Rossetti’s “Bride”, “Beloved” or the other names by which she is known, was chosen by me at the start of my “journey” sub-consciously. She has been on my wall at a few addresses over a period of twelve years, and I remember seeing pictures like this in my childhood. From being a child, I passed through the usual questioning period and lots of things slipped into the mists as the material world sent out its demands, yet as I have realised, coming from a workday world progressively back to part the mists, I see nothing was ever lost, just held in trust. So it is with “The Bride”, or “The Beloved”. She is a red-haired beauty, coming forth for her wedding with her handsome dark “child”, so she is dark and comely, her green mantle framing her lovely face, and her lips marking a cupid’s bow. Her eyes are earnest and compassionate, as she awaits her own beloved. Her attendants, all female, have various agendas among the luscious tiger lilies, but the Beloved never lets her eyes stray from the frontal view of intelligent anticipation. She looks out, with a promise of “I know” or “I see”. I sense there is water and greenery nearby, outside the intricately-carved gold frame, and an exotic balm of fragrant air, from rose petals drifting, alike to the fresh buds held by her dark “child” in a bronze receptacle.
I am aware of this, if nothing else: the mysteries are ever present. The mysteries are there. The mysteries are for those who wish to quest them, and the answers require cautious asking. The asking, as in the Grail Myths, is all. The way is jutting cliffs, sharp turns, black nights, and wildly uncertain, broken at welcome intervals by a green glade, the kindness of a stranger, the eye of a bird, the flick of a cat’s tail. The way is totally thought, alchemical action, and often, “I have no idea”. Abandoning this, eyeing that, breaking old bonds and chains. And then of course there is always the sun rising in the East, shining into dark corners. Which is just as it should be.
There is a sense of submerged longing, for something bright like gold to come up. The knowledge that you are nowhere or nothing, and can easily twist into you are somewhere and everything. The all, the one, the quest around and inside the self, always with the higher truth above. It is no vague quest with no-one watching – indeed, the small thoughts that often had nothing to do with a higher being, were waiting to be razed to ash by it. And this is not a point of arrival, but a point of knowing what is now to be known, then. So the Bride looks on expectantly, not as an untouchable impossibility, filled with judgement and burdened under a feminine complex, she is honoured and valued, out from the shadows.
Yet this beautiful image is obscure. Not everyone can see her. Though this is not to say that nobody sees her. She is still waiting in the shadows, collectively. Parts of her are known, but the earth of her is not known. Her ways are not fully known, by me or anyone. In Ancient Lemuria these things would have been known. I can only look at her with a quiet faith, knowing something will help usher her in by degrees. A thought, a breakthrough, a rush of truth. There have been great rushes of truth, lately, more than when I started. A little bit of new art in the city, legislation against cutting down trees in the streets, a child holding a leaf and wondering about it. Signs of wonder we glimpsed as children were never totally forgotten, like I beheld works like “The Beloved” and never forgot her totally.
The wonder of this is the measured, but persistent emergence I sense in the painting. There is no sense of a rush, or a sense of now or never, though at times we were taught to think it so. Though there is a quickening, but this is not forced and has its own momentum. Sometimes it’s difficult not to see the Divine as a concept governed by today’s rush and run. It’s about time and space and peace, and she is a ballast of intelligent anticipation.
(Links to “The Beloved” image can be found using Google to search. There are some nice ones available and the one I refer to is the richly coloured one, and I have included a quick snapshot of the one on my wall. Interesting further reading – “The Myth of the Goddess – Evolution of an Image” by Anne Baring and Jules Cashford, Viking Books through Amazon.)
© Monika Roleff 2005