When Athena sprang from Zeus’s head, She emerged fully formed. In stories, what is missing may be very important. Often, in fairy tales, it is the feminine; there is no queen, or the queen has died. That tells you something right away.
Here is what isn’t spoken of in the context of Athena’s birth, at least not that I have found: Zeus’ head, splitting open to bear a wise, snake-handling warrior woman goddess, must have caused Him a colossal headache.
A woman in black sits between Zeus and his daughter Athena. They are at Dodona, the place where, in ancient times, the rustling leaves of the sacred oak delivered oracles. In my SoulCollage® card, the woman in black pushes her elbow firmly into the back of Zeus’ head. (This is the beauty of SoulCollage® - often you don’t really see what you’ve made until afterwards.)
“Headache,” she wordlessly prods. “More headache.” Endlessly. She is untroubled. She comes from the underworld.
I cannot hear what the leaves speak, but there is a whispering in my ear.
Another dream comes. In it, I cross a bridge over a raging river on my way to the basement workshop of an Asian man, a wood worker. He speaks to a small group of us, saying that the river we crossed is magical; drinking its water would add five years to your life. He steps on blocks of wood and leads us to another area in this large underground workshop. This is the studio of a very old Chinese craftsman, dressed in ancient, stereotypical Chinese dress. He has just had a grandchild born to him. He shows us a small box that he has made. It is open in the front, like a diorama, and has small pieces, perhaps chairs, inside. He tells us he has named his piece The Gifts of Oya.
I know Oya is an African goddess, but I don’t remember anything about Her, so I look Her up. She is the goddess of tempests and wind, the goddess of transformation, death and rebirth. A dark sister to Persephone. But why would a Chinese man honor an African goddess?
I come to understand that the underworld is more than the land of the dead; it is the realm of the ancestral. I intuit that I am to look to the ancestral, but not only the ancestors of my family. There may be a council of ancestors who come from many cultures, some of whom are not even human. This council may include trees, rocks, water.
Did I think I was out of the underworld? That was premature, wishful thinking. The light is diffuse here. I must be wandering around in the underworld still.
I have no question for the teacher, though I wish I did. I want to ask something, but I don’t know what. She says to me, “I know what your question is.”
“What is it?” I ask.
“How do you bring your work into the dark?”