Chapter 7: Dreamer, Awake and Dance
Ever since her mother’s death (following chapter 3), Hannah has been having
nightmares that look like bad horror movies in which she goes home to her
mother’s house in Yorba Linda. Among other things, the floors fall away
and the garden goes down the toilet. Desperate and sleep-deprived, Hannah
calls Maude for help. Maude spends the night with her and leads her into
the deeper meaning of the nightmares, then sends her to Cairo, who explains
the symbolism of the labyrinth, where when we seem to be the farthest from
the center we are really almost there.
House, garden, tree, and labyrinth are all important symbols of the Goddess.
We do in fact often meet Her when we are facing traumatic situations.
Golden Gate Bridge, built in 1937. Bonneville Dam, construction began
in 1934. Hoover Dam, construction began in 1931. Empire State Building,
construction began in 1931. Eiffel Tower, built in 1889.
When I was a technical editor at a construction management company, I
knew the man who had been in charge of civilian construction in Vietnam.
He called me Blossom. A psychologist I once knew used to talk about a girl
named Blossom he’d met in a whore house in Shanghai. (It’s these tiny recalled
details that made writing this book so much fun.)
The floors falling away comes from nightmares I had when my beloved grandfather
died and all the floors fell out of my grandparents’ house. Like Hannah,
I felt like the bottom had fallen out of my life.
Maude’s inner sight is demonstrated again, also her willingness to use
various magical techniques (cornmeal, smudge, aura examination, breathing
exercises). She also gives a basic lesson in magic.
The id-creature. From
Forbidden Planet (1956).Which also brought us a famous robot.
The books Cairo mentions here and that are mentioned elsewhere are real
books that were available in 1989-90.
Mitochondrial Eve. For more information, see the
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892–1950) was an American poet who lived what
her contemporaries thought was a scandalous life and wrote lyric poetry
that was scandalous in its time. From “First Fig”: My candle burns at both
ends/ It will not last the night;/ But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends—
/ It gives a lovely light!
Gertrude Stein (1874–1946), American author and expatriot, lived in Paris
before World War II with her lover, Alice B. Toklas. They ran a literary
salon and collected art by their friends, including Picasso.
The “dark night of the soul” is a phrase made famous by St. John of the
Cross, a 16th-century Spanish mystic. In chapter 15, Milly endures her
own dark night, and in chapter 19, Brooke and Matthew pass though their
dark night. This is analogous to the hero’s underground journey described
by Joseph Campbell in
The Hero with a Thousand Faces (first ed., 1949). An alternative
if you want an attitude adjustment: Douglas Adams’ novel,
The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul (1988).
Cairo’s recounting of the time, some years earlier, when they met with
a circle of young people on the beach and constructed and walked a labyrinth
is based on real events that I participated in. Note that the women have
not always been as secretive as they are now. It is said that as people
age they become more conservative. As these women demonstrate, this is
not necessarily true.
Have you lost someone very close to you? How did you feel? How does the
pagan view of death differ from the view offered by the standard-brand
What kind of daughter of the Goddess are you? One of the thoughty ones
like Cairo? An instinctive, emotional one like Margaretta?
Have you ever walked a labyrinth? What did it feel like?
Copyright © 2011 by Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. All rights reserved. Permission
granted to print this page of the
Secret Lives Reader’s Guide for personal use only.