The Goddess in the Garden,
review by Eleanor Cowan, C.G. Jung Society of Montreal Newsletter
The cover of The Goddess in
the Garden, chosen by the author, shows a naked goddess,
sleeping quietly, in a garden. Zonailo is from British Columbia
and of Russian Doukhobor heritage, and, while she is not of the
minority Sons of Freedom Doukhobors, I was reminded of their practice,
at times, of undressing as a sign of protest against being required
by the Canadian Government to get involved in battles they believed
could be resolved more creatively. What is poetry but a creative
and stark stripping to the bare essentials of a matter—to
expose and reveal that which is most important to the unhooded
Carolyn Zonailo, M.A., poet, practicing
astrologer, lecturer and lifelong student of Jungian thought,
now lives in Montreal, Quebec and is the author of nine published
books of poetry.
Read “Skinhead Riding Bicycle”
to hear moments of vulnerability while “getting dressed”
prior to showing off the finished image—and hear youth’s
fear. See flesh-carved roses, the pale word mother and
exhausted mermaids draped over the now frail chest of “The
Tattooed Man” as he prepares for the most exciting journey
of all, not from the mast of a ship on turbulent seas as a strong,
young man but from his quiet hospital bunker as a frail old one—and
disrobe to the real adventure.
The cover of Dancing in the
Flames by Marion Woodman and Elinor Dickson also features
a naked goddess, but this one is quite awake and consuming the
hot flames that surround her whilst dancing in their light. The
authors warn us that the sleep of the goddess is a special time
and not necessarily an unconscious one. When she rises, refreshed,
ready, and truly awake now, it is in the trinity of virgin, mother
and crone, each with her own job to do, her own aspect that transforms,
ultimately, into the whole person. Woodman and Dickson discuss
the essence of worship of the great goddess, underlining its primary
transfiguring function: “…there must be a death to
the ego self; there must be a transformation in which there is
a letting go of all false values, of all things that the egotistical
nature clings to,” and further that:
In the burial ground of the heart, the goddess’s enlightened
devotees see beyond literal death to the death of values rooted
in fear. When they come to accept death as a necessary step
in their transformation, then Kali can dance her dance of perpetual
becoming. Once her cycles are accepted, those who love her are
free of fear of death, free of their own vulnerability, free
to live her mystery…destroying in order to create, creating
in order to destroy, death in the service of life, life in the
service of death.
Dovetailing perfectly, Zonailo’s poetry details this transformative,
mediating energy of death, loss and perpetual becoming. Two beautifully
named sections of The Goddess in the Garden, “Divine
Healing” and “Angels at the Door,” both richly
reassure that endings are paradox in motion, contracting to birth
new beginnings. While a strong spiritual emphasis is present in
Zonailo’s work, it is felt, somehow, viscerally, in the
tissue, in the body, in the resonance of memory and the tough
work of acceptance—and all this wrapped in the subtle, but
steady encouragement that all is well, though certainly not easy.
Both “Paula” and “Going Into Dark Sleep”
feature the desperate contract that letting go requires, that
concentrated faith that always results in gain and proves that
death is indeed a trusted servant of life. Read “Mother’s
Garden” and consider the author sitting in her own mother’s
garden, at peace, now, with what was not received and actually
nurtured from the painful process of acceptance.
The Goddess in the Garden,
is a wonderful, sensitively written volume and while probably
not expressly intended to do so, starkly witnesses reality for
those who are in grief, who have sustained a loss, who are working
hard on healing some torn part of their lives or, perhaps better
said, for those working on “growing through” something.
It also brings smiles and exercises laugh wrinkles for those who
recognize landscapes of former trips.
For those who would like to hear
today’s modern day, twenty-first century voices that echo
the eternal insight of the virgin, the mother and the crone, consider
from a standpoint of twenty-first century reality entries entitled:
“The Female Nude as Earth Goddess,” “The Female
Nude Lobotomized,” “The Female Nude as Single Mother,”
“The Female Nude as Diplomatic Wife,” “The Female
Nude as Sex Goddess.”
Woodman and Dickson explain, in
Dancing in the Flames, that in ancient times, frightened
people tried to appease a goddess they could not understand and
so, frantically, they sacrificed, co-dependently, the blood of
their children, their animals and themselves in order to avoid
what they considered to be her wrath. As time went on, this primitive
perception changed: the literal and concrete moved to the symbolic
and instead of the primitive pacifying of that which could not
be fathomed, conscious energy became ethical, accepting and understanding
of an underlying essence that pervaded and unified all things.
With this insight, the authors explain, came the first glimmerings
of an awareness of the subtle or archetypal realm. Importantly,
the unifying light in nature came to be worshipped as the goddess,
the mediator of transformation.
Consider again, the evolutionary
maturation, now achieved, now miraculously available to share
with others, that Zonailo offers in “The Comfort of Mothers”—that
we can “love our mothers for providing our neurosis,”
that material of our continued evolution. This high level of conscious
articulation is breathtakingly felt in “The Man Who Suffered
Loss,” a marvelous, exquisite lyric that recalls Teilhard
de Chardin’s idea that one day we will no longer need the
“envelope” of the body and shall be pure spirit.
I took his hand and led him
to the edge of a cliff.
We looked over and our voices
were silenced. Our limbs came apart
at the joints; our ligaments
separated from muscle and bone.
We felt like we were falling.
Our souls started to shrink.
Finally they escaped, like butterflies,
into the air as we exhaled.
When our bodies were no longer intact,
our minds disintegrated.
We looked at the cliff.
It seemed to tower above us.
“We have everything,” we said.
Finding the goddess then, is a conscious process of transformation
that comes not from running away but from integrating inherited
fire, cooking from it, dancing in it and resting in the garden
of peace that ensues—before a final leap. How many of us
can actually thank the devastation that reveals to us, over time
and tears, our own best essence?
Copyright by Eleanor Cowan: www.carolynzonailo.com,