This image has lasted for nearly three thousand years but may now be in need of renewal. "God" may be longing for release from His immolation in the structure of our beliefs. To use a gardening metaphor, God has become pot-bound, fixed and constricted by the anthropomorphic, gender-biased, paternalistic image that we have projected onto Him. As Teilhard de Chardin suggested, we need to formulate a new image of God that is related to the phenomenal discoveries science has made about the new dimensions of the universe.
What have we done to God? The old image we have inherited from the Iron Age portrays God creating the Earth from a distance; God as something transcendent to, different from, creation and ourselves; God as male; God as fearful Judge, God as both punishing and loving Father. We have divided life into two - spirit and nature - and have lost the sense of the divinity of nature. We have fixed the image of deity in the masculine gender, refusing until very recently to entertain the idea that the feminine aspect of spirit is essential to its wholeness or that we need to move beyond gender and anthropomorphic imagery to apprehend a different understanding of spirit. (www.Annebaring.com)
In that moment, I became aware of the fact that I was being invited to apprehend a different understanding of the spirit indeed. And by re-orienting myself to the universe as a whole, and to a new, softer, more permeable concept of the idea of spirit -- both the one that resides within me and the one that transcends me -- I felt myself becoming freed of the here and now.
It was contradictory, this sense, of being both here and not here, being immersed in the now and yet also freed from it. I was intensely aware of the fact that the car was cooling down, absorbing the cold from the surrounding air. I was equally aware of the fact that the cross street in front of me was as empty of cars as was the street that I myself was on, which was odd, for they were hardly inconsequential streets and it was still within the temporal frame of rush hour.
It was as if Time had become distracted by something else, had become sidetracked in some other part of the universe, leaving me at the edge of the divine, sitting in my car, the only sign that things were still in motion at all the sound of my breathing and the sound of the engine ticking down into coolness. But there was -- for how long, I do not know -- no sound or motion from the world outside of my car. It was as if my modest Toyota -- named for the goddess Diana -- had become a sort of time traveler, transporting me and her to some other realm.
But then I saw in front of me an oddly sinuous motion, and I realized that there was a woman standing in the shining shadow of the oranges. She must have arranged this topaz pyramid, for she stood as if she were its guardian. I think that she must have raised one of her hands to keep the oranges from shifting, and that small, protective movement had caught my eye.
or perhaps she was merely pointing out for me the wondrousness of the image. It seemed to me that she was offering it as a mirror for me to look into it, for me to come to an understanding of myself as reflected in these perfect spheres. I thought of the ways in which crop circles can be interpreted -- despite their pretty geometries -- as blank psychological slates:
Much the same goes for the ultimate meaning behind the designs, there has been some fascinating research into the geometry and mathematics of the crop circle designs and shapes, which suggest that the designs are not arbitrary or meaningless, but quite the opposite. People have connected the circles to subjects as diverse as star constellations and quantum physics to alchemy and spirituality. Some of the most fascinating research is concerned with shape and vibration (Cymatics) and the collective unconscious. (www.temporarytemples.co.uk)
But then, again, I was pulled back into narratives about near-death and how images of perfect spheres can be read as psychopomps, as guides to the dying and the dead who still believe that they are a part of the world of the living.
I in no way felt that I was dying, and yet I can intimately relate to the following near-death experience:
My memories of it were of seeing...
I remember seeing a bright, warm, loving orb above me ... I was there with this orb of glowing love and understanding. It didn't seem foreign to me. It was not frightening. It was totally assuring and there was no feeling of anything but my awe and the love and knowledge and wisdom that this orb projected. In size, it would be not like looking at the sun, but looking at the Earth when you are on it. It was immense and total, and its power was love ... I then went to twelve beings of greater knowledge. They were in front of me and stood in a row. They were not human. They had no feelings of anything like judgment or authority, but seemed strong in themselves. They seemed taller than me and they wore silver white robes. They had white skin, large heads and large eyes. I do not remember them having mouths. Above them was a spirit. It was like a star as we see one from Earth, but in size it appeared the same size as the heads of the beings. (Krebs, http://www.near-death.com/experiences/research17.html)
I felt this way about those oranges. They had become merged for me into the totality of the pyramid, losing their individuality. They seemed to me to be incomplete parts of a whole, something that could only be understood as a part of the whole. Chromosomes that only made sense as a part of the entire double helix.
Goodchild (2001, and to a lesser extent 2006) makes the suggestion that we should not separate order and chaos but embrace their connectedness. It is not, she believes, that things fall apart because the center cannot hold but rather that the center is holding while things fall apart. Both dynamics, both sets of mechanical pull, are occurring at the same time. Goodchild is most interested in the ways in which love and chaos are linked. Looking at the classical stories about Eros and Chaos, she sees that both of these forces can push toward order or against it and all of this can occur on every level from the personal to the collective to the archetypal. She asks us to see how love binds us to the world, how love binds us to ourselves, and yet pulls us away also into the void, into the darkness of the forest, onto paths that have not yet been made.
Love can lead you to places that you do not expect to be lead. It can lead you down the wrong streets. Edinger (1996) asks us to consider how it is that we understand God, what image that the divine takes on when it decides to take up space in our soul. An important question, although Edinger's answer to it is ultimately unsatisfying as he casts animism as a lesser form of vision, a psychologically and emotionally immature version of the ways in which we are supposed to imagine God. Such a narrow version of how we come to an understanding of God -- although Edinger would no doubt deny that his is in fact a narrow version -- does not allow for sufficient wondering and wandering. Edinger seems to require his readers to take pathways that have already been taken: Animism allows one to set off into the still-clean land.
Edinger seemed to be closer to sanctioning the importance of getting lost in Anatomy of the psyche, written 11 years before. This is all too often the case: Truth tends to fade, convention tends to triumph. We are closest to the heart of everything at the beginning, and then we think too much about it. Edinger's careful yet wondrous speculations on mythology and alchemy in this first book let me feel freed from the world, gave me the wings that would allow me to get lost.
Being lost, even if it be for only a few moments at an intersection of unknown streets, worshipping at a temple of golden sweetness tended by an ancient priestess, is frightening. It urges us to retreat. To look for established paths. To keep our eyes down so that the next time the divine is present -- bidden or unbidden -- we are not touched with any madness at all.
Edinger, E. (1985). Anatomy of the psyche: Alchemical symbolism in psychotherapy. La Salle, IL:…
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