Apocalyptic Alchemy — seven metals, seven planets, seven alchemical processes, seven seals, seven chakras, sevens seen over and over and over again in the Book of Revelation, written at a time when numbers had more mystical meaning than they generally do today.
Within all that seeming violence, is there something encoded about the unbalanced, hyper-masculine 666 state of human consciousness? From the sun/moon woman who gives birth, and who Jung considered the most intact symbol within the text, to the bride at the end of the Book of Revelation, is there something in there about a Feminine Apocalypse?
“This is love: to fly toward a secret sky, to cause a hundred veils to fall each moment. First to let go of life. Finally, to take a step without feet.” — Rumi
Given that it is mostly women who wear the veil, and given that mainstream fundamentalists imagine a mega-war as the main feature of the apocalypse, and given that Western consciousness has banished the Sacred Feminine for quite some time now, I can’t help but muse about what a Feminine Apocalypse might look like – what from the unconscious might be unveiled? If the heart of the apocalypse is that something must be unveiled, something must be revealed, what if we’re each carrying something that is meant to be unveiled, for the evolution of human consciousness, and for the benefit of a greater-than-human dream?
What does the Feminine even look like? We are still excavating Her: Fierce and uncompromising, yet soft and yielding. She knows what she stands for and what she opposes, yet she loves the entire world the way a mother loves her newborn child. A warrior, a lover, a multi-dimensional portal. A way of the heart that’s way beyond Disney culture sweetness.
Let me be clear that by using the word ‘feminine’ I am not referring only to humans who identify solely with the feminine gender. Constructive theologian Catherine Keller quotes and amplifies feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray:
Waiting for parousia [the Second Coming] would require keeping all one’s senses alert. Not destroyed, not covered, not ‘dirtied,’ our senses would be open.” Without her we might not find the body of deconstruction. Why does it take a woman to recall us to our senses? This body is not female only, but it is nobody without the female. …she [Irigaray] invokes pneumatalogy, the study of spirit and spiritual things: “Keeping the senses alert means being attentive in flesh and in spirit” This is most intensively a spiritual proposition, no mere opening, but the opening by and and which I unveil myself as a woman, by which my senses and even perhaps again, my eyes open. To wit: “If God and the other are to be unveiled…I too must unveil myself (I should not expect God to do it for me. Not this time…).
Irigaray has joined the choir of feminist theologians. She seeks not a apophatic nothingness, but a sensuous incarnation of God as female. The aim would be unlimited incarnation, not the single incarnation of a son, not even the dyadic one of a couple, but of all that is ‘drawn into the mystery of a word that seeks its incarnation.’
This opening, these alert senses, what are they alert for? For spirit, for the holy sparks hidden in matter, for matter itself — and for shadow. For there is nothing that doesn’t cast a shadow. Revelation’s violent language casts a shadow that allows for this flagrantly female opening, the mystical opening that women’s bodies are designed for by virtue of our sexuality, and every human has a capacity for.
Jung, in his Answer to Job postulated that God was both conscious and unconscious, good and bad, and that Christ was his first attempt to incarnate into the world. He believed that what the Book of Revelation spoke of was God incarnated in his fullness, in His dark and light, good and bad, conscious and unconscious. Imagine the fullness of God, way beyond any concepts, wanting to incarnate in you.
That sure would be a game changer. One of my favorite Divine aspects to contemplate is omniscience – knowing everything everywhere. The Hebrew tradition said that God made humans because God loves stories. I often wonder what it would be like, to be able to know all the stories going on in the world, in this moment…
Imagine sharing that quality of knowing everything that’s happening – not just conceptually, as in via the internet, but in your embodied experience. That would sure make it impossible to live in us/them consciousness. Just try to imagine killing somebody if you had to feel the whole real of it, all the ripples of that action’s impact. That is my current vision of the Feminine Apocalypse: Blowing your mind and identity by flooding your feeling body with all of it: Unveil this, #otherfucker!
A few days after writing that, my arrogance was challenged when I went on Facebook and was smashed by the chaos of the feed that greeted my thinking mind: silly jokes, articles on murder, a hot white woman in a bathing suit re-inventing herself in Thailand, articles on racism, a video on marriage and why everyone inevitably marries the wrong person — it took me hours to recover from the mix and its full spectrum tangle of relative depth and meaning.
Flashback: I was standing in front of a mirror one day in 2001 making a few moves that were so automatic as to be practically unconscious — checking my hair, my clothing, my body in profile to see if my clothing flattered my slender figure. I don’t think of myself as someone who spends time on her appearance so I hadn’t even noticed this ritual I often go through when I prepare to leave the house.
The U.S. bombs were just starting to fall in Afghanistan. Suddenly everything was foreign to me – the mirror and my appearance in it, my mannerisms, my home, everything around me. I didn’t understand who I was or where I was. My little mirror ritual might not make sense to someone wearing a burqa.
I believe what happened to me in that moment was a hint of a “bleed -through” into Afghanistan; less poetic souls might call it a moment of romantic delusion. (This is an ongoing theme for humanity — what is the difference between revelation and delusion? It doesn’t matter much when it comes to my subjective analysis of my experience, but in matters like “God” telling someone to commit murder, it’s a vitally important question.) I believe that human beings do have some kind of access to collective shared experience. Part of the stress of modern life is that to access that collective shared experience is overwhelmingly, maddeningly painful and must be suppressed at all costs.
If this seems far-fetched, consider that what I’m talking about is only a heightened sense of empathy. My dictionary defines empathy as “understanding so intimate that the feelings, thoughts, and motives of one are readily comprehended by another.” Perhaps it’s a natural psychic development in relation to globalization and the countless ways we have woven the world together.
We currently have access to a such an onslaught of information that it’s almost impossible to process. Part of the allure of religious fundamentalism or any rigid belief system is it protects against the overwhelm of information. All input can be quickly separated into that which supports the belief system and that which is the enemy of the belief system (and conveniently nourishes the ongoingness of “us vs. them.”)
Ironically, though fundamentalist beliefs are used at times as a shield against the cold mechanization of modernity, a belief system can easily serve as a filing system that bypasses the human heart. In order to protect against some of the very real ways modern life dehumanizes people, people may well become dehumanized in other ways through that logical protection. It’s not only a war against terrorism: the human heart itself is under attack.
The Feminine in the apocalyptic genre
The Other Bible includes apocalypses that were lost after the burning of the great library of Alexandria, and found at Nag Hammadi in 1945, among them Feminine apocalypses: Thunder, Perfect Mind and The Trimorphic Protennoia, which Elaine Pagels, in her book Revelations, translates as The Triple Formed Primordial Consciousness. Pagels highlights these words in The Trimorphic Protennoia:
I move in every creature…in everyone, and I delve into them all… I am a voice speaking softly…I dwell in the silence…I am perception and knowing [gnosis ]…I am the real voice. I cry out in everyone, and they recognize me, since a seed indwells them…I am the awareness of the Father… a hidden thought… a mystery.
The feminine voice who speaks in Thunder, Perfect Mind, by claiming all opposites, certainly doesn’t partake of the self/ other war:
I was sent forth from the power, and I have come to those who reflect upon me…I am the first and the last …I am the honored one and the scorned one. I am the whore and the holy one. I am the wife and the virgin. … I am the silence that is incomprehensible and the idea whose remembrance is frequent. I am the voice whose sound is manifold and the word whose appearance is multiple. I am the utterance of my name.
…I am knowledge and ignorance. I am shame and boldness. … Give heed to me. I am the one who is disgraced and the great one. … I am the one who has been hated everywhere and who has been loved everywhere. I am the one whom they call life, and you have called death.
Hear me in gentleness and learn of me in roughness. I am she who cries out, and I am cast forth upon the face of the earth. … I am the knowledge of my name.
Note the similarity between ‘the first and the last’ and the ‘Alpha and the Omega’, written in the Revelation to John. Note also the similarities with the story of Jesus and his being honored and scorned / crucified.
Remember that apocalypse was a genre, in which the seer wrote down visions of relationship with the luminous epinoia, symbolism, archetypes, messages from Mystery and from the mythopoetic subtle body. There’s nothing to stop any of us from opening to our own, unique gnostic unveiling / life poetry / vision / art, except for the conditioned habit of capitulating to external authority
next up: practices for unveiling