Purpose Statement

Exploration -> Experience -> Feeling -> Transformation -> Understanding

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lying with the Heavenly Woman

I heard this myth this weekend and thought it brilliant.

Lying with the Heavenly Woman is an African myth, where the heavenly anima and the mother archetype are often indistinguishable. This story portrays the double anima.

A father warns his young son that one night the heavenly woman will appear and ask to lie beside him. If the son agrees, warns the father, he will be dead the next morning. In order to keep this from happening, the father moves the family to another village. The heavenly woman comes to the son in the new village and he lets her lie with him. The next morning he is dead.

The heavenly woman is horrified because she had no intention of harming the boy. She persuades an old shaman to build a fire and toss a lizard into the hottest part of it, proclaiming that anyone who loves the youth enough to retrieve the lizard from the fire will restore his youth to him. Three people try and fail – the heavenly woman, the mother and the father. Following that, a plain girl who secretly loves the youth walks into the fire, retrieves the lizard, and the boy awakens.

The story doesn’t end here.

The shaman throws the lizard into the fire again and tells the boy that he must make a decision. If he chooses to retrieve the lizard from the fire, the girl will live and his mother will die. If he leaves the lizard in the fire, his mother will live but the girl will die. The story doesn’t tell which decision the youth makes.

5 comments:

Irina said...

Yes, the story does not tell about decision, unfortunately, but all about choices,,,

Karen said...

Hi there. I googled manai'a and found your blog, which I think is cool! Loved the essay on emptiness.

So, why is your name manai'a? I was googling it to learn more about the Hawaiian constellation Maui's fish hook (which is also Scorpius).

Manai'a Explorations said...

Hi Karen. The Manai'a is a Maori mythological creature, usually depicted with the head of a bird, the arms and hands of a man, and the tail of a fish. I have chosen the Manai'a as my icon and depicted the Manai'a with the head and wings of a bird, the legs and feet of a man, and the tail of a fish because I am all about exploration, and feet propel me on land, wings propel me through the sky, and fins propel me through the water as I go exploring. Thanks for the question.

sheryl said...

so, i'm curious. why do the choices presented to the boy not include returning his father to life?

Manai'a Explorations said...

The father doesn't die.

Killing the mother is a metaphor for the boy's individuation, the breaking of the emotional umbilicus the boy has with his mother so he can be available to his earth-wife. If he chooses to remain attached to his mother, he "kills" his earth-wife, that is, he is unavailable to her.

The heavenly woman is the boy's anima, a reflection of his idealized self. He falls madly in love with this reflection of his most perfect self and suffers Narcissus' fate.