Conversations with Columbia — Part the Third

“‘Only connect!’ That was the whole of her sermon. . . . Live in fragments no longer.” ~ E.M. Forster

More than anything else, being a Witch, for me, is about connection. Connection to the Earth, the Elements, my landbase, my watershed, and all the entities (corporeal and non) that share them with me. Connection to the Goddesses and Gods. Connection to the Web of All. And because, like most American Pagans, I live in an urban area, I work on connecting — being in relationship with — my city. My city is Washington, the District of Columbia (often called D.C. for short). As I’ve discussed before, part of my practice is centered on Columbia, the patron Goddess of my city. She’s a fairly young Goddess (as Goddesses go), with fairly old roots. She’s closely related to the Roman Goddess Libertas.

One thing that Columbia doesn’t have yet is a well-known story of Her life. We know that Isis married Osiris, reassembled his body when it was dismembered, sang Osiris back to life, and conceived Horus. We know that Persephone was gathering flowers with Her friends when Hades abducted Her and took Her to the Underworld. Her mother, Demeter, wanted Her daughter back and refused to let anything grow on Earth until Zeus brought Persephone back to Earth, although Persephone returns each Autumn to the Underworld. We know that Quan Yin’s father wanted Her to marry a rich man, but She wanted to be a nun and live in the temple. Eventually, Her father had Her executed and She descended to one of the more unpleasant realms of the dead. There, Her kindness turned the realm into a paradise. She then became a Bodhisattva and hears all the cries of the world. But we don’t know much about Columbia’s life.

So, on July 4th, I did a magick working and meditation to learn more about Columbia. I’ve recounted the first two questions that I asked Her and Her answers here and here. The third question that I asked Columbia, was what one thing She’d like people to know about Her. I pulled the Five of Vessels (Ecstasy) card from the Wild Wood Tarot. In a traditional Tarot deck, the Five of Cups card shows bereavement, disillusion, repentance, regret. There’s none of that in the Five of Vessels. Here’s the card.

Picture found here.

The Wild Wood Tarot book says:

Meaning: The beat of the universal drum is heard in the soul and it is healthy to surrender for a time and to join in the dance. Energy is renewed by bathing in the cosmic life force of exultant and sincere ecstasy.

Reading Points: Many avenues are open to the Wanderer to commune intimately and ecstatically with great beauty or to be intoxicated by an intensely personal connection with the divine. Music, meditation, art, love, dancing or a profound sexual experience can inspire and induce the sacred trance of enlightening ecstasy. This powerful and euphoric awareness is utterly natural and a well-established aspect of shamanic traditions. States of ecstatic trance can sometimes be triggered by extreme physical exertion or the quiescence of the superficial consciousness, so as to gain access to a deeper and more profound comprehension of everything. Sadly, the concept of spiritual ecstasy has been damaged by the common use of drugs that imitate (for a short time) the endorphin rush of an authentic and natural ecstasy. The ecstatic trance has been described as a delightful possession or a mysterious union with a timeless exuberance. The fusing of the spiritual being with a profound and loving universal mind elevates the soul to the space between spaces, where poetry breathes through you and exultation and stillness effortlessly coexist.

What I see when I look at the card is a very young woman, maybe even a teen-aged girl. She’s completely given herself over to the ecstasy of some ritual (maybe initiation?). The place where she’s dancing looks a bit like a dried river bed. Is she doing a working for rain? Although her dance is confined to the space of a pentacle (which mirrors the five-pointed stars that adorn Columbia’s helmet in her statue in Washington, D.C.), she’s one with the whirling stars of the Milky Way and with her own inner vision. It reminds me of Maria Montessori’s teaching that, “From the greatest discipline comes the greatest freedom.” She carries a thyrus, often associated with Dionysis, symbolizing her ecstasy, and a rattle with a face, perhaps to provide rhythm, symbolizing her discipline, for her dance. Again, discipline and freedom, upon one tether, and running beautiful, together.

The answer to my question seems to me to be that Columbia wants people to know how much fun She’s having, how ecstatic She is, and the deep ecstasy available to Her devotees. And that She’s still young, still able to dance all night under the stars, still in love with It All. And, that She moves and has influence within the correct sphere, space, ritual.

What does the card say to you about Her? Are there deities or land spirits you associate with the place where you live? Do you have a relationship with any of them? What are their stories?

Picture of Columbia found here.

Thanks to Medusa for telling me about Selena Fox’s great article on Libertas, linked above.

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4 responses to “Conversations with Columbia — Part the Third

  1. Living in Texas, I’ve just started working with Tejas, the spirit of the area. Oh boy she is not an easy goddess to work with if you know what I mean! She’s demanding and fiery, but once you’ve proven yourself, there is no fiercer ally. I really advocate working with local deities. Makes the craft so much more personal.

  2. From this, Columbia is telling me that she loves her annual drum circle and hopes it expands to a large, ecstatic gathering of dancers and drummers.

  3. Pingback: Conversations with Columbia: Part 3 - Hail Columbia

  4. Again, this card reinforces Columbia’s connections to Cybele for me. If She were raised and trained by the Goddess who cured Dionysos of madness, and taught to Him the Mysteries of Life, Death and Resurrection, then Columbia would be well versed in the ecstatic arts. She would carry a thyrsos. She would know ecstasy. She would delight in ecstatic trance, dance, and drumming. All of this, I believe is in Her nature.

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