Tag Archive | existence

Unseen Beings

I recently came upon an insightful book about how we might conceive of the existence and beingness of angels; this book – The Physics of Angels by Matthew Fox and Rupert Sheldrake – is amazing. The authors explore angels through the writings of three mystics and in relation to scientific theories. I’ve had so many “ah-ha” moments throughout reading this book, not just about angels but about all the energies that we cannot usually see that are nevertheless interacting with us and the world around us.

angel in despair

One particular concept aligns so well with my own experiences of the unseen world around us, and how our minds are not substance, our minds are not the same as our brains – our brains are merely the receptors through which thoughts, ideas, and memories come into action. Fox and Rupert quote 13th Century St. Thomas Aquinas:

“The activity of understanding is wholly non-material. … The act of understanding is not an action of the body or of any bodily energy. Hence to be joined to a body is not of the essence of intellectual being. … Not all intellects are conjoined with bodies; there are some that exist separately, and these we call angels.”

Think about that for a minute and how profound this insight may be and the positive impact it could have upon our entire experience of the sacred, of the Divine.

 

Advertisements

A Mystical World

Rain 083018There is a line I love from a song by Carrie Newcomer – “We Were Sleeping” – that says “the blessed rain, falls like grace, without regard to wealth or race.”

We are receiving torrential rain today, a blessing always needed these days as a hot dry summer gradually transitions to autumn. The little hill in front of our house has a miniature waterfall that’s been created from all the water that’s pouring down, nourishing and cleansing. Rain is a miracle we can see and feel, hear and taste. But more than that … the Infinite pulses within every droplet, carrying songs of the Divine.

There are deep and empowering messages embedded within the roots and flowers of mysticism. As a primer on this topic, I’ve been engaging with the classic work by Evelyn Underhill: Mysticism: A Study in the Nature and Development of Spiritual Consciousness (a 400-page tome, first published in 1911, and in its 12th edition by 1930). This is truly a remarkable book.

Underhill writes:

“This “real world,” then, is the result of your selective activity, and the nature of your selection is largely outside your control. Your cinematograph machine goes at a certain pace, takes its snapshots at certain intervals. Anything which goes too quickly for these intervals, it either fails to catch, or merges with preceding and succeeding movements to form a picture with which it can deal. Thus we treat, for instance, the storm of vibrations which we convert into “sound” and “light.” Slacken or accelerate its clock-time, change its rhythmic activity, and at once you take a different series of snapshots, and have as a result a different picture of the world. Thanks to the time at which the normal human machine is set, it registers for us what we call, in our simple way, “the natural world.” A slight accession of humility or common sense might teach us that a better title would be ” our natural world.”

Thus, what most of us perceive is simply our human interpretation, rather than so-called reality.

One of the most tragic developments in modern times is having turned most religion into a dry-as-dust text-based view of the Divine (that which is ineffable, transcendent and immanent). No wonder so many people are seeking alternative paths into the sacred, into spirituality, indeed, into mysticism – most religious organizations with their excessive dogma and literal interpretations have had the mystic marrow sucked out of their bones!

Underhill says:

“How, then, may we knew this Life, this creative and original soul of things, in which we are bathed; in which, as in a river, swept along? Not, says Bergson bluntly, by any intellectual means. The mind which thinks it knows Reality because it has made a diagram of Reality, is merely the dupe of its own categories.”

Another view on the mystical is through the works of Llewellyn Vaughn-Lee. His most recent video – Spiritual Life: Miracles & Magic – is an absolute treasure:

The Hidden Divine

I am particularly intrigued by how the visions of Saint Hildegard of Bingen, in the 12th Century, seemed to embed the symbolism and perceptions of Christianity into aspects of what I understand to be the universal and cosmological vibrational intelligent energy that is the Infinite, the Hidden Divine that we as humans are incapable of comprehending.

In her book Sister of Wisdom: St. Hildegard’s Theology of the Feminine, Barbara Newman refers to one of Saint Hildegard’s visions and says that,

“With this memorable image, the seer reinterpreted the primitive notion of a hieros gamos, or marriage of the gods, to proclaim the oneness of the hidden God with his self-revelation–or, alternatively, one might say that this religious insight is ‘demythologized’ back into its primordial form.”

Reading on, my interpretation is that we are missing the truth of the Great Mystery when we focus only upon the inequality of gender assignments in religions. The “play” or “dance” between God and Goddess (Saint Hildegard refers to her by various names including Sapientia (Wisdom) and Caritas (Love), as well as Mary and Ecclesia) that we perceive are our projections of manifestation for That Which We Cannot Conceive. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with how our many religions express “the hidden” Divine, the Great Mystery or Infinite Spirit.

Saint Hildegard juxtaposes Creator and Creatrix, depending upon what her visions are revealing to her. That said, it’s good to recall that Hildegard is always seeing through the lens of Medieval times and Catholic constructs, when she falls back on the patriarchal authoritarian model (i.e., males in charge); she can’t not do this, even though many of her visions seem to point her away from it … just as none of us can take our own selves out of the temporal framework in which we live. Newman says that,

“It is surely no accident that, while masculine imagery of the Creator tends to stress God’s transcendence, feminine metaphors place the accent on immanence. As [Creatrix], Hildegard’s Sapientia is no unmoved mover, ordering the universe from on high or even–like the Creator in contemporary paintings–molding the nascent world in almighty hands. On the contrary, she creates the cosmos by existing within it, her ubiquity expressed through the image of ceaseless or circular motion.”

What I appreciate about the above perspective is that both transcendence and immanence are valued; in a wholesome, holistic cosmological spirituality, we don’t have one without the other, but they are partners in the dance of life.

 

the human need to be “the only one”

We of the human species are unique in many ways, different from other species in our form and ways of constructing the world around us. All the Beings who exist in the more-than-human world are unique as well, each in their own ways. We can observe a lot of our differences, from external appearance to actions. What we cannot do, however, is know what any other species is thinking, feeling, or believing. We make guesses but we cannot know. This is one area that troubles me deeply about human ego.

cats on the porchI read widely across many genres of fiction and non-fiction, yet find myself curious as to why humans have such a tendency to proclaim that we know what other Beings perceive and conceptualize from within their inter-related experiences of living. I have lived intimately with dogs and cats for most of my life; I can try to guess what one of the blessed beings is thinking, but I cannot know their thoughts. Even people who have psychic gifts still process what they believe they are receiving from an animal or other natural Being, but it may not be entirely valid because they receive through their own context and human nature. This anthropocentric arrogance puzzles and, yes, annoys me.

It’s really very simple. You cannot know what I think, feel, or believe unless I tell you in some way, usually through human language. You can hazard a guess, especially if you know me well, but even in conversation or through writing, we can conceal or reveal only what we wish someone else to know. Why, then, would we presume to know what another species may be able to think, feel, or believe?

And yet, this presumption spills over into dialogue among people who ought to know better. For instance, this morning, I was listening to a podcast where the interviewer said, as if there could be no doubt:

It’s only human beings that have this curiosity to understand, ‘What’s that up in the sky? How do we fit into that? Who are we? Where do we come from?’

Really? Is that true? Maybe, maybe not. We have no way of knowing. Unless and until humans are able to converse with other Beings, we will never know. Let’s try not to keep putting ourselves in that special construct of creation that revolves around “it’s only human beings that [fill in the blank].” Let’s acknowledge our unknowing. Instead of saying “only human beings have [X]” let’s remove the “only” and allow our human qualities to express themselves on their own merit.

The Divine created all Life, all Beings, and only She knows the unseen landscape of each Being’s mind, soul, and spirit.

naked crooked tree early spring 2018

Do you wonder?

Do you ever wonder what a cave might feel when humans spelunk their way down into its deeper recesses?

Skotino Cave in Crete ARTISTO effects

the entrance to Skotino Cave in Crete

Let’s imagine you are snug in your bed at midnight during a cloudy, dark-moon night. All is silent and stygian in your bedroom, your sanctuary, your cave. You are dreaming worlds into potential being, sorting through complexities, allowing unnecessary detritus to be washed away so that new structures of life and relationships can be formed — perhaps a cave is doing this, too.

Then, a noise awakens you! Who is this intruder?

Would you hide deeper under the covers; would the cave’s walls recede oh so slightly? Would you leap up and confront the intruder; would the cave drop some rocks? Would you peek out from your covers and watch in curiosity as the intruder crashes into a side table or blunders up against a low hanging lamp? Would you be blinded by his bright light shone into your eyes? Would the soft scuffle of his shoes sound like gravel on a tin roof? Would you cry as the intruder breaks the antique vase your great-great-grandmother made before she emigrated? Would the cave cringe at the chaos of human intruders and weep at the destruction of delicate curly helictites that took thousands of years to create?

And what of those we call show caves? Can you imagine crowds of people walking through your home, pointing and gawking and touching, day after day, year after year for decades when you had been a hermit for a million years? What would you feel?

Maybe this isn’t something you’ve ever considered before, but can you imagine it? Perhaps we ought to approach Gaia in all her guises with more reverence?

More people are becoming aware these days of how little we understand when it comes to the living, breathing, sentient world around us. Shamans have always known and have been sharing their wisdom. Writers from the philosopher David Abram to the plant-spirit-healers Stephen Harold Buhner and Pam Montgomery to the myth-teller Martin Shaw all speak of how alive our landscape is and that we are witnessed by as much if not more than we observe.

Imagine you live in a land where magic travels beneath the earth in a vast maze of channels. Legends of lost treasure permeate the culture for somewhere below this very ground lives TildTe and many other mysterious beings. Pause and listen with the soles of your feet to the milk dripping from stalactite breasts; feel the pulse of aquifer currents hidden from view, sparkling with fantasies of dreams come true. Wonders are sensed as veins open into chambers of breathtaking beauty. These are places of deep transformation and sacredness.

Imagine walking with cautious step into a hillside to venerate an underground cathedral created a hundred thousand years ago for the sheer joy of creation. Imagine the journeys possible within the body of Gaia; we are inside her, she breathes us different here, sometimes as wind, other times as water. Here below is the Otherworld, where spirit roams unhindered by human construct or restriction. The treasure so many have sought, they could not see, for TildTe’s caves are an opportunity for our souls to embrace the hidden lace of our own frailties. Wriggle on your belly through a narrow channel until the clay oozes into every crevice of clothing and skin and then, suddenly, you feel as if you’re in outer space, nothing touching you, and a cavernous room has opened up around you, your light a meager ineffectual glimmer that has no chance of penetrating the darkness a short distance ahead. Trust comes ventilating through your aura and you stand, and step carefully, for with a single print you could destroy a treasure of inestimable worth and wonder that has taken thousands of years to create.

Simply the knowledge of what lies beneath us is enough to cause a bow of humility and gratitude.

Awen

purple tree cleft dec 2017Imagine all the voices

through which the Divine

speaks and sings

to us as we wander our choices

and pluck their strings.

She sprinkles notes of song-ly stardust

across Akashic parchment.

Our cells hum the ancestors and

our blood rushes to meet our soul’s past lives.

The owls hoot of darkness met and

the hind^ daintily whispers of what is yet — to come.

pine tree ghost together with ivy oak DEC 2017Dogs and cats murmur into our necks

melodies of tales of long forgotten treks,

while the pine needles burst with

scintillating lyrics of creations to make.

Her sacred voice is All. Awen.

“the Awen [is] the living energy that stands behind the form” *

_______________

*from Martin Shaw’s book Scatterlings

Mending

Grandma Quilt Flower Garden aMending this tattered human cloak made from particles of ancestral memories quilted together. Tiny stitches nearly invisible; colorful patches of flowers and the ears of cats lying in wait; embroidered whispers woven into the edges. Mending a life brings in past and welcomes future. This mending is a healing journey. No new clothes unworn; seek the softness of frayed memories upon skin and breathe in the stone-washed shimmer of a resilience not easily wrapped around bones and flesh. Goddess spoke to these women through the stains and strains of life. Like tangled roots reaching down into the hidden caves, the fingers of ancestors – old crooked knuckles move in rhythm with unlined plump digits – touch and soothe, plucking loose threads and darning raggedy connections, bringing the pieces together again.