Pagan Studies

Presenting the eight Festivals within an archetypal framework and connecting that framework to personal development and inner transformation.

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Eurynome and Holding the Centre of the Dance

Magic happens. I know that absolutely to be true. Magic shows up when you have been running around gathering all the elements needed to prepare your Maypole for a ritual that is going to be happening in 3 days – and you have nothing but Maypole on the brain – and the individual chosen to pull the Goddess card for the focus of this week’s meditation completely randomly chooses Eurynome. As above, so below. There is dance in the air and She showed up to meditate.

There are a few different Eurynomes (or versions of Her story) that show up in mythology. Homer mentions Her as a daughter of the Ocean who nursed Hephaestus, and Hesiod claims She was mother to the Graces.  The Eurynome we met on Wednesday (as presented in The Goddess Oracle by Amy Marashinsky, illustrated by Hrana Janto) is possibly an older iteration that reflects a primordial creation myth. Born out of Chaos and a Titan ruler in Her own right, this Eurynome danced until She created the wind, out of which She fashioned the snake, Orphion.  As she continued Her dance, Orphion was so enamored of Her movements that he was overtaken with lust. The union of Eurynome and Orphion produced the Universal Egg, out of which all the animals and plants of the world are hatched.

It is hard to burrow down to get to the originating roots of these stories. Similar words twig memories of interconnections, but shining a solid and true light on the source is always a challenge. One of the things that niggled in me about this story is the connection between Orphion the snake and the Orphic Egg which is encircled by a snake. It seems impossible that the 2 are not connected. And yet, entering into a glancing exploration into the interconnection of Eurynome and the Orphic Egg, one is left wanting. The Orphic Tradition was a mystery cult associated with the mythic hero Orpheus who descends to the Underworld to retrieve his beloved wife, Eurydice, after she dies from a snake bite. In Orphic Tradition, Aion (Time) creates the Cosmic Egg out of which bursts forth Phanes (or Phanes-Dionysus or Protogonos), the “First Born”.  The Orphic Hymns are 87 short poems that are thought to have been composed around 2nd century BCE to 2nd century CE.  Orphic Hymn 6 to Protogonos describes Phanes/Protogonos as follows:

“Ineffable, hidden, brilliant scion, whose motion is whirring,
You scattered the dark mist that lay before your eyes,
and, flapping your wings, you whirled about
and throughout this world, you brought pure light.”

This feels very similar to the energy of Eurynome. The whirring dance, the movement from dark to light, the ecstasy of creation out of chaos. However it is that these differing stories may or may not feed, nourish, and inform each other, there are a few commonalities they present that feel to be solidly necessary when contemplating the dance into creation.

1.       Creation is always a movement from chaos to order

2.       Though stemming from cold and dark, the act of creation itself arises from the energy of ecstasy

3.       There is always a snake involved (see also the Cosmic Dance of Shakti and Shiva and Shiva’s relationship to a snake)

4.       There is always an egg involved (though who creates the egg and what springs forth from the egg may differ)

Orpheus enters the dark to bring forth his beloved Eurydice (whose name loosely means “wide justice”), but sadly, he does not follow explicit instructions and so his quest fails. It seems not to be this couple who produces the Universal Egg, but Time Himself, and it is another reflection of the “Child of Light” who springs forth from the Egg.

Eurynome (whose name means “wide distributor”) comes forth from Chaos and twirls Orphion into existence. The ecstasy of their union produces the Universal Egg out of which all living matter on Earth comes forth.

These are two very different dances! Different flow, different rhythm and different outcomes. It seems to me that the Maypole Dance is reflected more accurately in the dance of Eurynome and Orphion. This dance is not a composed, stately processional like Orpheus’ descent into and ascent out of the Undeworld. It is an exuberant interweaving that invites the stomp of a foot to awaken the earth beneath. It is the determination to stay in the dance, even if the pattern is lost momentarily. It is the laughter as you meet, remeet, and meet again twirling and swirling. It is the grace of finding your own rhythm in the midst of the dance’s rhythm.

It was significant and beautiful for me on many levels to connect with Eurynome and Her story personally during last Wednesday’s meditation. In the past few weeks I have watched the struggle of my son, a young adult, as he lost his footing on his path and fell headlong into confusion and despair. (This is in part what made the story of Baba Yaga feel so achingly relevant – see my previous Pagan Square blog post) And, as we know, where there is a tornado swirling, others feel the force of that wind’s blasts, even if they are not caught up in the eye of the storm. I truly heard Eurynome’s message that any act of creation is going to arise out of darkness and yet, if we can allow the flow of exuberance to move through us, such spectacular beauty can come forth. I sought out the places within that had lost that spark of ecstasy and urged them forward in myself, regardless of where my son needed to be in his own process.

The morning following Eurynome’s meditation, my son approached me to illuminate a bit on what he had been sorting through, with the assistance of a very good friend of his, a bright, insightful young woman. Something in what he said made me mention the Maypole Dance ritual happening the following night. Though it has been years since he participated in any of the rituals I facilitate, on this morning, I felt urged to extend an invitation to his friend. Later that day he told me she did want to attend but only if he went as well. And here is where the magic comes in once again….

Given the need for specific numbers in the Maypole Dance, we ended up with on odd number of dancers. My son, who had previously slipped on the banana peel of life and crashed quite hard, stepped in to hold the centre of the dance, to steady the Maypole in order that the others could follow the fierce and fun frolic of the dance. And this young woman, who has been his steady, comforting rock in the dark, joined in the revelry of all those who danced around him. It was a profoundly, breath-takingly beautiful night on so many levels.

Eurynome teaches us that transformation and creation arise out of chaos. Hers is a beautiful message that serves us well as we negotiate the many twists and turns in what can often be a challenging or sometimes painful existence. It is not the dark that defines us. It is how we invite and engage in the dance.

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Tiffany Lazic (BAA, RIHR, RP) is a Registered Psychotherapist and founder of The Hive and Grove Centre for Holistic Wellness. She has developed numerous courses in the psychological application of intuitive tools and is author of The Great Work: Self-Knowledge and Healing Through the Wheel of the Year (Llewellyn, May 2015). "Be both of the Earth and of the Stars."


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