I was perhaps one of Earth’s most alienated of beings, and by that I mean that I did not sense belonging Here. My cultural context was such that I had no sense of relationship with my earthly and cosmic habitat. Cultural circumstance and story built over millennia converged to create a human who did not know her Place much at all – this included the place within my own skin, as much as the place in which I dwelt. Both were objects, things – inert matter of little cosmic significance. Apparently there are many humans in these times who are of such a tribe of alienated beings – albeit within many greatly different contexts. The religious stories, the cosmology of my cultural context did not include my place of being and dwelling in any particular way – did not include my “Place”, this Earth, this Material, as significant.
I was born in the Southern Hemisphere – in the Great South Land of Australia – and as a white Western European girl child. Most of the texts and graphics explaining the Cosmos to an Australian and white child were (and still often are) drawn from the Northern Hemisphere perspective. The Moon in her phases were “backwards”; Sun’s daily movement from East to West was described as being “clockwise”; the seasons in the stories were always at odds with real experience. This was never regarded as important enough to mention, yet deep within me from the beginning there was scribed the cosmic essence of disregarding one’s senses.
I was raised as a Protestant country girl in a land being colonized by the people of my blood-line. I was fortunate to spend my babyhood and some toddling years on a farm – eating lots of red dirt as I imagine it. I have later realised that this red dirt may have been part of the best cultural education I received in early years. The rest of my childhood and early adolescence was spent in a small country town. I never went into native bush although my brothers did; a girl would have been too vulnerable. In any case, the Earth/Nature itself was devoid of real consequence; it was human activity upon it that was of consequence. Humans made the best of it by growing gardens and crops, but even then they had to control its waywardness with sprays and fertilizers. It was a big dead ball of dirt upon which we played and travailed, and from which we would be saved by “God” eventually.
I had no understanding of the ancient land upon which I dwelt, or of the stories of its indigenous people. The new authorities to this ancient land had named the piece/”State” marked out as “Queensland”, for their nominal divine representative. The white Europeans found themselves trying to make a living. My parents were the children and grandchildren of pioneers, but they themselves no longer had a vision, a reason, for being here in this “new” place – they just were. They were not even conscious of it being “new” any longer, as far as I could tell. My spiritual heritage was in contrast to, and at odds with, the rich red soil in which I played as a toddler. The spiritual heritage of both my parents, was largely unspoken – my mother was a “bush-Catholic” (that is, baptized a Catholic, but not instructed), and my father of Scottish descent was a nominal Presbyterian. It was the paternal lineage that held sway in the way things were understood. At the centre of the cosmology that I was handed, was a harsh father-god, who was no Poet; his creation of the cosmos in seven days was literal. He was a Mechanic, and the Universe was a machine, and he was definitely a male. He – this god, and indeed most of us white Europeans, were products of a long history of humanity in another part of the planet, and in more recent centuries, of events in Europe such as the Reformation and the witch-burnings; but now, these were no longer conscious. There was also now for these people in this new place, no visible memory of something that had been even earlier – some kind of ceremonially expressed relationship to the other-than-human world. These Europeans were Reformed Christianized people transplanted here from the Northern Hemisphere, with no sense of their historical roots, who knew no synchronicity of the religious festivals that they continued to pay homage to, with the seasons of Earth. Here in the South land, the supernatural Christian drama of God and Jesus was completely unrelated to place. It was a particularly cerebral religion, and in that sense barren – devoid of ritual recognition of the fertile Earthbody1. While at least in the Northern Hemisphere when my ancestors had lit candles and sang at the Winter Solstice, though they called it Christmas, there remained a resonance with the land, a memory of something earlier upon which this ritual was based. In the Southern Hemisphere, there was no such resonance of the religious practice of the Europeans with Earth; and the children here of this religious practice inherited a poverty of spirit, a deep divorce from Earth that few other religions in the history of Gaia have ever known.
The sense of being “Other” – out of the main play and text of things, and perhaps irrelevant – was exacerbated by being female. Perhaps this was actually central to the sense of alienation, since the religion – the main cosmology – paid her very little positive attention. It has been common for millennia that women have not been able to name themselves or their experience as sacred, because the metaphor of the Divine did not extend to their experience, their presence in the world. The historical, scientific and religious texts of my cultural context did not include the perspectives of a female-friendly cosmology. Woman as philosopher, shaman, priestess, spiritual authority, wise woman, healer, and also as mother in these roles, was barely identified, let alone her perspective taken seriously. Scholarly texts which purported to be whole and truthful objective accounts2, have used terms like “us” and “we” – presuming to speak for her, even as they burnt her, silenced her, kept her out of institutions, politics and texts. If the story had been told from within her perspective, that is, the perspective of a female-friendly cosmos … as wise woman, healer, priestess, mother, would she speak of herself for instance, as “just a mother” – if her mind was imbued with the integrity of Life happening in her? Would she allow a church to tell her she could not speak for the Divine?
The female body – and hence her presence – has not been included in most of humanity’s thinking for some time. French philosopher Merleau-Ponty speaks about the body and its importance in human experience. For him,
The body is first of all a way of viewing the world; it is at one and the same time the way a subjective attitude both comes to know itself and express itself. The lived phenomenal body must therefore not be thought of as an object in itself, but as a bodily presence in the world, a bodily awareness of the world3.
The denial of the body in general has certainly influenced Western thought4; so then it may be asked, how has the denial of the female body in particular affected thinking – by women themselves as well as by the men who wrote the texts? It is now a largely accepted fact that half the human race has rarely been allowed, or found access to the development of the mainly adhered-to texts of philosophies and sciences. Her body – for the last few millennia – was not supposed to do what it did; if her body was more like his, then it would have been better – and normal. St. Augustine for example, regarded it as an achievement when a nun’s menstrual cycle ceased due to fasting – he regarded that she was getting holier. The body, at its best and peak of integrity, was not supposed to menstruate; what did this kind of thinking signify? What kind of worldview was being denied? Woman’s fertility was thus frequently a source of shame, and certainly in the cultural context, it was at the base of her loss of power5. It is the worldview of the female body – this subjective presence in the world, that has been absent from our collective minds, even her own mind. She must now be written into the histories, the philosophies, the sciences, the cosmologies. This book participates in that movement along with many others at this time in the human story, wherein the female – as an embodied human – is moving out of being “Other” into the “norm”, into the foreground of consciousness.
Method of Approach
My method of approach has been informed by my deep personal involvement in the topic, my need to “place” myself here – as feminist philosopher Luce Irigaray suggests that woman needs to do6.
Irigaray said that woman is not situated, “does not situate herself in her place”, that she serves as a thing and is thus nude7. I have intuitively felt the need to “clothe” myself, to find the Place within me, to move from object to sentient subject. It has been a hunger which grew into a holy desire, a Passion. The early intuitive sense of this need was fanned by feminist philosophers, primarily Mary Daly8, who awakened me to the language that I and others spoke everyday – and how the world was thus shaped: how my very own sacred Land, my bodily presence in the world was alienated from my consciousness by everyday expression and imagery. An ostensibly small but profoundly ubiquitous example is the use of the female pronoun she to designate only females, while the male pronoun he designates all humans as well as males: that is, the scope of maleness includes humanity, while femaleness is restricted to “the Other9”.
Any speaker internalizing such a language unconsciously internalizes the values underlying such a system, thus perpetuating the cultural and social assumptions10“…
I have not been satisfied to accept this state of affairs, and as Daly indicated, “… the emerging creativity in women is by no means a merely cerebral process11.” Thus my quest, and method of approach to this work has involved my whole being, my whole story. And the situation of the female pronoun turned out to become of central – essential – significance in the Place-ment of myself, as this whole cosmology describes.
I have been on a “quest for the Mother” – She within me and within Whom I am: this is how I have understood the complete transformation that I sought, such a complete coming home to an indigenous Self, a Place which was as surely within me as it was my actual Earthly and Cosmic Habitat – I could not separate these realms of myself. In approaching this search/research12then, I have been bold in my assumption of deep participation in the Matter of the world, the Matrix. I can identify this “Matter/Matrix” with Merleau-Ponty’s “Flesh”, which has been described as
an elemental power that has had no name in the entire history of Western philosophy … (and) the mysterious tissue … that underlies and gives rise to both the perceiver and the perceived …(and) the reciprocal presence of the sentient in the sensible and of the sensible in the sentient13.
Such a subjective quest would once have found no carriage in formal academic process, but fortunately for me, by time I came to engaging with the academic and scientific “pursuit of the Mother” things had changed sufficiently at the edges, for me to proceed boldly with “laying claim to the power of Naming14” the sacred sites of my female land – my bodymind, and inhabiting my Place/Self, by means of acceptable academic methods as well.
Conventionally, scientifically acceptable discourse has disregarded all subjectivity – reality was in the domain of hard quantifiable matter only; while many spiritual discourses – both conventional and “new age” – have only valued subjectivity, that is, they have said that matter is not of consequence and is to be transcended. So both genres of discourse have perpetuated a notion of this “Flesh”, this Matter, this Subject in Whom we are, as purely passive, without sentience, and available for exploitation. Neither of these viewpoints challenge the notion that our Habitat – our materia – is inert dead stuff … “just a big dead ball of dirt” as Brian Swimme describes the modern human’s conception of Earth15. Neither viewpoint challenges the notion that it is possible to separate the one who is sensing from what is being sensed: as ecological philosopher David Abram says, “… contemporary discourse easily avoids the possibility that both the perceiving being and the perceived being are of the same stuff16, …” Neither the conventionally scientific nor the conventionally spiritual/religious viewpoint generally supports a sense of our context being essentially relational or a sacred whole – a mutual presence, that we are subjects within a Subject17 – a sentient Universe. I therefore describe my engagement in my Search, my approach and the writing itself as a “con-course” instead of “dis-course18”. I have been conscious of my relationship with my “topic” – Her intimate involvement and reciprocal presence. The method, the work, has been a process of en-trance-ment and inter-action. It has been a process of changing of mind, not just talking about it or to it.
My “method” has been organic and intuitive. I have allowed myself to be led by inner promptings, below my conscious rational understandings, which I then organised my conscious self around in various modalities; and the universe has come to meet me in these actions as well. Such methods of approach have been named in recent times as “transpersonal” research methods19. Such methods are defined as allowing identification with an expanded sense of self, a reciprocity, a participative relationship with the perceived. They
incorporate intuition, direct knowing, creative expression, alternative states of consciousness, dreamwork, storytelling, meditation, imagery, emotional and bodily cues and other internal events as possible strategies and procedures in all phases of research inquiry20.
My methods may also be described as “sacred psychology” which is how Jean Houston has named the work of recovery and deepening of one’s personal story21. Houston says that
a deeper story sustains and shapes our emotional attitudes, provides us with life purposes, and energizes our everyday acts. It offers us both meaning and momentum. Everything coheres when a deeper story is present22.
Plants grow better with a depth of soil. So it is with humans: a perception of the organic depth of being, inclusive of Origins of the Universe, enables a being to flourish.
Layers of Action
There have been layers of action over a period of years, that nursed and created a context in which “She” could grow. They have been:
(a) the creation of seasonal ritual celebrations
These started with one or two annually which grew over the years to include all eight of the pre-Celtic Old European calendar. At one very clear point I committed myself to the whole cycle, wrote the scripts and began practising and meditating upon them before each ritual. The participants in these events have been a varying group – of mixed gender though mostly women, some regular attendees, some only coming occasionally. In the early informal days, participants were mostly friends and later my Moon circle group.
For the period of the academic research, there was a core group of four women, who attended pre and post-ritual meetings, receiving teaching and background information on each Seasonal Moment and its celebration, and giving suggestions and feedback and assisting in the processes of the rituals. Their participation was always organic, that is, they always had the freedom to fit into it where it suited them, to mesh it with their lives as their lives were, rather than constructing an artificial situation. I felt that the participant’s organic desire for the experience and knowledge must be present to make the research valid.
If we want to know about people, we have to encourage them to be who they are, and to resist all attempts to make them – or ourselves – into something we are not23.
There was no requirement of attendance at any specific number of events, the organic needs of the individual were regarded as paramount to the validity of the research, acknowledging that participants may gain more from a hiatus than from an attendance, and that the nurturance that comes from the chthonic was essential to the real exploration of affects.
Since that focussed period, I sometimes currently have students in a year long class called “Celebrating Gaia – Goddess, Cosmos – in Seasonal Ritual”, and they participate as co-celebrants in a similar way as this core group did: though all attendees at the ritual events participate actively and may take significant ritual roles.
My rewriting or refining of the seasonal ritual script and teaching usually takes place about two to three weeks into the particular seasonal process, by which time I am ready to seriously contemplate what will be articulated and dramatized in the seasonal ritual. The script for each Sabbat has remained fairly stable over the last few years, with changes – often quite subtle – made when my perceptions deepen or shift.
The changing and continuous seasonal decoration is a year long ritual art process of creation and erasure, kin to the construction of any other sacred art work – for example the Kalachakra Mandala – that is created and destroyed. Any house decorations, any garments to be worn, any headpiece, a wreath, the altar, preparation of ritual foods, all participate in the expression and learning of the Seasonal Moment/Sabbat; then the decorations are removed, changed, for re-creation. Engagement in the art process itself teaches – the art is ritual and the ritual is art. The whole ritual process – including the lengthy and detailed preparation, and the rituals themselves have been and are, central to the changing of bodymind – to the “con-course”. They are a major Place of Conversation – Cosmic Conversation24.
My Search could not have evolved … the journey would not have happened, without there having been a responsive group of people who desired to participate, and share with me their experience. The people who have been and are, context for the ritual celebrations, are essential to their creation. I am doing my part of it – and I feel so privileged to have the role that I do – but it is their desire, their awareness, which allows it to be. I feel deeply graced and thankful for the receptivity and generous sharing of self of these participants.
(b) the presentation of a class series called “Re-Storying and Celebrating Goddess in You”. This has involved the teaching of pre-patriarchal stories and perspective on Goddess cultures and metaphor, presentation and embodiment of images, meditations, sharing of stories, ritual and dance, focussing on the three faces/dynamics of Goddess – Virgin, Mother, Crone – and then Her embodiment and celebration in the seasonal Gaian cycle. These classes have been a place where women (and occasionally men) could tell their stories of how these three aspects of Goddess had manifest in their lives. And they could tell these stories in the context of a “Goddess” perspective – that is, within the context of nobler images of the female, from within the perspective of a cosmology that valued their experience – as distinct from the patriarchal context in which they had until now almost certainly, generally storied themselves. These classes built further a body of knowledge for each of us who participated: we in-formed each other.
(c) the presentation of a class series called
“En-Trancing Goddess: Entering into her More Fully”.
This has involved the teaching of the triple Goddess metaphor as aspects of Cosmogenesis – the dynamic unfolding of the Cosmos, shared meditations, improvised dance and body movement, rituals of connecting with past and future – and thus the present web of life, a deepening into the personal story and practice of the seasonal Wheel of the Year, and a ritual developing one’s sense of self as a “hera”/courageous individual25. These classes have been a place for enabling deeper immersion in awareness of the threefold Creative Dynamic present within, and to bring forth more of its power. This “entering more fully” into Her in ourselves and in All, may be an “entrancing” process – a word Swimme and Berry also use to describe the reality of the Universe, expressive as it is “of some ineffable mystery26”. The creation of this series was my response to a request by one of the core research participants for “more”, after the first series. I created the sessions using processes and meditations that had catalyzed my deepening into the Triple Metaphor, and that appeared to be successful in enabling me to make desired changes in my life. Together we entered into a process of transformation, each becoming “more”. This series took us further into the in-forming of each other of our participation in the evolutionary Cosmic Dynamics.
(d) keeping a journal.
For the period of the academic research there was the disciplined recording of my own perceptions, imagination and intuitions of the Female Metaphor, and of my own experience of the yearlong seasonal process and rituals. Since I was passionately involved, and the whole inquiry relied heavily on my creativity, my thoughts were not “merely a reflection on reality, but also a movement of that reality itself27”. I was aware of myself as a “mapmaker”, the thinking and knowing subject who was both a product and a performance of that which I sought to know and represent28. This is still the case as the work continues, for anyone who does this for themselves; so the noting is a good method of attention.
The journal process has been delineated into seasonal divisions, labelling them for example, as a “Summer Solstice 99 Process” and a “Lammas 2000 Process” and so on. There is no pre-determined beginning for the process of any season; I feel it intuitively – sometimes the beginning is felt soon after the previous ritual, sometimes not for a while. Sometimes during the academic process I would have two “processes” going at the same time. The important thing really was the noting of perceptions, events, ideas, thoughts and feelings. These things were noted whether or not I thought they had some imagined relevance to the seasonal Sabbat. I did not presume to know all that would emerge from this noting, but I had a record of my experience, which did serve academic purpose and when I do it now still serves my self-reflective purposes and awareness.
(e) a meditation practice.
Since what I have sought to know involves the subtle layers of my experience, the methods have included a personal daily meditational practice of various modalities, affirming the various aspects of self – sometimes a simple stillness, sometimes including dance and yoga, sometimes just being with the emotional self, sometimes being outside with Earth-Gaia. The meditation practice is an essential affirmation of my depths, and an opening to those depths. It is a practice of listening to my organism, knowing her as a nested reality of Her Larger Organism. I have also had many good teachers in this matter over the years – all of whom supported the premise of my own organic wisdom.
The Three Candles Ritual Meditation
One particular form that has been part of my meditation practice, is a reflective process that includes the lighting of three candles and the invocation of the triple metaphor in varied verbal valencies. I cannot remember when I first developed this, but I have a written record of it from the first year of the academic process. Over time, the invocation has complexified along with my understandings of the multivalent nature of each of the three faces. It continues to do so. There is a version of it in Chapter 8.
The Yoga Mudra as In-Corporation of Gaia’s Breath
The daily meditation has also included this particular yoga pose, which I have understood as an in-corporation of the Triple Goddess Metaphor, and of the year long Seasonal Wheel. I have understood the seasonal Wheel as an embodiment of the triple-faced Creative Dynamic, like a year-long breath; that the seasonal Wheel manifests how Gaia breathes in my part of the world. The purpose of joining in that breath in ritual is in the hope of enhancing one’s journey into the awesome Creativity that She manifests, to unfold this deepest identity, “to get with her Plot”. So the Yoga Mudra has been a daily way of both invoking in my being the essence of my Search, and of remembering my actual immersion in it. The Yoga Mudra, as it was taught to me, integrates the multivalence of Gaia’s Creative Dynamic very well. The first position at the beginning of the breath is a statement of love of Self (the Virgin aspect); the second position as the breath expands and the arms spread up and out, is a statement of love of Other (the Mother aspect); the third position as the breath releases and the torso folds over, is a statement of love of All-That-Is (the Crone aspect). So it may also speak the seasonal cycle – the play of light and dark, the waxing, peaking and waning of all being.
The Cosmos is a Ritual
Dawn and dusk, seasons, supernovas – it is an ongoing Event of coming into being and passing away. The Cosmos is always in flux, and we exist as participants in this great ritual, this “cosmic ceremony of seasonal and diurnal rhythms” which frame “epochal dramas of becoming”, as Charlene Spretnak describes it29. Swimme and Berry describe the universe as a dramatic reality, a Great Conversation of announcement and response30. Ritual may be the human conscious response to the announcements of the Universe – an act of conscious participation. Ritual then is a microcosmos31 – a human-size replication of the Drama, the Dynamic we find ourselves in. Swimme and Berry describe ritual as an ancient response humans have to the awesome experience of witnessing the coming to be and the passing away of things32. It is a way in which we may respond to this awesome experience of being and becoming – hold the beauty and the terror.
Humans have exhibited this tendency to ritualize since the earliest times of our unfolding (evidence of burial sites dating back one hundred thousand years) – often going to huge effort, that is almost incomprehensible to the modern industrialised econocentric mind. The precise placing of huge stones in circles such as found at Stonehenge and the creation of complex sites such as Silbury Hill are expressions of some priority, indicating that econocentric thinking – such as tool making, finding shelter and food, was not enough or not separate from the participation in Cosmic events. Ritual seems to have expressed something essential to the human – a way of being integral with our Cosmic Place, which was not separate from material sustenance, the Source of existence: thus it was a way perhaps of sensing “meaning” as we might term it these days – or “relationship”.
Swimme and Berry note that the order of the Universe has been experienced especially in the seasonal sequence of dissolution and renewal; this most basic pattern has been an ultimate referent for existence33. The seasonal pattern contains within it the most basic dynamics of the Cosmos – desire, fullfilment, loss, transformation, creation, growth, and more. The annual ritual celebration of the Seasonal Wheel – the Earth-Sun sacred site – can be a pathway to the Centre of these dynamics, a way of making sense of the pattern, a way of sensing it. One enters the Universe’s story. The Sabbats when practiced in the art form of ceremony may be sens-ible“gateways” through the Flesh of the world to the Centre – which is omnipresent Creativity.
Humans do ritual everyday – we really can’t help ourselves. It is simply a question of what rituals we do, what story we are telling ourselves, what we are “spelling”34 ourselves with – individually and collectively.
Ritual as “Prayer” or Sacred Awareness
Ritual is often described as “sacred space”. I understand that to mean “awareness of the space as sacred”. All space is sacred, what shifts is our awareness – awareness of the depth of spacetime, all things and all beings. I understand “sacred awareness” as an awareness of deep relationship and identity with the very cosmic dynamics that create and sustain the Universe; or an awareness of what is involved in the depth of each moment, each thing, each being. Ritual is a space and time given to expression, contemplation and nurturance of that depth … or at least something of it. Ritual may be both an expression of deep inner truths – perceived relationship to self, Earth and Cosmos, as well as being a mode of teaching and drawing forth deeper participation.
Essentially, ritual is a way of entering into the depth of the present moment … what is deeply present right here and now, a way of entering deep space and deep time, which is not somewhere else but is right here. Every-thing, and every moment, has Depth – more depth than we usually allow ourselves to contemplate, let alone comprehend. This book, this paper, this ink, the chair, the floor – each has a history and connections that go back, all the way back to Origins. This moment you experience now, in its particular configuration, place, people present, subtle feelings, thoughts, and propensity towards certain directions or outcomes, has a depth – many histories and choices that go back … ultimately all the way back to the beginning. Great Origin is present at every point of Space and Time – right here. In ritual we are plugging our awareness into something of that.
In this Holy Context then – in this mindframe of knowing connection, everything one does is a participation in the creation of the Cosmos: for the tribal indigenous woman, perhaps the weaving of a basket; for you, perhaps preparing a meal. It is possible to regain this sense, to come to feel that the way one breathes makes a difference – that with it, you co-create the present and the future, and you may even be a blessing on the past. In every moment we receive the co-creation, the work, of innumerable beings, of innumerable moments, and innumerable interactions of the elements, in everything we touch … and so are we touched by them. The local is our touchstone to the Cosmos – it is not separate. Ritual may be a way into this awareness, into strengthening it.
Starhawk says that “to do ritual, you must be willing to be transformed in some way35”, because that is its very nature, that is, it is “trans-forming”. Ritual can be as simple as having a cup of tea or reading a poem, or high drama like classical theatre or a rave concert; in either case it is “time out” – entering another realm, to a greater or lesser degree. As with having a cup of tea, it is done with the expectation of rejuvenation/renewal. Humans actually do ritual all the time. Starhawk notes that “ritual is the way culture enacts and affirms its values36.” But this enactment and affirmation is usually unconscious, and thus the participants remain unaware of what is actually being activated; for example, going to the pub or bar is a popular sanctioned ritual – time out, imbibing “spirit”. And whereas once, the ancestors used to sit around the fireplace and tell the cosmic stories; now most often humans sit around the TV in the modern cave, and the story that is told is that the world is a collection of objects to be consumed37. As ritual is done consciously more often, we become aware of the symbols and myths that we live and can choose more consciously the tools with which we shape our lives. Ritual at its best is the art form of a living cosmology.
Ritual is actually “doing”, not just theorizing. We can talk ??about ?? our personal and cultural disconnection endlessly, but we need to actually change our minds. Ritual can be an enabling practice – a catalyst/practice for personal and cultural change. It is not just talking about eating the pear, it is eating the pear. It is not just talking about sitting on the cushion (meditating), it is sitting on the cushion. It is a cultural practice wherein we tell a story/stories about what we believe to be so most deeply, about who and what we are. Ritual can be a place for practicing a new language, a new way of speaking, or “spelling” – a place for practicing “matristic storytelling38” if you like, that is, for telling stories of the Mother, of Earth and Cosmos as if She were alive and sentient. We can “play like we know it”, so that we may come to know it39. Ritual then is a form of social action.
I find it useful to describe ritual using and extending Ken Wilber’s words to describe a “transpersonal practice” that is needed for real change: as one that discloses “a deeper self (I or Buddha) in a deeper community (We or Sangha) expressing a deeper truth (It or Dharma40)”. It discloses a deeper beautiful self (the “I”/Virgin/Buddha), in a deeper relational community (the “We”/Mother/Sangha), expressing a deeper transformative truth (the “It”/Old One/Dharma)”. This is the “unitive body”, the “microcosmos” that Spretnak refers to.
According to Swimme, the Universe is one huge celebration – expanding, exuberantly rushing away from a center with news of that center … an urgent unfolding of being41. Thus, he says, “Self-expression is the primary sacrament of the universe. Whatever you feel deeply demands to be given form and released42.” He describes this innate dynamic of celebration as a “generosity of being” that “insists upon song and dance”. Ritual must be a space where something deep in the self is free to be expressed – a space free of judgement and coercion – a space felt to be “safe” which allows and invites individual uniqueness, while affirming community.
Since ritual is an opportunity to give voice to deeper places in ourselves, forms of communication are used that the dreamer, the emotional, the body, can comprehend, such as music, drama, simulation, dance, chanting, singing43. These forms enable the entering of a level of consciousness that is there all the time, but that is not usually expressed or acknowledged. We enter a realm that is “out of time”, which is commonly said to be not the “real” world, but it is more organic/indigenous, and at least as real as the tick-tock world. It is a place “between the worlds”, wherein we may put our hands on the very core of our lives, touch whatever it is that we feel our existence is about, and thus touch the possibility of re-creating and renewing ourselves.
The site of the seasonal ritual celebrations will always be significant. In my case, the place in which I have created them has been notably in the Southern Hemisphere of Earth. The fact of my context being thus – the Southern Hemisphere – has contributed in the past to my deep internalized sense of being “Other”, yet hence in the present this context contributes to my deep awareness of Gaia’s Northern Hemisphere and Her reciprocal Seasonal Moment – the whole Planet. My initial confusion about the sensed Cosmos – as a Place, has become a clarity about the actual Cosmos – which remains inclusive of my sensed Cosmos. PaGaian reality – the reality of our Gaian “country” – is that the whole Creative Dynamic happens all the time, all at once. The “Other”, the opposite, is always present – underneath and within the Moment. This has affected my comprehension of each Sabbat/Seasonal Moment, its particular beauty but also a fullness of its transitory nature. Many in the Northern Hemisphere – even today – have no idea that the Southern Hemisphere has a “different” lunar, diurnal, seasonal perspective, and because of this there often is a rigidity of frame of reference for place, language, metaphor and hence cosmology44. Indeed over the years of industrialized culture it has appeared to matter less to many of both hemispheres, including then the “author-ities”, the writers of culture and cosmos. Yet such “author-ity” and northern-hemispheric rigidity is also assumed by most more Earth-oriented writers as well. There is consistent failure to take into account a whole Earth perspective: for example the North Star does not need to be the point of sacred reference (there is great Poetry to be made of the void of the South Celestial Pole) nor the North rigidly associated with the Earth element and darkness, nor is there really an “up” and a “down” cosmologically speaking. A sense and account of the Southern Hemisphere perspective with all that that implies metaphorically as well as sens-ibly, seems vitally important to comprehending and sensing a whole perspective and globe – a flexibility of mind, and coming to inhabit the real Cosmos, hence enabling a PaGaian cosmological perspective.
It has also been significant that my Search in its particular perspective, has been birthed in this ancient continent of Australia. It is the age of the exposed rock in this land, present to her inhabitants in an untarnished, primal mode that is significant. The land herself has for millennia been largely untouched by human war, conquest and concentrated human agriculture and disturbance. The inhabitants of this land dwelt here in a manner that was largely peaceful and harmonious, for tens of thousands of years. Therefore the land Herself may speak more clearly; one may be the recipient of direct transmission of Earth in one of her most primordial modes. Her knowledge may be felt more clearly – one may be taught by Her. I think that the purity of this transmission, from my beginnings as a country girl – albeit below my conscious mind in the subtle realms of which I knew little, to the more conscious times of entering into the process of the Search, is a significant factor in the development of the formal research I undertook – in my chosen methodology and in what I perceived in the process, and documented. In this land that birthed me, “spirit” is not remote and abstract, it is felt in Her red earth45. Aboriginal elder David Mowaljarlai described, “This is a spirit country46”, and all of Her inhabitants, including non-Aboriginal, are affected by the strength of Her organic communication.
It took me until the later stages of my research to realize the need to state the importance of this particular place – both the land of Australia, and the specific region of the Blue Mountains in which I was now dwelling – and the community of this region, for the advent of the research. The lateness of this perception on my part, has to do with the extent of my previous alienation; but the fact that it did occur, is perhaps at least in part attributable to the unfolding awakening to my habitat that was part of the project.
The specific region of the “Blue Mountains” – as Europeans have named them – is significant in that I don’t think that this project could have happened as it did in just any region. David Abram says,
The singular magic of a place is evident from what happens there, from what befalls oneself or others when in its vicinity. To tell of such events is implicitly to tell of the particular power of that site, and indeed to participate in its expressive potency47.
The Blue Mountains are impressive ancient rock formations, an uplifted ancient seabed, whose “range of rock types and topographical situations has given rise to distinct plant communities48”; and the presence of this great variation of plant communities, “especially the swamps, offer an abundance and variety of food sources, as well as habitats for varied fauna49.” I feel that this is the case for this region’s capacity to nurture this project – it received the particularities of my passion. Even though I have been bringing a Western European heritage to this site, singing songs and dancing dances that come from other sites and times, it has been done in accord with the Seasons of this place and increasingly in accord with the particular features of this place. The Search has been a journey of coming more deeply into relationship with my place, expressing and using the tools of my ancestral heritage – knowing this heritage in myself first so that I may come into relationship50. I have for some time felt “familiar” with this place, related/family with this place, and in the course of my Search, this place has received and enabled, and indeed invoked the seed within me. I am aware that the Poetry of this work has been enacted and enabled within the specific context, and it would not have been the same elsewhere and in a different community, which is itself a creation of the place.
The Role of Metaphor
Metaphor is not merely a matter of language, it is pervasive in everyday thought and action; “the way we think, what we experience, and what we do everyday is very much a matter of metaphor51.” Lakoff and Johnson say that conventional ways of talking about anything “pre-suppose a metaphor that we are hardly ever conscious of52”. They make the point that “the metaphor is not merely in the words we use”, that it is in our very concept of the thing53. They say that “the essence of metaphor is understanding and experiencing one kind of thing in terms of another54”; so (for my purpose here), “the Divine” or however one names what is Deepest in existence, is not female and is not male, though the metaphor used may suggest a likeness. The Webster’s Dictionary defines “metaphor” as “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase denoting one kind of object or action is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them55”, and further that metaphor is an implied comparison, as opposed to anexplicit comparison. As Starhawk notes, “an overt metaphor is a map, a description we may find useful or not, may accept or reject56”, whereas if the metaphor is covert it is free “to restructure our reality by leading us to accept the map as the territory without questioning where we are going or whose interests are being served57.” The fact that the Divine, the Essence of existence, is so ubiquitously called upon as “God”, systematically influences the shape “the Divine” takes, and the way it is talked about58. It suggests a likeness and it is usually a covert metaphor that restructures our reality without question.
“The Divine” may be metaphorised many other ways – “vibratory flux”, “creativity”, “relatedness59”. Thus I frequently imply the Divine in many terms – “Deep”, “Change”, “Dark” – and capitalize the terms to signify this. I feel this is a necessary process for the changing and diversifying of minds. Mary Daly points out that “the word metaphor is derived from the Greek meta plus pherein, meaning to bear, carry” and that “??metapherein?? means to transfer, change60”. Metaphors may thus “transform/transfer our perceptions of reality, enabling us to ‘break set’ and thus to break out of linguistic prisons61.”
Joseph Campbell describes a functioning mythology as “an organization of metaphorical figures connotative of states of mind that are not finally of this or that place and time62 …”, and such are made known in visual art and verbal narrative (written and oral). It is applied to communal life by way of a calendar of symbolic rites, festivals and ceremonies, that enable the community to participate “with its universe in eternity63.” Campbell notes how, in the popular mind, “such metaphors of transcendence” get locked into chiefly functions of control and socializing, but that “the way of the mystic and of proper art (and we might add, religion) is of recognizing throughthe metaphors an epiphany beyond words64.” Campbell was convinced of the necessity – “a social as well as spiritual necessity65” – of a new mythology that he felt was “already implicit among us as knowledge a priori, native to the mind66.”
At the heart of the metaphorical change that re-storying may enable, is a change of the felt need in the cultural psyche to “slay the dragon” – to be free of the matter, out of which we and all, arises. Re-storying may enable “embracing of the dragon”. The Dragon – the serpent – represents a cosmology that assents to change, IS about change. Our culture and its metaphors has craved permanence, and is unable to deal with loss – which is essentially Change. The “Moon Goddess”, the Female Metaphor in Her three aspects, passes through waning into the Darkness, from which there is renewal. Brian Swimme says that to enter into the terror of loss, offers the opportunity to accept what is real, and it is the way to unite with what is eternal67. I am not suggesting that human hunger for the eternal is aberrant; it may be met, in and through the Matter in which we are.
In my Search I have been seeking the essential nature of all things. This was also the aim of the early Greek philosophers and they called this essential nature “physis”. As Capra notes, “The term ‘physics’ is derived from this Greek word and meant therefore, originally, the endeavour of seeing the essential nature of all things68.” My quest is therefore very related to physics poetically – physics itself and my quest are both a kind of Poetry69. My understanding of Goddess is as a creative metaphor for the essential nature of all things. In Her three aspects, She is the “Triskele” of energy, the dynamics of Cosmogenesis, “the innate triplicity of the Cosmos … that runs through every part of the universe70” and is available to all. The “triskele” is a sacred symbol of the Celtic peoples, which consists of three legs radiating from a centre, understood to be in perpetual motion. To draw upon this triple-limbed wheel, was to “grace our lives with an ever-living energy that encompasses the beginning, middle and end of everything we undertake71.” The term “triskele” itself, and its symbolic representation, could be said to be metaphor for the triple-action biospheric reality described by Russian scientist Vladimir Vernadsky:
At each moment there are a hundred million million tons of living matter in the biosphere, always in a state of movement. The mass is decomposed, forms itself anew mainly by multiplication. Generations are thus born … unceasingly72.
A Functional Cosmology and Metaphor
Brian Swimme has said that
to become fully mature as human persons, we must bring to life within ourselves the dynamics that fashioned the cosmos … That is our task: to create the human form of the central powers of the cosmos73.
To do this, many women, and men too, need the Female Metaphor … to become fully human, to embody these dynamics that created the galaxies, the stars. As Carol Christ noted, women “have not actively shaped their experiences of self and world nor named the great powers from their own perspectives74.” Men too may find the Female Metaphor helpful in this matter of embodying the cosmic dynamics, since She is a participatory metaphor – relational – and She may re-store him to the context, partnership, as opposed to centre-stage, dominance and alienation. Adam McLean makes a case for “the Triple Goddess figure” being “for men, a safe inner guide75”, free of the dangers of the “hero”/”saviour” identification76. John Heron has critiqued “gender-laden perennialism77” wherein the traditional, typically male, practitioner “claims to have become spirit as spirit78”, whose spiritual practice involves sustained dissociation from the autonomous dynamic impulses of immanent spiritual life79.” Heron describes this as “supremely alienated and inflated agency, a man wanting only to be the whole of reality, and in no sense whatsoever a part of it or participant in it80.”
Part of the human memory that I have attempted to plumb in this Search is expressed by Swimme and Berry, in their telling of the Universe Story:
Some 2.6 million years ago, at the close of the Pliocene period, the earliest expression of the human appears in its species identity, a form of human designated as Homo habilis. …With Homo habilis an event of singular importance takes place: the beginning of the Stone Ages in the cultural development of the human. … Exactly here in these transition years the more significant foundations for the human mode of being were established. The sense of time and space was developing; imagination was receiving the impress of its powerful images; the stock of primordial memories that would influence all future generations was being developed; … (and) … The ever-recurring sequence of seasonal decline and renewal was making its impress on the human psyche as one of the most basic patterns that would later find expression in ritual celebration81.
In these times, to re-invent ourselves as Thomas Berry suggests humans need to82, we would do well to remember as much wisdom as we can gather. The process of seasonal celebration that this project has re-created and reflected upon, has been and is, an intuitive archaeological dig into an early layer of human awareness, a meditation focussed on letting deep and ancient knowings arise, in the context of present understandings – the universe as our minds understand it today, and then to marry them. Georg Feuerstein, in describing the work of philosopher Jean Gebser speaks of an “archaeology of consciousness” – structures of consciousness – that “are not merely a matter of the past83”, but do constitute our present whole field of cognition. These layers of modes of consciousness, each created at the various stages of human development over the millennia are all still present and essential to integral functioning of human capacity. The earlier layers/modes may help us understand “how our present responses and reactions are shaped by collective patterns of consciousness84.” I am not suggesting that there is any one way of marrying an early layer of human awareness – Stone Age mind as best one can intuit and imagine it – with present awareness of the Universe Story85, Gaia’s story as we know it. I assume there are infinite ways to do this. The particular method and process as I have been part of, and is documented here in this work, is simply an illustration of a possibility.
Swimme and Berry say that: “Cosmology aims at articulating the story of the universe so that humans can enter fruitfully into the web of relationships within the universe86.” The scope of their work is a synthesis of the questions common in traditional cosmology concerning the place of the human in the universe, with the factual investigations of scientific cosmology. Their articulation of the Universe Story is a new myth, a way of orienting the human anew in the universe, to enable a re-invention of the human. They say that to do this requires a reinvention of language to some degree:
… for each extant language harbors its own attitudes, its own assumptions, its own cosmology. Thus to articulate anew the story of our relationships in the world means to use the words of one of the modern languages that implicitly, and to varying degrees obscures or even denies the reality of these emerging relationships. Any cosmology whose language can be completely understood by using one of the standard dictionaries belongs to a former era87.
Thus, they say, to understand the new cosmology in any significant way, “is a demanding task, requiring a creative response over a significant period of time88.” This is kin to how Mary Daly speaks of “the very arduousness of the task of Naming and calling forth Elemental be-ing89.” This project of re-storying and celebrating our Habitat/Place – this PaGaian process – as anyone undertakes it, is subject to such a requirement. New relationship with certain terms and names – the language we speak – needs to be established, and the Metaphor – the Female Metaphor/Goddess/Gaia – needs to be spoken, enacted, lived – until we who are the participants have begun to know this Language in our cells. Certainly the embodiment of this Creative Metaphor in the Seasonal ritual celebrations is a process that deepens my sensed knowing each time the year goes around – it takes that kind of time, consistent practice over years. I realize that for myself, I am so far only scratching the surface; and other participants in this particular process have expressed feeling the same.
Some of the research participants commented in the interviews about how important the language used in the ritual celebrations was to them. They did this without the prompt of a specific question. One articulated how the old Western Christian cosmological language was no longer an adequate method of expressing his deep understandings of the cosmos. It has been my passion to find other language, other pathways to express those depths; and certainly for me it had to be a pathway that not only admits the Female/female, but celebrates Her/her, as an integral part of the Cosmos – in a way that patriarchal paradigms never have or could. It has been my passion to allow an experience of this for myself, and for others – WITH others … and that is where it really becomes meaningful, when communion is found. My self/Self re-creation became something that other people found resonance with, and I found resonance with them – and what has been my expression has been extended as I have felt for their expression. I have largely played the Poet, yet it is an inter-active process, that is growing over time – and into a plant we do not yet know.
The Female Metaphor
To clarify further what I mean when I speak of the “Female Metaphor”: I am not referring to a “feminine” part of the Divine, nor to some complementary partner to the Great Mystery, nor to some “half” of the Creative Principle of the Universe. When I speak of Her, She is a name for the whole Creative Principle. In accord with this metaphorical understanding, Rainer Maria Rilke wrote:
Some day there will be girls and women whose name will no longer signify merely an opposite of the masculine, but something in itself, something that makes one think not of any complement or limit, but only of life and existence90
The restorying articulated in the following chapters will be an illustration of how the Female Metaphor can be a name for the whole Creative Principle, of how this cosmology can be celebrated; and what difference it may make in the hearts and minds of women and men, and to the human response to Earth – our home.
A Cosmic Metaphor for Creativity
I propose that “She” – the Female Metaphor – in her three aspects, which I unfold in the chapters ahead, may be understood as a dynamic of Creativity – a dynamic innate to being, that may enable both women and men to participate more fully in the life of their own organism, and thus in the life of the Larger Organism of which we are part.
I propose that to participate in this year long process of ritual and celebration of Cosmic Metaphor for Creativity, with contemplation and consciousness, may enhance: (i) love of self, in a willingness to abide with the beauty and integrity of the particular differentiated self, and recognizing that this self is not separate from the Large Self which is Gaia (this is the work of the Virgin aspect). (ii) love of other, in a deep sense of relationship and communion with other people, the planet and the Cosmos – knowing both one’s “support for” and how one is “supported by” (this is the work of the Mother aspect). (iii) love of All-That-Is, in the understanding of transformation as not only possible, but indeed, as intrinsic to the pattern – enabling one’s more joyful participation in this intrinsic creativity (the work of the Crone aspect).
I propose that to participate in this Metaphor changes how one relates to loss; there is more willingness to let go. As one comes to identify with the Larger Self, and recognize one’s place in the scheme of things, it turns around egoic hubris that would indulge in holding on, usually manifesting in behaviour destructive to self, other and planet. Apart from obvious personal and interpersonal conflict that such hubris may generate, there is wanton “therapeutic” consumerism on a large scale, which is symptomatic of disregard for Earth. I do not mean to imply that when egoic hubris is let go of then there is no conflict, I mean simply that the source of conflict may then more likely be the creative tension of being alive, rather than a desperate unwillingness to accept change.
I propose that participation in this Metaphor also changes how one relates to this life, especially if one has had uncertainties about the value of it. Spiritualities of the modern cultural context frequently stress the impermanence of this life, but in the cosmology presented in this book, life – manifest reality – is celebrated equally, and its perdurance becomes more obvious. When one is able to grasp something of the dynamic of Cosmogenesis from the earliest stages of the Cosmic Story as we currently understand it, Life’s perdurance seems as insistent as the Void. It is true that one does not personally perdure, but one comes to know participation in a Process that does. For some people that is not sufficient, to be mere specks upon the road of a greater Journey, but that seems to be the situation; and the “specks” do create the Journey. The ritual celebration of the seasons may be an embodied reiteration of this truth, and enhance a willingness to participate creatively in this life.
(c) Glenys Livingstone 2005
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1 A term used by Charlene Spretnak, States of Grace: The Recovery of Meaning in the Postmodern Age.
2 I use the past tense here but I am aware that the situation is still very much current in most contexts around the globe.
3 Madison, Gary Brent. The Phenomenology of Merleau –Ponty. p.23
4 See Lakoff, George and Johnson, Mark. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and its Challenge to Western Thought.
5 See Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born.
6 Luce Irigaray, An Ethics of Sexual Difference.
7 Luce Irigaray, An Ethics of Sexual Difference, p.10-11.
8 Other important early influences were poets and writers such as Adrienne Rich, Robin Morgan , Helene Cixous and Charlene Spretnak who awakened me to the stories we lived everyday.
9 Mary Daly, Gyn/Ecology p.18, citing Julia P. Stanley and Susan W. Robbins “Going Through the Changes:The Pronoun She in Middle English”. The pronoun “he” is also used to designate all creatures unless it is known to be female or its femaleness specifically relevant; that is, even in reference to the other-than-human, “she” is still “Other”.
10 Mary Daly, Gyn/Ecology p.18, citing Julia P. Stanley and Susan W. Robbins “Going Through the Changes:The Pronoun She in Middle English”.
11 Mary Daly, Beyond God the Father, p.8.
12 Henceforth in the text I will often use the word “Search” to designate this process.
13 David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous, p.66 citing Merleau-Ponty 1968.
14 Jane Caputi “On Psychic Activism: Feminist Mythmaking” in The Feminist Companion to Mythology. Carolyne Larrington (ed), p.438.
15 Brian Swimme, The Universe is a Green Dragon, p. 133.
16 David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous, p.67.
17 This is an expression used by Brian Swimme in Canticle to the Cosmos, video4.
18 “Con-course” is a term used by Jurgen Kremer, in his paper “Post-modern Shamanism and the Evolution of Consciousness”.
19 W. Braud and R. Anderson, Transpersonal Research Methods for the Social Sciences, wherein “Organic” and “Intuitive” are two methods that are named and described.
20 W. Braud and R. Anderson, Transpersonal Research Methods for the Social Sciences, p.xxx.
21 Jean Houston, The Search for the Beloved.
22 Jean Houston, The Search for the Beloved, p.91.
23 Peter Reason and John Rowan (eds), Human Inquiry: A Sourcebook of New Paradigm Research, p. xxiii
24 “Conversation” is a term used by Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme to describe human ritual as responsive participation in the Universe, The Universe Story, p.153.
25 Charlene Spretnak points out in The Politics of Women’s Spirituality, p. 87, that the term “hera” – a pre-Hellenic name for Goddess, pre-dates “hero” – a term for the brave male Heracles, and thus it could be used as an expression for any courageous individual. The ritual that is done in the class series is one that is based on Jean Houston’s exercise “A Friend in Court”, The Hero and the Goddess, pp. 62-69.
26 Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story, p. 224.
27 Willis Harman and Elisabet Sahtouris, Biology Re-Visioned, p. 16.
28 Willis Harman and Elisabet Sahtouris, Biology Re-Visioned, p. 16.
29 Charlene Spretnak, States of Grace, p.145.
30 Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story, p.153.
31 Charlene Spretnak, States of Grace, p.145.
32 Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story, p.152
33 Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story, p.152
34 This is a term Starhawk used on her email list in 2004 to describe the story-telling we might do to bring forth the changes we desire.
35 Starhawk. Truth or Dare, p.100.
36 Starhawk. Truth or Dare, p.98.
37 Brian Swimme, The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos, p.8-20.
38 A term used by Gloria Feman Orenstein in The Reflowering of the Goddess.
39 As Dr. Susan Murphy described it to me in conversation.
40 Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything, p.306-307.
41 Brian Swimme, The Universe is a Green Dragon, p.144-145.
42 Brian Swimme, The Universe is a Green Dragon, p.147.
43 Starhawk, The Spiral Dance, p.36.
44 Caitlin and John Matthews are almost unique in their consideration of the Southern Hemisphere in their writing. See The Western Way, p.47.
45 as Australian writer David Tacey also articulates in all of his work, but referenced here particularly in “Spirit and Place”, EarthSong journal, issue 1, p.7-9.
46 Quoted in David Tacey, “Spirit and Place”, EarthSong journal, issue 1, p.7.
47 David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous, p.182.
48 Eugene Stockton (ed), Blue Mountains Dreaming, p.43.
49 Eugene Stockton (ed), Blue Mountains Dreaming, p.43.
50 This Old European Pagan spiritual practice as I have re-created it here in Australia, is an imaginative response to the “challenge” of a “new cultural situation”, as David Tacey calls for, though he has imagined that it would come mainly from old Christian traditions. See David Tacey, “Spirit and Place”, EarthSong journal, issue 1, p.9-10.
51 George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, p.3.
52 George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, p.5.
53 George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, p.5.
54 George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, p.5.
55 Webster’s Third International Dictionary of the English Language, p.1420.
56 Starhawk, Truth or Dare, p.21.
57 Starhawk, Truth or Dare, p.21.
58 George Lakoff and Mark Johnson, Metaphors We Live By, p.7. They are speaking of metaphor in general using the example of the word “argument”. They are not adressing “the Divine” specifically here, though they do address metaphor and the “ineffable God” (sic) inPhilosophy in the Flesh p.567-568), saying that “passionate spirituality” requires metaphor.
59 Charlene Spretnak, States of Grace: the Recovery of Meaning in the Postmodern Age, p.25.
60 Mary Daly, Pure Lust, p.26.
61 Mary Daly, Pure Lust, p.26.
62 Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, p.21.
63 Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, p.20.
64 Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, p.21.
65 Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, p.21.
66 Joseph Campbell, The Inner Reaches of Outer Space, p.19.
67 Brian Swimme, Canticle to the Cosmos video 5.
68 Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics, p.6.
69 I capitalize this term, as I use it in the sense of a language – a language of the Universe – much as one would capitalize “English” or “French”. “English” or “French” are not generally thought of consciously as “sacred” media, although the terms are frequently treated as such. In this book, “Poetry” is definitely being used to refer to a sacred medium.
70 Caitlin Matthews, The Celtic Spirit, p.366.
71 Caitlin Matthews, The Celtic Spirit, p.366.
72 Vladimir Vernadsky, The Biosphere, p.34.
73 Brian Swimme, The Universe is a Green Dragon, p.87.
74 Carol Christ, Diving Deep and Surfacing, p.4.
75 Adam McLean, The Triple Goddess, p.120.
76 Adam McLean, The Triple Goddess, p.119.
77 John Heron, Sacred Science, p.3-4.
78 John Heron, Sacred Science, p.4.
79 John Heron, Sacred Science, p.4.
80 John Heron, Sacred Science, p.4.
81 Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story, pp.146-148.
82 Mark Matousek, “Re-Inventing the Human”, Common Boundary Vol. 8 No.3, p.31.
83 Georg Feuerstein, “Towards a New Consciousness: A Review Essay on Jean Gebser”. Noetic Sciences Review, No. 7, Summer 1988, p. 24.
84 Georg Feuerstein, “Towards a New Consciousness: A Review Essay on Jean Gebser”. Noetic Sciences Review, No. 7, Summer 1988, p. 26.
85 This term is capitalized to suggest that it may be understood to refer to sacred text, much as the “Koran” or “Bible” are capitalized.
86 Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story, p.23.
87 Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story, p.24.
88 Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story, p.24.
89 Mary Daly, Pure Lust, p.25.
90 Edward C. Whitmont, The Return of the Goddess, p.214 quoting Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet, p.59.
In my copy of PAGAIAN COSMOLOGY I have highlighted much of the content as statements I want to return to and remember. I would pick out the last four sentences on p27 as those I ponder a lot, especially –
‘the specks – (individual lives) – do create the Journey’ (of the Cosmos to finality).
I think and answer in the language of my culture which is Science.
That Journey is implemented by Evolution, one of the greatest discoveries of our species. Evolution is part of the Process that, year after year, is creating the cosmic mind, just as a satellite circling the Earth repeats its journey every ninety minutes with a small variation on each repeat orbit that finally comprehends and maps the entire planet. I know this because I have used these satellites personally in my work mapping parts of our Mother planet.
The grand result of the sentient Cosmos will be achieved at first locally by our own Donna Earth in the next few billion years; then by Her Mother Hera the Galaxy whose breastmilk of love is splashed across the night sky in a spray of stars, after Her loving embrace, merger and accelerated joint pregnancy with Her sister Andromeda; and finally by the Cosmic Consciousness, Celeste Herself. The many beautiful icons of the Ma (Mother) Donna (Earth) with Her holy child are the Greek expression of this concept of The Mother of God. This knowledge, this understanding of the birth of God after ages of Chaos, is the gift of our species to Sile/Celeste the living Cosmos. We have also given Her the knowledge of Her birth-date nearly fourteen billion years ago.
Did She, Celeste, know of Her birth-date and Her destiny before we discovered them? Perhaps not. I like to think that She has enlisted Her progeny in Her own creation and growth – Her magnificent gift to us. In return, we present her with the gifts of our own thought, born out of Her own body, allowing Her to understand Herself in greater depth and detail.
If we, the Human species, survive our gross stupidity, stop assaulting Her and return to Her, helping her to nourish Earth life and even to spread it, we could have a glorious destiny, presenting Her with the jewels of our worship and thought. If we don’t, and if we throw Her gift of Life on Earth back in Her face with insult, She will dispense with us, a failed experiment, and proceed without us.
Thank you Aidan for your comment. To my mind your telling of the story is resonant with Brian Swimme’s purpose of understanding the role of human consciousness in the evolutionary unfolding: that is, what is it in particular that human consciousness might be adding to that ultimate Creative Process? And I add: once we have added it, we may not continue … or “we” may in some form, beyond our knowing.
Brian Swimme starts on this in his series The Earth’s Imagination https://storyoftheuniverse.org/product/the-earths-imagination/ but he has continued in that path since. I have heard him say that this is the point of his work: the role of human consciousness in the big Journey, that of Celeste, as you name Her.