Sunday, September 28, 2008
The last two mornings I have awoken to see early morning mist veiling the land. As the sun declines in the sky and the summer heat dissipates it is as if the earth becomes coy and shy. She cloaks herself in mystery and becomes all the more beautiful. In response the trees put on a glorious display - before they are revealed in all their winter beauty before the darkening sky.
Is it just me or is the light of the hidden world brightening earlier than usual? Maybe it is because I am getting older, or that we are now under a new moon, or maybe it is true. Every evening this week I have been welcomed home from work by a lone crow on the drive who has eyed me with intelligent curiosity before flying onto the garage roof, her eyes following me as I enter the house; utter magic.
As people regret the passing of summer it is good to rejoice in the turning of the year. To look forward to Samhain, to the thinning of the veil. As winter approaches and the robins and wrens busy themselves in the garden I look forward to a time of candles, open fires and story telling by the hearth. But above all a time to enter the silence of the dark and be touched by the beautiful light of the hidden world.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Balancing on Air
My local paper has been covering the closure of a number of churches in the area. Each church has its own unique history. Each has faithful people who have invested a great deal of emotional and spiritual capital in the living community that makes up the local church. It is obvious that a church cannot be closed without breaking a chain of history and hurting a lot of people. We should all be sad at their loss. Those in authority need to be blessed with more than their fair share of tact and sensitivity when they are faced with closing a church.
In the days when churches were normally open and anyone could enter freely at any time of day I would often spend time in one. To leave a busy city street and enter a church is to enter a different world where history matters, where the veil between the living and the dead is thin, where silence prevails, and where prayers spoken through the ages hang like magic in the air. To enter a country church you usually have to pass the graves of our ancestors who encircle the building in an embrace of love. Their presence reminding us of our debt to them and our duty to honour them.
Our historic churches have become part of the landscape and now appear as benign and beautiful as the trees. Walking into their peaceful interior spaces it is easy to forget that this was not always true. Indeed most historic cathedrals and churches were designed and built as much as symbols of power and authority as places of worship.
The gracious Norman cathedrals of England were a potent sign of Norman power and superiority, built strong, huge and impressive to remind a people that they had been conquered. Within decades of their construction there were expulsions of Jews from England, France and Spain and legislation against homosexuals was enacted across Europe. Many town churches were built to proclaim the power and prosperity of craft guilds that actively worked to exclude women from membership. Rich and powerful men filled cathedrals and churches with their tombs and memorials and stained glass displaying their coats of arms. Military flags festooned the ceilings. Special pews were installed for the local gentry, the rich rented seating at the front and the poor were sent to the back.
I mention this because Geraldine Charles has written an excellent article entitled, ‘Balancing on Air’ for the current issue of Goddess Pages. In this incisive article she addresses the question, "Yeah, but what about balance?" She writes:
"It should hardly need to be pointed out that a Goddess Temple exists for a reason – in part to redress, in a very small way, thousands of years of complete imbalance ... On the right hand I will put the x thousand years of patriarchy that affect my every thought in ways I cannot begin to enumerate, particularly as many of them probably aren’t even conscious. On the left – how shall I symbolize the deliberate decision to have no representation of the god, the male principle, in a small, one-roomed Goddess temple in an English country town?"
For me, discovering the Goddess Temple in Glastonbury was an absolute revelation. It is beautiful, peaceful, prayerful, overflowing with love, alive with creative energy and totally devoid of hierarchical power and authority.
In a world obsessed with power and dominion this small, one-roomed Goddess temple points to a better way.
In a world where fundamentalist, creationist leaders proclaim that only a God powerful enough to create an entire universe in six days is worthy of worship; it points to Goddesses who are present in a grain of corn and the hum of a bee’s wing.
In a country that spends £34 billion pounds on offensive capability and sells the means of death to nations around the world; it proclaims the true beauty of life, produces a riotous flowering of creativity and reminds us that we are all divine.
Our human society is desperately imbalanced. In England a small church closes and people are hurt and feel powerless in the face of authority. Not everyone has a car, buses are infrequent on a Sunday and some will find it hard to travel 2 or 3 miles to the next church. In Africa a woman regularly walks 15 or 20 miles to church in the tropical sun.
The Goddess Temple is 260 miles from my home and I know many who travel that distance and more just to be in this special place. When we cannot travel our hearts are our temples and the Goddess inspires all the choices made to work towards a better world.
It seems a long time since my last post on this Blog. I have had a lot of work to cope with as well as preparing and printing the two UK Goddess journals Goddess Alive and Goddess Pages for their editors. Then there have been some delightful family happenings too.
I would really like to thank those who nominated this Blog for the "I Love Your Blog Award". That was all of a month ago and I have only just found time to say thank you. My apologies, it is really good to know others enjoy it. I feel doubly chastened as Andy, one of the bloggers who nominated me, wrote, ..."I just wish he would post more often!" Here, in no particular order are my own nominations lots of whom have been nominated already because they are just so very good.
1. Anne Johnson of "The Gods Are Bored" simply because she is such a good writer and always makes me smile.
2. Aquila ka Hecate from Johannesburg who reminds me how the seasons turn in the southern hemisphere and who shares an interest in mathematics and science.
3. The team at "Medusa Coils" for providing such a brilliant information service for the Goddess Community.
4. Brian Charles at "House of Inanna"
5. Andy at "The Spiritual Journey of a Somerset Pagan" Andy and Brian both write interesting, utterly honest blogs that I look forward to reading and, for me, are all the more interesting because I have met up with both of them in Glastonbury.
6. Lee Hutchings at "Panthea" for her beautiful, reasoned and joyous writing about the Goddess.
7. Bo at "The Expulsion of the Blatant Beast" (landofspices.blogspot.com) who writes so well on so much that it is almost overwhelming. Bo also keeps me struggling with the Irish language whenever I falter and I am in utter awe of his knowledge of medieval and modern Irish and Welsh.