Ecstasy and the Divine Office

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You would think I could make claims to something at this point.

I’ve been on the mystic’s path for some god-awful number of years now, and the problems are always this or that; either there are people of whatever path (in this case, Christian) acting like complete fuckwits, or I have atheists and secular humanists who equally are fuckwitted attacking me and…well, I guess between the two, I’d rather deal with atheists and secular humanists. They tend to behave more like Christians are meant to behave, save for some details.

They do say God is in the details, though.

To the best of my ability, I’m praying the Divine Office. I downloaded iBreviary on my phone and am using that.

Yes, in a perfect world, I would have all four volumes of the Roman version of things and be praying all the things in Latin.

I have to settle for praying things from a digital handheld device. It doesn’t feel as authentic to hold such a piece of technology to do my prayers, but I get the benefit of praying in Latin, which feels incredibly right for me.

I finished reading Thomas Merton’s Seven Storey Mountain tonight, almost two years after receiving the book.

To be sure, his whole writing about his “sinful” life was incredibly monotonous, such to the point that I quit reading for a year, and only resumed out of a sense of loyalty to my husband having bought the book for me in the first place.

But Merton’s sudden spiral into Catholicism- well, that sounds like me swirling back into Christianity.

There aren’t many suitable ways to explain it- my favorite way to express what happened is, “Christ compelled me.”

Now, of course, that might sound strange to many people, but to explain it in other terms: my return to Christianity in ANY form came from some Greater Force Outside of Me. No, I’m not doing it to satisfy someone else; it’s largely an internal process.

The same is true of the first time I set foot in Saint Michael’s Episcopal Church in Ozark, Alabama. I was almost horrified at the lack of Tabernacle but found quickly that God dwelt there either way, and I wasn’t going to let the lack of a Tabernacle stop me.

Being compelled by Christ is also what began the Divine Office. I predicted I would pray for maybe a week or two and then fall away from the practice.

To the contrary: with the exception of being a bit tired the first time I prayed all the way through the Morning Prayer in the BCP, I have willingly gone into prayer each time. I have been desirous to pray; I have felt the grace of God descend upon me more clearly because I have prayed the Divine Office.

Tonight, I was reading something about Orthodoxy and the Jesus Prayer, and my heart was struck with ecstasy, ecstasy the recalled to my mind the image of the angel piercing St. Theresa of Avila’s heart, an ecstasy so strong that I had to close the computer and do whatever was necessary to make it to the bedroom and lie down to allow whatever was going on to go on.

The feeling began in my chest, somewhere below where we might call the “heart chakra,” and it then moved down somewhere to the bottom of my spinal cord and all the way up mine into the back of my head. It felt profound and wonderful, and I had to just lie down and allow the ecstasy to run its course.

So I know somehow that I’m on the right path. Maybe these things won’t last. But they’re comforting for now, and I feel empowered to serve God through my contemplation or what we might call the prayer of silence or prayer of stillness.

There’s another experience regarding that to be shared soon.

Stevo

Return of Meaning

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For a while, life had become meaningless. What I mean to say is that a severe disconnected had erupted between me and the world around me, in the experiencing of holidays and outings and the passing of the seasons. I couldn’t enjoy life and all that life offers because I wasn’t meditating.

Of course, by meditation, I mean contemplative prayer, but that should be known by now.

So it’s strange, but the further outside of myself I tried to reach, the greater came the disconnect; my own external strivings meant little.

But surrender to the living God, that God Who is Life Itself, and lo and behold, suddenly all the meaning is poured back into my world and my life.

So now I know I can never live a life apart from God. The challenge is the same, of course, at this point- bringing that knowledge and experience of the Living God into the mundane, everyday things that most of us would rather eschew. Where can God be found in the washing of laundry and dishes and sweeping of floors?

Yet we can’t waste any moments; a general sweetness of the Presence and Knowledge of God in life is, in many ways, “good enough.” God calls us to our full potential, though, so “good enough” isn’t what we can really do.

If we are to bring about peace in this world, if we are stop wars, rapes, and all the atrocities caused by the dark side of human nature, then we must have this infinite sweetness in all moments, every one of us, regardless of our station in life.

Because nothing else really matters- the healing of the world must take place now, and it must start with the broken human soul. Once the human soul begins to heal, then the healing can move out from that person and spread.

I should also note that recently, I’ve returned to reading The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton. And my soul shakes and quakes when I read some of the things he wrote. At some points, of course, I wonder if he’s made strange leaps in reason and not realized it, and I do consider that the book was written well after his conversion, so he writes in terms of hindsight.

But rarely have I read someone’s words and felt myself so drawn to the truth that is driving the person to write in the first place. And this is coming from someone who’s read Irina Tweedie’s Daughter of Fire twice and started it for a third time.

That isn’t to suggest that I doubt Ms. Tweedie’s experiences or any other such nonsensical conclusion that might be drawn- it’s rather to say that in spite of all the wonderful things she wrote, my own spirit didn’t react this way while reading her diary.

Yes, I feel that I am at the door of a mystery, a mystery involving the God-Man Jesus Christ, though I can’t solve the Mystery alone; God must reveal it. Perhaps I’m enduring in order that my finite mind can contain the explosive Truth that will be revealed; I cannot be certain at the moment.

I am becoming more certain that in the Mass, we are offered to God as part of the sacrifice; we offer ourselves, and in receiving the Holy Eucharist, we are offered up with Christ. Confirmation and the in-dwelling of the Holy Spirit plays into this, I think, but again, exactly how it works isn’t clear in my mind. Saying the Holy Spirit takes on the role as priest would seem to remove Christ as the priest, yet Christ is the Sacrifice; so the Eternal Sacrifice is also the Eternal High Priest, all made manifest by the Holy Spirit.

But these are only words of the Christian tradition that can’t convey the true and palpable sweetness of the Black Fire blazing within.

Stevo

Centering Prayer Videos

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In this video, Father Anthony Silvia of the Apostolic Johannite Church (and Bishop Thomas Langley of the Alexandrian Gnostic Church *I think*) explores and explains Centering Prayer. In part 2, the participants at GnosticNYC actually do the Centering Prayer, and you can do it with them!

More about Veils, the Body, and Reality

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I may get letters for this entry, too, but I’m posting it anyway.

It’s quite possible that, during the course of humanity, we’ve developed completely wrong mental “maps” of how things work.

That’s okay, though.

This is the way I am currently conceiving of things, and I have to explain it in such a way as is in accordance with my own experience. Some of the terminology came while in the process of Contemplative Prayer, and I’ll have to work to adjust it accordingly; please try to bear with me.

Continuing on with my concept of “veils” that I posted yesterday, today, while contemplating (or meditating), I had the sense that reality is structured in this way: our own sense of self or ego works as a veil that keeps us separated from the world around us but also from the true nature of our body.

The true nature of our body and the true nature of reality are both occluded.

But then our body, too, is a kind of veil, veiling us from what I call our Big Body. Now, of course, the issue that I can’t explain here is how one knows that one has a body larger than one at this time, yet in the contemplative prayer, I could very well see it. This may be the very “spiritual body” mentioned in Christianity.

The Big Body, then, is the veil between us and the Body of Christ, and Christ is the veil between our Big Body and the Father.

Now, I should point out a few things; I am indeed suggesting that we have no spirit or soul that “pops out” when we die. But I am not suggesting that we therefore have no continuity after the apparent death of our body; rather, I am stating that the death of our body is the falling away of a veil to reveal something even more real.

The big issue that arises at this point comes up to the notion of various supernatural entities and spirits and so forth, and how they could possibly exist. I am not suggesting non-corporeal entities don’t exist, either; I’m simply saying, humans are not that kind of entity or creature. We’re something eternal and substantial.

But then, I could be wrong about all this. Something about it seems so unique, so right, so fresh, that I can’t help but be excited that I’ve somewhat haphazardly stumbled upon this little gem.

The experience of the “Big Body” as I’m temporarily calling it is an experience of absolute confidence and absolute security. One is HELD, one is KEPT, one is CONTENT, and one may also be said to be FREE.

Perhaps the “Big Body” experience is what is meant by the “Higher Self.” But this doesn’t feel like ethereal or wispy, and maybe it all comes around to my sense of being mistaken about what others have meant by “Higher Self” all this time.

It’s quite possible I’m the one who got it all wrong and now am seeing what was really meant.

More later.

Stevo

More on Meditation

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The past several times when I’ve had any kind of substantial meditation, I’ve noticed that what feels like a certain part of my brain begins to become active, deep in the head and towards the back. It’s further back than where I understand the pineal gland to be, but that could be something I incorrectly assess.

 

Now, several blogs ago, I established that there are three parts to the mind in my own experience: the Thinker, which is the part of us that sits down and consciously thinks about things and makes decisions; the Subconscious, which is a deeper layer from which thoughts and feelings arise; and the Ego, which is the “person” aware of these things.

 

The Thinker can be quieted rather easily; the Subconscious is the real issue, and the Ego has never gone.

 

But last night, I noticed something incredibly interesting as I meditated; the real work seems to be in the Subconscious and whether or not THAT part of the mind is meditating. I think that’s what this has all been about, getting the Subconscious part to meditate. If this part of the mind is meditating, it doesn’t matter if the Thinker is operating or not; anytime one stops, one will go back to the Meditating Subconscious (more or less.)

 

For me, it takes about 40 minutes of meditation, and sometimes an hour, to really get to this point. Ideally, I *should* be sitting in meditation for perhaps 2 or even 3 hours a day.

 

I said Mass again last night, and I consecrated a host to put in what’s now my Tabernacle. I do feel the sheer of terror of mentioning that I’m doing such things online, as I can see the attacks levied against me about having no Apostolic Succession and so on and so forth.

Yet I now understand that misses the entire point; the issue here is to practice and not get too caught up in the theory. Christ will come to those who seek Him.

Of course, I should also point out that I’m not acting as priest in leading a community, either; this is strictly a private celebration that I do alone, which changes the nature of it to me.

I described myself one to someone as a Christian mystic, and someone else explained that as meaning approximately a Christian shaman. It’s an interesting twist on the concept, I think, and somewhat appropriate for me.

 

But I refuse to get caught up in the label game at this point; it’s ridiculous and unnecessary. I, of all people I have known, find is baffling that I even fit into Christianity at all, yet here I am. So what a religion is really trying to convey is not necessarily the same thing as how it is popularly and consistently misunderstand.

 

Here endeth the rant.

Beaux

 

 

The Increase in Marian Devotion

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One of the titles given to the Blessed Virgin Mary is “the Seat of Wisdom.” Now, perhaps I misunderstand what this means, and I wouldn’t be the first Gnostic accused of “reading into” something, but the underlying meaning of “image of Sophia” jumps out at me immediately. Troy commented many blogs ago about Mary being an image of Sophia in the early Church, and I would be inclined to agree that this is why Marian Devotions simply refuse to die down.

A deeper reasoning is that one cannot stop the Divine Feminine. There appears to be a deeper necessity within the human psyche to honor the Divine in terms of the Feminine, and for whatever reason, the viral version of patriarchal consciousness has attempted to destroy the reverence for the Divine Feminine. Is it a matter of power and control? Perhaps- I’m not totally sure what the deal is and may never know.

In the modern era, the Divine Feminine has been such a major issue that many evangelicals end up leaving their tradition and heading on over to Wicca and various forms of Paganism- and who could blame them? Sadly, the opposite problem then arises in many cases where the Divine Masculine is ignored and underplayed and given a secondary role to the Divine Feminine.

There is no point in attempting to inwardly conform to the expectations of other people when it comes to religion. The issue I’ve had is attempting to justify why I pray to the Blessed Mother, and for a long time, I was even suspicious about the Marian devotion in the Catholic traditions.

Those days have come to an end. The reality of the matter is that the Blessed Mother is the major articulation of the Divine Feminine inherited in my own religious culture, and thus I will honor the Divine Feminine in the Blessed Mother, who also is the Seat of Sophia. Marian Devotion is synonymous in my mind to Sophian Devotion.

For me and a few others, there’s been a recent increase in Marian Devotion for reasons we don’t quite understand. I definitely am enjoying the new scapulars that I have, as they’re a form of “Worn Remembrance.” The scapular also hangs in such a way as to touch the back and front Heart Chakra, so I think that, too, points to translating Remembrance into a tactile mode that’s more efficient than the mental chanting of the dhikr. The dhikr hasn’t been disposed of, though- I’m not stupid, as I know what happened the last time I just stopped saying it. However, I do find that the Remembrance of God seems to be more direct now and less about reference, if that makes sense.

I remember writing a blog earlier this year where I gave up on Christianity again, only to be brought back into in some manner a fourth time. Boy, I’m just asking for it, am I not? I will say that the gumption I have now includes that fact that while I may not able to call myself “Christian” and while Christians may not claim me as one of their own, what I can say is that I identify with Gnosticism, and I will call myself “Gnostic” with no need for approval from ANYONE or ANY group. That doesn’t mean I’m not part of the Church; what that means is that I’m dealing with some pretty heavy esotericism that the Church Exoteric doesn’t handle very well, praise be to excessive legalism and pedantry.

The point is this: you will step on someone’s toes no matter what you do, no matter what you say, no matter where you go, no matter how you attempt to approach Nirvana, because most people are just too caught up in themselves to care, and most people honestly have better things to do (at least in their minds), and of course, THAT’S FINE. It’s fine if they want to go to Mass to get enough energy and grace to find a good career or be more creative, or if they meditate to build up self-esteem. That’s all fine and dandy and okay- no one should be judging people who do that, and it’s all too often that it happens.

But yes, someone is going to be silly and use only theoretical/book-knowledge to attack you for what you do, and some people can’t conceive of things otherwise.

What I mean to say is that for all the criticism that one can do of, say, the Nicene Creed, there’s a huge difference between reading the Nicene Creed on your computer on Wikipedia and saying, “It says, this, this, that, and means X,” and actually standing in a traditional Catholic church, reciting the Creed in Latin with the congregation. The Creed means more than is immediately apparent, than is immediately stated, but boy, you try to suggest that to a lot of Catholics and atheists and everyone in between that something may be implied that isn’t immediately stated aloud or read in the Creed, and everyone gets their panties in a wad and begins screaming “reading into thing” and generally have no idea why you would suggest that maybe things go a little deeper than the surface reading, and no, I don’t mean that you can just take the Creed and elaborate on it and give a general historical/rational commentary. I mean that the Creed actually says things in it, conveys things, that take some deciphering, that have mystical meanings, that will tell us about REALITY.

But the nay-sayers shall come, and it’s hard when BOTH SIDES are ready to come at you. Or maybe someone will wake up and see what I mean, and let’s hope that’s the case.

Beaux


The Unitive State: An Experiential, First-Hand Account

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First, it would be ill-advised for us to go into the subtle metaphysical arguments of this matter, mostly with regards to how something like a no-ego state can even begin to have a “first-hand” account, as what is meant by the “no-ego” state is essentially a sudden lack or existence of subjectivity.

Otherwise, I would say to my readers, and especially to my brother-in-spiritual, a Red State Mystic, prepare yourself.

The second thing I want to establish is that, because of all the horrible things that has happened because of religion and because of religious authority’s abuse especially, I fully understand why so many people become skeptical and dismiss religion and most of all, I personally have understood and stated forthrightly in this blog my own dismissal of labeling myself as Christian- several self-identified Christians in the past have much to answer for, no matter their Church or denomination.

But this entry isn’t about defending or attacking Christianity, either. Rather, this is to comment further on what I’ve encountered and on what may well be the dawning of the Unitive State.

In the Autumn of 2007, I took it upon myself to become serious about my spiritual search. Everything that I have studied since then has almost exclusively fallen within the range of Gnosticism, Christianity, and Sufism. An underlying and connecting philosophy among these system is Neo-Platonism, though that’s again oversimplifying matters.

This is also when the experiences began starting- various kinds of insights about Christ, as it were, and of course, all kinds of experiences that way outside of any of the above mentioned systems.

Notwithstanding, eventually I came to identify what I call the Black Fire with my being Christian and with Christ. But more to the point, the Black Fire has two modes- one mode which is within, or immanent, and one mode which is without, or transcendent. The most intense moments are when this Black Fire is felt both within me and in the world around me, and this happens most especially at night when I’m driving alone but not exclusively so.

Even more recently, though, I came to realize the very real and tremendous reality of the Void that may be called Christ, something I’ve mentioned recently here. The Void seems to have been looming, moving closer and closer to me, and I’ve been forcing myself to do psychological work- facing various pains and confusions within myself, along with very real moral problems and conflicting impulses that make me a rather neurotic person on the whole.

Last night, something- and I’m not exactly sure what- happened. Something gave way within me.

Remember how I mentioned Christ as being the Earth Father Archetype? I felt the Void coming from both below and above me, moving into itself through me, uniting around my stomach area and moving even further than that- from Void to Void, from above to below and below to above.

What I came to see is exactly how deep the soul is, to put it poetically; I came to see the vast Nothingness that spreads out beyond our regular conscious mind, and it’s truly outstanding and amazing to see that absolute stillness within.

And from that point, I watched as various emotions would arise inside of me, and, as my friend Drew who is certainly in the unitive state said, be then reduced back into energy within the mystical sea.

This is identical to what Bernadette Roberts speaks of- the whole process of emotions arising and then going down the “drain” of God. Nothing sticks to one at this point- you still get angry, you still feel fear or jealousy or something from time to time, but it will fade just as quickly back into the Void.

So the realization also came to be something that has not been well-mentioned in Christianity. Christ doesn’t just live “in” our hearts. Christ is our heart. This is a mystery and difficult to explain. More to the point, I understand now what the Sufis mean about taking one step towards God, and he takes 10 steps towards us- this experience, this encounter, is more the process of God’s Grace, sheer and perfect and absolute, God’s Infinite Mercy, than my own efforts.

Lyrics from Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”

Just like a prayer, your voice can take me there
Just like a muse to me, you are a mystery

Just like a dream, you are not what you seem
Just like a prayer, no choice, your voice can take me there

I’ve listened to this song repeatedly recently. The lines in particular standing out to me are, “Just like a muse to me, you are a mystery.” This certainly describes Christ, but more importantly, this describes God’s view of us. And my favorite line of all, “Just like a dream, you are not what you seem.” This certainly rings true of my ultimate relationship to Christ or the Void.

Now, some might ask why I’m attempting to label the Void as “Christ” and not some other deity, or why I’m making this identification. I found quickly last night that if I didn’t use some kind of word to describe it, that I couldn’t process it mentally; and this must certainly be what the Sufis mean by the necessity of a “container” for the energy, because otherwise it’s helter-skelter. So, too, this is where the importance of the Holy Eucharist comes in for Christians, as the whole process of communion gives a substantial form by which we can understand and commune with Christ.

But further than that, from the union of the soul with Christ, I saw something even more important: “Just like a dream, you are not what you seem” refers also to humans. We are not what we seem and never have been so.

Red State Mystic, if you’re reading this- I can’t begin to explain the implications I have seen, but this must certainly have to do with the Fall of Mankind. The ultimate implication is that in the so-called Fall of Mankind, we began to see ourselves as we are not- this is the ultimate trick of Satan, as it were, though I have no idea how Satan fits into all this symbolically or mythologically, unless he represents our animal drives, and even then, I think that’s not quite correct.

So Christ’s coming then reveals not only the nature of the Divine but also the true nature of mankind. If one could see humanity from the standpoint of God, one would understand that as much as God is man’s mystery, MAN is GOD’S MYSTERY.

So, too, we must also see that while in the Holy Eucharist we apparently receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, in the same way, Christ receives our Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

Here’s to the further mysteries and revelations about God.

For me to not be Christian, I sure am a good poster-child, don’t you think? Hah!

Last night also saw a few strange psychic events. I dreamt that my friend Rheana called me and talked to me. When I awoke, five minutes into being awake, I received a text message from her. Otherwise, I didn’t sleep well- this state continued heavily until about three in the afternoon or so and has tapered off a bit but hasn’t completely gone. The emotions don’t seem to be “going down the drain” as easily at this point, but there’s definitely some kind of huge dent in the ego, and it won’t be long before it’s swallowed up whole, I bet! YAY!

Beaux


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