L. Caruana 2002
50 x 80 cm, oil & varnish on wood
When we met in Malta, she was ten years younger than me, and still uncertain about what path to take in life. Half-English and half-Maltese with a childhood spent in England, Cyprus, Germany and Malta, it was no surprise that we shared a wandering existence. We ended up living in Munich together for two years. During that time, different images of the Goddess appeared, offering their various paths through life.
Though English in appearance and manner of speaking, her dark interior was pure Maltese. Since my background was also Maltese, our relationship drew to the surface a lot of ancestral habits and forgotten archetypes from the island’s cultural past. This explains the different sculptures on the altar, which manifest the various stages of Goddess worship in Malta.
All of these Goddesses are connected to the four phases of the moon. They are also connected to the central figure, whose face looks out in four directions. As I recall, during the moon’s four phases, my girlfriend could reflect any one of these Goddesses…
On the far left is an ancient Earth Mother found in a megalithic temple. The Goddess-worshipping megalithic culture lasted for thousands of years on the island, from c. 5000 to 2500 BC. Here, the Goddess manifest fertility, abundance, and the mysteries of death and rebirth.
Next to her is the Phoenician Goddess Astarte. From 800 BC onward, numerous temples were built to Baal and Astarte on Malta. With her breasts upheld, she manifests love, sexuality, pleasure and giving.
On the right is a Maltese statue called ‘the Madonna of the Grotto’. The original stands amid a pool of water in an underground cave near my father’s native town of Mellieha. It has been venerated by the villagers for centuries. Upholding the miracle she bore, the Christian Madonna combines fertility and virginity.
Finally the fragment on the far right suggests other images of the Goddess that are lost and unknown to us.
Despite all these archetypes surfacing from our shared Maltese past, other images emerged. The book on the left shows a Gnostic Gospel on the contradictory qualities of the Wisdom Goddess called the Thunder Perfect Mind. Meanwhile, the background on the right depicts a dream I had about our relationship.
In the dream, we set out to visit the temple of Mnajdra on Malta. This is a megalithic temple on the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean (and the small island of Filfa visible in the background). I had learned that an arch had been built from the megalithic temple to a Baroque church built onto one of its apses.
As we came closer, I could see this strange Megalithic/Christian temple in all its majesty. Then we came to a Mediaeval gate of stylized wrought-iron set into a stone arch. She said “My father has the key to enter here.” She then produced the key and we passed through the gate. We even began mounting the long winding stairs, but never got as far as the temple…
The right of the painting shows this mysterious temple from my dream, as well as the stairs leading up to it. Inscribed on the gate are the words ‘My Father has the Key to Enter Here’ as well as ‘Somnium 12.9.1994’, meaning ‘Dream of the night of September 12, 1994’.
As our relationship started to fall apart, she asked me to read her Tarot cards (something I rarely do, since the predictions always come true). The final card indicated that she would find her direction in life only when she followed a path away from mine. This, the Papess (or High Priestess) card, is what she is holding up in her left hand. And, in her right hand is the knife…
She is standing before the altar of a megalithic temple. On such altars, animals were slaughtered and sacrificed as burnt offerings (the charred remains of animal bones, as well as an obsidian knife, were found in one such altar). As the High Priestess, she holds the sacrificial knife. And before her on the altar is the sacrifice which, when all is said and done, was me…
She had the courage to knowingly sacrifice our relationship. And in that moment, the ancient wisdom of the Goddess became manifest, a worldview which recognizes in each end a new beginning – the cycle of sterility and fertility, death and rebirth.
Such is the wisdom which the High Priestess reveals. But the Goddess herself, as understood by the ancient Greeks, remained forever unseen and unknown. That is why, inscribed on the arch above the priestess, is the Greek expression: NO ONE HAS LIFTED MY VEIL.