You, Whatever Your Name is, You who illuminate every city with your feminine light...." - Apuleius, The Metamorphosis, 2nd Century AD
It was more than ten years ago on one of those brilliant blue sky Roman Saturday afternoons that I was flowing with the happy crowds down a busy street. I noticed a banner outside of a museum exhibit, and these words. I remember feeling struck by their mysterious beauty and as beauty can often do, it absolutely stopped me. I wrote them down on a scrap of paper which has been lying in wait in a folder I label "Inspiration", that is until today.
The Metamorphosis, a novel from ancient Roman times, is filled with tales of transformation - literal and spiritual. A man, Lucius, is turned into a humble donkey and his long and often terrible journey leads him finally to illumination at the hands of Isis (with help from other goddesses along the way).
So it is, that when Lucius is at his wit's end in longing to be human again, that he invokes the Divine Feminine and any who might have the most power: Isis, Psyche, Venus, Proserpine?
Hence, "You, Whatever Your Name is...."
Learning about this satisfied my mind in terms of its origin, and how it fit into a story.
But I was more intrigued about the part of the quote that talks about "feminine light," and how it "illuminates every city."
Why did that, does that, hold so much power for me?
I have also felt its pull when I have spent time in southern Tuscany, the area where my grandfather was born - the land of the Etruscans where temples and tombs and shrines tell the story of the equality of the sexes in their civilization - and even earlier, water worshippers who carved intricate ceremonial roads. This is the land when the Divine was Feminine and when I traverse those roads, immersed in a micro climate that produces ferns and other plants not found anywhere else....well, there are echoes of quiet voices that infuse this place with powerful presences within its absences.
The light enters from above, through deep cuts in the tufa rock. It is not harsh, but illuminates the path gently and powerfully. At night, torch processions still occur on some saint days. All the religions blend here, but the original one was Feminine.
Out of the mists of ancient peoples, thousands of years later, dawned the Renaissance - the rebirth. The illumination of humankind, which had its origins in Florence. The players were all men: the Medici, Michelangelo, Leonardo.
Or were they?
NEXT: Feminine Light, Part Two