HOLDING

During my recent visit to the Lifenet gathering in Croatia I came to realise how important holding individuals is, especially during times of upheaval and when change happens during and after a ceremony. This at first seems to contradict my expectation that my minister’s role should primarily involve offering public prayers, spiritual counselling, or facilitating ceremony.

Sometimes I feel my strongest sense of contribution was when I can silently hold those who are processing what may be challenging experiences.

Those of us who stand in the background and say little–who might often not be widely acknowledged–may indeed have the most demanding and certainly one of the most important ministering roles to play.

THE DIVINE FEMININE (AGAIN)

The meaning and importance of The Divine Feminine has been troubling me again these past couple of days.

A mention of a conference on this very theme at which one of my dear minister friends is speaking (which sadly I’m not free to attend), a day for celebrating and embracing the Divine Feminine prompted by an email that landed in my inbox yesterday (which I’m not entitled to attend), and reflections on the subject by a follower of Rudolf Steiner (whose book I’m currently reading but not fully comprehending), have served to trigger my curiosity again.

The concept of what is masculine and what is feminine troubled me through most of my ministry training. I have my own ideas of the character of these different energies, of course, but I’ve no way of knowing whether what I feel as “masculine” or “feminine” corresponds with what others experience – and how can I?

Baruch Luke Urieli , the author of the aforementioned book (“Male and Female, Developing human empathy”), offers some ideas about how the male and female essences might be distinguished:

“Womanhood (is )…an all embracing gesture that receives, that carries, that is open to whatever may come. It has a universal and cosmic breadth. The male gesture is…directed firmly towards the earth. It is determined, thrust out of the cosmos…it has the urge to penetrate (the earth existence) and to transform it.”

He goes on, referring to the Venus urge: “(It tells ) of living in the embracing and sheltering breadth of the cosmos; it speaks of the longing to be as wide and as sheltering as the cosmos, and of the pain – and joy – which such an urge will necessarily bring with it for an earthy human being. ”

This seems a step forward from the usual sloppy, and I believe inadequate, distinctions that are made between male-like and female -like properties – generalised statements about aggression versus nurturing, directive versus embracing, etc. It also goes beyond just thinking about what men and women embody, if what lies beyond biological function is really quite as different as might often be assumed. But I’m not sure I really understand what he means.

What’s more, I think that I’m still a long way from understanding the mystical meaning of what is The Divine Feminine and what is The Sacred Masculine (other than, perhaps, the sexual act, or what is played out as a dance in Tantric practice, etc).

Are there archetypes specific for each sex, or can (for example) the energies, patterns for living, and natures of – say – the Greek gods and goddesses have something to offer anyone, irrespective of their birth sex?

I don’t know the answer to this question, but I suspect that if such archetypes do speak to us, their teachings and gifts are universal – at least in a world that is undergoing something of a spiritual awakening.

I’d love to know what happens at workshops such as the one to which I’m not invited – ones that invite gathered “sisters” to find the goddess within. If you’ve attended or even led such an event and feel free to tell me, please do! (Interestingly, I’ve yet to come across a Sacred Masculine / “Find your inner god” type event that I might be able to attend. Please let me know if you hear of one! Maybe men are too much of a hard sell for this sort of thing).

Perhaps such goddess workshops aim to acknowledge, celebrate, and embrace the feminine. They may recognise that this is no less divine than that that we call masculine, and they might invite confident expression of what flows within. And so the divine might shine.

If I’m right, this would be quite wonderful to witness. But we are all, to a greater or lesser degree, masculine and feminine. And we’re all divine. So I remain confused. But I won’t be giving up my inquiry into what all this means any time soon.

THE FACE OF THE MOUNTAIN

Following my wondering about what I might do to offer some small gesture of acknowledgement to what may have happened in the place where I’ve been staying (see earlier post), I decided that I might try reciting the Meta Prayer while circling around the building – as a way of invoking an unravelling of experiences.

The Meta Prayer that I learnt in my seminary training is very beautiful and inclusive. I’ve noted it below for those who may not know it.

As I circled, I found myself stopping to offer the prayer to a neutral entity (the third repetition in the sequence). In front of me was a beautiful tree that I hadn’t noticed before, and I realised that this was the first time that I had offered this part of the prayer to a non human being, but I realised that I shouldn’t be so restrictive.

Turning the corner, I looked up into the mountains. And there, very quickly, I saw two giant faces staring out – one that I judged to be an angular, older man, and the other who I perceived to be a woman, but I couldn’t be sure. Still, the faces were clear.

I looked again and I saw a single nose, a pair of eyes and a brow. This giant face was surrounded by the trees that thrive on the mountain – a beautiful green beard and crown for this great God of Nature who I reasoned has seen all that has happened here.

So what is happening to me in seeing these faces these past couple of days? Have I taken leave of my senses, or (perhaps) “gone off with the fairies”? Who knows, but I’m in no rush to stop seeing wonders anew!

This is the version of the Meta Prayer that I most often remember:

THE META PRAYER

May you (I, a named person, all beings, etc.) dwell in the heart.
May you know your wholeness.
May you be healed.
May you be free from suffering.
May you be happy.
May you be at peace.

Say the prayer 5 times:
1. First, for yourself
2. Second, for someone who is close to you.
3. For someone who you don’t know well, eg a stranger you see on a bus.
4. For someone who you believe has wronged you, or who you find hard to love.
5. For all beings.

JOURNEY’S END, JOURNEY’S BEGINNING

I am lost. Lost and alone.
Mighty tree, I see you know all
That is told right here.
Where should I go?
Pray, rescue me from fear.

Go not far and espie
The watery path that
In this valley does lie.

Mighty river, you I plainly see.
What wisdom will you share with me?

Follow me to the sea
I bring life,
Green and free.
Shelter in my arms and
Come not to harm –
There’s no need to go far,
I will carry you safe,
And nourish your every need.
Join me. Let us go!
On my fish you may feed!

Now I come to my journey’s end,
The darkening waters are waiting to swallow me.
Where go now I, to save my life,
To continue still to be?
Great rock, you I see awaiting me.

Wisdom I am who sees,
Wisdom that knows –
Knows when to wait and watch
To see my sister rise,
To see a million lives pass and die,
To witness the falling into the deep.
Multi-faceted am I.
I see with many eyes,
Though I appear to you sleeping.
Alive I am –
Vital. Awake. Patiently waiting.
Time of mine you do not know,
Life of mine you do not see,
Spirit of mine for you lies dormant.
But I am here –
Waiting for those who come near,
Waiting to welcome those who choose to hear.
I am Gaia, your sister creating anew.
Cling to me, creatures of land and sea.
Listen to my voice, which calls so clearly for those who are free.
I harbour you –
Like the harbour that you now see.

Thank you, sister. Your grace is great!
And now I see, I no longer fear to tread.
You are my guide, and my angel too.
You whose greatness still further must spread.
I like you now open my eyes,
And wait with you to welcome our next surprise.
—————-
These are the words that came to me on my river course meditations these past couple of days (see earlier post). The settings are shown in the sketch map that I’ve attempted to reproduce from my sketchy notes. The story came from the fragments that were inspired by each stopping point.

THE ROCK THAT SEES.

For the past couple of days, along with others, I’ve enjoyed “meditation stops” at various points down the course of a river , which runs close to the hostel where I’m staying. We have followed its path from a glacier to where the water emptis into a fjord.

I love this sort of thing – clambering down grassy slopes to explore a wooded hollow, attending the sound of the fast-moving stream , bathing in the energy field of a giant birch tree, and taking in its message for me.

I love letting my eyes follow the creases of a rock fold, and peering at a tiny flower that’s clinging on to life against all expectations. And in each place , there have been revelations and gifts for the soul.

0ur final stopping point was close to the mouth of the river- a small bay , bordered by an impressive cape that slips away into the deep waters of the fjord. And here, without requiring any time or forced imagination, I saw three very clear faces staring out from the rocks.

Turning around, I saw most of a man’s face up high , and what looked like several animals clinging on to the sleep side. Words came to me that I wrote in my rain-wet journal, and I felt that the eyes of The Great Mother were waiting for me to notice, and to stop to receive Her wisdom.

Moments like this are precious, but perhaps are given especially for each person to discover alone (I felt felt that I shouldn’t attempt to capture what I saw in a photo). Precious moments – and ones that I confess elude me for most of the time. The rocks might appear to be sleeping, but really they are more awake than l may ever know.

HOW WOULD YOU LIKE YOUR PORRIDGE?

At the hostel where I’m staying this week, each person is assigned jobs to do to help with the housekeeping and preparation of meals (as is often the case in places like this ).

Yesterday, my job was to make porridge for the group of 50 or so people. Simple! Just boil 10 litres of water, add 2 cubic litres of oats, add a bit of salt and keep stirring. At least, according to instructions on the oats packet (which appreciating a need for order and precision, I followed exactly).

After 5 minutes or so, I started to realise that something was wrong. The gooey mix that I was expecting to form was nowhere near appearing, and worse-the whole concoction started to brew over, making a decent mess on the hob.

The poor cook desperately took over a rescue operation and suggested that I retire to the refectory, where I might be less able to cause trouble.

When it arrived, the porridge was perfect. But I pondered with my breakfast companions why I’d been capable of making such a hash of the cooking.

“Simple,” said my neighbour, who was from Glasgow. “Never trust an Englishman to make porridge!”