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This represents motherhood or the positive and even holy feelings about ones mother that arise in one at a very early age. But Mary is also a symbol of religious openness or receptivity.
This represents the human soul or psyche and its possibility of dropping pre-conceptions, thus attaining an inner virginity and through that being receptive to the unseen or unconscious side of self. Christianity named this the Holy Ghost. But older cultures also depicted this inner state of fertile receptivity. For instance Egypt expressed this human possibility in the form of Isis. Also Buddha’s mother Queen Maya, in 500BC, is said to have dreamt that a six-tusked elephant pierced her side with one of its tusks. This produced an immaculate conception. She understood the dream to mean the resulting child would become a monarch whose domain was the world. So the idea of virgin birth was not new to Christianity.
When we experience this personally, the child we conceive is the union between the receptive conscious self and wider awareness. This receptivity and virginity of mind leads to the birth in oneself of a force or activity that gradually transforms and enlarges ones life and experience. In the west we call what grows in us ‘The Christ’. Other cultures give it different names. See: Lifestream; Archetypeof the Christ; archetypeof great mother; virgin.
Generally speaking, outside of the Catholic faith, the image of the Virgin Mary is smiled upon. Even where critics point out that many older religions also had virgin deities who gave birth to a holy child, they still often fail to see its significance as far as mankind is concerned. This does not mean, however, that a few with understanding have not openly pointed out that the Virgin Mary represents an active principle in every person. Literally, every person can turn to this for help. But let me explain. Seen as dream symbols, the virgin birth gains a personal, inner significance to the man outside any religious beliefs. From this we can see that Mary represents the intuitive, receptive part of our own nature. Our feelings, our own virgin nature (i.e. that part of us not interfered with by thoughts, doubts, fixed opinions, biases and pre-conceived ideas) is open to new ideas, new opinions, new feelings. So Mary conceiving from the hidden processes of Life means that our own state of receptivity, of freedom from bias and prejudice, of ‘pre-conceived’ ideas, can receive parts of our nature that are as yet unknown. This is really only common sense. No new idea comes to any man with a closed mind and heart. No discovery is ever made by a person who believes they already know it all. To receive the new, we have to have at least a part of our mind ‘virginal’.
As Einstein said, “Knowledge is limited – Imagination circles the world.”