From all eternity the Beloved unveiled Her beauty in the
solitude of the unseen;
She held up the mirror to Her own face,
She displayed Her loveliness to Herself.
She was both the spectator and the spectacle;
no eye but Hers had surveyed the Universe.
Jami 1414 C.E.
… no eye but Hers
… in the solitude of the unseen
this is Virgin – no matter what your gender on the spectrum, She is in all.
… this is parthenos, which is so much more than the patriarchal reduction to mean “unbroken hymen”: She is “one-in-herself”, “unto Herself” – integral, complete, embodying the whole universe, as each and all being does.
It was Esther Harding who spoke in this way of “virgin” in modern times: “… the woman (one) who is virgin, one-in-herself, does what she does – not because of any desire to please, not to be liked, or to be approved, even by herself; not because of any desire to gain power over another … but because what she does is true.”
And more recently, scholars with a Goddess-frame have reviewed virgin and parthenos, and made way for returning its meaning to denote autonomy: “the ability to be ‘at cause’ instead of ‘at effect’”, a power within. Artemis for example “was a virgin goddess probably so characterized because she was originally a very powerful pre-Greek goddess, not merely because she stored her energies for the men and women of her society; she was virgin by virtue of being independent, and her chastity was secondary.”
And further, Marguerite Rigoglioso’s anaylsis of Pindar’s use of the term parthenos reveals a context in which the term “cannot mean ‘woman who refrains from sexual intercourse’ … that the poet’s continued use of the term parthenos … indicates that the title denoted a ‘holy priestess of divine birth.’”
Marguerite Rigoglioso continues in later work, that for a goddess to be “parthenogenetic” means “that she stands as a primordial creatrix who requires no male partner to produce the cosmos, earth, life, matter, and even other gods out of her own essence.” That is, ‘parthenogenesis’ is a self-generating capacity, which is one of the apparent capacities of Earth Herself and Cosmos. And in recent times, many female creatures have been found to have this capacity, though its occurrence is not understood.
So … back to Jami’s poem and the comprehension of all and essential Creativity being sourced in this “solitude”, in the uncompromised regard of “the universe”: with “no eye but Hers”. It is a metaphor rich in implication for all beings … and it does not need to mean that one checks into a nunnery/monastery, or out of action of any kind, but that one’s vision of self and the base of everyday subtle decisions is this purity of purpose and self-knowledge. Therein is the call to be true, not to compare to any other, or to impress, but “to fall into the wondrousness” of the deep all of who one is. In Imbolc ceremony it may be expressed in what is named as a “Brigidine” commitment: that is, a commitment to She who is the life-force itself/Herself:
I commit myself to my particular small self, understanding that I am She – Gaia – She who is All. I am connected to Her as the tree bud is to the branch. ‘I am the beauty of the green earth and the white moon among the stars and the mystery of the waters’. I commit myself to this Originating Power present in me, the Sacred Flame in me, this Native Land who I am. I will protect Her and honour Her in myself – this particular Beauty, who is ever-new. I am a Promise of Life. Whatever She needs I will give Her. I will tend Her in myself – so that She may grow strong and flourish.
May our vision be with “no eye but Hers”, an inviolability that births wholeness, truth and beauty – in self, other and all.
© Glenys Livingstone 2016.
For an Imbolc/Early Spring meditation ($AUD2.80): PaGaian Cosmology Meditations
 Esther M Harding, Woman’s Mysteries: Ancient and Modern, p.125, brackets my addition.
 Miriam Robbins Dexter, Whence the Goddesses: A Source Book, p.143.
 Miriam Robbins Dexter, Whence the Goddesses: A Source Book, p.162.
 Marguerite Rigoglioso, The Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece, p.41.
 Marguerite Rigoglioso, Virgin Mother Goddesses of Antiquity, p. 1.
 Arna Baartz, “Falling in Love with Self” (prose) in She Rises: How Goddess Feminism, Activism and Spirituality?, p. 214.
 Glenys Livingstone, PaGaian Cosmology, p. 206. For updated version see: https://pagaian.org/2013/08/04/brigid-ine-dedications-imbolc/
Harding, M. Esther. Women’s Mysteries, Ancient and Modern. London: Rider & Company, 1955.
Hwang, Hye-Sook Helen, Mary Ann Beavis and Nicole Shaw (editors). She Rises: How Goddess Feminism, Activism and Spirituality?. Mago Books, 2016.
Livingstone, Glenys. PaGaian Cosmology: Re-inventing Earth-based Goddess Religion. NE: iUniverse, 2005.
Robbins Dexter, Miriam. Whence the Goddesses: A Source Book. NY: Teacher’s College Press, 1990.
Rigoglioso, Margeurite. The Cult of Divine Birth in Ancient Greece. NY:Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
Rigoglioso, Margeurite. Virgin Mother Goddesses of Antiquity. NY:Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.