Lady Diana Spencer’s glorious emergence from the glass, horse-drawn carriage on her wedding morning in the summer of 1981 set in motion mythological musings: “a fairy-tale bride,” “a heavenly vision,” “the return of the goddess.” Dressed in voluminous yards of custom-dyed ivory silk taffeta, lace and tulle; standing in hand-crafted satin slippers; crowned with old family diamonds, this was beyond any superficial longing of “princess dreams”—although dreams of being a princess certainly fueled our imaginations. Diana’s appeal went deeper than our fascination with feminine beauty or brides and weddings, or with royalty and pageantry or mysterious ancient rituals. For many watching the brilliant wedding pomp that day, the experience stirred something deep within. Historically, the vision of a bride often brings a sense of hope and renewal, but for a culture in turmoil, here was a spark that relit what once thought lost. There seemed a light about this young bride. Even if we were unaware of being affected, legends were brewing.
Or did the anti-monarchists and second-wave feminists and other skeptics—not taken in by romance or grandeur or even possible divine intervention—have it right? That this was simply another wan young woman, “shrouded” beyond recognition. From feminist writer Beatrix Campbell: “Her ivory silk wedding dress was a shroud…a crinoline, a meringue…a symbol of sexuality and grandiosity….” She was being led to an altar “propping up the aged patriarch who had got her into all of this” to stand with a man much beyond her years and experience who represented an outdated institution where young women disappeared into desperate disappointment. “Neither her father nor her mother had taken care of her, enlightened her or warned her. They married her off to someone else’s prince….”
Maybe there were bits of both happening that day—the outdated and the shift of the ages! After all, here we were under the influence of prophetic celestial changes, long mapped out by wise ancients foretelling the end of “old time” and the beginning of a new era. As the Earth was doing what it naturally, miraculously does—tilt perfectly with an elegant wobble, and spin from equinox to equinox—its slow rotation was in the complicated process of completing two decisive cycles, thousands of years in the making, shifting energies and filling hearts above and below. Some called this swirling cosmic marvel the effects of the Age of Aquarius dawning—feminine vibrations of the Age of the Goddess that would awaken our spirit; others reverently proclaimed the “Age of Holy Breath” ushering in a time of enlightenment and expanding consciousness. Whether it was such heavenly wonders at work on this full-of-legends Emerald Isle or simply the dynamic effect of two royal archetypes chosen to fulfill their soul’s mission and now moving through predestined paces—you could not escape the sense there was something mystical afoot.
If this was truly an era coming to an end—with things tired and harsh falling away, things fresh and heart-tempered beginning—then how perfect that it was a wedding to send up the momentous flare seen round the world, beckoning our heart’s attention. Now under the direction of a new pole star in the Aquarian constellation, we hoped that love would, indeed, “steer the stars and peace would guide the planets” as we all embarked on this auspicious yet tumultuous journey.
Did this young woman, who became a princess on her wedding day and after a long, winding road, the ‘queen of hearts’ upon her death, ignite a pathway for a consciousness shift of the heart? Was this a signal for the return of a nurturing goddess spirit intended to nudge along the occurring paradigm shift where we see a flowering of feminine strength and influence? During a life fluctuating between tedious soap opera and compassionate healing, how could we imagine then that Diana would be showing a way to, in the words of spiritual thinker Xavier Le Pinon, “educate the heart” on how to be tender, open and immaculately loving? In all the pomp and glamour and personal drama, it was easy to overlook her spiritual mission.
There was an exquisite bridal moment that summer-lit wedding morning on the red-carpeted steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral, captured in a memorable zoom-lens photograph, where Diana—veiled in what seemed to be the ancient mystery of womanhood—paused to look back. Perhaps it was simply to check the fluffing of her impossibly long train, stretching down the staircase; but then you see her eyes, piercing through the veil as if with an inner knowing, glancing toward some distant past in support of encouraging her forward. Was Diana standing in for all future brides at a time when they, too, pause at their nuptial doorway to embody, no longer a woman’s loss of power and self-expression, but the female essence of beauty, strength, forgiveness and love? ~
[Excerpts from the author’s book-in-progress, tentatively titled, From Princess to Goddess & the Rebirth of Love.