Reflections from Bone:Dying into Life by Marion Woodman
“As I think of this golden bowl [sacrum] supporting the fierce spiritual energy descending, attracted to matter, and Earth energy equally fierce ascending, attracted to spirit, I feel the inner marriage yearning to be consummated right there within me.” (Woodman, 2000, p. 198)
“Although I was always aware of natural beauty, I didn’t feel it inside as I do now. I didn’t experience it as Sophia, as God made manifest, as eminent light, light permeating matter. I didn’t experience it as sacred.” (Woodman, 2000, p. 200)
“It is very clear to me now is that the black Madonna, it has been so dear to me ever since India, is in fact a Nature herself. She is black, luscious, nurturing, cherishing. She is the life force — even as a tiny Astor breaking through rock is a life force — perseverance and strength and passion.” (Woodman, 2000, p. 201)
“ … die into life.” (Woodman, 2000, p. 208)
The image of the sacrum as a golden bowl just mesmerizes me. I am not even sure I can effectively articulate why. But as I close my eyes to explore the image I see this golden bowl just sort of suspended in mid-air surrounded by darkness except that from the inside of the bowl emanates a soft golden light. There are two holes in the bottom of the bowl. Through one flows the “fierce spiritual energy descending, attracted to matter” (Woodman, 2000, p.198). I image this as a stream of electric blue light moving from the sky down into the bowl where it swirls for awhile and then moves out of one of the bottom holes of the bowl and into the earth below. In turn I image the Earth energy as combination of green and brown light reaching up like a fluid trunk of a tree into the bowl through the other hole. It also swirls in the golden bowl for a bit before it then reaches up into the sky as it is drawn into spirit. As I sit quietly with my eyes closed and tending to this inner image I can feel my heart beat a little faster and my breath becoming quick and shallow … in fact, I nearly feel as if I may lose my breath as I hold this image. And then it occurs to me that as I imagine this bowl as the sacrum of my own body it would contain my root chakra and I suddenly have this feeling as if all is as it should be with fluid motion between the me that is of the earth and the me that is of spirit having found fluid transfer between both realms. I wonder if this phenomenon I am experiencing may be anything at all similar to the phenomenon that Marion is describing when she writes, “I feel the inner marriage yearning to be consummated right there within me” (Woodman, 2000, p. 198).
In the last two quotes that stuck out for me in these pages I observe there is a connection between Marion’s writing about the black Madonna and the following quote “… to die into life” (Woodman, 2000). Perhaps one way of looking at the meaning of the black Madonna is the dying as in the alchemical stage of nigredo when that which is purified achieves a uniform black color. After this stage comes a new life in a new stage … therefore, in effect, dying into life. I have to think that there is more to the black Madonna than a variation in the representation of skin pigmentation. I am looking for something that speaks to my inner life and this idea of the black Madonna as a representation, a symbol, of the alchemical stage of nigredo as a death of purification to be followed by new life works for me. For now, anyway.
Woodman, M. (2000). Bone: Dying into Life. Penguin Books.
*This reflection was first published in a Facebook Group entitled BodySoul Rhythms – Continuing the Legacy of Marion Woodman