The Restoration of Love

Day 1: Held by the Great Mother

Our altar at the start of the weekend

This blog post marks the first weekend of Open Spirit’s brand new and pioneering course, and it also marks my first contribution to this journal.

After many hours spent this summer in Sam’s garden discussing the work I was developing for my holistic science dissertation, I am now entering into the work that Sam has been developing for the past 30 years, work that she calls holistic spirit. The movement from holistic science to holistic spirit is evidently a fluid one, and actually if I am honest holistic spirit has been what I’ve been studying all along! Really, there is not much difference. Both are explorations into the nature of being human, of being animal, and of being creatures of the universe.

What does the word ‘holistic’ mean? The word finds its root in the Greek word holos, meaning whole. Its most dominant usage has been in the context of holistic medicine or holistic therapy, which examine the whole of the person rather than dividing the person into separate parts. In the context of science, holistic means to utilise our whole selves in the scientific enquiry, exemplified by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, who used direct perception and imagination to come into relationship with his study subjects and therefore encounter his study subject in their wholeness. So, what does holistic mean in the context of spirituality? What does it mean to practice holistic spirit? What does a holistic spirituality look like? Following on from a thought of one group member, I will leave these as open questions with no answers and carry the question marks with me as I journey through the year.

What I do know is that when I read the vision of Open Spirit, it felt like a meeting of words on paper with unspoken and unknown words in me. There was such a deep understanding and a deep connection, I could barely contain my excitement. When the day finally came to begin our explorations into holistic spirit, I found myself a little overwhelmed. On the invitation to introduce myself to the group and to say a little about what my intentions were with this course, the bigness of what all of it meant to me felt like a wordless ocean, ebbing and flowing through every cell. The words that came out did not do justice but they were to do with developing an embodied spirituality authentic to my own native traditions. Basically it’s about returning home; to myself, to community and to the Earth.

We began our journey of the day by placing our human story in the context of the wider story of the Universe, and arrived in human form as hunter-gatherers. Hunter-gatherers we became, first through a trance telling from Sam, and secondly through our own meanderings, foragings and beings. Here is an account of group member Kengo’s experience with the curious eyes and inquisitive hands of a hunter-gatherer…

I got up and went outside, towards the explosive reds of a maple with the sun behind. For this exercise, we were to spend one hour alone, in silence, in the spirit of our innate hunter-gatherer, lead only by that which most draws us in. Amongst the dazzle of five-pointed leaves, I came across a small wind chime held by the alert figure of a robin. His handsome red chest crafted from stained glass, fluidly mixing with the buff and brown of his plumage. So much care to capture his essence, how the wire frame turned into his spindly, poised legs. 

Kengo's sketches
I continued to saunter around the garden and noticed an earthen figure of a hare looking up at me from between two flower pots. Its eyes were of a steely glaze, ears pulled back with a look of wild determination. What was it that was drawing me to these objects? It struck me when continuing my journey into the dark corner of the garden. Hanging shamelessly upside down from a string was the figure of a bat, wings outstretched, revealing its little rodent body. I chuckled to myself. It was made from plastic, a cheap child's toy with visible mould lines, but unmistakably bat-like nevertheless.

Whoever made this, probably a Chinaman, had taken the time to look, as I have, and notice what makes a bat, a bat. As had the creator of the robin and the hare. I stepped back and realised the placement of the figures; the robin high up in the maple tree, the hare, hiding between the flower pots and the bat in the dark corner of the garden. I was moved by this sensitivity, how we as humans, create figures that give us joy inspired by the beings we share our world with and then we even place them where they would feel most at home.

Before this day, I had been feeling unusually black in my heart, mourning the catastrophic damage that we are causing to our planet. Trivial as it may first seem, in this hour I touched a glimmer of hope, amongst all the madness, of an aspect of the human spirit that if fully embraced, could just save us all.

I end with deep gratitude for this first step in our journey into the restoration of love, and with a poem from group member Abigail and a tree from Juliette…

Child of the Earth
Art piece created by Juliette

Heart beats blood
swallowing death
swallowing terror
listening to the stories
she can  barely speak
I can barely listen to

She trails her violation
an endless ghost of extinction
in this insane world

horror upon horror
human cruelty
and the pull to love
and the need to trust

myopic repetition
ruthless suppression
no voice for the raped
no justice in death

only in the lightening of the edges of clouds
and the shimmering of insects
and the climb of the rose
only in the steady, persistent joy at waking to the sun,
knowing warmth loves us into being
can we know we are of the earth and made by the stars


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