Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Inner Feminine

Sophia, who, personifying the wisdom of the soul, brings the deepest meaning of the Self into our everyday life. Sufis are known as “God’s spies” for they see into the hearts of people where the real mystery and meaning are hidden. Ibn ‘Arabi described Sophia as “an image raising its head from the secrecy of the heart.” She connects us with our own divine nature and so allows us to see the inner purpose hidden within everything. Within all of creation is a hidden message reminding us of our real home, for everything - every leaf and stone - sings the song of its creator. 

Through her ears we can hear this sublime song, through her eyes we can see the face of Divinity reflected in every sky and every street. Her greatest wisdom is the way that she beckons us into the beyond. In her highest emanation she is the Divine Sophia, the feminine aspect of the Higher Self. Our union with her is a merging into our own mystery:

Dearly Beloved!

I have called you so often and you have not heard me.
I have shown myself to you so often and you have not seen me.
I have made myself fragrance so often, and you have not smelled me,
Savorous food, and you have not tasted me.

Why can you not reach me through the object you touch
Or breathe me through sweet perfumes?
Why do you not see me? Why do you not hear me?
Why? Why? Why?

For you my delights surpass all other delights,
And the pleasure I procure you surpasses all other pleasures.
For you I am preferable to all other good things,
I am Beauty, I am Grace.

Love me, love me alone.
Love yourself in me, in me alone.
Attach yourself to me,
No one is more inward than I.
Others love you for their own sakes,
I love you for yourself.
And you, you flee from me.

Dearly beloved!
You cannot treat me fairly,
For if you approach me,
It is because I have approached you.

I am nearer to you than yourself,
Than your soul, than your breath.
Who among creatures
Would treat you as I do?
I am jealous of you over you,
I want you to belong to no other,
Not even to yourself.
Be mine, be for me as you are in me,
Though you are not even aware of it.

Dearly beloved!
Let us go toward Union.
And if we find the road
That leads to separation,
We will destroy separation.
Let us go hand in hand.
Let us enter the presence of Truth.
Let it be our judge
And imprint its seal upon our union
For ever.


from: "Catching the Thread" by Llewellyn-Vaughn-Lee, published by The Golden Sufi Center

Painting: Divine Light by Arild Rosenkrantz

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Ocean Murmurs

In the light where you stand
There are no boundaries
between you and me;
only the white wakes
that mark the course 
of wandering seafarers:
lines all too soon erased
by my journeying waves.

My waves dashed and roared
as ashore you built your dreams
of fire and of pain
as at night you sang your songs
of sorrow and of gain.

I am a cradle of waves
for the one who dreams,
a mirror for the one who dives
and sees her own face
reflected in my own.
And my shells sing the stories
of these two faces
and these two lives:
the one who dreams
and the one who dives.

Listen, just listen
to the ocean’s voice
which is the only voice
through which I can speak to you
which is the only voice
through which you can hear me.

Lay your head on my shore
and take your time
take all the time you need
just lay your head on my shore
and hear my waves break
bringing you far stories 
with their murmurings.

Let me caress you, calm you
as the soft breathing of my waves
shifts the thin line of foam
from ebb to flow
giving light back to your face.

And the waves break
as the ocean breathes
and my shells speak
of ages past and an age begun
when the light and the mirror 
and the dream and the dreamer
are one.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Veiled Goddess

In the west of the Nile Delta in the times of the Pharaohs was a sacred centre called Sais. In the heart of the centre stood a temple, and in the courtyard of this temple stood a statue of the goddess. Engraved upon the statue’s plinth was this mysterious description: “I am all that has been, all that is and all that will be, and no mortal has raised my veil.”

The Greek writer Plutarch, who tells us of this inscription, further tells us that the statue was that of Isis, although the centre is now known to have been dedicated to a more ancient goddess known as Neith. The goddess Neith had associations with weaving and the loom, and this powerful creator goddess was said to have used her loom to weave the world into existence. The power of Neith was therefore not so much that she could create, but that she could create without the need of a god. Neith was complete unto herself.

It was Neith who gave birth to the life-giving sun, Ra the great, who went on to create all things in the world. Ra is so powerful, so glorious, that even now we know that we cannot look directly at his face for too long without risking damage to our eyesight. But what of Neith? The mysterious inscription tells us that no mere human has raised her veil. Is the inscription a warning? Would the sight of the face of this goddess be too overwhelming for us to bear?

This idea is echoed in the Greek myth of Semele, the mortal woman who begged mighty Zeus to reveal his face to her. The god obliged, and Semele was struck dead on the spot. But is this idea what is also intended for Neith? The fact that feminine Neith is a goddess, not a god, seems somehow to alter the picture. In the nineteenth century Neith became a favoured subject for artists who, surrounded by the growing advances of the time in science, interpreted the subject of lifting the veil of Neith as uncovering the secrets of the natural world. In this interpretation, each new discovery of science was lifting the veil of Neith just that little bit farther. It is science that is raising the veil of the goddess! But is it?

Gnosticism, which itself is steeped in such mystic ideas, suggests that there are two different kinds of mysteries: there is the kind of mystery that might not be known to us now, but will in time come to be known. But there is also a more powerful kind of mystery: the kind that by its very nature is mysterious, that always will remain an unknown. The inscription on the statue of Neith clearly tells us that the goddess is eternal, that she is beyond time. She is “all that has been, all that is and all that will be.” These are things that no mortal can know. We cannot know of things which are yet to come. We cannot raise the veil of the future. 

The veil of wise Neith remains lowered. Her features always will be hidden from us, and for that we should be grateful. In refusing to lift her veil the goddess has given us a precious gift. We cannot know what is to come, and so we must learn to live in trust.

Sculpture  Le Souvenir by Marius Jean Antonin Mercié, 1885, detail