Featured Arcana: The Hierophant (V)

The Hierophant (or sometimes known as The Pope, or Shaman) lies along the branch connecting 2 and 4, on the Pillar of Creativity or Assertiveness. He crosses the Great Abyss:

The Abyss marks the point at which subconscious interactions with the Source crosses into Intent — how we decide to use this knowledge in regard to our dealings with others.

So we can think of this Major Arcana as representing an establishment or codification of our own values — these are based upon a simple reflection of received inspiration from the Source (without any extra reasoning), that can then be passed onward to others in order to bring a community together.

But remember, the Hierophant can only reach as far as the Intentional and Interactive Plane. What each individual does with that shared Intent (bringing it to the Triangle of Action) is up to them.

When Literalism can be Beautiful….

Most people who claim they read Genesis 1 “literally” don’t. They believe that what they believe about Genesis 1 is literal. But they aren’t reading Genesis 1 literally.

If we read Genesis 1 literally, we come out with a very different picture than most literalists imagine. Indeed, we find ourselves firmly planted in the Hebrew worldview—an ancient worldview. And, if we know our history, we know that the Hebrews had no concept of a round earth that coursed around the sun. They believed the earth was flat, the sky was a dome, and the sun revolved around the earth.

—-Scribalishess, from “Reading Genesis 1 ‘Literally’

 

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To try to wrestle with the ancient cosmological understandings of the day and shoehorn them into our modern, scientific understandings of the Universe, as we know them so far, is to rob such ancient texts of their beauty and poetry.

Read this wonderful article by Scriablishess in its entirety for all the details in understanding this beauty, from the cultural perspective of the ancient Hebrew writer of Genesis.

Click through the jump for some of my most favorite quotes from the article!

Continue reading “When Literalism can be Beautiful….”

The Inner and The Outer

…just as he who wishes to see the intelligible nature will contemplate what is beyond the perceptible if he has no mental image of the perceptible, so he who wishes to contemplate what is beyond the intelligible will contemplate it when he has let all the intelligible go…we in our (aporia) do not know what we ought to say, and are speaking of what cannot be spoken, and give it a name because we want to indicate it to ourselves as best we can…

—from “Apophasis”

Evolution, Goddess Gaia, if you will, has granted us a most astonishing gift… Our brains, our mind, our consciousness, our perceptions — this intricate interweaving of grey matter with electric impulses and tissue and muscle and bone has, over the expansive eons, given us not merely a thinking mind by which to behold and contemplate our surroundings, but almost another, outer mind beyond this natural mind, by which we are able to contemplate our own selves as well! We are able to Observe the Observer.

In this sense, we might say that we are capable of, at its most basic, two focuses, or ways of looking and experiencing. This concept has already been beautifully and plainly described in the study of Open Focus, and I highly recommend you explore Kurt Keefner’s writings on the subject at the aforementioned link! Additionally, the Buddha would call this very concept and practice Mindfulness. But, too, let us consider the pragmatic implications of this kind of understanding in regard to our personal and societal interactions…

In our American society at present, there seems to be a great struggle tearing us violently apart, pitting basic religious and social viewpoints against each other. This debate is very near and dear to my heart at present, as I have experienced both sides of the struggle in the full and complicated extent of my own personal journey, and I feel I’ve at least been able to grasp the basic concepts rooted at the heart of the struggle. “The Devil is in the details,” it is said, but from an eagle’s eye view, I see the broad lack of understanding on the whole as a resistance against accepting Open Focus or allowing oneself to Observe the Observer in a mindful manner.

Consider this:

What is it that drives our current breakthroughs in Science, that which enhances our knowledge of the Universe and our place in it, that which enables us to create technological advances to enable us to understand more? Is it not the scientific process of careful and testable Observation and Experience through experimentation? What is it that enables us to live our daily lives and make basic decisions? Is it not the result of our current and past observations, built upon habit and understanding? How is it that a child learns what is not particularly beneficial to their well-being but by testing and observing and getting hurt and thereby learning in the process? We live our lives, we observe, we learn, we grow… and we develop frames within which our experiences fit — frames that seem to explain our experiences and by which we are able to categorize future experience and observation, frames that will guide our future decisions if we let them. One might call this living life through the Ego Filter

I would also call this the Inner Experience. This is the realm in which most “normal” life is lived, without thought, without mindfulness. This framework we build and with which we shelter our Egos and Perceptions could very well be called rigid religious structure. It is protective, offers guidance, and seems reliable in an apparently unreliable world. It gives meaning and explanation to the uncertain. And, when it is attacked by other emerging viewpoints, it is defended violently.

If, however, one could from time to time, emerge from within this rigid framework in order to observe its colors and shapes and structural intricacies from without, then I would call this the Outer Experience. It is this mind-existing-outside-the-mind observational phenomenon that allows Science to double-check itself for validity. It is the realm in which Understanding and most perfect, unconditional Love dwell. It is the place from which we can come to understand our Egos and its decisions and perceptions, and the place we can come to embrace our Shadow and realize that we are One…

One dwelling in the Inner realm is one who holds to their ideology, for there is nothing else beyond it; it is all they are. One dwelling in the Outer realm is one who does not take part emotionally in anything that is seen, but rather only watches and studies and accepts. From this vantage point, there is much to be learned, and much wisdom and peace to be attained.

This Day of Renewal

I had an interesting personal realization yesterday as I roamed the street… One of the many lovely people who stopped and chatted with me was a woman who mentioned her desire to collaborate and learn from me regarding several aspects of my profession–how she might incorporate what I’ve achieved in her own aspirations. And part way through our conversation, she looked at me and asked, “Are you a believer?”

I have to confess that I had to pause, and in my own mind time seemed to stop for a very long time. 😳 You see, being raised in a sort of Christian extremist environment (and all the stress, confusion, and mental and emotional baggage that came with that), you might say that the Traditional-God-one-thinks-of and I, while not divorced per se, are in separation right now– we’re currently seeing other people. 🙂

However, in taking a moment to reflect upon my answer for this truly lovely and sincere woman, I took note of the “karma alarm” in my gut and pondered these flittering thoughts:
+ As I was in the middle of my peaceful activity, I sincerely opted for choosing a brief Yes or No answer.
+ I knew, without having the time to explain and hash out a complicated answer, basically what I’ve already hashed out at length here in this cyber-space, a Yes or No answer was inherently going to carry with it all sorts of assumptions, one way or the other.
+ So, am I a “believer”? What all can that potentially mean–both within and without the assumed Faith?
+ In my gut, I knew I resonated at a certain level with this soul’s sincerity and love, at the most basic root…

…So I said Yes. Because the statement that I’m not a believer would be far more untrue than the fact that I am, even if not everything we proclaim to believe lines up precisely in every detail with each other. And here, I appeal to my love of the Myth and allegory.

After all, is not the heart of the Christian Easter Story a story of renewal after death? Of spring emerging from winter? Of a wise teacher and master dwelling within us in spirit and memory for all time, never to leave us; his or her influence ever present? Of an eternal freedom available for all to embrace?
How is this basic celebration of life and hope and renewal any different at its core from those of other cultures, even the premises of reincarnation and transformation of Buddhism? The gnostic Sethian tradition implies at times that the historical Jesus was only a human vessel for the “spirit of Seth,” the chosen and righteous son of Adam and Eve; therefore one of this tradition could very well ask whether the resurrection was not merely allegorical to begin with… Certainly, to some in that era, and even today, it is.

Symbolically, however, the crucifixion idea itself embodied deep dilemmas and meanings of the human psyche, and so the Crucifixion per se became a far greater reality than the actual physical events that occurred at the time.
Only the deluded are in danger of, or capable of, such self-sacrifice, you see, or would find it necessary. Only those still bound up in ideas of crime and punishment would be attracted to that kind of religious drama and find within it deep echoes of their own subjective feelings. –(source)

We all share the same loves and hopes and dreams, and we all tend to embody these and personify them in differing manners according to our traditions; I would not that I harm another fellow being by even merely implying a snide rejection of what they hold dear.

Additionally, I realized, why am I afraid of my past tradition, my heritage? True, it did more harm than good when it was a part of my life; but that is not the case in The Now. (This is Aversion– it is the same as Attachment, only a pushing away instead of a pulling toward; it’s the same energy, the same poison.) My religious background is surely a part of me just as is any other spiritual heritage that has been passed down to us from our ancient ancestors. All is just a continuously evolving variation on a theme that has been playing since the dawn of existence. Tradition may surely have freedom to point toward god, while not defining god…. Remember, don’t confuse the finger pointing at the moon, as being the moon itself.

By my saying Yes, the woman instantly felt safe with me. It was palpable; she’d found a kindred spirit in me, someone who could understand where she was coming from when she spoke, someone who could culturally relate to her. Near the close of our conversation, she wanted to pray with me. And I asked myself, why should there be any qualms? Do I not speak and wish blessings and goodness upon this fellow being? If I pray to a Heavenly Father (for the woman’s sake) aren’t I also praying to The One Who Is?

The connection I made with this dear woman is more real than any labels we might have instead squabbled over. May we celebrate together in freedom this Day of Renewal, with mutual love and respect in our shared heritage.

Be Not Afraid of the World

We are each of us, an independent mini-verse; and yet, too, we are fully and intricately entangled with and in our environment, and each other.

How long and often I have heard and seen displayed, the ideology of “Not of This World.” The premise behind it is one of judgement — that this World is of some nature that we ought not be a part of, and to be separate from it is to attain a nature of peace, purity, and enlightenment of one sort or another.

In a way, one might look to meditation and the release of Attachments as a form of this kind of release from the world… But how much better we will fare if, instead, we realize — and, yes, take delight in — the fact that we are holistically integrated with ourselves and our environment. The notion of releasing Attachment is not to bring separation from this World, but instead to come to the awareness that we are One with the World, with the Universe (yes, I know how cliché this phrase is, but it nevertheless remains true). And by this understanding we welcome true peace into our existence.

Without it, we struggle against the World — the Universe, the very womb that birthed us. We see, we, judge, we hate, we long for that which we cannot have and we look endlessly for a mythical release that will not come, as it is powered by fear and hate and a desire for easy, unbalanced escapism… We condemn others who do not conform to our ideologies, and we blame them for the misfortune that seems to overtake us at every turn during our existence on this earth. More than this, by struggling against the very nature of our integrated beings, we create cognitive dissonance in our very souls; how frustrating it is to inherently know the Truth in our beings, for we have the mind of…the Mind… 😉 but retain the need to dismiss it with the excuses of our own imaginings! To maintain this life-encompassing delusion at all costs… This is truly, mentally and spiritually, exhausting!

That we could all come to understand that Perception is everything! That we could each welcome and explore the nature of Attentional Focus; that by employing the realizations of Open Focus we may freely explore the nature of who we are, tied intimately with our environment, in wholeness and peace.

Open Focus, as a Convincing Alternative

There is a wonderful article I’ve stumbled upon: An Essay about Attentional Style and Philosophy – Open Focus, by Kurt Keefner. It is highly enlightening, and clearly presents an overview of the basic styles of attentions, thought and the reinforcing cycle these styles create when it comes to developing belief, philosophy, and personal and world views.

In this article, using the studies of Princeton neuroscientist Les Fehmi as his groundwork, Mr. Keefner discusses the concepts of:

  • Cartesian Dualism
  • Spiritualism
  • Animalism
  • The Big Picture-ists
  • Holism and the Open-Focus Brain

Do read the entire article here!

And in the meantime, enjoy these select quotes below, from Mr. Keefner’s insightful article:

In my view philosophy and psychology exist in a system of reciprocal relations. By way of an analogy: if you get a good education you are more likely to make money and if you (or your parents) have money you are more likely to get a good education. There is a connection here, but it is not one of strict necessity, only an ongoing positive tendency. Just so, certain philosophical positions make certain psychological states more likely and vice versa by a process of predisposition, the same way in which the dry wood does not cause the fire but is a ground for it. I believe that by seeing these connections more clearly, we can gain insight into why we cling to a position, often against reason, and we might be able to feel our way, through reason and introspection, to better beliefs.
….I would place the human organism in a natural context: we are evolved beings living in a material world, but I would not go for a reductionistic account of human faculties: we are not driven by instinct but by reason…a robust reason where one develops one’s intuitions and where one is part of one’s environment rather than removed from it.
…one can be objective and immersed at the same time by realizing that reality, including you, has an objective nature, but that you are immersed in it.
….As far as achieving both narrow and diffuse focus goes, what Fehmi proposes sounds like a having a structured field of awareness with a center and a periphery known at the same time. Transcending narrow vs. diffuse and objective vs. immersed would allow one to form a more individuated and autonomous version of the self than spiritualism and animalism, but one that did not cut off either feelings, the body or principles, like dualism and the détente theory. This would allow for the perception of the self as a whole in its entirety and its environment. And this could represent the escape from all the vicious circles of the cardinal attentional styles and theories into a virtuous circle of wholeness.

I think the subtext of the theory of Open Focus is that reality cannot be fully known by any of the cardinal styles of attention alone. They’re all too partial. They fragment reality just as the four cardinal theories of mind fragment the self. But wholeness is possible both in theory and in practice. To achieve it one must be not only philosophically but also psychologically self-conscious.

Gnosticism and Kundalini

This excerpt from the most informative and thoughtful article “Christ and the Kundalini” by Dr. Ramesh Manocha beautifully articulates the true essence of Christ’s long-misunderstood teachings, bringing light to an age-old problem of dogma and religious infighting. Enjoy this brief selection, and click on the link above to read through the entire article; I highly recommend it!

In the Gospel of Peace, Christ explains that the experience of spirituality is foremost. …He says “Seek not the law in your Scriptures for the law is life, whereas the Scripture is dead. I tell you truly Moses received not his laws from God as writing but through the living word. The law is living word for living God to living prophets for living men. In everything that is life to the law is the law written, for I tell you truly all living things are nearer to God than the Scripture which is without life. I tell you truly that the Scripture is the work of man, but life and all its hosts are the work of our God. Wherefore do you not listen to the words of God which are written in his works? And wherefore do you study the dead Scriptures which are from the hands of men?”

Thus Christ’s law is a living, cosmic and experiential one, and is actuated by the awakening of the spiritual experience within the seeker, not by intellectual study or by following those who themselves have not truly had the experience…. More so, self realisation is a process of genuine, inner spiritual transformation which must be experienced to be understood, since it lies beyond the domain of scriptural description or theological definition. Since it is gained by the grace of the Divine Mother( Holy Spirit) alone, it is most certainly not possible to organise or institutionalise this experience in human terms.

…Christ’s spirituality differed radically from our modern understanding. His teaching was dynamic and zen-like focusing on the experience of inner purification and transformation, the elevation of the seeker’s awareness into the state (not concept or dogma) of self-realisation. He sought to overthrow the immoral culture of the Romans and to deliver to the dogmatic, letter-bound Jews the mystic fulfilment promised to them in the Mosaic covenant.

Central to his teaching was the understanding that the feminine aspect of God, God the Mother, was the means by which self-realisation and spiritual evolution to god-awareness occurred. Christ venerated the Divine Mother as the Holy Spirit. It is this power, described in the East as residing in the human being as the Kundalini, that is the last vestige of the Goddess-tradition in the Christian West.

…..Why did the Churches suppress these true christian traditions? Partly because they are patriarchal institutions based on the questionable dogma of Paul who perceived women (and therefore the feminine principle) as inferior entities. Partly also because spirituality which focused on the Divine Feminine would also focus on the redemptive power of God the Mother and on Her role as the grantor and matriarch of mystical experience. This kind of understanding, like all mystics and mysticism, defies organisation, dogmatic hierarchies and institutions preferring the role of individual experience, revelation and progressive growth toward divine awareness.

The Holy Ghost, then, threatened to neutralise the fear-oriented dogma which the Churches have used, in the name of Christ and Spiritual Truth, to maintain their secular power and wealth.

…Consider Christ’s warning “he who has blasphemed against the holy ghost shall be damned forever”. What then of the Churches who have virtually edited the divine feminine out of the Western Cultural tradition in order to maintain their grip on the masses?

(©Copyright Knowledge of Reality Magazine 1996-2005. All rights reserved.)

The Collective Unconscious

The collective unconscious – so far as we can say anything about it at all – appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact, the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious… We can therefore study the collective unconscious in two ways, either in mythology or in the analysis of the individual. (From The Structure of the Psyche, CW 8, par. 325.)
–found here.

I am simply enthralled with the notion of the collective conscious and/or unconscious…
That at our core of all personal believing, faith, religion, etc… lies the human experience in All-Consciousness. That we all basically experience the same thing, albeit at different stages of our learning according to our own capacities, and we can only label this experience according to the myths and stories and traditions of our cultures, and otherwise in any way possible we can hope to describe this amazing and thrilling phenomena!

Think of it this way:
The “Divine Beloved” is the part of our personal unconscious that emerges in a form that we can relate to, fall in love with, have a relationship with; in essence, it gives us a chance to understand and relate to our deeper understandings. Our unconscious mind is connected to the Collective Unconscious; therefore, God/dess, in this sense then, is not only my unconscious but indeed it is all of us — the collected, inherited, perhaps even universally psychical, accumulation of knowledge during the universe’s existence and our relationship to it. No wonder we say that God is All-Knowing!

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Whether this is entirely a biological phenomenon ingrained and passed down through our DNA, or whether it is truly on another plane of existence, we cannot perhaps say with utmost certainty. Jung himself seems to have changed his mind later on in life. But I posit — does it ultimately really matter?

When the labels we create to describe our experiences of the unconscious turn into dogma and we fail to realize the Myth as Allegory nature of past writings of our forefathers exploring the very same experiences, then, I believe, we can easily get ourselves into trouble! We are bound by fear, and wind up binding others by it. But if we can take what we’ve learned and explore the myths of others as congruous with our own, then the whole Universe is open to us — and it is thrilling!

One last thought to leave you with… There may in fact be some scientific basis to the theory of an actual shared, universal conscious! I’ll share more after I explore these writings…. You can find them here, too, and see what you find!