Every cell in our beautiful and amazing bodies contains the whirling wisdom of the universe. This is the journey of one witch remembering that, and celebrating the sacred and divine in beings of all genders and manifestations.
Pollyanna of The Apocalypse
On a Saturday in early March the seminary in Berkeley, where I serve as Campus Pastor, was hosting a youth spiritual retreat for middle school, high school, and college age youth and young adults. When the first group arrived that morning, I broke out the sidewalk chalk. More youth and adults arrived from all over Northern California until the place was covered with humans of many colors, ages, and genders transforming the grey cement surfaces of benches and walkways into a vibrant and beautiful (if ephemeral) landscape of greens and pinks, purples and yellows.
As the day unfolded this eclectic mix of people shared their personal images and experiences of The Divine. They explored ways to reclaim and use ancient myths and texts. They listened to, and politely challenged, each other’s varied opinions around a host of social justice and cultural issues. They sampled different ways to embody and know the many aspects and faces of The Divine.
After a picnic lunch, most of the youth were running after frisbees on the lawn or sitting in groups laughing and talking amid the chalk images they had created. I found myself standing with a small group of adults musing about the state of the seminary where we were meeting, and the health in general of many historic institutions: religious, academic, political, and cultural. An old friend expressed concern about the shifts and changes for those institutions, many of which had dwindled in membership, struggled financially, seemed to have lost relevancy in the context of wider culture.
I heard his concerns, but didn’t share his level of mild panic. I said that I was excited about this cataclysmic breaking apart of what has been the norm in human civilization for a few centuries. We talked about American author Phyllis Tickle who writes and speaks eloquently about the stages and cycles of human civilization that appear to shift and change approximately every 500 years or so. One of her examples is the major upheaval in Europe 500 years ago with the rise of a middle class, the establishment of the academic systems and institutions that have been our norm since then, and the schism in Christianity resulting in The Reformation. Tickle says 500 years ago humans moved into an era where religious authority came to rest in expressions of “right belief.” Tickle and others now say that today we are moving into an era where spiritual authority is coming to rest in experience of The Divine, rather than belief about The Divine. We talked about how technology is changing institutions of higher learning. The internet is moving us from knowledge guarded in ivory towers by gate keepers, to knowledge and information accessible for larger percentages of the world population.
I went on to talk about my excitement over the breaking down of our cultural constructs around the binary nature of gender; the examination of the fairytale fueled “cult of couples” in human relationships to allow for the possibility of other relational expressions; the narrow definition of family widening out to include many different configurations of kinship. In the realm of religion and spirituality I am watching this amazing “open source” movement creating a wiki experience of an Immanent Divine. Experiencing an Immanent Divine may help our species understand that we are not somehow separate from the earth, the universe, the other life forms and beings with whom we live.
Astronomer/Astrologer Stargazer Li explains the convergence of shifts that have happened and are happening on a planetary and galactic scale. She says that The Mayans were right, that the world as we knew it did end in December of 2012. We are now living something very different. In my experience the old has indeed died and is now breaking apart into its smaller components, decomposing so that the molecules of culture and society and consciousness can be reconfigured, reincarnated, reborn.
As I bubbled on about the juicy chaos happening in and around us (Loki is, after all, one of my favorite deities), my friend raised his eyebrows and proclaimed, “You are the Pollyanna of The Apocalypse!”
Yes, yes I am. I don’t discount the pain, the struggle, the difficulty in this time of change, but I don’t fear it either. I’ve experienced the small cycles of life that flow from birth to death to birth enough to know, on a cellular level, that everything is a vibrant and beautiful (if ephemeral) landscape of greens and pinks, purples and yellows created by cosmic sidewalk chalk.
Blessings to you on a cellular level as well, blessing on all your sacred cells whether, like my friend, you are filled with a mild panic, or, like me, you are a Pollyanna of The Apocalypse.
To hear Stargazer Li’s radio interview around the confluence of shifts that happened in Dec. of 2012 go to http://www.kpfa.org/archive/id/86587
For a taste of Phyllis Tickle talking about “The Great Emergence” focusing on the change in Christianity but widening to larger culture check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LY83MF2HZcU
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