Saturday, March 31, 2007

Similarities between Mithraic and Christian beliefs and practices

Most of the information for this article comes from Religious Tolerance.org. I have left out a few things not having to do with Mithras, and have added a few things I happen to know about the Mithraic Mysteries. My intent is always to show the similarity of religious traditions across time and culture.

The early Christians and Pagans shared many rituals and practices. Authors Freke & Gandy appear to assume that all of the copying was done by Christians from Pagan sources. However, some might have gone in the opposite direction. During the 3rd century CE, Mithraism and Christianity were the main competitors for the religious affiliation the citizens of Romans. Some Christian practices might have actually been picked up by the Mithraites, rather than vice-versa.

The Bible records that Jesus was crucified between two thieves. One went to heaven and the other to hell. In the Mithras mysteries, a common image showed Mithras flanked by two torchbearers, one on either side. One held a torch pointed upwards, the other downwards. This symbolized ascent to heaven or descent to hell. [No so: In Mithraic temple wall carvings, the torch-bearers are often depicted beside the astronomical signs in which occur the equinoxes: the torch pointed upwards indicated the Vernal Equinox when the fiery sun gains strength; the downward-pointing torch heralded the Autumnal Equinox and the weakening sun. See: The Origins of the Mithraic Mysteries: Cosmology and Salvation in the Ancient World]

Christians and Mithraites celebrated the birthday of their god-man on DEC-25. [December 25 once was the date of the Winter Solstice, the day the Sun began to gain in strength, and therefore the day the Sun God was born.]

According to an ancient Christian tradition, Christ died on MAR-23 and resurrected on MAR-25. These dates agree precisely with the death and resurrection of Attis. [The Attis cult was closely connected to the Mithras cult according to Jesse L. Weston in Chapter 10 of From Ritual to Romance.]

[The reason for the March 25 resurrection was because that date once was the date of the Vernal Equinox and heralded spring, the season of "rebirth" or "resurrection."]

An inscription to Mithras reads: "He who will not eat of my body and drink of my blood, so that he will be made on with me and I with him, the same shall not know salvation." 1 In John 6:53-54, Jesus is said to have repeated this theme: "...Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day." (KJV)

Baptism was a principal ritual; it washed away a person's sins. In some rituals, Baptism was performed by sprinkling holy water on the believer; in others, the person was totally immersed.

Early Christians were naked when they were baptized. After immersion, they then put on white clothing and a crown. They carried a candle and walked in a procession to a basilica. Followers of Mithra were also baptized naked, put on white clothing and a crown, and walked in a procession to the temple. However, they carried torches.

Both the Catholic church and Mithraism had a total of seven sacraments.

Epiphany, JAN-6, was originally the festival in which the followers of Mithra celebrated the visit of the Magi to their newborn god-man. The Christian Church took it over in the 9th century. [See the article on Epiphany at Phoenix Qi explaining the astronomical significance of the date of the Epiphany.]

Monday, March 26, 2007

Common spiritual themes in religious flood myths from around the globe

Above and beyond any particular cultural or geographic bias, floods are representative of fertility. The pounding of waves in the world's oceans has, often enough, been a metaphor for the seed of man, the sperm that fertilizes the eggs of women. When the waters inundate the shores, they leave in their wake green and growing things, vegetation to nourish all animal life – yup, that includes we humans, too.

Another metaphor a flood represents is cleansing, both universal and spiritual. The reason a child is baptized is to perform a spiritual cleansing having been born from that mundane union of male and female. For an adult, a baptism represents rebirth into a new religion…a washing-away of the old beliefs.

Finally, floods are a type of transportation from the mundane world to the spiritual world, and a rebirth into that world of spirit. Crossing the water and crossing the sky were the same thing to the ancient Egyptians who crossed the Nile to bury the bodies of the kings/ pharaohs. This journey across the Nile was symbolic of the journey the spirit took across the Milky Way (which was considered to be a celestial river) to arrive in the land of the dead ruled by Osiris. Another water-as-spiritual-travel tradition is found in the I Ching. The Book of Changes often mentions "crossing the great river" or "crossing the great water" when it speaks of a spiritual journey.

One of the surprising threads that connects many of the world's flood myths is the number of diverse cultures whose ancestors, as well as a variety of plant and animal life, were saved by fashioning a boat of some sort. It's quite remarkable, really, from Asia to South America, people saved themselves by building boats. Apparently, Noah isn't the only one who got a message to learn ship-building in short order.

There are hundreds of flood myths from around the world. A great many of them are caused by a god's decision to punish sinful humans. In a few cases, the flood is a god's attempt to save the earth due to overpopulation. Overwhelmingly, no matter the reason for the flood, the outcome is that the world is fresh and new again, and people have the chance to start over.

Perhaps people today have been "missing the boat!" People put the emphasis on the wrong part of the story; instead of talking about wickedness and punishment, we should concentrate on being refreshed, being reborn, and starting over!

Here are flood myths from around the globe. Check out the last one from South Brazil…it gives a whole new spin on Darwin and his Theory of Evolution!

European:

Greek: Zeus sent a flood to destroy the men of the Bronze Age. Prometheus advised his son Deucalion to build a chest. All other men perished except for a few who escaped to high mountains. Deucalion and his wife Pyrrha (daughter of Epimetheus and Pandora), after floating in the chest for nine days and nights, landed on Parnassus. When the rains ceased, he sacrificed to Zeus, the God of Escape. At the bidding of Zeus, he threw stones over his head; they became men, and the stones which Pyrrha threw became women. That is why people are called laoi, from laas, "a stone." (The Roman story is very similar.)

Celtic: Heaven and Earth were great giants, and Heaven lay upon the Earth so that their children were crowded between them, and the children and their mother were unhappy in the darkness. The boldest of the sons led his brothers in cutting up Heaven into many pieces. From his skull they made the firmament. His spilling blood caused a great flood which killed all humans except a single pair, who were saved in a ship made by a beneficent Titan.

Welsh: The lake of Llion burst, flooding all lands. Dwyfan and Dwyfach escaped in a mastless ship with pairs of every sort of living creature. They landed in Prydain (Britain) and repopulated the world.

Lithuanian: From his heavenly window, the supreme god Pramzimas saw nothing but war and injustice among mankind. He sent two giants, Wandu and Wejas (water and wind), to destroy earth. After twenty days and nights, little was left. Pramzimas looked to see the progress. He happened to be eating nuts at the time, and he threw down the shells. One happened to land on the peak of the tallest mountain, where some people and animals had sought refuge. Everybody climbed in and survived the flood floating in the nutshell. God's wrath abated, he ordered the wind and water to abate. The people dispersed, except for one elderly couple who stayed where they landed. To comfort them, God sent the rainbow and advised them to jump over the bones of the earth nine times. They did so, and up sprang nine other couples, from which the nine Lithuanian tribes descended.

Transylvanian Gypsy: One day, and old man came to the country and asked for a night's lodging, which a couple gave him in their cottage. When he departed the next day, he said he would return in nine days. He gave his host a small fish in a vessel and said he would reward the host if he did not eat the fish but returned it then. The wife thought the fish must be exceptionally good to eat, but the husband said he had promised the old man to keep it and made the woman swear not to eat it. After two days of thinking about it, though, the wife yielded to temptation and threw the fish on the hot coals. Immediately, she was struck dead by lightning, and it began to rain. The rivers started overflowing the country. On the ninth day, the old man returned and told his host that all living things would be drowned, but since he had kept his oath, he would be saved. The old man told the host to take a wife, gather his kinfolk, and build a boat on which to save them, animals, and seeds of trees and herbs. The man did all this. It rained a year, and the waters covered everything. After a year, the waters sank, and the people and animals disembarked.

Near East

Sumerian: The gods had decided to destroy mankind. The god Enlil warned the priest-king Ziusudra ("Long of Life") of the coming flood by speaking to a wall while Ziusudra listened at the side. He was instructed to build a great ship and carry beasts and birds upon it. Violent winds came, and a flood of rain covered the earth for seven days and nights. Then Ziusudra opened a window in the large boat, allowing sunlight to enter, and he prostrated himself before the sun-god Utu. After landing, he sacrificed a sheep and an ox and bowed before Anu and Enlil. For protecting the animals and the seed of mankind, he was granted eternal life and taken to the country of Dilmun, where the sun rises.

Babylonian: Three times (every 1200 years), the gods were distressed by the disturbance from human overpopulation. The gods dealt with the problem first by plague, then by famine. Both times, the god Enki advised men to bribe the god causing the problem. The third time, Enlil advised the gods to destroy all humans with a flood, but Enki had Atrahasis build an ark and so escape. Also on the boat were cattle, wild animals and birds, and Atrahasis' family. (The Assyrian version is very similar.)

Chaldean: The god Chronos in a vision warned Xisuthrus, the tenth king of Babylon, of a flood coming on the fifteenth day of the month of Daesius. The god ordered him to write a history and bury it in Sippara, and told him to build and provision a vessel (5 stadia by 2 stadia) for himself, his friends and relations, and all kinds of animals. Xisuthrus asked where he should sail, and Chronos answered, "to the gods, but first pray for all good things to men." Xisuthrus built a ship five furlongs by two furlongs and loaded it as ordered. After the flood had come and abated somewhat, he sent out some birds, which returned. Later, he tried again, and the birds returned with mud on their feet. On the third trial, the birds didn't return. He saw that land had appeared above the waters, so he parted some seams of his ship, saw the shore, and drove his ship aground in the Corcyraean mountains in Armenia. He disembarked with his wife, daughter, and pilot, and offered sacrifices to the gods. Those four were translated to live with the gods.

Hebrew: God, upset at mankind's wickedness, resolved to destroy it, but Noah was righteous and found favor with Him. God told Noah to build an ark. Noah did so, and took aboard his family and pairs of all kinds of animals. For 40 days and nights, floodwaters came from the heavens and from the deeps, until the highest mountains were covered. The waters flooded the earth for 150 days; then God sent a wind and the waters receded, and the ark came to rest in Ararat. After 40 days, Noah sent out a raven, which kept flying until the waters had dried up. He next sent out a dove, which returned without finding a perch. A week later he set out the dove again, and it returned with an olive leaf. The next week, the dove didn't return. After a year and 10 days from the start of the flood, everyone and everything emerged from the ark. Noah sacrificed some clean animals and birds to God, and God, pleased with this, promised never again to destroy all living creatures with a flood, giving the rainbow as a sign of this covenant. Animals became wild and became suitable food, and Noah and his family were told to repopulate the earth.

Africa

Pygmy: Chameleon heard a strange noise, like water running, in a tree, but at that time there was no water in the world. He cut open the trunk, and water came out in a great flood that spread all over the earth. The first human couple emerged with the water.

Bakongo (west Zaire): An old lady, weary and covered with sores, arrived in a town called Sonanzenzi and sought hospitality, which was denied her at all homes but the last she came to. When she was well and ready to depart, she told her friends to pack up and leave with her, as the place was accursed and would be destroyed by Nzambi. The night after they had left, heavy rains came and turned the valley into a lake, drowning all the inhabitants of the town. The sticks of the houses can still be seen deep in the lake.

Yoruba (southwest Nigeria): A god, Ifa, tired of living on earth and went to dwell in the firmament with Obatala. Without his assistance, mankind couldn't interpret the desires of the gods, and one god, Olokun, in a fit of rage, destroyed nearly everybody in a great flood.

Mandingo (Ivory Coast): A charitable man gave away everything he had to the animals. His family deserted him, but when he gave his last meal to the (unrecognized) god Ouende, Ouende rewarded him with three handfuls of flour which renewed itself and produced even greater riches. Then Ouende advised him to leave the area, and sent six months of rain to destroy his selfish neighbors. The descendants of the rich man became the present human race.

Asia

Yenisey-Ostyak (north central Siberia): Flood waters rose for seven days. Some people and animals were saved by climbing on floating logs and rafters. A strong north wind blew for seven days and scattered the people, which is why there are now different peoples speaking different languages.

Tuvinian (Soyot) (north of Mongolia): The giant frog (or turtle) which supported the earth moved, which caused the cosmic ocean to begin flooding the earth. An old man who had guessed something like this would happen built an iron-reinforced raft, boarded it with his family, and was saved. When the waters receded, the raft was left on a high wooded mountain, where, it is said, it remains today. After the flood, Kezer-Tshingis-Kaira-Khan created everything around us.

Hindu: Manu, the first human, found a small fish in his washwater. The fish begged protection from the larger fishes, in return for which it would save Manu. Manu kept the fish safe, transferring it to larger and larger reservoirs as it grew, eventually taking it to the ocean. The fish warned Manu of a coming deluge and told him to build a ship. When the flood rose, the fish came, and Manu tied the craft to its horn. The fish led him to a northern mountain and told Manu to tie the ship's rope to a tree to prevent it from drifting. Manu, alone of all creatures, survived. He made offerings of clarified butter, sour milk, whey, and curds. From these, a woman arose, calling herself Manu's daughter. Whatever blessings he invoked through her were granted him. Through her, he generated this race.

Tibet: Tibet was almost totally inundated, until the god Gya took compassion on the survivors, drew off the waters through Bengal, and sent teachers to civilize the people, who until then had been little better than monkeys. Those people repopulated the land.

Lolo (southwestern China): In primeval times, men were wicked. The patriarch Tse-gu-dzih sent a messenger down to earth, asking for some flesh and blood from a mortal. Only one man, Du-mu, complied. In wrath, Tse-gu-dzih locked the rain-gates, and the waters mounted to the sky. Du-mu was saved in a log hollowed out of a Pieris tree, together with his four sons and otters, wild ducks, and lampreys. The civilized peoples who can write are descended from the sons; the ignorant races are descendants of wooden figures whom Du-mu constructed after the deluge.

Miao (Hmong) (southern China, north Thailand, Laos): After people had lived on the earth for 9,000 years, two brothers noticed that someone was coming at night and undoing everything they had done in the field in the day. They laid in wait and saw an old man filling their furrows. The elder brother wanted to kill him, but the younger brother said they should first question him for his reason. The old man said their work was futile because a flood would soon come. The brothers realized the man was the Lord of the Sky and asked him what they should do. He told the elder, violent-tempered brother to build an iron boat and the younger brother to build a wooden boat and to take his sister, males and females of each animal species, and two seeds of each species of plant. In the seventh month rain fell for four days and nights. The iron boat sank, but the wooden boat floated up to the sky. Seeing the earth flooded, the Lord of the Sky sent a dragon in the shape of a rainbow to dry it. The brother wanted to marry his sister, but she resisted. But after various tests proved it was the will of the Lord of the Sky, they married. Their child had no head or limbs. Thinking it was an egg, they cut it open. It contained no child, but the pieces became people when they fell to earth. By cutting it into the smallest possible pieces, they created innumerable children and repopulated the earth.

Australia

Narrinyeri (South Australia): A man's two wives ran away from him. He pursued them to Encounter Bay, saw them at a distance, and angrily cried out for the waters to rise and drown them. A terrible flood washed over the hills and killed the two women. The waters rose so high that a man named Nepelle, who lived at Rauwoke, had to drag his canoe to the top of the hill now called Point Macleay. The dense part of the Milky Way shows his canoe floating in the sky.

Victoria: Bunjil, the creator, was angry with people because of the evil they did, so he caused the ocean to flood by urinating into it. All people were destroyed except those whom Bunjil loved and fixed as stars in the sky, and a man and a woman who climbed a tall tree on a mountain, and from whom the present human race is descended.

North, Central, and South America

Norton Sound Eskimo: In the first days, the water from the sea came up and flooded all the earth except for a very high mountain in the middle. A few animals escaped to this mountain, and a few people survived in a boat, subsisting on fish. The people landed on the mountain as the water subsided and followed the retreating water to the coast. The animals also descended.

Kaska (northern inland British Columbia): A great flood came; people survived it on rafts and canoes. Darkness and high winds came, which scattered the vessels. When the flood subsided, people landed at the nearest land and lived where they had landed. Thus they were scattered all over the world, and when they met again long afterwards, they were different tribes and spoke different languages.

Shasta (northern California interior): Coyote encountered an evil water spirit who said, "There is no wood" and caused water to rise until it covered Coyote. After the water receded, Coyote shot the water spirit with a bow and ran away, but the water followed him. He ran to the top of Mount Shasta; the water followed but didn't quite reach the top. Coyote made a fire, and all the other animal people swam to it and found refuge there. After the water receded, they came down, made new homes, and became the ancestors of all the animal people today.

Michoacan (Mexico): When the flood waters began to rise, a man named Tezpi entered into a great vessel, taking with him his wife and children and diverse seeds and animals. When the waters abated, the man sent out a vulture, but the bird found plenty of corpses to eat and didn't return. Other birds also flew away and didn't return. Finally, he sent out a hummingbird, which returned with a green bough in its beak.

Macusi (British Guyana): The good spirit Makunaima ("He who works in the night") created the heaven and earth. When he had created plants and trees, he came down from his heavenly mansion, climbed a tree, and chipped off bark with a large stone axe. The chips turned into animals of all kinds when they fell into the river at the base of the tree. Next, Makunaima created man, and after the man had fallen asleep, he awoke to find a woman beside him. Later the evil spirit got more power on earth, so Makunaima sent a great flood. Only one man survived in a canoe. He sent a rat to see whether the flood had abated, and the rat returned with a cob of maize. When the flood had subsided, the man threw stones behind him, which became other people.

Coroado (south Brazil): A flood once covered the whole earth except for the top of the coastal range Serra do Mar. Members of the three tribes Coroados, Cayurucres, and Cames, swam for the mountains holding lighted torches between their teeth. The Cayurucres and Cames wearied and drowned, and their souls went to dwell in the heart of the mountain. The Coroados made it and stayed there, some on the ground and some in the branches of trees. Several days passed without food and without the water lowering. Then some saracuras, a species of waterfowl, flew to them with baskets of earth. The birds began throwing the earth into the water, and the water sank. The people urged the birds to hurry, so the birds called the ducks to help them. When the flood subsided, the Coroados descended, except for the ones which had climbed into trees, who became monkeys.

If you would like to read more and different flood myths from around the world, visit Flood Stories from Around the World compiled by Mark Isaak. There are literally hundreds of stories on his website.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Invisible Garment: 30 Spiritual Principles That Weave the Fabric of Human Life



I've had the pleasure over the last couple of weeks to work with the audio-book version of The Invisible Garment by Connie Kaplan, a lovely tapestry woven of words and brief musical interludes to distinguish the source of various quotes throughout the book.

Connie teaches that your Invisible Garment is a metaphor for the twelve interwoven principles that you are born to embody in this lifetime. For me, it was refreshing to find another person who believes we are here not to learn a lesson or make up for past-life mistakes, but to BE who we were born to be. As we share our special talents, we affirm our membership in and contribute to the wholeness of the universal energetic consciousness and, as Connie says, the "tapestry of society." By talents I don't mean learned skills but rather spiritual traits like Generosity, Unity, and Harmony (three of the principles Connie teaches).

Connie was gifted with this information following the death of her father. She was visited by two light and spiritual beings who could only have been angels. She was asked by them to bring the Invisible Garment information into the physical world and to share it with anyone who asked. Over a period of months, the information was gifted to her through her dreams and meditations. Following that, she shared the information by doing Invisible Garment (or Soul Contract) readings with an ever-widening circle of family, friends, and others. For almost a decade, she compiled readings and tested the data before confidently sharing these deep and meaningful truths with an even wider audience through books and CDs.

There are thirty principles in all. All of them play a part in life, but based on the placement of the planets in your astrological chart, up to twelve principles have special meaning for you and play a prominent role throughout your lifetime. You determine your most active principles by examining your astrological chart, but your Invisible Garment is Not - repeat Not – an astrology reading. The astrological chart is used only for the numerical value of the placement of the planets, for example, Sun 14 degrees, Moon 09 degrees, and so on.

The best way for me to explain your Invisible Garment is to show you mine, so I will briefly take you through my own reading. Please understand this will be only a hint of the wonderful things you can learn through your own reading. To include all the information about each of the principles in my personal Invisible Garment would take many, many pages! (And, frankly, my transcription skills would not do it justice!)

You will need an accurate astrology chart. Mine comes from the ASTROLABE Free Astrology Chart page, an instant, online service.

























Here are my principles. You may notice that I have only eleven in my list since the two planets Jupiter and Saturn, even though they are in different astrological signs, both have the degree number of 24 so they also share principle number twenty-four. Please note, we must let go of worldly meaning of these words; the spiritual meanings are quite different. Connie tells us, these "words don't define you, they point you toward your inner self." Your principles describe not what you are here to do, but what you are here to BE and to share.

Sun 14 - Ecstasy
Moon 09 - Awareness
Ascendant 02 - Purity
Mercury 15 - Resistance
Venus 10 - Reciprocity
Mars 25 - Desire
Jupiter 24 - Humility
Saturn 24 - Humility
Uranus 21 - Harmony

Neptune
22 - Dreaming
Pluto 23 - Randomness
Mid-Heaven 29 - Movement


Sun (The primary reason you came to live a human life)
14 Ecstasy
"Ecstasy is simply the divine flow of energy. It is energy or light flowing with absolute freedom to express itself and experience itself. The Principle of Ecstasy has the potential to be always new, awake, and creating the present. (It is "living in the present moment.") Ecstasy occurs when all the bodies - the physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and energetic - are perfectly aligned so energy can express itself truthfully. The whole being is alive, alert, and awake to its reality. People whose charts include Ecstasy often find that slow, intentional physical movement gives them a strong sense of being present to the divine. Body prayer and other types of moving meditation are sources of ecstasy for these people."

[Michelle says: That certainly describes me! I love the gentle, flowing movement of qigong. Practicing qigong is when I feel most whole and at peace; it is definitely my portal into the presence of divine inspiration, as is labyrinth walking.]

Moon (Your mastery – your most reliable staff or plumb line; the gift you bring to the world)
09 Awareness
"Awakens life to a self-conscious perspective. …awakening is more than just an awakening of conscious attention, it is indeed a spiritual awakening to the vast possibility of oneness between the self and the divine. …because awareness does require one to experience both ends of a pole or both sides of a question, it's not always a comfortable principle. We do not generally like the idea that spiritual maturity may bring emotional or physical pain. Yet it is true that when we expand enough to encompass all of humanity, we encounter the suffering of humanity."

[Michelle says: Compassion is also mentioned within the principle of Awareness, and I strongly relate to that. I seek troubled people to help them overcome stress-related illness. I also practice Tonglen which is best described as a prayerful, energetic healing technique in which one concentrates on those in need of healing while inhaling their pain and illness, and sending out healing and compassion with the exhale breath. I digress, but if you would like to know more about Tonglen, please read Tonglen Healing]

[From this point on, I will give you just a pertinent sentence or two from each of the principles that are in the chart so that you can get an idea of the information that is in store for you when you do your own chart using the book. Please keep in mind, these are very brief; just a couple of drops from the proverbial ocean. You will receive much, much more valuable information from the book or CD!]

Personal Pillars – Your unique interface with the world.

Ascendant (Behavioral body – your personal ethic)
02 Purity
"Purity is the ability to recognize the essential nature of any form. It is the ability to distill any error that has been attached to a form whether the error is ideological, psychological, or physiological. Purity is the ability to liberate oneself from patterns of error that are present in perceptual reality and instead to experience the intent of cosmic order."

Mercury (Mental Body – how you process spiritual information)
15 Resistance
"Resistance is a friction that causes energy to experience itself, transform itself, and realign itself with greater purpose. You are inserting something that interrupts the flow of energy and allows a creative interfacing with form. You receive energy from the cosmos and transform it into appropriate messages and/or information for humanity."

Venus (Emotional Body – how you give dimension and meaning to life's experiences)
10 Reciprocity
"Reciprocity guarantees that what goes around, comes around. For example, let's say that you touch a tree, does that tree touch you as well? Yes, in a way, it does. There is a reciprocal relationship between you and that tree. Through reciprocity, humans consciously enter Oneness."

Mars (Physical Body – your relationship to your body)
25 Desire
"Spiritually defined, desire provides a never-ending call toward Home. Desire drives one…to be reunited with Creator. Desire as a spiritual principle is based on the integration of the interchange of Light. [One student said:] 'Desire changed me from longing to be loved, to longing to be Love.'"

Universal Pillars – Cosmic forces that give larger and less personal support to your life.

Jupiter (Universal Support – your personal safety net)
Saturn (Limitation Support – determines the way you perceive the realm of form)
24 Humility
"To be humble is to be authentically aware of the true nucleus of the essential self. It is arrogant to think yourself grander than you are. It is equally arrogant to think yourself less than you are. Humility has to do with lifting your own veils [that hide your Light] and telling the truth to yourself about yourself. Humility is letting go of our compulsion to prove we know more than we do."

Uranus (Support of authentic self – jolt-like reminders to be your real self)
21 Harmony
"People who are contracted with Harmony are the people who integrate the 'is not.' They work in the negative space of the piece of art that is life. They find worship in the sacred darkness because they know the power of the unseen work. This is not the dark of the psyche, but instead of the unseen realms, the Mystery, the black sun behind the sun, the spiritual foundation of all that is."

Neptune (Birth group support – connection to collective consciousness of all the people born during the months Neptune spends in one degree of the zodiac)
22 Dreaming
"Spiritually defined, dreaming is the ability to shift into non-ordinary states of consciousness. Dreaming is a direct encounter with energy in the dimension of Truth. It does not necessarily require being asleep to experience dreaming, it does however require a relationship with the Void, the sacred whirlpool of primordial energy."

Pluto (Ultimate victory over life – the way you go through darkness and return to the light; also, your archetypal energy)
23 Randomness
"Spiritually speaking, randomness occurs in that moment when all potential is present, and nothing is certain. I like to use the kaleidoscope as the metaphor for randomness. When you look through a kaleidoscope, you see a pattern. When you turn it slightly, everything is totally chaotic momentarily, and then another pattern crystallizes. That next pattern is something you can hardly believe was potential in the pattern before. The new pattern can have completely different colors, and completely different structuring."

Mid-Heaven (Your unique soul energy - how you are as an individual and how you have pledged to live your essence in this lifetime)
29 Movement
"Movement is actually the other end of Placement [the first principle]. When the zero principle [Placement] and the twenty-ninth principle [Movement] come together, the circle becomes whole. Movement is the force that keeps one going, that keeps one evolving. It constantly pulls one into potential and possibility. Movement is the aspect of form that magnetizes one toward the realization of highest potential. It is the force that animates the cosmos, and it drives every form toward its destiny."

It's me again – Michelle. Unfortunately I have to wrap this up – I wish I could continue…there is so much more I would like to share with you! – but before I close, I want to assure you that if you want or feel in need of guidance or affirmation of your spiritual path, I do believe that working with the principles in The Invisible Garment: 30 Spiritual Principles That Weave the Fabric of Human Life can help you to identify and fulfill your personal, spiritual purpose of BE-ing and (as goes hand-in-hand) of fulfilling your place in the universal Oneness.

The audio book, from which I wrote this review, is only available from: the e-shop at Generosity Incorporated.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Labyrinths

The following is an excerpt from a longer article about Labyrinths on Crysltalinks

A labyrinth is an ancient symbol that relates to wholeness. It combines the imagery of the circle and the spiral into a meandering but purposeful path. It represents a journey to our own center and back again out into the world. Labyrinths have long been used as meditation and prayer tools. A labyrinth is an archetype with which we can have a direct experience. Walking the labyrinth can be considered an initiation in which one awakens the knowledge encoded within their DNA.

Labyrinth is a word of pre-Greek ("Pelasgian") origin absorbed by classical Greek, and is apparently related to labrys, a word for the archaic iconic "double axe", with inthos connoting "place" (as in "Corinth"). The complex palace of Knossos in Crete is usually implicated, though the actual dancing-ground, depicted in frescoed patterns at Knossos, has not been found. Something was being shown to visitors as a labyrinth at Knossos in the 1st century AD.


In the 3rd century BC coins from Knossos are still struck with the labyrinth symbol. The predominant labyrinth form during this period is the simple 7-circuit style known as the classical labyrinth.



The full flowering of the medieval labyrinth design came about during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries with the grand pavement labyrinths of the gothic cathedrals, most notably Chartres and Amiens in France.


















The best known example of labyrinth is embedded in the stone pavement of Chartres Cathedral near Paris. The Middle Ages was a time of pilgrimages. Since most people could not make the grand pilgrimage to Jerusalem, considered by Christians to be the center of the world, and symbolizing the Kingdom of Heaven, they would make pilgrimages to important cathedrals such as Canterbury, Santiago de Compostella and Chartres. Once there, they would end their pilgrimage by walking the labyrinth to the center, and then slowly retracing their steps to regain the 'outside world' and return to their homes. The Chartres was labyrinth sometimes walked in place of the actual pilgrimage to Jerusalem and considered a holy experience. People believed that if you walked the labyrinth with the full dedication of a pilgrim, you would be transformed, the old you will be grounded at the threshold stone a purified you emerging, ready to tackle new directions in your life's journey.


Labyrinths in Different Cultures







Hopi Labyrinth










Native American Labyrinths

The Symbol of the Emergence - The whole myth and meaning of the Emergence is expressed by one symbol known to the Hopis as the Mother Earth symbol. There are two forms, the square and the circular Examples of these Labyrinth are carved on a rock south of Oraibi, and south of Shipaulovi. A combination of the two forms is also carved on a wooden stick which is planted in front of the One Horn altar in the Kwani kiva at Walpi during the W�wuchim ceremony. The symbol is commonly known as Tapu'at [Mother and Child]. This type represents spiritual rebirth from one world to the succeeding one, as symbolized by the Emergence itself.


Rome

While the classical labyrinth was known throughout the Roman Empire, the popular use of the labyrinth as a design element in mosaic flooring resulted in a number of interesting developments, all conveniently classifiable as "Roman" varieties. While rarely encountered amongst the examples created during the current revival, these labyrinths are of considerable interest, as they represent the first real attempts to create different forms of the genre and the first major changes to a symbol that had already been in circulation for nearly two thousand years. Several researchers have attempted further classification of Roman designs, based on mathematical or geometrical properties, which allow the majority of the sixty or so Roman mosaic labyrinths to be designated as meander, serpentine, or spiral types.


Britain

England contains many unicursal turf mazes, some possibly dating back to the Dark Ages, when they were created by the nordic settlers. One distinctive aspect of British mazes is their diversity, with possibly the widest range of forms of maze of any country in the world. Hedges mazes are particularly distinctive to Britain, whilst mazes using turf, brick, stone, wood and water are also widespread. Indoors, there are mazes made of mosiac, marble and stained-glass, as well as mirror mazes.

(See pictures of the labyrinth built into Glastonbury Tor at Mid-Atlantic Geomancy)


Scandinavia

In Scandinavia hundreds of stone labyrinths line the shores of the Baltic Sea, with over half of them in Sweden. Many are said to have been built by fishermen, who walked through them in the hope of a good catch and a safe return. Their varied names - Julian�s Bower, Maiden's Bower, Trojaborg - give further insight to their purpose, as an expression of the pursuit of maidens, courtship, the act of fertility, penetration of the womb, the creation of the embryo with its umbilical cord, and the birth of new life.


Switzerland

More than in other countries, Switzerland seems to embrace the appropriateness of labyrinths in public places, of which more than 50 have been established in recent years, in addition to dozens of other on private property. The impetus for public labyrinths began when artist Agnes Barmettler and art teacher Rosmarie Schmid won first place among 140 entrants in a 1989 design competition for public spaces, sponsored in Zurich for the 700th anniversary of the founding of the Swiss Federation. The project was constructed on the site of a former military academy (Zeughausareal), just a ten minute walk from the central train station. Some 30 meters (98 feet) in diameter, the labyrinth is of contemporary design including landscaping that is maintained by a corps of women volunteers.




Baltic Wheel Labyrinth







Besides the Chartres and Cretan patterns, another commonly used design is the Scandinavian or Baltic Wheel, which allows a choice between a longer path or a shorter one, an especially useful feature in very large labyrinths.

The women creators of Switzerland's labyrinths have emphasized harmony with the natural surroundings, including trees, rocks and brooks in the designs. Case in point, the labyrinth at the Academy of Boldern, M�nnedorf (on Lake Zurich), placed in front of a Japanese pavilion, has the feel of a Zen garden. This is the largest labyrinth in Switzerland and follows the pattern of the Baltic Wheel pattern in Hanover, Germany.


Germany

In Germany, unicursal turf mazes were used for ritual procession by apprentices as they reached adulthood.

Most German labyrinths are the result of women's groups, inspired and assisted by the labyrinth community from Switzerland. Schmid and Barmettler have made more than 50 presentations to Volkshochschulen (institutions for permanent education) , Frauenzentren (women's centers), and other groups in Germany. As in Switzerland, there is a strong bent toward geomantic considerations in the design and placement of the labyrinths.


Australia
- New Zealand

The spread of European colonialization to these region from the late 18th century onwards brought the labyrinth, in one or other of its forms. Many of the orginal labyrinths were later destroyed.

The first labyrinth in Australia appears to be the Ballarat hedge maze, in the Botanical Gardens, originally planted in 1862, cleared in 1881, replanted in the late 1880's and eventually destroyed in 1954. Most are direct copies of hedge mazes in Britain.

The first maze in New Zealand was in 1911 at the Dunedin Botanic Garden, a hedge maze, but was removed. In recent years the concept of the labyrinth has once again become popular in Australia and New Zealand.

Ancient scroll may yield religious secrets

A fragment of the Derveni papyrus courtesy
A Translation of the Derveni Papyrus

By Nicholas Paphitis, Associated Press Writer

June 1, 2006

(Reprinted from Derveni Papyrus)

ATHENS, Greece - A collection of charred scraps kept in a Greek museum's storerooms are all that remains of what archaeologists say is Europe's oldest surviving book — which may hold a key to understanding early monotheistic beliefs.

More than four decades after the Derveni papyrus was found in a 2,400-year-old nobleman's grave in northern Greece, researchers said Thursday they are close to uncovering new text — through high-tech digital analysis — from the blackened fragments left after the manuscript was burnt on its owner's funeral pyre.

Large sections of the mid-4th century B.C. book — a philosophical treatise on ancient religion — were read years ago, but never officially published.

Now, archaeologist Polyxeni Veleni believes U.S. imaging and scanning techniques used to decipher the Judas Gospel — which portrays Judas not as a sinister betrayer but as Jesus' confidant — will considerably expand and clarify that text.

"I believe some 10-20 percent of new text will be added, which however will be of crucial importance," said Veleni, director of the Thessaloniki Archaeological Museum, where the manuscript is kept.

"This will fill in many gaps, we will get a better understanding of the sequence and the existing text will become more complete," Veleni told The Associated Press.

The scroll, originally several yards of papyrus rolled around two wooden runners, was found half burnt in 1962. It dates to around 340 B.C., during the reign of Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great.

"It is the oldest surviving book, if you can use that word for a scroll, in western tradition," Veleni said. "This was a unique find, of exceptional importance."

Greek philosophy expert Apostolos Pierris said the text may be a century older.

"It was probably written by somebody from the circle of the philosopher Anaxagoras, in the second half of the 5th century B.C.," he said.

Anaxagoras, who lived in ancient Athens, is thought to have been the teacher of Socrates and was accused by his contemporaries of atheism.

Last month, experts from Brigham Young University in Utah used multi-spectral digital analysis to create enhanced pictures of the text, which will be studied by Oxford University papyrologist Dirk Obbink and Pierris, and published by the end of 2007.

"We were now able to read even the most carbonized sections, as there were pieces that were completely blackened and nobody could make out whether there were letters on them," Veleni said.

The scroll contains a philosophical treatise on a lost poem describing the birth of the gods and other beliefs focusing on Orpheus, the mythical musician who visited the underworld to reclaim his dead love and enjoyed a strong cult following in the ancient world.

The Orpheus cult raised the notion of a single creator god — as opposed to the multitude of deities the ancient Greeks believed in — and influenced later monotheistic faiths.

"In a way, it was a precursor of Christianity," Pierris said. "Orphism believed that man's salvation depended on his knowledge of the truth."

Veleni said the manuscript "will help show the influence of Orphism on later monotheistic religions."

The Derveni grave, about five miles northwest of Thessaloniki, was part of a rich cemetery belonging to the ancient city of Lete.

"It belonged to a very rich man, a Macedonian nobleman, warrior and athlete who had a lot of very important and valuable artifacts in his grave," Veleni said. Finds included metal vases, a gold wreath and weapons.

___

Associated Press Writer Costas Kantouris in Thessaloniki contributed to this story.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Post Five

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Post Four

Post Three

Post Two



Daoist



Mithraic




Jewish





African Ashanti




Hindu




Ancient Greek
Mother Earth Goddess



Christian




Wiccan





















Sufi



Native American




Sikh




Ancient Egyptian




Unitarian
(an open flame could also be Zoroastrian)



Baha'i




Muslim




Buddhist

Post One