I mentioned in a previous post, Dead Ahead, that the dark goddess, or anti-Madonna, helps women in assertive and competitive situations, which are more commonly faced today.
Saint Ann, the mother of the Virgin Mary and the grandmother of Jesus Christ, is another of the stronger goddess archetypes. Traditionally she was viewed as the matriarch of the holy extended family, and is depicted in Christian art as an instructor and authority over Mary. She was also the patron saint of single women, which hints that she favored independence, self-expression, and education for women.
Now some people may think this is all just modern-day spin, but here’s a delightful little story collected by the Brothers Grimm in 19th century Germany, which shows just how fed up some women had become with traditional women’s roles, which insisted on passivity and submissiveness, and which the Virgin Mary had come to exemplify. (Because Saint Ann was the patron saint of single women, she was often prayed to by women who were trying to find a husband. This does not negate what I have said, since an assertive search for a good mate demonstrates good sense and pluck).
The Maid of Brakel
A girl from Brakel once went to St. Anne’s Chapel at the foot of the Hinnenberg, and as she wanted to have a husband, and thought there was no one else in the chapel, she sang,
“Oh holy Saint Anne!
Help me soon to a man.
Thou know’st him right well,
By Suttmer gate does he dwell,
His hair it is golden,
Thou know’st him right well”
The clerk, however, was standing behind the altar and heard that, so he cried in a very gruff voice, “Thou shalt not have him! Thou shalt not have him!” The maiden thought that the child Mary who stood by her mother Anne had called out that to her, and was angry, and cried, “Fiddle de dee, conceited thing, hold your tongue, and let your mother speak!”