Tag Archive | culture

Original Blessing

IMG_0955Did you know that Christianity has an entire perspective of path-working that celebrates and esteems Original Blessing rather than Original Sin as its foundation? That it focuses upon creation-centered spirituality rather than fall/redemption? Many spiritual or religious traditions approach the Divine in this way, but until later in my life, I had no idea that it also existed within the Christian worldview.

The Reverend Matthew Fox’s books on the subject are intriguing, stimulating, and enlightening, as well as being enjoyable and easy to read. And he’s been sharing his thoughts and beliefs on Original Blessing for forty years. There are more benefits than we can initially imagine when we flow within this wellspring; it is unifying and filled with compassion and awe, rather than punishment and fear.

The concept of Original Blessing and creation-centered spirituality taps directly into the lives and beliefs of many of the Christian mystics, from Saint Hildegard of Bingen to Meister Eckhart, and to modern believers such as the Society of Friends.

Self-Contained

LadySlipper3rdFound061403c_2In continuing my study of Saint Hildegard, Mary Queen of Heaven, and the Catholic Church – and admittedly I am not an adherent of this particular faith – I find the complexity of the story fascinating, and its changes from century to century mind-boggling, to say the least.

Most students of history will attest to the fact that, in ancient times of the word’s origin (it’s concept), the word “virgin” defined a woman who was, in essence, self-contained — it did not mean a woman who had not had sexual intercourse.

This ties in with a beautifully written paragraph – about Eve and Mary – in Barbara Newman’s book Sister of Wisdom: St. Hildegard’s Theology of the Feminine, which states that:

“No theme of Mariology is older or more universal than the contrast of Eve and Mary, a topos that dates back to the second century. Irenaeus, one of the first theologians to develop this theme, observed that ‘the former was beguiled into fleeing God, the latter was persuaded to obey God, that the Virgin Mary might become an advocate for the virgin Eve. Through a virgin, mankind came under the bondage of death; so also through a Virgin the bonds were loosed, and a virginal disobedience was balanced by a Virgin’s obedience.’ For the Greek father, the contrast between the two virgins had as yet no sexual connotations.”

This is pretty powerful stuff when putting history in context. It means that in the century when Christianity was being birthed as a religion, virginity was not a sexual term. So, Mary could simply have been a strong, independent, self-contained young woman whose belief in her spiritual path led her to accept the prophetic vision of becoming the mother of a son who many believed would be the incarnation of the Jewish God.

Newman continues the above paragraph with:

“But the Augustinian ethos, linking original sin with concupiscence, led to a practical redefinition of ‘obedience’ and ‘disobedience’ in terms of chastity and lust.”

So it wasn’t until the 4th Century that the reformed Augustine, later canonized (having lived the first part of his life loosely, including “parties, entertainment, and worldly ambitions”), began to assist in shifting the term “virgin” around within Christianity.

Imagine what it must have been like for Mary, imagine the pressure she was under.

Thankfully, there is a lot of research now to turn to that addresses the cultural lives of women in history (and in prehistory), which is marvelous.

the edge

Bloodroot1

Bloodroot

Most people who encourage spiritual and psychological growth point to each of us finding our unique edge of discomfort … and then learning how to become at ease with and permeable to that experience. Not to deny it or hide from it. I’m in the centrifuge of that transformational space.

Another angle on this is understanding whether we see “difference” through the lens of threat or curiosity? Can we shift ourselves into curiosity?

In the most recent interview at On Being with Krista Tippett, Krista spoke with angel Kyodo williams who said, about the current phase of human evolution:

“We’re digesting the material of the misalignment. We’re digesting the material of how intolerable it is to be so intolerant. We’re digesting the material of 400, 500 years of historical context that we have decided to leave behind our heads, and we are choosing to turn over our shoulders and say: I must face this, because it is intolerable to live in any other way than a way that allows me to be in contact with my full, loving, human self.”

She continued on this topic of transition by saying that,

“There is something dying in our society, in our culture, and there’s something dying in us individually. And what is dying, I think, is the willingness to be in denial. And that is extraordinary. The willingness to be in denial is dying in a meaningful number of us, the tipping point. It’s always been happening, and when it happens in enough of us, in a short enough period of time at the same time, then you have a tipping point, and the culture begins to shift.”

All of which follows each of us to our own edge of growth, doesn’t it? How can we expand kindness, compassion, and love in ever-widening spirals and carpets of beauty?

Forsythia and Purple flowers on hill april 6 2018

Celtic Flame

A new morning practice encourages me to wander into the patterns of Celtic women’s spirituality, to honor my ancestors and meet them at the hearth where we all come to join hearts and minds in a covenant of belonging. Blessings well up to keep me conscious of gifts received and reminders to share my abundance.

First thing in the morning, light the flame, a signal of conscious awareness; last thing at night, honor the dimming of glow in the house where shadows merge and reign upon our sanctuary, a blanket of dark protection. Here are the tethers of life, the wicks of gratitude and love; where once were coals upon a central fireplace, now a candle represents the resurrection off hearth-keeping as a sacred vocation, even when only an act of diminutive devotion.

IMG_0280Some of my ancestors came from Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and the English borderlands. Those who have studied their life-ways and myths or legends remind us that, “They can show us how to do ordinary things in a spirit of celebration that comes from a sense of being connected with the flow of humanity, the life energies.”

I wrote a while back about my personal and unique path to tending the hearth fire. My relationship to hearth and home is in continual transformation as I explore the mysteries of life. It is said that, “the household fire was more than a practical convenience … it was a reminder of the flame of life, of the need to rekindle basic energies every day of our lives, to keep in touch with our inner life force and avoid apathy and coldness in ourselves or towards others.” When I light my candle, this remembering is a portion of the context in which I see the flickering and feel it within myself.

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Quotes are from Power of Raven, Wisdom of Serpent: Celtic Women’s Spirituality by Norah Jones.

Three Dreams

I’m relatively new to actually making the time to consider what my dreams may mean to me, though I’ve recorded them sporadically for over a decade. Because I found last night’s dreams particularly compelling, I thought I would share them here. Perhaps they may encourage someone else to … follow their dreams.

I recalled and recorded three distinct dreams through the night; the first and third dreams were of me rescuing/helping a small young boy (one boy appeared as my younger brother, the other boy became a little dog), and the other, the middle dream, was of me ending up alone on a couples cruise.

The Two Boys

kids3            Dream One: a young boy who looked like my younger brother was having seizures – the symptoms were being viewed as signs of “possession” by the doctors – I was trying to help heal him with energy and natural remedies

Dream Three: It was night, and I was on the other side of a park, near a building, when I saw bad men break several life-size glass reindeer that shattered into hundreds of pieces large and small – the men saw me and started chasing me and a little boy (who was clothed in pale blue pajamas with ‘feet’) across the grass as we ran toward my house – as we ran, the boy transformed into a little dog that I scooped up into my arms while running – I reached my home, which was well-lit, before the bad men could get us – we were safe inside and the bad men didn’t try to enter

Were these two dreams pointing to my need to make peace with the young masculine principle I carry within that was destroyed by patriarchy? To find a way to recover that innocent masculine principle, to resurrect its power for love?

It is interesting that these two dreams of young boys – very rare for me to see boys in my dreams – came on Christmas Eve. I don’t identify as Christian anymore (I’m a spiritual eclectic with a Pagan foundation) though I do believe the story of Jesus is a powerful and potentially healing one when heard from the feminine principle perspective instead of through the lens of patriarchy. And, as it happens, the birth of the baby Jesus is honored tomorrow, while the seeds of solstice have already been sown. Is the spark of the masculine principle joining the seed of the feminine principle?

I have always felt maternal and/or nurturing toward my younger brother, and perhaps I feel it even more now that he is challenged by physical illness. Plus, I have always had a strong desire to protect and help the young, which is extended to both genders and to all innocent life. Maybe these two dreams came to inspire faith … faith that we can succeed in protecting the innocent and resurrecting the masculine principle to its original pattern, before it became the domination power principle of patriarchy?

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 2.36.06 PMIn the third dream, the bad men shatter and destroy the beautiful glass reindeer in the dark of night, in the realm of the feminine principle. What else do the reindeer represent? This glass is clear, cold, smooth and appears solid but can be easily broken. The reindeer represent the myth of Santa Claus, a story created for children/innocence. The bad men perhaps represent patriarchy shattering the innocence of our stories and dreams, shattering the bond between masculine principle and feminine principle? Santa Claus is also linked, however, to whether we are “good” or “bad” and, thus, whether we will receive any “reward.” So shattering those symbols which pull/carry the patriarchal father-figure could mean that Santa Claus has no effect anymore?

Also in the third dream, the boy transforming into a little dog is perhaps a personal motif for me (because of my passionate devotion to dogs) to be able to visualize the innocence that remains inside the masculine principle? That it can be rescued and taken into hearth and home? It would be easier for me to let a dog into my safe space, rather than a male, even when that male is a boy.

A Couples Cruise

Dream Two in the Middle: My husband and I were on a cruise ship – we got off because we were thinking about incorporating an overland drive for part of the vacation – while we were considering the option, he drove home to check on things – we decided not to do the drive but he was too far away to make it back to the ship before it sailed – I got on alone and finished the second part of the journey by myself, a single on a Couples Cruise

Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 2.50.02 PMThe third dream, that fell in the middle of the other two, was uncomfortable – which is odd because it wasn’t as overtly traumatic as the other two dreams. The two aspects that feel most important are that of cruise (water, sailing, travel) and that, because of a joint decision, I ended up alone/single in a group of couples. I could unravel this dream in many directions, because it feels like there are a lot of threads. It feels scary to even write about this dream, like it was an omen or premonition. Maybe that’s because I fear the separation could be permanent? But it wouldn’t be, because it was a cruise ship – a temporary journey space. Cruises are not life but rather a liminal space as are most vacations, pilgrimages, and travels. I feel better already, having consciously realized that.

In some ways, the dream mirrors what he and I have already discussed: my solo travels while he stays at home to take care of things. The fact that it is a “couples cruise” is odd, but perhaps that merely represents metaphorically the need for me to write both sides of myself, to witness and “marry” by masculine principle to my feminine principle?

Perhaps this dream is bookended by the other two for that specific purpose, in which case they become a series to build the whole?

Viewing All Three Dreams in Sequence

In the first dream, the young boy has seizures – a violent dis-ease that shakes everything up and makes one vulnerable, unable to resist or escape anything that might happen to him. Patriarchy dominates men as well as women, and, in a way, it is a debilitating cultural disease. However, in the second dream, by “marrying” masculine principle and feminine principle in love, and honoring that commitment to be joined yet honoring individuality also. Later, in the third dream, the feminine principle is able to rescue/help the masculine principle and carry it to safety and home.Screen Shot 2014-12-24 at 2.44.56 PM

These three dreams, that at first glance seem so disparate, come closer and closer together the more I reflect upon them. And I will continue working with them.

Currently, as an over-arching theme, all three seem to be pointing toward ways in which I can re-envision and thus heal my sense of the masculine principle within me and, thus, see it differently in the world as well, possibly supporting a personal faith that we can also heal our global culture.

We can return to Peace on Earth.

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depaceminterris.org

 

Peace

“It is a gross misunderstanding to imagine warfare as endemic to the human condition.”

~ Marija Gimbutas, Professor of Baltic and Slavic Studies at UCLA, 1963-1989; Chair of European Archeology. Gimbutas

I feel sadness at how quickly average people — men and women both — have become excited by the idea that Viking women could have been half of the warrior force. What reason is there to celebrate violence in any culture? And yet, consider all the movies and television series that continue to grow in number where the female is killing and destroying; this is promoting the idea that women can only hold power by becoming better warriors/killers than the men. The promotion of that archetype is not coming from the core of feminine principles of a loving, transformative energy but from the obfuscating masculine energies within them. This will not resolve anything — this will not heal our world.Fresco at Knossos - Version 2

I wish people were as thrilled by the knowledge that there were many early civilizations that existed peacefully for hundreds of years, some for over a thousand years, within an egalitarian structure. Some of these towns and/or village communities were heavily populated; for instance, the “Late Cucuteni culture, c. 4000-3500 B.C., reached an urban stage with towns of up to 10,000 inhabitants at the center of a district surrounded by medium and smaller size villages,” while other large, peaceful societies prospered as well such as that of Catal Huyuk in Anatolia and on Crete we know of the “Minoan” culture. (Gimbutas) Further, hunter-gatherer cultures were usually egalitarian as well.

A Conception of Choice

“The power of the matriarchal story—myth or fact—is in the assertion that the world CAN be different. Patriarchy and war are not the “just way its always been,” or a “more evolved” society, or the only possibility for the future. The matriarchal myth opens up the door for a new FUTURE story, not just a revisionist look at the past.”

The above quote is from Molly’s latest post on her blog Theapoetics. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard someone say to me something like “it’s human nature to fight” and I want to respond — like Molly does here — with a concise reference to the fact that we do have examples of cultures that were different and, based upon various interpretations, were egalitarian and peaceful.

Kore from CreteI started reading about these ancient matrifocal cultures in 1995, and I love that nearly 20 years later younger women continue to teach and spread the wisdom of potential and possibility that our foremothers struggled to make available to us through their writing and activism.

Even if the interpretations aren’t accurate — though I believe they are — the possibilities they present by simply viewing history and pre-history as different means that we can conceive of a different way of living and being in our world. And since science is now revealing that our very biology is cooperative as well on a cellular level, we are waking up and seeing that we can choose peace and cooperation, and that our physiology supports these choices.