I found out recently that my friend Katie is all about snakes. It seems you either are – or you’re not.
I don’t know much about them except, surprisingly, they do have personalities. They aren’t just slithering vipers who live soley to feed on creatures most of us find adorable. Case in point, one of my sister’s friends had several, and they would literally curl up next to you on the couch and watch tv. Whether I wanted them to or not.
So, I’ve decided to give up my fear and take on the Aztec goddess Coatlicue for the Film Odysseys. Her name means “serpent lady” and she is the earth goddess. She seemed to be pretty ugly and wore a skirt made out of snakes, and subsisted on a diet of human corpses. Yet so much about her speaks to life. She gave birth to over 400 sons and daughters – including the moon and stars and the god of the sun. And is known as the Goddess of Life, Death and Rebirth, or the Goddess of Fire and Fertility. The earth and all the food that sprang from it were also believed to be her. And at the same time over in Egypt was the god Atum, often asscoiated with a serpent and known as “He who harnesses the soul”. Atum also guarded the underworld much like Ratu-mai-mbula over in Fiji, another serpent god. And perhaps the best known god of the underworld, Hades, was called the “giver of wealth” which referred to the crops, minerals and fresh water – all life springing from the earth, much like – Coatlicue. So see the correlation I’m making here? I guess I’m on another “collective unconscious” thread.
But on the conscious level of collectiveness and the serpent is The Southeastern Ceremonial Complex (The Southern Cult). I came into contact with this quite a bit at the museum. Simply put there were striking similarities in religious effigies (the serpent among them) during the Mississippian times (1000-1600AD) in a wide rang of cultures from Ohio to Alabama, from the Great Plains to the Atlantic ocean. (My favorite artifact at the musem was a serpent on a bowl from this Cult.) Their shared iconic images and mythologies seem to be solid evidence of a sophisticated network of trade. And these stories still exist today.
So here’s my question. Is the collective unconscious a sophisticated network of storytelling branching out along man’s ancient path from Africa and still being told in our families today? Or is it a pyschic phenomenon that resides deep in one’s soul that honors similar attributes to certain images no matter where in the world you were born or what era you live?
The Film Odyssey vignette for Coatlicue is being told using dancers and music and fire breathers – all talents I consider to be ingrained in one’s soul and executed with instinct. So perhaps the story of a snake wearing goddess can reside in there too…
~Lisa (p.s. Adam and Eve could not be reached for comment)