And Mary Wept
to all students of the Virgins,
Archipelago Theatre in North Carolina is opening its latest production
AND MARY WEPT on September 24th, 2002. Ellen Hemphill directs and
some of our best Pantheatre friends act! On stage at Duke University.
will write the history of tears?" -Roland Barthes
Ellen and I
frequently talk about tears. Why did we go for so many years without
crying? Were we cried out? Dried out? What does grief look like
without tears? How many kinds of tears are there and where do they
come from when they return? A Medieval taxonomy of tears identifies
tears of grace, contrition, sorrow, & gladness. Our Mary, who
carries the tear collecting bottle (called a lachrymatory), collects
all these and more. She took shape in our imaginations as a street-smart
shaman who buried things in salt to preserve them until people of
the world figure out how to tap into a lost feminine principle of
life. Her character is certainly touched by the Virgin of the apocryphal
gospel who sprinkled waters of compassion on the face of Adam. But
shes drawn from a deeper well of multiple Marys in the Judeo-Christian
tradition, and from her weeping antecedents in myth: Isis, Tara,
Demeter, Kuan Yin. Living in a salt world where memories are crystallized,
and moisture (like God) "is long gone," has made her brilliantly
Working on this
piece gave us the chance to live for a while as her pilgrimsto
be initiated into her crazed & blessed heart that flows in all
sensible and non-sensical directions at once. The journey of conception
took us to the sea (Carolina coast) and to the desert (New Mexico),
into the dry alchemical territory of salt-- arid, bitter, acrimonious,
rigidified. And made us notice the collective absence of the healing
waters of compassion that mix with salt (in tears!). Other cultures
have ritualized this desperate need for emotional moisture. Like
the Canaanites who retreated to the desert for several days each
early spring to weep the ithered earth green again. They began by
slowly moaning and whimpering. Then built to weeping and hysterical
wailing, and eventually to tear-generating laughter. When Jesus
asked Mary in the garden of Arimethea, "Woman, why are you
weeping?" she could have said that she was weeping-toward-rebirth
in the best of ancient traditions.
Other uses of
water in this piece: spitting, splashing, dousing, and drinking
were inspired by the Mexican Indian shaman Maria Sabina who led
a generation of seekers through cracks in their dayworlds into an
internal land of mystery & metamorphosis. We are grateful for
her inspiration and hope our piece of theatre is a tribute to her
of literary contributions
Her Life and Chants, Marina Warner Alone of All Her Sex, Nor Hall
The Moon and the Virgin, Marie Markoe letters, The Three (Portuguese)
Marias, Marguerite Duras, Marie France-Boyer Cult of the Virgin,
H.D. Flowering of the Rod, Ean Begg Cult of the Black Virgin,Tom
Lutz Crying, Anne Waldman Fast Speaking Woman, James Hillman Salt,
Welling Hall Soviet rules of
Harriet Bart for the tear bottle
Here are some
earnest notes from the Old Virgin (which - when
to rewrite the book for republishing, I reread and its quite current
and eternal really). The whole statement is the near the end of
my chapter on Mothers and Daughters (p85) in The MOON and the VIRGIN
Written when I was 29 & before I had a daughter:
need not literally have a daughter to bear witness to the mystery
of continuity... A child is as much the offspring of the body of
your imagination, the treasure hard to attain, as it is the blood
fruit of your womb. It is essential also to let these daughters
of imagination go from you --there are mothers in myth who would
kill their own children if they proved a threat to their own individuality
and passion. It takes great strength to let go of a thing you have
created: a child, a work of art, a method, a situation where you
are recongnized, a string of words that work -- but the estrangement,
the giving up, the separation are often necessary in order for something
fundamentally new to emerge. When the last child leaves home, the
void is filled only by the possibilityof making something out of
yourself. Demeter was past the age of childbearing and she returned
to herself in a new form. Perhaps that flowering of women, that
gathering of women in our time who choose not to conceive literally,
those who choose at a young age to be (paradoxically) past the age
of childbearing, are those to whom the burden of a cultural labor
has fallen. Like the vestal virgins who tended and carried the public
fire, these women might be the carriers of a kind of illumination
that we have not known before. Rather than be frightened by this
force, those who have borne children or wish to be literal mothers
need to recall their essential role at this point, for, if the mothers
who conceive of new forms of language and culture forget their connection
to the body, to the real female depth of tissue, to the earth (their
Mother), the life they create will be sterile." etc.
your, nOr, PhD,
p.s. for now
the best thing is to try and get the Moon and the Virgin
on line from a bookseller that deals in used books. They come up
from time to time, aren't very expensive, but take a while to get.
I, alas, barely have any left myself.
of the Untouched
the Dallas Institute for the Humanities, Dallas, Texas.
This book contains
THE reference articles on an archetypal approach to virginity, with
essays by James Hillman, John Layard, Rafael Lopez-Pedraza, and
Psyche, Myth and Community - "Free, brillant, wild, remote,
full of promise and stark terror - such is the Virgin. Eight essays
developping the imagery of the Virgin in pathology and culture,
myths, religion, and dream."
You can order
Erin A. Teague
The Dallas Institute Publications
2719 Routh Street
Dallas, TX 75201
Samten de Wet
Bonvin "Vierges Noires: La Réponse Vient de la Terre"
Dervy-Livres. (In French, no English translation available.) Excellent
book tying Black Virgin sites into the megalithic earth grids of France.
Great diagrams make this book worthwhile even if your French isn't
"L'Enigme des Vierges Noires" Editions Jean-Michel Garnier.
A very French approach to the Black Virgin: contemplate the mystery
of her enigmatic nature!
Jean Hani "La
Vierge Noire et Le Mystère Marial" Guy Tredaniel Editeur.
The author connects the Black Virgins to the ancient goddesses of
France, with comments on the associated symbolism.
de Wet Website and
Newsletters Archive - full of the most varied and fascinating
information, from myth to alchemy to esoterica. Also: Cape
Town Site on Yantra.
News / Bush promotes virgin values in campaign to curb
teenage sex / Ed Vulliamy in Washington
It began as
a low-key campaign among conservative Christians to discourage their
children from having sex. Last week the abstinence movement emerged
as a key plank of President George Bush's reform of American welfare
As Mr Bush extolled abstinence as a protection against sexually
transmitted disease and teenage pregnancy, congressional hearings
opened on government plans to spend millions of dollars promoting
the "no sex is safe sex" campaign.
But as abstinence becomes a cornerstone of US social policy, it
has opened up a bitter debate among policymakers. Many argue that
it endangers sex education for young people, who will be sexually
active anyway. Supporters of the movement are organising "virgin
pledges" in schools, claiming that they can delay teenager
sexual activity by up to 18 months.
In a speech in South Dakota last week Mr Bush reiterated an election
promise to spend as much on programmes that teach abstinence until
marriage as on medical services that provide contraceptives to teenagers.
In February the president laid out a budget for next year that would
raise federal spending on abstinence only" education by $33m
to $135m. Last week this budget entered its phase of seeking
congressional approval. The arguments propelling the initiative
are ostensibly medical, not moral. "Abstinence is the surest
way," said Mr Bush, introducing a welfare reform plan, "and
completely effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually
Such issues remain a huge problem for US teenagers. By the time
they graduate from high school, two-thirds of the nation's young
people have had sexual intercourse, according to the Centres for
Disease Control and Prevention. One in four sexually active teenagers
contracts a sexually transmitted disease each year.
The debate has engaged leading think-tanks such as as the Brookings
Institution, whose senior researcher Belle Sawhill told the Washington
Post: "There is some merit in promoting abstinence, but it
is also the case that there are going to be kids, no matter what
adults tell them, who are going to be sexually active." But
the conservative Heritage Foundation is claiming that "virgin
pledges" and school classes recommending abstinence not only
delay sexual activity but make a qualitative difference to
young people's relationships.
The sexual abstinence campaign comes amid an atmosphere of growing
intolerance towards the liberal presumption that teenagers will
have sex, and that education's role is to make their activities
as safe as
possible, physically and emotionally.
In the recently published Harmful to Minors, Judith Levine writes:
"In America today it is nearly impossible to publish a book
that says children and teenagers can have sexual pleasure and be
safe too." The book was rejected by many major publishing houses;
one editor called the contents "radioactive", another
said the timing "couldn't possibly be worse", another
asked her to remove the
word "pleasure" from her introduction. Once the book was
finally commissioned by the University of Minnesota Press, it became
the target of a campaign spearheaded by the conservative right to
from being published altogether.
Dr Laura Schlessinger, a talk show host, denounced Ms Levine as
another in a long line of "academic paedophiles", trying
to make child sex acceptable. Robert Knight, director of the Culture
and Family Institute, branded the book "very evil".
academic studies on the subject, including a recent report by former
US Surgeon General David Satcher, argue that the only proven method
for reducing pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease is to combine
the abstinence message with one that teaches young people how to
"There is no scientific evidence that 'abstinence-only until
marriage' programmes work," wrote James Greenwood, a Republican
representative, to the president.
Mr Greenwood is co-sponsor of legislation to rival the president's
programme, seeking $100m for mixed education that "teaches
both abstinence and contraception from both a values and a public
Deborah Roffman, a sex education teacher in Baltimore and author
of Sex And Sensibility: The Thinking Parent's Guide To Talking About
Sex, said: "The abstinence-only approach is not realistic.
Fifty per cent of kids have already had intercourse."
The abstinence movement is carried by groups such as Free Teens,
whose founder, Richard Panzer, organises "pledge groups"
- in this case funded by New Jersey. "We work with the public
schools to teach there are a lot of practical reasons to not have
sex," Mr Panzer said. "It is not just the medical side."
One recent study showed that signing a pledge has some impact on
teens. A Columbia University sociologist, Peter Bearman, interviewed
20,000 teenagers and found that teens who took abstinence pledges
waited significantly longer - on average 18 months - to have sex
for the first time than those who did not.
"What makes a difference is that kids feel they are doing something
special," Mr Bearman said. "By pledging, they have an
important sense of identity, and belong to an elite moral community."
Weekly 2-5-2002, page 7
Virgins, the central thought I want to insert is that "real"
virginity is something achieved, not something preserved. Remember
Hera re-virginizing herself, or Blake's sense that souls must descend
into experience to achieve a real "virginity." The east
has lots of thoughts on this too. To me, virgo re-trovata (not
virgo intacta) represents a state where the individual is freed
from compulsive reactions and compulsive collective models. A prime
space for imagination, that comes AFTER the dismemberment. As in Zen,
"beginner's mind" takes a lot of hard work. Thus my "re-virginization
booth" and the journey of Dante up Mt. Purgatorio to the regained
paradise. You know the beautiful fresco in the Duomo in Firenze of
Dante opening the doors? This is what a lot of those renaissance types
were looking for.
exchange between Stephen Karcher and Enrique Pardo
: I really do think we have to get someone to talk on Virgo/Astrea,
hopefully a literate astrologer. This Virgin and her astro-logical
heritage is such an important part of all myths of renewing the
time in western culture, from Virgil and the neoplatonists to Elizabeth,
the renaissance and the hermetic orders.
: my proposal for the poster from the very beginning has been to
juxtapose some 6 or 7 virgins. 2 or 3 Maries (La Macarena, because
I am in love with her, a Flemish one, maybe a Black Madonna...),
Athena, Artemis, of course (Floortje wanted to include Hestia; I
warned her she is so virginal she has no images!), and two other
virgins: Hitler, and Enrique Pardo (born September 4: Virgo.)
is to open a general discussion on Astrology. Maybe like you, I
suspect, that the whole 'art' of astrology is caught up with a form
of virginity, including the role played by Hermes (is it not his
sign?) in the so-called hermetic sciences.
in correlazione con la figura di Afrodite-Urania ("regina delle
montagne") o Ericina
("regina dell'erica", ma secondo altri venerata a Erice).
mitologica vuole che questa divinità uccidesse, di solito,
l'eventuale amante di origine
non esclusivamente divina che si fosse accoppiato a lei sulle vette
della montagna, allo stesso modo in
cui l'ape che uccide il maschio strappandogli i genitali e come,
più o meno in maniera analoga, fa la
mantide religiosa col suo maschio.Ma l'analogia più ricorrente
tra il segno della Vergine e un mitologema di più ampio respiro
è quella con il principio della Dea-Madre (Madre-terra, Madre-Natura,
Madre-Divina), cioè con quella polarità universale
di natura femminile che nellacultura cretese preclassica veniva
identificata in Asteria, dea-regina del cielo e creatrice delle
potenze planetarie, il cui mito risale alla seconda metà
del secondo millennio a. C. La più antica iconografia legata
al segno della Vergine ci mostra una fanciulla alata che reca nella
mano destra un tralcio e una spiga, in correlazione con i prodotti
che la natura fa maturare sul finire dell'estate, proprio quando
il sole si trova nel segno zodiacale della Vergine.
Secondo il mito
collegato al culto di Venere-Afrodite il segno della Vergine è
in analogia con l'assunzione della dea dell'Olimpo celeste. La giovanetta
alata dell'iconografia rappresenta, secondo questo mito, il precetto
dell'obbligo dell'amore di sé; ma questo precetto non va
inteso nel senso di egoismo, né di quello di amor proprio,
di dignità o fierezza, bensì in una sfumatura di significati
che è quella che sottintende la capacità di modulare
la propria espressione amorosa per esprimere le proprie pulsazioni
erotiche più profonde, fino a trasformare l'atto d'amore
in un rituale pagano vero e proprio. Infatti nel corso delle varie
epoche troviamo che l'espressione dei lati d'ombra più tenebrosi
dell'amore e della sensualità ci ricollega ai rituali celebrati
nel culto di Iside. Ma Iside, insieme all'ancor più tenebrosa
Lilith, non è altro che l'ombra della nostra personalità
più profonda. Appare pertanto logico supporre che il culto
di Iside, attraverso i suoi rituali tendesse a lasciar emergere
senza inibizioni la vera e profonda natura dell'essere umano, quella
in cui l'Io si sente attratto all'atto dell'amore che consente la
conservazione della specie. E' nel segno della vergine che Venere
risale all'Olimpo, cioè torna al sicuro tra le divinità
del suo rango dopo aver elargito le sue grazie non solo ai suoi
pari ma anche ai mortali.
la figura del segno della Vergine rappresenta, nel culto di Venere,
non più la giovanetta, dea-ninfa; bensì una donna
matura e appagata, castamente vestita con un tralcio d'uva in una
mano e una spiga matura nell'altra; il tralcio rappresenta i profitti
della terra, fertile come una Madre. Sono i simboli
dell'onestà e dei guadagni leciti, ed ecco perché,
il segno della Vergine è in analogia, nella moderna
astrologia, con il lavoro. IL segno della Vergine, come ultimo segno
dell'emisfero inferiore dello
Zodiaco, si trova in corrispondenza della linea di confine Ascendente-Discendente,
per cui rappresenta
anche il cambiamento della polarità, cioè il simbolo
delladualità dell'anima e dellostesso Cosmo. Il segno della
Vergine è governato da Mercurio ; è alquantosignificativo
che in questo segno il numero
dell'attività del piano fisico sia anche il numero della
bestia: il suo significato è che la Vergine,
sesto segno dello zodiaco, è un simbolo triplice, 6 sul piano
fisico, 6 sul piano emotivo, 6 sul piano
mentale, e non 666( numero terribile della magia nera).!
on Mariapia Chiagi's speculations
is what I mean about the Virgo-astology connections. You tap an amazing
source of historico-mythic lore, all focused on the eruption of spirit
into the world and the renewal of the times. It is a great crossover
constellate "source" and all the myths of origin and return
to the source: thus revirginazation and the pastoral/purgatorial
imaginative processes that entails. Goal: the imagination of paradise.
Athena and her gifts (particularly in terms of Furies of
all sorts): the bridle, the loom, the "space" where all
such creatures find a voice that has a lot in common with opening
the tragic stage. She is metis in the world. Think of Odysseus,
too, and the re-virginization he goes through after the horrors
and furies of the War. James Hillman says he is a prime figure of
puer-senex reunion, and she opens the space in which that occurs
- a cultural renovation. Again, a prime topic of renaissance thinkers.
I would encourage
you to think about the connections between Granada
Furies, to Sucking the Milk, to Virgins. A common theme (pagan
re-virginization?) runs through it.
I want to be
in on writing the Cast of Characters for these!