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Portals: Opening into Deep Time
Finding a new way of tracking time
I’d like to nominate the three-faced Roman Goddess, Hecate as a replacement for the two-faced God, Janus, as a symbol of the transition into the new year. Janus, the origin of our word, January, looks forward and back in a linear way, to the past and future. But Hecate adds the dimensions of up and down. As do many of the feminine divine, Hecate has a more complex relationship to time. Hecate’s ability to move through time is layered. She represents a web of time with no real beginning and end but instead a cycle that spirals back on itself and returns again. In this way, she captures more accurately our true experience of time, always circling back to the past and projecting forward into the future, integrating all the selves we once were and are meant to be.
More about Hecate
Hecate also symbolizes crossroads and portals. Her three faces, sometimes seen as a dog, serpent and horse, all originally had associations with the underworld. She protects women through life transitions, from childhood to womanhood, to marriage, to pregnancy and childbirth. Among her symbols are keys, torches and portals. One of Hecate’s best-known roles was to use her torch to guide Demeter down to the underworld to find her daughter, Persephone, who had been abducted by the lord of the underworld. Hecate, though a goddess of the darkness, is also a light-bringer. Using her key to open the door (portal) to the underworld, Hecate then guided Persephone back out of the underworld. Hecate is a very complex goddess, that would take much longer than one blog post to fully describe. But what I am trying to capture here is her ability to navigate space and time in a way that we can greatly benefit from if we want to disengage from a surface-oriented relationship with time and space.
A few examples of my non-linear calendars with tracking joy
Non-linear calendars, circles, spirals and infinity loops
Why would we want to disengage from time and space in this way? Doesn’t this sound kind of wacky? Maybe on some level yes, but on another level, there is a freedom in letting go of a linear, goal-oriented narrative of life. I used to write goals at the end of the year and the beginning of a new one. I would plan what I was hoping to achieve in the new year and tally up what I had achieved in the year before. But it never felt right. It often felt like a set up for frustration and disappointment of expectations. I felt stuck in that linear track of achievement and accomplishment.
Then in 2015 or so, I started to track joy in my calendars. I created non-linear calendars-circles, spirals, and infinity loops, one for each month. And I used symbols or colors to track how much joy I had experienced in a given day or month. I gradually stopped making these calendars but they had an impact on me and influence the way I think about my intentions today. Now I think about intentions in a more flexible way, allowing for change and adjustments along the way. Rather than setting goals, with their association to outward structures and achievements, I set intentions, just one or two, that have more to do with how I want to feel in the coming year and who I want to be.
Ancient goddesses as portals
What happens when we use goddesses like Hecate to open up a new portal into our relationship with time? She opens us up to a world beneath the surface of linear time. She helps us to see a doorway, where we may only see a wall. She opens us up into a new way of seeing our path ahead. She opens us up to overlapping dimensions of time. We may, in encountering one of her portals, find ourselves suddenly in contact with our deep ancestors, whose wisdom we might need at that moment. Or, we may open a door into the future, gaining a goosebump-inducing glimpse of who we might or could be, if we lived out our best intentions.
Life becomes more messy and chaotic this way, but more connected to the present moment. One of my mentors, Sally Kempton, in her book, Meditation for the Love of it: Enjoying Your Own Deepest Experience, talks of the potential for any experience, especially those with a sensual dimension, to be a portal to the divine. In reflecting on the ‘tree-ness” of trees or in stopping to fully experience the taste of a strawberry for instance, we can drop into a deeper sense of our rootedness to all beings. Or in looking into our children’s faces, we can see the echo of our great-ancestors, speaking to us from the past.
Portals to joy, Hildegarde of Bingen and “greenness”
I’m reminded too of Hildegarde of Bingen, a mystic who lived at the turn of the first millennium, in a time that in some ways was much like ours. Her joyful vision of life centered on the idea that to be awake is to be “filled with greenness.” To her, every being on earth, not just humans, could potentially be filled with a spark of life, “for no creature exists that lacks a radiance, be it greenness or seed, buds or beauty…otherwise it would not be a creation at all.” (p. 67 Matthew Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen.) Each element of our living earth is a potential portal into aliveness and gives us an opportunity to experience our fullness and divinity. The mystics, poets and artists of the world remind us of this connection and yet we are each capable of experiencing it ourselves if we open ourselves to it. The ancient goddesses such as Hecate live in all of us, as potential to our fullest, most joyful and alive selves.
“The real voyage consists not in seeking new landscapes but having new eyes.” Marcel Proust
The Room in Which We are Every Age At Once
by Naomi Shihab Nye (from Honeybee)
As if there were
a home in the air around us from birth,
spaciousness bidding us enter,
we live inside the long story of time.
And it was language giving us bearing,
letting in light.
When I was 3, rimming pink above rooftops,
Grandpa planted a redbud tree
that would bloom for years beyond us.
Each year it would say spring first.
Vocabulary falling into place,
we were always old and young
feeling familiar lines resound,
my favorite Margaret Wise Brown,
who died right before I was born,
and precious solitary Emily D.,
the words of all time waiting,
latched together like small huts,
stories of wise animals
and human beings
rising up inside us
to shelter our days.
1/2/2022 11:23:30 am
I find myself resisting the process of linear planning: setting a goal, breaking down the specific steps, scheduling the steps, and implementing the plan. Especially for large life goals.
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I've been making dolls for about ten years now. I believe that dolls serve as representations and reminders of the best part of ourselves. I am excited to share with you here my learnings about new methods and techniques for doll making and healing. So glad you are here!