This is the latest meme that's turning up in news feeds on Facebook.
As with all meme's, it's a double edged sword. On one hand it's a bit funny.. the coincidence, the underlying stereotypical symbolism... the connotations towards PMS/PMDD. On the other hand, it could be seen as narrow minded, poking fun, creating a negative view of a woman's sacred time.
I find myself agreeing, as the similarities are glaringly obvious, but the use of the Satanic rams head, gives the viewer an immediate response that the womb is some kind of evil. That in turn, being a woman is like being the devil. This really encourages a negative view of the womb and menstrual cycle.
If we look at the womb, we see it does in fact look like a ram's head. No problem there.
The problem comes with the use of the word Satanic and the image of the rams head that's been chosen in the picture above.
If we look at the symbolism of a ram's head, we can see there is good reason for it to be connected to the womb, and historically, it has connections with women. All of this history and symbolism was in place WAY before the dawn of satanism and the rams head being used to represent Satan. The pagan origins of Satan and the rams head come from things a lot less sinister.
Ancient civilisations were polytheistic and believed in many gods. Many worshipped animals as they believed gods and goddesses could shape shift into animal forms. The Sumerians (4000-2000BC) had huge flocks of sheep. Sheep gave them food, warmth, work, trade.. if it weren't for the sheep, they would not have been able to sustain themselves. They worshipped sheep goddesses and gods, who helped protect, watch over and ensure healthy sheep. Whats really interesting about this, is the Sumerians developed the first ever form of writing, known as cuneiform. Cuneiform is thought to be the origin of the word cunt... another feminine word that has been tainted and misused over the years.
The Egyptians valued sheep and also worshipped ram's headed gods. Their most important god, Khnum, was said to have the head of a ram. It was believed Khnum had created the Nile, and the whole of the universe from a single egg. Rams heads have also been connected to neolithic shrines in Turkey.
The Greeks and Romans used sheep in their rituals, and often sacrificed these animals as a gift to their gods. You can read more about sheep in Religion and Mythology here http://www.think-differently-about-sheep.com/Sheep%20_In_Religion_and_mythology.htm
More modern day uses include the Christian lamb of God, and the Satanic ram's head.
I don't really need to go into detail about all the negative views of the rams head as I would say that most have heard of, or seen images like the one above along with, 666, number of the beast, inverted pentacles, heavy metal. I have to say that many of these views have been created and perpertuated by Christians themselves, and to me, Satanism adopted, or you could say, were given, a symbol to use that symbolises darkness. If you want to see how fanatical people can become about this symbol, just check out this page (if you can stomach it) http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/False%20Religions/Wicca%20&%20Witchcraft/pentagram.htm
I would have to write a whole other blog about the pentacle, but it's fair to say that it has many many other uses and significances other than the Satanic one. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentagram
So.. how can we turn the original image above, and it's negative connotations around?
The womb, and it's similarity to the rams head is one of power and reverence.
- earth, air, fire, water and spirit, and a circle around them means unity, wholeness, infinity, the goddess, and protection. A circle brings them all together creating a pentacle and binds them. In it's inverted state, as represented by the rams head, we see the shadow side.
The 'one point up' pentagram, represents spirituality over the material, whereas the 'two points up' or inverted pentagram, represents the material and physical world, ruling over the spiritual. It's the balance between both states that it required while we remain on this planet.
There is no purely good, or purely evil. Everything in life can be good or bad. The 'bad' is often not bad at all, but could be seen as a challenge, a test, a part of us that we have to learn from and heal.
So, maybe this symbol in connection to the menstrual cycle, womb and the Goddess, means we should look at the gifts held within the darkness of our cycles.
Just look at the symbol for Aries... remind you of anything?
In a woman's cycle, this is the time when energy and ideas build, when life becomes more focused on the outer world and less on the inner world. It is a firey time, full of new growth and and a returning warmth.
With the darker connections, it would suggest a need to release your demons. This time of growth lasts such a short time, if we get too selfish, too quick tempered, impulsive and impatient (all negative traits of Aries) we will miss the opportunities this time brings us. If we are to reap the benefits of the Ariean energy, we need to develop the positive traits of Aries, such as being adventurous, energetic, pioneering, courageous, enthusiastic and confident.
An excellent overview of the Aries energy and traits can be found here http://www.cafeastrology.com/zodiacaries.html
The planet associated with Aries is Mars, the RED planet. The masculine planet, that represents the God of War. Again, the shadow side that can try and drag us under during our menstrual cycle can come out with a violent, powerful rush of male energy. We are in fight mode, even when we may ot need to be. Controlling this energy can take a bit of practice.
The Greek god Pan, is often referred to as an origin for the rams head too. Think of Mr Tumnus in The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe. In Pagan symbolism, Pan is the god of the wild, shepherds and flocks, nature, of mountain wilds, hunting, music, libido and fertility. His season is spring and he is associated with the Mother Goddess.
Cernunnos, a Celtic god, is known as the horned god or god of the animals, and is often pictured with a horned or rams headed serpant. Differing from the rams head, Cernunnos is said to have the antlers of a stag. Antlers renew themselves unlike horns, so we could see a symbolism there, with the renewal of the womb every month. There is also significance with the horned snake. Snakes were always seen as a symbol of fertility, for obvious phallic reasons, and they also represent death, rebirth and regeneration (symbolised in the shedding of the skin). Yet another very close symbol to the menstrual cycle. http://www.manygods.org.uk/articles/essays/Cernunnos.shtml
During my research for this article, I came across this image.
There are very few mentions of Goddesses or women with horns, yet this french painter Jean-Leon Gerome (1824-1904) pictured a woman with horns. The painting is called The Bacchante.
A Bacchante is a priestess, or follower of the God Bacchus. It appears to be quite hard to find out much information about the Bacchante, but this is a good resource http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-bacchante.htm Bacchus (Roman) is known to be the God of the grape, wine, lust, sex and revelry. His Greek name is Dionysus. Dionysus had his own equivalent of Bacchante. The women who followed Dionysus were called the Maenad.
Both the Bacchante and the Maenad were seen as wild women. Crazed, mad and ferocious.
Maenad translates into the 'raving ones'.
They were said to " be sent into a state of ecstatic frenzy by Dionysus, through a combination of dancing and drunken intoxication. In this state, they would lose all self-control, begin shouting excitedly, engage in uncontrolled sexual behavior, and ritualistically hunt down and tear to pieces animals — and, at least in myth, sometimes men and children — devouring the raw flesh. During these rites, the maenads would dress in fawn skins and carry a thyrsus, a long stick wrapped in ivy or vine leaves and tipped by a cluster of leaves; they would weave ivy-wreaths around their heads, and often handle or wear snakes" (sourced from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maenad)
With all this it is easy to see where a negative view of a rams head may come from. I don't know why the artist has connected The Bacchante to the rams head, but in doing so, he automatically draws on the deeper feminine meanings. In this painting, I believe the woman was pictured with horns to represent her wild side.. as the title also suggests. She looks quite innocent, her bare shoulder hints at promiscuity.. but look closer and she is also wearing animal fur. This woman is not all she seems, if the myths of the Bacchante are to be believed.
Maybe Bacchus/Dionysus represents our hormones... driving us mad, intoxicating us to the point of frenzy... there are definitely clear connections between the implications of the rams head and a woman's wildness, and many more positive views than negative. What stands out is it is not the woman or womb that is evil or deviant, but the outside influence of Bacchus and his wine.
So when someone comments on how our womb's look just like a satanic rams head, and how funny it is that women tend to go crazy or mad at that time of the month, just point them in this direction.
It is a cheap shot to poke fun at PMS or the troubles some women go through with their cycles.
Far from being Satanic, it is SHAMANIC. Look at the ram as a power animal, and learn from it's traits and personality. There is much to be learned from he ways of the creatures we share the earth with.
I would reply to the image at the top of this post with the image below...
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