Level 4 : Elective Service
I hesitate to give more than a sketch, just a few pointers, to working at this level, as I have a sense that many of those who reach it will be better equipped than I, and will have their own guidance about what to do.
But I can say just a few things.........
Every individual human being is unique – we each have a unique evolutionary history – so we each have something to contribute to the whole – we each matter........ There is value in our difference.
We have many things in common – propensities to love and to squabble – to have differences of opinion and a tendency to fall out over them.
But if we have sufficient ADAB – ‘gentillesse’ is Chaucer’s word for this kind of spiritual generosity – we can overcome these differences. Living with tolerance and acceptance side by side, we can learn from one another, cross-fertilising our creativity by friendly exchange and delighting in novelty.
This has been rare in history because of the imbalance that developed between the Masculine and the Feminine; with the Feminine even being demonised and pushed right out of the picture by triumphant misogyny.
Because one became dominant and the other subservient many things were pushed out of balance
Reciprocity based on genuine mutual patterns of attraction and love – without any distortions thrust into the mix by the use of coercive patterns – whether of threat or violence (often the masculine contribution) or of seductive manipulation (inclined to be the default position of the disempowered feminine) – has been elusive for many.
Return of the Goddess -
Recent decades have, however, been marked by a ‘Return of the Goddess’, the female principle. Looking back over my lifetime, which started just after the Second World War, I am truly astonished at the revolution in interpersonal relationships through which I have lived, to which I have contributed, from which I have suffered, and from which I have benefitted. It truly has been a blessed time to be alive and in constant process of learning and transformation
The result has been something like a gradual restoration of Sacred Partnership, but it has been very halting in its progress, mainly because of resistance on the part of those who felt they had something to lose – though actually they had something far more valuable to gain............
Recent experiences have given me grounds for optimism that a time of breakthrough to wholeness and balance for both men and women may be almost upon us.......
I attended a wonderful Retreat in Andalusia. It was called ‘Mystical Andalusia; Garden Amidst the Flames : Ibn Arabi, Rumi, and the Dance of Oneness.’
The setting for this heart and mind opening experience of the two greatest Sufi mystics was Andalusia in Southern Spain where, from the 9th to the 12th centuries, Islam established a garden of tolerance and peace between Judaism, Christianity and Islam that enabled a flowering of civilisation in that region that inspired the world with its poetry, architecture, education, music, law, writing and inclusive spirituality, leading directly to the Renaissance. Most particularly, it provided a model of mutual respect and civility by the cultivation of ‘Adab’, an Arabic word meaning ‘Soul Courtesy’ – essential good manners at the level of Soul, incorporating a gracious capacity to listen and to be interested in learning, even in the face of difference.
The aim of the week was to understand and replicate this ‘Andalusian Moment’ with a view to inspiring the spread of Adab everywhere so that its benefits might increasingly be felt in the world of today. The Ubiquity University will be promoting further developments of this in coming years and can be accessed on-line.
Jordanian Lead Books
This aim could well be supported if those astonishing finds, the Jordanian Lead Books, are authenticated, and the implications of their contents accepted constructively. Scholars studying them are convinced that, if interpreted appropriately, the underlying unity of the roots of Christianity, Judaism and Islam could be established – and what single thing could contribute to world peace more significantly than that?! Imminent developments are to be expected.............
Already there is scholarly theological support for such a stance from the wonderfully named Mirabai Starr. Her book ‘God of Love : A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam’ passionately explores the interconnected wisdom of the three Abrahamic faiths, guiding us to recognise what unifies rather than divides them. She hopes that her teaching will serve as a reminder that a dedication to loving-kindness is the highest expression of faith for all three religions – and you don’t have to belong to any particular religion to applaud that!
The transformation of attitudes that the ‘Return of the Goddess’ represents – accepting, loving and trusting matter, the body, the Earth, and feminine tastes, values and intuitive logic, is no small matter, and why it has taken decades to make progress. The realisation has been dawning – in both men and women – that feminine patterns are by no means inferior, or deserving of dismissal, derision or other forms of demonization – they can be a fount of real wisdom!
The Holy Grail?
Indeed, it is only when the Feminine Principle is truly restored within the Trinity of Chistianity – Sophia in her many aspects – when the Shekinah is truly incorporated in Judaic teachings – and when the Feminist Principles undoubtedly there in the Koran are asserted again – that these teachings can be complete, and not distorted by patriarchal pressures. The Holy Grail perhaps?
One of the most moving accounts of the impact of the ‘Return of the Goddess’ – even after all these years – is that by John Rowan in ‘The Horned God’, published in 1987. When he came across ‘Spiral Dance’ by Starhawk he says he ‘felt a shock of recognition that almost knocked (him) over’, and in the succeeding years he kept on reading and allowed the archetypal symbolism of the Great Goddess to touch him energetically.
‘One result was this poem – In the Wood
This is the place.
In the circle of trees I sit down.
It is early. I listen. It starts.
Moving down to the centre
The lovely fearsome nourishing darkness
Into Her realm. Into Her space. Into Her time.
Down, down to infinity.
Deeper, deeper into the dark realm
All the way, nothing held back, here I go.
And the She comes
And then She is there
I feel the thrill touching my heart
Opening it up, filling it to bursting, singing in it
My heart, Her heart now, singing, wide open,all full
All full of Her
Her darkness, Her blood, Her power, Her changes,
Her force, Her awe, Her strength, Her depth,
Her infinite love, Her wisdom, Her ugliness/beauty
All filling me now.
After this inspirational outpouring, what John Rowan then tracks and analyses is the transformational potential for both man and woman, resulting in a definite path of psycho-spiritual development, comparable to the stages identified by Ken Wilbur in ‘The Atman Project’. Masculinity in the service of the Goddess changes everything – leading ideally to authentic Sacred Partnership – in contrast the what he sees as the basically supremacist value of patriarchy.
Another inspiring teacher who has been working for decades to present a more truthful and whole (=’healed’?) version of the real teachings of Jesus – or rather Yeshua Bar Alaha as he prefers to call him – is the Aramaic scholar Neil Douglas-Klotz.
As Matthew Fox says in his foreword to Neil Douglas-Klotz’s first book, ‘Prayers of the Cosmos: Meditations on the Aramaic Words of Jesus’ – ‘Reader beware : though this book is brief, it contains the seeds of a revolution.’ He claims that the book contains a paradigm shift that enables us truly to experience Jesus words with body and heart, and not only with the head.
He goes on to say, it ‘is not a book about mysticism in the Bible. It is a practical meditation that can draw the mystic out of the reader once again, just as the mystic who heard the startling words of Jesus two thousand years ago was drawn out. This is a book that allows us to experience the Scriptures once again through the heart, which means through the body, which means on earth, the source and origin of our bodies’......He does this by teaching the Dances of Universal Peace – ‘practical and bodily prayer forms that he recommends for recovering the living, breathing Scriptures’. Prayer is more than just reading or talking. ‘If Hildegard of Bingen was correct eight centuries ago in defining prayer as ‘breathing in and breathing out the one breath of the universe’ then Douglas-Klotz is also correct in insisting that we dance – that is, breathe – the Scriptures anew’.
Tying in with what I have said above, he also claims that ‘Douglas-Klotz’s translations also reveal how feminist Jesus was. Consider that the word Jesus uses, which we have traditionally translated as ‘kingdom’, is related to the word for the ‘Great Mother’ in the Middle East; the word we translate as ‘daily bread’ means nourishment of all kinds and derives from roots for the divine feminine and for Holy Wisdom, or Sophia.
‘Prayers of the Cosmos’ has been followed up by a number of other publications that develop this teaching further – ‘The Hidden Gospel : Decoding the Spiritual Message of the Aramaic Jesus’, ‘Desert Wisdom : The Middle Eastern Tradition – from the Goddess to the Sufis’, and ‘Original Meditation’ which, by drawing on examples of prayers from Christianity, Islam and Judaism demonstrate their essential unity – in other words, there is no good reason for them to be at variance with each other!
For further information, do follow up his teachings on his beautiful website – The Abwoon Network.
Finally in this section I would like to commend the work of the scholarly and Shamanic duo, John and Caitlin Matthews, highly respected initiators in the Shamanic, Celtic and Arthurian traditions, who have opened many doors to a re-appreciation of the mythic heritage of the Western World.
Prolific writers though they both are, it seems to me that their most inspirational contribution comes in the form of healing rituals – of world significance – and I had the great privilege of being present at one of these recently (Early December, 2017).
The title of the weekend, offered at Hawkwood House near Stroud, was ‘Voices of the Goddess : Poetry and Prophecy from the Deep Lands’. How could I resist?!
On the first evening we were skilfully led ‘into the Mythic Regions’, and the next day were guided by four experienced and perfect guides. Caitlin first introduced ‘The Goddess of the Land and her Poet-Prophets’, John followed on with ‘Charles Williams and the Voice of Empire’, and the other two presentations were appropriately given by Dwina Gibb and Ian Rees, Irish and Welsh respectively. The range of richly diverse regional British accents was a joy to hear.
Dwina, a poet and artist herself, gave a very beautiful tuning in to W.B.Yeats in ‘W.B.Yeats and the Muse’, and the depths of twentieth century brokenness were sensitively plumbed by Ian Rees as he connected us to the profundity of David Jones’ poetry and world-view in ‘’The Broken Land and the Efficacious Sign : the Deep Remembrance of David Jones’.
Travelling fluidly in non-ordinary reality had clearly become second nature to all these experienced guides and the whole company travelled spontaneously with them, so that each one of us was expertly prepared to participate in the ritual of the following day. Rehearsing the ritual – ‘Reweaving the Deep Lands’ – and then actually celebrating it – ‘Restoring the Voices’ – was a targeted and profoundly meaningful experience for all concerned.
The synchronicities of the experience for me took my breath away. Roles were, to a degree, chosen by cosmic pick, and who did I turn out to be? – Skye, one of the sacred islands following the Queen of the north, Alba. And included in the lines spoken by Alba, having been gifted with her symbol, the yew wand, were the following :-
‘In deep and trusting darkness, seek the root;
Dyed all in black, the dawn comes issuing out.
Ancestral presences their blessings shout,
As Norn of Night receives the new-born shoot.’
Of this Ancestral Wildwood perhaps?! Maybe and maybe not........but everyone there did seem to find personal synchronistic resonances as well as universal ones.
And when Alba presented her gift to the child in the ritual, it was ‘A treasury of ancestral blessings.’
May imaginative prophecy truly be ‘rewoven’ so that the Deep Lands of Britain, and indeed the world, can be restored to ‘Wildwood’ vigour and joy.
I was kindly given permission by Caitlin Matthews, who wrote the ritual, to quote the above lines, on the understanding that I make it clear that she holds the copyright to them. The words were originally part of her poem ‘The Norn of Night’ from her Orkney Sequence.
I have also been given permission to include on my website the fascinating ‘A Song of the Empire’ by John Matthews. Since it is rather too long to include in this section, you will find it on Page 14 – Related Articles.
For all who were present at the ritual, the Prophecy of the Oracle, uttered by the Old One, one of the three wise Watchers presiding over the ceremony, felt particularly significant, and relevant to the challenging times in which we live. I have kindly been given permission by Janet Piedilato, through whom the words came, to quote them here:-
Three stars brighten Orion’s Belt
Earthly mounds align
Where once three knelt
Old men in lacy frocks
Swollen boot so round
Laces burst as dogma is unbound
Cloud of ash, of flame
Heaven’s pregnant sky
Rivers of molten earth
Time rapidly running by.
Gabriel on high, trumpets blow
Raphael sending healing down below
Uriel slaying all human doubts
While Michael’s sword slices lying mouths.
Earth shaking, tremors quaking.
Shooting lotus, memory making
Rising, rising, rising
Here we come full circle, linking with the world views of indigenous people in other shamanic cultures, maintaining a better balance between the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine, and with multidimensional perspectives and rituals to help them live ecologically sustainably with their environments, before their existence was progressively destroyed by colonial invasions......
This whole website/teaching is to suggest a path whereby individuals all over the earth can find ways to do inner work to restore these lost balances, and bring healing Light, Love and Truth to the situation.
Light, Love and Enlightened Embodiment
All Belong Together
Let’s all do our bit towards helping the world to reach the precious Wildwoods of the Real
Here is a final chance to sign on to the
Worldwide Ancestral Healing Register!
Oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
tát savitúr váreṇ(i)yaṃ
bhárgo devásya dhīmahi
dhíyo yó naḥ prachodáyāt
Body of all, Mind of all, Spirit of all,
May we meditate on the Supreme,
On the all- pervading radiance of
The ultimate source of divine light
May we be inspired in our innermost hearts
धियो॒ यो न॥
O Thou Who givest sustenance to the universe
From Whom all things proceed and to Whom all things return
Unveil to me the face of the true spiritual Sun
Hidden by a disk of golden light
That I may know the truth and do my whole duty
As I journey to Thy sacred feet.
When Death Comes
When death comes
like the hungry bear in Autumn
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut:
when death comes
like the measle pox:
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
What is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth
tending as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was a bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
If I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened
or full of argument.
I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.
An Interfaith Prayer of Peace
Great Spirit, Father Mother God, Haggia Sophia
Allah, Lord Krishna, Buddha, Jehova
Since a part of your divinity is planted in each of us
May we hear all others as you hear them
May we see all others as you see them
May we feel for all others with your compassion
May we think of all others with your wisdom
May we speak of all others with your voice
May we act towards all others
with your intention and with your love
And so it is. OM and AMEN
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