Thursday, 13 April 2017
Alpha and Omega
To reclaim (or perhaps to co-opt) some traditional Christian imagery, the first and last items attached to my string of prayer beads may be symbolically understood as representing "the alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end." This classic Biblical description of the Divine means, of course, that the Divine is eternal, being both the source from which we come and the source to which we return at the end of our lives. This symbolism and imagery are equally applicable to the Great Goddess of All.
I provided both these alpha and omega items to my sister for incorporation into my prayer beads.
In Goddess spirituality, the five-pointed star-within-a-circle (pentacle) of the Goddess represents the four sacred elements of earth, air, fire and water plus the fifth element of spirit. This pentacle features a green peridot gem, my birthstone for the month of August.
The pentacle is framed by a beautiful Celtic knotwork moon. The moon is one of the most ancient symbols of the Divine Feminine because its phases correspond to the triune nature of the Triple Goddess -- Maiden (waxing crescent moon), Mother (full moon) and Crone (waning crescent moon). Depending on the angle of your perspective, all three phases of the moon (and therefore of the Divine Feminine) are represented in this item's design.
I bought this as a 50th birthday present for myself 10 years ago. It's meant to be worn as a necklace of course, but I've never been much of a jewelry wearer. It will serve a much better function here in my prayer beads!
This double-headed axe is called a labrys. It is an immensely old fertility symbol that was used by the ancient goddess-worshipping civilization of Minoa (Crete).
Designed to stylistically represent the vulva's butterfly-like double labia, the labrys is so inextricably associated with women that classical art often portrayed it as the favourite battle weapon of the Amazons, the mythical female warriors who fought against patriarchal domination.
This symbolism led to the labrys being adopted in the feminist 1970s as the symbol of the Lesbian Nation. The modern women's spirituality movement has now also revived its original spiritual meaning. The labrys is an extremely resonant symbol for me personally because what it represents -- feminism, lesbian rights and women's spirituality -- have all been central to my own life.
I bought this labrys nearly 30 years ago in Winnipeg. It was handcrafted by a talented lesbian silversmith and jewelry-maker in that city. It too is meant to be worn as a necklace but will serve a higher function now as the omega of my prayer beads.
My next post will explain the colour-and-number symbolism of the prayer beads themselves.
[Image # 1 from the internet; photos #2 and #3 by My Rare One 2017]