Tag Archive | spirituality

Magic as Worship

I’ve been researching the interconnection of religion/spirituality, science, magic, and history — a fascinating journey! From Greek metaphysics to the mystics of the medieval era, from magic to the scientific revolution, from the Renaissance to the Reformation, I can finally see how their intricate philosophical and emotional dance is situated within human perception and the context within which people were/are living. Deborah Harkness, Professor of History and Author of the All Souls Trilogy (paranormal fiction), says in her recent interview:

“When I think about magic, I think of it as a form of almost faith or worship. But so is science.”

Exploring this has helped explain my own unique path that began with a Christian foundation and grew to encompass so much more of miracle, magic, and the Divine. Deb Harkness provides a beautiful overlook for this in her brief interview between colleagues.

 

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.

Who was she?

I’ve been interested in learning more about Hildegard of Bingen — a mystic, healer, composer, and abbess of several monasteries in 12th Century Germany — for many years, going back to the time more than a decade ago, when I heard that she used to drape sheets over flowers saturated with morning dew in order to then lay the healing essence-imbued sheets upon people who were ill. Because of a project I’m working on, I felt compelled to do so now — this is the time. I will be spending July immersed in Hildegard’s world of the Middle Ages.St Hildegard of Bingen meme card

Hildegard received visions from the Divine and was instructed to write them down and share them. For instance, she wrote the following about one of her visions:

“I heard a voice speaking to me: ‘The young woman whom you see is Love. She has her tent in eternity… It was Love which was the source of this creation in the beginning when God said: ‘Let it be!’ And it was. As though in the blinking of an eye, the whole creation was formed through love. The young woman is radiant in such a clear, lightning-like brilliance of countenance that you can’t fully look at her… She holds the sun and moon in her right hand and embraces them tenderly… The whole of creation calls this maiden ‘Lady.’ For it was from her that all of creation proceeded, since Love was the first. She made everything… Love was in eternity and brought forth, in the beginning of all holiness, all creatures without any admixture of evil. Adam and Eve, as well were produced by love from the pure nature of the Earth.”

There is much about Hildegard to admire, and to recognize that prior to the Reformation, Christian Divinity was viewed quite differently than it is now. Hildegard had a deeply relational experience of the Divine as spiritual experience, which included a profound connection to the sacredness of Mother Earth, as described here when she transcribed a voice speaking to her:

“I am the one whose praise echoes on high. / I adorn all the earth. / I am the breeze that nurtures all things green. / I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits. / I am led by the spirit to feed the purest streams. / I am the rain coming from the dew / that causes the grasses to laugh with the joy of life. / I call forth tears, the aroma of holy work. / I am the yearning for good.”

Hildegard speaks often of the “web of creation” and an intense “power of greening” and says that:

“It is written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord fills the Earth.’ This means that no creature, whether visible or invisible, lacks a spiritual life.”

I look forward to getting to know the unique woman who was Hildegard of Bingen.

Sisterhood

Brigid at Imbolc 2018On this holy day of Imbolc, a seasonal cycle dedicated to Brigid – whether one understands her as Goddess, Saint, or both – I find that someone else’s voice speaks my thoughts more clearly than I can in this moment, as she writes of Brigid’s Sisters:

“One of the wonderful things about practicing a Goddess-based spirituality is that she doesn’t demand monogamy–or, I should say, monotheism. Ours is not a jealous deity but an embracing one, with 10,000 aspects of powerful female divinity. Exploring these aspects allows you to connect to your own cultural roots as well as those that speak to you for reasons that remain a mystery–perhaps a past life, or perhaps just a need your soul has on its journey in this lifetime. The many goddesses provide doorways to understanding yourself, the world, and the cosmos. Just as women support each other as sisters, Brigid too has sisters among the goddesses–some by traditional associations and some by affinities of purpose.” ~ Lunaea Weatherstone in Tending Brigid’s Flame

This perspective is a simple, joyful one that is mirrored when I consider the women who are my friends and life-sisters. They are women I’ve grown up with in school and learned with through work, and been immersed with in spiritual practice; these reveal traditional associations. They are women I’ve met through rescuing animals and learning natural healing modalities; these express affinities of purpose. I also have sisters in the more-than-human world of dogs and cats, and know that those who have died are watching over me. I have unseen kindred spirits beyond the earthly realm and those who have touched my soul through their words in writing or on screen.

Brigid is Goddess of the hearth (homemaking, cooking, caring for those in her home), creative voice (poetry, writing, stories, song), and sacred space for healing (devotions, prayers, contemplation, solitude, sanctuary), just to name a few of her varied and wide-spread aspects. In hearth-keeping, for instance, she is sister to the Greek Hestia; in creative expression and learning, she is sister to the Hindu’s Saraswati; in temple and healing (including soul-healing), she is sister to Mawu.

Brigid has many sisters as do I.

I’ve received an abundance of blessings … I say grace …

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

Upon Hill, Within Forest

TildTe is the Crone Goddess of this fragment of the Ozarks. She strides out of the caves  or pushes up from the soil when the moon is dark, although she can wander for many days and nights above ground. Her bones are sharp chert and smooth stalagmite, and they are wrapped in the strong roots of oak and hickory. Her womb holds the waters of innumerable springs. She is the Spirit of the hills and so is ever leaning forward or backward, and she avoids the bottoms which are the domain of her sister. Her hair is a tangled nest of wild grape vines woven together with daisies and clove currant. Her cloak is verdant moss stitched together by pine needles and her skirt is a patchwork of various leaves dependent upon the season. She smells of stardust and hummus, feels like grandmother’s embrace, and has a voice that sounds like deer prints upon fall leaves at dawn. Sometimes TildTe is small enough to ride the backs of silver squirrels as they leap from the highest branches; other times she is the giant with a full grown black bear tagging at her heels like an unweaned puppy. She could be standing outside your doorway right now. There she is! Blessed Be!