The Sacred Union and the Demise of the Goddess
The book opens with an article by writer and mythologist Anne Baring titled The Loss of the Word Soul and Its Return which eloquently describes the ancient feminine concept of soul and the ways in which it was driven underground as we began to draw away from the matrix of instinct and develop the conscious mind. As this happened, we lost touch with the primordial lunar consciousness and moved into the solar consciousness of the modern era. The transition from lunar to solar mythology gradually created a fissure between spirit and nature, mind and body, ourselves and our environment, which has defined our way of thinking and influenced the way we behave. The male psyche unconsciously identified itself with the supremacy of spirit and mind over nature, woman and body, and came to relate the former to the image of light and order, and the latter to the image of darkness and chaos. Anne Baring explains how the concept of soul is now returning after thousands of years of repression by patriarchal ideologies that gave pre-eminence to the rational and rejected the intuitive, mystical, relational modes of knowing. A powerful human instinct is now attempting to restore balance and wholeness in us by articulating values rooted in an older way of knowing. As this deep soul impulse gathers momentum, the sacred marriage of the emerging lunar values with the ruling solar ones is changing our perception of reality, reconnecting us with the roots of our being and the invisible dimension of the cosmos.
Next, Victoria Christian expounds in great detail on the ancient, universal archetype of the Primordial Sacred Union and its potential as a powerful vision of emancipation for the human race. She explains the functional but often misunderstood role mystics and visionary artists play in an assortment of cultures; particularly, how they are trying to assist humanity in its ability to collectively heal itself and the planet. She explains that mystics are also trying to help us transcend out of oppositional dualism and awaken to a new mode of thinking, that of consecrated polarity, which is another way of describing the Eastern concept of yin/yang. Drawing from the works of Carl Jung, June Singer and an assortment of contemporary mystics, Victoria feels strongly that imaging the divine as female is essential to our spiritual evolution; however, we won't be able to transcend gender associations in Western culture unless the autonomy of the feminine principle is firmly established in human consciousness. Images of the primordial sacred union are controversial and radical, however, because they can't help but question the credibility of the limited religious symbolism of Judeo Christianity and fatalistic scientific worldviews. She discusses a number of powerful images by contemporary visionary artists, such as Martina Hoffman and Mark Henson, and their importance in disrupting male dominance and the patriarchal ideological systems that justify and maintain social inequality. She also explains how the concept and images of the primordial sacred union inevitably challenge an extreme female bias as well, particularly the tendency in radical feminists and various pagan sects to go to the other extreme of Goddess worship that negates the essential role of the sacred masculine in creation.
Next, feminist theologian Margaret Starbird expounds on the sacred marriage in Imaging God as Partners. She draws from her personal experiences of initiation and awakening to the feminine principle and the sacred marriage in the Orthodox Christian tradition. She also draws from her well-researched book, The Woman with an Alabaster Jar, which seeks to recover the long-suppressed feminine side of the Christian story. "Starbird's research traces the origin of the heresy of the Holy Grail, whose medieval adherents believed that Jesus was married and that his wife and child immigrated to Gaul, fleeing persecutions of the Christian community in Jerusalem. Numerous legends, works of art, and artifacts of medieval Europe clearly reflect a widespread "alternative Christianity" brutally suppressed by the Inquisition beginning in the mid-13th Century. The heresy miraculously survived in an underground stream of esoteric wisdom guarded by artists, artisans, poets, and alchemists of medieval and renaissance Europe" (quoted from website). In her article, she explains how the recurring motif of the sacred marriage is evident cross-culturally and how the emphasis on the masculine over the feminine polarity has lead to severe burnout in the West, damaging the psyches of both men and women. The archetypal image of the Bride and Bridegroom in Hebrew scripture and in an assortment of mystical writings is a consummate of God as Wholeness, the paradigm of divine partnership.