We see these archetypes embedded within cultural folklore and deeply rooted, residual belief systems that human societies unconsciously drift towards, irrespective of how technological or ‘rational’ a civilization becomes.
In India, it is the wrath of a murdered virgin, her unappeased spirit that strikes the fear into local villagers. She is transformed into a grama devathai, deified as a local protectoress for her to ‘find rest’. She becomes the most powerful form of Virgin Goddess, who appears without the Womb (Karumaariamman).
In ancient Greece and Rome, is the the Vestal who successfully mounts an alternative to patriarchal systems of social organization and proprietorship. A collective of women who existed beyond the prescription of man, and in full cognizance of their sexual, ritual, devotional and spiritual dimensions.
In too many civilizational clichés to count, it is the sacrifice of the virgin, be it to the angry volcano or the raging mega-beast, that ultimately spares the lives of its citizens – for the virgin is seen to be the purest form of being, and at the same time, somehow expendable.
There are far too many cross-cutting, interweaving archetypes and stereotypes that run through these narratives to cover in a single article. But what is clear is that the Virgin is somehow associated with a superior sense of spiritual power or worth, in the eyes of those that seek to understand or appropriate her.
From whence does this power stem?
We look to narratives of parthenogenesis in mythology and religion to see it as a vessel through which the Virgin incubates, and births some form of life. It is the chamber in which, with or without the sexual act, Spirit enters the Flesh and Ideas attain their Physical Form.
It is the crucible in which alchemy of the most powerful sort occurs.
And so it is the most feared by a system of social organization that cannot seek to emulate it – Patriarchy.
What was once a sacred understanding of the gift of the Womb became a systemic attempt to control its workings, its engagements with the wider world and its ritual and spiritual significance. An all-out re-signification of the womb and its corpus of biological processes ensued.
Menstruation became taboo. The Sacred Blood that preceded the conception of life became Unclean. The period in which a woman could most acutely and sensitively listen to Her Spirit became a societal joke.
Female sexuality became undesirable, an invitation to to immorality and a general loss of reputation. The independence, self-sufficiency and sexuality of the Virgin was entirely supplanted with an ideology that equated virginity with celibacy, dependency and innocence.
We began elevating pregnancy and motherhood as the ideal state for a woman to attain, limiting her social and biological function to child-rearing. There are simply no ideals as such, for a woman is a woman is a woman. She need not have given birth, or even have been born into a female body in this day and age to be one.
The women’s mysteries themselves were lost for millenia.
Now, with the resurgence of Goddess-centered spirituality we see far more opportunities for men and women to once more cherish the life-giving, idea-birthing, creative and spiritual manifestation vessel that is the womb.
We begin to realize that, for beings that are not born as female or who do not identify as such, there is in fact, an energetic Womb Center through which we can access our own pathways to creative manifestation.
We begin to realize dimensions of humanity lost through the ages as the everyday, human woman was somehow too common, too impure to understand the magic in her own womb, as opposed to her Goddess counterparts.
Dr. Bairavee Balasubramaniam PhD ~Priestess, Astrologer, Doctor of Political Science and Public Speaker
Post & Image © Bairavee Balasubramaniam. All rights reserved.
Image: Samayapuram Mariamman, 2015.