White on White
Fairy Tale Weddings are compelling in their sentimental perfection. The flowers, cake, months of meticulous preparation. The dress, tiara, spray-on tan, flowers in the button holes.
In our desire for the perfect wedding we so often find the golden apple of Discord. TheTrickster appears to knock the bouquet off the altar of tradition. The fainting bride, the lecherous uncle, the little page boy who squeals just as the vows are pronounced. A flaw in the perfection of the meticulously planned occasion that brings laughter, the prelude of a profound agitation of two entwined souls. Think back to your own wedding day. Was theTrickster at play? I was a guest at a beautiful wedding ceremony recently where there was a glitch in the sound system. No music at the wedding, and a brief, tumultous marriage, with no music to bring joy and levity into their troubled relational space.
“Marriage is not a ritual or an end. It is a long, intricate, intimate dance together and nothing matters more than your own sense of balance and your choice of partner,” says Amy Bloom. There is a celestial line-up in relationship orientated Libra right now. The Sun and Saturn, spotlighting the importance of mature and committed relationships. Inviting us to clarify, define, strengthen our identity by confronting us with limitations. Challenging us to grow up, make our dreams real. Commit to honest self-appraisal, compromise, acceptance of reality.
For me, the compelling mystery of Marriage is that it can flay and brand, or softly kiss our soul. It is through our sentimentality, our innocence, our insistence in the “happily ever after” and the romantic dream of the marriage made in heaven, that we meet the dark challenges that a soul-ful union will always toss, like a gauntlet, before us. It is through the difficulties, often the sojourns in hell, that we refine the prima materia, the raw stuff of life, and learn the phases of Love in all their complexity. Like actors on a stage, bride and groom, play out the old scripts of the marriages before them. In their own lives, or in the matrix of their family history. Their unconscious roles as little children, keeping warring parents apart, holding psychic secrets, plugging the grief that spills under doors and carpets, the dissappointments, the frustrations, the bitterness. We hold this energy in the etheric, in our limbic and nervous systems, in the fascia of our bodies, and play it out with the men and women we marry. Our mother who married “to get out of the home,” our grandmother forced into wedlock before her belly ripened, our father who married “beneath him.”
Today, we think we have free choice in the men and women we wed. We believe we marry out of our own free will. In the West, we have inherited an ancient world view based on a biblical view that marriage is sacrosanct, in juxtaposition to the view of the ancient Greek philosophers and French rationalists, where the right of the individual to happiness is enshrined. So we have the challenge of delineating our personal identity within the structure and boundary of marriage – a tangled web of roots that dig deep into our personal and collective history!
Marriages based on love are as fragile and fickle as the gossamer thread of love itself. Few of us thoroughly modern women need a partner to protect us physically, to provide for us financially, or to give us the social status of “married woman”. Many of us do not choose marriage to sanction the birthing of our babies, or to provide us with clan. We marry for love. Yet the cost of failed love can cleave hearts and families. Divorce is an emotional and economic apocalypse. No one walks away unscathed. There is always a great gaping hole and scar tissue in your heart, no matter how much you loathed the bastard. The dismemberment of divorce ranks next to the death of your spouse, as the most stressful event you will ever endure.
So if we marry for love, we gamble with the fragility of our hearts. As Mignon McLaughlin says, “a successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” On a metaphysical level, the ritual of Marriage is sacred. It is a rite of passage, through which we metamorphose into a deeper, more soulful self. We integrate the masculine and the feminine within; we discover that he or she is not the god/goddess we thought they were. We discover we cannot depend on our partner to make us whole, to love us forever and ever. Perhaps we could see marriage as a threshold into a mansion of self discovery. An archaeological dig into the layers of our ancestral past. A calabash that holds the milk of compassion and forgiveness for ourselves and for each other when we make mistakes, behave appallingly. Perhaps we ought not give up too soon, stand on our soap boxes pontificating about the flaws and weaknesses of the other. Perhaps we will learn to truly love one another and not make a bond of marriage, but a circle of love that protects those who dwell within. “You were born together, and together you shall be forever more. You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.” Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet.
Remember Danny Williams from Port Elizabeth? Today he sings for us White on White