Now for some woo

Week 6 of Lunar Wisdom’s Mystical Seekers Year has some difficult questions (for me anyway).

Supernatural forces???  The atheist in me wants to scream “there’s no such thing, you loony!”

But then she gave the example of the Holy Spirit in Christianity.  She also mentioned Fae.

I too was raised  Christian.  Perhaps that explains why I automatically associate any “supernatural” forces with deity.  In my answers to the questions on deity I discovered that I do believe that nature or the Universe can be interacted with as a reservoir of love and wisdom, and that this passive force of love and wisdom feels kind of feminine.  I’m reminded of the way wisdom is personified in the Old Testament and referred to as She.  I was always taught that this was the Holy Spirit.

So I think possibly this is one aspect of the supernatural for me – the feminine force of love and wisdom that we can connect with.  Is this deity or separate?  Well, I feel that it is a personal form of the All, and so that would make it an aspect of deity.

The mention of fae reminds me of another way that my spirituality could point me towards “supernatural forces”.  I’ve long enjoyed the metaphor and the concept of the faerie folk (you may have guessed from my name) and I suppose this represents the wild mysteries of nature.  I also symbolise this as deity (the antlered god Cernunnos) but when I think of the wild mysteries of nature as a deity, it feels like a distant and uncaring god, awesome and powerful but to be admired from a distance.  Yet when I enter a natural space I often feel a sense of connection, and although what I connect with feels wild and mysterious, unconcerned with the affairs of human beings, nevertheless it feels like something that you can interact with, almost intimately sometimes.  Is this the fae?  Is this a strange, otherworldly, supernatural presence in nature?

The atheist in me still screams out that this is delusion and make-believe.  And I do feel it is poetic, a romanticising of nature, for sure.  I certainly don’t believe that winged, eldritch but vaguely humanoid creatures are buzzing around in the forests.  I wish faeries and dragons literally existed, I really do.  But unfortunately they don’t.

Yet the fae can perhaps symbolise this reachable but ultimately wild and mysterious force of nature.  And in that sense, it is possibly separate from deity too.

 

 

Advertisements

Life and purpose

Week 5 of Lunar Wisdom’s Mystical Seeker’s Year has some very difficult questions.

How do you show or express your appreciation for life?

Is all life sacred to you?  If not, how do you determine what life is sacred and what life is not?  And what do we mean by sacred?

And what is your purpose for living?  What are you doing here?

My initial reaction to these questions is to say “I don’t know”.  But I’ll try to answer them as best I can at this stage of my life.

I show or express my appreciation for life mainly through creative activities, by learning new things and by trying to be a loving, compassionate person.

I guess I think all life is sacred because I think all things are connected and it does us well to try to live harmoniously as best we can.  However I think this means showing the proper respect to our fellow living beings, including animals and plants.  This means not showing unnecessary cruelty to living things and refraining from destructive actions to the environment as a whole.  However when dealing with animal life I think it is also important to acknowledge that there is a natural balance and that it is part of nature to consume other animals for food (animals also do this, it is natural and part of the way nature functions) and also to protect ourselves and our territory from pests for example (animals also defend their territory from threats).  So it does not necessarily follow that respecting life and nature involves never killing.  Death is part of the natural order.

Obviously when it comes to our fellow human beings we should aim to act compassionately and only resort to violence in self defence or defence of others and only when absolutely necessary.

Life being sacred then only means that we should respect our fellow living beings by not causing unnecessary harm.  Unfortunately though harm is sometimes necessary and it’s important not to be too naive about that.

My purpose here?  I think it is to experience and to learn, then to pass on what I learn and what wisdom I gain to others.  This ties in well to my creative talents.  Through the things I create I can pass on what I have experienced and learnt.

As for “connecting the dots” from previous weeks, I think I can discern a common thread through all the weeks so far.  Deity is connectedness.  It exists both as an impersonal force or energy and also a kind of wisdom and love that we can “plug into”. We can view it in the abstract or through the symbols and metaphors of personified gods.  Life’s purpose seems to be experience and growth.  I think so far it is fitting together nicely and a clarity is coming forth from my answers to these questions.

Deity and meaning

Week 4 of Luna Wisdom’s Mystical Seeker’s Year has some interesting questions about meaning and purpose.

  1. Is the Universe meaningless or does it hold a meaningful structure, as in the concept of a Cosmos?
  2. Does deity have a purpose or agenda, and if so, what is it?
  3. How much influence does deity have on Earth, over human beings and what  goes on here?

 

Despite feeling pressure to conform to the atheist cry of “of course not!” or my existentialist tendency to insist that we make our own meaning in life, when I reflect on the spiritual side of me and the relationship I have to nature/the Universe I have an embarrassing tendency to feel that there is some sort of structure or meaning, even if it is only a sense of growth and revealed truth.

Let’s back up and answer the questions properly and in order.  Is the Universe meaningless or does it hold a meaningful structure?  Well I do think there are principles at the heart of all things, Universal principles that underpin the structure of reality.  Obviously every physicist would agree with me but I’m not just talking about physical laws.  I’m talking about concepts that seem vaguely spiritual but actually make a lot of sense when you think about it (even possibly to an atheist).

One such principle is truth – knowledge, wisdom, truth – they are out there and if you ask questions and search for wisdom and knowledge then you will find it.  The Universe will reveal its secrets to those who search.  This may sound mystical or poetic but surely every scientist believes this, or they wouldn’t bother doing science as there’d be no point.

The other principle underpinning all things is that things end up where they fit.  The scientific version of this is natural selection, but it holds true for physical laws also.  It also makes sense to apply it to human affairs, which is where it seems to be a spiritual principle.  But basically things either work or they don’t.  Things either fit or they don’t.  When things don’t work, or don’t fit then they eventually cease to be because what cannot be obviously cannot be.  Things that work tend to carry on existing precisely because they work so well.  Things that don’t work so  well eventually get superseded by things that do work or they simply break and cease to be.

This is why it is foolish to wonder why our physical laws work so that the Universe can survive or life can arise.  If the Universe ceased to be or it was a dead and lifeless Universe then we wouldn’t be here  to wonder about it.  This is known as the Anthropic Principle.  Also it is foolish to marvel at how well-designed living things seem to be.  Poorly designed creatures soon die out and only the ones who function well continue to exist.  This is Natural Selection.  I believe this is true of human affairs too.  A dysfunctional relationship or a job where you don’t fit (eg. are not very good at) – both those situations cannot survive for long.  But jobs that you excel at or relationships that function well, these things will survive.  The good news about this is that eventually people end up where they fit for the simple reason that you can’t remain in a situation where you don’t fit.  There is a general principle I believe in here.  What works remains, what doesn’t work ceases to be.

So there is a kind of meaning to the Universe.

But does deity have a purpose or an agenda?  Is it trying to achieve anything?  Well, deity for me simply is the Universe.  And the Universe isn’t necessarily conscious. It’s more a kind of energy we can tap into, and we sometimes find it helpful  to  personify it as something more personal (because WE are personal beings).  I believe then that it’s not planning anything as such.  Truth, and growth seem to be its main purposes.  The truth is out there if we seek it.  And growth is a natural reaching for what works over what doesn’t, a meaning that we share with all things.  So those are the purposes of deity.  Truth (and strength and love), passively held out for us to make use of when we need them.  And growth towards better things, an unfolding of purpose perhaps, that the Universe enables and takes part in without really knowing ahead of time where it will all lead.  This is the mystery and the wonder of all things.

So how much  influence does deity have here on Earth and with human beings?  It passively waits and unfolds and reveals its secrets to those who seek but it does not directly influence or direct anything.  And that to me is truly beautiful.  If we wish to personify that with  intention and personality, we could say that it is unconditionally loving, respecting of our personal choice and freedom and passively, beautifully available to all who would tap into and make use of its gifts.

Wow, I can see now why I would understand deity as BOTH distant, unfeeling and impersonal and YET ALSO loving, wise and something we can have a relationship with.  It kind of makes sense now.