FIND in
<--prev V301 next-->
From: "Andrew Bollen" 
Subject: (urth) Mother/Seawrack/Hyacinth
Date: Fri, 3 Jan 2003 18:27:48 +1100

James Jordan had this to say in a post a year ago:

"Wolfe expressed to me that Mother Goddess worship is  the essence of
paganism. Those weren't his words, but the gist of our  conversation. [...]
Mother Goddess worship is simply pantheism in action: the universe as
Mother Earth is the ultimate thing in existence, so that violence and
"evil" are as "natural" as peace and goodness. The true God is the Outsider,
the Creature of nature. From Wolfe's standpoint, Mother Earth is created by
Father God, and because of human sin, is fallen. Mother has her role, but as
a creature of Father. Sin means disorder, while redemption means the
restoration of
proper order. Paganism means to ultimatize and worship the creation (nature)
rather than the Creator."

"Mother Earth" is pretty much the same as "Mother Ocean", in these kinds of

To repeat my view: Much of SS/LS is the working out of Wolfe's view as
outlined by James, versus the "White Goddess" kind of view of Graves and
others, in which the Mother is the first principle, and the solar, male,
creator-god is her upstart & usurping son. No, says Wolfe, but nevertheless,
"Mother has her role" - she is not simply the demon of misogynist

Some more notes on the text:

- At the end of RTTW, Silk heads off to the stars with Seawrack, Nettle and
Marble. As I think others have pointed out, there is a clear resonance here
with the Gravesian imagery of the "Hero" (Jesus, Arthur, whoever) ferried
off to a paradiscal Avalon after death by the Goddess in her triple aspect
of Maiden (in the sense of "young woman"), Mother & Crone, to await rebirth
as her son with the coming of the new year. But in Wolfe's co-option of the
imagery, Silk is already reborn, and he does not go under the protection of
the Goddess to her realm; rather, they go under his protection to the Whorl
which he rules in some sense, and ultimately to the stars ruled by the

- The imagery is not the defeat of the Mother - Silk is not Beowulf, or St
George, and she is not Grendel's mother or a monstrous dragon. Rather, it is
her *redemption* - Eve saved from sin, Scylla becoming Cilinia, Seawrack no
longer a monster's lure, Hyacinth no longer the erotic emissary of Aphrodite
etc etc.

- Seawrack and Hyacinth. As many others have said, there is a dimly lit
nexus between Hyacinth/Seawrack/Kypris. On one level, a connection via
Kypris makes sense, since Kypris is Aphrodite, an aspect of Mother Ocean;
and perhaps there is some hint at Venus de Milo. But I just don't see room
in the narrative for a real possession of Seawrack by Kypris, or by a ghost
of Hyacinth, or whatever. I prefer to see the connection rather in terms of
roles: both "things", created or used by the Sea Goddess in an erotic aspect
as snares for men, both abused by men, both desparately in need of
redemption, one loved by Horn & the other by Silk, in similar kinds of ways.

- In terms of the narrative, I think Silk retrieves Seawrack after his
rebirth not in order to start up again with the old jiggedy-jig; I doubt
that she goes with him to the Whorl as his mate. Rather, he takes her as
recompense for his previous abandonment, to remove her from a world where
she is a thing of the Mother more than a real human being, and because she
parallels Hyacinth in many ways, so by helping her, he helps Hyacinth's

- Just as I see SilkHorn as a better Silk - strengthened by Horn, more
rooted and efective in the real world - so it is possible to see Seawrack as
an improved Hyacinth. The final scene has her helping load the boat, despite
her missing arm: Hyacinth would have had the vapors if she ever tried
anything this practical.

- A side note on Sirens: Thelxepeia and Molpe were names of sirens in some
Greek & Roman accounts. Sirens count as sea monsters, so it seems likely to
me that Cilinia was not the only one of Typhon's extended brood to worship
Abaia and the rest.

- Seawrack and the Mother. Horn says somewhere in OBW that the big riddle is
whether the Mother has had a change of heart - releasing Seawrack from her
role as lure  - or whether she is just moving into Phase II - releasing
Seawrack to make her a better lure. It's reasonably clear to me that this
"Phase II" would not be more chomping on unfortunate sailors; rather, it
would be assuming the role of goddess to the new population of Blue & having
them worship her. There is much that is unclear to me about this, but I
believe that if Phase II had been the plan originally, it is not by the end
of RTTW. Somehow, SilkHorn has performed a reconciliation, as I asserted in
a previous post. When Seawrack comes back, it as a human, not as a lure.

- Harking back to the original post by James, I think it is clear what
worship of the Mother would lead to. Juturna at the end of UOTNS: "[Abaia]
might have destroyed you ... He's tried to tame you instead.  Catch Catodon
... cast out his conation.  What good?  Abaia would make of us a great

Googling: "Conation refers to the connection of knowledge and affect to
behavior and is associated with the issue of 'why.' It is the personal,
intentional, planful, deliberate, goal-oriented, or striving component of
motivation, the proactive (as opposed to reactive or habitual) aspect of
behavior (Baumeister, Bratslavsky, Muraven & Tice, 1998; Emmons, 1986). It
is closely associated with the concept of volition, defined as the use of
will, or the freedom to make choices about what to do (Kane, 1985; Mischel,
1996). It is absolutely critical if an individual is successfully engage in
self-direction and self-regulation."

In other words, the freedom of will which makes morality possible. Abaia's
offer is the living hell experienced by the Ascians. I imagine Wolfe's view
is that in a pantheistic universe, morality is irrelevant, and volition
essentially meaningless. Catodon is probably Physeter catodon, the giant
sperm whale - I suppose the point being that despite the whale's huge brain,
it differs fundamentally from humans in lacking conation.

- My guess at a history of the VP: A parallel to the war between the Ascians
(on Blue) and the Commonwealth (on Green); the Commonwealth analog
ultimately destroying both parties by misuse of inhumi assistance.


<--prev V301 next-->