Making Barbie of the Apocalypse
I wasn’t looking for a definitive ‘meaning’ as crafted by some other person. Inner/outer relationship can come about in part through study but for sacred relationship I needed to create, so I combined the symbols of Revelation with personally meaningful symbols to create an apocalyptic self-portrait.
How do the Christ and Anti-Christ in their core polarity — the spirit of inclusion and the spirit of exclusion, the sacred and the profane – marry within a human being? The Feminine — the Bride in the latter part of the Book of Revelation – has been banished in the West for some time, so Barbie’s form represents not only self as woman and not only inclusion, but the exclusion of the inclusionary and all the harm caused via the narcissism of 666 hyper- individualism and its henchmen, greed and aggression.
The image of exclusion arrived when practicing aikido with a man who had barbed wire tattooed around his wrist. As he gripped my wrist with his own, the image took hold of me. I have a barbed wire scar on the palm of my right hand. One of my favorite photographs is one my father took of barbed wire, aka “the devil’s rope,” after WW2.
I broke my collarbone in an aikido accident just as I began work on Barbie, so I hung the drawn outline at the foot of my bed and contemplated the white chalk outline on the black rectangle. I lived with the possibility of her while I lay broken and unable to create.
It seems creative acts often begin with some form of dismemberment, break, price, delay for a period of subterranean gestation.
Once I got to work on the barbed wire outline, the rhythmic looping of embroidery thread eventually resembled the double helix of DNA. My tactile meditation on a substance that enforces separation led me to an essential component of the web of life.
While I was stitching barbed wire and because I was stitching barbed wire, it changed from representingg “us vs. them” to a symbol of wholeness, belonging, the truth of interdependence. As my hands repeated the back and forth looping movement, I experienced, in an embodied way, how all humans long for and seek wholeness – it’s encoded in our DNA even when that desire becomes perverted through the 666 mind. When an individual psyche can’t incorporate the Other into Us, the self/ other war arises, sees the other, the not-self, as a threat to the prime directive of wholeness and plots to destroy “them” to attain the wholeness of “us”.
Acts of genocide, ethnic cleansing, and other crimes against humanity continue, despite cries of ‘never again.’ One prevalent subtext of those cries says, “Never again for us; never again for those I identify with, my ethnic group” rather than ‘Never again’ for the Earth community. As long as we continue to identify as us / them, there were always be the drive to get rid of ‘them’ so we can be ‘us,’ the wholeness we long for in the depths of our genetic code. This can be as visible as genocide or as subtle as dismissing someone’s experience because it conflicts with one’s comfort zone.
If one considers awareness of collective wholeness // interdependence our prime directive, and I have since that time of intensive embroidery, then it makes sense that if one can’t conceive of a people of a certain race, religion, or culture as part of ‘us’ then one would wish for their destruction, to ease the intolerable tension of ‘us’ and ‘them’ in the psyche. Once the ‘other’ is destroyed, what remains is ‘us.’
This obviously can never work. Even if a group of people succeeded in eradicating a whole group of people, the consciousness of us / them would find another them – as the end of the Cold War carried within itself the beginning of the War on Terror. The only viable way out of that tension is to train the conditioned ego out of ‘us/them’ consciousness and into ‘us’ consciousness. Not a mandatory Kumbaya groupthink, but something as dynamic and diverse as the Earth itself.
Close to its end, the Book of Revelation states, “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come!’ … let all who are thirsty, come: all who want it may have the water of life, and have it free.” As rumors of future privatization of water, and water wars, rumble, perhaps nothing else in Revelation speaks with such urgency to the Western consciousness.
Commodification of basic human rights gives an even more brutal face to us/them consciousness, and to the Whore of Babylon — not a woman, but a state of consciousness where everything is commodified. Neither is the Bride a woman, but a state of consciousness.
What would it be like if we could feel everything that happens, not just our limited, singular consciousness? No doubt we couldn’t bear it, but if we could bear even a glimpse, how would that change the world?
The apocalyptic bowls and cup combine in the blood/ wine filled bowl that rests on Barbie’s lap. Three tears of blood stain her cheek. Convicts sometimes tattoo tears on their cheeks, one for each year of incarceration. Jesus sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemane. Perhaps Barbie weeps for the whoredom of humanity and the commodification of everything, including our spirituality. When I embroidered this section, I had the thought “True Holiness is a beggar in this world” as the bowl had unintentionally (it’s gold after all) taken on the appearance of a contemplative’s begging bowl.
I made two Photoshop collage versions of Barbie, and changing the bowl’s contents was the prime motivation: Water, Fire, Blood / Wine. Yin, Yang, Life force.
White Barbie’s bowl is filled with healing waters, but though much is “unveiled” in our times, the healing water, the Sacred Feminine, is still veiled.
Blue Barbie’s bowl is filled with apocalyptic fire. The fire is contained, though barely, by the alchemical vessel.
According to The Heart of the Quran the fires of hell are an eternal moment when humans are purified of everything that is not divine love.
Blue Barbie is surrounded by “holy sparks,” seven, to be exact, in homage to the abundance of sevens in Revelation. Jewish mysticism considers the world to be filled with sparks of holiness that are hidden in matter, and that our job as humans is to redeem the material world through the act of blessing everything as a way of freeing those holy sparks. Seeing the invisible within the visible, the unmanifest holy within the manifest cacophony of appearances. If you want to get biblical, the injunction of Jesus Christ, “judge not according to appearances” fits here.
Though it wasn’t a conscious intent, Barbie is a triple goddess: White Barbie, with her erotic self in her heart, power in her right palm, veiled waters of nourishment in her lap, both shrouded in white like an underworld specter and veiled in white like a bride, is the virgin / maiden. Blue Barbie, with her wisdom wing and surrounded by holy sparks, is the mother, and Original Barbie, sitting skeletally and regally in Blackness would be Hecate, Queen of the Underworld. Yet each holds, in some fashion, all three in themselves.
I used the x-ray from my broken collarbone in the Photoshopped Barbies. It’s like she’s in a cave or egg, an oval that holds and protects her. It satisfies me to have a literal image of my brokenness hold the wholeness of the goddesses I made with my hands.
Barbie is my prayer that humanity learns its to say yes to its alchemical directive: to become ‘us’ with everything, to let the love affair between individual and collective, spirit and matter, unseen Mystery and visible creation, express consciously, creatively, dynamically, and beautifully through humanity.