Tag Archives: Jean Houston

Travelling with Sophia

Even to think about (Wisdom) is understanding fully grown;
be on the alert for her and anxiety will quickly leave you.

She herself walks about looking for those who are worthy of her
and graciously shows herself to them as they go,
in every thought of theirs coming to meet them.

(Wisdom 6: 15-16 Jerusalem Bible)

Poring over notes from the Greece Journey, I seek a place of re-entry, so that I might invite you back inside the deep teachings, the healing processes, the beautiful sights, sounds, stories of our travels in that blessed land. Once again my memories turn to Sophia, the Greek name for Wisdom. Icons of Mary, such as the ones I showed you from the Church of the Hundred Doors on Paros Island, abound in Greece.

For the Greeks, Sophia is a loving presence, close, active, supportive, loving, healing, often seemingly conflated with Mary. I turn again to last week’s posting for Epiphany, find the quote from Chapter 6 of the Book of Wisdom (see above). And then I decide to share a deeply personal experience.

In Holy Week of 2015, I was taking some retreat days here in my riverside home in the woods. As happens when the mind is quiet, dreams came. In one, I found myself in a darkened room, where my teacher Jean Houston was showing me framed depictions of the work I have begun in recent years: a promo for my Irish play, “The Wooing of the Soul”, my book Called to Egypt on the Back of the Wind, the retreats I facilitate…

Further into the room, the darkness was deeper. I understood I must go there alone in order to encounter the Sacred Feminine, the Presence of Sophia. The dream ended there, but stayed inside my heart like an unfinished story. A few weeks afterwards, as I was wondering whether I should consider the Greece Journey, I remembered that dream. Would I find there the presence that awaited me?

On our last morning on Paros Island, before departure time for our ferry, I was walking through the streets of the town, hoping to find the shops open. They were shut tight, but on a narrow side street, I chanced upon a tiny white building whose door stood invitingly open. Inside, I found a small darkened chapel. On two walls were Icons, glowing in the fiery red light of lamps.

The Icon on the wall to my right was of Mary/Sophia. I gazed at her calm lovely face. It seemed that she gazed back. I stood there, unable to move, drawn to rededicate my life to her. Still I could not go. Then I noticed the child she held. At once I recalled the Inuit tale of the Sealwoman who set her son (her spirit) on the shore in the moonlight for his task was to become a drummer, a singer, a storyteller. She promises him, ” I will breathe into your lungs a wind for the singing of your songs.”

I understood that I must do the same: send my recovered spirit out to tell the stories, trusting that she, Wisdom-Sophia, would “breathe into (my) lungs a wind for the singing of (my) songs”… I was filled with joy and gratitude. I took this photo before I left the small chapel.

Greece Paro dark chapel t2015 174

It was only later, on the ferry back to mainland Greece, that I remembered my dream of the darkened room and the Sacred Feminine Presence who awaited me there.

Truly Wisdom-Sophia  herself walks about looking for (us) and graciously shows herself to (us) as (we) go, in every thought of (ours) coming to meet (us).

Here is a poem by Jan Richardson to give heart to us in all our journeys:

For Those Who Have Far to Travel

A Blessing for Epiphany

If you could see
the journey whole,
you might never
undertake it,
might never dare
the first step
that propels you
from the place
you have known
toward the place
you know not.

Call it
one of the mercies
of the road:
that we see it
only by stages
as it opens
before us,
as it comes into
our keeping,
step by
single step.

There is nothing
for it
but to go,
and by our going
take the vows
the pilgrim takes:
to be faithful to
the next step;
to rely on more
than the map;
to heed the signposts
of intuition and dream;
to follow the star
that only you
will recognize;
to keep an open eye
for the wonders that
attend the path;
to press on
beyond distractions,
beyond fatigue,
beyond what would
tempt you
from the way.

There are vows
that only you
will know:
the secret promises
for your particular path
and the new ones
you will need to make
when the road
is revealed
by turns
you could not
have foreseen.

Keep them, break them,
make them again;
each promise becomes
part of the path,
each choice creates
the road
that will take you
to the place
where at last
you will kneel
to offer the gift
most needed—
the gift that only you
can give—
before turning to go
home by
another way.

Jan Richardson
from Circle of Grace
– See more at: http://paintedprayerbook.com/2016/01/02/epiphany-for-those-who-have-far-to-travel/#sthash.jTkLHSWC.dpuf

The Greece Journey Five: Awakening on Mount Pelion

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 The Universe : 96% dark matter

On the morning following our Nature Walk among the trees, bushes, healing plants and flowers of Mount Pelion, we awaken. We find our way to the dining room where large windows overlook the mountainside. Gazing at the view, we enjoy Greek yogurt, honey, fresh bread and fruit. After breakfast, Jean gathers us into a small sitting room where we each find a space on a cushion, a chair, a couch or the floor.

“We are all connected with the deep ecology of the universe,” Jean says, drawing us into the theme for her morning’s teaching, which is to be based on Duane Elgin’s book, The Living Universe. As Elgin’s mentor, Jean had assisted him with the book’s development. “Sacred natural settings like Mount Pelion give us potent awareness of this.”

The universe, Jean tells us, is being continuously recreated and we ourselves are part of this rebirthing, capable of working with the realities of space and time, capable of changing realities. Just as the universe is 96 % dark matter so too with us: our own possibilities are hidden. Yet we are part of a vast support system. In deep relationship with spiritual power, we partake with the universe in a process of interdependent co-arising. We experience what Jesus knew when he said, “The Father and I are one.”

Physicist David Bohm described the universe as “an undivided wholeness in flowing movement”, a single symphony of expression being regenerated at each moment. We are limited only by our consciousness, by our awareness. “Your identity is equal to your consciousness of it,” Jean tells us.

We live in the clear light of mother universe, an ocean of luminosity, presenting itself to us as transparent. The nature of reality is more akin to music than to machine. A vast “Indra’s Net”, reality resonates with each bead that rings. Every bonded particle is in resonance with every other particle. We are present to the farthest star. Listen to it all, for our ears have the capacity for infinite dimensionality.

How our consciousness grows determines the harmonious structure of probability: the intended music of our consciousness structures what happens in our life. Our thought is a request for mirroring. Our physical bodies are anchors for light. Our life can change in an instant through awakening.

This IS the time of the great awakening: our own reflective human consciousness allows the planet to advance itself through us as we awaken. That’s why everything of the older order is breaking down.
In the Axial Age, around 600 BC (within an era stretching from 900 to 200 BC), the great religions rose to set the direction of spirituality for millennia. In a time of extreme violence and warfare, religions responded by putting Compassion at the centre.

Now we have lost the story and need a new one in response to looming conflicts related to the scarcity of resources. We need the GREAT AWAKENING in this time of huge collapse and Re-Creation. We respond by radical transformation, discovering the reality of our universe.

Material deprivation leads to spiritual abundance. Our species has been in adolescence. Now we are maturing into the promise of a hopeful future as we grow into awareness of our responsibility.
Pope Francis is speaking as “the first adult”.

We need to hold an image of ourselves as pioneers of a new way, in an unprecedented rite of passage, building a new relationship with the earth after millennia of separation from nature. Our powers are now so great that they threaten life on this planet. We begin to make our way back to a harmonious relationship with the earth.

We are a witnessing species now transparent to each other. We are a cosmic species, children of a living cosmos, with purpose to our lives. The sense of connection awakens as we see ourselves as part of the living universe: the offspring.

Humanity is on a heroic journey into awakening, living within a living universe. There is a mutuality of knowing between the universe and ourselves, a sense of belonging. We need only the social will to claim the connection.

PAY ATTENTION as decisions of monumental importance for our future are made.

 

It is still full darkness the following morning when I waken with sudden knowing. 5:20 am. Time of the eclipse. Full moon. Blood moon. I pull on a warm robe over pajamas, push my feet into sandals, hurry outside. Some of my companions are already walking around the perimeter of the hotel trying to locate the moon in this blackened cloud-shrouded sky. I see a bright light just above the hotel’s front entrance. I stand here, a solitary watcher gazing at the sky. This may be part of the eclipse. Yes, it must be. I wait, gazing.
I hear Jean’s voice behind me: “That’s not the moon. That’s the Morning Star.” Oh….
A wind separates the clouds so we can follow the light further along the road.
Darkness. Light. The clouds part to reveal a reddish tinge. The Blood Moon. The eclipse. We watch, wrapt in silence….

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No teacher on the planet could wish for a better illustration of her teaching. Nor could any teacher make better magic of the moment, noting the emergence:
“The next level of your human becoming,” Jean says into the radiant darkness. “Feel it. Look out at the great branching of light….it looks like an angelic light, permeating through the sky, this sky of your own becoming, in this magnificent cosmic visual display. Great angelic forms. Just look at this phenomenal reality: potent and bright.

Greece 2015 070

“The great branching out. As within, so without; as without, so within. Feel this branching, this activation of your essential humanness as it moves to its next possibility….the branching that is happening so powerfully now.

Greece Blood Moon 2015 069
“Isn’t it glorious? One of the most beautiful skies I’ve ever seen…. And so it is”’

The Greek Journey Part Three

The AmphiareionAmphiare

Our Journey to Greece was inspired by a great healer named Asclepius who lived in Ancient Greece over 3000 years ago. His wholistic approach to healing included drama and dreams, laughter and song, dance, spirituality. “Asclepius,” writes Jean Houston, “demonstrated how full well-being can be created by energizing and balancing the body, heart, intuition, dreams, faith and spirit of a person.”

Today we set out from Athens, travelling 22 miles northeast to visit a sanctuary and oracular healing center. Founded in the 5th century BCE and flourishing until the 4th century CE , the site was dedicated to the god-hero Amphiaraus. Healing at the Amphiareion came through dreams and their interpretation. The Greek travel writer Pausanias described the process in the 2nd century CE:
the first thing is to purify oneself, when someone comes to consult Amphiaraus, and the purification ritual is to sacrifice to the god, and people sacrifice to him and to all those whose names are on (the altar), and — when these things are finished—they sacrifice a ram and spreading out its skin under themselves, lie down waiting for the revelation of a dream.

We approach the Amphiareion as pilgrims, as well as time travellers, for we have come to an ancient ruin seeking a spiritual power that lingers. Here, nestled in a plain among mountains, there were once baths, a theatre, the god’s temple, staff residences, shops, inns, the agora and a water clock. Today there are only stone remnants of pedestals and sleeping benches. Yet the peace of this place envelops us with its natural beauty, its quiet strength.

First we purify ourselves, washing our hands in a bowl that holds water infused with herbs. We have been asked to bring a non-physical sacrifice, something in our lives we are ready to release….I have been wondering what this might be.

Inviting us to find places to sit among the tumbled stones, Jean tells us: “Sacrifice is about making holy. What aspect of your life do you wish to make holy?”

We ponder this in silence. What rises for me is an old fear, one that emerges now and then with renewed ferocity. It is about home, about belonging: where do I belong? with whom? I feel drawn to sacrifice this fear, handing it over to the Sacred Presence to whom my life is dedicated, trusting Love to care for me… I sit looking into a grove of trees, then across to the distant mountains, breathing in peace and trust.

After a time, Jean calls us back together. Now her invitation to us is to close our eyes, to imagine ourselves back to the 5th century BCE. Within our minds the Amphiareion reappears as a glimmer of white marble buildings, with throngs of hope-filled seekers, moving gracefully in their draped linen garments, speaking, gesturing, laughing, even singing… the scene moves in our imaginations like a documentary film.

“Now, open your eyes,” Jean invites. “What do you see?”

There are people who have a gift for seeing with open eyes something long vanished. It does not happen here, today. Yet, for a while longer, we move back and forth in time in our imagination.

My eyes are still closed, so this is no vision. But I do sense a presence. A tall man in the flowing white robes of Ancient Greece is standing, facing me. He looks directly at me with wisdom and kindness in his expression: “Why have you come? What healing do you seek?” I hear him speak in the silence of my heart.

Startled, I show him my questions, though I form no words.

He grasps at once what is in my heart, then he speaks to me: “You have your home within you.”

I believe I have encountered an oracular healer, one who heals with words from the Sacred Presence.

Later, we walk the grounds, eat fresh figs straight from the trees, climb the steep stone steps that lead to the ruins of the ancient theatre. There some of our companions speak to us, sing to us. Aingeal proclaims the call of our time crying out, “Now is the time to banish fear from our lives”, the call to each to live that fullness of life that will be our gift to the evolution so needed, so longed for. Dick sings an “Alleluia” moving Leonard Cohen’s words into a celebration of newness of life.

What have we experienced? Something more than an archaeological site, more than a history lesson. It is a wrinkle in time; it is a taste of healing power that nourishes each of us in our own way, in our own need.

We board our bus, re-enter the crowded, vibrant, noisy, streets of 21st century Athens. We pass a car dealership. It offers to us its own version of “oracular healing”, loudly proclaiming in a huge red-lettered sign: FIND NEW ROADS.

Sophia: Love That Transforms Our Lives: Part Two

As I continue to reflect on how my life has changed since my dedication to Sophia, the sacred feminine presence, I realize my loving relationships have expanded in unexpected ways. Now the list of “those I love” includes a tree to whose presence I turn when I seek healing for myself and others; a small chipmunk who enjoys eating her lunch beside me on the back deck; a family of Phoebes who nest each spring above the porch light; the Iris plant that blooms in delicate splendour each June; the heron who moves down the river with slow grace, her wings weighted only with sunlight and soft winds; wild roses unattended, spilling gifts of perfumed beauty; the people I encounter, at the Post Office, the Waste Depot, the Library here in my small town.

Jean Houston teaches that when we love we become more intelligent, more creative, as we open to the patterns in the universe, as we glimpse the wonder of life and the wonder in ourselves. Speaking during her July 2014 Seminar, “Love in the Quantum Field”, Jean urged us to open the love receptor in all possible directions, the evolutionary and loving lure that has to rise in our time if we are to keep going. Patterns of connection activated by love are being brought out of the DNA, “bootstrapped into the culture”, Jean says. This transformation, this evolution, is taking place in our lifetime.

For Carol P. Christ, writing in “The Rebirth of the Goddess” (1997) hope is possible if we use the “human powers of reflection and moral action” that we once thought “set us apart from nature” to “create a new place for human beings within the web of life.” (p. 155)

Though thinking and acting (wrongly) have created many of the problems we and the Gaia body now face, human hope can only be located in the human capacity to think and to act differently about our place in the web of life….We act morally when we live in conscious and responsible awareness of the intrinsic value of each being with whom we share life on earth. When we do so, we embody the love that is the ground of all being. (p. 156)

Carol Christ believes that love forms the basis of morality:

…we have each experienced the power of intelligent love that grounds all beings in the web of life. This can become the basis for morality and moral transformation. None of us is perfect, nor can we be expected to be. What is asked of us as we work to heal the web of life is that we return the love and nurture given to us and that we try to contribute just a little bit more to the lives of all people and all beings than those who came before us. If we value our feelings of deep connection, if we love life on its own account and through others, and if we find the courage to act together on what we know, then maybe, just maybe, we can build a better future for ourselves, our children, and all the other children of earth. (pp. 158-9)

In her final chapter, Christ shares with us nine touchstones or ethical guidelines which she has discovered within her experience of the web of life. We might ask as we reflect upon them, how some or all of these might serve us in our lives, which ones we would set aside, which others we would add.

*Nurture life
*Walk in love and beauty
*Trust the knowledge that comes through the body
*Speak the truth about conflict, pain and suffering
*Take only what you need
*Think about consequences of your actions for seven generations
*Approach the taking of life with great restraint
*Practice great generosity
*Repair the web

Christ ends her book with this hope, this promise:

If we focus on the beauty around us, if we love life on its own account and through others, if we trust the knowledge that comes to us through our bodies, we will find the strength to continue the work of personal, cultural, and social transformation. If we speak the best of ourselves and others while at the same time speaking the truth about the harm that has been done, perhaps we all will recognize that it is in our own best interest to care about the survival of the web of life. Then we can begin again to create communities and societies that live in greater harmony and justice with other people, all our relations, and the earth body. (p. 177)

What shines brightest for me in Jean Houston’s teachings about “Love in the Quantum Field”, is her call to loving partnership with the Divine Beloved. This, says Jean, is the Great Lure that will draw us forward, opening us in love to all the realms of being. It involves an intensive practice, a daily practice of spiritual exercise, learning how to commit, to make the conscious choice of loving. “You will discover,” Jean says, “that the universe is alive and loving. As you move towards it, it moves towards you.”

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Daily Life with Sophia

Therefore I determined to take her to live with me,
Knowing that she would give me good counsel
And encouragement in cares and grief.
(Wisdom 8:9 NRSV Bible)

Midsummer: a time for dreams, for magic, for the unexpected. We celebrate Solstice as the sun’s light comes earliest, stays longest in the Northern Hemisphere while coming latest, leaving soonest in the Southern Hemisphere.

A memory returns of a Summer Solstice morning five years ago. I had wakened from a strange dream that I could not unravel. CBC Radio was playing Tchaikovsky’s “Romeo and Juliet” so I began to dance, hoping the mystery might become clear through sacred movement. Words began to rise from deep within me: “Unbind her and let her go free”. If the words referred to myself, that only puzzled me further. How was I bound? How did I need to be set free?

I phoned a woman whose wisdom I trusted, Jean Houston, my mentor, teacher and friend.
“You didn’t come in here alone,” Jean said. “Unbind that sacred presence within you. Let her go free.”

Thus began my relationship with a sacred feminine presence whom I am coming to know through the ordinary, sometimes extraordinary, experiences of daily life. For, as the Book of Wisdom says, I determined to take her to live with me…

Over the years of attending Jean Houston’s Mystery School sessions, I had learned a process for engaging with a sacred, archetypal presence for whom I had no name. I began a new journal. On the first page, I wrote the date, and on the next line my own name, followed by a colon.

Here is what I wrote first:

Anne Kathleen: Dear Friend, who are you? What are you?

On the next line, I wrote the word Friend with a colon and let my pen script her response.

Friend: I am the One who holds you in love.

Anne Kathleen: There are moments from my life when I sensed a presence that loved me deeply. Was that you?

Friend: Sometimes I was in the voice or body of someone – I spoke to you, touched you through a beloved other. But were there not moments when you sensed a presence of love when NO ONE was there?

Anne Kathleen: You are that love? That presence?

(Here I made reference to specific moments and experiences in my life, and the Friend added others…)

Anne Kathleen: Are you the Mother? Isis? Sacred Feminine? I do not know how to address you.

Friend: For now, just allow me to be with you. Names, titles, descriptions, come later.

That is how it began. I was grateful for Jean’s teaching that at first we will think it is our own imagination. But in time, there will be responses so surprising and unexpected that we know they come from something deeper than ourselves. For a long while, the nudges or suggestions I received from the Friend seemed so ordinary that I was disappointed. Seeking great adventures, I would instead be reminded about a necessary email or phone call, or a task I’d forgotten.

Slowly, slowly, over these five years, the daily writings have become a compass for my life. When faced with a tangle of tasks, I am guided as to where and how to begin. When I feel overwhelmed, I might be invited to take some time to walk to settle my thoughts and feelings. When there are important choices or decisions to be made, I am sometimes astonished to hear a writing voice very different from my own who offers another approach, one I would not have found on my own, one that proves to be life-giving and peaceful. Yet, I have not found this Friend to be all-knowing, for sometimes a situation changes in a way she did not seem to anticipate.

Her love has brought a profound peace to my life, one that eases anxiety, assures me in uncertainty, brings light into the darkest times. I am no longer alone.

I share this with you as a way of suggesting that if you indeed seek the awakening of Sophia in your own life, you may wish to try this journaling approach. See where it might lead you. Notice how synchronicities arise in your life, bringing you the right book/friend/opportunity to nurture your dedication to this sacred presence.

These days, the books of Thealogian Carol P. Christ  are light to me, as she weaves personal experience through her scholarship. She writes of her experience of being with her mother as she was dying:

As my mother drew her last breaths, I felt the room flooded with what I can only describe as a great power of love. A revelation had been given to me. Until that moment, I had always felt that I had not been loved enough. I began to understand that a great matrix of love had always surrounded and sustained my life. Since then, I have come to experience love as the gift of the abundant earth. It truly is the power of all being, the power I know as a Goddess. (“Rebirth of the Goddess”  Addison Wesley Publishers, Menlo Park, California 1997 p.4)

And from that same book, I read on the Solstice:

When we love concretely, intelligently, in our bodies and in concern for the whole web of life, we are listening to the persuasion offered to us by the Goddess whose intelligent embodied love is the ground of all being (pp. 108-9)

first Iris opens