One of the themes which keeps returning in my personal journey of Faith is a rememberance of that nascent Numinous feeling I encountered as a child, growing up in a Catholic community. Singing the hymn above and listening to the words as sung by my classmates when we assembled together for school Mass, encountering a mode of being which seemed so distant and different to the world of everyday concerns and realities; it awoke something deep in me, and shaped my outlook on life for many years to come. Even my rejection of religion during adolescence was a direct response to this feeling.
What is a child to make of the religious agony and ecstasy of the plea “O Lord, hear my prayer“? So much of our religious indoctrination (and I use this word in a neutral sense) was focused on providing answers for those mysteries of the world which children naturally puzzle over. Of course, as we grow up we learn many things, and childish explanations are put aside- and often, unfortunately, so is the faith from which these explanations came. I often wonder how much anxiety and uncertainty my childhood would have been filled with had I not believed- truly believed – that Heaven was a real place, that the Virgin Mary watched over us and that God knew all that occured on Earth. The feast days and the general structure to the religious year, these all provided familiarity and a sense of certainty to me. Many people are uncomfortable with the idea of instilling a religion into children, but it is one of the things I cherish the most about my childhood.
Many experiences were viewed through this lens. I recall seeing in the night sky one Christmas Eve when I was 5 years old, stood in my grandparent’s back garden, a shining halo of golden light, suspended amongst the stars. It hovered there silently. I recounted the event to my priest, who kindly explained that sometimes the stars may appear to create patterns which we recognise. I was insistent however; what I saw was a ring of light. He kindly brushed over the subject, perhaps unsure of how he should answer. But I saw what I saw. And, with only a Catholic understanding of the world at that age, I presumed it to be an angel. What was it, really? I will never know.
I also recall the first time the notion of death really struck me, aged 7. It was a cold and terrifying feeling. In that moment I feared death in a profound and real way. Prior to this, I imagined death was merely the passing from this world to Heaven, a distant and remote place where all my old relatives had passed over to and who watched over me to ensure I behaved (I had once seen my great-grandfather’s ghost in my grandparent’s bedroom aged 5. He smiled at me and told me to be a good lad for my grandparents). This fear of death would pass as I grew older, but the way I hear some people taking about death and their fear of it, I know what they’re feeling. And it saddens me that their atheistic outlook does not free them from such concerns.
But one thing which lacked, one thing which my religious upbringing failed to instil, with its focus on ontology and ritual, was the central message of Christ: the message of Salvation and the soothing reconciliation that comes through such a Salvation. I never truly understood what the message was. I knew that God became Man (somehow); that He died and rose from the dead. But why He became Man, and why he died eluded me for so long. This may seem strange, given my entire life was spent, up to the age of 18, in a Catholic educational institution of one form or another. The teachers were certainly religious; but they were religious only in a cultural sense. And they probably assumed that a child has little understanding of concepts such as redemption or sacrifice. They gave us too little credit, in my estimation. Thus, for a long time, religion was simply an authority structure; and what is the one thing we rebel against during adolescence? Structures of authority. Small wonder then, that so many turn away from the faith, even if they are brought up suffused with it. But it is very easy to return! And with a return to faith in adulthood comes a newfound appreciation for what is this central message. The idea that God descended and offered Himself as a sacrifice for all sins- past, present and future- is a unique and profoundly mature spiritual philosophy on the face of it. Nowhere in the other great spiritual texts do we find such a message of hope and unconditional love.
I pray that those whom I grew up with find their way back to the Catholic church, and find in it new treasures and answers to bring them closer to Truth.
‘For Many Are Called, But Few Are Chosen. ‘ -Matthew 22:14
“They shall look upon him whom they have pierced.”
The piercing of the heart of Christ can be regarded as the moment when the promise of Salvation was fulfilled. The piercing of the physical membrane in which Divinity was presenced became the moment in which Grace and Mercy entered the world. Grace is symbolised by the water which flowed out, and Mercy symbolised by the blood which also flowed. Grace is the receiving of that which we do not deserve; mercy is not receiving what we do deserve.
It is significant that the one who pierces Christ is a soldier and that the soldier uses a spear to pierce him. David was a type of Christ. Now the soldier Goliath approached David with a spear (1 Sm. 17:45), but David physically defeated the giant. Likewise, the soldier approached Jesus with a spear, but Jesus spiritually defeated the soldier: “truly this man was the Son of God” (Mk. 15:39). David defeated the Goliath while David was still alive, but Jesus defeated the soldier when Jesus was dead. For the fulfillment must be greater than the prefiguration.
It is significant that the soldier strikes Christ and there flows out water. Moses struck the rock in the desert with his staff, and there flowed out water for the Israelites lest they die of thirst (Nm. 20:8-13 and Ex. 17:2-7). The rock is Jesus. For St. Paul says that the Israelites “drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4). The significance of the water will be shown below. Other things need to be pondered first.
It is significant that it was the body of Christ that was pierced and that his body issued forth a flow of water. For the body of Christ is the temple (Jn. 2:21). And the prophet Ezekiel saw a vision in which an ever-increasing river of water flowed from the temple (ch.47).
It is significant that it was the side of the body of Christ that was pierced. In Ezekiel’s vision of the Temple, the water issued from the side of the temple – “from below the threshold of the temple toward the east” (Ez. 47:1). Furthermore, the side is where the heart is accessible. We can plausibly suppose that the heart of Christ was pierced.
It is significant that the water flowed out from the side of Christ. Water flows out from fountains. Now, the prophet Zechariah prophesied of a day when “they shall look upon him whom they have pierced” (Zech. 12:10), and Zechariah says “on that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness” (Zech. 13:1). The evangelist himself refers to this passage of Zechariah in connection with the piercing event (Jn.19:37).
It is significant that water flowed out from the side of Christ. This for four reasons.
First, the water of baptism gives life and cleanses from sin. In baptism, we are made one with Christ in his death and rise with him to new life (Rm. 6:4, Col.2:12). The issue of water from the side of Christ, say the Fathers, is a symbol of baptism. As a symbol of baptism, the water also symbolizes the Church. For baptism incorporates one into the Church.
Second, the water from Moses’ rock slaked the thirst of Israel, but Israel thirsted again. The water from the rock of Christ slakes the thirst of the world, and the world need never thirst again. “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst” (Jn.4:14). The water from Moses’ rock gives physical life, but the water from Jesus gives spiritual life consisting of knowledge of God and Christ: “the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (Jn.4:14). And “eternal life is knowing God and the one whom Thou has sent” (Jn. 17:3). The water from Moses’ rock springs from the strike on the surface, but the water from Christ springs from the piercing of the heart. And “out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water. This he said about the Spirit” (Jn.7:38-9). The water issuing from the side of Christ thus symbolizes nothing less than the outpouring of the Spirit. It is the Spirit who is the Lord the giver of life (Nicene Creed), the Spirit who leads into the knowledge of all truth (Jn.16:13), the Spirit who washes from all uncleanness (Ez. 36:27-9).
Third, the water from Ezekiel’s temple also gives life. The river of water from the temple gave life to fish, swarms of fish, and fisherman worked along its banks (Ez. 47:10). So too the water flowing from Christ is swarming with souls, and the members of the Church are “fishers of men” (Mt. 4:19). The river also gave life to trees, fruit trees in particular, with unfading leaves and bearing fresh fruit every month (Ez. 47:12). So too the water from the side of Christ empowers the members of his Church to go and bear much fruit and fruit that will last (Jn.15:8, 16).
Fourth, the water (presumably) from Zechariah’s fountain, like the waters of baptism, cleanses from sin and uncleanness (Zech. 13:1). It also puts an end to idolatry and false prophecy (Zech. 13:25-5), just as the Church will do thanks to the power of the water flowing from the fountain of Christ’s pierced heart. “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5:24).
It is significant also that it was blood that came forth from the side of Christ. This for eight reasons.
First, blood is the life of a thing. “The blood is life” (Deut. 12:23). “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood” (Gen. 9:4). The association between life and blood is so close that even today we speak of a murderer as someone who “spilled blood.”
Second, blood saves lives from death. On the night of the first Passover, the blood of the Lamb was touched to the doorposts of the Israelite houses and the angel of death passed by (Ex. 12).
Third, blood seals covenants. The covenant between God and Abraham was sealed in blood (Gen. 15:1-17), and so too the covenant between God and Israel under Moses (Ex. 24). Since “even the first covenant was not ratified without blood“(Heb. 9:18), what poured forth from the side of Christ was “my blood of the covenant” (Mt. 26:26, Mk.14:24, Lk.22:20), that is, an “eternal covenant” (Heb. 13:20).
Fourth, blood purifies vessels from uncleanness. Moses “sprinkled with blood both the tent and all the vessels used in worship. Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood” (Heb 9:21-22).
Fifth, the blood of Christ holds every salvific benefit. The blood of Christ is “an expiation” (Rom. 3:25). The blood of Christ justifies us: “we are now justified by his blood” (Rom. 5: 9). The blood of Christ redeems us: “we have redemption through his blood” (Eph. 1:7). The blood of Christ purifies “your conscience from dead works to the living God” (Heb. 9:14). Jesus Christ made “peace by the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:20). Jesus Christ entered the heavenly sanctuary “taking not the blood of goats and calves but his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:12). The blood of Abel cried out to heaven from the ground (Gen. 4:10), but the blood of Christ speaks more eloquently than that of Abel (Heb.12:24).
Sixth, the blood of Christ (like water) is also connected with baptism. “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14) And “the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin” (1 Jn. 1:7). Blood is associated with baptism because baptism applies to individuals the redeeming power of the blood of Christ.
Seventh, the blood of Christ is also associated with the Eucharist. Under the Old Covenant the Israelites were forbidden from eating blood (Gn.9:4, Dt. 12:23). But “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life…” (Jn. 6:53-4). It is no accident that in the setting of the last supper, Jesus uses an image to say that his life will pass from him to his followers: “I am the vine; you are the branches” (Jn. 15:5). To drink the blood of Christ is nothing less than to receive his life. For “the blood is life” (Deut. 12:23).
Eighth, in their spiritual battle with diabolical powers the saints are victorious by the power of the blood of Christ. “The defeated him by the blood of the Lamb, and the word of their testimony.” (Rev. 12:11, Breviary translation).
It is significant also when the blood came forth from the side of Christ. The blood issued forth after Christ had offered his sacrifice. When giving instructions to the Israelite priests about how to perform sacrifices (burnt holocausts), God instructed them that after the slaughter of the animal they were to drain the rest of its blood and pour it out on the ground at the base of the altar. God gave these instructions first to Moses: “the rest of the blood you shall pour out at the base of the altar” (Ex. 29:20). God gave the same instructions to later Israelite priests: “the rest of the blood of the bull he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering” (Lv. 4:7, see also 4:34, 5:9). Just as Moses and the Levite priests drained the rest of the blood from their sacrifices and poured it out at the base of the altar, so too Christ drained the rest of his blood and poured it out at the base of his cross. Even in his death, Christ fulfilled the ceremonial precepts of the Torah in a surpassing way.
But these Torah instructions, someone might object, apply only to burnt offerings and Christ’s sacrifice was not a burnt offering. I reply that although Christ did not offer himself in physical flames, he did offer himself in the spiritual fire of the Holy Spirit. Christ “through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God” (Heb. 9:14).
The pierced Christ is the rock of Moses, the temple of Ezekiel, the fountain of Zechariah. The pierced heart of Christ is the source of the water that truly slakes spiritual thirst. The pierced side of Christ is the side of the new temple that issues in a torrential river of eternal life. The pierced One is the fountain that cleanses us from sin, purges idolatry, and quenches false prophecy. All of this is summed up and made available to us today in baptism and the Eucharist. The water that flows out from the pierced One is the Holy Spirit who leads to knowledge of all truth and gives knowledge of God and Christ. Not by piercing but by being pierced, our Anointed Soldier has defeated Goliath. He has defeated the world belonging to Satan and death. “He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him” (Col 2:15). “O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?” (Col. 15:55).
Throughout the canon of Western Christian mysticism, the notion of a feminine aspect of divinity has permeated the writings of many notable thinkers, particularly female writers. In this essay we will examine one of the more remarkable mystics who wrote at length on either a feminine aspect of God or, interestingly enough, Christ himself- Julian of Norwich.
Julian of Norwich and the Nurturing Wound
“But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water.”
“And they shall look to Me whom they have pierced; then they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only son.”
Julian of Norwich was an English mystic and anchorite (someone who, for religious reasons, withdraws from secular society so as to be able to lead an intensely prayer-orientated and ascetic life) who lived from 1343-1416.
Her most well known works include TheShewings of Julian of Norwich and Revelations of Divine Love, the first book written in English by a woman.
In 1373, at the age of 30, Julian fell so ill she believed she was close to death. It was during this time that she beheld a series of intense visions, or shewings as she referred to them, centered around the Passion of Christ, which she later recorded. Her first vision began whilst being administered the last rites in anticipation of her death. She reports that she began to lose her send of sight and began to feel physically numb, and gazing upon a crucifix being held over her by the priest performing the rites, she saw the figure of Jesus begin to bleed. Over the next several hours, she had a series of fifteen visions of Christ, and a sixteenth the following night.
Upon recovering from her illness, she decided to commit her visions to paper. Around thirty years later she began a theological exploration of the meaning of her visions, now known as The Long Text, consisting of 86 chapters. In her writings, Julian describes Christ in maternal terms describing him as:
“our very Moder (Mother) in kynde, of our first makyng; and He is our very Moder in grace, be takyng of our kynde made. All the fair werkyng and all the swete kindly office of dereworthy moderhede (worthy motherhood) is impropried (appropriated) to the Second Person.”
She goes so far as to compare the nourishment of a mother’s milk to the spiritual nourishment afforded us by the body of Christ: “a Moder may geven hir child soken her mylke, but our pretious Moder Jesus, He may fedyn us with Himselfe.”
She then writes: “He may homely leden us into His blissed brest be His swete open syde and shewyn therin party of the Godhede.”
To Julian, the Sacred Wound of Christ is a portal which may be entered, and there may the seeker be shewyn therein a vision of the Godhead. The Wound, she says, is “large enow for al mankynd that shal be save to resten in pece and in love.” It is a heavenly portal, through which God’s grace entered the world. The Divine membrane housing God within the body of Man being thus pierced not only allowed redemption to enter into this world, but also became a passage via which a two-way flow could occur. Man may indeed enter into the living matrix of Christ through this Wound, itself inflicted upon God by man and therein find the promise of redemption.
Though she was widely famed and respected during her life and after, she faded into obscurity over the centuries and remained largely unknown until 1670, when her writings were published under the wonderfully titled XVI Revelations of Divine Love, shewed to a devout servant of Our Lord, called Mother Juliana, an Anchorete of Norwich: Who lived in the Dayes of King Edward the Third by Serenus de Cressy. Following more recent publications of this work in the 19th and 20th century, her works began to be read again and her unique visionary message illuminated a whole new generation of readers.
Despite not being formally canonised as a Saint, Julian of Norwich has inspired and continues to inspire countless people through her message, which fixates on the love God has for his creation. Indeed, divine love can be said to be the principal theme which runs throughout all her writings.
The notion of Christ as a maternal figure and the Sacred Wound as a womb-like portal are certainly unique, if not almost uncomfortable ideas for orthodox religious individuals. Regardless, her images will undoubtedly endure in the minds of all who discover them. Do you find these ideas compelling? Disturbing? Or perhaps, even beautiful?
On a final note, the Order of Julian of Norwich (seen on the right in a distinctive black and blue habit) is a religious order of monks and nuns dedicated to God through the teachings of Julian. On their website they describe themselves as “committed to prayer, intercession, and conversion of life, ‘in the spirit of our Mother St Julian’, our life in community is grounded in the Eucharist and four-fold Daily Office, and includes work, study, and times of solitude and recreation.”
“There is in man an imago not only of the mother but of the daughter, the sister, the beloved, the heavenly goddess, and the chthonic Baubo.
Every mother and every beloved is forced to become the carrier and embodiment of this omnipresent and ageless image, which corresponds to the deepest reality in a man.
It belongs to him, this perilous image of Woman; she stands for the loyalty which in the interests of life he must sometimes forego; she is the much needed compensation for the risks, struggles, sacrifices that all end in disappointment; she is the solace for all the bitterness of life.
And, at the same time, she is the great illusionist, the seductress, who draws him into life with her Maya-and not only into life’s reasonable and useful aspects, but into its frightful paradoxes and ambivalences where good and evil, success and ruin, hope and despair, counterbalance one another.
Because she is his greatest danger she demands from a man his greatest, and if he has it in him she will receive it.”
Why do students of the occult- those self-styled seekers of forbidden arcane wisdom- recoil, like the proverbial vampire, from the spiritual traditions of Western Christianity? To them, the devotional heights and rosy-eyed venerations of mystical Hinduism as evidenced in movements such as Krishna Consciousness are regarded as perfectly palatable, the austere practises of esoteric Buddhism are hailed, the religious dedications of the ancient Greeks are lauded- these supposed “right hand path” spiritualities are often eagerly gobbled up by these oh-so dark Adepts, their merits touted and their practises emulated.
And yet, at the mere mention of Western Christian mystical spirituality, the same eager students are abjectly horrified, quick to posture and spout opinions borne from pseudohistory on the supposed authenticity of the life of Jesus, to give cynical and witty remarks which serve to mask a deep anxiety and discomfort, to hurriedly explain how enlightened and above “the masses” they are (ignoring that the same Eastern spiritualities which they venerate represent a religion “of the masses” in other parts of the world).
In doing so, these brave seekers of the occult show themselves to be nothing more than individuals still wrapped up in an adolescent rebellion. They may delude themselves otherwise, but the error of moral abstraction still firmly clouds their outlook. They have not- and indeed will not, until the heights of Adeptship are finally attained- extricated themselves from the unconscious and semi-conscious impulses and compulsions which bound “the masses”. They are still engaging in a moral quest, still yet to discover many inner truths regarding themselves- and through that, the world around them.
Let us then consider, for those who, having at last reached the last stages of the Initiate and who, upon finding a wordless, gentle appreciation of the Numinous emerging from within, are thus torn between a seeming contradiction, finding themselves stumbling and lost, unable to make sense of the insights gained and the new, clearer perspective which has been attained.
It is toward the Numinous that they must now turn, and having not yet fully freed themselves from the influences of the Aeon, they must accept the path of spiritual growth through the symbols familiar and available to them, as a child of the Western Faustian Aeon (and not that this is so terrible a thing- the Aeon is vital, and it quite literally gave birth to you, on a spiritual level. The Initiate and the Adept should not strive to make emancipation a goal, for that comes- if it comes at all- of its own volition).
The symbols familiar and available are those of Western Christianity, or to be more precise those of mystical Catholicism.
The method of structuring a model of the soul or cosmos as a septenary is uniquely Western and thus can we find analogous models wherever we look- from the garbled alchemical texts of the medieval era to the writings of the Western mystic-Adepts, known to us as the Saints.
Do you possess the powers attributed to these individuals? Can you levitate, as St. Martin Dr Porres was said to do? Can you appear in several locations simultaneously, as St. Francis Xavier was reported to have? Will your body refuse to decay upon death and give out a sweet odour like flowers, like that of St. Bernadette of Lourdes? Can you heal with a touch, as Mother Theresa did? All these abilities, when referenced to the Adepts and Yogis of the East are recognised with a sagely nod by the Western occult milieu- and scoffed at when attributed to the Saintly figures of the Church. In doing so, such individuals only reveal a deep insecurity about their own place within society. They reject their spiritual and social upbringing because they feel it rejected them.
But for those able to grow beyond this personal stumbling block, to free themselves and look objectively upon their own place in the world, a treasure trove of teachings and guidance exists by those who have strove for the same thing you have- spiritual absolution and Wisdom- and succeeded.
The aforementioned Septenary model of St. Teresa of Avila lays out in practical terms a possible route toward the centre of the Soul. Her writings provide a clear and concise foundation from which to begin this journey along the Numinous path. As well as this there exist numerous mystical works and spiritual practises which can be utilised. What have you to lose, if they are of no merit? Much less than what you hope to gain if they are of worth, surely.
How many occult practitioners borrow the spiritual practise of mantra and oriental prayer – often artefacts of the oft-ridiculed “Right Hand Path” religions- as an aid in meditation and focus? For all the Sinister talk of “distortions”, the tradition is replete with ideas and practised borrowed from the Hellenic and Vedic Aeon. Again, a moral distinction is put upon how we view these concepts. To borrow symbols and ideas from the Hellenic Aeon is acceptable, to borrow from the Magian not so much. Does this not strike you as odd?
But first, amidst all talk of Aeons, a distinction must be made between what is known as Magian Christianity and it’s later cousin, Western Catholicism. The two are not the same and this is a truth which may at first be difficult to discern. But discern it we shall.
This will require some cursory understanding of the Aeonic philosophy of Oswald Spengler (fortunately a brief outline exists here). When Spengler wrote the following, he was outlining the basic physiognomic view (the art of discovering temperament and character from outward appearance) through which the aspects of a culture can describe it’s inherent character and type:
“Who amongst them realizes that between the Differential Calculus and the dynastic principle of politics in the age of Louis XIV, between the Classical city-state and the Euclidean geometry, between the space perspective of Western oil painting and the conquest of space by railroad, telephone and long range weapon, between contrapuntal music and credit economics, there are deep uniformities?”
This helps us to begin to recognise and understand the similarities- and differences- between so-called “higher cultures”. Spengler goes to great effort to outline how the Christianity that emerged from the Magian Aeon is at its core profoundly different in character to the Christianity formulated by the West in the form of Catholic Christianity in the Gothic age- this, he says was Western Culture transforming what was an incidentally prevalent religion into something quintessentially Western-Faustian. The prime symbols of the Faustian Aeon- infinite space, will-to-power, Gothic Architecture; all these coalesced in the novel form of Western Catholicism; the meek, Magian teachings of the Sermon On The Mount becoming an indomitable “Thou Shalt”; Christ transformed from a martyr to a universal monarch; the Apostles wandering Asia Minor to spread a message of love transformed into Teutonic knights raiding east to spread the violent message of the Crusades. The addition of ornate ritual, the Latin tongue, the moral impetus, the inescapable passion of redemption- all these are the ultimate Aufshwung (upwelling) of the Faustian soul.
“It was not Christianity that transformed Faustian man, rather Faustian man who transformed Christianity.”
And thus we must understand that the seeming contradiction between Pagan and Christian Western man is merely an error of cosmetics. On the face of things, and historically, the two sides warred against one another. Yet both were borne of the same nascent impulses and both were ultimately created by the same racial spirit. Two glasses of water drawn one same river, in seeming opposition but sharing a common source.
The Faustian spirit, moved to express itself in the conquest of the Vikings and the poetry of the Eddas later expressed itself through the symbols of the medieval cathedral and in Gothic architecture: “The Gothic Cathedral’s spires and arches yearn upward for the infinite, just as its space-commanding giant of sound, the bellows organ, storms heaven with its counterpoint of expanding volume.”
Again; “The character of the Faustian cathedral is that of the forest. The mighty elevation of the nave above the flanking aisles, in contrast to the flat roof of the basilica; the transformation of the columns, which with base and capital had been set as self-contained individuals in space, into pillars and clustered-pillars that grow up out of the earth and spread on high into an infinite subdivision and interlacing of lines and branches; the giant windows by which the wall is dissolved and the interior filled with mysterious light- these are the architectural actualizing of a world-feeling that had found the first of all its symbols in the high forest of the Northern plains, the deciduous forest with its mysterious tracery, its whispering of ever-mobile foliage over men’s heads, its branches straining through the trunks to be free of earth.”
Of the church organ, he wrote it was itself a a history of a longing for the forest, a longing to speak in the language of that true temple of the Western soul.
See now the same motivating spirit behind both the gloomy Northern forest temple and the towering Gothic cathedral? The cathedrals were themselves modelled after the Northern forests and tried to capture the same feeling which they evoked in Faustian man. They were explicitly created to capture that numinous and lonely pagan feeling; “here, infinite solitude is seen as the highest Faustian religion.”
So, having attempted to explain (albeit in a rather crude form) what is one of the secrets of Aeonics, we can hopefully begin to observe the Western Aeon in a more objective fashion and thus come to appreciate its spiritual devotions. whilst answering the seeming criticisms of “Magian distortions”.
To return to the practise of mantras and other Eastern meditations which abound throughout the endless works of occult literature, are there not Western equivalents we can utilise? There have indeed existed such practises for centuries, but given that they do not immediately cast a glamorous Eastern charm over the minds of modern consumers, they have been sorely neglected- despite such practises resonating far more with the Western soul than any imports from abroad.
The Holy Rosary is a form of meditation practised within Catholicism, which consists of a a set of beads, each of which corresponds to a particular prayer and which serve to guide the meditator through a prescribed set of prayers said sequentially, along with various Mysteries which are to be meditated upon whilst observing the order of prayers (interesting question- what’s the difference between a prayer and a mantra?)
The Rosary in its most widely known form is said to have been given to St. Dominic by the Virgin Mary in a vision in 1214 (the height of the “Springtime” of the Western Aeon), though several versions of Christian prayer beads had existed prior to this, and the practice of reciting 50 or 150 Latin Ave Marias had become popular during the 12th century.
The prayers that compose the Rosary are arranged in sets of 10 Hail Marys, called decades. Each decade is preceded by one Lord’s Prayer (“Our Father”) and traditionally followed by one Glory Be. Many Catholics also choose to recite the “O my Jesus” prayer after the Glory Be, an addition recommended by the Virgin Mary during her appearance to 3 children at Fatima, Portugal in 1917. During the recitation of each set, thought is given to one of the Mysteries of the Rosary, which recall events in the lives of Jesus and of Mary. Five decades are traditionally recited per rosary. Rosary beads serve as an aid towards saying these prayers in the proper sequence.
Many Catholic theologians and luminaries have spoke of the importance of the Rosary and of the spiritual gifts it bestows. Several apparitions of Mary include Her encouraging people to pray the Rosary regularly, promising that it will bring many spiritual gifts. To St. Dominic she promised, among other things that it “shall be a powerful armor against hell, it will destroy vice, decrease sin, and defeat heresies.”
“The Rosary will cause virtue and good works to flourish; it will obtain for souls the abundant mercy of God; it will withdraw the hearts of men from the love of the world and its vanities, and will lift them to the desire for eternal things. Oh, that souls would sanctify themselves by this means.”
With such a detailed history, the Holy Rosary of course has much more depth than can begin to be described here. The Mysteries which are to be meditated upon during each decade of the Rosary themselves are divided into:
5 Joyful Mysteries
The Annunciation The Visitation The Nativity. The Presentation of Jesus at the Temple The Finding of Jesus in the Temple.
5 Sorrowful Mysteries
The Agony in the Garden The Scourging at the Pillar The Crowning with Thorns The Carrying of the Cross The Crucifixion and Death of our Lord
5 Glorious Mysteries
The Resurrection. The Ascension The Descent of the Holy Spirit The Assumption of Mary The Coronation of the Virgin in Heaven
5 Luminous Mysteries
Pope John Paul II, in his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (October 2002), recommended an additional set called the Luminous Mysteries.
The Baptism of Jesus. The Wedding at Cana Jesus’ Proclamation of the Kingdom of God The Transfiguration The Institution of the Eucharist
Among the various Marian devotions (which take on almost goddess-worship dimensions within Catholicism), the Holy Rosary is undoubtedly the most widespread and most popular, providing a suitable and effective spiritual meditation. Personal transformation is believed to be bestowed upon he/she who observes the Rosary regularly and evil powers are perpetually kept at bay by it’s anointing grace.