Saturday, December 22, 2012

The two Mary's

People who share the same name can at times seem mysteriously connected to each other. And when we encounter these ‘twinned’ names in secret traditions, we can take it as a signal that something more is intended than mere coincidence. We know the Christ by the name of Jesus, but to his contemporaries his name was Yeshua – which in Hebrew is the same name as Joshua, who inherited the leadership from Moses. And the two women of the Gospels who so obviously share a name are Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Mary, the Magdalene. But surely these two women could not be more contrasting, more unlike each other? For the one is blessed by the Divine as an immaculate virgin, and the other is cast by the Church as a common prostitute – a redeemed whore.

Neither of these epithets are actually accurate (although why they are not is perhaps a post for my blog for another time!). For the last two millennia Mary Magdalene has perhaps been the most wronged woman in all of human history. If we now see the Magdalene in her rightful form, not as the whore, which is how the Church has chosen to portray her, but as the most enlightened of all the disciples and even as the equal partner of Jesus, then we restore her at last to her rightful place. And when this restoration has found place, then the two Mary's can stand beside each other. When this happens then they can in the eyes of esoteric philosophy and the secret teachings bring about the supreme event. For then the two Mary's can become one. The virgin and the whore unite in one being to become the virgin whore.

But the virgin whore has already existed, for this is one of the titles given to the Babylonian goddess Ishtar. Ishtar, who invites us to overcome these contradictory koans of her titles and so enter the greater mysteries. But Ishtar is herself a continuous goddess who changes forms and names according to the culture in which she finds herself. So she has been both Ishtar and Isis and Astarte and Asherah, and she will become anew another incarnation in our own age with the uniting of the two Mary's. Thus the virgin-whore both survives and endures and speaks to us throughout history. As I mention in my previous post (Star of the Sea), the goddess is more powerful than any one doctrine. In describing the Magdalene as a whore (which the Gospels never actually do), the Church has perhaps been unknowingly fulfilling the true purpose of the goddess.

And perhaps all that it takes to unite the two Mary’s is our own awakening awareness of these traditions, and to realize that what had seemed to us to be two separate and individual women are in fact merely two aspects of the one goddess. 

Painting: Mary Magdalene by Carlo Dolci

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Mind and Spirit

Leonardo da Vinci - geometric and botanical figures

Everywhere around us in our human world – even within the same person – we see the interplay between the mind and the spirit. It is a constant dance between the ego, which demands attention, which creates the world of forms, and the spirit, which seeks rest and stillness, which yearns for the divine at the centre around which all forms circle. We tend to think of the mind as masculine, and the spirit as feminine, and to a large extent this generalization holds true. The masculine Mind quests after the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ in life, while the feminine Spirit strives to reconcile. Simply put: men (the Mind) ‘do’ and women (the Spirit) ‘are’.

But as often as not (and as we well know!) things are not in balance. The strident ego-Mind struts around. Subjugation is what it is really after. The Mind seeks to impose itself on things, because really it is rather insecure, and all that strutting around is just a way of disguising its own insecurity from itself – perhaps because in its innermost self, Mind knows that it is largely illusion, and that those many separate forms only exist because it thinks them. It needs the soothing touch of Spirit to reassure it that all is well.

And Spirit can fall out of balance as well: if Spirit listens too much to Mind, then it too can begin to feel insecure. If Mind tells Spirit such negative things as ‘Without me you are nothing’, or ‘You are no good’ or ‘You are not worth it’ often enough, then as night follows day Spirit will start to believe it. We can all recognize such situations, both in those we know, and within ourselves.

But also in the world around us, and which we all share, when Mind asserts itself too much and dominates Spirit, then we see our world as it is now: aggressive, dominating, always greedy for more of whatever it decides that it needs or must have, for reasons of status, wealth – or yet more dominance, perhaps in the form of political victory, or disputes over territory, or for some other reason which the ego demands of itself and of others.

So when either Mind or Spirit is out of balance, the other suffers. In our present world it is so tragically clear that Mind has dragged Spirit out of balance. For too long – literally for millennia – in so many spheres of human endeavour, Mind has demanded of Spirit that it play a subservient, submissive role, whether that has been in politics, in religion, or even at time in the arts. Recognition of this state of affairs is the first step to putting things back into balance. But the objective is not for Spirit now to ‘take its turn at the wheel’, for that would only turn Spirit into Mind. The objective is for Spirit and Mind to stand in their own right, to seek a balance with each other, and for each to recognize the value of the other, and what each can truly offer the other.

This process can begin inside each of us. That we each become, as it were, a little bit androgynous in the purest sense of the term. That we each seek the balance within ourselves. That we become both acting, ‘doing’ individuals, and still listen to our inner guide, the wise voice of our own spirit. Then the world around us will follow us, and change with us. 


Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Door

The Door

How long have I journeyed to come this far?
Nine months? A thousand years? Longer?
There is no way of knowing
for time is only created by my moving through it.
Behind me there is no time;
only a past with no past
lying silent, abandoned
reaching back with questing fingertips
to the first spark of creation.
And the light which I see ahead – is that the future?
But how could the future be so bright, so glorious?
I feel afraid for what might come
for such glory only comes with sorrow
and the praise of angels
is the same song as their lament
and my last yesterday will be the world's first tomorrow.
I move onwards in spite of myself
for I am the irresistible force
which has been gathering itself through the ages
and my first breath shall be my last
and my sorrow shall be my glory
and my pain shall be the soft sigh of angels’ wings
rustling with quiet redemption
as the world tells my story.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Star of the Sea

Stella Maris – Star of the Sea. This mystical title given to the Virgin Mary portrays her as standing like a beacon miraculously among the waves on the curling sea foam, and is believed to date as far back as the 9th-century. But to discover the true origins of this image we need to broaden the search – and our own horizons – towards more ancient seas, and to remember that the Goddess has many faces.   

The Goddess endures. She is more powerful than any attempts to confine her to any one doctrine, and she changes both her form and her name as she adapts to circumstances. She has been elevated to become the principal icon of the Catholic Church, for the Church is itself the unwitting servant of the Goddess. To see her in another form we need look no further than that familiar icon, not of religion, but of art: Botticelli’s famous Birth of Venus. Emerging gracefully from the sea foam, Venus is herself the Roman version of the Ancient Greek Aphrodite, who is always associated with the sea which gave her birth. 

So our quest after the Star has already brought us to Ancient Greece. Can we journey back even further? The Babylonian goddess Ishtar is also linked to a star – or at least, what the Ancients thought of as a star, but which we know to be a planet, a ‘wandering star’. Ishtar was absorbed into Greek culture as Astarte, who in turn became Aphrodite/Venus. The morning and the evening star are both the planet Venus, and the ancients saw Ishtar as being graced with both a five-pointed and an eight-pointed star. The five-pointed star is now familiar to us as the pentagram, but where does the eight-pointed star come from? The Babylonians observed the heavens meticulously, and they must have noted that the planet Venus seems to follow a path through the heavens that traces out a five-pointed pathway – over exactly an eight-year period. So Ishtar has her star. But what of the sea?  

The old Testament’s Book of Jeremiah mentions a goddess described as the Queen of Heaven – the goddess Asherah, who in ancient times was known as the ‘Lady of the sea’, or ‘She who treads on the sea’. Asherah was the consort of Yahweh, in the time before Judaism became monotheistic in its beliefs, and although the attempts to obliterate the goddess from scripture were largely successful, we can still catch glimpses of her in Jeremiah’s phrase – and also in the opening words of Genesis, which in the original Hebrew literally read: “In the beginning the gods created the heavens and the earth.” 

At the beginnings of civilization Mesopotamian clay tablets record the appearance of a brightly-shining light in the heavens – what we now know to be a supernova, an exploding star. Apparently this light was so bright that it was visible during the hours of daylight. And it made its sudden and dramatic appearance low down on the eastern horizon, which is where it stayed. To the dwellers overlooking what is now the Persian Gulf it would have appeared as if this star was emerging from the sea, and these ancient cultures do feature deities which came out of the sea. Even in Ancient Egypt, the title given to Horus, the child of Isis and Osiris, was ‘Horus-on-the-Horizon’. This spectacular heavenly event apparently had a great impact on human awareness, and much in the way of culture and learning began at that time, almost as if this stellar appearance had triggered something in the human imagination.

Stella Maris – Star of the Sea. This icon of both the church, of art, and of human culture takes us right back to the very dawn of civilization, and continues to surface in whatever form the Goddess finds appropriate to communicate with us. And what of Mary? Her true  origins are in her very name, for Mary is derived from ‘Mare’, meaning ‘The Sea’.     

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Winter Rose

The Winter Rose

Flowering, immaculate,
the winter rose grows within you.
Your soul, marvelling, articulates its form.
But hush..
wait just awhile
enclose within you
the soft breath of the merciful divine..
and a light will be lit that never dims.
By day it illumines your acts
by night, your dreams.
Feel how the divine love enfolds you.
Rest now secure in her arms
while your angel spreads its wings
above the rose in blessing.

Painting The Visitation by M. Albertinelli

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Tear and a Smile

I would not exchange the sorrows of my heart for the jubilees of the masses, nor would I grant that the tears that flow from my parts, engulfed in gloom, be turned into burgeoning laughter. I would but for my life to remain a tear and a smile: a tear that would purify my heart and make me to understand life's hidden meanings and ambiguities, and a smile that brings me nearer to my kin and becomes my symbol for the worship of the gods; a tear with which to join the crushed of heart in solidarity, and a smile that becomes a visible token of my joy in existence.

Sooner would I perish of longing than live in dullness! Would that the depths of my soul be consumed by an eternal, unappeasable appetite for love and beauty. For I have looked all around and seen that those who are satisfied are the most wretched of all people, and are enslaved by their own earthiness. I have heard the burning sighs of unrequited love and I have found them sweeter than love satisfied.

As evening approaches, the rose folds its petals and sleeps in the embrace of her yearnings. But with the approach of the morn, she parts her lips to receive the kiss of the sun. For the life of a flower is a longing and a fulfillment, a tear and a smile.

The sea's waters become vapor and rise, gathering into a cloud. The cloud floats above the hills and the valleys until it meets a gentle breeze and then it falls, weeping towards the fields. Only then does it join the running streams and return to the sea, its home and origin. The life of a cloud is a separation and a union, a tear and a smile.

And so is it for the spirit. The individual spirit becomes separated from the greater spirit and sojourns in the world of matter, a wandering cloud over the mountains of sorrow and the plains of joy, until it meets the subtle breeze of death. The spirit thus sojourns until it returns to its origin; to the Greater Sea of Love and Beauty; to God!

~ Kahlil Gibran; from A Tear and a Smile, 1914.

Photograph: Denis Roussel

Sunday, December 2, 2012



On the threshold,
for the golden light
that desires to mirror itself
in my heart.
is silence.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Lobster Pot

We are both crossing over the small canal bridge that divides our residential district from the nature park where we walk our dog. There down in the water something catches our eye, murky yellow and plastic at the bottom of the canal. We take a closer look. It is a lobster pot. Someone had stood on the bridge and lowered it into the water, hoping for a catch - and that someone, whoever it was, was not going to be disappointed. Inside the pot, testing the bars of its plastic prison with its antennae, is a small brown river lobster.

Slowly the small lobster circles around, checking every crevice of the pot for a way out. But for we who were staring down at it, the way out is plain to see: the large open hole in the top of the yellow plastic weave was the way it went in, and that circular hole also is the way to freedom. So simple, and so impossible. For such pots are of course designed specifically with the intelligence level of the average lobster in mind. And lobsters cannot figure the way out, however obvious that route seems to us. We watch the lobster's efforts. At times it is as close to freedom as the length of its own short tail. But it stays trapped. We leave the animal to it's fate. It is beyond our reach anyway, and this simple but effective prison, with no keys and an open door, holds it as secure as a maximum security wing.

At times we all find ourselves in that lobster pot. Like the lobster, we might circle around, but being right in the situation, we miss the opening that would lead to freedom. The way out of our situation that might be so painfully obvious to those who care for our welfare is passed over by us in our despair, and we remain a prisoner of circumstances. Perhaps that prison takes the form of a physically abusive partner, or, in some ways perhaps equally insidiously, a partner who encourages us in a thousand subtle ways to imagine that we have all the freedom in the world. But freedom can be illusory. In reality that partner, slowly, and step by silent step, ensures our dependence upon them. 

There is a further kind of lobster pot in which we might find ourselves. That is the one in which we actually can see the opening - in which we can see the way out as plain as anything. But for any number of reasons, we choose to stay right where we are. What stops us seeking freedom might be fear - fear of the partner, fear of the unknown world outside the pot, fear of losing the security which the pot appears to offer, however confined its space. And it is that very factor of security whose influence on our thinking can be as effective as any bunch of warder's keys. We might decide that a partner who provides for a comfortable living is a reasonable trade-off against that partner's infidelity - or against a love whose well has gone dry. And so we stay in the pot, even when the opening is in plain sight.

So is foregoing the simple freedom to live our lives as we feel we should, or as we feel that we are meant to, the price which we pay for living inside our particular lobster pot, whatever form that pot might take? As often as not, it probably is. We settle down to a life of captivity and become someone else's version of us. Freedom, if it comes at all, might come too late for us to know what to do with it when finally we hold that freedom in our hands. We have become conditioned to captivity.

But the outcome is not always either a convenient or a happy one. The situation known to us personally, and which has been on our mind while we have been writing this post, ended tragically, in a death. A prison is still a prison, however comfortable we are made to feel inside it. Sometimes the loss of our freedom comes with other compensations which make it more-or-less agreeable. But sometimes it comes at a very high price indeed.

Painting by Edward Robert Hughes

Sunday, November 25, 2012


Photograph: Edward S. Curtis


These days, when I look
At the others of my people,
At the others in the village,
I see that everyone
Is younger than me,
Even the council elders.

Sometimes they ask me,
‘Mother, how old are you?
You must be as old as the Earth!’
And then I smile
Because it is not true.
I am older than that -
Much older.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


The spiral weaves the winding path
the dance begins with sacred tread
from field and meadow, home and hearth
the feet are led.

They gather on the cold hillside
in winter silence, winter sun
they dance along the winding form
they dance alone, they dance as one.

All seasons flow into the earth
all seasons flow into the land
they dance through lives
they dance through time
and each beginning is an end.

But endless is the winding path
and timeless are the feet that tread
and silent is the loving earth
on the lone hillside.

Artwork by Valerianna - RavenWood Forest - Massachusetts

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Annunciation ~ Words of the Angel

You are not nearer God than we;
he's far from everyone.
And yet your hands most wonderfully
reveal his benison.
From woman's sleeves none ever grew
so ripe, so shimmmeringly:
I am the day, I am the dew,
you, Lady, are the Tree.

Pardon now my long journey's done,
I had forgot to say
what he who sat as in the sun,
grand in his gold array,
told me to tell you, pensive one
(space has bewildered me).
I am the start of what's begun,
you, Lady, are the Tree.

I spread my wings out wide and rose,
the space around grew less;
your little house quite overflows
with my abundant dress.
But still you keep your solitude
and hardly notice me:
I'm but a breeze within the wood,
you, Lady, are the Tree.

The angels tremble in their choir,
grow pale, and seperate:
never were longing and desire
so vague and yet so great.
Something perhaps is going to be
that you perceived in dream.
Hail to you! for my soul can see
that you are ripe and teem.

You lofty gate, that any day
may open for our good:
you ear my longing songs assay,
my word - I know now -  lost its way
in you as in a wood.

And thus your last dream was designed
to be fulfilled by me.
God looked at me: he made me blind....

You, Lady, are the Tree

- Rainer Maria Rilke

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Golden Cell

The Golden Cell

Here there is gold:
not the far sparks of stars in the darkness
but the coursing golden rivers of my veins
so wide that were you to stand on one bank
you would not see to the farther shore.

For here in the alchemy of my cell
distance is unexpected:
reaching outwards
then curving back inwards upon itself
only to extend outwards once more
to far night-blue horizons:
an ebb and flow of infinite space.

I wait in the stillness of my being
I wait in silence for her approach
I know that she will find me.
For in spite of everything
nothing to her is ever lost.

I wait, silent and unmoving.
I wait with eyes closed
against the golden dark
knowing that I must not see her.
For in spite of everything
I know that she is shy.

I wait with lips closed in silence
I wait to hear the soft rustle
of approaching wings
in the golden darkness
journeying from beyond
the night-blue horizons
of my closed eyes

I wait to feel
the merest breath of wings unfolded
upon my face.

Then I will know that she is close:
close enough quietly to whisper
that all is well
and all shall be well
on the night-blue horizons
of my golden cell.

Painting: The Golden Cell by Odilon Redon

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


Each of us carries within ourselves both darkness and light. As we know so well, accepting both is not always easy, but understanding the nature of these contrasts can help. Sophia – Wisdom – as a dynamic creative force, is the first emanation from the Unknowable. In the beginning of all things, the cosmos needed that ‘x-factor’ to make things happen. Sophia, bursting with creative dynamism, provided that extra something which was needed. Out of Sophia’s dynamic energy darkness and chaos were born – but these were not negative values. Rather, they were the fertile grounds from which all else could flow – including light and order.

Great truths go on being true. We are mirrors of the cosmos, and so Sophia’s energy continues to exist inside us. It offers us the opportunity to recognize our own darkness for the dynamic force which it truly is. But more than this: it offers us the chance for redemption. This is not the redemption which requires supreme sacrifice. This is not the redemption which demands a crucifixion to make it happen. This is the deep redemption which comes with an awareness of the true value of our darkness, as a quality which, when recognized for what it truly is and given it true place, will set our inner light free.

For without first embracing our darkness, we cannot reach that ‘turning point’ in our own inner labyrinth (see my previous post The Winding Path). Without the experience of the turning point, we will be reaching for the light, but we will remain in shadow – and that shadow is our own.

This is what my picture here portrays. Kahlil Gibran’s painting shows a man in a pose which we readily identify with crucifixion. But the woman in front of him in turn raises her own arms, placing her hands on his outstretched arms in a gesture which makes it clear that she wishes him to lower his arms. Gibran portrays the deepest truth. As long as the man's arms are raised in the position of crucifixion it remains impossible for him to embrace the woman: impossible for him to embrace that feminine part of himself which is the dynamic wisdom of Sophia. For with this embrace comes an awareness and a development of the dynamic forces at work within us, and the self-knowledge which comes with this acceptance. And this is the true redemption. 

Painting by Kahlil Gibran

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Light and Dark

 "The Natural Law is a spiritual law. Its powers are both light and dark." 
~ Oren R. Lyons, Spokesman Traditional Circle of Elders 

Darkness as the true source of light is in ancient mysticism a given, but in most spiritual and New Age circles considered to be the wrong approach, for only 'light' is what matters, and talking about darkness is considered to be only an attempt by the ego to keep you away from the light.

Within the Christian church the emphasis is usually placed on the striving to ascend towards the light. 
But as the myth of Icarus shows, it is the inevitable fate of those who reach for the spiritual light, that in the end they fall back to earth again. In other words: the more we go into the direction of the light, the longer the shadows become that we cast behind us. The road to the source seems therefore not up towards the light, but down into the darkness. One might even say that the darkness, when approached with caution, becomes the most powerful spiritual instrument. Which, of course, is a metaphysical point of view. 

The physical reality however, shows that the total light in the material universe is a mere 0.6%, the rest being darkness in some form, and this might seem to us as indicating that the universe is out of balance as regards the distribution of light and darkness. But it is equally possible that the balance is perfectly kept in another way, if we consider that, what Mother Meera called the Paramatma light, is beyond what we normally perceive and this normally non-visible light permeates the cosmos and provides all the balance necessary with the physical darkness that we see when we look out into space.

This might indicate that things only seem out of balance, because we have been concentrating on the purely material; and darkness, in so many mindsets in our own time, is seen as something negative and not as a quality of creative potential.

Spritual seekers from many ancient traditions - Celtic, Eastern, Indian, Tibetan and African - have treated the darkness as a dynamic instrument for spiritual enlightenment.
The literal definition of the word Shaman is 'he or she who sees in the dark'. The shaman would say that there is no such thing as darkness, only an incapacity to truly see. This is also how it is described in A Course of Miracles: the darkness itself is healing and the experience that one gets when entering, offers us the (new) possibility to renew and experience ourselves, although our lives' work in the light will from then on never be easy any more.
Western mystics also recognized the importance and the power of darkness, as John of the Cross spoke of "the dark light". Well known is his poem "Dark night of the soul".

"There are some characteristics that are evident in the system which the Creator made. He made balance, harmony, and polarity. In other words, every (+) plus has a (-) minus. Every positive has a negative; every up has a down; every problem has a solution. 
The Spiritual Law is the same - it has light and dark. Both are good, so both need to be honored. Lessons can be learned on both sides. 
Great Spirit, teach me the powers of the Natural Laws." 

Oren R. Lyons, Spokesman Traditional Circle of Elders

Thursday, November 1, 2012


"I go towards my likeness
And my likeness goes towards me. 
SHe embraces me and holds me close
As if I had come out of prison."

Manichean prayer

When we use the term soulmates what do we really mean? Because what the term means is experienced differently by different people. And yet there do seem to be common threads of experience that help us to define the term. When we meet someone with whom we feel an instant and unmistakable affinity we might feel love but sometimes it can feel to us as if it comes from an even deeper level. This level is beyond even the level of the heart and feels to us as if it breaches into our soul. Even though we might only have known that person for a few moments we feel both that the time has been for far longer and outside of time, that time has no real relevance. We feel then that the person belongs not only in our heart but also in our soul.

But this begs a further question: where does this feeling come from? If it comes from beyond the heart, beyond time, do we perhaps wonder if we feel such an immediate familiarity with that person, could it be because they already are familiar to us? Have we indeed met that person before? Have we indeed known them through time and over other lifetimes? Whether this is so or not, it can certainly be the feeling which such encounters give us. 

A true contact with a person whom we feel to be our soulmate is not a common thing. If we are lucky, very lucky,  it might happen once or twice in a whole lifetime. And when such an encounter happens, it can be so emotionally overwhelming that we also feel that to ignore such a powerful signal is somehow against the laws of nature, and that if we ignore it, we do so with a consequence which can only damage ourselves.

We can wonder what purpose is served by these rare encounters. Perhaps they are intended to provide us with experiences we further need, but in such situations again we feel that our soul knows more than we do anyway, and so we willingly allow ourselves to be guided by the knowledge which our own soul seems to have about the situation, and so we surrender.

It could well be that it is because such contacts are on a deep soul level that explains why they can be beyond the physical. A physical relationship might be a consequence when that soul level is also felt with the heart, but the soul not being part of the physical body does not necessarily need this aspect of a relationship for two people to feel complete and fulfilled with each other.

The very word itself - 'soulmate' - is the clearest indication that such a relationship has already passed beyond the physical world, and such encounters bring a sense of joy and wonder because none of the extra baggage which comes with the physical realm is necessary. Our true selves as beings of the spirit is confirmed.

Painting (detail) by Evellyn de Morgan

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Winding Path

The winding paths of labyrinths fascinate us, and seem to pull us into their mysterious patterns. Following their paths carries us to their heart, whether those paths can be traced with a moving finger (as with the engraved labyrinth on a column in San Martino cathedral) or are large enough to be walked around (as with the famous labyrinth set into the floor of Chartres cathedral). But what was the original significance of these patterns?

The labyrinth is an archetype. It is a tangible metaphor for one’s own spiritual journey through the winding pathway of one’s life. The point of building a labyrinth, as emphasized in myths and dances, was always about a process of initiation. When you walk a labyrinth, you follow a single circuitous path winding inwards and out again in one direction. The way to the centre of the labyrinth leads to the experience of the turning point. Without this turning point it is impossible to leave the labyrinth.

In Ancient Greek Asklepieions - sanatoria founded on the healing principles of Hippocrates - the labyrinth had an essential function as part of the healing process. Then as now the philosophy was that the true essence of initiation into the hidden knowledge is knowledge of the Self. In order to achieve this knowledge, one first has to meet one's lesser self, one's personality. And so, after the patient had gone through the first three phases of treatment in the Asklepieion, he was brought into trance by way of a dance of progression through the labyrinth. The parts of his being - his physical, etheric and astral bodies - had already been  'loosened up' during the first three phases. Now his spiritual core - his 'I' or self - became the crux of the therapeutic process.

And while the person snaked on to the sounds of solemn music, approaching the centre of the labyrinth in a meditative follow-up of steps, the dancers saw specific images appear before their mind's eye. Then they would become aware that they saw, not just the labyrinth of their surroundings, but the labyrinth of their own life-walk. The catharsis comes with the discovery that they did not lose themselves in the labyrinth, but instead found their own inner selves. In the labyrinth we do not meet the Minotaur - we meet ourselves. Only through the purifying effectiveness of the catharsis do the inner transformations become possible, which, according to Jung, is always considered a profound religious experience. 

When we walk the labyrinth, we are engaging not just our senses, but our whole bodies, our physical selves. And so walking the labyrinth becomes a form of prayer which is prayed, not just with the mind, but with the whole being. It is this physical involvement which the labyrinth demands of us that becomes a form of ‘body prayer’, allowing the process of the turning point to become a real and vivid experience.

But even a physical labyrinth need not be necessary  to achieve the experience which a labyrinth has to offer. For life itself is a labyrinth, a winding path which all of  us tread, and ultimately it is up to us all individually to what extend we choose to make that experience a conscious one.

Desire change. Be enthusiastic for that flame
in which a thing escapes your grasp
while it makes a glorious display of transformation.
That designing Spirit, the master mind of all things on earth
loves nothing so much in the sweeping movement of the dance
as the turning point.

Rainer Maria Rilke

Sunday, October 28, 2012

With the Wild Winds

On her recent visit my five year-old granddaughter told me that she had learned a song which she would like to sing to me. Full of confidence, she launched herself into this little song, both simple in the truth of its message, and charming in the directness of its words. Translated it goes like this:

Now I'm going my own way
fearlessly and far away
I might come back, but it won't be soon
I'll see where the pathway winds

Over valley, over hill 
wandering always, wandering still 
under the sun and under the moon
with the wild winds 

And in Dutch:

Nu ga ik mijn eigen gang

ik ga ver weg ik ben niet bang
ik zie wel waar ik heen zal gaan
ik zal de weg wel vinden

Over bergen over dalen

moet ik lopen moet ik dwalen
onder de zon en onder de maan
met de wilde winden

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A River has Many Voices

A river has many voices. Swiftly bubbling along and skipping over the stones in its early course, then growing more sonorous and contemplative along the more mature meanders of the plain. But these different voices are the same river. And in time those waters which reach the sea will evaporate, and in this transformed state will make a further sky journey to be returned to the source once more. 

It is a slow exhaling and inhaling of creative breath, as with the source of creative motherly Wisdom. Out of her longing for unity this motherly Wisdom stands at the source of every creation. But to achieve unity once more, creation must necessarily first pass through a condition of duality, and from duality to multiplicity. The One, in contemplating herself, becomes Two, and from Two all the multiple forms of creation flow forth. Wisdom initiates movement – and yet Wisdom herself remains still. The true act of creation is in harmony with nature, but more than this, it is nature, it is as organic as the flowing of the many-voiced river, as the flames dancing in forest darkness, as the changing clouds, or as the wind blowing streamers of sand over the crests of desert dunes.

All these forms have their own voices – even when to our ears they are silent.  But little by little, if only we open ourselves to the many voices of the river, we will hear the murmurings from its source.    

Monday, October 22, 2012

Like the Sun and the Moon

"One ought not to know", he said, "but one ought to be".
I was pondering about this for a while. Suddenly a certainty rose inside me: 'If one can be, then it cannot be overlooked that we will discover that at some stage."
"That is true", he said, 'but this is a different kind of knowing than the knowing that you are so fond of lately. There is a lot of knowing that one can obtain independently of the fact of how one simply is - that is... if the brains are working okay! That kind of knowing can be crammed together in the container of the brains and give us plenty of useful information and pleasure. But there is also a kind of knowing that comes into existence because our 'being' permeates into our consciousness. In this kind of knowing lies a great clarity, which is of a different nature to the intellect. This clarity does not resolve intellectual riddles, nor will the clarity of intellect ever have an answer to the unsayable and the inescapable - what the people mean by the 'eternal questions'. There is no struggle between these two clarities. They are like the sun and the moon. Yes, that's how it is, for even if the moon is at her brightest, she would dim if the sun were not there. No, there never can be a conflict between the clarity of thought and the inner clarity that follows from Being."
"Inner clarity", I said, "sometimes I think that I knew it once - long ago."

Drawn from: Olsen's Foolishness, by Johannes Anker Larsen (1874-1957), Danish author and mystic.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Water Mother

I breath the waves;
my age is measured 
in their rise and fall.
But old as I am 
there was a time before even I existed.

In that time, 
in that world of cracked raw rock, 
there was no water
and no life,
for life could not begin without me.
For a time that seemed forever
all remained dry.
But when the rains began, they fell 
for a time that seemed forever,
and in their falling 
was my beginning.

O Mare Creatrix!
Beloved daughter of my heart’s mysteries
whom I have enfolded in my depths forever,
this pain that you bear is a passing thing;
the sign of a soul overwhelmed by wonder.

Soon you will understand everything.
You will number without effort
the times that my waves rise and fall
in a thousand years.
You will describe perfectly
the traceries of my changing currents,
both as they are now
and as they will become
in an undreamed future.

Part of you has always longed for this.
Part of you has always known 
all that you are about to learn:
a memory recovered in the silence
between two waves,
in the silence
between two lives.