you & me

Teleology: The Goddess Endured.

 

She got into the car on her own.

The police had swarmed around them, their pink skin creasing expectantly under starched collars like hackles under the San Diego sun.

The man had run, bounding past the officers, but he faltered when he realized the woman was surrounded.

She was immune to harm; her strawberry blonde head would not be roughly seized and pushed into the car, but she was not, perhaps, protected from capture.

He was overcome, roughly thrown into the car, the woman bowed her own aureate head and slipped in quickly after him.

My parents had been traveling through San Diego when they came upon a pack of police officers beating a homeless man, they called out, my father pretended to take photos on a camera that had no film left.

He bolted into a run when the police pursued, as if escaping with the evidence of their brutality. My parents both knew, as everyone does, that my mother would be safe.

They exist to protect her, the idea of her — petite, hair ruddy gold in the sun, fair skin, they knew how they were allowed to treat her.

Not just fair skin, but a clear, speckled cream, not the skin of a junkie or a prostitute, she had not relinquished the power of White womanhood. Though, her proximity to a Brown man had insulted it.

The police were angry.

They wouldn’t let her go to the station, her delicate, irate presence would be a problem. My mother was left then, alone in the stifled air. A reporter came along, a divine intersession in a time before mobile phones and the internet.

He had heard the commotion over the scanner. They went to the police station together. Publicity and pallor proved a powerful enough combination to release my father. The film had been exposed to ensure the police wouldn’t be.

Strange, the things that come to mind, stories from the past, events that happened before I was born. They can take on a new intensity in the mind’s eye, images consumed in white hot brilliance, inverted pictures licked clean in the burning glare of light.

Family myths that resonate with current events begin to hum with an insistence, a feverish vibrating that demands attention.

I think now of my life and experiences, and while they are my own stories, they are informed by the ancestral transference of these myths. A kind of continuum that connects me to the tales of my parents.

As if some teleology inspired them to create someone with their fire and defiance, but in that conjunctio, that creative merging, I was imbued with some of my mother’s imperviousness, a sliver of her social sheen.

A whisper of the warning the police perceived when they saw her trembling with fury, eyes like a cold forest stream on a June day, flushed cheeks that belied the danger in those eyes — “Beware the undertow,” they sighed.

I look so different from both sides of my family, an uncanny amalgamation.

Like an ambiguous, androgynous daemon with shifting, shimmering delineations.

Lines of race and gender in a tilting kaleidoscope, outlines of sexual dimorphism and ancestry merge in a molten crucible of color. The signals I send have always danced to the changeable rhythms of moon and mood.

I can’t be pinned down, and that’s the promise of their union. A blending of lines that were clear-cut and stark as the palm trees jutting into the ravaging incandescence of the San Diego sun that day.

As much as I know about the consuming intensity of their courtship, I can’t help but see a part of their dynamic being a pull towards each other to create something that did not conform yet could not be destroyed by the rigid lines of society.

They each held in them a secret spring that would not yield to the harsh dictates of a white, patriarchal culture, its dazzling savior or hierarchical hubris.

My father used to light candles to The Virgin Mary. A ritual infused with layers of meaning, his hallowed haven after converting to Judaism.

The Virgin’s feminine power remains resilient to Christianity’s oppressive dominion.

Christianity, that chain of crystalline light thrown around Native necks on tear-stained trails and enmeshing African bodies to pull them across the dark water of The Middle Passage. The searing, entrancing embrace of a seraphic savior.

I always loved The Virgin Mary, her numinous, luminous face on the lit candles my father kept in the basement, where he exercised, played the drums and kept his early observances.

She seemed like a furtive figure, a deity in subterranean shadow keeping an ancient and secret syncretism behind her flickering, demure visage: The Virgin Of Guadalupe is a double agent, holding within her the indigenous Goddess Tonantzin.

In the cool press of the dark, she preserved the goddess from the eyes of a jealous god and converters, safe in her sky blue robes, she endured.

It wasn’t just in my father’s Catholicism that I sensed the secret seeds of the goddess, but in my mother’s Judaism. There was in our home the wild beat of matriarchal memory, of stories that live beneath the surface.

The Semitic myths taken to their deep roots reveal Astarte and Tammuz — the goddess and her consort who was destined to die and be reborn with the return of the sun.

The myth was masculinized, feminine deities were demonized or turned into doting mothers in diminution, but still the goddess endured.

The goddess lived and breathed in my home, beneath myopic presentism and prettily draped azure cloaks.

I see the connection to the Feminine in defiance of wrathful patriarchy in my parents — perhaps not in conscious preservation, but awake and alive in their rhythms and ways.

Their love of nature, music and art as conduits of feeling. The way intuition and emotions ruled our home. I felt the power of matriarchy growing up more profoundly than the dominating, demanding world of Christianity outside.

Now, looking back, I feel that we had a secret, an intuitive and shared understanding of nature and her fullness.

Within the myths of the returning sun, the ritually reborn consort and the goddess who’s been to hell and back, I sense a natural completeness and an understanding of the world and the Self that is inclusive and full.

Christianity stole the story and hid the meaning, turning cyclic mythos into the hero story of a whitewashed mascot for a heaven ruled by an angry father.

Unlike the Christian homes I observed, there was a holistic synergy to my home growing up, a sense that life didn’t need to exclude aspects of the whole to be holy.

Marie-Louise Von Franz said, “To aspire to perfection is, as Jung has pointed out, more characteristic of the masculine Logos principle, while the feminine ideal is more that of completeness in which everything is simply held together in one unified whole. Consequently, this feminine goddess, all-Nature also possesses cunning, cruelty, wickedness, unfathomable depths of passion and the uncanny gloom of death, the smell of corpses and putrefaction in equal measure with the potentiality of new life and rebirth.”

I often see those deeply afflicted with a sky-god orientation as being self-denying and stunted, denying parts of themselves and parts of the human family that they consider dark, imperfect. They seem to me to thrust their shadow onto others, fearing the richness, sensuality, femininity and wildness that is part of the human experience, inflicting their will like iterations of a terrible, jealous father-god.

They punish those who deviate from their fragile projection of perfection.

I remember feeling ashamed of my father’s drumming on the porch. It sounded primitive to my ears, infected for a time with the flimsy illusion of the perfect father.

I remember the chagrin I felt about my mother’s vivid paintings. They were infused with raw, visceral emotions, and revealed her inner world. They were left scattered around the house.

So different from the prim, self-denying perfect mother I saw on TV or in my friend’s houses. Women divorced from their unconscious, from impulse and instinct, from pain and passion.

Life and death and the hues in between colored my early experiences, which was as much a gift to me as the mercurial form they bestowed me with, though I did not know it then.

Now I revel in it.

Being too dark, too feminine, too emotional, too changeable, these were all things that I was anguished about, feeling the unblinking, blazing eye of the sky-father culture.

Now I see its unwavering lines as weakness, its good and evil, its heaven and hell, black and white. Its lack of integration is its blind spot.

I’m grateful to see it now, and I’m grateful to my parents who defied expectation and external judgment in their union. Their hieros gamos that was more human than heaven, creating me, a child in between worlds.

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Maren Zweifler enjoys teaching Yoga with a focus on free movement and intrinsic shapes, emphasizing spinal fluidity and innate, primal posture. Deeply inspired by movement systems that embrace nature like Sridaiva and Continuum Movement. He completed a 500-hour certification in SF and has taught both there and in Austin where he honed his skills teaching private classes tailored to the individual needs of his clients. He created a wellness/yoga program at a non-profit. These experiences allowed him to explore both the unique individuation of the physical experience in one-on-one sessions, and the commonalities of the human form that can be witnessed in large groups. You could connect with Maren on Instagram.

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