Historical setting: 590 C.E. Cottage between Annegray and Luxeuil
My feet crunch through the crust of snow as I walk toward our cottage at sunset. My thoughts still wander the nature of the all encompassing God I know as Love.
And how is it that Roman Diana was the Greek Artimas, and then the Ephesians’ Artimas was so very different? The Artimas I remember from Ephesus was more like an ancient goddess of India with many parts to do many tasks. And sometimes Diana is the very ancient Cybel — old as earth itself — at least as old as motherhood. In Ephesus she had many breasts to feed all of the animals of Creation regardless of the human purpose for the creatures.[Footnote 1] Or maybe the Artimas of Ephesus was just decorated with acorns, not breasts, at all. She is clothed in the likenesses of many critters and surrounded by more of the forest creatures. Yet Diana has a bow and quiver, goddess of the hunt. It seems an odd juxtaposition to create one image of the mother of Creation as the same goddess who is also the hunter. But as a sometimes hunter I kind of understand this. Each time my arrow stops a beating heart of a partridge or a doe I ache for this paradox – the caring for the creatures and the feasting on the creatures is the same prayer of thanksgiving.
In Ephesus, when I worshiped with the Christians who named themselves for John, Christian worship was always shared as a feast in remembrance of Jesus. Christianities were many things then but there was always a feast. [Footnote2]
Maybe it took enemies of an earthly empire to make impervious boundaries between the various names and ways people have for finding God. Jesus didn’t quibble over the variety of followers. But somewhere in the centuries, what was once all varieties of sanctuaries, and all ways of worship, got sorted into human identities with fortress walls and watch towers guarding against strangers and foreigners and people who believe differently, and people who know different songs, or who sing the ones we love in strange languages. God’s inclusive love becomes religions’ exclusive clubs.
Now I am in view of our cottage and I see Colleen is going in from the stable with the pail of milk having already done the evening’s chores. I’ll have to explain my tardiness, I’m sure.
[Footnote1] Clayton, Peter, Great Figures of Mythology, ©1990 Brompton Books, New York: Crescent book edition. “Diana” p. 68-69
[Footnote2 E. Vearncome, B. Scott, H. Taussig for The Westar Christianity Seminar After Jesus Before Christianity Harper One, 2021, pp 180-190.]
(Continues Tuesday, January 24)