of union before dismemberment in time, for the memory persists in echoes and glimpses that cannot be explained and will not go away."

   
Those words come from Anne Baring and Jules Cashford's invaluable book, The Myth of The Goddess. They go on to refer to Jung's Collective Unconscious, for it is from there that these memories emerge. They are memories of where we came from and who we really are. These memories are the gifts of the second Muse.


   ln this painting the face of Meditation has become central. Memory appears as yet ghost-like in the background. It is an exciting time for the man and woman, who gallop confidently into the forest of ideas. The mountains symbolize their aspirations. God in the form of a fireball-- their memory of wholeness-- streaks across the sky. On the right they have climbed to the summit of one mountain only to find a higher one ahead of them. There is no way of knowing how to get there because mist obscures the way. Nevertheless it is a moment of euphorla for the travellers, who are unaware of the storm approaching from the left.


5. The Coming of Music



   To the left, the man and woman are being thrown from the horse. To the right, they are lost in the forest. The paths go in all dlrections and there is no dove to show them the way. The storm is breaking over them. Why are these things happening?


    ln the previous painting they were on a mountain-top. Such a place can produce a feeling of superiority and, in the context of the Quest, this feeling equates to splritual pride. The man and woman are still ego-centered and, before they can go further on their journey, they have to be humbled. Why? Because Jesus was not born in a palace, he was born in a stable. The Christ can never be born in a consciousness puffed up with self-importance. Nativity is usually preceded by a dark night of the soul. The humbling of ego is always painful.

 
   Plunged in darkness, the man and woman long for light and this longing invokes the third Muse, Music. In this context her music symbolizes the man and woman's desire for enlightenment, or love of God. This love emits a light of its own. The dove, symbolizing the third aspect of the Trinity, attracted by the music of the Muse, flies to her, thus uniting the light of human love with the light of divine Love, or God. A channel is thereby created between what is above (Heaven or dlvine consciousness) ond what is below (Earth or human consciousness) and this channel (Christ consciousness) enables the Light of God to shine on Earth, which is the whole point and purpose of the Quest. As yet, however, the channel has not been born; it is being conceived.


6. Truth Comes to Mind



   Jesus' mission was to act out the role of the Christ. Totally identified with the Christ, when he spoke of himself he spoke as the Christ. In my opinion, The great mistake of our Christian forebears was to think that he was speaking as Jesus. It seems to me that he made his role perfecfly clear. "I of my own self can do nothing, the Father within He doeth the works." ln other words, he was saying, "l, the Christ, am merely the channel for the works of God." So when on another occasion he said, "No man cometh to the Father except by me", all he was really saying was that no one can find God other than through their own channel. I call this channel the Channel of Awareness. The Channel of Awareness and the Christ are synonymous.


   Once the Channel of Awareness has been opened in consciousness, we receive our inheritance as children of God. One aspect of this inheritance is the discovery of hitherto hidden truths. In this painting, with Nativity an accomplished fact, the Spirit of Truth comes to the first Lord, Mind. Note that the second Lord, Speech, is no longer speaking. When the Christ is newborn in consciousness it is vulnerable to Herod, or the world of material consciousness; hence the flight into Egypt. Which means to say that when The Channel of Awareness is first opened it is wise to keep quiet about it.


   On the left, the dove comes to the woman while the man sleeps. Very often the male intellectual side of the psyche has to be asleep in order for the female receptive side to receive the truth, which is no doubt why intuitions of the truth often come when least expected. On the right, the dove flies down to the man, implying that the trufh in question, initially accepted on the right side of the brain, is now accepted by the left side of the brain and is fully understood. In the sky the clouds of ignorance, torn apart at the time of conception, are beginning to break up. The Muses are becoming more substantial, while the Lords are beginning to lose their solidity.


7. Truth Comes to Speech

   The Channel of Awareness is expanding and the dove has come to Speech, but Speech is still saying nothing. Until the truth manifests in Form, the second Lord is well advised to hold his tongue. But the man and woman are already subjectively seeing the world in a different light. They look into the pool (i.e. of their own unconscious) and see the Light of God. When the Light is found within, the world is seen in a different light too. The vision of the fireball, which is a symbol of the Whole, is their glimpse of oneness, of the Whole that is God.


   The Muses have now lost their transparency, which means to say that the spiritual vision of the man and woman has become focused, whereas in the beginning it was but partial and hazy. The Lords meanwhile have become more transparent, which means to say that the man and woman are beginning to be able to see through human "reality" to the divine Reality beyond.


   The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, referred to our world, or human "reality," as the world of "strife between opposites." "Behind" this world he said there lies another, which he called "the Real World," and which is a world of "harmony or attunement." This is the world that the man and woman are beginning to see. It is symbolized by the third Muse, Music, and again Heraclitus provides the reason why, albeit inadvertently. He wrote that, "The Real World consists in a balanced adjustment of opposing tendencies." What is music, or for that matter any work of art, other than "a balanced adjustment of opposing tendencies." So, in the Real World the opposites do not cease to exist, but rather, as in a work of art. they are balanced or unified. ln other words, whereas the third Lord symbolizes form or "reality" in our world, the third Muse symbolizes form or Reality in the Real World, form in the Real World being comparable to music.


8. Truth Comes to Form

   In this painting I have combined both the Trial by Fire and the second baptism, or Baptism with Fire. Whereas the first baptism implied the rejection of material values, the second baptism implies the affirmation of spiritual values. This includes the affirmation of one's true identity as a child of God, but what does that really mean?


   Jesus referred to both my Father and our Father. He made no claim to be THE Son of God; it was Paul who made the claim for him. Jesus was completely identified with the Christ and it was in his Christhood that he was Son of God. Since we share the same Father, the implication is that we too, in our Christhood. are children of God. So to affirm one's true identity as a child of God is to affirm one's Christhood.


   This has its dangers. ln fact it can lead to serious megalomania unless one has shed all identification with ego before making the affirmation. ldentification of the ego with the Christ Ieads to what Jung called ego inflation, which is extremely unattractive. But the ego is full of tricks and dies hard, which is why a purging process is necessary, and this process is known in myth as Trial by Fire.


   ln this painting the man and woman are passing their trial with flying colors. Nothing can stop them now. On the rlght they merge with the horse and dove in the wholeness of the fireball. Their moment of Ascension has arrived. The symbol of Ascension stems from the masculine philosophy of Transcendence. ln that philosophy it is significant that enlightenment is symbolized by an ascent from Earth. If the divine is immanent in Earth, why leave it behind?


    The answer is, I think, that what they are symbolically leaving behind is the world of human "reality" and what they are about to "ascend" into is the world of divine Reallty. Since the Real World is really here and now, as the feminine philosophy has always insisted (and as Jesus insisted when he said, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand") they are not so much leaving our world as seeing it with new eyes. This would indeed be like "ascending" from one world into another.


   And in conclusion-- to my knowledge the images of the Lords and Muses have never been juxtaposed before, and yet I know of no other images that so perfectly symbolize the creatlve interaction between the male and female principles. ln fact it is hard to believe that at some time in the distant past they were not conceived of together. Did both ideas arise in ancient Egypt and one find its way to Greece, which is quite likely, and one to Tibet, which is less likely? Did Alexander bring back half of the equation when he made his foray into India? ln Tibet was half of it forgotten? Or were The Lords and Muses really conceived of separately and simply had to wait a few thousand years to be put together by an obscure painter in the twentieth century? Doubtless we shall never know the answers to these questions. What we do know is that their union is the key to the Real World, and that without their union there can be no Second Coming, and that is all that matters.

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