Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Living Light - Part Two

But there is more......

The Light is not simply alive: it is conscious, it is aware. All life possesses consciousness to one degree or another, although it is hard for humans to imagine, perhaps, what the consciousness of a bacteria might be like.

And this consciousness is, I believe, what the Bible refers to as the “Spirit of God.”

It is interesting how the Bible refers to both God and the Spirit of God, seeming to differentiate between them. The Spirit of God is, of course, the “Holy Spirit,” referred to in Hebrew as the
Ruach Elohim and the Ruach HaKodesh.

Ruach is a feminine word meaning breath, wind, air, and also soul and spirit. Breath is cognate with life, because most living things breathe and move. HaKodesh means the sanctified, the holy. Together they mean the female holy/sanctified (i.e. divine) breath/spirit – i.e. Holy Spirit.

Elohim is an interesting word in that it contains both masculine and feminine elements, and is plural, indicating either “gods,” or a Being which contains both masculine and feminine elements. Thus, Ruach Elohim also means Breath/Spirit of God/ess.

Book of Genesis mentions that before creation began, all was dark, void, and without form, and that the Ruach Elohim brooded over the face of the Deep, the primal waters. This brooding caused a stirring of those waters—a movement—after which God said (the very first, or Primordial, Sound), “Let their be light.” And light came into being, the first thing created.

But the
Book of Proverbs gives a slightly different account of creation. In this account, God’s first creation is not said to be light, but a helper, a feminine helper called Wisdom. She helps God create the rest of the universe.

The Hebrew word for Wisdom is
Chokmah, and Chokmah/Wisdom is also the name of the sephira found near the top of the Kabalistic Tree of Life. Kether is the “crown” or summit of the Tree, the first “state of being” of what will eventually become the manifest world, and it is from Kether that the other sephiroth emanate to form the rest of the Tree. Chokmah is the very first emanation, and is considered to be the initiating force of creative energy, as well as the first power of conscious intellect.

In a sense, this first force of creative energy and conscious intellect after the Primordial Sound actually is light.

So Chokmah / Wisdom / Conscious Intellect / Light comes immediately into existence at the very beginning of things, and plays an important role in the rest of the creation. Although Chokmah is a masculine-gendered word, references to Wisdom in the Hebrew scriptures are most often feminine, particularly in the Book of Proverbs where she is seen to be creative, gentle, friendly, and helpful to humankind.

Wisdom seen as a partner in creation is really another way of stating what is said in Genesis—that the “Spirit of God,” the Ruach Hakodesh / Ruach Elohim / Chokmah / Wisdom, is the primal emanation from the “high place” point of creation’s origin, and is the agent, as it were, of that creation. In other words, the primal Oneness emanated outward, expanding into Two, and from these Two further emanations came forth, flowed into manifestation. Thus Life is One—the divine Life Force and its consciousness stream through all creation; yet Life is also Many, as well, taking on a multiplicity of forms—the mystery of the One in many and the many in the One.

So the first emanation from the first state of being from the great Void was consciousness / intellect / wisdom / light, and it was feminine. The Spirit of God—the Holy Spirit—is Wisdom, is consciousness, is feminine, and is the Mother of the Worlds, who in the very beginning of creation “brooded” over the primal waters of the deep as a mother bird—wings beating—hovers, then settles herself over the clutch of eggs in her nest. Unsurprisingly, the Holy Spirit is often depicted as a dove. Equally unsurprisingly, the dove was a symbol of the Goddess in the ancient Middle East.

The Greek word for Wisdom is Sophia, about whom we are hearing a lot these days.

The Holy Spirit is also said to be the “presence” of God; I do think that the word “presence” here means “consciousness/awareness.” The Divine is omnipresent, but sometimes that sense of presence is turned our way or perhaps enhanced—seeming to come vibrantly to life—because we are paying acute attention, or have consciously invoked it by prayer.

The Bible tells us that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude (i.e. courage, endurance), knowledge, piety, and fear of (i.e. respect for) the Lord. It seems to me that these are virtues that are latent in every human consciousness, but that come truly to life only when, through our learning, feeling and experiencing, we are eventually led to wisdom, and choose to consciously cultivate it and all that flows from it.

Cultivation involves conscious tending and use. Gifts are meant to be used and if we do not use these gifts of the Holy Spirit, they will not grow within us. To use terminology I learned on a Native path, if we do not cultivate these gifts we are given, we remain “two-leggeds,” rather than spiritually growing into “true humans.”

It has been said that the natural cycle of creation and destruction might be looked at as God breathing in and out. The Holy Spirit is the Breath of God. In the beginning was the Void, and all was within, in potentia. When God breathed forth (exhaled), God’s spirit poured forth and creation was begun.

So God’s spirit, the feminine Holy Spirit, is what all creation is made of and filled with. And that Spirit is consciousness—the divine’s awareness of itself, of its emanations/creations and a connection to those emanations/creations.

Our individual portion of it is called the Soul. And it is our job to allow the soul’s memory of its divine nature and origin—its Inner Light, Wisdom—to grow within us, that we may flower into our own inherent divinity.

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