A Sacred Marriage

The third weekend of Open Spirit took its travellers into enquiry and experience of sacred marriage. Through story and practice we brought masculine and feminine into divine union. First of all we travelled back to Ancient Mesopotamia where his/herstory and myth revealed hidden layers of the stream from which our society has been built. Familiar and unfamiliar stories met in a setting that birthed civilisation as we know it today. The familiar was Abraham, the not so familiar was his wife Sarah, and the even less familiar were the stories of their Gods and Goddesses – Ningal and Nanna, Inanna and Dumuzi. As the wife of Abraham, Sarah’s voice is not heard in the Bible. However, deeper study raises her voice and fleshes out her bones so that we can now see a fuller depiction not only of Sarah herself but of Abraham and the world in which they lived. Why is it relevant to re-look at these stories? Because, as spoken by Dr. Savina J. Teubal, “For millennia, Western society has been based on codes of behaviour affirmed or implied in our sacred scriptures.” If the feminine voice is not heard in scripture it won’t be heard in society, and it won’t be heard in ourselves. Whether we are male or female, the feminine is an essential energy; it is the second half of the whole. 


What does this mean in practice? How does the rediscovery of the feminine speak to our ways of knowing?

This brings me to the second half of our weekend, in which we explored the origins and experience of four fold knowing, an ancient model that finds manifestation in many forms and in many traditions. In the Christian tradition its home is in the practice of Lectio Divina, meaning sacred reading. Aligning ourselves with the Celtic tradition, we began with the ‘Big Book’ of Nature, and intended to later move on to the ‘Small Book’ of the Bible (however, with the richness of our day and encounters of the Big Book, the Small Book had to be let go of for another day).

The four fold way of knowing is a holistic method for invoking head, heart, body and spirit in an encounter and enquiry of another. It is a sacred marriage of active and receptive, speaking and listening, outwards and inwards. On paper the four ways move from number 1 to number 4, from body to head to heart to spirit. However, in practice, particularly as the practice develops in oneself, it becomes a circular movement, even as one member of the group named it “spiralling knowing”, where with each circular movement through each muscle of knowing the subject is known more and more and more.  

The act of ‘allowing’ to couple ‘asserting’ is an essential move towards deeper knowing of the other. In the act of allowing we open to the other and hear in a way that assertion does not permit. To know is to be in relationship with, to be intimate with. And this requires a movement in as well as out, receptive as well as active, feminine as well as masculine. This is the sacred marriage, and in sacred marriage authentic relationship is born. Perhaps in developing our abilities to be in authentic relationship with all things, we might truly be able to value diversity and equality of all beings and different ways of knowing. What if our spiritual communities mimicked the biodiversity of an ecosystem?... allowing diversity to feed and nourish the community, creating resilience rather than conflict…

What about church as symbiotic ecosystem………?

My encounter with the Cedar Tree

Helen's poem

If God
be a tree
don’t forget me.
If God be tree
let me hide in thee.
If God be tree,
wide and strong,
so many branches
to choose from,
let me be one.
You spread so wide
and sure,
Your blessing spreads
over my head,
Your roots flow like
waves cresting into
the soil,
root me.
If God be tree,
let me take refuge,
and a nut, and squirrel

(By Helen Raphael Sands)

Juliette's Tree

(By Juliette Rich)


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