Ember, the continuity of an image

This got me thinking about the continuity of an image. An image can fly around through many cultures and not really be understood, even though it sometimes carries great meaning, wisdom and insight.

As an older woman I find nothing in my current culture to affirm what I am going through, which is menopause. I look to the celebrities and they all practice yoga and get plastic surgery.  Most of them all look the same. When I look at ancient or archaic cultures I see women statues of big bosoms and round behinds. Some are smiling like  Sheela-na-gig while holding  their vulva’s open  for all to see. I get confused. I cannot talk to my mom because she is dead. My sister raced through menopause due to chemotherapy, so she does not really have to play the waiting game; something a woman goes through, wondering, what in the hell is going on? (I must say in retrospection that both my Mom and sister had their own suffering and waiting to attend to with what they went through..it is different . I don’t know if either of them wondered about menopause like I do now ?) All my grandmothers are pretty much dead or beyond reproach.  I do not have a real tradition passed down to me. No old women sitting around the camp fire telling me their wisdom women stories. So I went looking.

My education is rich and I have studied many cultures. Mostly it is  the great erect patriarchs, histories and mythologies,  that are floating around in my brain. Occasionally a matriarch pushes a couple of men out-of-the-way like Cleopatra or Inanna  the Sumerians Goddess; but this is rare. The Thirteen Grandmothers of the ancient Native American culture are very helpful, yet not really something that has overwhelmingly screamed to my ovaries.

I have found that it is a bird that has come to initiate me into my lost women mysteries. The owl has been with me all of my life, even when I was growing up on a wild hill in Woodland Hills. I remember hearing hooting of the owl at night. I recall seeing a white owl in my twenties in Whittier while taking a walk on Easter day. I remember the two owls perched on a tree at the medicine wheel gathering in Santa Rosa. The medicine man told me not to look at them.

“I would not look up at them very long, they are very powerful beings.”

Their eyes were as molten lava. Their image burned in my brain.

At home I have a plastic owl on the tallest metal racks in the kitchen. The kind of owl you see in gardens or on tall buildings to keep the others birds from pooping on someone’s property. The owl is looking outside. At night I can see it’s reflection on the widow looking inside at me.

I have been studying the Eleusinian mysteries for many years trying to understand them.  Yes, this mythology is a good one. The archaeology is fab and it is as old and ancient as women. It isn’t telling its real mysteries to a patriarchal culture. I am only finding out now that the owl does have a story to tell by these  mysteries.

I have learned that in part of the  Eleusinian mysteries women would wear large coins on their heads. They would tie them on their heads and drink fermented drinks as part of the initiation. The image on some of these coins is the owl. I studied this ancient image and then I rendered this image on paper with my own hand.

This got me thinking about  the continuity of an image. An image can fly around through many cultures and not really be understood, even though it sometimes carries great meaning, wisdom and insight.

Who first saw this owl? They saw it, drew it from their imagination, and then a coin was created by casting the metal into a mold.  This is the process of seeing, imagining and creating.

Is it by chance that this image has flown from antiquity onto my wrists as tattoos?

Is there a place where the old women still meet around an ancient fire?

Is the continuity of an image as an owl, the ancient symbol of female initiation,  my participation in this waiting game known as menopause? Is an ember of the fire sill warm and are the ancient women telling me now their stories …if I take the time to listen?  Or am I only melting into goo on the floor, that will soon petrify and with time fly away into dust?

8 responses to “Ember, the continuity of an image

  1. I am so there with you. I’m almost 49 and things are stating to get wacky! Maybe I’ll look to the owls too!

  2. It was really neat to read about all the different cultural aspects you brought in. It was personal, yet I learned something! Maybe you need to write a menopause post for the rest of us, to pass that down! 🙂

  3. Your connection with the owl is so interesting! I like your drawing.

  4. Cool post! I am passing this on to my mother – she has long been a collector of owls, first by accident because people gave them to her as gifts. They are an amazing artistic image.

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