Namaste Insights Brought to you by Namaste Publishing
Fall 2012 The Imperative of Unleashing
The DIVINE FEMININE In this issue:
Joan Chittister Matthew Fox Marianne Williamson John Shelby Spong Starhawk Mare Cromwell Mary Sharratt Mary Lou Kownacki Sarah McLean Shefali Tsabary
In this issue ! !
There’s Something about Mary, All Right! Constance Kellough, Publisher, Namaste Publishing
Joan Chittister, OSB, Comments on Matthew Fox’s New Book Hildegard of Bingen—A Saint for Our Times
Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB, Reviews Illuminations: A Novel of Hildegard von Bingen
Hildegard of Bingen: a Dialogue Matthew Fox and Mary Sharratt
The Hidden Spirituality of Men Matthew Fox
The Terror of the Tender David Robert Ord, Editorial Director, Namaste Publishing
Exclusive Interviews with:
Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong
The Romantic Mysteries Marianne’s Blog
Modern Mystics Walk Among Us Sarah McLean
Movies to Grow By: The Duchess
How to Raise Boys and Girls to Be EQUALS Shefali Tsabary, PhD
A Message from Earth Mother to Her Daughters Mare Cromwell Women’s Congress for Future Generations September 27-30; Moab, Utah
There’s Something about Mary, All Right!
President and Publisher Namaste Publishing
This issue of Namaste Insights is devoted to the imperative of restoring the Divine Feminine to its rightful stature, the result of which will be the restoration of the Sacred Masculine. What is the Divine Feminine but the express-‐ ion of women when they own and honor their complete nature? What is the sacred Masculine but the same? How can we embrace each other in oneness unless we Cirst honor and love every aspect of our own nature? Men and women, although different in form, no longer feeling separate from one another in value, in divine essence, is a prerequisite to healing humanity’s felt separation from God. I want to draw on two movies that address the suppression of both the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine. They are There’s Something About Mary and The Da Vinci Code. (You’ll also Cind another article in this issue that draws lessons from The Da Vinci Code.) In There’s Something About Mary, a hysterical movie by the Farrelly Brothers, on the one hand men use women as sex objects, yet on the other, they idolize them as the sweet “mother” who is anything but sexual. Psychologists have popularly spoken of this as the Madonna-‐Whore split. It’s a fractured state, devoid of wholeness—and it’s at
the root of and sustains the patriarchy that’s so damaging in its effects on our world. Patriarchy has had a grip on human civili-‐ zation for thousands of years, causing untold inequities and atrocities. Yet humans resist the
restoration of wholeness in terms of the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine. This resistance is so deeply entrenched in the psyche of both males and females that it’s hard to shake. But I see hope. That hope is that, paradox-‐ ically, we actually yearn for the healing of this split in our psyche—a harbinger of a different world that I suggest these two movies point to. It’s this yearning for the revival of the Divine Feminine that’s behind why people have long sought the Holy Grail, which according Professor Langdon in The Da Vinci Code rep-‐ resents the goddess. “Legends of chivalric quests for the lost Grail were in fact stories of forbidden quests to Cind the lost sacred feminine,” he explains. “Knights who claimed to be ‘searching for the chalice’ were speaking in code as a way to protect themselves from a Church that had subjugated women, banished the Goddess, burned non-‐believers, and forbidden the pagan reverence for the sacred feminine.” Claims The Da Vinci Code, Mary Magdalene embodies the Grail. How fascinating that today more people than ever are captivated by this legend that has survived almost two millennia— that Mary Magdalene was the wife of Jesus, and that they had children. I sense that the popularity of this legend has little to do with whether it’s historically factual,
but everything to do with the way legends speak to psychological realities. Indeed, when author Dan Brown was asked in an ABC primetime special, “Why do you think your book has touched such a nerve?” he responded, “These are topics that resonate at a deep, deep spiritual level, really the core of the human psyche.” I see the Magdalene as an archetype. As wife and mother, she represents female acceptance and fulCillment of her complete nature, her full self. This explains why there was such a system-‐ atic discrediting of her in the Church’s history. Though she started out as preeminent witness to the resurrection, by the Cifth century she had been so objectiCied that the pope declared her a whore! What you suppress ultimately comes back to bite you in the butt. So the Magdalene in our era rocketed to stardom on bookstore shelves, as well as on 21st century network television talk shows, followed by her debut on the silver screen! Re-‐ pressed people despise her, yet they can’t shake her because she’s an archetype of a disowned aspect of ourselves. I wonder whether you are aware of the amazing reappearance in our era of Mary as both sexual and nurturing? Let me brieCly trace what’s been happening in the Roman CatholicChurch, which claims some 1.2 billion adherents. If Mary Magdalene has come to symbolize the woman men lust after in Hooters, the Virgin Mary at the core of the Christian tradition depicts the opposite polarity—woman as Untouchable
Mother. Two thousand years after her debut, this Mary also refuses to go away.
she was assumed bodily into the afterlife, where she reigns as Queen of Heaven.
In 1854, Pope Pius IX pronounced Mary “exempt from all stain of original sin.” Although the wording of the deCinition of the Immaculate Conception is stingy, in that Mary scrapes into this privileged place because of who Jesus was, the framers of this doctrine unwittingly triggered a liberation of women.
It’s the female body that has for centuries given men so much trouble, but woman @inally won the right to think of her body as holy!
There’s something more about Mary. In 1950, in a remarkable move, Pope Pius XII declared that
In his justiCication of the Assumption, the Pope quoted St Bernardine of Siena, who examined everything medieval theologians had said about Mary. Pius XII saw in the Mother of God and the Divine Son a parallel nobility of soul and body.
Mary isn’t secondary to Jesus. The heavenly Queen shares an equal glory with the heavenly King. In approving this exaltation almost unanimously, the world’s bishops were being moved by forces in the human psyche to instinctively revive the Divine Feminine. Is it not curious that so many Catholics respond to Mary as Mother of God in a way they don’t to God or Jesus? I’m thinking of her various purported apparitions. It’s not Jesus who’s said to be appearing, but his mother. People Clock to anything to do with Mary’s appearing. There’s something more about Mary all right. She’s an archetype of the suppressed feminine. We are instinctively drawn by the feminine we deny—so much so that Mary has been increasing in status. If Mary as Mother is inching her way into her own, her body at last accepted, Mary Magdalene still waits in the wings. It will take the integration of both Marys to end patriarchy and restore the balance of yin and yang. The reappearance of Mary as mother in the church, and Mary Magdalene in the secular media, points up our deep longing to reconnect both polarities. I Cind it particularly signiCicant that the Magdalene is resurrected from the annals of ecclesiology at the very time we’re raping the Great Mother, planet Earth. What hope is there for a reconnection of the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine? I see hopeful signs even in the bastion of patriarchy itself, the Vatican. It’s evident in the making of Hildegard of Bingen both a saint and a Doctor of the Church on October 7, 2012—only the fourth woman in history to be so honored. After being largely ignored for almost nine long centuries, she’s reappearing in one of the most patriarchal papacies in a long time. What irony! Even the papal patriarchal psyche can’t lock out the Divine Feminine. It all goes to show that you can’t keep a good woman down. I am thrilled that Namaste Publishing has just released a groundbreaking book by acclaimed author and spiritual teacher Matthew Fox. Entitled Hildegard of Bingen—A Saint for Our
Times, it’s all about the real signiCicance of Hildegard. You’ll Cind much about this book in this ezine. The message is that the Divine Feminine will out—and in its wake will come the awakening of the Sacred Masculine. For when we no longer buy into what psychologists call the Madonna-‐Whore syndrome, an integration of maleness and femaleness that can save us as a planet will become possible. Mary the Mother of Jesus understood the importance of the restoration of women’s deeply buried, culturally obscured feminine essence. She recognized that when women come into their own there will then be an end to the patriarchy that has blighted Earth. In her song The MagniCicat, she imagines, as a result of her exaltation, the corrupt powerful removed from their thrones, the hungry and oppressed Cilled with good things, the rich patriarchy sent empty away. This vision of a world healed of the Madonna-‐ Whore split of patriarchy is echoed in the words of a song: “The rising of the women is the rising of the race.” I’m sorry the task falls to women. It’s just the way it is. As the Divine Feminine rises up, it will concurrently bring men into their sacred wholeness as well. We are not separate but deeply connected. Heal one aspect of the divine expression, and you heal the other. In celebrating our diversity in our oneness, relishing the mirroring of our whole selves in the opposite sex, we will have taken a giant leap to realizing the One Divine Son—and indeed Daughter—of God. Books by Constance Kellough...
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Hildegard of Bingen For the almost 1.2 billion Catholics around the world, 310 million of them in the United States alone, October 7, 2012 will mark the historic canonization and declaration as Doctor of the Church of 12th century Benedictine nun Hildegard of Bingen by Pope Benedict XVI. She will be only the fourth woman in history to have this honor bestowed on her. In an era when women were marginalized, Hildegard was an outspoken, controversial Cigure who exempliCied the divine feminine, sought justice for the poor, and demonstrated a passion for the earth and its creatures, emphasizing the oneness of reality. Yet so visionary was her insight, she was sought out by kings, popes, abbots, and bishops for advice. Today, along with being honored and celebrated through many websites and Hildegard groups for her teachings, philosophy, art, and music, Hildegard is being recognized for her immense contribution to our understanding of our spiritual relationship to nature—a contribution that touches head-‐on key issues faced by our planet in the 21st century, particularly with regard to the environment and ecology. In his landmark book Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint for Our Times, internationally acclaimed author Matthew Fox explores the power and richness of Hildegard as writer, composer, philosopher, Christian mystic, Benedictine abbess, healer, artist, and student of science, and visits the basic concepts that inCluenced her teachings and visions and that ultimately earned her sainthood, admiration, and loyalty. In describing this book, Fox states, “It’s meant for ordinary people, busy people, people on the go who seek some timeless wisdom from a past that yearns to speak to us today in the midst of our personal, cultural, and planetary turbulence—turbulence that gives perspective to our existence.”
Joan Chittester Comments on
Matthew Fox’s New Book Joan Chittister, OSB
Somewhere there hangs a poster that reads, “Those who have lived well for their own time have lived well for all times.” At one stage of human development, this can be a difCicult concept to understand. After all, there is one thing of which we are unequivocally certain: we live once. Only once. We live in our own times, shaped by our own times, and constrained by our own times. Beyond that, most of us have little or no aspirations. After all, it is enough to have done that well, isn’t it? For what else can we possibly hope? But then comes the stage of life when we Cinally begin to realize how short life really is. Then, too often surely, the question becomes what, in the long view of life, so small a moment in time can possibly mean? After all, we know that the scope of the average human being is limited and that the very thought of producing something that might live on beyond us has the ring of absurdity to it. Few monuments of the past still stand. Few of anyone’s words live on. Few of the world’s ancient accomplishments serve us still. The aqueducts are gone, the walls are down, the books are out of print, the spears have dulled with rust. Echoes of those questions haunt us, pursue us through time, shape our sense of purpose, confront the very soul of us. Shelley’s sonnet “Ozymandias” appeared in England in the early 19th century, at the beginning of the industrial age when newness was becoming an addiction. The monarchies are falling then, the steamships are on the water, the light bulb has been lit. The unheard of seems possible. Everything old is being scorned now, and even the best things the age had produced—the ornate carriages, the awesome
dynasties, the cavalries, the oil lamps—were fast becoming relics. and in the center of it all, the poet Shelley sounds a warning for all to hear. He writes of the broke and toppled statue of a great pharaoh found in the Egyptian desert and says: On the pedestal these words appear “My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!” Nothing beside remains. Round the decay Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare The lone and level sands stretch far away.
English Poet Shelley
The message is ominously clear: everything passes away, nothing is permanent, no power is absolute, no reign lasts, nothing we do really matters.
At Cirst glance, the words seem wise, seem weighted with truth. but at another stage of life, the words take on an aura of the simplistic. As a matter of fact, we come to know that it isn’t true that nothing lasts. On the contrary, everything lasts. Everything matters. Everything we do counts. Everything is prelude, stepping stone, and promise. The only thing any age needs to become the next one is someone with the courage to challenge the past, to embody the future, to announce its reality, and to cope with the demand that transition brings. If ever we need to be reminded of the effect of one age on another, of the impact of even one Cigure on the world, this clear, creative, insightful book is certainly proof of it. Hildegard of Bingen was born almost 1,000 years ago! But in this book she lives again in our time. In this book, it’s easy to see how she proclaimed our coming simply by refusing to accept in her time what we are still trying to achieve in ours. She gave us both the permission to trust our own insights and the call to require them for the women who will come after us. What she knew then, our best thinkers are calling us to now. This book doesn’t look at Hildegard of Bingen as an icon of an age long gone by. This book looks at Hildegard as harbinger, prophet, template of our own. This book doesn’t sink us into the past; it requires us to analyze our own role in the present with all of her gifts in mind. It links the acts and insights of the past to the ongoing agendas of our own age. The theological insights Hildegard brought to the 11th century stretched the spiritual viewpoint of the church beyond the legal to the moral. The ethical concerns Hildegard raised in both church and state still underlie the hopes in this age for a church that demonstrates more compassion for those who suffer than for the canonical niceties that condemn them. The intellectual gifts she gave to the world totally unbidden conCirm the desires of the women of our own time to be contributing thinkers to our own world, bidden or not, welcome or not. The vision of “the web
of life” that Hildegard gave her time challenges our own sense of planetary citizenship. The regard, respect, and religious repute she brought to the place of science in the spiritual life brought religion beyond the magical to the mystical. The Cigure of Hildegard herself as woman—bright, bold, fearless, and conCident of her place in god’s creation, of woman’s place in the image of god—gives heart to women still beaten, rebuffed, sold, enslaved, and ignored in our own. This is Hildegard of Bingen, Doctor of the Church, a woman for all women to Cind in themselves, to follow and to proclaim as sign and model of what they themselves must be permitted to be. What Hildegard did counted then and counts still. And so must we. Read this book with these words ringing in your soul: “The purpose of life,” the essayist Rosten writes, “is not to be happy. The purpose of life is to matter; to have it make a difference that you lived at all.” This book gives strong, sterling, and unvarnished evidence that everything—everything—we ourselves become will affect what women after us may also become. For their sakes, take heart from this great woman, learn from her, be strengthened by her, and live life in such a way yourself that makes a difference for those who will come after you. This is a truly marvelous, useful, profound, and creative book.
About Joan Chittister, OSB A Benedictine Sister of Erie, Joan Chittister is a bestselling author and well-‐known international lecturer on topics of justice, peace, human rights, women's issues, and contemporary spirituality in the Church and in society. She presently serves as the co-‐chair of the Global Peace Initiative of Women, a partner organization of the United Nations, facilitating a worldwide network of women peace builders, especially in the Middle East. She is founder and executive director of Benetvision, a resource for contemporary spirituality. Sister Joan is author of many books.
New from Joan Chittister “Everything we do in life, the scripture reminds us, goes into the treasury of the heart.” So says Sr. Joan in this in-‐depth and powerful look at what our hearts can attain. She says that the ideas that Cill our hearts determine the way we live our lives. Those are the things we draw on in those moments when we need to reach down deep inside ourselves for character, courage, endurance, and hope.
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In this lovely book, Sr. Joan looks at 50 “aspects,” all of which in some way can Cill our hearts and our lives. She talks about a prayerful heart, a peaceful heart, a risking heart, a wise heart, a cosmic heart, a compassionate heart. Each brief chapter offers abundant food for reClection and prayer, and each offers an opportunity to become persons who “produce good from the treasure of the heart” (Luke 6:45).
Book Review by Mary Lou Kownacki, OSB Mary Sharratt sent me an advanced reading copy of her book Illuminations: a novel of Hildegard von Bingen, which is being released to coincide with Hildegard’s upcoming (October 2012) elevation to Doctor of the Church. The Cirst chapter begins with seventy-‐nine-‐year-‐old Hildegard, abbess of Rupertsberg, Germany, and her community in the monastery cemetery chiseling off every inscription on the tombstones. Why are they doing this? Because under her leadership the community had dared to give a Christian burial to a young man church ofCicials had declared an apostate. A delegation of prelates was arriving soon to dig up the boy’s body and dump it in unhallowed ground, so the nuns razed the cemetery, making identiCication impossible and preserving the boy’s burial. For this action the community would be placed under interdict—denied the liturgy, the sacraments, including Eucharist and the recitation of the Divine OfCice. What I found most poignant in the Cirst chapter was how Sharratt imagined the turmoil in Hildegard as she pondered her decision. These are Hildegard’s thoughts: “The men I’d railed against gathered like carrion crows to wreak their revenge on me and put me in my place once and for all. It was not my own fate that worried me, for I have endured much in my life. This year or next, I would join the departed in the cold sod and await judgment like any other soul. But what would become of my daughters? How could I die and leave them to this turmoil—what if this very abbey was dissolved, these women left homeless? A stabbing pain Cilled me to see them so lost, their faces stark with fear. Our world was about to turn upside down. How could I save these women who had placed their trust in me?” This happened 870+ years ago. Do you know how many prioresses and superiors—because of the Vatican’s recent mandate to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious— are wrestling with these same questions right now? “How long, O God, how long….” P.S. In addition to this novel, which I thoroughly enjoyed, I know of two other Hildegard books soon to be released—one by Avis Clenendon and the other by Matthew Fox. Sister Joan Chittister has written the introduction to both books.
Read more of Sister Mary Lou: http://www.monasteriesoftheheart.org/blogs/heart-matter
"Sharratt’s well-timed and wellwritten portrait, both admiring and humanizing, should please readers looking for an accessible way to learn more about the life of this fascinating medieval woman." Mara Bandy, Library Journal
Read the novel by Mary Sharratt to learn more about Hildegard. Then read Hildegard’s challenge to us today in Matthew Fox’s new book
Hildegard of Bingen—A Saint for Our Times
Skillfully interweaving historical fact with psychological insight and vivid imagination, Mary Sharratt’s redemptive novel, Illuminations, brings to life one of the most extraordinary women of the Middle Ages: Hildegard von Bingen, Benedictine abbess, visionary and polymath.
Offered to the Church at the age of eight, Hildegard was entombed in a small room where she was expected to live out her days in silent submission as the handmaiden of a renowned but disturbed young nun, Jutta von Sponheim. Instead, Hildegard rejected Jutta’s masochistic piety and found comfort and grace in studying books, growing herbs, and rejoicing in her own secret visions of the divine. When Jutta died some thirty years later, Hildegard broke out of her prison with the heavenly calling to speak and write about her visions and to liberate her sisters and herself from the soul-‐ destroying anchorage. Riveting and utterly unforgettable, Illuminations is a deeply moving portrayal of a woman willing to risk everything for what she believed.
Book of the Month Club One Spirit Book Club Available wherever books and eBooks are sold www.marysharratt.com
Emeryville, CA October 5, 2012 (Friday) Barnes and Noble 7 PM Book Discussion & Signing Hildegard of Bingen—A Saint for our Times Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century 510.547.0905 http://store-‐locator.barnesandnoble.com/store/2072 Corte Madera, CA October 8, 2012 (Monday) Book Passage 7 PM Book Discussion & Book Signing: Hildegard of Bingen—A Saint for our Times Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century 415.927.0960 http://www.bookpassage.com Tiburon, CA October 13-‐14, 2012 (Saturday-‐Sunday) Community Congregational Church of Tiburon Saturday 9 AM – 12:30 PM Workshop & Book Signing Topic: Mystics—Pioneers of Consciousness Sunday 7:30 AM Worship Service, Q&A, Book Signing Sunday 10 AM Worship Service, Q&Q, Book Signing 415.435.9108 www.ccctiburon.net Louisville, KY November 9, 2012 (Friday) Cultivating Connections 7:00 PM Lecture, Q&A, and Book Signing Topic: Hildegard of Bingen: The Return of the Divine Feminine and a Challenge to Patriarchy Everywhere https://cultivatingconnections.org Louisville, KY November 10, 2012 (Friday-‐Sunday) 2012 Call To Action Conference Saturday 10:45 AM Keynote Lecture: The Future of Religion, The Future of Christianity Notes for and from the Occupy Generation 12 Noon-‐ 1 PM – Book Signing https://www.cta-‐usa.net/CTA2012.php November 11, 2012 (Sunday) Unity of Louisville 11 AM Worship Service & Book Signing http://www.unityoClouisville.org November 12-‐13, 2012 (Monday-‐Tuesday) Pikeville, KY University of Pikeville Monday 7 PM Lecture, Q&A, & Book Signing Topic: Creation Spirituality Tuesday 11 AM Chapel Service Topic: Creativity/vocation (30 minutes) http://www.upike.edu November 28, 2012 (Wednesday) Mountain View, CA East West Bookstore 7:30 PM Book Discussion & Book Signing Hildegard of Bingen: A Saint for our Times Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century 650.988.9800 www.eastwest.com
Hear and Meet MATTHEW FOX in Person Other locations being added—check Matthew’s author page at Namaste Publishing
Mary: Your 1985 book The Illuminations of Hildegard made Hildegard’s life and work accessible to a wide popular readership. How did you discover Hildegard? Matthew: It was while I was working on Meister Eckhart. As I read him, I felt more and more that there was a feminine voice inside his work. I learned that he worked with the Beguines, but I still thought there was something more there. So it was Eckhart who brought me to Hildegard.
Mary Sharratt It was when I actually started working on the Illuminations book that I met Thomas Berry, who was a great scholar. I shared with him that I was working on Hildegard, and he was extremely familiar with her life. He was the Cirst living human being I ever came across who really knew Hildegard. Mary: Before your book, Hildegard was considered rather difCicult to understand, even obscure. For instance, her music was rarely recorded. Matthew: That’s indeed true. The National Catholic Reporter, which is a more progressive Catholic journal, called her “crazy.” For centuries she was considered really far out. For instance, she even invented her own language. People simply didn’t understand her. I think it has taken a post-‐modern consciousness to appreciate her. The modern consciousness didn’t get it. You have a novel coming out. Tell me about your book.
Mary: It’s entitled Illuminations—A Novel of Hildergard Von Bingen. As you can see, I took my inspiration from your book in terms of the title! It’s a novel based on her life, from when she was a child of the Anchorage on through her interdict (the collective excommunication of herself and her nuns). The novel ends shortly before her death. She is such an exciting and inspiring woman. Her life was so big and complex that it wasn’t easy to condense it into a novel. While I was writing about Hildegard, I was also following the news stories of the Vatican’s crackdown on the sisters of the Leadership Council of Women Religious, and I was struck by the injustice of how women are condemned to stand at the margins of established religion. The previous pope called for a moratorium on even the discussion of women priests. Yet back in the 12th century, Hildegard broke down all kinds of gender barriers. She was ofCicially recognized as a prophet. She went on four preaching tours. She founded two monasteries. She wrote three books on visionary theology. And she celebrated both women and the feminine divine. How do you think Hildegard was able to accomplish this in the 12th century, when we aren’t even allowed to talk about women priests today? Matthew: It shows what a Cierce force she was! Someone asked me recently how it was possible that even the pope listened to her, as well as abbots and bishops. I replied, “Frankly, I think they were afraid of her.” I think they were afraid of the authenticity of her sources. In the premodern consciousness in which they were living in the 12th century, there was more sensitivity and respect for the intuitive consciousness than there is in our modern world. And of course, Hildegard is nothing if not intuitive in terms of her consciousness. In my new book Hildegard of Bingen—A Saint for Our Times, I go into some detail about her teaching regarding the church. She doesn’t identify the church with the hierarchy or the pope. She speciCically says that the head of the church is Christ, not the pope. So her theology is more solid than that of the present papacy or the previous papacy. In my recent book The Pope’s War, I deconstruct what’s really been going on for 42 years in the Vatican. What you are seeing now in the public condemnation of the Catholic sisters—and even the Girl Scouts, can you imagine!—is beyond belief in terms of how the patriarchal mindset has seized the Vatican at this time in history. Hildegard is strong in her objections to papal pomposity, which is one of the reason’s she’s such a powerful voice for today—a key theme of my new book, which has the subtitle Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century. The title of the last chapter of the new book asks, “Is Hildegard a Trojan Horse Entering the Gates of the Vatican?” She’s a Trojan Horse not only to patriarchal religion, but to patriarchy in general. The irony is that this papacy, of all papacies, is not only canonizing her but also declaring her a Doctor of the Church! They are bringing this herald of the Divine Feminine right into the church’s bosom by calling her a Doctor of the Church. I think it could explode the whole thing—and we certainly need that kind of explosion. Mary: What will happen once they let the Trojan Horse in through the gates?
Matthew: Exactly. Stand by, it’s going to be fun. Mary: Hildegard is such a complex and multifaceted Cigure who lends herself to widely different interpretations. Pope Benedict’s Hildegard is obviously very different from your vision of Hildegard. He is recognizing her for her profound contributions as a theologian. So clearly his interpretation of Hildegard’s theology is radically different from your own. Why do you think Mr. Ratzinger, of all people, has become Hildegard’s champion? Matthew: Because he’s German, as she was! Of course, the Germans declared her a saint on their own centuries ago, though she has never been formally canonized. A lot of it has to do with the interdiction and the way she dealt with the archbishop, telling him he was going to go to a place in the next life where there’s no music. You know, telling an archbishop to “go to hell” doesn’t exactly put you on the fast track to canonization! It’s highly ironic that this papacy is declaring her both a saint and a doctor. Whatever peculiar interpretation is going to be put on Hildegard, it’s why I wanted to get my book out fast, so the facts would be known—and I’m grateful to Namaste Publishing for moving quickly. You can’t erase what Hildegard wrote. For example, when she talks about the pope and the curia, she says they are cackling hens who stay up all night and frighten themselves. That’s the 12th century curia. Well, nothing’s changed! Whatever the pope’s interpretation, he can’t deny her own letters. Mary: Yes, her work stands for itself and you can’t rewrite that. The 12th century church was riven with schisms, sex scandals, and Cinancial corruption. Hildegard preached that the male hierarchy must either reform or be cast out. Later she prophesied that the entire institution would crumble, and that a remnant of saints and visionaries would Click to Order start a grassroots movement to bring the faith back to the purity of early Christianity. But meanwhile, 21st century conservative Catholic pundits talk about the pope’s reforms creating a smaller but purer church. So how does this Cit together?
Matthew: In The Pope’s War, I lay out the case for how the previous papacy and the current papacy are in schism. They are in schism precisely because they have turned their back on the Second Vatican Council. In the Catholic tradition, a council trumps the pope—the pope doesn’t trump the council. What’s really going on when the present pope talks about how he wants a smaller church is that he’s saying he wants a church that’s completely obedient to Rome exclusively. Hildegard was actually called the Cirst Protestant by Luther’s followers in Nuremberg, Germany, you know. But of course she was one of many such as St Francis of Assisi, Dominic, and others who were trying to reform the church in the Middle Ages. So there’s an ancient tradition of ecclesia reformanda, which acknowledges that the church always has to be reformed. Hildegard was certainly a great reformer in her time. And this is precisely what the Second Vatican Council tried to do. Now there has been this takeover by the curia, the papal bureaucracy, involving the present and late pope. So they end up with a smaller church. But the real church is those who are following the principles both of the gospels and of Vatican II, and who are involved in issues of social justice, racial justice, gender justice, and so on. In other words, people who subscribe to the very principles that a lot of these sisters have been following and are now being attacked for. In my book The Pope’s War, at the end I list 93 theologians who were beaten up on by Cardinal Ratzinger when he was head of the Doctrine of the Faith. He was beating up on them instead of going after pedophile priests, which he knew about and whose job it was to go after them. There were letters on his desk for years about the abuse. The horrors and scandals of pedophilia covered up under the past two papacies won’t go away. The question is, what would Hildegard be saying today? When you read her letters of her day, attacking bishops and abbots and popes and emperors…
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Mary: She would be knocking heads together! Matthew: Exactly. As a sister, she wouldn’t be wimpy in responding to the way Rome is attacking the sisters at this time. This is one of the reasons she is relevant today. She helps sow courage in the heart of any authentic Christian. Mary: Do you think the present day nuns could get away with speaking out as dramatically and explicitly as Hildegard did?
Matthew: I wish they would speak out in the same way. I wish all theologians would. Frankly, I think a lot of theologians have been cowed, hiding in corners for decades now. When they came after theologians like myself and Leonard Boff in Brazil, or Father Eugene Druermann in Germany, all three of us were very visible on our continents. They Cired us all in the very same year. This put fear into the hearts of many theologians, which has resulted in what I would say is quite a lot of cowardly behavior. People have to wake up and get out of denial. And of course the secular press is terrible about reporting on the Vatican, afraid to take them on. The Vatican isn’t just about religion. They are very tied up with the CIA, Opus Dei, and dictators in various countries as I demonstrate in my book. So there are a lot of dimensions to this today that need to be made explicit, and Hildegard would be out front on all this were she alive today. Mary: Cardinal Ratzinger, now the present pope, expelled you from the church after you had served in the Dominican order for 34 years. Do you think your portrayal of Hildegard was part of what got you in trouble? Matthew: He had a list of objections to my writing, the third objection of which was that I’m a “feminist theologian.” The second objection was that I call God Mother. So yes, Hildegard’s love of the Divine Feminine was then and is now part of my lineage. Mary: So Julian of Norwich would also have been in trouble for calling God Mother? Matthew: Absolutely. Julian of Norwich, and all kinds of people such as Mechthild of Magdeburg. Pretty much all fundamentalists can be deCined by their fear of the feminine—whether we are talking about Cardinal Ratzinger, Pat Robertson, or the Taliban. From his writing about me, it’s this aspect of me that most disturbed Ratzinger. I intuited early in reading Hildegard that here was a champion of the Divine Feminine, which was one of the aspects that drew me to her. And of course she’s a champion of Mother Earth and the ecological movement. She’s a real prophet in this regard. Mary: What would you say to the critics and pundits who argue that Hildegard has been unjustly appropriated by feminism and New Age spirituality, and that she was at least in some respects deeply conservative?
Matthew: Conservative in what exactly? Is it conservative to tell the pope that he’s surrounded by evil men—men who cackle at night like hens? And what’s conservative about refusing to move a grave when instructed to do so by the archbishop, for which she was interdicted? Certainly Hildegard abode by some of the restrictions of her time and of the institution of that day. She didn’t march to be ordained a priest. But in a subtle way, she brought the feminine strongly into ecclesiology and her understanding of the church. She most deCinitely didn’t buy into the notion they are trying to sell us today that the magisterium and entire teaching arm of the church is located in Rome. As you pointed out earlier, she was teaching as a woman, and she was preaching, which of course has been forbidden by the last two popes. She was preaching in the presence of bishops and archbishops throughout Germany and Switzerland. So I don’t see much that’s conservative about her! Mary: Some claim that she was an elitist because in Rupertsberg abbey all the choir nuns were of noble birth. That she didn’t have people of lower birth serving as choir nuns was one of the criticisms directed at her during her own lifetime by Mistress Tengswich, the superior of Andemach Abbey, who wrote a letter to her complaining that her nuns wore fancy hairdos and tiaras. In other words, that she was a social elitist. Matthew: I don’t give her high grades on what I would call class consciousness. All saints have clay feet, and it’s important to know their limitations as well as their genius. She made mistakes, as we all do. One of these was that she stuck by the class structure of her day. Matthew Fox nails 95 theses at Wittenberg, Germany, where Martin Mary: It was a deeply Luther nailed his 95 theses hierarchical society with deep class lines. Matthew: At the same time, she was explicit on the rights of the poor and taking care of their needs. She talks about the compassion she felt whenever she encountered the poor. She also talks a lot about greed, criticizing it not only in the church hierarchy but also in the social structures of her time. And her favorite virtue was justice, for she was always calling people back to justice. “Daughter Justice,” she called it. But she didn’t apply her justice consciousness to the class issues of her time, and today we would see this as
a shortcoming. One could say that she accepted the class distinctions of her day rather than working to deconstruct them. Remember, she was part of the monastic establishment, which was very powerful in her time. This is why Francis and Dominic, who came right after her, did break with the monastic establishment and its ties to the feudal system. Mary: She was a woman of her time, which was obviously different from our day. Matthew: Yet in so many ways she was way beyond her time. Mary: Oh, way beyond our time also! Matthew: I really look forward to ��reading your novel about her. Did you enjoy writing it? Mary: Very much so. I was completely steeped in her world, which meant the novel ended up being twice as long as the version that’s currently being published. There’s just so much of her, which meant it was difCicult to know what to put in and what to leave out. She’s just so rich. One last question, Matthew. How can people of diverse faith backgrounds integrate a Hildegardian spirituality into their daily lives? Not just Catholics, but individuals from all the various faiths. Matthew: At the end of my new book I have a whole set of spiritual practices people can do based on Hildegard’s theology. Spiritual practices obviously transcend any one denominational boundary because we’re talking about dealing with human nature itself, calming the reptilian brain. I try to lay out in this closing section of the book a number of practices that are indebted to Hildegard’s spirit on the one hand, but that are also universal. Of course, her teachings about how important creativity is, and her insight that creativity is the very nature of the Godhead—that the Holy Spirit is music and all the other arts—applies ecumenically. Then her teaching about the Cosmic Christ, that the Christ is present in all the universe. And her recognition of the sacredness of nature, and that all the elements need to be preserved in what she calls the “web of creation”—and that we can’t rupture this web, or creation itself is going to respond negatively and make us pay a price—which of course applies to such issues as global warming. Mary: It’s all very topical for today. Matthew: Very topical. That’s why I have chapters in which I have her encountering Einstein and post-‐ modern science, the work of Dorothy Soelle and feminism, and the role of the wild woman. Hildegard is all of these. She was very shamanistic. Her love of animals, too. And her use of alternative healing, which is obviously very relevant today. All of these things cross denominational boundaries. Mary: My previous novel was about the Pendle Witches, the 17th century English women healers who were persecuted for witchcraft. When I look at Hildegard’s remedies, she actually has charms that read almost like spells. I think if she had lived several centuries later, she might have been accused of witchcraft for the kind of healing practices she engaged in. Matthew: In Cardinal Ratzinger’s list of objections to my work, one of his complaints was that I had Starhawk on my faculty. And of course she is a “witch,” and a very wonderful woman. So we are still going after the witches! I couldn’t believe that this was such a problem for the Vatican. As if they hadn’t burned enough witches already. Notice that they burned us—we didn’t burn any of them.
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The HIDDEN Spirituality of Men by Matthew Fox Recently I had a very powerful and beautiful dream at a place and on an occasion that was very auspicious. I had arrived at night and in the dark at the top of a mountain at a retreat center named Mount Madonna not far from Santa Cruz, California. The purpose of my visit was to lead a day workshop that was part of a larger conference sponsored by the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology titled “The Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine.” The night was dark as I stumbled along the rocky terrain, made my way to my room, and prepared for the workshop the next day. That night I dreamt that I was on a mountain in rocky terrain. It was daytime, and someone came to me and said, “Come look at this.” I followed this person over hills and rocky places and arrived at a dirt road where an entire caravan of cars was moving through the mountain. As far as the eye could see, over hill and dale, something like a grand wedding was taking place — it was a wedding day parade with newly married couples in each car as far as the eye could see. Only, lo and behold, in the back seat of each car, as bride and groom, was an elephant and a tiger. They were newlyweds, compassion and passion. A sacred marriage revisited! As one car passed, I saw that the elephant was more or less
embracing the tiger, and the tiger had its head out the window and was staring at me. The tiger was beautiful and strong, and in the dream I said, “Look how large the tiger’s head is.” It was a generous and bountiful occasion. All were happy, the sun was shining, and the four-‐ legged ones, far from going extinct, were intermarrying. Progeny were sure to follow. The return of the Sacred Masculine and the Divine Feminine? The return of the Sacred Marriage of the two? One can hope. It was, in the end, a very hopeful and amazing dream. I take the dream to mean, among other things, that the elephant represents the Divine Feminine. It is grand and powerful but also maternal and community-‐minded. I take the tiger to stand for the sacred masculine—a tiger is a hunter, it is noble and beautiful, and also intelligent (the large head) and cunning. The animals were getting along in the back seat of the car, though the maternal, the elephant, was essentially holding or embracing the tiger, the masculine. I could not see who was driving the car. Probably a human being acting as chauffeur. Of course, tigers and elephants cannot actually mate, and this dream about the masculine and the feminine should not be taken literally. We carry both masculine and feminine attributes within us,
The Green Man, 2012 Jarvier Garcia Lemuz
just as the tiger family carries both within it and the elephant family the same.
Dark Mother, Oshun, Sophia, Wisdom, the Tao, Mary, Kali, or the Lady of Guadalupe, she is making a much-‐needed and much-‐heralded The caravan in the dream is signiCicant. Middle return. Indeed, not since the twelfth century has Eastern philosophy pictures history as a caravan the Goddess been so active in Western Culture. At with the ancestors leading, rather than bringing that time she led the charge to reinvent education up the rear. We are all part of history and this was and worship, lifestyles and architecture. an ancestral caravan, one that in the real world is But what about the Sacred Masculine? Here we seriously damaged, since tigers and elephants and have far less evidence of an awakening. We need the entire natural world is suffering at this time in to search, we need to dig—and we need to let go history. Why were the elephant and tiger in the of images of Male Godliness that are damaging backseat? It’s an interesting question, but maybe and destructive. What good is it if the goddess that is another point of the returns and men refuse her dream: humans (as chauffeurs) presence? What good is it if “All the names we give the goddess strives to have a responsibility to help preserve these endangered but blossom in both women and to God come from an amazing beings. We are here to men, but men offer her no understanding of serve. home? What good is it if ourselves” Sophia wakes women up but Meister Eckhart, 14th century Which takes us back to the not men? essence of the dream—it is time that we gathered our This will not do—not in beautiful masculine (tiger) and personal relationships and not powerfully feminine (elephant) in cultural institutions, all of powers. We need a relationship of which need a healthy gender equality between the yang and yin balance of masculine and powers within ourselves and feminine, male and female, yin within our cultural institutions. and yang. As Meister Eckhart put We are a long way from that it seven centuries ago, “All the situation in our current caravans. names we give to God come from an understanding of It is widely acknowledged and ourselves.” If men and women, regarded that the Divine Feminine girls and boys, cannot receive a has made a grand comeback in balanced sense of the gender of recent history. This has taken the form of women God (any statement on God is always a circles, women scholarship, WomenChurch, metaphor), then it follows that we are not living women organizing, women leading, women with a balanced gender sense of ourselves. becoming educated and taking their place in science, medicine, politics, business, religion, and Of course, not too long ago, a men’s movement more. Far more women go to college today than emerged that seemed to inaugurate the men. Whether we call her the Goddess, Gaia, God redeCining of the Sacred Masculine described as Mother, the Divine Feminine, the Black above. But for various reasons it has been only Madonna, Tara, Kuan Yin, the Bodhisattva, the partially successful. One reason for this may be
that the mass media ridiculed many of the efforts of the movement; another may be that certain representatives of the movement seemed bent on deCining masculinity in a crazy macho way — for example, Robert Moore in his book King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculine, spends far more ink citing General Patton than Gandhi, Jesus, Malcolm X, or Martin Luther King Jr. In an interview with Christian de la Huerta, a leader in the gay spirituality movement and author of Coming Out Spiritually, I asked him what he felt about the men’s movement. Had it accomplished much so far? I haven’t been personally impacted by it. I think for the most part the men’s movement impacted the straight men’s community, so in that sense I think it did a lot of good as far as it could take it. But for some reason it seems to have stalled or petered out, and I’m not sure what that’s about. There is still an acute need to open up men’s hearts and spirits. Look at the evolution of humanity, and I would say that men, and straight men in particular, are the rear guard where the majority of the work needs to happen. And it’s because of that disconnection with themselves, their bodies and their emotions and with the Divine, that frustration surfaces and comes out in inappropriate ways, with violence and rape and war. I asked Christian if he felt men in our society have a distorted view of masculinity. He responded, “DeCinitely. In a lot of men I Cind a fear of introspection, a fear of pleasure: they become very stuck in their lives. Disconnected from their bodies; completely repressing the emotions. And that, of course, all comes out in inappropriate and sometimes destructive ways.”
I asked Jim Miller, a seventy-‐two-‐year-‐old retired farmer, poet, photographer, and swimmer (he swam the English Channel at sixty-‐six, and regularly swims to Alcatraz in the San Francisco Bay) what the men’s movement meant to him. Miller has been involved with it for over twenty years, beginning with the “Friends of Iron John.” He spoke about the positive work the men’s movement has done, and all that’s left to be done: The men’s movement has been a powerful thing with Robert Bly and Mendocino men’s gatherings over many years. It made me appreciate the gold my father did not give to me. The men in my family were all alcoholics or crazy. The men’s movement was very valuable for me in terms of Poet Robert Bly getting my feet on the ground and my legs underneath me and understanding some of the things that men are about, including the feminine pole and the masculine pole — awareness and awakenness. Men have been asleep in our patriarchal theocracies. And they’ve had a lot of wool pulled over their eyes over a long period of time. And a lot are awakening to their vulnerability and their sensitiveness to Life.
Excerpted from The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Spiritual Masculine © 2008 by Matthew Fox. Printed with permission of New World Library, Novato, CA. www.newworldlibrary.com or 800-‐972-‐6657 ext. 52. Visit Matthew online.
The TERROR of the
TENDER Art by Deanna
by David Robert Ord In The Da Vinci Code, Langdon, a cryptologist, is speaking: “The ancients envisioned their world in two halves––masculine and feminine. Their gods and goddesses worked to keep a balance of power. Yin and yang. When male and female were balanced, there was harmony in the world. When they were unbalanced, there was chaos.” With the dawn of agriculture 12,000 years ago, humans entered into a new relationship with Earth. The control of nature became key to our species’ success. But it so changed male and female self-‐ understanding that today this very success endangers the planet. When you gather nuts and berries, or hunt, you don’t have to put down roots. But when you sow crops, dig wells, build houses, you suddenly have property––and property tempts others to take it, which means it must be defended.
The World Needs a Hug Art by Deanna
Because men were overall stronger and faster, it fell to them to protect. And if you want warriors to defend your property, you can’t foster tenderness in them. So a disconnect occurred. Tenderness was displaced onto woman, and the male learned not to be at all like the female. With this disconnect, there developed in males a terror of the tender. Male dominance
over women is male resistance to their own capacity for tenderness. Male putting down of females is rooted in their terror of their innate tenderness. There’s such a taboo against male tenderness that males must objectify women so they aren’t touched by the tenderness they have learned to deny in themselves. This is the root of patriarchy. It’s about male control of their own tender-‐ ness. This Clight from tenderness is esp-‐ ecially reClected in society’s terror of the homosexual. Why the furor over gay marriage? It’s been suggested that when a man can’t stand the thought of homosexuals, it must be that he himself has a latent gayness. This may be true on occasion. But I propose that what’s hiding in society’s abhorrence of gay partnerships is actually fear of males truly be-‐ coming gentle men. We need to connect the words hateful and hurtful. When males can’t feel the female in themselves, they lash out with hatred. Men are terriCied of facing the pain of being out of touch with their tenderness. Denial of the feminine is so pervasive that anthropologist Glenn Hughes says a male terror of women is woven into every institution. It’s this denial of male tenderness that’s destroying
the ecosphere. Mother Earth, like her human daughters, has become an object to be used.
Intimacy, available either on a CD ($12.95) or as an instant download ($5.99).
How likely is it we will restore the tender in males? Sadly, it may well depend on what women do about it.
If you become authentic, no longer acting a part but real in your relationship, saying yes when you mean yes and no when you mean no, you will destabilize the status quo, which will automatically invite systemic change. You will need to hold onto yourself when the waters become choppy, staying calm instead of becoming reactive. Eckhart Tolle explains how to do this in The Power of Now (in hardcover $11 , softcover $14, and as a CD set $39.95).
Who most needs therapy in the average relationship? And who most resists? A complaint I hear all the time is that men won’t talk and don’t listen. When challenged by a signiCicant female to seek help either through reading or other means, they retort, “I don’t need help.” Women, when your men won’t open up and share feelings, they are saying, “Don’t really touch me. Don’t awaken the ‘feminine’ in me.” Well, what are you going to do about that? If you let that man disappear into his cave, our world will be lost. It’s males in emotional caves that have largely put us in the mess we’re in as a planet. You get a man to Cind the part of him that can experience tenderness when you Cinally muster the courage to be true to yourself. You have to practically drag him to it. Not angrily, criticizing, berating, trying to change him. Rather, by changing yourself. This is the most powerful, and only truly successful, way of inCluencing another person, as Michael Brown explains in his talk entitled The Radiance of
Click to Order Don’t let a man talk to you in a disconnected, perfunctory manner. Get him eyeball to eyeball. In an intimate relationship, when you touch, if he’s just going through the motions, gently and kindly stop. Reconnect emotionally and pick things up again. Feel the connection. Anytime you lose the connection, stop and pick it up yet again. How to do this is explained in Dr David Schnarch’s books Passionate Marriage and Intimacy & Desire, along with his book Resurrecting Sex.
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Standing up for your wholeness is about being authentic no matter that you rock the boat. You’re standing up not just for yourself, but for all women—and for Mother Earth herself.
Exclusive Interviews for Readers of
Namaste Insights To highlight different aspects of the Divine Feminine as seen by leading advocates for women, Namaste Publishing’s Editorial Director, David Robert Ord, conducted interviews with Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong, Starhawk, and Marianne Williamson.
An Exclusive Interview with John Shelby Spong David: It’s clear that Jesus was an advocate for women. Yet the early church quickly became patriarchal. So how did the feminine become buried? Bishop Spong: Well, it didn’t get buried, it just got repressed. It’s the old issue of the yin and the yang. We repressed the feminine as deeply as we could in Western Christianity. One of the symbols of this repression of the feminine is the fact that all of the authors of what we refer to as the Holy Scriptures are male voices. These are mostly Semitic male voices, though in our world they would be equated with white male voices. So the Bible has neither the voice of a person of color nor the voice of a woman. It’s
really strange that we would deny 50% of the human race representation in the Scriptures. If I talk about the “canon” of Scripture, many people who aren’t even involved with the church now know what I’m referring to, since so many have read Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. One of the reasons I regret that the canon of Scripture has been closed is that we aren’t able to add voices like Hildegard, Julian of Norwich, and many others from throughout history who could give us insight from the feminine side of life. When I say that the canon has been closed, I am referring to the fact that the Scriptures have been the same, with no additions, since they were Cinally deCined —though there’s some debate on the precise date. But the canon was pretty well established by the end of the second century.
The idea that God hasn’t spoken for the last almost 2,000 years, as if God had been on a very long sabbatical, is a really strange idea when you think about it. Were the canon still open, I would like for Martin Luther King’s Letter from a Birmingham Jail to be an epistle that’s read regularly in church. I think some of the insights of the great feminine leaders through the centuries, such as Hildegard of Bingen, would be an incredible addition to the liturgical life of our church. To read their writings and then say together, as we do when reading any Scripture in a church service, “This is the word of the Lord,” would broaden our understanding of how God speaks in God’s world. David: In the Episcopal Church there has been quite a lot of movement in terms of women, though not so much movement when it comes to removing the patriarchal language from the liturgy. In my experience, opposition to changing the liturgy from its often patriarchal style has come mainly from women. What’s this about? Bishop Spong: Yes, there has been a great deal of movement. But changing the history of patriarchy was never going to be an easy enterprise. However, I’m not sure that I would agree that women have been the primary opposition to change. The fact is that throughout history, women have been the majority of the members of the church. Other than serving in the ministry, men have been rather fringe. When you consider that the church has overwhelmingly been made up of a male priesthood and a female congregation, to say that most of the opposition came from women is really to suggest that most of the opposition within the body of the church came from women simply because the church has been predominantly female. However, I would guess that most of the positive moves also came from women simply because women were the majority of the people worshipping. You have to look not at the sexual identity issue, but at the fact that religon for most people—and that includes liturgy—is part of their security system. Anytime you begin to tamper with the security system of any human being, you are going to get a hostile reaction. It’s quite irrational, but it happens in all areas of life.
I understand that when Albert Einstein confronted quantum wierdness for the Cirst time, he found it impossible to accept because it challenged everything he believed. He wasn’t prepared to open himself to a new possibility— and it’s not one of his greatest chapters. When Einstein died, Niels Bohr said, “The king is dead. Long live the king.” In other words, the movement moved on. People cannot stop the movement of the Spirit, no matter what they do or say. Part of being a pastor in a church is that you are always dealing with the security level of human beings. In one of my congregations in Virginia, every Sunday a man would come out of chuch threatening to cut off his pledge if we didn’t do something a certain way. Because every week saw him disturbed, you got the impression that maybe the problem was inside him instead of in the life of the church. I Cinally said to him in response to his threat to cut off his pledge, “You’re not going to do that.” He became very angry and retorted, “What do you mean, I’m not going to do that?” I said, “Well, you can do it once. But once you have cut off your pledge, you have no more leverage. You can’t do it two, three, or four times.” This was quite an insight for him. I mention this story because it suggests that so much of what goes on as religious conversation is simply a defensive shield around our security systems. If our security system goes awry, we feel like we might be falling into a bottomless pit. So we cling to whatever makes us feel secure with a certain desperation. It’s actually a sign of the absence of faith much more than it is a sign of faith. Faith in the biblical sense really means to embrace the unknown—to walk into the uncertain tomorrow. To be faithless is to cling to yesterday as if there were no tomorrow. So much of what goes on in liturgy and in the life of the church is attached to the emotions that revolve around feeling secure. That’s why ordaining women was such an incredible struggle for some churches. With the rare exception of the
United Church of Christ, which ordained a woman in the 19th century, no woman was ordained until the 20th century. Almost all the churches that have moved to ordain women did so in the second half of the 20th century, most of them in the last quarter of the century. The great Christian movements of the world numerically—the Roman Catholic tradition and the Orthodox tradition— haven’t yet moved to this simple issue of equality. The reason there’s a battle around this issue is that it challenges our value systems of the past. Those churches that won’t move on it call the way they cling to the values of the past “virtue,” whereas I call it “sin.” They want to protect this unchanging sacred tradition, but what they are protecting is the sinfulness of human prejudice hiding in our insecurity. We had the same thing in the race movement in the South. Deeply committed Christians were violently opposed to integration. Every time there’s a change in the status of how we see God or how we worship, it generates an enormous amount of anxiety, insecurity, hostility, and even warfare. The reason we have religious wars and religious persecution is that we can’t embrace the ongoing reality of change. One of the reasons Darwin so upsets many Christians is that he said we live in the midst of Clux. There was never a perfect beginning, and there isn’t a perfect end in sight. It’s an ever-‐ evolving, ever-‐changing situation. Though this is clearly the case in life, religious people have a hard time allowing this truth to enter and inform their personal experience of reality.
David: I don’t know whether you happen to have seen the BBC movie called simply “Darwin,” but Charles Darwin went through a similar earthquake emotionally, which the Cilm shows graphically. Bishop Spong: Yes, he did. In fact he arrived at most of his insights about 30 years before he published On the Origin of Species. One of the reasons he didn’t publish earlier was that he knew it was going to be terribly upsetting to his wife, who was a deeply devoted Church of England worshiper. The fact is that truth doesn’t stop for all of the weak people to catch up with it. Because people don’t move lockstep but are in different places on the journey, we are always living in the chaos triggered by change. Life is rather like one of those kaleidoscopes, where every time you turn it, all the crystals shift their position. It’s highly insecurity-‐producing for most people. I don’t believe the Christian faith offers us security. I think that’s nothing but idolatry. I think that what the Christian faith gives me, at least, is the capacity to live within a world of radical insecurity, and to keep putting one foot in front of the other with integrity. I think we’ve totally missed the message in the institutional church by not understanding that this is what our business is all about. David: My sense is that people’s psychological development determines where they are in terms of their beliefs. As we develop psychologically, we become able to evolve doctrinally. This was certainly true in my own case.
Bishop Spong: I think that’s exactly correct. One of the problems we have as the church is that we spend our time trying to protect the security lines of yesterday because we are incapable of embracing the realities of an oncoming tomorrow. David: Isn’t it the case that the Episcopal Church will only be able to change its liturgy if it rewrites the prayer book? Do you see any hope of this happening? Bishop Spong: Oh yes. It happens fairly regularly, about every 50 years. It’s a cataclysmic event for Episcopalians. Every now and then people ought to go back and worship according to the 1662 prayer book, and they would understand why we have to change it periodically. Our whole world is in constant change, which means our thought processes also change. In 1662, nobody had ever heard of a germ or a virus, let alone a cardiovascular accident. Whenever somebody became sick, they interpreted it as punishment from God for their sinfulness. So we treated sickness with sacriCices and prayers. Now that we know the cause of illness isn’t God’s punishment, but a virus, cholesterol count, and so on, we know how to treat these things quite differently. As a result, the secularization of medicine has taken place rather completely. We feel the same way about the weather. Every now and then you’ll hear a strange voice like Pat Robertson, who said that the Haiti earthquake was God’s punishment of the Haitians for throwing the French out in the 19th century. Of course, most of us smile at this idea today. But if you go back a few hundred years, we didn’t laugh at such things. When the Black Plague struck across Europe, everybody looked for a reason, trying to understand God’s punishing wrath. One of the candidates was that they had moved the papacy from Rome to Avignon. This is when Clagellants appeared on the scene. They would go through the cities of Europe lashing themselves with whips, the idea being that if they punished themselves sufCiciently, God would withdraw the punishment of the plague. It wasn’t abnormal to think this way back then. But this is widely recognized as really strange thinking today. If the
church doesn’t revise its prayer book from time to time, it gets trapped in the issues of yesterday. When the Bible was written, we were quite sure that the universe was made up of three tiers, and the earth was the center of the three tiers. The entire Bible is written from this point of view. For instance, it makes no sense whatever to talk about the Tower of Babel story, in which they were going to build a tower so tall that it would reach God up in the sky, unless you believe that you live in a three-‐tiered universe. It makes no sense to talk about God raining down manna on the starving children of Israel unless you believe that God lives in the sky. In the story of the ascension, it makes no sense for Jesus to rise up off this planet and ascend into the sky unless you believe that God is above us. It was Carl Sagan who said to me on one occasion, “If Jesus literally ascended into the sky, and if he traveled at the speed of light—approximately 186,000 miles per second— he hasn’t yet escaped our galaxy.” When people literalize the Scriptures so totally, they literalize a worldview that has long since died. If we are going to talk about our faith in the 21st century, we’ve got to extricate the experience of our faith from the explanations of a pre-‐modern world—and that’s a very scary thing for many people. Matthew Fox was one of the Cirst people to start doing this, with his book Original Blessing. You see, Darwin makes the idea of original sin nonsense. Original sin assumes there was in the beginning a state of perfection from which we have fallen. But if, as Darwin shows, there was no perfect creation, there couldn’t be a fall. If there wasn’t a fall, there doesn’t need to be
a rescue, since you can’t be rescued from a fall that never happened. You can’t be restored to a status you’ve never possessed. So the whole way we tell the Jesus story becomes increasingly nonsensical if we identify the explanations of yesterday with the experience we are trying to communicate today. David: Paul in Romans 1:20 speaks of the divine attributes as evident in the creation. Do you see aspects of the feminine that distinctively reveal God in ways that the masculine doesn’t? Bishop Spong: If you go back far enough in human experience, you’ll Cind that we envisioned God as feminine. When we shifted from being hunter-‐gatherers as a species and became agricultural in some of those early civilizations in the Tigris-‐Euphrates and Nile River valleys, which are the ones we know most about, our concept of God shifted from this spirit-‐Cilled world to a localized deity who was increasingly identiCied with the reproductive processes of life. In every language of the world that I’m aware of, our earth is called Mother Earth and nature is called Mother Nature, since it was reproduction that kept our species alive. Long before people understood the connection between sexual activity and reproduction, they recognized that the mother was the one who nourished the tribe with new people. God was viewed as the feminine source of life. Remnants of these concepts are still alive in some of our traditions today. The fact that most of our burial customs open the womb of Mother Earth and place her sons and daughters back into the womb comes out of this period of our history. Child sacriCice, as cruel and terrible as it was, arose from the idea that if you sacriCiced your Cirstborn to the Mother Goddess, she would bless you with many more children—and having sufCicient children was a major issue in a world in which the survival of the species was always at risk. We were told that we were to reproduce because it was our duty as a human being. This doesn’t make a lot of sense in a world with more than seven billion people, where natural
resources are being stretched to the limit to support this gigantic population. The recovery of the feminine in God is also to recover a sense of the environment as being holy, and to recover a sense of humanity as both male and female equally. We have had to learn that God embodies both the masculine and the feminine. To recognize and honor gay and lesbian people is an aspect in this same struggle, because we have tried to make God exclusively masculine. All of these movements tend in the direction of recovering a meaning to life that has a feminine perspective. And I think the church is inCinitely better off because of it. In my church, I see that because we ordained women, legally beginning in 1977—we had ordained a few illegally before this time—we have since begun to develop female bishops, female theologians, female biblical scholars, and female liturgists. This is to our advantage because, when women look at the Bible, theology or liturgy from a feminine perspective, they see things we have never seen before. No one human being can see the fullness of light, the fullness of God. It takes the complementary aspects of both male and female, along with the aspects we call gay or lesbian, to be able to see the fullness of the meaning we search for when we search for the reality of God.
Visit John Shelby Spong at: johnshelbyspong.com
An Exclusive Interview with STARHAWK
Photo: Bert Meijer
About Starhawk Starhawk is the author of twelve books on Goddess religion, earth based spirituality, and activism, including The Spiral Dance, The Fifth Sacred Thing, The Earth Path, and The Empowerment Manual: A Guide for Collaborative Groups, on power, process and group dynamics. She is currently working with Yerba Buena Films on a feature production of her novel The Fifth Sacred Thing. You can learn about it at: http://Cifthsacredthing.com/ Starhawk is one of the founders of the Pagan spiritual network Reclaiming, www.reclaiming.org, and directs Earth Activist Trainings, offering permaculture design courses with a grounding in spirit and a focus on organizing. See: www.earthactivisttraining.org. She blogs at www.starhawksblog.org and her website is www.starhawk.org.
David: How did you Cirst become aware of the Divine Feminine in your life? Starhawk: I grew up in the Jewish tradition, and my mother had long been a proto-‐feminist. She constantly complained about the favoritism shown to her brothers. For instance, she objected to the fact that they experienced a bar mitzvah, whereas she was denied this. I used to think, “Mom, get over it! That was a long time ago.” But as I grew older, I started to notice for myself how the same dynamics were operating in society. Then in college I became involved in the feminist movement. As part of this, we started to look at the role of religion, realizing how much religion is controlled by men and oriented toward males—and, conversely, how little of it is focused on women. In due course, I started looking for alternatives. This is what led me into the Cield of Goddess religion, whereby I started creating rituals and working with groups that wanted to do something different, trying things that really look at the energies that bring life into the world, honoring these energies, honoring the body and its Clesh—in other words, honoring nature. David: How did this awakening change you? Starhawk: I found that being able to see the divine in female form was empowering to me as a woman, especially as a young woman. It was a tremendous realization to be able to say, “My female body is sacred, and the things that my body is capable of doing are part of the life force, the great creative force of the universe.” This insight made me more grounded. I became more conCident in following my own intuition and trusting my own ideas. I realized that I didn’t need to have them validated by a man. This made me more independent. For me this continues to be a great source of creativity. I have a way to tap into the wellspring of creativity that’s all around us. David: Coming from the perspective of the Divine Feminine, in any given situation, how do you know which is the right path for you? Starhawk: I think it’s a deep intuition. There’s a feeling about it. It’s hard to describe, but it’s almost like when you are trying to adjust something and it suddenly clicks into place. There’s just a rightness. At the same time, there’s a certain feeling when I’m about to go off on a wrong path. Maybe it’s sometimes even clearer than when I know the right path. I might begin to feel a little squirrely about something. Or if someone suggests something that just doesn’t feel quite right, quite ethical, there’s an almost visceral feeling that says, “No, don’t go down that road.” David: Is this different from how, when people are asked by life to take a new direction, they often experience fear, which causes them to want to close that door? Can you differentiate between the two experiences? Starhawk: Yes. We have a saying in my tradition that where there’s fear, there’s power. When you are going in a new direction, especially when you are approaching the edge of your comfort zone, it deCinitely can feel uncomfortable. But it’s a different kind of discomfort.
The one feels kind of scary, yet at the same time exhilarating—like when you are about to jump off a high rock into cold water. You want to do it, but the thought of the shock of the cold water causes you trepidation. But if I am being asked to do something I would feel ashamed of—or if the feeling arises that says, “Whoa, I wouldn’t want anyone else to Cind out about this”—that to me is a big no-‐no. I want to be able to say, “You know what, whatever happens, I stand behind this. I know that my intentions in this are right. I’m serving the cause of justice.” It Photo: Wisteria Community, Ohio may even be terrifying, but it’s nevertheless the right thing to do. David: We are seeing a lot of pushback in the world right now in terms of women’s issues. In American society, the attempt by some to stop abortion is gaining momentum. In the Roman Catholic Church globally, patriarchy is reasserting itself. And what many thought was going to be an Arab spring is in many ways turning the clock back for women. How do you see all of this playing out in terms of our overall evolution? Starhawk: One of the things I have always appreciated about Matthew Fox is that he’s constantly been a strong voice for women’s rights within the church, and for really trusting the integrity and spiritual authority of women. We have to trust women to make their own decisions. The whole debate surrounding abortion isn’t really about the life of the unborn. It’s about who gets to control women’s reproduction. If the abortion debate was truly about life and concern for the unborn, then the same voices that are interested in banning Starhawk leads meditation at Wisteria abortion would be showing at Summer Solstice Gathering, 2009 least some slight concern when it comes to making sure children have basics like food, shelter, clothing, health care, and education once they are actually born. Yet all around the world children in the countless millions are going without these things, with thousands dying every day of malnutrition.
On one level, it seems like we are in a time when we are having to continually Cight the same battles over and over again. But on another level, the old regime could be likened to the dinosaurs thrashing their way into extinction as the environment changed around them and mammals began to thrive. I sense that the younger generation doesn’t have so many of these same kinds of concerns that you see aired in public so much. When you look at the overall trend of history, you’ll see that it’s gradually moving toward greater openness and increased liberation. In terms of the Arab Spring, I’ve spent a lot of time in Palestine, in solidarity with the liberation struggle there—particularly with the people who are waging a nonviolent resistance to occupation. I’ve had the opportunity to live intimately with some of the families, really getting to work with and know people there. Whenever you have conditions of intense suppression, the reaction often tends to move toward whatever seems strongest and most dogmatic. But there are great variations among Muslims as among any group of people. Many people chafe under the restrictions of fundamentalism. Remove the external suppression, and people will Cind their way to liberation. I know that there are a lot of people within the Muslim world who are working toward honoring women. There are also a lot of very strong, highly educated women in the Muslim world. Certainly among the Palestinians, there are many, many women with higher education. Families educate women because it’s more likely that the women in the family will survive than the men. In the long run, this makes for liberation. David: What’s the bottom line in society’s resistance to equality for women? Starhawk: It’s quite simply control, resulting from fear. People who have control are reluctant to give it up because then they would have to confront their fears. Men who have little control over the rest of their lives at least get to exercise some control when they can dominate women. It’s their compensation for not having rewarding lives in general. David: Matthew Fox has been a presence in your life for some time, right? Starhawk: Working with Matthew, as I did for many years in the 80s and 90s, he introduced me to Hildegard and her wonderful work. At one point when I was traveling in Germany, I had the marvelous opportunity to visit her abbey. To actually be there—to be able to walk where she had walked, see some of her artwork, and hear some of her music played in its original setting—was an amazing experience. I am grateful to Matthew for showing us that even in the Roman Catholic Church, there have always been women who had their own vision and somehow found a way to empower themselves within that structure, then share that power with others. Hildegard has given us some great gifts of beautiful mystical traditions that speak to people regardless of what religious background they come from.
The bud becomes a glorious rose, the acorn a majestic tree; the wild flower seeds a luminous field of color.
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The stars and planets multiply into galaxies, and galaxies into super galaxies. The embryo grows into a fetus, the fetus into a baby, the baby into a child, and the child to adulthood. The broken-hearted become lighthearted, and the emotionally wounded experience healing and peace. There is a universal impulse to grow, to change, to become “more” of who we truly are. Built into the fabric of all existence is the element of growth, of progression. Everything is in a state of evolving to a higher, more complex order. We can call this universal element of creation The Grower. All existence is propelled by the creative energy of this force. When it comes to our personal growth, our evolution to a higher state of consciousness, we can appropriately say it is our Inner Grower at work. Our Inner Grower has our highest and best interests at heart at all times. But what do we really know about our Inner Grower? How can we become aware of it, aligned with it, say "yes" to it? For most of us, our Inner Grower is an unacknowledged part of our being. No wonder humanity as a whole and most humans have been stuck in repetitive negative cycles. We cry out in pain: Why aren’t we learning to live more sanely, more lovingly as a species? Why do I feel so stuck in my life? And why do I make the same mistakes over and over again? Meet your Inner Grower.
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An Exclusive Interview with
David: Marianne, did you grow up in the traditional way, or were you raised in a household in which there was some kind of awareness of the value of the feminine, perhaps even a sense of the Divine Feminine? Marianne: I’ve come to realize that the Divine Feminine is more than a concept. When I was growing up, my mother was a very traditional housewife. She lived her life for my father and her children, creating a home environment that was positive for us. I grew up in a generation that looked at my mother’s life and thought that it wasn’t important enough. So I wanted to go out into the world and do something important. It took me years to realize how wrong I was. First, I had to come to the realization that there is no “out there.” Even more important, I came to see that my mother had it right! The fact she didn’t conceive of it as the Divine Feminine is of little importance. She lived beyond the mere concept. Today I understand the role of the Divine Feminine is to take care of the children. It’s just that every child on this Earth is one of our children. It’s also the role of the Divine Feminine to take care of the home. But we come to realize that the entire Earth is our home. I think it’s crucial for us to realize that the Divine Feminine isn’t separate from our earthly existence. She’s not just a concept. She either works through our earthly existence or she is simply mocked. There are people who have never heard a phrase like “the Divine Feminine.” My mother would have been one of those. Yet she channeled Her more than many people who talk endlessly about the Divine Feminine but don’t seem to notice that children starve on our planet every day, and the Earth itself is also in peril. David: How did you Cirst become aware of the Divine Feminine? Marianne: I’ve been reading books on spirituality and philosophy—everything from the I Ching and astrology to Kierkegard and St Augustine—since I was 14 years old. Plus my career as a speaker has spanned almost 30 years. This has helped me to realize that terms like “the Divine Feminine,” which in the last few years are becoming so trendy, have been part of the wider lexicon of spiritual writing and philosophy for The Golden Goddess from A Day in Nirvana
centuries. Whether you are talking about the Virgin Mary or Quan Yin, the Divine Feminine is simply the feminine face of God—the mother and the Cierce protector. David: In my Namaste Publishing audiobook Lessons in Loving—A Journey into the Heart, which unpacks the spiritual meaning of Antoine de Saint-‐Exupery’s 1943 story of The Little Prince, I comment on a scene in which the little prince asks the pilot who has crashed in the Sahara Desert why roses have thorns. You recall that the rose is the little prince’s love of his life back on his own planet. We learn that the rose has thorns so she can be @ierce when she needs to be!
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Marianne: Unfortunately what Christianity did with that Cierceness was delegate it to sexual prowess—and unholy sexuality at that. For instance, the Virgin Mary is deemed perpetually a virgin, while Mary Magdalene is made to carry the projections of a sexually ambivalent patriarchy. So within the Christian tradition we are asked to see women as either holy or sexual.
In the Eastern traditions such as Egyptian philosophy, feminine holiness and feminine sexuality are intertwined and complementary. The reason this matters is that sexuality is an ecstatic energy, and there can be no Cierceness—such an essential feminine quality— without this. The edginess of the authentically feminine—the “I’m not kidding about this” of a truly feminine woman—is a signiCicant aspect of the Divine Feminine. Without this Cierceness, the woman is diminished in a lot of the ways—and I’m including the ways she’s referred to even in the higher consciousness conversation of today. Again, how can we talk about the Divine Feminine and ignore the fact that 17,000 children die of hunger every single day? To me this is outrageous. It’s a total denial of the Divine Feminine, no matter how much we use the words. David: In our culture, many females seem to want a man to lead. They want someone to look up to. From where you’ve now come in your understanding, how do you see this? Marianne: I believe there’s a dance between masculine and feminine. Not a game, but a dance out of which all things thrive. If I’m dancing with a man
and he leads, it’s a beautiful thing. If I’m dancing with a man emotionally and psychologically and he leads, it’s also a beautiful thing. But it’s crucial to recognize that it’s a dance, not a game. Games are oppressive, whereas a dance is enjoyable. Male and female are equal. Masculine and feminine are equal. Yin and yang are equal. But one gives, and the other receives and then gives back. It’s like tennis: somebody has to serve. If I’m playing tennis and the other person serves, that doesn’t make me less than an equal player. If you listen to the current conversations in the culture—people such as Pat Allen, David Dada, and Allison Armstrong—I Cind myself in essential agreement with the tenets of their teaching. I grew up in a generation that Pat Allen refers to as “ambisexual,” and many of us carry the scars of this confusion of our sexuality. We grew up with a lack of understanding of what’s “macho” and what’s masculine. I think we women in many cases suppressed our own feminine in the name of feminism. Equally, I think some men got in touch with their feminine side at the expense of their masculinity. It left all of us bereft—we have the scars to show for it. It’s been difCicult for women because we grew up thinking, “I’m out there doing things and being in touch with my masculine self.” Somehow we thought that if we achieved enough, we would be loved. In the process of trying to prove ourselves, we lost touch with the magnetic
The Blue Madonna Jarvier Garcia Lemus
power of the feminine, which is that we don’t have to do or say anything. If we are simply centered in our virtue, we are quite naturally magnets for something profound. When we speak from that place and do whatever we do from that place, what gets expressed is just as powerful because it carries the feminine magnetism. I feel men have been very hurt, scathed, because these poor guys grew up afraid to express their masculine, since anytime they did so, someone would say, “Stop being macho!” Both men and women were unclear about the difference. In my own life, the teachings of Pat Allen have affected me tremendously. I’m a babyboomer. She explained that my generation thought that if a man picks up a woman for a date, he should say to the woman, “Where do you want to go for dinner?” The idea is that the woman then has an equal part, so they sit and decide together. Pat teaches that a man’s greatest psychic craving is that his ideas be respected, whereas a woman’s greatest psychic craving is that her feelings be cherished. Dr Pat Allen In the ambisexual generation, when the man asked where the drpatallen.com woman would like to go for dinner, the woman was supposed to feel, “Oh, this is great, because I have an equal say.” It’s as if this were the apex of liberation. Instead, Pat suggests that the man go ahead and choose the restaurant. Then he says to the woman, “I’ve made reservations at the Tratoria. How does that feel to you?” This is so profound. He’s saying to her, “Does this please you?” The man says what he wants, and the woman says what she doesn’t want. It’s not a matter of the man making the decision, and that’s it. It’s a dance. I speak for myself, but I sense I also speak for a lot of women, when I say that what’s fascinating to me about this is how it feels for a man to have made the reservation and then ask if that feels good to me. He needs to know I appreciate this masculine aspect of his psyche. I may reply, “That feels wonderful.” What we crave more than, “Well, I get to make the decision about the restaurant too”—what we really crave—is the feeling that we were taken care of in that moment. This doesn’t make us less powerful. The way I look at it is that men carry our suitcases and we carry their issues. I believe we are all both masculine and feminine. But if you are a man in this lifetime, you are majoring in masculine and minoring in feminine. On the other hand if you are a woman in this lifetime, you are majoring in feminine and minoring in masculine. Women are priestesses of the inner realms, whereas men are priests of the outer realms—and there’s something beautiful about this. It’s cool. I can celebrate this concern for the outer realms in a man. We have to celebrate men for what men are if we want them to celebrate us for what we are as women. A lot of women want to work out in the world. If you look at women who are out there working, they are basically in a masculine mode. That may eventually change, but right now it’s largely the way it is. When we are out in the world, giving of ourselves, we are in the role of an initiator, a generator. That’s the masculine aspect.
When we come home from work, and if we are in a relationship with a man, it requires an entirely different function of the brain to lead to success in our relationship than is required for success in our work. Pat Allen talks about how it literally takes 30 minutes for the brain to switch modes. So it’s important for a woman to take 30 minutes when she comes home from work to enjoy a bubble bath, yoga, meditation—whatever facilitates the shifting of her brain from generator to receiver. David: What is it going to take for the workplace to become a place that honors the masculine and feminine equally, so that men get to use their masculine and feminine dimensions, and women get to use both dimensions also, but each with their unique emphasis? Marianne: Society never moves as quickly as many of us would like, but I sense that in many ways it’s moving in this direction. We’re at least having the right conversations today. Everything destructive is being discusssed at this time, but also everything enlightened is being discussed. We just need to put more force and conviction behind the enlightenment conversation. David: My teen years coincided with the era of the “new morality,” the 1960s. As you look back at that era, how do you now understand the way we express sexuality in 2012? Marianne: Clearly our generation over-‐casualized sex. But whenever there’s a break with the status quo, a major social change, there’s a tendency to overreach. So we overstepped the mark. That’s just the way we grew up—we went too far. We were breaking out of chains that we were right to break out of. But because we had freedom confused with license, we put ourselves in a whole new set of chains. I also feel that, as often happens, there has been a march to the center during the last few years. A great correction has been occurring. We realize now that the fact we’re free to do something doesn’t necessarily mean we should do it. We are realizing that sexual intimacy is a holy act and should be treated with reverence. Let’s be clear that it’s not about deferring to social mores that were handed down to us by a patriarchal order. It’s about honoring the principle of harmlessness. When we are interacting with someone sexually, we have a capacity to heal both them and ourselves. But we also have the ability to harm both them and ourselves. Holy sex, appropriate sex, truly loving sex can psychically heal. In contrast, irreverent sex, inappropriate sex, can psychically harm. Sex is an adult activity in every sense of the word.
The Romantic Mysteries Marianne’s Blog The common wisdom goes like this: that the myth of "some enchanted evening," when all is awash with the thrill of connection and the aliveness of new romance, is actually a delusion...a hormonally manufactured lie. That soon enough, reality will set in and lovers will awaken from their mutual projections, discover the psychological work involved in two people trying to reach across the chasm of real life separateness, and come to terms at last with the mundane sorrows of human existence and intimate love. In this case, the common wisdom is a lie. From a spiritual perspective, the scenario above is upside down. From a spiritual perspective, the original high of a romantic connection is thrilling because it is true. It is in fact the opposite of delusion. For in a quick moment, a gift from the gods, we are likely to suspend our judgment of the other, not because we are temporarily insane but because we are temporarily sane. We are having what you might call a mini-‐enlightenment experience. Enlightenment is not unreal; enlightenment -‐ or pure love -‐-‐ is all that is real. Enlightenment is when we see not as through a glass darkly, but truly face to face. What is unreal is what comes after the initial high, when the personality self reasserts itself and the wounds and triggers of our human ego form a veil across the face of love. The initial romantic high is not something to outgrow, so much as something to earn admittance back into -‐ this time not as an unearned gift of Cupid's arrows, but as a consequence of the real work of the psychological and spiritual journey. The romantic relationship is a spiritual assignment, presenting an opportunity for lovers and would-‐be lovers to burn through our own issues and forgive the other theirs, so together we can gain reentrance to the joyful realms of our initial contact that turn out to have been real love after all. Our problem is that most of us rarely have a psychic container strong enough to stand the amount of light that pours into us when we have truly seen, if even for a moment, the deep beauty of another. The problem we have is not that in our romantic fervor we fall into a delusion of oneness; the problem is that we then fall into the delusion of separateness. And those are the romantic mysteries -‐-‐ the almost blinding light when we truly see each other, the desperate darkness of the ego's blindness, and the sacred work of choosing the light of mutual innocence when the darkness of anger, guilt and fear descend. www.blog.marianne.com
Sarah McLean has spent much of her life exploring the world's spiritual and mystic traditions, and has worked with some of today's great teachers including Deepak Chopra, Byron Katie, Debbie Ford, and Gary Zukav. She's lived and studied in a Zen Buddhist monastery, meditated in ashrams and temples throughout India and the Far East, spent time in Afghan refugee camps, bicycled the Silk Route from Pakistan to China, trekked the Golden Triangle in Southeast Asia, and taught English to Tibetan Buddhist Nuns in Dharamsala. Sarah is the founding director of Sedona Meditation Training, and The McLean Meditation Institute.
Modern Mystics Walk Among Us by Sarah McLean
Half of all Americans say they had a momentary awareness of a deep connectedness with the Divine. Have you had one too? It might have been as you watched a sunset, gazed at a night sky, felt the warm sun on your skin as you walked along the seashore, or listened to the water as you sat by the creek in a canyon.
•You merge with the objects of your perception.
These experiences can create a mystical moment in which you feel carried away from the world and its trappings, though you feel truly present and clear. Your heart expands and embraces everything without question, and you know there’s more to life than meets the eye.
•There’s a realization of the perfection and intelligence of creation.
The Mystical Experience Mystical experiences don’t happen because you’re especially spiritual or deserving. Or you’re in the right place at the right time. Instead, they can happen to anyone, anytime, to the religious and non-‐religious alike. No arduous training, deep thinking, or willpower is required. You can’t wish a mystical experience into occurring, and reading or hearing about one is very different from having one. A mystical experience deCies explanation, but here are some common reported features: •It’s a spontaneous moment of grace. •It’s a moment when your heart is touched and opened. There’s deep contentment and inner peace. •It can be overwhelming, eliciting tears and laughter at the same time. •Your sense of self is overshadowed by the experience of the Divine. •It can include a blissful physical feeling; a heavenly sound, melody, or God’s voice; a bright light or expanded vision; a taste of divine nectar; or the aroma of celestial perfumes. •You lose your awareness of your body, the world, and material reality.
•Even though your problems and concerns are still present and your questions remain unanswered, everything suddenly makes sense.
•You feel a deep connection with the whole universe and its Creator. An experience like this can last anywhere from a few seconds to a few days. If it passes after a second or two, some of us don’t give it much signiCicance. We simply enjoy it then dismiss it as a “nice feeling,” slipping back into our regular mode of existence. But a mystic, regardless of their religious background or beliefs, realizes the moment’s signiCicance. Teresa of Avila called these ecstatic experiences she had while praying a “transformative union.” She knew them as spontaneous—she couldn’t make them happen, or make them last longer than they do. They transform and awaken a mystic’s heart, creating a profound touchstone. The mystic embarks on a path—as Thomas Aquinas said, “a pursuit of the experiential knowledge of God.” Are you a mystic? Do you someone who is? You’ll rarely Cind a mystic calling himself or herself a mystic, though anyone who seeks to experience the Divine, which many call God, on a personal and intimate level could be on the mystic’s path. The path of a mystic is one of the heart. It’s an inner call for those who have fallen in love with the Creator or creation itself. Embarking on The Mystic Path Thomas Aquinas, Hildegard of Bingen, Joan of Arc, Catherine of Siena, Saint Teresa, Saint Paul– these mystics’ names are familiar to us, and not because they sought out fame or fortune. Instead, it’s
because after they've had the direct experience of God, they became missionaries to celebrate the Divine. It's not the other way around for a mystic.
Also essential on the mystic’s path are silence, an inward focus, present moment awareness, and a reCined nervous system.
A mystic’s path is far from formal. It doesn’t require gaining more knowledge, or thinking your way into a Divine or ecstatic state, or faking it till you make it, or doing endless acts of charity. It doesn’t require you to get deeply involved in your religious practices either.
The silence required isn’t an external hush in the physical realm. It’s an inner silence, a deep stillness of the heart and of the mind. This inner silence becomes established and can even be maintained in the midst of physical noise if necessary. Though the ecstasy of the mystical union can be expressed through dance and music as is found on the 13th century SuCi poet Rumi’s path, Rumi tells us the way the Divine spoke to him:
Instead, embarking on the mystic path simply requires walking with a prayer in one’s heart, a prayer to deeply know the Divine. The mystic’s path often includes social-‐ transcendence—as the mystic detaches from the hypnosis of social norms and customs, cultural conditioning, and worldly inCluences—and evaluates what matters to them, their way of being in the world, and their relationships with others. This may include retreating from the life and roles they have previously been engaged in. The mystic’s path also includes self-‐ transcendence as the mystic is less engaged with his or her individuality and his or her ego identiCication. Thomas Merton, the 20th century Trappist monk, described the ego as "the one insuperable obstacle to the infused light and action of the Spirit of God." What becomes most important to the mystic is their expanded consciousness, and their union with creation and Creator, as they merge with the Creator through prayer, practices, and even through their work. True Self-‐knowledge and Divine communion are the ultimate goal.
Necessities on the Mystic Path The mystic path requires faith as the mystic must surrender without a plan for where the path might lead. It requires the faith to follow your inner GPS, heed your inner knowing, and know that the Divine is within reach. It also requires patience because the path is not linear and there is no knowing the timing of the fruits of the mystic path.
Secretly we spoke, that wise one and me. I said, Tell me the secrets of the world. He said, Shhh... Let silence tell you the secrets of the world. Robert Adams, the late American mystic, who once lived in Sedona, said: "True silence really means going deep within yourself to that place where nothing is happening, where you transcend time and space. You go into a brand new dimension of nothingness. That's where all the power is. That's your real home. That's where you really belong, in deep silence where there is no good or bad, no one trying to achieve anything. Just being, pure being. . . . Silence is the ultimate reality." Said Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods." Along with cultivating silence, it’s also essential to turn your attention inward and detach from the constant activity and sensory input of the world. John of the Cross, the Spanish Carmelite priest of the 16th century, reminds us of this in his writing: Creation forgotten, Creator only known, Attention turned inward, In love with the Beloved alone. And Teresa of Avila gave this advice to her Sisters: “Some books on prayer tell us where one must seek God. Within oneself, very clearly, is the best place to look.”
To order Sarahâ€™s wonderful book go to: www. soulcentered.com
A mystic also knows that the communion with the Divine can only occur when their attention is anchored in the present moment, as the moment of communion is the present moment.
about my purpose and more conCident and peaceful in my being. My heart has opened and I feel truly connected to the Divine Feminine, which causes me to feel more compassion toward myself and all living beings.
Stress can get in the way of your realization of this inner peace and spaciousness, and it can dim your experience of the sweetness of life. The stress, as I see it, veils and obscures the beauty of the heart, the radiance of the soul, the reality of life, and the awareness of the Divine. With stress, one can misinterpret what is spiritually present.
More often than not, meditation and prayer are a mystic’s practices of choice for establishing the inner focus, present moment awareness, and a reCinement of the nervous system. Meditation takes practice and patience, because many of us are uncomfortable with silence. We aren’t conditioned to have an inner focus, and aren’t used to attending to what is going on in the present moment. Modern meditation practices, such as a mantra meditation, naturally create silence in the mind, an open heart, expanded awareness, and a transcendence of self-‐image. I’ve been teaching and practicing meditation for 20 years. My daily meditation practice began as a way to relieve the build-‐up of stress in my mind and body. I did it to feel good. I had a difCicult childhood Cilled with emotional turmoil, worked a busy schedule, was concerned about impurities in the environment, and was in conClict with the values of the Western world. The build-‐up of stress made me reactive to my environment and kept me from having harmonious relationships with myself and those around me. Stress can be found everywhere. Sometimes stress is caused by incompletely digesting one’s food, not getting a good night’s sleep, ignoring the wisdom of your body, or not feeling emotions when they come up. Sometimes it’s caused by not saying what you mean and feel—by not living in your integrity. Stress creates physical impacts that we’ve all heard about, but it can also trigger emotional or mental reactivity as it did in me. Reactivity can limit your awareness of the possibilities in each moment. As I continued my meditation practice, the stress was lessened, and I found that meditation took me on a journey toward a more beautiful life. I am in awe of this world as I realize deeply the interweaving of life and nature and the elements. I follow my intuition and feel supported by nature and the Divine Feminine within me. I feel clearer
The poet William Blake wrote, "If the doors of perception were cleansed everything would appear to man as it is, inCinite. For man has closed himself up and sees all things through narrow chinks of his cavern." The chinks of the cavern he was referring to are the misperceptions that stress creates. We’ve all heard meditation releases stress. But you can think of it another way. Meditation cleanses the doors of your perception by dissolving the stress layer that can build up if not dealt with, so the mind and body can be in balance. Meditation is also a practice to directly experience the Divine, but it’s ideal to have a balanced nervous system to do so. In meditation you gently attend to your breath, or a mantra, or some other focus, and this practice disengages your attention from the habits of the ego-‐mind. This happens because your nervous system settles down, and you experience subtler and subtler levels of thought until your awareness transcends thought, your body, your breath, and anything limited by space and time. You release stress and settle down some more. You then directly experience the source of thought—the real you, which some call your soul. Because the soul has no dimension, you won’t “experience” it as you normally would: you don’t feel, see, taste, touch, or smell it as you would objects of your perception. Instead, you’ll be communing with it, immersed in it and its source: the Divine. Like a mystical experience, you can’t try to make transcendence happen. It’s a natural result of the
effortless meditation process. And it can be happening even if you don’t think it is.
out of practice and loving adoration of God, and expressing their reality in the world.
In meditation, as you go in and out of the transcendent experience, your nervous system becomes more subtle and reCined. You cultivate an internal stillness and present moment awareness. As with a mystical experience, you become more enlightened to a world beyond your senses, aware that all is one. You realize all is well. There’s a deep inner peace, coupled with a feeling of inclusivity and reverence.
Whether through their love poems and songs as HaCiz, Mirabai, Rumi, and Hildegard of Bingham did, or through compassionate action as Mary Magdalene, Francis of Assisi, Joan of Arc, Helen Keller, Mother Teresa, Ammachi, and Thich Nhat Hanh did, they see God in everyone and everything. As Khalil Gibran, Lebanese poet and author of The Prophet, wrote, their "work is love made visible."
This transcendence experience in meditation is the everyday reality of the mystics. And with faith, patience, and grace, it will eventually become a part of your everyday experience. You know there’s a Divine plan for your life and that you are on the right track. When each of us walks in this way, we walk the mystic’s path.
Mystics are creative, fearless, powerful, intuitive, and clearly see the realities of the culture that surrounds them. They have boundless energy to serve as a mediator between humanity and Divinity. They walk in this world with a great sense of reverence, wonder, delight, humility, inclusiveness, and compassionate action as they teach, share, and bear witness to life and the Divine in its entirety. They reveal and awaken the reality of our own relationship to the Divine.
A modern day mystic, Ammachi, the hugging saint, describes the transcendent union with the Divine in this way: Everything seems permeated with divinity. Every blade of grass and every sand particle are Cilled with Divine energy. The awakened one has the attitude of deep reverence and humility towards all of creation, because once you go beyond the ego, you are nothing—you are inCinite nothingness Cilled with Divine consciousness. When you have the attitude of constantly bowing down with a feeling of humility towards all of existence, that existence Clows into you. You experience that everything is part of you, nothing is separate.
The mystics . . . they walk among us.
Walking in the World A mystic sees things clearly from a new perspective. Often, once they’ve awakened to the Divine, they engage in the everyday world to impart this wisdom in their own unique fashion to the culture of their time. Mystics are peacemakers, pioneers, scientists, discoverers, religious or social reformers, artists, poets, or national heroes or heroines who live between two worlds: turning inward in deep silence born
October 6 - 8
Movies to Grow By How aware are we most of the time of the extent to which our individuality and independence rest heavnily upon our dependence on other members of the particular society in which we live? We are a culture in which no small number of us are into what we call “personal growth.” But what do we mean by personal growth? For in any era, and in any society, there can be no "me" without "you." We can’t disconnect ourselves from the rest of our society, and we can’t evolve individuality very effectively without each other. We all have a role to play in helping each other deCine ourselves—a role that’s sometimes supportive, and sometimes oppositional. Both serve to bring out who we truly are in our essence—even though we might not care for the oppositional aspect. Both can be tools for discovering the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine. Though we like to talk about freewill and individuality, the reality is that our ability to be free and express our individuality is both enhanced by and limited by the degree of freedom and individuality tolerated by those members of our society among whom we live our lives. This comes out clearly in the movie The Duchess, in which Kiera Knightley and Ralph Fiennes are superbly cast, and which is Cilmed in the gorgeous setting of Princess Diana's ancestral home. It’s a movie that revolves around the collective aspect of our humanity and its impact on our private lives. It's also about the impact we as individuals have on the collective. In The Duchess, we really get a look at how the collective nature of our humanity can limit our ability to express our full essence as individuals—especially how patriarchy can inhibit both the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine. The movie chronicles the marriage of Georgianna, Duchess of Devonshire, a direct ancestor of Princess Diana. The parallels between their lives are striking throughout the movie. One almost wonders whether Diana was a reincarnation! What made the difference in the lives of Georgianna and Diana is the era in which they each lived. In Georgianna's day, the patriarchal nature of society prevented her from
becoming the unique individual she longed to be. Princess Di, in contrast, lived at a time of social transition that allowed her to expand the boundaries and increasingly express her individuality, despite the limitations inClicted by patriarchy. It may not be obvious at Cirst, but the Duke of Devonshire is also a victim in this drama, just like the duchess. His entire reputation is staked on maintaining the façade of ego that was so essential in those times. Yes, men suffer deeply from the very patriarchy they promote. The duke grew up to know nothing other than the role he was expected to play as duke, so that his ability to feel his own heart, let alone that of another, was severely restricted. But as the movie progresses, we see him begin to feel— largely in response to his wife's impact, together with that of another woman who comes to play a crucial role in this ancestral home. To make sense of the movie, we have to keep in mind how crucial the issue of a male heir was to family power and prestige in that patriarchal world. Love for his wife was not why the duke married her, which was the way it often was in that society. It's in the acceptance Georgianna was Cinally able to surrender to that we see the real lesson of this story. In acceptance, she grew. The duke's mistress came to live with them, as part of their family. Clearly, what began as just another Cling of the sort dukes had in those days led to a genuine love for her, and she became his wife and duchess after Georgianna's death. But it was initially a terribly painful blow for Georgianna, who had trusted this woman as her closest friend. In an amazing way, after her initial reactivity, Georgianna reached out to this woman and befriended her in a much more meaningful way. As the bond grew, there was no possessiveness involved in their friendship. Georgianna had surrendered her emotional attachment to this woman as her friend, which enabled her to encounter the real individual, as she expressed aspects of the Divine Feminine, for who she was.
It's only when we let go of our emotional attachment that we Cinally discover what it is to love a person for who they truly are. Now, at last, we can really connect—and the movie shows this connection in a deeply moving way. Georgianna could take such a gallant step because she Cinally saw in this woman not someone who betrayed her, but a wonderful soul trying to Cind her way in a very difCicult set of circumstances. She saw the heart instead of the appearance. She allowed herself to encounter the Divine Feminine. The Divine Feminine isn’t afraid of messy situations. It works through them all the time, without judgment and without reproach, using them to grow us. In the end, a deep respect develops between the duke and duchess. One would even say a love. Not the romantic kind of love—not passion for each other, as he felt for his mistress —but a compassion and caring born of seeing each other's essential being. Society’s largely patriarchal nature still restricts just how far we can go in being true to ourselves. When we reach the limits of what a particular society and era permits, the only possible way to experience love, joy, and peace is through acceptance. And not just being resigned to our situation, all the while resenting it, but embracing life as it is and Cinding joy in it in the manner Georgianna models so well in The Duchess. Individual societies are interwoven with the broader fabric of a region, a nation, and ultimately the human condition as a world. Just as the patriarchal nature of society stems ultimately from the human condition, so also waking up to the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine involves more than just our individual growth. When we live within a family, a society, a culture, a nation, or a particular period in history, we simply aren’t aware of how invasive are the beliefs, attitudes, mindset, and practices of the situation in which we are embedded. We tend to have little real concept of how deeply we are programmed. All of us are products of an interplay between our own being and the circumstances in which we Cind ourselves. Part of waking up to our powerfulness involves becoming aware of how deeply we have been indoctrinated by every aspect of the world in which we Cind ourselves. Our mindset is so heavily tainted, we often have no clue that our real being is someone quite different from the person we imagine ourselves to be. There is of course a great deal of liberation that we can experience as individuals, especially in the West today. Yet even here, the collective nature of our species places limits on us. Patriarchy is still rife on both an individual and systemic scale. Consequently, we can only fully awaken as we do so together. But if we each push the envelope within our particular historical and social context, we will empower the next generation to take it further.
How to Raise Boys and Girls to Be EQUALS by Shefali Tsabary, PhD There's a great deal of male aggression toward women in many cultures. In some places in the world, aggression is condoned—and even outright violence to keep women in line is encouraged. Is this simply the result of excessive testosterone, or is there something more going on? As a child psychologist, for me the answer lies not so much in testosterone, but in a web of historical and cultural complexities. In past centuries, men—being the hunter gatherers that they were—had to exhibit dominant, aggressive traits in order to survive in the natural world. These traits are deeply entrenched in our collective unconscious and have become archetypal of what it means to be a man, which is understood as being "macho." While this historical archetype of the macho man may have faded somewhat in the more Westernized countries, thanks in large measure to the suffragettes and the more recent women’s movement, they haven’t receded at all in some parts of the developing world. In many countries, men continue to be raised with the stereotype that being aggressive is more "manly," and this is both consciously and unconsciously encouraged in families. Women in such cultures are raised to think of themselves as subservient and hence more servile, docile, and timid. Given these two stereotypes, mothers automatically raise their sons to be more dominant personalities and their daughters to be more passive. It’s done intentionally on some levels, and on other levels without thinking. When these sons become adult men, they are guided by the internal archetype that tells them they are more powerful than women and have a right to dominate the women in their lives. The equation in such homes will only change when mothers begin to raise their sons and daughters differently. It’s when mothers begin to awaken to their own deeper being, which enables them to embrace a transformed understanding of their own internal power—the kind of awakening that began with the suffragettes and continues with the more recent women’s movement—that they will be able to raise the next generation with a sense of equality. Every human being is capable of manifesting both masculine and feminine qualities. It’s a myth that only men need to manifest masculine qualities. Each of us, when given the space, has the capacity to be aggressive or passive, assertive or timid. We need to stop equating men with purely masculine qualities and women with purely feminine qualities. Once we break out of these binary stereotypes, we will allow our children to be free to inhabit any space they wish to, with little regard to what they "should" be from a traditional point of view.
Men who are whole are those males who are allowed to be both masculine and feminine according to their particular nature. The same goes for women. Whole individuals are unafraid to exhibit qualities that are organic to their inner core, with little regard for whether it matches a predetermined cultural archetype. In other words, cultural inCluence bows to what is innate in the individual. You can see how patriarchy begins to dominate women if you look at what happens when they enter their teens. As girls and boys reach puberty, they tend to play out their lack of wholeness, which will be a reClection of their background. This is why girls are frequently drawn to the "bad boy" types, who seem so attractive to them and yet end up abusing them. Females who are attracted to the "bad boy" archetype are in essence attracted to a sense of risk, imbalance, chaos, and unpredictability. These qualities are appealing because of the unresolved issues within these women, stemming from their own childhood and past experiences. Women who grow up with a sense of unpredictability, abandonment, betrayal, chaos, and loose boundaries often project these unresolved needs onto their intimate relationships, in this way recreating their unbalanced childhood for their own children. Women who are attracted to abusive men are those who suffer from a low sense of self-‐esteem, a poor sense of self. They are out of touch with their inner core of empowerment and strength. Because they see themselves as lesser than, they Cind men who treat them badly. Though I live in the New York area, I come originally from Indian culture, in which the Divine Feminine is a powerful Cigure represented through strong cultural and religious archetypes in the form of goddesses. Goddess worship in India is widespread among both men and women, who are ardent followers. In other words, despite its patriarchy, the Indian culture is amorous of its goddesses. In the goddess form, women are portrayed both as traditionally “good” and “pure,” but also as capable of unleashing tremendous power that can bring great destruction. For example, Goddess Sita is one of the most famous of the Indian goddesses, adored for her virtuous qualities of being an exemplary wife and mother. Goddess Kali, on the other hand, is ardently followed for her power and dark destructive capacity. The Indian culture is thus able to hold and tolerate both archetypes when it comes to their women. This is what needs to happen with raising our daughters to be equals with our sons.
Written by Namaste author Shefali Tsabary, PhD, with the Preface by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and advance acclaim by authors Eckhart Tolle, Marianne Wiliamson, Marci Shimoff, Laura Berman Fortgang, and other leaders in the field of parenting, this is the book we've all been waiting for.
THE CONSCIOUS PARENT is available in softcover and as a downloadable eBook
Also by Dr Tsabary in CD and MP3 formats
Books for Bringing up Children to Be True to Themselves In Mister Ego and the Bubble of Love, Nico and Leo, who are playing with blocks, get into an altercation. After the squabble is over, Leo is mad at himself because he’s spoiled all the fun. How can a child who tends to get upset and cantankerous learn to stay calm when he or she doesn’t get their way? This exquisitely illustrated children’s book introduces children to an imaginary figure called Mister Ego—a character who represents the part of us that so easily becomes out of sorts and ruins a good time.
Click to Order
Drawing on the wisdom of the world around us, Mister Ego and the Bubble of Love coaches children in how to tame their difficult side so that they are able to get along with each other a whole lot better.
With Mister Ego at rest in his bubble of love, the sun is out again and the house is once more a happy place for the children to play. Mister Ego and the Bubble of Love is appropriate for ages 3 to 8.
Milton is a happy kid until a school bully starts to push him around. Now he worries all the time about what the bully will do to him when he's at school. But Milton encounters a few situations (including a special lesson from Snuggles the cat) that help him understand a very important thing: the only way to be happy is to live in the Now. For the first time, Eckhart Tolle and coauthor Robert S. Friedman bring the concept of the best-selling The Power of Now to a story for children. Thought-provoking, beautifully illustrated, and a wonderful teaching tool for parents, Milton's Secret will inspire and help children who must face difficult encounters at school, on the playground, and everywhere. Click to Order
A Message from Earth Mother to Her Daughters Mare Cromwell
How I love you so, all of my daughters! And those who remember me and offer prayers to me, I love you the most. Oh, my daughters, I used to gather with you when you would bleed with the moon. That was our special bonding time, when the women would come together away from the men. I was there listening and slipping wisdom to one of the elders in the tent to help guide you and connect you to me and each other more. But now almost all of you are too frenetic. Too busy. You sit in front of your TV or computer boxes inside or hold those cellphone boxes to your heads when you’re walking. Many of you carry such pain within you because your bodies, your hearts, your souls have been so abused. You need to Cind healing. Please, for me and all of your sisters, walk barefoot on my brown soil, and my grass and forest Cloors, and give me your pain, your sorrow. Send it right down to me through your wombspace, your legs. Let your tears water me. I love your tears when I know that you are letting go of your sorrow. I know this sorrow. I do. Sorrow for all of my daughters and me and all the wounds across my body. Call on me to hold you. When you are alone, you can wrap yourself in your beds with my love wrapped around you like a blanket. I will come as soon as you call. Scream your pain out, if need be. Dance like mad women if this can take you to a place of less rage and more calm within yourself. Get a punching bag. I wish there was a punching bag my size because I could sure use it right now. Oh, daughters, do you know how much I love you? I have always loved you. To have watched over the past few thousand years as you’ve lost your temples and needed to suppress your overt love for me – this has been so painful for me. You have such magic within you. All of you. Magic to share your blood with me. Magic to create children within you, with the help of a man two-‐legged’s sperm. Magic of your Earth connection and spirit that is so linked with me. Your men two-‐leggeds don’t have this. Only you women two-‐leggeds. You can remember this magic within you if you try. It is time to remember. This will help not only with your healing, but also my healing as Earth Mother. Come back to me, daughters. I miss your love, your songs and dances and blessings to me. I miss your powerful gratitude and ceremonies. I miss you being connected to me. Oh, how I love you. How I love you!
Excerpted from Messages from Mother…. Earth Mother, by Mare Cromwell. Book forthcoming October, 2012.
Mare Cromwell is a writer, poet, gardener, and environmentalist. A spiritual seeker for many years, she holds a Masters in Natural Resources from the University of Michigan. Following an international environmental career, she spent seven years interviewing people for her award winning book If I gave you God’s phone number.... Currently a part-‐time professional gardener, Mare resides in Baltimore, Maryland, where she is exploring new workshops to lead. Mare is coordinating the mid-‐Atlantic satellite to the Women’s Congress highlighted in this issue of Namaste Insights.
Women’s Congress For Future Generations September 27-30 Moab, Utah A Women’s Congress for Future Generations will gather in Moab, Utah September 27th-30th, 2012, to celebrate and express our gratitude for the Earth’s wondrous bounty, and to fulfill the special responsibility that women hold as the first environment for future generations. At the Moab Congress, we will map possibilities and pathways toward achieving whole health and justice in this generation and for all generations to come. Inspired by our environmental foremothers, our hope is to craft a dynamic articulation of the pressing rights future generations have to a livable world and the responsibilities of present generations to uphold those rights. Our labors will yield a living affirmation of these rights and responsibilities in word, art, music, and story. This Congress is for those called to stand for Future Generations. We seek solidarity with those working for environmental justice, for Climate Justice, for indigenous sovereignty, for the health of women and children, and with those living on the frontlines of the struggle against industrial pollution and climate change. Women from across the diverse spectrum of womanhood are welcome—women of all ages and cultural groups, women from all places, backgrounds, and walks of life, women with diverse talents and interests, vocal leaders, and those still finding their voice. We invite men to participate in the Congress, too, as Sacred Witnesses who honor and empower women's voices. Our commitment is to work that is firmly rooted in Radical Inclusion, in all of its forms—not as an afterthought, but as a framework for how we come together and organize. We recognize the double layer of oppression for women of color, Indigenous women, lesbians, transgender individuals, and women living on the frontlines of the environmental and social struggle. This is our inquiry and the exploration we intend to deepen with the launch of our Congress. We endeavor to foresee and address barriers that might otherwise diminish the fullest and most diverse gathering of women, and
we welcome creative strategies to overcome these barriers and, in the coming months, to carry forward this work in ways that draw strength and wisdom from an ever-widening circle of women. In this vein, all are welcome, but we recognize that only a fraction of those who feel called to this gathering are privileged enough to mobilize the time and resources to convene in Moab. Women who need assistance and support to attend are encouraged to register and apply for scholarships to defray travel expenses.Â Young women, students, women of color, indigenous women, women from low income communities, and women from fence-line communities are especially encouraged to attend. We encourage those who can donate funds, airline miles, or accommodations to do so, in an effort to support those for whom it is financially difficult to travel to Moab.
Useful Links Follow us on Twitter: @wcffg Facebook: https:// www.facebook.com/ WomensCongressForFutureGener ations Facebook Event: https:// www.facebook.com/events/ 247510212010054/ Registration Page: http:// www.wcffg.org/register.cfm Scholarship Application: http:// jotform.us/form/22195679560160
Questions that will animate our time together: What are the sacred rights of future generations and the responsibilities of present generations? How might we most powerfully write, craft, sing, pray, dream, speak, and legislate these rights and visions into being? What might a civil rights movement for future generations look like? What does such a movement need? What does reclaiming power as women look like? How might women organize on behalf of future generations in ways that transcend traditional strategies of action/resistance, and that honor, embody, and translate the sacred feminine spirit into the realm of direct political and social action?
About the artwork in this issue Deanna Williams Special thanks for Deanna’s depictions of the Divine Feminine. She is also author of the children’s book Mr Now’s Magni<icent Moment. You can [ind her artwork at www.artsydeanna.com
ith H Goddess w
Javier Garcia Lemus Javier’s primary theme for many years has been the Divine Feminine. An award winning artist in his home country of El Salvador where he grew up amid the wars, his work is both surrealistic and indigenous. He can be contacted at UllrrichLemus@ hotmail.com
The Cosmic Bla ck
About Namaste Publishing... As a publisher, I have no interest in just putting more words out into the world. I am interested only in offering readers signiCicantly unique material that is life-‐enhancing, even life-‐altering. All true change comes about Cirst through inner work. In trying to treat the problems we are facing, we often ignore the only thing that actually matters—the quality of our inner state of being. Solutions are always found on the inner plane. They emerge when we enter a place of heightened consciousness experienced in inner stillness, which is often called "presence." At Namaste, our overarching mission is to make available publications that acknowledge, celebrate, and encourage others to express their unique essence and thereby come to remember who they really are. "Namaste" is a Sanskrit word that acknowledges the inestimable value of each individual. It is often used to greet and honor others. Translation: "As I acknowledge and honor the divine presence within myself, so do I acknowledge and honor the divine presence within you." To all our readers I say, "Namaste." Constance Kellough
Coming Soon from Namaste Publishing
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