(Essay 2) The Journey of the Goddess: Pandora Archetypes by Laura Newberry-Yokley

A Prayer

We are the web,/ We find our center/ By coming closer./ The center is our truth. – Barbara Walker

Created by Laura Newberry-Yokley
Artwork by Laura Newberry-Yokley. White air-dry clay, tempera paint (2015). Goddess figurine, Egyptian cross or ankh, meaning breath of life.

Furrow deeply within the cave of time when ideas were distinct from beliefs and belief were separate from thoughts. Forging the path of the truthful center, a radiant soul is found along time way, within each one of us. Carol Christ calls this a “compelling image of female power, a vision of deep connection of all beings in the web of life.” Each one of you, I invite you to invoke the divine feminine powers within you, as you call upon Her, O Beautiful One. The Goddess inspires us to re-evaluate our lives and reinvent our spiritual, human experience. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.

As the web of ideas extends into a spiral of magical symbols, an authenticity of what it means to be a woman emerges from behind what shrouds our lives. Let these candid images tell the story of the woman, the real woman, and how her divine center is the place of the Goddess Within. Breathing, the warm air tickles her eyelids. The tall grass feels cool against her worn feet. Moving, stretching, and gazing up at the sky, she pulls her energy inward and rises with the sun. The red fingers tickle her cheeks with warm vibrancy, as the sky is filled with orange and red exclamations of radiance.

The Goddess invites you to come between worlds, to sit quietly. Feel the earth move gently beneath you as She supports you bringing forth life. At the base of your spine, feel the Goddess ground you to a place where the divine matriarchy governed all. Let the Goddess take you to a time when the divine feminine was honored, loved, and respected.

Today, we must go into the cave. We must find Pandora there, along with her biblical counterpart, Eve. They became the basis and models for the feminine realm within modern patriarchal society. Painted with harsh misogyny and skewed visions of the feminine cycle and ontology. Bring yourself into a frame of mind where male authors wrote to remove the mother completely from the birthing process. They wished to assume the role of sole procreator. Only a leaky vessel, women were to incubate children as receptacles of masculine seeds.

Once Pandora was crafted by the hands of Hephaistos, the divine smith, she is punished for her curiosity. Her voice is stifled by the male author. As she opens the jar, I invite you to recognize the power of her autonomous action, which she thought of herself. I encourage you to recognize her patriarchal surroundings lined with deep misogyny, where all the trouble began. This is why we need you, O Beautiful One.

Imagine yourself a seed of divine femininity and furrow deeply into the earth. Feel the cool soil around you. Linger there with the heart of Mother Earth, Gaia, who holds us each and other day in her warm embrace. Find the seed of misogyny, where it all began. Don’t allow it to germinate. Don’t water it. Don’t give it space to grow. Throw it far away.

Come back to the woman sitting in front of her loom. She is weaving the tale of each woman. Come back to the time when the true essence of women was the pure center of it all. It still exists, because time is not sequential, nor linear. Open your heart and feel it.

As we embark on this journey, The Journey of the Goddess, turn the pages slowly. As you are deep within the cave, find your center and feel safe, but know that you must not stay shackled there. Know that the Goddess is within you, your inner, Higher Self. She is within you to protect you and love you each moment of your human experience. She is with you during each moment. As She moves endlessly within you, she pulls you closer to the center. She is the Goddess. Feel her presence. Know her deeply, for she is You.

As you embark on the journey toward your center, enter the cave to see Pandora and Eve for who they are. Pass through the cave’s threshold. Move the large stone to one side and move boldly. Sit in the center of the cave, the center your inner realm, and inhale deeply. Sit near the fire. Let the glow of the flames consume your attention. You came to know Pandora’s core essence. In doing so, you will come to know your own.

Artwork by Laura Newberry-Yokley. Colorful scrap paper (2003). Woman in front, Goddess figurine, Egyptian cross or ankh, meaning breath of life, in back. Circular arrows represent the circle of eternal life.
Artwork by Laura Newberry-Yokley. Colorful scrap paper (2003). Woman in front, Goddess figurine, Egyptian cross or ankh, meaning breath of life, in back. Circular arrows represent the circle of eternal life.

Remember that Pandora is the hated scapegoat and the object of deep misogyny as a feminine archetype of what a woman should represent from a male perspective. Through the male perspective, women’s truth becomes shrouded. Call your power back. Activate your voice. No longer will you subscribe to Pandora’s misrepresentation.

When Pandora acts unaccompanied by male supervision, she acts with her own will breaking the seal of a large ceramic jar. In doing so, she breaks her own seal of silence through her actions. It is time for us to do what we know to be right. What we have known for eons that women are powerful in their own right.

From the center of the cave, we come to understand the significance of the ceramic jar in the Pandora story. Woman and jar are synonymous. Symbolically speaking, women have an inverted jar, or womb, inside of us, that is the holder of the male seed. Let us instead align with the clay vessel of Gaia, a fertile holding vessel of earth, the womb of all life.

Let us redefine Pandora, our female archetype, with the wisdom of our feminine bodies. The symbol of the sealed jar might also connect with the seal of the vagina, or the hymen. Opening the jar can be compared to loss of virginity (or gaining earth-shattering, orgasmic body wisdom). Let us consider that women have two openings, one for food and ideas and the other for sex and babies. Let us abolish the notion that women’s openings must require male supervision to be opened or closed.

Let us return to the loom, where sacred creativity manifests in color. The elegant expression of sacred energy invites us to connect with weaving as a means for the voice of woman. Ancient women connected with the Divine Weaver through their act of sitting at their looms. They wove their history with their authentic voice. Might we weave our own histories with our voices and our actions and means of escaping modern presuppositions of women? We still need the Goddess. Invite her into your realm.

Nancy Blair helps us remember the great weaver, Ariadne. “Great Spider Goddess, help me spin creativity into my life. Open my soul. Let me feel the sacred, at the center of my world. Move me with your spirit. Creative One, help me find my own. Women with the threads of love. So be it.” See your own tapestry as a beautiful representation of your reality. The weaver molds her cloth. It is held together by a collection of strong knots. Find yourself in your own hands. Move your life through your own loom, weaving the story of your life.

As women bring forth their own voices to their lives through their actions, their lives are made visible. See that each day, women open jars to prepare food. They opened boxes to adorn themselves with cloth or jewels. This was not an act to be punished, but rather happened daily.

Come out of the cave, Gaia’s hidden jar. Come as the new Pandora, curious and powerful in all her ways. Let us examine the belief systems we buy into. Let us question whether we accept our archetypes and models for women’s situations and roles. Let us reinvent our own models of womanhood and Selfhood.

Read Part 1.

Read Meet Mago Contributor Laura Newberry-Yokley.