I am writing from the Hotel Sovana in Tuscany where Laura Hansen and I are facilitating a 'retreat in motion', a pilgrimage of sort that takes us outwardly to visit Etruscan and medieval sites while we journey within through our SoulCollage(R) cards.
At the opening of our first circle I introduced the group to the Archetype of the Melusina. All the 16 participants (from four countries and various States) were invited to make a card for Her and enter into Her womb aware of the desires and doubts of this moment, asking to be transformed in whatever way we are consciously or unconsciously seeking. Laura had printed the widest possible selection of Melusina images and we were all soon busy giving this ancient figure our individual interpretations by making a card for Her. In this newsletter you can see my latest SoulCollage(R) card for Her and a few other examples that were created last Sunday.
The title of this newsletter may sound like the refrain of a sentimental song, and indeed it does speak about a unique kind of love. I call the Melusina 'mine' (and she can become yours as well) because my love affair with Her spans almost four decades of admiring, painting, sculpting and looking for Her in remote places.
'Melusina' is the name I favor among those used for the bi-tailed Siren whose legends and myths are found across time and space in almost all ancient cultures. What has always puzzled me is her consistent but obscured presence in the carved decorations of ancient European cathedrals and silvan chapels. I have seen how she has been intentionally disfigured or even completely removed from portals and columns, and how she is often described as a medieval representation of a monster if mentioned at all by guides and scholars. She has been dismissed but she has not gone away, her powerful exquisite feminine presence has been only partially silenced by this disregard that seems to be melting away, at least in some circles.
Early Christians carved her likeness above the entrance into their simple ancient chapels, her legs-tails spread widely, the mouth of her vagina inviting us to enter the place of worship as if entering into her womb where we would be reabsorbed and restored to a state of innocence and pure potentiality. There we could be awakened to spiritual life and return to the world with new eyes. As devotees exited after worship they stepped over the chapel's threshold as if they were traveling through the birth again and again. These early Christians were simply applying an ancient widespread symbol to their new religion. In southern Tuscany, where she is still widely present both in stone and in spirit, the Etruscans carved her likeness above the entrance of their monumental tombs where she was receiving the soul of the dead protecting its passage into the richer afterlife.
The disfiguring and the oblivion of the Melusinas were step by step consciously orchestrated as the Christian church, in its desire to define itself as a religion completely different from the ancient cults, abandoned the natural awareness of the feminine role in creation and in transformation, in favor of a patriarchal vision and image of a monotheistic male god.
What I discover over and over in her ancient presence is a quality of love akin to the force that holds the universe together. You may call this force with a different name, more scientific or neutral, and yet you would still refer to the quality that consistently recreates order out of the creative chaos, allowing life to manifest into cohesive harmony rather than disperse in the centrifugal fugue of entropy.
She is Refuge from the chaos we experience in heart and mind with the firm hold she has of her two tails flaying in opposite directions; she is Nurturance and Transformation by virtue of her ability to live simultaneously in all the elemental dimensions, from which she teaches how to receive the sustenance we need accordingly to our essential nature. But most of all she is Mother that births and rebirths, welcoming us in her ctonic womb where the elements are brought to their original separateness to be remixed again in a new formula.
Her body itself is an alchemical cauldron. She breathes the air we breathe and often she sports wings. She is a creature of the primordial waters where she travels freely thanks to the fish part of her body. Her tails, partly siren-like partly snakes hint to her travels in the underworlds of darkness and mystery. She welcomes us in the fire of her belly protected by her earthy womb. She moves freely in all four elements which she contains in her body.
At 5:30am on the morning of the Summer Solstice we will participate in an astro-architecture solar even at the cathedral of Sovana. The sun will enter a pertuge in the absid and its first ray will travel on the walls and columns of the church touching symbolic places and telling us the eternal story of Life exploding into Summer once again.
Upon entering and then exiting we will salute the Melusina who has been gracing the portal of this church since the 9th century AD.
If you are intrigued you will be able to read more about Her on my website and participate in some of the works I am planning next year under her auspices. In the meantime read what you can but do not believe all you read, because she has been vilified and reduced to folklore too often. Times are changing for Her as well.
As I am writing this note stretched on my bed, the windows wide open to welcome the morning sun and the fragrant smells of the garden, two swallows fly in. They circle the room twice chirping cheerfully, seemingly very aware of my presence, and fly out again waving their bifurcated tails.
I share with you their Solstice blessings and send you my best wishes for a fruitful expansive summer,
My Melusina - Council Suit
I am the ancestral Mother, the brewer of the primordial Waters.
I am the Queen of origins.
I breathe into the invisible net that holds the universe together.
I am the keeper of the Fire that burns under the cauldron of all earthly possibilities.
Everything finds its beginnings in my womb. I bless the round and low, the tall and pointed with rebirth.
There is not much published on the Melusine, or bi-caudate Siren. And some of what you will find is inaccurate or seen through culture specific eyes that do not take into account the depth of symbolic meaning contained in her presence. Imagine that early archeologists upon finding her above Etruscan tombs' doorways called her the "winged demon". There is a researcher from the Netherlands who is writing her second book on the Siren. Although she goes beyond the manifestation of the Siren as Melusine, she has done some good research and educated guessing. Her name is Selma Sevenhuijsen (so far published in Dutch and Italian). I met the Melusine as a young woman and since then, besides reading what I find (with a grain of salt) I have been "journeying" with her through drumming, creativity and visioning, to understand her better as a universal archetype, regardless of contextual cultural applications. Selma does not like the word "Melusine" because of the legends associated to it in French lore. I personally do not like to call her Siren or Mermaid because for similar reasons. I find it limiting and misleading. Maybe one day she will reveal another name, appropriate to these times and to the need we presently have of her presence.
We are like rivers following the urge towards the core of our nature, towards home. Not a place of arrival but a place of source. Home is where our gifts ripen to be shared with the world, where we find solace and strength, where we grow wisdom, ripen maturity, and let the collective carry us without losing our beat.Read More
We have so much to learn from these women who sought their freedom with resilience, clarity and ingenuity.Read More
My teach/travel ever-changing pace has taken me again to the Hawaiian Islands. Yes, I consider myself very fortunate to be 2300 miles of deep blue water away from the closest continental shore! Tomorrow morning I will be in a radio interview, scroll to the bottom of this blog to find the link.
During this second long stay I am learning a bit more of what is real in this unique world – imbuing lessons from nature and observing the mingling of so many ethnicities. I greatly appreciate that everyone here is a minority. Hawai’i seems to be the most racially diverse place in the world. In the last Census 23.6% of the residents claimed a multi-ethnic background (two or more ethnic roots). Alaska is second among the States with only 7.3%!!
Hawai’i is home to an Asian mix that together holds a slight “majority”. Whites both from the mainland and from Europe, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, Native Americans, African Americans or otherwise Black, Hispanics of various origin, and Alaskan Natives have made their home here… it is a marvelous mix that influences the music and festivals, and of course the food! The Chinese cook Manapua and the Portuguese (mostly from the Azores) offer Malasadas. If you are a foodie you might check Wikipedia on this amazing array of choices.
I am continuously surprised by the diversity of landscapes and fauna found in the islands. The differences between North/South and West/East are quite evident even in these microcosms floating in the middle of the Pacific. I am also very pleased by the absence of anything poisonous because I love to go barefooted everywhere. I take this absence as another sign of the well-advertised Aloha spirit, which becomes more and more real when one leaves the touristic beaten paths and is required to deal with day-to-day tasks.
My dark skin is once again a great ally for blending in, I am driving a local semi-wrecked car which makes me pleasantly invisible, I visit old friends who have settled here many years ago and are a reliable source of reflection on assimilation and integration in this world that lives by its own rules, and I vicariously homestead on and off in a speckle of paradise north of Hilo without running water or electricity.
My brain loves the challenge at all levels. Last night I was reading Plato (don’t we need Socrates’ wisdom in these challenging political times!!!) at the light of a tea-candle-powered led lamp, listening to the coqui frogs incessant cries and a few grunts from the wild pigs groveling below the lanai.
The trials posed by the unfamiliar – having to negotiate unknown dirt roads, surfer’s pickups darting for the coast with their dogs barking in the back, food without refrigeration, tiny restaurants patronized mostly by locals, fancy hotels catering to the super rich by recreating a Polynesian village on the lava beds – all this keeps me young. The incessant rain on the East coast of the Big Island tested my resilience, and the warm sun on the West side finally dried off my bones and allowed me to swim early in the morning with the usual array of colorful tropical fish. In between these blessed moments I work as usual. I navigate the meanders of marketing (where I continue to be quite lost), I conduct mentoring sessions, I write, I read, and practice Aloha.
In spite of its small size (the Big Island is 4,028 square miles and has a permanent population of more or less 200k) – I feel life’s potential vibrating very strongly, I feel free, expansive and curious, with so much to discover in its amazing geographical and human diversity. Sometimes this surprises me. There must be a law of resonance at work, something I cannot deny nor explain.
The culture is becoming more familiar, and more foreign at the same time, as it often happens when we start exploring something that carries this degree of history and complexity.
I always find help in books, so if you love readings I suggest these three very different books as a start:
Shark Dialogs by Kiana Davenport. I got pleasantly lost in her world and I am continuing to read the sequels. Kiana is of mixed blood, Hawaiian and Caucasian, she is a great writer and an intelligent outspoken woman. In fact you might like reading her blog as well.
“Hawaii” by Michener: This book is truly a classic, if you have never read it I recommend it even if you are not planning to travel this way.
The Bowl of Light by Hank Wesselman has its moments of egocentrism, but it is also a beautiful, inspiring and magical account of Hawaiian mysticism. Ignore the blips and take the wisdom, it is worth the effort.
Post your thoughts in my blog’s comments if you read them! And share any Hawai’i story or reflection.
You may also join me for a workshop – Jan 21-22 on Maui, The Phoenix: Ancient Myth, Personal Journey, or from March 10-12 on the Big Island, The Wheel of Life: a Cosmology of the Four Elements. Click here to see all my current workshops, including SoulCollage facilitator trainings in USA, Canada also with a Tour in Italy.
Please also consider to join me in the radio interview with Judy I mentioned above, if you haven’t already.
Please join me on January 12th for Jazz Up Your Life with Judy: Breakthrough to Your Greatest Health, Wealth & Happiness.
You can have free exclusive access to this event which showcases many different speakers, and there will also be some personal work with some of the participants. All participants will also receive a GIFT worth over $525 of activations and processes to jump start your new adventure called "Life Beyond Your Dreams".
If you would like to join the event, click here: http://www.mcssl.com/app/?af=1665038
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The Winter Solstice is an aspicious time for deep contemplation of the mystery. In this moment between the end of the light-dimming cycle, and the beginning of light’s expansion – feel the thinning of the veil, and send into its magic a humble request to feel the love that bridges life and death, dimness and brightness.Read More
Dear friends, brothers and sisters,
As part of our long established tradition, at this time of year I send you deep gratitude for your support and for all I have been learning directly or vicariously from your presence in my life. Thank you for existing.Read More
Learn how to welcome a new card into your deck. This exercise is very revealing and provides cross integration among various Neters - an activation of Indra's Net within. Discover how the Neters can speak to each other.Read More
Clinically, SoulCollage® has innumerable applications, including the development of self-reflective and self-soothing tools. It offers openings to increase clients’ confidence in their decision-making process and opportunities to recognize and access their own strengths. It has proved particularly suitable in anchoring those precious “Ah, hah!” moments that occur during the therapeutic process and for overcoming internal as well as external conflictsRead More
SoulCollage® invites us to address the eternal question: “Who am I?” Then it leads us into the creative process of crafting a deck of collaged cards, each representing one facet of our being. This deck is then consulted to access intuitive wisdom through one’s own symbolic images.Read More
We are not all born with the same facility to learn languages, and we are not all born with the same degree of creative impulse. But we are all capable of being creative, just like all of us – saved some disability – are able to learn the language of our people. Some individuals are called to apply this quality to every mundane task crossing their path. Others funnel it in their work. Many are compelled to place creativity at the centre of their life purpose and use it to produce….paintings; pieces of music; works of fiction, and so on for the benefit of all.Read More
Did you know that the most common form of myth is a creation story? Each one is a unique spiritual blueprint of the culture that generated it and populated it with archetypal characters. Everywhere you look you will find a cosmology in the form of a legend, a myth or a philosophical treatise written to explain the order and dis-order of the universe and the origin of the world.Read More
For now I will only say that women were repositories of pragmatic medical knowledge due to an unbroken relationship with nature that must have felt threatening to the ways religious and political systems were reorganizing themselves after the locally focalized medieval times. While the first official “university” was founded in Bologna (my Alma Mater) in 1088, the European spreading of such concentrated places of learning moved very slowly for the following 400 hundred years. In the beginning of the 1500s their still small number (29) doubled, and 18 more were added by 1625. These apparently unrelated events make me wonder about the emotional and psychological environment of those years.Read More
Read about the qualities of the Spring (Vernal) Equinox and be inspired by a reading done by Mariabruna and a couple of friends to do your own focused "reading" asking your Neters questions related to this cyclic seasonal change.Read More
What are the Four Suits? and the Transpersonal cards? Here I outline the basic structure of SoulCollage and give examples of each one.Read More
Will I be able to collage SoulCollage® cards? Will they be of any use in my life? Will I be comfortable attending a workshop?Read More