After a lovely day or so with my BFF/lover, lover’s lover, and the unicorn tapestries, I headed to south to find another piece of my heart (and virginity) in France. This time to the Camargue, a wild, feminine marshlands my mom used to tell me about when I was younger. It is one of the few places left in the world with wild horses, which of course I believe are unicorns (they are white after all). The area is the epitome of the wild, divine feminine.
I took a train to Arles and then a bus to the capital of the Camargue--Saintes Maries de la Mer (Saint Marys by the Sea). The city is named after Saint Mary Jacobea and Mary Salome who came here around ACE 45-46. They all landed here after they were exiled from Palestine in ACE 45 along with Mary Magdelene and continued to evangelize the message of Jesus. Mary Magdelene is said to have spent the remainder of her days here as well.
The church was a wonderful metaphor for the feminine--lovely statues and a quiet area to worship with the Maries, then just a few steps below descending into the candle-filled crypt was the star of the show--the dark goddess--Sara-la-Kali (Sarah the Black). Legend identifies her as a servant to the other three Marys (Salome, Jacobea, and Magdelene).
However, the main reason for her fame is that Saint Sara is worshiped by the Romani people, and has become known as patron saint of the outcast. Outcast comes from Indian context, outcaste "one who has been expelled from his caste"--just like the gypsies, as those who have never even been a part of a caste at all.
Every year on May 24 (why I posted this today), many gather to venerate her in Saintes Maries as her statue is carried down to the sea to re-enact her arrival. While my pilgrimage to Saintes Maries was the week before, Sara-la-Kali's power was no less potent. As I entered the church, I couldn't stop crying, I was overwhelmed with something I still don't understand. There were images of the tent I saw in Paris with the Lady and the Unicorn, and I sensed my virginity/wholeness. Though the tears also had to do with these forgotten women who shared the message of love. These women who were lost to the rest of the world while Jesus Christ became the savior. These women were meant to be my saviors--their darkness and light, chaos and loving nature. I saw myself more fully in that tiny church by the Mediterranean.
There are many things the Camargue is famous for...beef, salt, bird watching, the stunning Camargue cross (anchor, heart, and cross combo), and of course horses. I could hardly contain my excitement when the cute concierge in our hotel, whom J and I had spent plenty of time flirting with, got us last minute spots on a horse ride into the Camargue. I was giddy…excited to spend time gazing into the vast marshlands on a famous white horse of the region (who is obviously also a unicorn) and possibly see some of the wild horses the area is famous for. After a few minutes on the horse I started to feel unsettled, something felt wrong. My horse felt like a robot and yet I could feel its sadness and simultaneous aggression.
I put my hand on its neck to see if I could learn more, and then I started crying almost uncontrollably. It’s wildness like my own…programmed away, hidden away to please others. In few moments later it nipped at a nearby horse and then jolted a bit with its ears back. I had the urge to hop off, free it of its saddles and bridle and watch it run off into the wildness. Instead I quietly cried, prayed to Saint Sarah, and vowed to someday buy a bunch of horses and set them free in the Camargue.
We have tamed the animals meant to be free, there are ways of owning horses that don’t require them to be so docile. I wanted to ride bareback, to feel its power between my thighs. Lay my head on its neck and touch its mane. All I could do was cry and feel angry. Angry for participating in its entrapment, spending its days walking the same trail with strangers on its back. I hoped it hated me, the way I hated myself and humans in that moment for taming the beautiful feminine horse.cam
I never noticed horses' pain in all the years I have ridden them, the summer I spent when I first moved to Colorado riding them everyday and sometimes twice a day. Somehow I must have ignored it as I ignored my own "tamed pain." I found a missing piece of my wild, feminine heart in the south of France on a horse and in a church for worshiping Maries by the sea. I am Marie, Rebecca Marie, (Marie from Hebrew Miryam meaning “rebellion”) and I have been so good at the nurturing mother that I’ve ignored my rebellious nature. The one that resides in my body and yearns to be known. She reads Clarissa Pinkola Estes with fever and loves to dance naked by candlelight.
This is my soul desire from the Camargue...to re-unite with the wild, chaotic nature I recognized in the unicorns and Saint Sarah, and found again in myself.