A Cauldron of Bright and Dark Knowledge; Reflection on the 2nd Weekend of Open Spirit

I would like to dedicate this blog post to my dear friend Kirsten Llewellyn who is currently making her departure from this world after suffering a series of strokes.  She is caught between light and dark, and as a result I also feel caught between light and dark. 

It was 6 weeks ago now that the Open Spirit group met for our second weekend together, so this post is coming later than I would like, if only for the sake of my memory. However, I feel a deep sense of meaning in writing this post in the context of what is happening, with a more real reflection on the themes of our weekend which were “Bright and Dark Knowledge” and “Faith”. What is the knowledge I am procuring from this period of darkness, unknowing and loss? In the present I feel it is a knowledge of the body, an experience only my body can make sense of when tears are able to flow. My head confuses the situation and only distances me from the reality of what is really happening here. I wonder whether this dark knowledge will one day transform into something articulated in wisdom – and perhaps that is what bright knowledge is. Moving to the theme of faith, mine has been tested this week – I have a very real sense of how fear is the antithesis of faith, and drives out any possibility of trusting that all is held in Something Bigger. As the fear has subsided, faith is being felt again, faith that Kirsten’s life and my life and all life is held in Love, and that just as Kirsten’s body and spirit will transform, the grief of all those she has left behind will also transform.

Moving from present to past, our Open Spirit journey took us to the beginnings of human manipulation of the landscape – to the Neolithic period, and beyond into the Copper, Bronze and Iron age. While we cannot know the minds of these early humans, studying their impacts on the Earth that still remain is a window through which our tools for interpretation can look. It seems that expressions of a faith in something sacred at the heart of life date right back to these initial imprints on the land. It is deemed very likely that some of the ancient human sites we have discovered from this time were used for ceremonial purposes, and as such are known today as ‘sacred sites’. In all the different ways that the sacred was expressed or interpreted by these early humans, and likewise by the many different faith groups today, I feel united by the flame at the centre that lights up the darkness and draws in our gaze.

This brings me to the second part of our weekend – our Holding Sacred Space Workshop. “Faith” was put into the question of how you hold space for people who might have differing faiths – what is it to be a group of people meeting on shared enquiry and shared practice rather than on shared belief. We have to begin from the premise that there is no absolute truth, that one person’s reality may be starkly different to another’s, and how one person witnesses that reality depends upon perspective which depends upon a whole host of factors. When truth is held lightly in this way, there is a greater spaciousness that allows not only respect for other truths but room for other truths to interact and speak to our own. I am reminded of a quote from Rudolf Steiner saying that…
“One does not attain to knowledge by insisting absolutely on one’s own point of view, but through willingness to immerse oneself in alien spiritual streams.” (The Essential Steiner, p.16)

As the day progressed, a group with differing opinions manifested with gritty and sometimes uncomfortable discussion ensuing. However, with the intention of dynamic and open enquiry, the space felt held and safe.

This intent has huge implications for situations of today, without even needing to mention recent examples of religious violence. It is a radical and much needed move; from dogma to enquiry, and from compliance to practice.


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