The Centre of Mara

Wiccan Rede * Spring 1982 by Morgana

Note: The Centre of Mara operated for well over 11 years in the form of monthly open evenings, where we provided topics for discussion, instruction, exercises, pathworkings and the occasional pagan ritual. The Centre of Mara never was a proper Fellowship of Isis temple – instead, people who were interested in training and ritual work would be taken in to our coven and would follow the Gardnerian path.

One of the major Aims of Wiccan Rede is to promote contact between those people interested in paganism and occultism. Over the last two years various contacts both in Holland and abroad have been made and as such have helped to strengthen this original aim. As we all know contact depends on a two-way communication although a central focal point can act as a catalyst for further growth. In many respects we have employed Wiccan Rede as this focal point and it is hoped that it will continue to function as positively in the future.

In the winter issue much emphasis was laid on making contact and in January we had our first “contact-day” in the museum of antiquities in Leiden. In the peaceful, inspiring surroundings of the museum we had the opportunity of talking and meeting with each other, whilst later further discussions took place in the local pan-cake restaurant. In such an informal situation one became quickly aware of the high level of enthusiasm and positive energy which was present. But of course such a meeting can only have real meaning if the spirit of that afternoon can be nurtured and continued. How it continues, if it is to grow depends on us all and our efforts to effect our desires. As in all magical work our intentions are the stimulus to directing our will.

We have seen on a national level how such a “contact-day” can provide the small but positive impulse. On an international level the realization of such an impulse is much more difficult, mainly because of the distances involved, and yet as we have already experienced it is not an impossible task. There have been quite a number of positive reactions and inquiries about the Dutch “scene” from abroad. We should never underestimate the interest our international neighbours have, and above all we feel a two-way communication with abroad should be encouraged.

Until recently most of our contacts abroad have been very informal (apart from our own personal contacts of course) but in October we received an invitation from the Fellowship of Isis (Ireland) to become their first sister centre in Holland.

The Fellowship of Isis is, as the name suggest, a fellowship for all those people who are attracted to a goddess-oriented religion. With nearly 3000 members the fellowship has sister centres in many countries, although no one particular tradition is presented.

We decided to accept the invitation and in December the “Centre of Mara” was dedicated. It should be pointed out though that the name “Centre” may be slightly misleading since we do not have a permanent meeting place, although we have always tried to arrange personal meetings albeit in the more homely surroundings of a living room. The name “centre” should be seen in the same sense as our expression of the magazine as a focal point. Perhaps in the future this will change, but as yet material circumstances do not allow for a real “centre”.

Why did we choose the name “Mara? As so often is the case in such a situation as this, the name just “came”. On the further examination the name seemed to fit very appropriately especially for Holland. Who or what is Mara? In the book “The Lost Language Of Symbolism” by Harold Bayley we read of the names “Mara, Maria, Mary, Marietta and Mariucella- all of which are said to be derivatives of the glittering light of the sea” and further that Mara the Nereid (Sea Nymph) “whose name may express the phosphoric flashing of he surface of the sea just as the name Maira expresses the sparklings of the dog star Sirius”.

In the Qabalah the third sephira Binah is also called Mara or the great Sea which in turn is the Mother of all Living. Dion Fortune in the ‘Mystical Qabalah’: “She is the archetypal womb through which life comes into manifestation”. In both references we see the connection Mara has with the sea and it goes without saying that the sea has always played a tremendous parting Dutch history and in the development of the Dutch people.

On the one hand the Dutch have had to fight against the perils of the sea in their attempts to prevent the flooding of their land and on the other hand the sea has provided them with world wide fame as sailors and as seafaring people.

If we look further at the sea as the symbol of the Great Mother we find that it is common to many ancient cosmogonies. This is perhaps because of the fact that water is essential to life and out of water originates all life, symbolized by Venus rising from the sea. Water is one of the female elements and is analogous in many traditions with Wisdom, as is the Pearl, a precious “stone” which also originates from the sea.

The symbol of the sea is the wave, which is also the symbol of Aquarius, although here it is the “air” wave, but both are symbolic of the undulating rhythm of life and the life emanating forces.

It is also a symbol of communication and we are quickly reminded of the circular ripples growing larger and larger when a stone is dropped into the water. The wave as we have seen is both symbolic of air and water and it is interesting to note that Holland is not only a land which has had to contest with the sea but also with the wind. It is traditionally the land of dykes and windmills, although this is now perhaps a somewhat outdated view of Holland but no amount of technology can alter the fact that the Netherlands is a land of wind and sea, of air and water. The wind, like the sea, can present two diametrically opposed characteristics. When directed it can provide energy, as the Dutch have experienced with the employment of the windmill, demonstrating its regenerative qualities, but it can also be destructive when it reaches gale force level.

The Dutch people being constantly confronted with the natural forces of wind and sea have learned to accept these two conflicting aspects of Mother Nature – in other words the regenerative and the destructive qualities. Although wind, or air, is generally regarded as a male element, in this context of natural phenomena it seems more appropriate that we should think of the wind in terms of the third aspect of the Goddess, the dark aspect, which brings us back to Mara.

Mara as we have seen is another name for Binah, one of the sephira of the Tree of Life which makes up the three Supernals (the others being Chokmah, the father, and Kether, the Crown) The title given to Binah is understanding and is also known as the “dark sterile mother” and the “bright fertile mother”, again underlying the polarity of the dark or Third aspect.

With the name Mara we are reminded of the crest and fall of the wave, of the ups and downs of life, but also the glittering light of wisdom.

With the Centre of Mara we hope that the ripples created here in Holland will provide yet another focal point for international contact!

The Centre of Mara can be contacted c/o Morgana & Merlin.

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