The archetypal zone strikes again! I realized the song I rather spontaneously ended the last post with, Raglan Road, and its mention of the "true gods of sound and stone", ties into Echo's story. Echo is probably an...echo, of earlier goddesses of sound from the area of North Africa and the Middle East. The print I did, above (I am a linoleum block printer) is of Akko; she was associated with water. Ancient large stone cubes big enough to fit a person in are thought to have had something to do with her worship. She was a creatrix, like the Biblical God who is a creator because he is The Word ("In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God"). She spoke/sang the world into creation, and therefore represents that creative vibration-power. Creation is vibration, as contemporary physics has found. So I imagine that Akko's priestesses or devotees or those entering into her mysteries would go into the the stone chambers and make sounds, bathing in their echoes. The squares on the right of the print are the stone cubes, and in them is the word "love" in 6 languages. The little ibis in the left corner is from Egyptian tradition: Thoth, god of words, balance, and magic. His little footprints are the beginnings of letters. Words are, of course, a crucial aspect of the alchemical/magical traditions, and word magic is something we can all learn to master, as in using them wisely. We learn to create freedom and sustainability, beauty and peace and joy, as well as learning how to say no to harm and evil and other dark spells.
Now the riddle Ovid poses, and which I passed on at the end of the last post: Echo is she "who never held her tongue when others spoke, who never spoke till others had begun". Echo is therefore the soul, for she is our voice. She is obliged to speak when we speak, for she is us, that magnetic, natural (as opposed to conditioned), compelling inside story we all must discover and consult in order to connect consciously with our deepest ways of being in the world. Like the creatrix Akko, Echo is the holy voice of Creation speaking through us.
So Echo (have to simplify her story here) "observed Narcissus wandering in the pathless woods" and is smitten by him. In symbolic story, wandering in the woods, off the beaten path, is a metaphor for movement into or within the soul's realms. Little Red Riding Hood and Persephone were gathering flowers off the path. It's the way of being in the world without goal orientation (it's pathless), goals being what I referred to earlier as the sun's terrain mentioned in Tiresias's prophecy. This wandering bit is important in discerning Narcissus's role, because he's also a hunter, which could be a goal oriented occupation. Echo "spied him as he drove, in his delusive nets, some timid stags", in Ovid's somewhat elaborate narrative. Ovid was sort of the Disney of his day, I'm guessing.
The point to this diversion into Artemis Land is to support my thesis that we're talking about self reflection, self knowledge in this story, not self centeredness. Echo and Narcissus are both followers of Artemis, we could say, and their story expounds on the realms Artemis rules, the realm of inner knowing in a religious or spiritual sense, to contemporary minds.
Enough myth for the day. I'll leave you with a song again. The hare or rabbit, another of my lifelong favorite animals that holds a whole lot of archetypal material in European culture and beyond, is very often a moon animal. Traditional songs of hare-hunting abound in the British Isles tradition. This one, written by Brit Seth Lakeman, uses the attributes of the moon goddesses: the hare, the "dead of night", the magnetic allure of the archetypally feminine soul for a man, "her eyes burning bright (eyes are the windows of the soul)", the need to respect its divinity at our peril (she can "steal your soul away" if you try to "catch her", similar to Kavanagh's Raglan Road loving of a "creature made of clay"), Artemis's hounds and hunting, white as symbol of the soul's purity, moonshadow, and the "hair of ashen grey" that implies wise elderhood.
His website is worth visiting if you like this one, which was written by him but inspired by local legends; click here to visit Seth Lakeman's site.
Lyrics: The White Hare Seth Lakemen
I heard her in the (G)valley, I heard her in the (D)dead of night
The warning of a (Em) white hare, Her eyes burning (C)bright.
Careful you don`t (G)catch her/Give her (D)right of way
For she will look (Em)upon you/ Steal your soul (C)away
(D)For the (G)white(C) hare(G) is (C)calling, She’s dancing in the(D) night.
She'll be(G) out (C)`til (G)the(C) morning, With her eyes burning(D) bright.
The (G)white (C)hare(G) is (C)calling you.
Out upon the heather/ A shadow came onto me.
Her hair was hanging over,/ Her face I could not see.
She ran behind the rocks,/ I heard the hounds cry,
The image of a woman/ Her head she held up high.
If you go hunting,/ Calling out your prey,
If you see a fair maid,/ With hair of ash and grey,
Well careful you don`t catch her,/ Give her right of way...etc.