I’m very excited to announce the publication of an anthology featuring one of my essays. I’ve included a few brief excerpts from my essay, and I’m really excited to read all of the other pieces. The anthology is edited by Jen McConnel and published by Bibliotheca Alexandrina.
About the Book:
Peel back the layers that comprise the Queen of Heaven. She is Mother Mary weeping at the cross, and Hathor dancing in the sky. She is Freyja with her wild eyes, and Frigg with her open arms. She is Yemaya, keeper of the sea; compassionate Kuan Yin; and she is winged Isis. Her starry body stretches across the sky in the guise of Nut, and she is Saraswati’s gentle song. She is Juno, and Hera, and Tanit, and a thousand forgotten names, and she is Inanna, descending to the underworld to be reborn.
The voices in this anthology are as diverse as the different goddesses who have claimed the title Queen of Heaven, but each sparkles like the stars in Our Lady’s mantle.
Excerpt from A Mantle of Stars:
Below are a number of short excerpts taken from my longer essay. Think of them as stones skipping on a pond; little glimpses in a basically linear flow.
My Path to the Lady in the Blue Light
–Shauna Aura Knight
“I didn’t know her name. I started talking to her at night, talking to that huge bright moon, to the glittering stars. I think I was twelve when I started pouring out my sorrows to her. I was young enough that everything was emotionally overwhelming. Old enough to understand that people were cruel, that my classmates were cruel, and that they were never, ever going to stop teasing me. I think it was around that age that I started wondering, every once in a while, if life was worth living if every day meant verbal, emotional, and sometimes physical torture at the hands of my peers.
Somehow, at night when I looked up at the moon, I felt that she was with me. Angel, goddess, I didn’t know….Feeling her close made me feel like I was worth something, like maybe life was worth surviving….”
“In my twenties, the dreams changed. The visions were harder to connect to, further and farther between. I began to dream less of the angel/goddess directly, and more of something I first called the Water Chapel, later, the Water Temple. In this Temple of the Goddess of moonlight and water, there were spiral grooves carved into the floor, sometimes carvings of water shapes and grails almost in the way the ramps up to the Forbidden City in China are carved in relief. There was always a fountain in the center, water falling down, or a grail overflowing.”
“When I joined the leadership program at Diana’s Grove, my intention was to learn the skills to help serve Pagan community, but also to be a better leader in order to accomplish some of the larger creative projects I had in mind, some of those being projects like building standing stones, temples, or something more mundane like art installations. I knew I had been called to Pagan leadership, and I knew that Diana’s Grove was one of the very few places where I could actually get the training to do it.
But as I began doing that work of learning Pagan leadership and priestess skills, it felt like my Goddess was further and further away from me. Those moments of divine communion seemed a thousand miles out of reach.”
“I’ve been reading about sacred geometry, ancient temples, and ancient legends for a while, but it seemed like suddenly the synchronicities were coming faster. Michael and Gabriel, sword and chalice. There also seemed to frequently be a connection between the Grail and the cosmic mountain or Omphalos—world navel—and at times, a connection to the dome of the heavens, the zodiac.”
“Archaeoastronomy is still considered fringe science to some, although I personally find the evidence fairly compelling that our ancient ancestors built computers in the form of stone megaliths and temples to track the movement of the stars and the heavens. As a kid I had those dreams about Stonehenge all the time, and for a while I thought about just building stone circles, but it wasn’t until I learned more about the actual solar and stellar alignments of some of the megaliths that it began to make sense why our ancestors might have done that kind of work. And perhaps, why I myself might have become obsessed with the idea without even knowing why.”
“I believe that our ancient ancestors understood the sky. And for whatever reason, they knew that it was essential to chart the stars, to record their observations in stone. It’s relatively easy to track the solstices and equinoxes, which would be essential for tracking the seasons. But some of these sites seem to have tracked incredibly complicated stellar phenomena. Eclipses, the 8-year and 40-year cycle of Venus. Even the 25,800 -year cycle of axial precession caused by the slight wobble of the Earth’s rotation on its axis.”
“Queen of Heaven, Venus, and Astronomical Megaliths
With a dozen wooden posts and a flat field, our priest-astronomer-megalith builders could have tracked the simple seasonal cycles. One post goes in the center as a sightline. You start at the Equinox, and put a post on one half of the circle for sunrise, one for sunset. Over the next months, you track the sun as it moves north, putting another post in to mark the sightline for the solstice. Solstice means “sun is standing still,” so you mark the northernmost sunrise of the summer solstice, and the northernmost sunset on the other side of your circle. Same thing for the latter half of the year, marking out the sunset. That calendar takes just one year to build and is fairly tolerant of error.”
“The truth is, I think a great deal of the “magic” of our ancient ancestors can be found in a modern cell phone: calendars, moon phases, a compass. Imagine the power that the shaman-priests had by being able to tell when the solstices and equinoxes fell. By knowing when the warm rains would come, when the snows would come, when it was time to plant. This knowledge was carried in the language of stone, in the language of myth.”
“My search began with the dreams, with visions of an unnamed goddess. Later, dreams of megaliths, dreams of temples filled with water and with images of a Grail, temples filled with spiral grooves, temples where water was always flowing, and where I felt connected to that goddess of the nighttime sky. In those dreams and visions, I felt completely connected to her, transcendent.
And yet, in my quest to follow the path I saw to spiritual leadership, and the path to learn more about labyrinths and temples, I seemed to have lost her….When I began leading public rituals, I thought surely I would find that place of communion, and it eluded me over and over.
….For years, I felt a bitterness. How unfair was it that I finally understood some of the messages from my dreams, even if they were vague, and I couldn’t actually directly commune with this goddess that had inspired me and kept me from harming myself in my youth?”
“In my vision, I felt myself become a part of the entire universe. The universe was an ocean of love; I was laying on a bed that was the waters of the ocean that was the mother that loves us all and that is all of us, that we are not separate from. It was my goddess, but warmer, larger, more encompassing.
I felt the golden honey-light of the heartbreak of the universe breaking open on my skin in that moment, I felt the cradling rocking loving. That I was not separate from the divine. That indeed, I was not separate from anyone, that we were like water in the ocean, that the skin that separates us is an illusion. That it was all bliss and agony and love together—that the separation the universe must endure from us is agony, but only with that grief and loss can we truly recognize how potent it is to come home again….”
Table of Contents and more information at:
Edited by: Jen McConnel
Published by: Bibliotheca Alexandrina
Publication Date: 20 December 2013
ISBN: 978-1494357948 / 1494357941
Pages: 302 pp