The Bard's Grove

"There are times when people need stories more than they need nourishment, because the stories feed something deeper than the needs of the body."
Charles DeLint, The Onion Girl

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Emerging Archetypal Themes: The Scales of Libra and the Ancient Celts: Relationships for Grown-Ups.

Libra’s Scales: Questioning How We Relate

Libra is the only sign of the zodiac that is symbolized by an inanimate object—a Scale.  And yet this sign is concerned with partnerships, unions, relationships, lovers, marriages, and social affairs, all very human preoccupations.  Libra is also concerned with divorce, litigation, justice, diplomacy, compromise and contracts—human tools for relating to each other.  There’s something about the Scales of Libra that demand fairness and balance in the human sphere, something that comes naturally to the rest of creation, which lives within the cosmic laws of birth/death/rebirth.  Our patriarchal fear of death and change, and its deep disrespect for the Feminine, doesn’t help balance the Scales.  Perhaps that’s why our understanding of relationships needs an upgrade.

                                                  Blue Light Lady

We humans have been given free will.  And we so often don’t use it.  Instead we get caught in unconscious beliefs and triggers that keep us from making the right choices for our lives. These beliefs and rules make us think that we’re being fair and balanced, but as we evolve in self-awareness, those very rules which once gave us discipline and focus might now be misguiding us about our real needs and purpose in life.  We see this happening in all aspects of our modern society—many things we used to believe in are no longer helpful or even valid.  We need new rules that reflect our more conscious society.

Relationships are suffering from old beliefs about men and women, about marriage, about partnership.  Whether we speak of gay rights or women’s reproductive rights, the old relationship rules of patriarchy are no longer valid—if they ever were.  I’m not only talking about our legal views of relationship, but also our inner beliefs about relationships and love.  Since the early part of the 20th Century, relationships—and therefore Libra—have been changing. 

The three outer planets which represent collective change—Uranus, Neptune and Pluto—have traveled through Libra in our lifetime, changing our beliefs about relationships on the most basic levels.  From October 1942-August 1957, Neptune moved through the sign of Libra.  The Baby Boomers have this aspect in our charts.  Neptune in Libra sets up a longing in us, a yearning for a soul mate, our perfect lover and match.  We long for men of honor and courage, who will love us and protect us forever.  Men long for their perfect match, women who will understand and support them.  

                                                Aladdin & Jasmine

What we got was disappointment and disillusionment, two traits of a misunderstood Neptune.  We had a hard time with each other’s reality, and therefore there was quite of bit of the other side of Libra’s Scales: divorce, litigation and contracts.  Our ideas about relationship changed, often for the worse.  But we needed to be disillusioned about patriarchal relationships—especially about romantic love—because these types of relationships were anything but fair and balanced.  Women and men were left with roles to play out which no longer served our souls needs. 

Then Uranus went into Libra in October 1968-September 1975, surprising us with openly gay couples, as well as mixed racial couples.  After the 60s’, it seems like anything goes regarding partnerships and relationships.  The more unique and surprising the better! And when Pluto went into Libra from October 1971-August 1984, the kids decided to renovate the whole concept of relationships.  They wanted relationships to be deep and meaningful to survive divorce, and they had to be between equals. Then every 12 years Jupiter went through Libra and every 28 years Saturn went into Libra, bringing the new emerging archetypal energies of partnership into our collective consciousness. 

With all the changes in our self-awareness, of course relationships are evolving.  And yet, when we look at the culture at large, we’re still fighting over marriage and children, divorce and fair sharing of family resources.  Our rules are patriarchal and while divorce courts overtly have to be fair, most divorces end up badly, with neither side happy with the results. 

And then there’s the whole question of infidelity.  Why would a partner turn to someone else?  In a patriarchal marriage, where there’s only one relationship allowed for an entire lifetime, infidelity becomes a problem which leads to divorce.  I think it’s because patriarchal marriages are based on ownership and possession.  When we marry, we unconsciously believe we own our partner.  So when one partner ‘strays’ we feel betrayed and abandoned.  A big part of this feeling comes from the secrecy of an affair.  Patriarchal marriage sets us up to maintain the secrecy of an illicit affair. 

What if we’ve been programed to feel betrayed?  What if seeking other partners on a short term basis is part of our human nature—a part that’s been vilified by church and state?  What if we could have it both ways—a loving marriage and a legal lover?

Patricia Kennealy-Morrison’s Keltiad Series

Patricia Kennealy-Morrison created an amazing Celtic-based world in all her Keltiad novels.  Ms. Kennealy-Morrison was the editor of Jazz & Pop Magazine back in the 60s and married the Doors’ Jim Morrison in a pagan handfasting ceremony.  She has an amazing understanding of the Celts and their culture and has created a world that mixes the best elements of Celtic mythology, science fiction and fantasy. 

The foundation of her stories is this:  She takes the story of St. Brendan the Navigator who supposedly took ship from Ireland in 453 AD and discovered the Americas and changes one essential element of history.  In Ms. Kennealy-Morrison’s world, Brendan and the ships leaving Ireland with emigrants seeking a new home were fleeing the persecution of St. Patrick (they were the snakes he drove out!) because they wanted to worship their old gods and keep their own civilization—not become Roman. 

Brendan was the son of one of the Tuatha De Danaan, themselves descendants and heirs to the secrets of Atlantis.  Together with the Celts, the surviving Danaans (the Sidhe or Faerie Folk) set sail in starships seeking an ancient legend about a new world in outer space.  After two years’ wandering among the stars, they found their safe haven.  They named this new world Keltia.  

Through the long centuries, the Kelts first settled on the Throneworld system of Tara, and later spread out to the Six Nations, the other Keltic star systems, taking the old Earth names of Erinna, Kymry, Scota, Kernow, Vannin and Brytaned.  And through the long centuries they became strong and prospered.  Ruled by many kings and queens of Brendan’s line, they established a solid and strong civilization, with starship technology—so they could even go back secretly to Earth to bring more emigrants to Keltia.  In their long history, they had their own Arthur and Gweniver who had to fight to win back Keltia from the powerful druid, Ederyn.  And 1500 years later, a young queen named Aeron is fated to be the one who reunites her world with Earth, and who has to reclaim Arthur’s power to fight off ancient enemies who have followed the Kelts back into the heavens.  As you can imagine, they are wonderful, daring, adventurous stories!  

Patricia Kennealy’s stories give us interesting insights into many of the components of Celtic society.  The stories show us the way their military functioned through the Fianna, what parts the Druid Order and the Ban-Draoi, the priestesses and sorceresses, played, the importance of the Bardic Association and the magical Dragon Kinship—all honed to use for the well-being of Keltia.  If you can find any old copies of any of her series, they are well worth the read.  

Just as important as the adventure stories and the Celtic mindset are the various relationships between the characters.  Parents and children, siblings and cousins, lovers and betrayers, leaders and citizens, Kennealy-Morrison creates uniquely Celtic characters. They have an inner sense of freedom and confidence, with a deep expectation of being responsible, that make for good role models.  While there is a straight-forwardness and innate respect that seems to be basic to the Celtic character, it is the freedom and passion of Celtic relationships that interest me.

Kennealy-Morrison’s understanding of Celtic traditions about marriage and relationships is very much a part of all her stories.  The Celts were very adult about relationships.  They were comfortable in their bodies, grown-up in their understanding of love and fair about what was expected from partnerships and marriages.

You see, the Celts believed men and women were free to pick their own mates and lovers.  One of the saddest stories in our culture is the tragedy of the love triangle between our King Arthur, Queen Guinevere and Lancelot.  This would never have been a tragedy for the Celts because they believed that everyone had a right to take a lover, even if they were married.  That included women, which is so very different from almost any other ancient society.   There are stories of Queen Maeve of Connacht having multiple lovers while married to the King Ailill. Some Celtic women had many husbands, while divorce was accepted and practiced (usually) without the rancor we see in modern divorces. 

The Celts had strong Brehon Laws and made sure that these laws included the rights and rules of human relationships.  Because of the Celts’ respect for these Brehon Laws, there was no need for any secrecy about taking a lover.  If your marriage partner had no real objection, lovers had legal status. What a grown-up perspective! 

Our belief that we can love only one person in a lifetime is childish and selfish, and comes out of the patriarchal need for domination, control and possession which causes us to feel unloved and uncared for—therefore the jealousy.  As we grow and learn more about ourselves, we will often be attracted to certain people, people who somehow resonate with our present needs.  But acknowledging this doesn’t discount what we might have in our marriage relationship.  Loving someone else doesn’t have to mean you don’t love your mate.

We romanticize marriage and often refuse to see that marriage is an economic relationship as well as a love relationship.   We expect that marriage only happens when we are ‘soul-mates’ but not everyone is lucky enough to find that one perfect soul to fit with life-time after life-time. Haven’t we baby-boomers proved that!?!  

Instead of condemning the desires of our hearts, perhaps we need to find ways to accommodate the changes we go through during our lifetime and the needs of our hearts. Why can’t our hearts grow out of jealousy and into a greater loving?  Who says we only have enough love for one other man or one other woman at a time?  Why can’t we love two people? Why can’t all three love each other?  

Perhaps not all marriages need to end in divorce if we can get over the fact that we don’t own each other!  What would happen if we were grown-up enough to understand that the human heart might have needs that one person often cannot fulfill.  What happens if we set ourselves and our lovers free?  What happens if we took seriously the idea that “All You Need Is Love!”

Ancient Celts and Marriage

While Judaism, Christianity and Islam have had a great influence on our beliefs about relationships, marriage, and partnerships, they no longer serve us as modern guides because they are innately misogynistic.  They never centered their ideals about marriage solely around love—in fact, it was quite the opposite!  Often, marriage was purely about economics.  It was rarely about the freedom and partnership of soul-mates.  We need to leave the limiting patriarchal beliefs about female sexuality and the masculine perception of sexual ownership behind and find other options and guidelines for engaging fruitfully and graciously in relationships as well as divorces.  

I happen to think that the Celts knew how to do it right.  The ancient Celtics had a renown legal system called the Brehon Laws, which acknowledged ten forms of marriage as well as very open relationships. You could be married and have another, much-beloved wife or husband.  You could each have official lovers and all children from any liaisons were legitimate.  You could be married for a year and a day—a short term commitment that was honored and valued.  You could be married at the Stones—formally uniting two great families—or you could be married by eloping.  Not so different from today, but today we are still seeing marriage from a patriarchal perspective.  That’s what needs to go, so we can validate new and different forms of relationships and partnerships.

                                                       Julie Raymond

Celtic women were free of many of the constraints women in other cultures had to live under and that made marriage into something different and viable.  Celtic women were sexually free, and they were free to be warriors, judges, midwives, priestesses, ambassadors, mediators and landowners.  While men overtly had power over women, Celtic women had the freedom to choose who to marry or divorce. And since women could own their own land or business, they had a great deal more independence than most ancient women.  They were, in fact, very much like women today.

 The Celts could marry in one of ten ways. As in other civilizations, marriage was considered an economic union, although love came into play just as often.   The first three types of marriages required formal, pre-nuptial agreements.  All the other types of marriage included the assumption of financial responsibilities for child-rearing.  There were no illegitimate children in Celtic society—that nasty concept grew out of the Church. 

Under Brehon Law, there were 10 forms of marriage, each diminishing in importance, legal rights and desirability (thanks to Epona Perry for this simplified list):
  1. A first degree union takes place between partners of equal rank and property.
  2. A second degree union in which a woman has less property than the man and is supported by him.
  3. A third degree union in which a man has less property than the woman and has to agree to the management of the woman’s cattle and fields.
  4. A fourth degree union is the marriage of the loved one in which no property rights changed hands, though children’s rights are safeguarded.
  5. A fifth degree union is the mutual consent of the man and woman to share their bodies, but live under separate roofs.
  6. A sixth degree union in which a defeated enemy’s wife is abducted. This marriage is valid only as long as the man can keep the woman with him.
  7. A seventh degree union is called a soldier’s marriage and is a temporary and primarily sexual union (a one night stand).
  8. An eighth degree union occurs when a man seduces a woman through lying, deception or taking advantage of her intoxication (equivalent to the modern definition of “date rape”).
  9. A ninth degree union is a union by forcible rape.
  10. A tenth degree union occurs between feeble-minded or insane people.
I love that the Celts considered the love lives of insane people!  As you can see, the Celts acknowledged the power of love as well as the power of power.  They believed that marriage was between two equal partners, and unlike the Romans, did not believe that the woman became the property of the man.   Celtic marriage was essentially contractual and social, not at all religious, but based on the freedom of the husband and wife.

Divorce was a relatively simple matter and could be requested by either party. Divorced women were not looked down upon and were always free to remarry. The ancient Celts were polygamous and Celtic women could have multiple husbands.  Most of us might not want to be polygamous today, but we’re certainly prone to having affairs.  Perhaps the old Celts can give us new ways of looking at love and relationships.  Maybe we can begin to have grown-up relationships that are loving and free.  May that day come soon!

So Mote It Be!

From the Bard’s Grove,


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