Listening to the woods, to the stones, to Gaia, and to women...
In the woods behind my house rest a collection of nine large flat rocks. Daily, I walk down to these “priestess rocks” for some sacred time alone to pray, meditate, consider, and be. Often, while in this space, I open my mouth and poetry comes out. I’ve come to see this experience as "theapoetics"—experiencing the Goddess through direct “revelation,” framed in language. As Stanley Hopper originally described in the 1970’s, it is possible to “…replace theology, the rationalistic interpretation of belief, with theopoetics, finding God[dess] through poetry and fiction, which neither wither before modern science nor conflict with the complexity of what we know now to be the self.” Theapoetics might also be described, “as a means of engaging language and perception in such a way that one enters into a radical relation with the divine, the other, and the creation in which all occurs.”
I tend towards a type of Goddess-oriented, panentheistic, spiritual naturalism. I've written a lot about my experiences with "theapoetics"--spontaneous, spoken aloud poetry that brings me into direct connection with that which I term Goddess. I previously explored the ontological existence of this Goddess in an essay for Feminism and Religion:
To me, Goddess is found in the act of specifically naming that ineffable sense of the sacred that we all, universally, experience or perceive at some point during our lives. Whether it be in gazing at the ocean or in climbing a mountain, in the births of our children or the hatching of a baby chick, almost all humans experience transcendent moments of mystery, meaning, wonder, and awe. We can call these experiences by different names and I feel that the Goddess arises when we have the courage and capacity to name Her as such, rather than stay hazy, generic, or afraid. In my own life, I call these numinous experiences Goddess and through this I know She exists in, of, around, and through the world that I live in. It is in these experiences that I touch Her directly...
I also wrote about listening directly to Gaia in my first post here at the SageWoman blogs and I maintain a daily practice of going to woods behind my house and listening to what I hear there. Recently, I've begun thinking about polythesim with more interest and about the possibility of moving beyond my generic conception of "divinity" into a more personal understanding of a specific Goddess. I've enjoyed reading posts such as a Brief Guide to Spirits from Lupa's Den and about the intensity and depth of the polytheistic experiences of bloggers like Anomalous Thracian. I feel something coming. A change. An evolution. An expansion of depth.
Then, one of my atheist friends on Facebook recently posted a link to an article that posited an explanation for how human create the "imaginary friends" that are then termed their "gods."
"Consider how some people attempt to make what can only be imagined feel real. They do this by trying to create thought-forms, or imagined creatures, called tulpas. Their human creators are trying to imagine so vividly that the tulpas start to seem as if they can speak and act on their own. The term entered Western literature in 1929, through the explorer Alexandra David-Néel’s “Magic and Mystery in Tibet.” She wrote that Tibetan monks created tulpas as a spiritual discipline during intense meditation. The Internet has been a boon for tulpa practice, with dozens of sites with instructions on creating one..."
Despite my own sense of certainty that Goddess is there, very directly observable in the actual living of life, the very fabric of being, and the touch of the wind on my face, I felt silly and juvenile when reading this article. "Oh..." I thought, "perhaps what I've been doing with this year-long woodspriestess experiment is merely cementing my relationship with my imaginary friend?" So, I went back to the woods and I waited. And, an answer came:
I think not
I am the ebb and pulse of all existence
of all life
the invisible web
weaving its way
throughout you and around you every day
I am here in the call of that crow
the hammer of that woodpecker
the bird song
the leaf fall
the raindrop's skim
I am present in the very pulse of your heart
That is it.
That magic of creation
She who holds eternity
and can never be tamed.
I'm reaching back
Never doubt this again.
After a pause, sitting there, keeping contact with the rock, listening to the sounds around me and feeling my pulse beat in my wrist, I spoke again:
The sensation of being held is real
the sensation of being known is real
the love you have experienced in my embrace is real
your body sitting on this rock and being in contact with this planet is real.
I am Life itself.
I am Breath itself.
I am Gaia.
And your heart beats in time with mine.
I called your name.
Listen and you will know...
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