(Homebound Publications, 2017)
By Mary Petiet
In Minerva’s Owls, Mary Petiet weaves a fascinating and colorful web of yoga, healing, and Western wisdom traditions. Filled with the infinite knowing of the feminine divine, this slim volume is packed with enduring wisdom. You will recover yourself in these pages.-Trista Hendron, author of the Girl God series.
Wisdom Tradition and the Hidden
Feminine Wisdom hath builded a house, she hath hewn out her seven pillars –Proverbs 9:1
Our deepest wisdom lies within, we have everything we need within. As Munch’s screamer has forgotten his mother and the Golden Age, he has also forgotten the journey within himself. The wisdom tradition is part of the return journey to source, and wisdom is embodied in the feminine.
Our inner wisdom is always available if we choose to listen, and increasing numbers of people are beginning to hear. Wisdom is Minerva’s insight, and it is part of the feminine side of our duality which is returning to our consciousness. When we seek wisdom, we are calling upon source. Wisdom is an offering of source, and source has left its trace through wisdom repeatedly over the ages.
At wisdom’s root is love, so if we approach it with love, we will be granted clarity, purpose and an understanding of our right path. This self knowledge leads to individual happiness, which in turn reflects on others making them happier. It can lead us to our own Golden Age. Wisdom is an attribute of the divine feminine, it can override dissociation, and when we find it we can build our own house with supportive pillars.
The idea behind the wisdom tradition is that we have an open channel to source, or the divine. This channel connects us to source; it requires no controlling religious institutions and no dogma. It is simple connection and understanding and it harks back to the oneness experienced in our deepest past, our Golden Age. The full manifestation of this connection depends on the balance of the two dualities, the masculine and the feminine. If we follow Minerva’s owls we see that our severance from source runs concurrently with our unbalancing of the dualities, with the burying of the feminine in the male aspect. This was a gradual progression and its effectiveness is given voice in The Scream. If we probe deeply into the sacred feminine, we find the powerful imagery of a rich wisdom tradition.
Wisdom is the coiled serpent. As a sacred figure, a Great Mother and owl of Minerva, the Minoan snake goddess is connected directly to the wisdom of the divine feminine. Even though no written accounts survive, she was clearly a powerful figure, and power can certainly be the product of wisdom. The snake itself comes to us from the East, and women and the snake are associated with wisdom throughout ancient history. The motif of the snake, curled upon itself tail in mouth, is symbolic of the eternal cycle. It is round, it is cyclical, and it is unending. Nature reflects this in the seasons and we may reflect it spiritually in the seasons of our lives on earth as we evolve through many lifetimes. The snake can also shed its skin, which we can imagine as a metaphor for the idea of the stages of life, or even the idea of successive lives. From the earliest times, even before the Minoans, the snake is present, right back to the Epic of Gilgamesh, our earliest recorded story, dating to the 18th c. BCE. The Gilgamesh story anticipates Eden, featuring man created by God from the soil, his temptation by a woman bearing food and his subsequent wandering quest. When he finds the fruit of immortality, a snake steals it from him. Snakes are associated with eternity, fertility, and knowledge. They are portrayed wrapped round the tree of life. They can also bite when least expected. Eve was tempted by the snake. When she accepted the apple, God condemned the snake to crawl upon its belly and eat the dirt for all time. Later the Virgin is depicted as the new Eve, with the snake beneath her feet. Christianity developed an association of the snake with evil, the devil, but eastern thought associates it with the Kundalini, the life force that resides coiled in the sacral base. When activated through yoga or meditation, the Kundalini awakens, igniting the chakras and granting the initiate the wisdom of self- knowledge as well as access to the wider consciousness. At its most esoteric, the three and a half times coiled kundalini snake can imbue the adept with magic power. Three is the mystical number, the number of the trinity, and as the kundalini wakens and uncoils along the back bone, its path resembles the staff of Hermes or the Rod of Asclepius, now the symbols of medicine, or the triple helix of our DNA.
You know that we are living in a material world, And I am a material girl. –Madonna
We inhabit an age of change and our institutions have ceased to serve the majority. They were built for a different time, and however well intentioned at their inception, they have become monolithic structures concerned with the maintenance of their own power at the cost of larger societal good. They are the social apex of source disconnect created by a lingering distraction with the five senses at the expense of the spiritual. In the face of this, it is our choices on an individual level that show a growing and direct line back to source amidst the material, and enough of these choices can enact change from the bottom up.
Consider the organic food movement. The material world would have us accept empty industrial foods, often produced on otherwise barren land with the aid of dangerous chemicals. This is controversial ground, because without the chemicals, we would be unable to feed the world’s population as it eats today. Because we use chemicals, we have a shot at feeding the planet, and preventing starvation is obviously the first priority. There is further controversy in the higher prices demanded for organic food at market, leading to charges of elitism. Despite this, the organic food movement has gathered serious momentum in the post-industrial Northern hemisphere, and as organics become more available, their growing popularity raises the bar on food production in general to increase the supply of healthy alternatives. This, in turn, lowers the price of organics to reflect increased availability.
On a local level, in individual communities, it provides the source rooted answer to industrial farming. We can pretty much all agree that industrial and factory farming is harmful to the planet, and it is also hard to argue that the treatment of animals on factory farms is appalling. It is almost as if the post-industrial north regrets the sheer cold mechanism of everything that was required to reach the point of sophistication where the possibility of going back to an apparently more happily, bucolic time of small farms and wholesome produce becomes possible.
The organic food movement is a well-intentioned, at times earnest, movement, harking back to pre-industrial farming as the 19th century Romantics harked back to the Golden Age. The word organic alone conjures images of nature, of things not made by machines or in factories. The organic movement is ultimately source oriented because it brings us back to the very basics; to the soil and what we can grow from it. It simplifies our relationship to what nourishes us physically in the same way direct contact with source simplifies our relationship to what nourishes us spiritually.
Thus for this time and place, the organic food movement is a worthy cause, and every small farm offering healthy alternatives and every consumer who has questioned industrial production enough to seek those alternatives, is contributing to the move away from empty acceptance of the material. We can make choices that support what benefits us all. Food grown cleanly is good for the body and the land; meat raised humanely is good for the body and respects the animal. These choices make perfect sense in the larger context of connection.
However, our wider policies show disconnect on the federal level with the insistence on producing as much food as cheaply as possible, at any cost to human health, animal health, or the environment. This supports a crumbling edifice, and the real solution is to find a balance that feeds all while respecting the environment and the animals. This may come about with new legislation, technology, or with a shift in eating patterns. Currently we can support the climate that will encourage that to happen by choosing wisely what we eat, as we are fueling ourselves with the bounty provided by the same energy that creates us and connects us. If we follow the Law of Connection, the suffering factory farm animal is not as distant from us as we might like to think.
Building upon the idea of the organic movement, each pro environmental group shows an awareness that we are connected to the earth and need it to survive. From Rachel Carson’s warning of a silent spring to the preservation of open space and the fight against pesticides and pollution, we demonstrate our connection by attempting to maintain the greater good. Each animal welfare organization displays the knowledge that we have evolved with and remain connected to nature as it strives to protect habitats and their inhabitants, and to prevent the unnecessary mistreatment of animals. Each safety gap a society enacts to protect its less fortunate members and each charity that helps the underprivileged attests to source and connection.
Mary Petiet is an author, reporter, and content writer. A longtime regular contributor to Edible Cape Cod magazine, she has contributed to a number of journals and anthologies, including Motherhouse of the Goddess, the Girl God series, the Mago Circle, and most recently Karen Tate’s anthology Awaken the Feminine. Her freelance work reporting and writing content is underpinned by storytelling with an emphasis on connection. Her book, Minerva’s Owls, was published in 2017.