see also PROJECTS


Contributions towards a study of the mythology of


The Gossip Column on VIRGINS

A performance written by Nor Hall, directed by Ellen Hemphill, including Liza Mayer, Ian Magilton and other Roy Hart / Pantheatre friends. On stage at Duke University, North Carolina. Première: September 24th, 2002.
A note and extract from Nor Hall, author of The Moon and The Virgin.
Images of the Untouched - a collection of essays on virginity (James Hillman, Rafael Lopez-Pedraza, and others...) A MUST
Some References to Black Virgins
What about Virgo and Astrology?
Bush promotes virgin values in campaign to curb teenage sex
Ed Vulliamy in Washington - The Guardian Weekly 2-5-2002
Norman O. Brown
"There is something virile about a virgin"... as Norman O. Brown used to say (from Nor Hall)
A note from Stephen Karcher who will be lecturing at the Festival
La Vergine, in correlazione con la figura di Afrodite-Urania ("regina delle montagne") o Ericina ("regina dell'erica", ma secondo altri venerata a Erice). Da Mariapia Ciaghi
Virgin Beauty
Ornette Coleman is one of the greatest living geniuses - Virgin Beauty is one of his CD's, presenting his Prime Time Band and Harmolodic music. (Sonu Shamdasani)

And Mary Wept

Announcing 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.

And Mary Wept

Writers NOTES

"Who 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 she’s 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 mad.

Working on this piece gave us the chance to live for a while as her pilgrims—to 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 spiritual genius.

Nor Hall

Acknowledgement of literary contributions

Maria Sabina 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

Special Thanks
Harriet Bart for the tear bottle

The Moon and
The Virgin

Nor Hall

Dear Enrique,

Here are some earnest notes from the Old Virgin (which - when … asked … 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:

"A woman 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, VV

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.

Images of the Untouched

Published by 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 others.

Virginity in 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 it from
Erin A. Teague
The Dallas Institute Publications
2719 Routh Street
Dallas, TX 75201
Phone 214-981-8810
Fax 214-981-8805

or directly through

Black Virgins
Some References

Samten de Wet

Jacques 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 so great!

Jacques Huynen "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.

Samten 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.


Virgin Pledges

Nick Hobbs

International 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 policy.
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 the only
completely effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted disease."
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 keep it
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".
But many 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 protect themselves.
"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 health perspective".
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."

The Guardian Weekly 2-5-2002, page 7


Virgo Ritrovata

Stephen Karcher

RE: 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.


en exchange between Stephen Karcher and Enrique Pardo

From Stephen : 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.

From Enrique : 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.)

My intention 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.



Mariapia Ciaghi

La Vergine, in correlazione con la figura di Afrodite-Urania ("regina delle montagne") o Ericina
("regina dell'erica", ma secondo altri venerata a Erice).

La tradizione 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.

Perciò 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).!


Virgin Sources

Following on Mariapia Chiagi's speculations

Stephen Karcher

This 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 point.

Remember: virgins 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.

Think about 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!