Endings and beginnings

It’s nearly seven months since I’ve posted in this blog. So much has changed in my life since the fire which destroyed my home. I lost almost all of my material possessions, but have gained so much more, in friendship and freedom.

This blog is, as its title now states, an archive. I hope you will find much still to enjoy and mull over in these pages.

If you’re after up to date writing and information on what I’m up to, head over to What’s Your Story?, my new online home.


Let us be truly with each other

You may have noticed that I’ve been a little quiet this month, as far as blogging goes. I’ve been working on several posts, but my energy is heading inwards, not spreading out. So instead of my own thoughts, I give you this prayer by Thich Nhat Hanh, which I found at the website of fellow Interfaith Minister Lisa Sarick:

As we are together, praying for peace,
let us be truly with each other.

Let us pay attention to our breathing.
Let us be relaxed in our bodies and our minds.
Let us be at peace with our bodies and our minds.

Let us be aware of the source of being

common to us all and to all living things.

Evoking the presence of the Great Compassion,
let us fill our hearts with our own compassion
towards ourselves and towards all living beings.

Let us pray that all living beings realise
that they are all brothers and sisters,
all nourished from the same source of life.

Photo Credit: Premasagar Rose

Let us pray that we ourselves cease to be the
cause of suffering to each other.
Let us live in a way which will not deprive other beings
of air, water, food, shelter, or the chance to live.

With humility, with awareness of the existence
of life and of the sufferings going on around us,

Let us pray for the establishment of peace in our hearts and on earth.

Know I am aware of you, breathing with you, praying with you. Blessed be. ♥

Blessed be all souls

This week began with Samhain, popularly known as Hallowe’en. It is the ancient, and modern, festival of the dead, of remembering and honouring those who have gone before us.

Photo credit:

The night of 31st October, moving into 1st November, is the time in the year when the veil between the worlds of the living and the dead, of the physical and the spiritual, are thinnest.

In pre-Roman times, there is evidence that the ‘Celtic’ peoples of the British Isles would leave doors and windows open, to invite the spirits of their dead, and their ancestors to join them for the evening. This is still a practice that some modern day Pagans follow.  The spirit of communion between the living and the dead can also be seen in the Mexican Día de los Muertos, the Roman Catholic feast of All Souls.

My favourite combination of these traditions, though, is the Reclaiming tradition Spiral Dance ritual, which occurs in San Francisco every year.

It is a solidly Pagan, Goddess religion remembrance of the Beloved Dead, the Mighty Dead and Ancestors – loved ones who have died in the past year, those who have died recently or in the distant past who inspire our spirits, and our personal ancestors of blood, bone and breath – but is strongly inspired by the altar-building traditions of the Día de los Muertos.

Remembering not only those who are dead, but those who are born

Where the Spiral Dance tradition differs from either Pagan or Catholic traditions of remembering the dead around this date, though, is that it is also a celebration of rebirth – both inner and outer. Its ritual facilitators take full account of Samhain not only as the year’s death, but also its birth into the ‘night’ of winter. So all babies born in the community in the preceding year are named, honoured and celebrated.

In the world as a whole, there are an awful lot of babies being born. There are now seven billion human beings on earth. Seven billion. Seven with nine noughts after it. 7,000,000,000.

That’s a lot of people.

One of the problems with such a huge numbers is that it is quite literally unimaginable. When we try to follow our spiritual instincts in connecting with our fellow humans all over the world, and feeling that human connection deeply, and we imagine all those other people, all over the world, our minds and hearts boggle, then turn away to things they can grasp: things like (we hope) the people we know and love, or (perhaps more often) whatever’s being waved in our faces by the media today, whether that’s our favourite soap opera / rom com / police procedural / action film, our favourite hate figure or a politician, or the latest news item to be horrified or scandalised about.

Expanding our capacity for love

Photo credit: Camdiluv

Compassion, the passionate love of our spirit for all beings, the deep knowledge of our connection with all beings, needs to be developed. It is, undoubtedly, a natural human instinct, but in the face of the unimaginable – whether an unimaginably large number, or an unimaginable degree of suffering, or an unimaginable enfolding of love – we shirk away in fear.

In fact, I would say that our fear is not of the unimaginability of numbers or suffering or love, but of the possibility that the numbers or suffering or love is so vast, so huge, so immense, that our sense of self will be swamped, overwhelmed, washed away in the deluge, disappear.

The only way I know of to deal with this fear is to start with where we are. The saying “Charity begins at home” could have been written just for this.

First, we need to fill ourselves up with love – love from and for ourself, our lovers and partners, our family, our friends, our pets, our spiritual guides and guardians – until we’re overflowing. Then we let the love overflow.

It really is that simple.

The more we fill ourselves up with love, the more love we can let flow over, and the greater numbers, suffering and love we can cope with. There is no possibility of our sense of self being swamped or overwhelmed or washed away, because when we allow ourselves to fill up with love, we are not small in the face of anything; we are filled with the greatest, most powerful force in the Universe – that is, in fact, the spiritual fabric of the Universe.

So let yourself love and be loved by your Ancestors, your Mighty Dead, your Beloved Dead, the Newborns and all other beings in your life, for that is how all souls can indeed be blessed.

Unity, zero and love

Last week, I was among a group of fellow serious spiritual seekers, at T. Thorn Coyle‘s Feri apprenticeship training. We talked a little about the differences between the ideas of unity in Western and Eastern faiths; in general, it could be said that unity in Western faiths has often been interpreted to mean that there is only One God, and all must worship the same One, whereas in Eastern faiths, unity has often been taken to mean oneness of everything.

One and zero

Both of these extremes of view, and the full spectrum between them, can of course be found in some form in all cultures. However, it seemed significant in terms of our discussion last week that for hundreds of years, while Eastern mathematicians and philosophers grappled with the mysterious zero, Western mathematics and philosophy struggled along with the irreducible unit.

There is something about the concept of zero that allows the folding and collapse, the flattening of hierarchical, combative spiritual notions. Zero allows us to think both in terms of nothing – dark absence, the void – and of infinity – brilliance, limitlessness. Instead of trying to make all ideas into one dogma, all expressions of the Divine into One God, and rejecting and persecuting anything that won’t fit, zero allows us the space to open to the mystery of multiplicity that is also unity.

The mystery of love

This mystery of multiplicity that is unity is the mystery, for me, of love: two which are also one; many which are also one.

Love is the central mystery of the spiritual, the secret chamber of the heart in which the mark of the Divine is stamped, where the whisper of Life’s voice is heard. Love is openness, is yielding, is consuming passion, is stillness. Love is strength and compassion and commitment. Love is all things and nothing, void and infinity, that from which all emerges and to which all returns.

Step into the stillness of your own heart, the place where Love dwells, waiting.