Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Andromeda - She Who Waits (Updated)

Image: Andromeda - Digital - 2006, DS
Litany Against Fear - 1965, Frank Herbert

"In Frank Herbert's 1965 novel Dune, the Bene Gesserit are a secretive matriarchal order who have achieved somewhat superhuman abilities through physical and mental conditioning and the use of the drug melange. Under the guise of humbly "serving" the Empire, the Sisterhood is in fact a major power in the universe, using its many areas of influence to subtly guide mankind along the path of their own plan for humanity's future."

- Wiki entry for "Bene Gesserit"

If serenity is the flip-side of fear, then that might explain why my 2006 image,"Andromeda", came to mind recently. But, it's hard to say, because Andromeda was a muse-generated image, and, in that tradition, no pre-meditation was involved, nor significance implied. I simply knew when my work was correct, incorrect, and when it was finished - not consciously what it represented.

In keeping with muse tradition, the name "Andromeda", itself, was spontaneously given. But, figuring it might be a clue to where I want to go with this post - as I came to the conclusion I should post the image -  I did my obligatory pre-post web-search.

The Greek myth of Andromeda, itself, told me nothing. A damsel in distress is saved by a hero, in this case Perseus... eventually begets his spawn, and then is transformed into a heavenly body: the "Chained Maiden". *

That story.

Regarding the Andromeda galaxy (see video below), while there are a couple of anomalies (see here and here), the most remarkable thing about it is the possibility it may crash or merge with our own Milky Way in about 4.5 billion years.**

Perhaps that's what "she who waits"  is waiting for...

Originally, my own take on the image, was that it reminded me of an icon of some extraterrestrial - or, perhaps, futuristic posthumanist - religious figure. Something along the lines of Frank Herbert's Bene Gesserits from his 1965 sci-fi (or, better yet, "psi-fi") novel Dune.

Then again, I created my own female ET religious order at some point in the early 1970's, for a sci-fi children's story: the Makyrr. The Makyrr were an avian race, originating from somewhere in the constellation of Lyra, who seeded a number of habitable planets with a variety of organic life. Andromeda, however, is not a representation of a Makyrr, who wore winged headdresses and had more bird-like features.

Then, I got to thinking about female religious orders... but, specifically those of fiction and fantasy, and utterly unrelated to Christian nunneries and the like (i.e., those orders devoted to the prevalent patriarchal dogma). And, it came to me that perhaps many women unconsciously enfold their own inner Bene Gesserit; a subliminal response to the male deities, male saviors and male excuses for the subjugation of the female gender, with which women been conditioned since infancy.

And then the eureka moment arrived when my cousin, with whom I'm staying - and who is, apparently, Catholic - mentioned that a new Catholic pope was being designated today. Ah, said I...  so, there you have it... Andromeda, the perfect, heretical response. So serene, she's like the still point on an axis... silently smiling... waiting... waiting.

Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear
(an incantation)

"I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain."

- Frank Herbert, Dune, 1965

P.S. Incidentally, there may have been a female pope at one point in history, illustrated as one of the major arcana cards of the earlier tarot decks: see Pope Joan.

*  Interestingly, the name "Andromeda" actually translates from the Greek into: "ruler of men".

** (Update: 6/7/13) Then again, according to this recent article, Andromeda already has collided with the Milky Way in the long past!


10/13/15 Update: 
I've just exchanged the Andromeda image for the Litany Against Fear/Andromeda mash-up you now see at the beginning of the post. Recently, I printed it out and hung it on the wall by my computer. Feel free to do the same.


  1. Reminds me of my short story collection, which is essentially about what happens when Andromeda stops waiting.

    Been thinking along these lines all day. I think my inner Bene Gesserit needs a vodka by this point though! Great post on tapping the feminine divine consciousness, and the Andromeda image is beautiful.

  2. Thanks, T.; I think my inner BG will join yours! Cheers! ;-)

  3. I adore this image -- she exhibits, most superbly, that inner totalness of tranqulity and serenity. Everything in this image works so well to lend that effect of grace.

    Well done!

  4. Thank you, Bob!
    There's an almost therapeutic silence surrounding Andromeda... but, I think it's in large part due to her closed eyes. Open eyes tend to be noisier, tend to dominate and confront. Closed eyes allow for some projection via the spectator, or, in this case, a kind of zen.