Sunday, November 11, 2007
The Womb House
The Third Poem in the Song of Songs opens with the question:
“What is this coming up from the desert, like a column of smoke, breathing of myrrh and frankincense and every perfume the merchant knows ?
See, it is the litter of Solomon.”
The word “Litter” or “bed” is the Hebrew Mittah—a place used for sleep, rest, recuperation from illness, feasting and revelry (Ezek. 23.41. Esther 6.1) It is often carried on the shoulders (I. Sam. 19.15) and can also serve as a bier (II Sam. 3.31)
Royalty, and the wealthy had beds ornamented with Ivory (Amos. 6.6) or Gold and Silver (Esther 1: 6). The bed is the nuptial bed, but is also associated with death. Among the Indian Warli tribes, the newly wed couple are placed in a litter, and covered with a cloth, as though they have died together. Marriage is a dying to the old world, and a rebirth to a new life together. The poet Kabir speaks of death as a kind of marriage—a time when we are united with our true Self.
The Bride is called “Shulamite” (Song of Songs, 7:1) This title derives from Shalom, a state of fullness, being at rest, without fear. It is used in a Messianic context. Even the name 'Solomon' is linked to Shelem, an ancient fertility god. This name also appears in the city Jerusalem, abbreviated as Salem (Gen 14:18, also Ps. 76:3)
The theme of the Bridegroom coming for his bride was an important image among the school of followers around John the Baptist. Thus we read in John 3.29 “It is the bridegroom who has the bride: but the bridegroom’s friend who stands outside and listens for his voice is very glad when he hears the bridegroom speak. So this joy of mine is now complete”
In the centre of the city is the Temple where a new wholeness is discovered. The Holy of Holies in the Temple is sometimes compared to a womb, whose mysteries are veiled behind a curtain. Here the King and his Bride are wrapped together in the sacred form known as the Mandorla, which is shaped like the almond seed or chrysalis.