Myth & Folklore

Cosmologies: Sex versus Birth

One of the problems I have with the western magickal tradition is how so much of it is informed with sexually based imagery, and heterosexual imagery at that. With all the active thrusting into passive orifices, one wonders how early alchemist, qabalists and magicians managed to get any work done between masturbatory reveries.

So I often wonder what would have happened if the reigning metaphor had been birth instead of copulation. Lessee, a smallness sleeping cradled within the larger darkness, awakening to sensation and movement. Being pushed toward consciousness and manifestation. And ultimately being born into the light.

Many creation myths are in fact based on a birth metaphor. What is interesting however is how so little of the cosmologies associated with western (or even some eastern) spiritual traditions retain this metaphor. So many fall back on dualistic systems that immediately forces one of them to be the bottom, er the submissive female, within a heterosexual pair.

Although many systems recognize the mother and child polarity, Demeter/Persephone, Isis/Horus, and Mary/Jesus come to mind, at some point many revert to a sister/brother or husband/wife metaphor where most if not all of the gods are married off. Some pantheons combine the two metaphors into mother/consort or god/human combinations such as Inanna/Dumuzi. And still others completely eliminate the feminine principle and focus on the father/ruler exclusively such as the Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions. Catholicism’s adoration of Mary, both with and without her son, seems almost healthy by comparison.

But what is so hard about retaining the birth metaphor beyond creation and allowing it to inform the spiritual symbology and philosophy anyway? The cycle of birth, ripening, consummation, repose and death/rebirth are not so hard to comprehend. Then we get have our sex but also our adolescence, maturation, old age and transformation too.

We have this cycle somewhat in triple gods like Hekatae, Brigid and Thoth/Hermes. We see it in the cycle of maiden, mother and crone. We sense it in both the solar and lunar cycles. I am talking of course about the cycles of life itself. Sex metaphors only work so far it seems to me. Whereas birth metaphors seem to include the totality of life at all levels and, notably, no one has to bend over unless they want to.

So as a Libra / Scorpio cusp child, constantly choosing between sex and death, for the moment I choose death -- or rather, death and rebirth – as my cosmological principle. Now all I have to do is to re-craft a Tree of Life, an alchemical process and an entire symbolic vocabulary to match. For now, however, I am just going to let it gestate just a little bit longer.

©2007 Katrina Messenger

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