Susanna, The Elders and Our Times

In my journal in early August 2016 I wrote: “look up the Story of Susanna in the Bible, the Book of Daniel”.  I believe that each Full Moon is brings to Light for each of us new lessons from our Shadows. But we must listen and pay attention. I think this current Full Moon is bringing clarity and allowing me to harvest the reasons I was drawn to this story just a couple of months ago in the darkness of the early August New Moon.

screenshot_2016-10-15-12-50-152
Susanna and the Elders, Artemisia Gentileschi, 1610.

As an artist I initially was drawn to some very interesting information about the work of art (shown above) created in 1610 by a female artist, Artemisia Gentileschi who created at age seventeen this painting of Susanna in the Garden. Interesting that this painting was at times attributed to her father and was created after her painting instructor was taken to trial for raping her as a teenager. (So, when did our “rape culture” begin???)  (More about the artist and her work HERE)

Then I dove into the biblical story, which is a story that I do not recall learning as a youth in my Presbyterian Sunday School classes.  I’m not sure if it was because the story of a woman being unjustly accused of adultery was not “age appropriate” subject matter.  Or perhaps it was not included in the version of the Bible endorsed by “our” church at that time. (Evaluating the credibility and choosing which stories to include, which lessons to learn on a collective basis is an interesting aspect of all religions).  I believe all the biblical stories (and in the case of the Susanna story the Jews recognize it as a moral tale, not part of the Tanakh)  have some lessons to teach even though I have because of personal choice, moved away from my Christian roots to an inclusive viewpoint that embraces the beliefs and divine nature of ALL.

So back in early August of this year I was called to read the book of Daniel.  I found it fascinating as I saw Daniel as a Book of “dream interpretation” and the first book on the Bible that the Angel Gabriel appears in.  The following is my short version of the tale of Susanna and the Elders, from the Book of Daniel. (For a longer version that I like, go HERE)

Susanna was a beautiful and deeply religious woman married to a very wealthy man, Joakim and daughter to Hilkiah.  (Interesting that still to this day women are feeling defined as wives, daughters and not by their individual autonomy. Some things never change? Or has the time finally arrived for this to change???) They had lovely gardens that Susanna chose to walk in each day. There were two judges who held court at the residence of Joakim who lusted after the beautiful Susanna.  One day they followed her to the garden where she decided to take a bath.  She requested her servants lock the gate so that she could be alone, unaware that the two judges were hiding and watching her. When the servants left the judges forced themselves upon her to have sex. They told her that if she didn’t comply they would take her to court for adultery saying that they saw her alone with a young man. She chose not to comply and began screaming; when her servants heard her they came running.  The men told their side of the story and Susanna was taken to court the next day.

Now, this is where I love the way the story twists back for me (and one of the reasons I believe my Guides directed me to read it).  The judges are caught in a lie because young Daniel yelled out in opposition to the charges against Susanna. He would not be a party to her death without proof of her guilt. He directed the court to separate the two judges and question them individually.  So, they did and because of a discrepancy in their individual testimonies regarding the type of “tree” the lovers were standing under as they committed their crime, the judges were caught in their lie. (I have a history of believing that the trees hold our stories and our truths.  So, this part of the story truly resonates with me.) The story indicates that Daniel was in touch with his inner divine guidance and was not willing to be complacent in her execution. He was brave enough to speak up and change the course of the narrative. (I too, believe in Divine Inner Guidance and Guidance from Above; sources outside ourselves, who we must call on to assist us).

During this 2016 Presidential Election Cycle we have been inundated with stories, lies and “he said, she said” tales. Like Daniel, I would like to shine a light on getting to the little truths and the big TRUTH. There is a part of me that wants to doubt I was given the wisdom or bravery of Daniel. But another part that Knows we all are/were.  As Daniel questioned in the trial of Susanna:  “People of Israel, how foolish can you be? Are you going to condemn an Israelite woman to death on this kind of evidence? You haven’t even tried to find out the truth.” I believe this tale teaches us that we must continue to seek to find the truth.  But, how do we “catch” the powerful and elite in their lies?  First we listen to our heavenly guides as they try to reach us though our inner knowing. Stop, listen to your gut. What feels “right”? Then we can turn to our own dreams and interpret them as Daniel did. I believe we will eventually be led to the truth and the TRUTH. It is divine. And We Are All Divine (made in the likeness of God). So we cannot be forever fooled or kept away from our Knowing of our (collective) Self. Here is my latest dream and my interpretation.

I was going to a school, a “college”, and I was “under review”.  Apparently it was getting to the end of the term and I had chosen not to attend or do the work for several of my classes.  But I had done amazing work in one class.  I had chosen to focus all of my time and energy on just one “sculpture” and it had turned out very impressive to my instructors.  So, the teachers and administrators of the school where trying to decide if I should “pass” or not based upon this one “work”. 

I was nearby listening to them mull over my situation.  Many of them were in support of passing me to the next level. But, the feeling I had from within was that I needed to do all of the required lessons.  I could not just pick and choose what interested me, what I was good at, what class and lessons were convenient and easy to attend either because of location or schedule.  And just because I had excelled in one course at the school it did not fulfill the reason I had come to the school in the first place….to learn all of the lessons. And this Knowing came from within me. My teachers and advisors were defending me. They felt I had “done enough”. But as I overheard them I knew from within I needed to do more. That I could do more. And so I spoke up and requested they hold me back until I fulfilled all of the requirements to move up to the next level. I requested that I be held back.

And here is how I relate this dream to my life: I do not get to skip over the uncomfortable lessons, like the current election and associated stories coming to light regarding the candidates. Do I avoid the media and their non-stop barrage of propaganda? Well, perhaps it is healthy to minimize it. But, when it does present itself I can go to my gut and listen for what feels true. And I can observe the sources of information like the candidates themselves and their accusers and pay attention to how it makes me feel. I can “consider the source”. I will remember everything starts from within. Every lesson is learned there, that is where the “assignments” for the lessons must be started and completed. I will BEDo I look outside myself, wring my hands and say “oh, there is nothing I can do”?  No, I must start by doing what feels right and true for me.  All of the lessons must be done, not just the easy or comfortable ones.  I will DOAnd here is probably my hardest lesson:  Do I cast judgement on those who may not agree with what I believe and feel within myself? No, that is not my “job”. I can ask my guides to give me clear messages and guide my lessons. But, how am I to know the lessons others are put in this earth school to learn? How am I to judge how they see things from their perspective?  I will honor others in their Being and DoingI will hold faith that the Truths and the TRUTH will come to Light for ALL OF US. And maybe this Full Moon will help us all harvest a bit more clarity on our current affairs and assist us in learning our collective lessons.

I think we have all heard much talk recently about the “rape culture” that we condone and live in as a society, nation and world. But, as this story from Biblical times proves, and the associated story regarding the artwork created in 1610, the rape culture has been in existence for many lifetimes. Maybe, we can hope, we are at the cusp of true awareness and change. Maybe, another full moon cycle will not be necessary for the world to wake up to what it has been foolish enough to be “duped” by. Like the story of Susanna, maybe we can get past defining women by their associations to the men in their lives. Maybe we can continue to question the powerful men who because of their positions in society are assumed innocent, rather than the women who are assumed to be guilty or at least somehow to blame. So let’s keep in mind that this story is not only about the brave young man who listens to his divine guidance and acts upon it, but also about a brave woman who knowing she is caught in a double bind (be raped or be sentenced to death) is still willing to place her outcome in her Faith in something outside of herself. She is still willing to follow the guidance she is hearing from within, knowing it could cast shame on herself and her family and lead to her own certain death.

If change is to come, women must strive like Susanna to find our inner animus, our masculine energy; and like Daniel, men must embrace their inner anima, or female. I believe this is how we heal our never ending “rape culture”. Through balance we correct the imbalance. Through inner healing we re-align the Whole. Is the story of our current election a moral tale? Perhaps. Do I know the truth and the “moral of the story”? No. And maybe I never will. But I will listen to my Guidance, inner knowing and my “gut” and I will pay attention to the messages in my dreams like Daniel. I will act from my animus when I feel called to action (like writing and sharing this post) That is what I can DO that is who I AM. That is the balance I can strive to maintain. That is the Story that the Light of this Full Moon is shining on and harvesting for me.

Authors Note:  I do not profess to be a Biblical Scholar, or have complete knowledge or understanding of the Bible or any religious texts.  I ponder, share and witness the stories and information that my Guides and Angels call me to.  I share my interpretations as they relate to the current times we are experiencing as a “Collective” and as they pertain to my life from a personal perspective.  I share these insights in hopes that others can relate and find meaning for their own lives and as an attempt to heal and resolve my own stories, and those of others.  I welcome the thoughts and insights of others in the comments section below. I am open to learning more and witnessing the perspectives of others. 

Some of my additional sources and inspiration for this post:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susanna_(Book_of_Daniel)
https://www.bible.com/bible/416/sus.1
http://christianityinview.com/books/susanna.html

http://www.catholic.org/bible/book.php?id=34&bible_chapter=13
http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/susanna-apocrypha


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