Saturday, July 29, 2006

Words of Power #26: Lost Symbols, Part III -- The Goddess of Liberty

Virtual Museum of China '89

The idea of the supernatural as being something over and above the natural is a killing idea. In the Middle Ages this was the idea that finally turned that world into something like a wasteland, a land where people were living inauthentic lives, never doing a thing they truly wanted to because the supernatural laws required them to live as directed by their clergy. In a wasteland, people are fulfilling purposes that are not properly theirs but have been put upon them as inescapable laws. This is a killer. The twelfth-century troubadour poetry of courtly love was a protest against this supernaturally justified violation of life's joy in truth. So too the Tristan legend and at least one of the great versions of the legend of the Grail, that of Wolfram von Eschenbach. The spirit is really the bouquet of life. It is not something breathed into life, it comes out of life. This is one of the glorious things about the mother-goddess religions, where the world is the body of the Goddess, divine in itself, and divinity isn't something ruling over and above a fallen nature. There was something of this spirit in the medieval cult of the Virgin, out of which all the beautiful thirteenth-century French cathedrals arose.However, our story of the Fall in the Garden sees nature as corrupt; and that myth corrupts the whole world for us. Because nature is thought of as corrupt, every spontaneous act is sinful and must not be yielded to. You get a totally different civilization and a totally different way of living according to whether your myth presents nature as fallen or whether nature is in itself a manifestation of divinity, and the spirit is the revelation of the divinity that is inherent in nature. Joseph Cambell, Bill Moyers Interviews Joseph Campbell on Power of Myth

Words of Power #26: Lost Symbols, Part III -- The Goddess of Liberty

By Richard Power

In the dark of a movie theater, this spring, I sat enjoying the film version of Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code, and my consciousness wandered back to another spring, almost twenty years ago now, during which I experienced one of the epiphanies of my life.

For seven weeks, in the spring of 1989, Chinese student protesters occupied Tiananmen Square in Beijing. They refused to leave until the government met their demands for democratic reform. "Our expectations at the time ware quite clear and definite. We wanted legal recognition of the student organisation, we wanted an organisation in China similar to the trade union Solidarity in Poland, which could become a platform for promoting democracy in China, for promoting multi-party politics and for promoting freedom of speech as well as a series of other democratic developments in China." (BBC, 5-28-04)

On 5-30-89, the protesters erected a statue of a Goddess of Democracy. She stood defiantly, holding aloft a burning torch, and facing a huge poster of Chairman Mao that hung from the gate across the square. "The statue was constructed in only four days out of Styrofoam and papier-mache over a metal armature by students of the Central Academy of Fine Arts. The students decided to make the statue as large as possible so the government would be unable to dismantle it. The government would either have to destroy the statue - an action which would potentially fuel further criticism of its policies - or leave it standing." (Wikipedia)

When I saw her image on CNN, and on the front page of the New York Times, my heart opened up to that Goddess and the brave youths whose courage and innocence she embodied. She was Kwan-Yin, Delacroix's bare-breasted Liberty and Our Lady of Guadalupe all at once. It felt as if compassion and freedom had swirled, like two great columns of white fire, into an awesome funnel of power. She was utterly defenseless, and yet somehow indomitable, she was desperately impermanent, and yet somehow indestructable.

In the pre-dawn darkness, on 6-4-89, the People's Army moved against the protesters.

"Please remember June the Third, 1989. The most tragic event happened in the Chinese Capital, Beijing. Thousands of people, most of them innocent civilians, were killed by fully-armed soldiers when they forced their way into city. Among the killed are our colleagues at Radio Beijing. The soldiers were riding on armored vehicles and used machine guns against thousands of local residents and students who tried to block their way. When the army conveys made the breakthrough, soldiers continued to spray their bullets indiscriminately at crowds in the street. Eyewitnesses say some armored vehicles even crushed foot soldiers who hesitated in front of the resisting civilians. Radio Beijing English Department deeply mourns those who died in the tragic incident and appeals to all its listeners to join our protest for the gross violation of human rights and the most barbarous suppression of the people. Because of the abnormal situation here in Beijing there is no other news we could bring you. We sincerely ask for your understanding and thank you for joining us at this most tragic moment." (Beijing Radio, English Service, 6-4-89)

Driving to work, tuned in to listener-sponsored radio, I was overcome by an intrepid reporter's eyewitness account of the brutal crackdown. With tears flowing, and chest heaving, I drove on, praying for the brave youths, and for the blind men who crushed them with their tanks.

Om Tara Tutare Ture Soha, Om Tara Tutare Ture Soha...

I have been reminded of the Goddess of Democracy over and over again in the years since that massacre. She is needed now, urgently, throughout the world, but particularly, and quite ironically, in the USA. It was, afterall, the Statue of Liberty, which, despite the denials of the protesters, was one of the powerful icons that inspired their creation. Designed by Frederic Auguste Bartholdi, and engineered by Gustave Eiffel, the Statue of Libery was given to the USA in 1886, as a centennial gift and as a gesture of friendship from the French people.

And yet, in 2006, the Bush-Cheney regime's Department of Homeland Security (DHS) did not even recognize it as a national monument:

"New York has no national monuments or icons, according to the Department of Homeland Security form obtained by ABC News. That was a key factor used to determine that New York City should have its anti-terror funds slashed by 40 percent--from $207.5 million in 2005 to $124.4 million in 2006. The formula did not consider as landmarks or icons: The Empire State Building, The United Nations, The Statue of Liberty and others found on several terror target hit lists." (The Blotter, ABC News, 6-1-06)

Whenever I see someone with a red, white, and blue USA flag lapel pin on his suit jacket, I wonder how much better the national psyche would be if if the default expression of patriotism, among those in the professional class, was to don a tiny replica of the US Constitution or the Statue of Liberty, instead of "Old Glory."

The Constitution is the mind of the USA, and the Statue of Liberty is its heart.

There is no articulate mystery to the flag. It emits no subliminal call to our common humanity. It only asks blind allegiance, without offering any code or caution.

The USA is losing its mind, as recent studies by the ABA and the CATO Institute have shown:

On July 23, a bi-partisan panel of the American Bar Association issued a report declaring that President George W. Bush's use of signing statements is unconstitutional. In the 5 1/2 years of his presidency, Bush has issued over 800 statements that he will not enforce selected provisions of bills that he's signed. The extent of this practice under Bush came to light April 30 of this year when a Boston Globe reporter Charlie Savage catalogued all of the president's signing statements. The best-known is probably his statement that he would not enforce the ban on torture passed by Congress earlier this year. American Bar Association Panel: Bush Signing Statements Undermines the Rule of Law ~ Interview with Michael Greco, president of the American Bar Association, conducted by Between the Lines' Melinda Tuhus, Bay Area Indy Media, 7-29-06

Unfortunately, far from defending the Constitution, President Bush has repeatedly sought to strip out the limits the document places on federal power. In its official legal briefs and public actions, the Bush administration has advanced a view of federal power that is astonishingly broad....President Bush's constitutional vision is, in short, sharply at odds with the text, history, and structure of our Constitution, which authorizes a government of limited powers. Power Surge: The Constitutional Record of George W, Bush, CATO Institute, 5-1-06

But the USA is not only losing its mind, it's also losing its heart.

A government "of, by and for" the people, inspired by the Goddess of Liberty would have no reason to deny the Red Cross access to prisoners in its custody, nor would it turn a deaf ear to the urgent need of hundreds of thousands of refugees whether in Lebanon or New Orleans.

A government "of, by and for" the people, inspired by the Goddess of Liberty, would not have failed to fulfill the security recommendations of the 9/11 Commission, nor would it allow itself to be distracted until the predators (Bin Laden and Zawahiri) who hunt its innocents have been killed or captured.

A government "of, by and for" the people, inspired by the Goddess of Liberty, would not be so ignorant of the mysteries of creation as to thwart medical research into unlocking the healing power of embryonic stem cells, nor would it have been so irresponsible with the nation's purse strings as to squandered a healthy, hard-won surplus and plunge us into staggering debt.

A government "of, by and for" the people, inspired by the Goddess of Liberty, would not have snubbed and ridiculed the grieving loves ones of Casey Sheehan or Pat Tillman, nor would it be numb and dumb to the direct, dire threat of global warming.

Om Tara Tutare Ture Soha, Om Tara Tutare Ture Soha...

You do not have to believe that Mary Magdalene bore Jesus' child, or that their blood flows in the veins of the descendents of the Merovingian kings, to understand that the desert religions of the West, i.e., Judaism, Christianity and Islam, suffer from their denial of the divine feminine, and that the militarism and misogyny of the extremists flows from that denial.

If you have ever experienced the supernatural power of "Holy Mary, Mother of God" at Fatima, Lourdes, or Guadalupe, or stood on the Staten Island ferry on a starry, wintry night and been awed by the majesty of the Statue of Liberty, or felt the intercession of Tara being invoked with temple bells, incense, and sacred syllables high in the Himalayas, then you probably understand what has been lost...

Om Tara Tutare Ture Soha, Om Tara Tutare Ture Soha...

In Lost Symbols, Part I, I invoked the World Tree, as an image embodying the oneness of all life. In Lost Symbols, Part II, I invoked the Rainbow Serpent as an image embodying sustainability, and suggested that it should be envisioned as coiling around the World Tree.

In Lost Symbols, Part III, I invoke the Goddess of Liberty and Compassion, and suggest you envision her striding through a sea of tears to illuminate the tableau of the World Tree and the Rainbow Serpent on the far shore.

Security, sustainability, and spirit are interdependent.

Om Tara Tutare Ture Soha, Om Tara Tutare Ture Soha...

Related Posts:

Words of Power #25: Lost Symbols, Part II -- The Rainbow Serpent Hisses, Lessons about Sustainability & Survival from Darfur, Senegal and Ecuador

Words of Power #24: Lost Symbols, Part One – Aung San Suu Kyi, AQ Khan, & The World Tree

Hard Rain Journal 6-29-06: What are the Global Implications of Neo-Totalitarianism in both US and China? Will The New York Times Fight for Freedom?

Words of Power #19: Colbert and McGovern Echo Murrow and Eisenhower, Is the U.S. Nearing Its Tiananmen Square Moment?

Words of Power #12: The Fallen Tree (Spiritual Challenges of the 21st Century Global Security Crisis, Part II)

Words of Power #10: Spiritual Challenges of the 21st Century Security Crisis, Part I

Words of Power #9: The Goblet of Fire, The Deep Magic & The Giant SequoiasWords of Power #6: The White Tree

Richard Power is the founder of GS(3) Intelligence and His work focuses on the inter-related issues of security, sustainability and spirit, and how to overcome the challenges of terrorism, cyber crime, global warming, health emergencies, natural disasters, etc. You can reach him via e-mail: For more information, go to

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