Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary




Today is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. The icon above is of the Blessed Mother and her parents -- St Anne, St Joachim. In honor of this feast I am reposting an essay I wrote several years ago.

Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary


Saturday, September 8, 2018

Nativity of the Blessed Mother



 
Today is the feast day of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. In her honor I am reposting an essay I posted several years ago.

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Here is some lovely music - ancient and modern - to celebrate our Mother!

Vespers Antiphon

Ancient Mother 

Stella Splendens 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Shabbat Shalom!




The Book of Genesis says that God made the world in 6 days and that on the 7th day he rested. Because of this, God decreed that the 7th day was henceforth to be a day of rest for his people. The 7th day is Saturday, so this day of rest, called the Sabbath (also, Shabbat, Shavvas, Shabtai), is observed on Saturday. (1) But in keeping with the old way of reckoning time, this 7th day begins at sundown on preceding day, Friday.

 Saturday is named after the old Roman god Saturn (whom the Greeks called Kronos, which means time), and is astrologically ruled by the planet Saturn, which is about time, limits, and restrictions. In ancient times Saturn was the most distant planet that could be seen in the night sky, so it represented the “end” of the cosmos, beyond which lay the invisible realm of the Unknown and the Gods. Time, limits, and restrictions are what define, in a sense, the material universe, so as the furthest planet visible, Saturn was, or was guardian of, this edge, this boundary between matter and spirit. The visible inhabitants of the sky – the sun, moon, planets and stars – all of these were visible, and thus “matter.” But beyond those, beyond the boundary of distant Saturn, lay the invisible realm of Spirit. (2)

When something comes from the realm of spirit into the realm of matter, it must be birthed and birth requires a mother. It is possible that Saturn may have originally been perceived as feminine – the goddess/mother who births matter into being and to which it returns at death. Since the early religion of the Israelites included both gods and goddesses, it may have been that Saturn, the boundary planet, was seen as containing both genders, the divine father who engenders life and the divine mother who gestates and births it. The Shabbat, then, is symbolic of that edge, that boundary or gateway between spirit and matter, where active (creative/active) turns to passive (receptive/resting), because on this 7th day, God rested from the work of creation.

 In Judaism Shabbat is seen as feminine, and as the Divine Bride of the Eternal Spirit: God’s royal spouse and queen. As such, it only makes sense that she is the divine mother who gives birth to their children – the material universe and all beings within it. Shabbat, the Queen, is welcomed into the home at sunset, the start of the new day, when light begins to fades into womb darkness and the stars come out.

The Sabbath Queen is welcomed in by the woman of the house, who starts the celebration by lighting the two candles. The man of the house (sometimes the woman) blesses the Kiddush Cup of wine (Qadesh - means holiness) and the challah bread. The challah is covered with a beautiful cloth, which may represent the veil between the worlds of spirit and matter, just as does the veil that covers the communion chalice before and after it is used in the Catholic communion service.

As the woman of the house lights the candles, she brushes their light toward her body with both hands, drawing it toward her heart. Covering her eyes with her hands she then recites the blessing:

“Baruch ata adonai, eloheinu melech ha olam, asher kiddushanu, bmitsvotah, vitzivanu, l’chad lik ner, shel Shabbat.”

Which means — Blessed are you, L-rd our G--d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments, and commanded us to kindle the light of the Holy Shabbat.

This opens the ceremony in much the same way that Genesis depicts the start of creation:  

First there is Movement: 
  The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
  The woman moves into place before the candles, lights them, and brushes their light toward herself.


And then there is Sound:
“Let there be light!”
  The woman says the blessing (Baruch ata adonai....) 


 The wine is then blessed by the man of the house: 
  “Baruch ata adonai, eloheinu melech ha olam, borei pri hagafen.” (Blessed are you, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, Who creates the fruit of the vine.), and a sip is consumed.

Then the bread, called challah, is blessed: 
 “Baruch ata adonai, eloheinu melech ha olam, hamotzi lehem min haaretz, Amen.”(Blessed are You, L-rd our G-d, King of the Universe, Who brings forth bread from the earth.), and a bite eaten with the blessing, “Shabbat shalom!” (Peaceful Shabbat!)

The creator is thus blessed and thanked for the creation, especially that which sustains human life, and a wish for peace is expressed.

* * * * * * *


These actions represent Life arising: the universe coming into being and sustaining us. In this ceremony, the woman lighting the candles represents the Ancient Mother, the Darkness from whom the First Light comes forth. But this light is not just a brightness that allows perception, this light is consciousness, awareness.

This marks the beginning of life itself, and our awareness of life. From that “Light that is Life,” the material cosmos is birthed into being. This is spirit manifesting itself as matter – everything from stardust to stars to galaxies; from planets to beings of all types and their means of sustenance.

This is Spirit in Substance. This manifestation of spirit into substance is represented in this ceremony by the wine and the challah bread. The wine and bread are blessed to show that we remember from whence they came – our Divine Parent(s) – and that we are aware of that fact, and very grateful. Bread is body, wine is blood, and Kiddush means “holiness. Kiddush was also a title of several important Mid-Eastern goddesses, showing that, early on, the birth-giving female principle was recognized as the one that gives life. 

The thread of life that runs through humans runs through All That Is. All is divine. All is holy. All is blessed. All is related... and comes from the Divine Mother Source who cares for her children and provides for their needs. The Divine Mother is the Divine Presence within matter, known in Judaism as the Shekhinah, and also as Wisdom, and in Christianity as the Holy Spirit.

There  are other parts of Shabbat ceremony that I have not mentioned here, and over the years, additions and enhancements to the basic ceremony have arisen. But the above represents my understanding of the meaning of this very beautiful ritual, which I see as one of acknowledgement, thanksgiving, and blessings to the Divine Source, as well as a devout wish for peace.

Notes:
(1) Counting from the new moon, the Babylonians celebrated every seventh day as a "holy-day", also called an "evil-day" (meaning "unsuitable" for prohibited activities). On these days officials were prohibited from various activities and common men were forbidden to "make a wish", and at least the 28th was known as a "rest-day."
--- Wikipedia - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babylonian_calendar


(2) This implies that stars and planets were, early on, seen as the physical bodies of the deities.


Thursday, December 22, 2016

The Return of the Light

Midwinter Festival of Light 



The Wheel of the Year has turned once again and we find ourselves at the Midwinter Festival of Light, one which has been celebrated in many mythologies and under many names for eons.

At this time in the Northern Hemisphere, the light of the sun is reborn and the days begin to grow longer, waxing toward spring. Very frequently midwinter is celebrated as the birthday of the Sun God; always, it marks a time of renewal. It is a time of light in the midst of darkness, warmth of spirit and heart to counter the cold of the weather and a harsh world.

In actuality, the story of the birth of the Sun God, the Divine Child of Light, has its origins in the stars of the winter sky. The hours of darkness have gradually increased since the Autumnal Equinox as the longest and darkest night of year, the Midwinter Solstice, approaches. The actual moment of Solstice marks the time when the Sun moves from the sign of Sagittarius into that of Capricorn. At midnight on Midwinter Night, the constellation of Virgo, holding her sheaf of wheat, rises in the eastern sky. And so the Virgin gives birth to the Child of Light in the very depths of the darkness. His light, the newborn sun, will rise at dawn.

The newborn Light will bring growth and abundance—and therefore, life. So it’s not surprising to find that, in the Christian tradition, the Child is born from the House of Bread—Bethlehem’s literal meaning—who is the Virgin holding the sheaf of grain. He is laid in a manger—the small glowing starry cloud of Praesaepe, or Manger/Crib, which is in the constellation of Cancer, the astrological sign of the Mother, the nurturer. He is surrounded by ox and ass— respectively, the constellation of Taurus and the star group Aselli, the Asses, in the constellation of Cancer, with one ass positioned on each side of his Manger.

Three wise men—called kings or magi—come seeking him. The stars that form the belt of Orion, which rises in the southeast on Midwinter Night, were often called the Three Kings. The Kings/Magi, who were said to be astrologers, have come because they “followed his star” that rose in the East. Was it Sirius, brightest of the stars and associated by the Egyptians with Isis, whose light they followed? Or perhaps a special planetary conjunction that lit up the night sky in the months just before midwinter? 



Angels sing to herald this birth—bending low to the earth from their homes in the high heavens. Angel means “messenger,” and stars were looked upon as messengers of the divine. The angels’ song poured forth the message of the new birth—and its accompanying flow of spiritual energies—that ushered in a new era of light, love, growth, and abundance to come. The angels sang of this new birth to shepherds in their fields. The constellation of Bootes, near Virgo, is known as the shepherd or herdsman, while the constellation of Auriga is known as the shepherd’s crook.

And so the sky tells the story of the birth of the Holy Child of Light. At Midwinter, this Light is born again, and will shine forth—bringing light, warmth, joy, and abundance to all the world.

This time of the year is a time of sharing, love, and good cheer. May you all experience these holiday delights of the spirit, which far surpass any material gifts.



© Margie McArthur, 2005-2006; All rights reserved.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Feast of the Immaculate Conception



What follows is an excerpt from my book Lady of the Sea: The Goddess Who Births the New Age,
© Margie McArthur, 2002-2016, All rights reserved)

In the Catholic calendar, today, December 8th, is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary.

The Catholic Church has long held that Jesus had been conceived by divine intervention, without the aid of a physical father. Although born of a human woman, he was declared to be without the “soul-stain” brought about by the Original Sin of Adam and Eve, which was said to be, thereafter, passed on to their descendants—every human being ever born.

But how could this be unless the mother of Jesus was equally free of such sin?

The great minds of Christianity pondered this for centuries and came to the conclusion that Mary herself must also be free of sin. But how could a mere human be without the stain of the Original Sin?

Several theories were proposed: that her conception was as virginal as that of her son; that God granted her the special privilege of sinlessness at the moment of her conception; that her physical conception had occurred in the normal way, but that her spiritual conception—the infusing of soul into body—was the part that was sinless. As one might imagine, this opened the door to even more thought and theorizing as to the soul condition of her parents, and the part played by normal sexual desire, called concupiscence, which was often equated with sin.

So, at one point in its evolution, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception sought to extend the nature of Jesus’s conception—sex-free and desire-free—to that of his mother as well. This version did not make it into the final and formal doctrine, but it was quite seriously considered and debated for many years.

During the 1830 apparitions to Catherine Laboure, Our Lady requested that a medal be struck with a prayer on it saying. “Oh Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee.” This may have served to reignite interest in the subject, since the doctrine was finally and formally proclaimed by the Church in 1854, and thus was only four years old when, in 1858, the Lady of Lourdes said with great intensity and emotion to fourteen year old visionary Bernadette Soubirous, “I am the Immaculate Conception.”

While the Church obviously took this to mean the concept on which they’d been considering for years—that Mary’s own conception was virginal and asexual—was correct, it is interesting to ponder what this doctrine, and Mary’s statement, mean on a deeper, more esoteric level.

To begin with, the idea of a person being born of a human woman yet fathered by a spiritual power was not a new one. Many other gods, avatars, and prominent spiritual teachers in the ancient world were considered to have been thus conceived. It is not at all surprising to find the Church considered Jesus’s conception to have occurred in this manner; indeed, it would have been surprising had they thought otherwise. But it was quite significant that they decided the same was true of his human mother. This, combined with the fourth century proclamation of Mary as Theotokos—Bearer (i.e. Mother) of God—quite neatly recognized her inherent divinity without actually committing the sin of blasphemy by calling her a Goddess.

The word immaculate means very clean, very pure, and without stain. Metaphysically this can be seen to mean the condition of pure spirit—before matter came into being. “Conception” is the first spark in the process of coming into being, into manifestation.

Therefore, the phrase I am the Immaculate Conception means one who came into material manifestation by purely spiritual means; no physical realm influences playing a part. This is quite profound, as what it really states is that such a being is inherently a being of pure spirit taking manifestation in human form and is thus both human and divine. This places Mary in the same category as her divine son and other divinely conceived—and therefore themselves divine—avatars of other religious traditions.

But this point of view is based on the traditionally Catholic understanding that there is a huge inherent difference and separation between things physical and things spiritual, between human and divine. If one doesn’t accept that position, if one holds that the physical realm is but Spirit in Manifestation, that we are all pre-existent spirits manifesting in human form, then things begin to look different.

Seen in this light, the Immaculate Conception may mean that Mary is the very essence of pure Spirit in the exact moment at which it sparks into material manifestation, or begins its movement into physical reality. This would mean she is the Void itself, as well as the Void as it births manifestation, bringing energy into being, light into darkness, and ultimately, energy/force into form. Thus, in her simple statement to Bernadette, the Lady proclaims herself the Primal Source and Creatress.


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin

Today is the feast day of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary. In her honor I am reposting an essay I posted four years ago.
The Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Here is some music for the day
Vespers Antiphon

Happy Birthday, Mama!









Tuesday, December 23, 2014

'Tis the Season

The Wheel of the Year has turned once again and we find ourselves at the Midwinter Festival of Light, one which has been celebrated in many mythologies and under many names for eons.

At this time in the Northern Hemisphere, the light of the sun is reborn and the days begin to grow longer, waxing toward spring. Very frequently midwinter is celebrated as the birthday of the Sun God; always, it marks a time of renewal. It is a time of light in the midst of darkness, warmth of spirit and heart to counter the cold of the weather and a harsh world.

In actuality, the story of the birth of the Sun God, the Divine Child of Light, has its origins in the stars of the winter sky. The hours of darkness have gradually increased since the Autumnal Equinox as the longest and darkest night of year, the Midwinter Solstice, approaches. The actual moment of Solstice marks the time when the Sun moves from the sign of Sagittarius into that of Capricorn. At midnight on Midwinter Night, the constellation of Virgo, holding her sheaf of wheat, rises in the eastern sky. And so the Virgin gives birth to the Child of Light in the very depths of the darkness. His light, the newborn sun, will rise at dawn.

The newborn Light will bring growth and abundance—and therefore, life. So it’s not surprising to find that, in the Christian tradition, the Child is born from the House of Bread—Bethlehem’s literal meaning—who is the Virgin holding the sheaf of grain. He is laid in a manger—the small glowing starry cloud of Praesaepe, or Manger/Crib, which is in the constellation of Cancer, the astrological sign of the Mother, the nurturer. He is surrounded by ox and ass— respectively, the constellation of Taurus and the star group Aselli, the Asses, in the constellation of Cancer, with one ass positioned on each side of his Manger.

Three wise men—called kings or magi—come seeking him. The stars that form the belt of Orion, which rises in the southeast on Midwinter Night, were often called the Three Kings. The Kings/Magi, who were said to be astrologers, have come because they “followed his star,” which rose in the East. Was it Sirius, brightest of the stars and associated by the Egyptians with Isis, whose light they followed? Or perhaps a special planetary conjunction that lit up the night sky in the months just before midwinter? 

Angels sing to herald this birth—bending low to the earth from their homes in the high heavens. Angel means “messenger,” and stars were looked upon as messengers of the divine. The angels’ song poured forth the message of the new birth—and its accompanying flow of spiritual energies—that ushered in a new era of light, love, growth, and abundance to come. The angels sang of this new birth to shepherds in their fields; the constellation of Bootes, near Virgo, is known as the shepherd or herdsman, while the constellation of Auriga is known as the shepherd’s crook.

And so the sky tells the story of the birth of the Holy Child of Light. At Midwinter, this Light is born again, and will shine forth—bringing light, warmth, joy, and abundance to all the world.

This time of the year is a time of sharing, love, and good cheer. May you all experience these holiday delights of the spirit, which far surpass any material gifts.

© Margie McArthur, 2005-2006; All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Communion of Light in the Chapel of the Stars

~ Here is another vision journey for this Time of the Returning Light ~



Take a slow deep breath, then exhale, and relax. Be still for a moment, and feel your body as you sit upon the couch, chair or floor. Take another deep breath.…and let it out. And another. And with each one, you feel yourself becoming relaxed and calm, receptive and aware.

As you gaze at the candle flame in the center of the room, you feel your own, inner flame, the spark of  divinity within you, awaken in response. Close your eyes now and see the candle flame with your inner vision, and watch as it grows in size, strength, and brightness. Take another slow deep breath, and as you exhale you watch the flame growing...and feel your inner flame growing stronger and brighter as well, and your awareness and receptivity increasing along with it.

With your inner vision, you watch as the candle flame increases in size till it becomes a wall of fire, a curtain of flame.

You step through the curtain of flame and find yourself to be in a very different kind of place. You are standing at the edge of a woods, looking into a clearing, in the midst of which sits a small stone building. It is a cold wintery night, and overhead the stars shine brightly in the deep blue sky. The tiny crescent of a moon is visible, but the stars are bright and provide illumination.

You walk towards the stone building, and as you get closer you can see it is a chapel of some sort, with three wooden stairs that lead up to a porch and a wooden door. You spend a few moments looking at the carvings on the wooden door.....then you climb the stairs, push the door open, and enter the chapel.

The starlight gleams down into the roofless chapel, giving a dim illumination to the interior. You see a cobbled stone floor, a few icons on the walls, some wooden benches, and at the front of the chapel, a stone altar. On the altar is a beautiful golden cup.
                                   
You walk up to the altar and go around it to the other side, so that you are facing the body of the chapel and the door through which you just entered. You feel pulled to place your hands down upon the stone altar and do so, allowing your awareness sink within the stone......

Suddenly you become aware that the chapel, which had looked empty and deserted, is actually full. You hear the rustle of a great crowd of beings. You cannot see them, but you can sense them. You sense animal spirits, plant spirits, tree spirits. You sense humans, faeries, elves...and angels. There is a sense of expectancy and subdued excitement in the room, and yet a feeling of reverence as well.

Your eyes are drawn upward to the sky above the chapel. The great cobalt dome of sky sparkles with stars. But your attention is pulled behind the stars, to the vast sea of space itself, and within that great sea of space you sense a vast presence, and a consciousness almost beyond human comprehension. You feel tiny by comparison. Yet despite the vastness of this consciousness and your relative tinyness, you feel its attention and caring, as it gazes at you with its thousands of eyes.....

You look now at the stars, and notice that two of them seem particularly bright...brighter than the rest, and that these two seem to be moving slowly and majestically across the sky to a place where their paths will intersect. You watch as this happens..... and as they come into conjunction, their lights blend together, forming one huge bright light, one enormous star. Beams of light begin to pour forth from this huge star, streaming downward toward the earth, and as you watch this, you hear music — a kind of wordless singing of many voices, in beautiful harmony.....

On instinct you place your hands on the golden cup that is sitting in the center of the stone altar. As you sense all the unseen faces in the chapel turning skyward, you lift the golden cup to the sky. The beams of light pouring down from the large star flow into the cup, filling it with a light both silver and golden, a light that fills the cup to the brim, and then overflows. The beams of light from the sky flow onto your head and into your body, as well. They splash onto your shoulders, run down your back and front, run down your arms and onto your hands. The light is infusing your body, and you know it is infusing all the other beings in the chapel, as well.

And everywhere on and in you this light reaches, you feel warmed, cleansed, blessed, and healed. You spend a few moments allowing yourself to fully experience and absorb this…… 

After a while, the outpouring of light from the huge star slows…. its brilliance begins to slowly decrease..... You lower the cup to the altar, and as you do so, you become aware of the presence of an immense angelic being just behind you. The angel places its hands upon your shoulders, and as this happens you feel a great and powerful blessing pour through you, and into the contents of the cup....    Lifting the cup, you take a sip, then extend your arms outward and offer the cup to the unseen beings in the chapel. You hear a great rustle of movement as they all come forward. And as each comes forward to drink from the cup, you find that you can see them as they take their sip. Each one looks at you, and you look upon them — faeries, elves, angels; plant spirits, animal spirits, nature spirits, and even some human spirits — and you feel the bond of joyful kinship that unites you with these other creatures of earth and sky....

When this is done you place the cup down upon the altar. You stretch your arms out again, and feel the power of blessing flow forth from you, and out into the world…. You sense that the spirits in the chapel, who have also partaken of the starry nectar, are doing likewise. You feel the power of blessing streaming out of you and out of the other beings, out of the chapel and into the world, to places and beings who are suffering — in pain of mind, body, emotion, and spirit. The blessings — of peace, of comfort, of joy — stream forth for a long time…... till finally... it feels complete, and you slowly lower your arms....

A moment of silence follows.... and then you feel the great angelic presence behind you slowly withdraw its energy from you.... After another moment, you again hear a rustle of movement, as the spirits arise and depart from the chapel.

Finally you are alone in the chapel....all is silent and still. You look at the cup, and see that, despite all who have drunk from its contents, it is still brimming and overflowing with silvery golden light. In fact, this light continues to spill over the top, flowing down onto the altar, and to the stone floor of the chapel. It soaks into the stones of both altar and floor, and it flows in tiny gleaming rivulets out the wooden door and down the wooden stairs, where it soaks into the earth. And you are aware that it is infusing all that it touches with blessing, cleansing and healing.

You feel now that it is time to leave this place. You walk around the altar, through the chapel, and step over the threshold and out into the night. You close the wooden door behind you, and walk down the wooden steps and out into the clearing. After a few more steps you pause... you look upward again at the sky and feel the vast consciousness there. The moon has disappeared from the sky. The bright star still gleams above you; the other stars twinkle brightly in the dark sky. As you gaze upon them, your vision shifts, and you see that the stars outline the form of a woman swaddled in a long hooded cloak. Her womb is glowing, and she holds a child in her arms.... You feel her presence, and that of the child she holds..... As you watch, rays of light begin to stream forth from both mother and child... touching the earth.... You feel bathed in this light, and renewed....

Then your vision shifts again, and although you still feel the presence of mother and child, you see only a starlit sky. You begin walking across the clearing, and just past tree line, you see a fire burning in the distance...You walk toward the fire, and find that each step you take brings you more and more into your normal waking awareness. You reach the fire, step through the flames, and find that you have come back to this time and this place, into a room where candles glow and perhaps, a hearthfire burns.... You are back…. And when you feel ready you may open your eyes.




Saturday, December 20, 2014

Mother Night, Winter Solstice, and the Chapel of the Stars

The Germanic pagan traditions celebrate the feast of Mother Night on eve of the winter solstice. Mother Night marked the beginning of the twelve day long festival of Yule that celebrated the return of the sun. Mother Night was sacred to the Goddess Holle (also rendered as Holla, Holda and Hulda) and the disr - the ancestral mothers of the people. On this night people gathered to give honor to Holle (or Frigga in the Scandinavian traditions) and those ancestral mothers.

Falling as it does on solstice eve, which is the time when Mediterranean and southern European cultures celebrated the rebirth of the sun child, it is hard not to associate the two festivals. While the Germanic cultures did not celebrate Yule as the rebirth of the sun child in the same way as did the Mediterranean cultures, they did celebrate it in terms of a rebirth or regeneration of the light of Sunna/Sol, the sun goddess. No matter which way it’s looked at, Yule—the Winter Solstice—is a celebration of the return of the light, and also a celebration of how light comes forth from the darkness.

I found this to be a great significance. So often the attention is given to the sun child only and not the mother who bore him, except perhaps in a round-about way. Yet here was a festival which seemed to be honoring First Mother, the great mother of all manifest life—Mother Night, she who gives birth to Light (in the form of the stars), and therefore, Life. She is indeed the great Ancestral Mother of all, and the idea of celebrating her on Solstice Eve appealed to me greatly. In the great cosmic scheme of things, Solstice Eve represents the time of her confinement, the time when she labors to give birth.


"Ave Maria" by Henryka Ternier

Let our celebration of the return of the sun child’s light and warmth begin with due honor to the mother who bore him/her—the darkness who gives birth to the light. 

Here is a Vision Journey from my book, Lady of the Sea: The Goddess Who Births the New Age, that you may find a useful addition to your Solstice ceremonies.

Create an altar. It can be as simple as a candle on a small table (or even the floor), or one that uses an altar cloth and symbols of the season. I use a midnight blue altar cloth and a beeswax  candle in a safe candle holder. Sit silently before your altar, breathing deeply till you are in a relaxed and receptive state of being. 

Meditate for a few moments on how this is the darkest time of the year; the time when, in the natural world, all life and movement has slowed to a seeming stop before the sun is reborn and the wheel of life begins to turn again. The moment may be likened to the end of labor, when, although the mother is working hard to birth her child, for the rest of the world around her there is a sense of waiting, of regular time suspended, as all focus on the impending birth and await the joyful sound of the infant’s first cry. When you have meditated upon these things, and feel sufficiently relaxed and calm, light your candle and begin the Vision Journey just below.

Journey to the Chapel of the Stars

Become aware now of the Four Directions that surround you—East, South, West, and North—and  focus your attention for a moment on each of them in turn.... In your mind’s eye, see the candle that burns at the center of your altar.... Focus on its flame.... As you gaze at this flame, you feel your own inner flame, the spark of divinity within you, awaken in response.... You watch as the candle’s flame begins to grow, increasing in size, strength, and brilliance..... and you feel your inner flame growing stronger and brighter as well, and your awareness increasing along with it.

With your inner vision, you watch the candle flame grow in size till it becomes a wall of fire, a curtain of flame. You step through the curtain of flame and find yourself in a very different kind of place. You are standing at the edge of a wood, looking into a clearing, in the midst of which sits a small stone building. It is a cold wintery night, and overhead the stars shine brightly in the dark clear sky. The moon has set but the stars are bright and provide illumination. You walk toward the building in the clearing, and as you get closer you can see it is a small chapel, with three wooden  stairs that lead up to a porch and a wooden door.

You reach the porch, and spend a few moments looking at the carvings on the wooden door…. Then you climb the stairs, push the door open, and enter the chapel, closing the door behind you.

To your surprise, the chapel has no roof ... Starlight gleams down, giving a dim illumination to the interior. You see a floor of roughly cut flagstone, with a spiral carved into one of the larger stones just beyond where you stand. You see a several icons on the chapel walls, several rows of wooden benches that start just beyond the spiral, and at the front of the chapel, a stone altar. You gaze at the carved spiral on the floor, and it comes to you suddenly that you must walk this spiral. You feel incredulous about this because the spiral is so small, you know your feet will not fit within the measure of its lines. But the impulse to walk it is strong, so you step gingerly onto it, feeling large and clumsy, with your foot just touching the opening of the spiral. As you step into it further, the urge to walk intensifies, so you take another step, then another, and another.... As you walk, you become aware that your consciousness is changing, deepening…. Taking the next step you notice that walking the spiral is not as difficult as you thought it would be. You take another step, wondering if you have grown smaller or the spiral larger. With the next step, you know that it doesn't matter… and that somehow, you are doing what is necessary to do.

You have an awareness, now, of those nameless others who have walked this spiral path before you. In your mind you hear a voice say, "Many have walked this path before you and many will walk it after you." As you continue watching your feet move along the spiraling line, the room around you seems to disappear, and the spiraling path you are walking seems to grow larger. A thought comes to you of the soul’s spiraling path into and out of incarnation.... You continue walking, focusing your attention on each step as you take it. With each step, your consciousness expands, and your awareness of your surroundings dissolves… only the path remains, and your feet, treading it…. The spiral grows smaller… tighter… smaller… and tighter, as you spiral inward, step by step….

At length you reach the center of the spiral, and look up. You find that you are within a vast, starry expanse. Directly in front of you the brighter stars seem to form the outline of an oval shape, larger at the bottom than the top. As you gaze at it, noting the dimmer stars twinkling within it, you are aware that "It" is a presence, a feminine presence, and most definitely alive—in fact, pulsating with Life. You realize that She is very lovingly aware of you. Her size and power are awe inspiring; you feel blessing and beneficence radiating from Her. You know that you are in the presence of the Source of all creation. You pause for a few moments to simply BE in the presence of this enormous Being....

As you gaze at her, you notice that there is a particularly bright star gleaming in her center, the area of her heart and womb.... Suddenly it bursts forth brilliantly, shooting out many bright sparks. A large spark shoots toward you, enters you, floods through your being, filling you with its light and enlivening power, and comes to rest in your heart center.... Other sparks shower through the sky and down toward the earth... you sense that they are filling the planet with their divine light, coming to rest in the body of the earth—in the mountains, the plains, the deserts, the rivers, and the oceans... and in all beings, including humans.

As this happens you become aware of a sound… it is the sound of many voices singing a wordless but harmonious melody. The melodious voices stir your soul, open your heart, and expand your being; you feel full of love—love for life, love for all of the wondrous creation, love for all that is.... You spend some time experiencing this....

After a while... you know that it is time for you to return, and that you must set your feet once again on the spiraling path and travel outward, returning back the way you have come. You pause and give thanks for the love and blessings you have been given. With the star spark glowing within you, you turn, and looking down at your feet, you begin walking clockwise ... out of the spiral ... step after step.... As you walk, the path broadens ...you feel your consciousness begin to shift... Beneath your feet you see once again the flagstone floor of the chapel… and the carved lines of the spiral….A few more steps... and you step out of the carved spiral... and become aware once more of the chapel in which you are standing....

As you stand there, you feel that something else is required of you....You walk up the center aisle to the altar… and reaching into yourself, you take a spark from the glowing star spark within your heart. You place it upon the stone altar with a prayer.... The spark blazes up for a moment, then sinks into the stone... becoming one with it....

You feel now that it is time to leave. You turn and walk down the center aisle to the back of the chapel. You step over the threshold, out into the night, closing the wooden door behind you. You walk down the wooden steps and out into the clearing. After a few more steps you pause… looking upward at the sky... feeling the vast consciousness there. The stars twinkle in the dark sky... and as you gaze upon them, your vision shifts, and you see that the stars outline the form of a woman swaddled in a long hooded cloak. Her womb is glowing, and she holds a child in her arms..... As you perceive this image, you feel her presence and her motherly love.... Then your vision shifts again, and although you still feel her presence, you see only a starlit sky ....

You begin walking across the clearing, and just past the tree line, you see a fire burning in the distance.... You walk toward the fire, and find that each step you take brings you more and more into your normal waking awareness. You reach the fire, step through the flames, and find that you have come back to this time… this place… and into a room where a candle burns.... You are back .... Settle into your body, and when you feel ready you may open your eyes.

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Peace and blessings to all on these Holy Nights!