Saturday, June 26, 2010

Beyond the Sea

Wearing my iPod, I walked along the beach, my right foot slightly in pain from tripping over a wooden step on the boardwalk from the beach parking lot to the sand. After getting my beach chair, towel, and bag situated at a spot, I always walk to clear my head and center myself. How far I walk sometimes depends on the crowd - I have a bit of social phobia and feel a little awkward going alone sometimes; not to mention I don't want to leave my things unattended too long, for fear of something getting stolen. Upon return to my beach chair, I pull out the book I've been sporadically reading, Calvin Miller's The Path of Celtic Prayer: An Ancient Way to Everyday Joy. It was given to me by my parents for Christmas. Granted, they bought it at your average Christian bookstore, so it is loaded with evangelism and Trinity references. Nonetheless, I'm still getting some interesting insights from it, and ideas for structures for writing my own prayers. Even though I'm Unitarian in the loosest sense of the word - believing that Jesus is the Son of God in the same sense that we are all Children of the Divine, and believing that the Divine is within everything, and "all paths lead to God", to put it simply, Trinitarian language doesn't bother me like it used to. Many religions and spiritualities have trinitarian concepts. When I was Pagan, one of my chosen deities, Brigid, was a triple goddess of healing, poetry,and inspiration, all associated with fires and smiths. Now, as a Gnostic, my devotion to Brigid has carried over, in a sense, to St. Brigid, her Christianized counterpart who has many/most of the same attributes and is considered by some to be simply a Christianized version of the goddess. Gnosticism has many trinities, and some entities even more complex than that: Abraxas, a sort of Aeon of balance; Sophia, Aeon of Wisdom and often worshipped as a Goddess by Pagans, and viewed as the Holy Spirit/Divine Feminine by many Gnostics, Christian Witches, New Agers, etc; and Barbelo, who I'm still learning just who She is, as she seems to be yet another Gnostic entity representing the Divine Feminine/Holy Spirit. These concepts and Aeons(including what an Aeon actually is) will be discussed in later entries, as I don't want this to become too long, or run out of future entry topics!

Likewise, the primary symbol for Druidry is the Awen, which stands for inspiration:

Each line stands for an aspect of a sort of Druidic Trinity: land, sea, and sky, respectively. The angles represent, to me at least, the common direction and eventual merger of the three.

It's very fitting that while reading the book at the beach, I happened to be on Chapter 4, which is the chapter on Nature Prayer and nature spirituality. Even with the evangelical overtones, I understand the basic point: we as humans, spiritual or not, need to connect more with nature. We are a part of nature and the cosmos, and the cosmos is part of us. In my view, we all, even animals, plants, the sea, etc., have a Divine Spark within us, making us a part of that which we call "God". It is for this reason that I believe in nature spirits. Not little flitting fairies, Fern Gully style, mind you. Simply put, "nature spirits" is the closest I can come to describe the belief that like you or I, or the birds outside, or the bee that tries to sting me, the land, the sea, everything, has a soul. When I pray a prayer of thanks to the sea, as I often do as I swim or before I leave, that's who I'm often praying to. After all, prayer is simply a way of speaking to the Spirit, within or without. Sure, within Gnosticism(in modern day practice, at least), like Roman Catholicism and other liturgical forms of Christianity, there are angels and saints associated with various things - for instance, St. Gabriel the Archangel is sometimes associated with Water. And so, sometimes, I pray to them, too. It's kind of like, if I'm asking you for something, but then I'm asking your big brother or big sister to help out. I can pray to the nature spirits themselves, but if there's a Saint/Angel associated with that element or characteristic, I might pray to them too.

Once again, I close with a verse:

"The Savior said, 'All nature, all formations, all creatures exist in and with one another, and they will be resolved again into their own roots.'"

- The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene, 4:22

1 comment:

JeniMac said...

I love this quote from the movie Gattaca:

"For someone who was never meant for this world, I must confess I'm suddenly having a hard time leaving it. Of course, they say every atom in our bodies was once part of a star. Maybe I'm not leaving... maybe I'm going home."

I find that a good way to feel more in touch with nature (and a good substitute for prayer since I don't pray anymore) is to contemplate where everything comes from and to inwardly acknowledge thanks. Like a plate of food, for example. Although I don't do this as often as I'd like, I take a moment to pause and think about where, let's say, my piece of bread comes from. I feel gratitude for the farmers who grew and harvested the wheat, the rain that helped it grow, the factory workers who produced the bread, the stockers and cashiers at the store...and, most especially if I'm eating meat, the life that was given up.