|The Winged Serpent
Seeing the Divine Twins
Originally published in Witch Eye Volume 10
All the Gods are Feri Gods, so we say. But in order to begin to understand this, we must look to their origins. The Feri Gods are not separate entities but are unified into one center, the Star Goddess who gave birth to all living matter. The Star Goddess took unto Herself Two Bright Spirits and perfected them into God with Her birth. They are the Son, Lover and Dual Consort of the Mother. The Goddess is the Divine Twin to the God.
Typically, one Twin is described as the Blue Bird. This Bird is the loci of the heavenly plane, and is generally pleasant and easy-going. His personality characteristics are those that we humans value highly. The other Twin is seen as a Black Serpent, who may or may not be His Lover. This Serpent is the loci of the earthly plane, and is generally unpleasant and acerbic. His personality characteristics are those that we humans fear most, though He is not evil. Both beings are sacred in their own right. Together, they are most often visualized as a peacock with a serpent twined around his ankle. He is the Winged Serpent, the Blue God, Living Rainbow.
The God of Feri are twins but they are one, not separate entities. They are identical, either one or both can occupy the place of God. The Divine Twins can function alone or as a pair. Alone, they may function as a male, but are actually both male and female in each entity. The Twins may also be both female, or a male and a female. To place further confusion on the matter, the Divine twins represent a polarity. The polarity may be great or small, and are often in opposition. In fact, The Divine Twins as represented in other cultures are often seen to be rivals or adversaries.
The mystery of the Divine Twins is the most difficult Feri deity to fully comprehend. How is one to resolve the apparent paradox of the Gods who are fully opposite and yet completely the same? Through years of research, I have found no verbal explanation that is satisfying. It is only through my sacred visual practice that I can begin to understand Him.
To begin, The Winged Serpent may be seen as the combination of the twins, as in two candle flames blended into one1. To demonstrate, light two candles of differing color. Name each candle according to the divine nature of the colors. Now bring the flames of the candles together to form a single flame. There in that single flame lies the Winged Serpent. Yet it is a single flame with two wicks.
I recently realized that I was practicing seeing the Winged Serpent before I even entered the Craft. There is a teaching in the visual arts called negative space. It is better to show you first, then explain the theory.
Imagine that it is late autumn, a warm afternoon. You are lying beneath a bare tree, head on the ground near it’s trunk, looking up at the blue sky. It is a bright clear day. The warmth of the sun on your face is pleasant and relaxing. The smell of the leaves under your body is still fresh.
See the leafless branches above you. Notice how the branches are creating lovely lines against that clear blue sky. It is so beautiful that you take a section of those branches and frame it in your mind, as if it were a painting. Now you find yourself mentally tracing the lines of the branches. Taking your time, you slowly trace each curve, turn and bump. You close your eyes to see the lines you have mentally traced. It fades from your mind as you open your eyes.
A gust of wind swings the branches. As it settles you find the same frame. As a game, this time you mentally trace the shapes between the branches. Carefully, you trace the same curves, turns and bumps, concentrating only on the shapes of the sky between the branches. It surprises you to find that as you close your eyes, the lines are similar, but not the same.
Positive space is the shape of your subject matter, in this case the individual branches. Negative space is what is between the subject matter, the shapes between the branches where you can see the sky. Negative space is not “empty” it is quite alive and is essential to any image. Artists are trained to look at both the positive and negative space.
Find a bare tree and try to make the two drawings yourself. One of the bare limbs, and one of the sky shapes. You will find two similar but quite distinct drawings. Yet the subject remains the same, it has not changed. It is simply your psycho-spiritual orientation to the subject that is different. Your physical perspective is the same, the tree has not moved.
||Now take a look at Fig.12. Relax your vision and concentrate on the image. Some of you may be familiar with it. What do you see? You will see either a young woman or an older one. If you are having trouble seeing both, the mouth of the older woman is the choker for the young woman. The young woman’s ears are the eyes of the older woman. There are two beings but only one drawing. Is it one or the other? Is it both or neither? Attempt to see both figures at the same time.
Enlarge the figure to a manageable size. Choose either the older or the younger woman, it does not matter for this experiment. Take some correction tape or whiteout and erase the image that does not apply to your choice. What is left of the image? Would you call the image complete?
I believe3 Victor was not discussing a paradox, but something greater than that. I believe Victor was attempting to describe a radical holism, which is indeed a true mystery. This holism is natural within the Gods, but is a state of being scarcely approachable within ourselves. That is why it is so difficult for us to understand. Visual experiments such as I have shared with you barely scratch the surface.
Each individual has qualities to be admired and qualities to be worked on. In many of us, these opposing qualities war with each other. To embody The Winged Serpent is to live in harmony with the dichotomy within ourselves, without contradiction. It is not a middle state of being, a compromised life; but a total state of being, without shame and doubt. Devotion to the Blue God allows our internal lion to lie down with our lamb.
-- Feri priestess, artist, Grandmaster, author of The White Wand and Tombo Studio
1. Oral Tradition, Victor Anderson
2. E.G. Boring
3. I say I believe, but I do not know. This mystery was not explained to me by Victor in quite this way. This approach I have stumbled upon myself. I remind myself that Victor always insisted that we do not rely merely upon belief, but must look to Nature for Truth.