This week, I embrace the most accepted meaning (in our culture) of negativity – bad, evil, yucky, eech, nasty, unpleasant, dirty, harmful, damaging etc. These are the attributes normally attributed to the evils Pandora let loose on mankind. These are also qualities often associated with women. (Yes, Virginia there is a misogynist.)
To this day, many forms of Christianity blame Eve for expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Furthermore, any child born of woman gets stained, tainted, indelibly marked with sin as he/she slides through the birth canal. These negative notions manifest in all sorts of ways in our society – you, no doubt, can easily name a dozen or so. For example, women have a plethora of ugly sobriquets, which don’t bear repeating, so do their genitalia. The mis-translation of Pandora’s jar to Pandora’s box doesn’t surprise me. As Freud said, “There are no accidents without intentions.”
Jars, cauldrons, and pots are archetypal symbols of the great and holy mystery of the womb. Even without vulgarization, the association is obvious but why does this ancient story connect women’s sexuality with ill?
We don’t know what exactly what changed during the 3rd and 4th millennia B.C.E. to subvert the worship throughout southern Europe of the Great Mother as a primary deity, but I tend to agree with Marija Gimbutas that a widespread invasion from the north took place by a people with superior technology whose primary deity was masculine. Since human psychology is based in our mammalian brains, it has continued pretty much the same for thousands of millennia. We were as susceptible to a good smear campaign in 4,000 B.C.E. as we are today and just as capable of manufacturing propaganda, mis-information and lies. It isn’t difficult to imagine a new religion dissing the old in order to replace one god with another. We can find many historical examples of this in our history, it’s not a stretch to imagine pre-historic predecessors engaged in the same activity.
How ere it came to be, modern twenty-first century women still suffer from it, as we have for generations. This collage is a picture of that lie. It shows evils in the form of insects (other beings suffering a bad rap) emanating from Pandora’s “box”. The vulture and the bronze representation of a liver are elements from the related Prometheus myth and denote the cruelty of Zeus (depicted at the lower right). The liver also stands for the art of hepatoscopy, a kind of divination based on reading the liver. It’s a reminder to search for the meaning below the meaning (see previous posting).
The vulture is one of the oldest known symbols associated with a goddess. Even before Isis, with whom it became closely linked, the vulture belonged to Nekhbet whose oracle shrine is the oldest yet discovered in Egypt. (3100 B.C.E.) Her priestesses were called muu (mothers) and wore robes of Egyptian vulture feathers. The vulture stands for regeneration, maternity and the mystic cycle of birth, death and rebirth. In my collage she represents the lost power and sanctity of the feminine. However, the vulture’s wing encircles Pandora like a mother’s arm; the power, beauty and sanctity of the feminine are still Pandora’s to call upon if she will waken and remember.