Sublime Sunset

Sunset February 2017

In nearly all of my spiritual studies, much emphasis is placed upon the blessings of sunrise or pre-sunrise; this is presented as the optimum time and space for connecting with Self and the Divine. However, even though I have taken up the practice of rising before dawn quite a few times these past ten years, I still feel little resonance with sunrise. Sunset though? Ah, now that is an entirely different experience.

Sunset is the liminal space in which I feel a deep connection with all aspects of life and the unseen world. The moments after sunset are exquisite … I’m filled with gratitude and serenity. I breathe a sigh that seems to come from another world, from ancestors, from the benevolence of Gaia as some of us move toward sleep while a mysterious world awakens all around us. Sunset heralds the darkness of womb and cave and cauldron where magic happens.

Understanding Through Love

My spiritual journey this past year or so has been one of seeking understanding through love. Even though I was raised Christian, I rarely felt an affinity with that religion; I did admire Jesus and found fascinating many of the myths and legends of the Bible, putting them in my mind in the same category as the Greek myths I simg_0319o enjoyed. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties, after a disastrous first marriage, that I realized the harm imposed upon my female identity by the patriarchal stories of the Bible that denigrated women. For almost ten years, I abandoned all religion; my spirituality subconsciously became simply the animals in my life and Nature herself during the long hikes and walks that nourished my soul. Thankfully, nearly twenty years ago, I was introduced to a Nature path of spirituality that has been my touchstone ever since, and, though its essence shifts and changes, as do I, though we grow and die and transform into new awareness, I am content with my current path of faith, an eclectic or “barefoot” spirituality (that I’ve often written of here).

Perhaps because of the contentment and loving approach to all life that my own path provides (most of the time – I certainly fall into despair about our local and global situations as well, as do we all), I found myself desirous of understanding more about the Christian religious faith in which I was raised, as well as its sibling faith of Islam, both born from the Old Testament, both, along with Judaism, known as Abrahamic faiths. Our world is currently caught up in a maelstrom of blame and fear and confusion about Christianity and Islam, so I’ve been studying, reading, and reflecting upon these (and other) religions and/or spiritual paths. One thing that is readily apparent is how they are based upon men writing about their interpretations of what other men said and did; the men themselves, Jesus and Mohammed, apparently never wrote anything down. And, to further confound the teachings, the writings were done after these men had died, so they could neither confirm nor deny the messages. Then, there is placing the writings within the historic context of when they were written. Adherents are then expected to ignore their own inner light of perception to follow those after-writings. This remains a curious puzzle to me, though I understand how much simpler it is to follow dogma and laws than to turn continuously inward for divine guidance.

The fierce fundamentalism that is often part of Christianity and Islam, grounded as they are in patriarchal past and present, present a dire situation for the life of us all – not only humans, but all inter-related life with our Mother Earth and Universal Cosmos. The anger that is rioting within Christianity and Islam, and among the people who feel forgotten in an unfamiliar world culture of rampant capitalism and identity crises, is understandable – I can finally empathize with many of these people; empathy for those who are similar to us is relatively easy, it is the empathy for those who are different that is challenging – but this processing of the anger needs to be transformed by all of us.

We need to somehow learn to see into others, to make the time to go within ourselves, into our own subconscious belief systems, and recognize the implicit biases that we have. We need to understand the pain and fear of others. That’s the first step, and the one that many people I know resist, sometimes vehemently. It can seem quite frightening.

A wise woman* has said, in going beyond tolerance that,

“My favorite word is “understanding.” I know it’s somewhat colder than the word “compassion” or “empathy,” but my regular lab seminar, which is an ongoing course, is called the Understand Seminar. And it has many different meanings, of course. We’re there to understand, to understand the research, and to make our own. But we study a set of topics that I believe that when you understand, you are left with no option but to change in some way. And I like giving more complexity to the word “understand” whenever I have a chance.”

Imagine the possibilities that are inherent within truly understanding one another!

__________

* Mahzarin Banaji being interviewed by Krista Tippett at OnBeing.

Vulnerability

Broken roots. Healing ground. Sacred space. ONE.

I wake with a peace permeating me, solace found in healing ground as if, all of a sudden…I’m fine. As if my body isn’t to be worried about, its healing is coming along well without my constant attention. I don’t need to fear because … I’ve landed, I’m home, I’m grounding in the blessed rocks and soil and humus of Life that surrounds me. The darkness is a gift to learn from; it is part of this universal experience we participate in. I find my breath coming easier, softer. My eyes, discerning, witnessing, don’t shy away. Neither do my ears from listening. I’m grateful for my senses as we embrace the world and witness our own evolution. My broken body heals. So does the universe. Brigid guides the way, Her light peeks into my cracks and illuminates the chips I harvest with compassion as part of me.

Ground, then move…bending. Among the trees, we are rooted, deeply embedded in Life as witness and participant in Love, no matter where on the planet we are, our earth that spins in and out of darkness and light.

I’m not worried about my recovery, or the recovery of the world; we will continue to grow, ground, move, bend, heal.

twinkle-ice-forest-13-jan-2017Vulnerability. Sanctuary doesn’t mean that nothing difficult will happen or that one is always in control; it is a place where we feel more able to cope when challenges do occur. A haven isn’t isolation but a place of deep connection. We are all vulnerable to Life’s Mystery.

Threads

A beautiful essay was written by Christy Croft that I share here: Intellectual Curiosity as Holy Devotion.

The author touches on many themes that resonate with me; she and I share a similar path. As she writes about how to embrace the tension of opposites, she states evocatively that

I’m still learning how to knit these threads. Sometimes, I do so with the tight, precise stitches of academic study and critical reflection; other times I do so with the loosest of weaves, dancing between theology, personal narrative, myth, metaphysics, and ecstatic mysticism in my everyday language as if there were no divisions, no binding categories of speech or cognition. It’s a work in progress. I’m a work in progress.

She is Three

I love the symbolism of Maiden-Mother-Crone. Not only was the Triple Goddess concept a life-saver for me in my 30s (when I found Wicca more than twenty years ago), but I still resonate to the symbolism of Three in many ways. This leads me to feel that while we may lean one direction intellectually, I often wonder if there isn’t an energetic pattern or genetic memory associated for some of us with this connection to the Triple Goddess. But then, I link to energies, not dogma; structure can be helpful scaffolding, and provide a sense of support especially when starting on a new path, but I prefer to weave my own spiritual practice and life.

Raccoons26JUN2016

Three Raccoons Visiting

That said, my embrace of Maiden-Mother-Crone has shifted over time so that I feel the Triple Goddess not so much as abiding in or expressing as a distinct or rigid phase of life but as ebbing and flowing states of being. In other words, I continually move in and out of these three base energies that arise out of the Divine Cosmic Womb.

This perspective is even easier for me now, to be at ease with this ever-changing concept of Maiden-Mother-Crone, since studying Ayurveda and the Samkhya philosophy. That ancient healing system also views the life phases through a broad spectrum of three primary energies (child is Kapha, productive adult is Pitta, wisdom/spiritual contemplative elder is Vata) although we also, each of us, has within us the unique blend of the doshas (the three arise from the five elements) so we can access any of the energies we need and are not restricted to a particular phase of life. Ultimately, life is change and the patterns or symbols or structures we use are available to us as life support systems, however we need them to be.

Many women in the Women’s Spirituality movement seem just as obsessed with stating the idea that Maiden-Mother-Crone is not ancient tradition as are those who cling firmly to the idea that Maiden-Mother-Crone is linked to ancient tradition. And wherever each of us is, so be it…may we all find our highest and deepest healing path. Because Wicca was “re-created” by a man (Gerald Gardner) and a man (Robert Graves) developed the concept of three goddesses as aligned with three lunar phases, many women now go overboard the other direction to disparage their ideas. I used to do that, too, and still occasionally find myself resisting something simply because a man created, developed, or expanded upon an idea or concept. However, the older I get, the more at ease I am in realizing that we’re all human and there are brilliant, sensitive men able to tap into women’s feelings, emotions, and perceptions, spiritual or otherwise. (It probably helps that my husband is a loving, generous example of this kind of man.)

Further, this determined adherence to fact or data – only accepting what has been “proven” — is often a defensive move so that people don’t think women are crazily irrational in their belief system. Not that this is an imaginary response. Sadly, we still experience a duality – the one that says men are rational, and women are not. I feel like a lot of women continue to retain a lot of anger, bitterness, and defensiveness, based upon their (our) experiences of men, duality, hierarchy, and/or patriarchy. Feminism has evolved and come a long way, but the movement is far from over.

Recently I heard of a spiritual teacher who begins many lectures or teachings with the phrase: “maybe I’m wrong but…”. This opens up the conversation and lets the speaker, right from the start, admit to the listeners that there are other possibilities than just the one she personally advocates for herself. This is where I like to place myself, as well, and it allows for transformative experiences and beliefs. I don’t care to experience life from within the confines of yes or no, true or false, fact or fiction. So, while I may have my own theories and belief system, it’s just that…mine.

This leads me to my appreciation for a recent post on Feminism and Religion by Carol Christ, a foremother of the Women’s Spirituality movement. I’ve read all of Carol’s books, many of her articles, and have long admired her as a sort of kindred spirit. I love that she continues to share her thoughts and feelings through her own spiritual and life journey; she has had a tremendous impact upon my own journey. However, since I’m not an academic person, I have no deep need or desire to accept, confirm, or deny definitively whether the Triple Goddess symbolism is “an ancient pattern” or a modern creation. Carol ends with:

“Ours is not a tradition handed down intact from the ancient past, rather it is a new creative synthesis of aspects of the past combined with contemporary insight and experience. Once we recognize that the Triple Goddess is a contemporary creation, we are free to affirm Maiden, Mother, Crone—or to use other symbols.”

So, I guess I both agree and disagree with the above. Maybe the Triple Goddess is ancient memory, maybe not. That’s not important to me. What I do agree with is that each of us is always free to access that which resonates, whether old, new, or unknown, and to then create powerful, healing symbols and systems for ourselves and the world.

Magic is Afoot

Morning Fog

I am giddy to be living in the woods again!

The Sonoran Desert is in my past, the Ozarks in my present, and Brigid is calling me into Her world of wells and hearth and inspiration and healing.

Blessed Be!

“Goddess is Alive, Magic is Afoot!”

 

Cellular Memory

The fall of rain produces a droplet of creative impression from a wet cell that squeezes itself into a new organ — foreign territory that is familiar because felt in itIMG_4048s own universal oneness of origin but yet the unchosen trail behind becomes the one in front and we move into that intrigue. The stardust of ancient life before the dinosaurs, before the seas spewed forth transformative blobs of skin and hair and sturdy hardened bone mass to walk upon earth. Here is the cellular memory, we can feel all who have passed inside us, smiling, as we cling desperately to this one form without realizing our soul travel across galaxies of form and function … evolutionary babes in the wise woods of deep time, geologic time, of the previous ones who left no signs because of age and hidden energies once felt as simple as breathing. Glimpses of them peek out from the rocks but as an infinitesimal speck, a symbol, a single letter from a language of experience long forgotten. We think we know but our grasp is fragile and narrow; our souls know though. Love this body, this life; love others with a broad sweeping lens of celebration to see grand diversity, knowing the reality truly is unimaginable — and that, too, is beautiful because we will be seeking forever, an eternal curious journey of soul passages. My cells transmute and I can feel time shimmer, disappearing from the linear yardstick, becoming spirals and waves unseen but known. I’m not crazy. Am I?