Rising From the Cosmic Cauldron
By Annalisa Derr
In the midst of this turbulent energy, I was visited by the three Fates of Greek mythology as Shakespeare’s Weird Witchy Sisters from Macbeth. In this vision they were stirring the cosmic cauldron. Like alchemists, they churned its celestial contents, incanting and steadfastly watching their creation be birthed from its colorful contents.
In antiquity, the three Fates were in charge of spinning, portioning out, and cutting the threads that symbolized the life and fate of each human life. Here, weaving—an “occupation” associated with women in almost every culture ever recorded—is a rich symbol of life and death, suggesting the durability, but also the fragility, of life. More importantly, their never-ceasing creative process stresses the interconnectedness of all human beings, past and present, and our collective fate on Earth. In fact, I will take a big step forward and say that their cosmic weaving reflects the interdependence of human beings with that of all sentient life on this planet, including Earth—Gaia—herself.
The three Fates were generally thought of as crones, a triad of wizened elder goddesses. Others interpret them as the Maiden-Mother-Crone Triple Goddess, with each goddess representing a different stage of a woman’s life cycle. That the fate of every single human life was imagined to be in the hands of three goddesses, as old as time, can suggest many things. One suggestion includes the recognition of women’s roles as mothers, caretakers, and mourners, and how these “traditional” roles may be imagined cosmically as the weavers of human destiny.
While ancient Greek religion was later replaced with Christianity, many of the Greek myths resurfaced in medieval Europe, particularly during the Renaissance, (which means, rebirth). Retaining a sense of marginality, arguably due to a fear of women and “magic”— the three Fates resurfaced as Macbeth’s witchy prophetesses, the Weird Sisters. Weird in old English means destiny, leading many scholars to assert that the Witches were indeed the Fates born anew.
The cauldron, as vessel, can symbolize the womb for its transformative and generative capacity to turn singular constituent pieces into a unified whole. Therefore, it is also associated with transformation, and in particular, women.
This vision felt particularly potent, reminding me that I am part of something much bigger than myself. No longer a mythological trope—but instead, a lived experience—our ancient Greek Ancestresses churn the Oceanic Feminine with persistence, vim, and a commitment to helping us birth a new and empowering paradigm.
In the women’s spirituality movement, many are reclaiming, and others re-membering, the goddess traditions of our female-centric lineages. In alignment with this vision, I offer the following remembrance: Goddesses such as Aphrodite and Venus, Isthar and Inanna, Lakshmi, Demeter, Persephone, Psyche, and Brynhildr (to name a few) arose from the depths—of the underworld, the abyssal waters, or even the innermost chambers of their own beings—changed, renewed, and resplendent.
And so shall we.
Special thanks to Roz Carlos and Lisa Skura for their infinite wisdom.
Waterhouse, John William. (1886) Magic Circle. Retrieved from: Wikimedia Commons website: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:John_William_Waterhouse_- _Magic_Circle.JPG
Skura, Lisa (2018) Untitled. Retrieved from: Published by permission from the artist.
Botticelli, Sandro. (1486) Birth of Venus. Retrieved from: Wikimedia Commons website: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sandro_Botticelli_-_La_nascita_di_Venere_- _Google_Art_Project_-_edited.jpg