Monday, August 16, 2010

The Mythos of Sophia

a Pagan tale of how things came to be

There was great rejoicing in the Pleroma, home to the high Gods and Goddesses, for Christos, the shining God of Light, had taken Sophia, the lovely Goddess of Wisdom, as his bride and partner for all eternity.

As the newly-wed couple lay side by side amongst the stars, they began to dream, and what they dreamed became manifest. Christos dreamed he was a star forming out of the gases of the galaxy, and he named his star-self Sol. In his dreaming, he invited his closest friends to join him, and gathered about himself Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. But none was as lovely as his bride, Sophia, who dreamed the planet, Gaia, and who placed at her planetary heart a piece of Sol himself, a molten core of fire and light.

As the newly dreamt Gaia took the dust of stars and molded it about her blood red heart, forming her planetary body, she was visited by each of the orbiting deities, all of whom paid their respects to the beautiful bride and bestowed upon her the most precious gifts they had to offer.

Neptune was the first to visit; he filled the deepest parts of the Goddess with salty seas, a primordial soup seething with the potential for life. From these seas, Sol lifted clouds to rain out the sweet waters of lake and stream and flow in rivers back to the oceans from which they came. Next was Uranus; he presented Gaia with the gift of air that she might bear living, breathing children. He charged the air with blue and called it Sky, stirring in the shifting shapes of cloud, the glorious pinks, purples and oranges of sunrise and sunset, the moody grays of rain and storm, the winter whites of snow and ice, and the electric streaks and booming voice of lightning and thunder. Luna, Sophia’s little sister, took it upon herself to reflect the light of Sol in Gaia’s nighttime skies, and to remain in close orbit about her beloved sister. And Venus, Sophia’s dearest friend, gifted Gaia with great beauty and the incomparable ability to love.

Christos saw that it was good. And so he planted his seed of life on the emerging planet, and it took root and began to grow in a myriad of fantastic shapes and forms, each more miraculous than the last. Sophia dreamed on and her dreams became the many children of Gaia, creatures of sea and land and sky. For his gift, Saturn clothed the dreaming Sophia with a cloak of living green that her animal children might have food and shelter, and Mercury brought flight to the creatures of air that her sky children might soar above it all.

Enthralled with the many wondrous children they had conceived, Christos formed an image of his god-self, naming the image Mesotes. He sent Mesotes to walk the surface of Gaia and to breathe spirit into each of her children, ensuring that none should ever die. And to them he whispered the Way to Be, each according to its kind.

For many eons, Sophia lay dreaming, content in the manifestations of Gaia. She dreamed colossal creatures whose footsteps were like thunder, and enormous plants that blanketed Gaia with astonishing forms. She took the energy of Sol, squeezed it into pure carbon, and stashed it in secret places deep within her. She formed new mountains from the depths of her heart, and broke apart continents to suit her whims. But there was in her a kernel of discontent, and this kernel began to grow. Gaia was lonely. Her children were magnificent, but they knew Her not. She longed for a child to share Her dreaming, a child who would know Her love and return it. And so She began a new dream, a dream of Anthropos. Of all Gaia’s children, Anthropos was unique, for he alone was gifted with nous, the divine knowing, the ability to imagine and create.

With the birth of Anthropos, Christos celebrated His newest child, sending Mesotes to give not only everlasting spirit, but to implant in each an immortal seed of light. And to Anthropos alone was the Way to Be left untold, for this newest child was gifted with free will and an inner compass to find his own Way.

The deities of the solar system likewise rejoiced in this birth and came with gifts of tribute. To Anthropos they pledged celestial guidance and promised to mark each birth with favors of their influence. Moreover, Mars gifted Anthropos with the ability to defend himself against the more fierce of the animal people. When the gift of Mars spiraled from defense to offense and from offense to war, Jupiter tempered it with gifts of his own -- a sense of justice that Gaia and her children might find their way back to harmony when conflicts arose, and the gift of laughter that all things might be kept in perspective.

In the beginning, all was well. Anthropos shared the earth with the plant and animal people and walked in harmony with Gaia, loving and being loved in return. But as Anthropos grew, he became rebellious and disdained the wisdom of his Mother. Alienated from his Mother and frightened by his own growing power, Anthropos began to dream dreams that bound him and made him feel secure. In this way, the Archons were born.

The Archons Anthropos created existed outside the harmony of Gaia and they were jealous. They envied Anthropos his nous, and they envied Gaia her dreams. And so they determined to destroy that which they could not share. They whispered in the ears of Anthropos and led him to believe great falsehoods. They told him that Yahweh, the Arch Deceiver, was the one Creator of All and that He demanded blind faith and absolute obedience. They told Anthropos that Yahweh had given him dominion over all creation and that Gaia belonged to him, not he to her. They admonished Anthropos that he was to be fruitful and multiply and at the same time warned him that mankind had been tainted with the sin of knowing and that only by grace could he be saved from his own corrupt nature.

Christos saw the troubled dreams of Anthropos and sent Mesotes to awaken his beloved child. Mesotes warned Anthropos against the false teachings of the Archons and admonished that 'by their fruits you shall know them.' He told Anthropos that the kingdom of heaven was within him and that life everlasting was his birthright. He reminded him of the brotherhood of Man and that what he did for the least of Gaia's children, he did for Gaia herself. But the Archons were clever and they distorted the words of Mesotes. These distorted words turned Anthropos from all the beauty and pleasures of Gaia and promised him an afterlife wherein his self-sacrifice would be vindicated. Then they taught him to be both victim and perpetrator and assured him that through suffering would he be redeemed.

Anthropos listened to the Archons and followed their teachings, which led him to commit unspeakable atrocities and which caused himself unbearable pain and sorrow. Estranged from his true relationship to the Mother, Anthropos ravaged his own home, murdering, plundering, and befouling all that which was pure. He was fruitful and multiplied until his numbers overran Gaia, annihilating many of the plant and animal tribes that shared Gaia’s dreaming. With the hubris of his adolescent rebellion inflamed by the false teachings of the Archons, Anthropos came close to destroying not only the abundance and beauty of Gaia, but his own existence as well. Yet never did Gaia stop loving him, and never did She turn away.

The ending of this story has yet to be told. Mother Gaia is getting restless and sends Her rumblings to warn Anthropos, for we are sleep-walking toward the edge of an unfathomable abyss. She calls to us all to leave off our adolescent rebellion and grow into the full power and wisdom of our adulthood.

Awake and rejoice, for you are a child of Gaia, gifted with nous and a seed of light. Awake and know your Mother -- know Her beauty, Her abundance, Her magnificent diversity of form, and the love with which She sustains all life incarnate. Awake and know the web which is life and recognize that what happens to one happens to all. Awake to live in reverence and gratitude, evolving with our planetary Mother to our proper place amongst the stars.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Way to Be

It's been a while . . . I ran out of things to say and so I've let it ride. But about a year and a half ago, I became a first-time grandparent, and that has changed my perspective on things. Which is good. New perspective is always good.

I started thinking the other day about what I've learned over the past 60 years. If my granddaughter were to do something totally atypical of granddaughters and ask, "Gramma, tell me something true," what would I say? What advice would I offer? I decided to come up with a list of ten . . . er . . . not commandments . . . but suggestions . . . for the Way to Be.

Well, I've made my list. It is a lot longer than ten . . . and it keeps growing. None of these suggestions are original, but I like having them together in one place so that I can read through them on occasion; it is clear that these are lessons I have yet to learn myself. Maybe I should start by following my own advice. Or trying to.

The Way to Be
or the lessons I’m still trying to learn

• Be yourself fully and completely. This sounds easy, but it is not. It takes great strength, great courage, a sense of adventure, and awareness of the choices you are making. And never be less than you are -- especially not for the sake of others. Diminishing yourself does no one a favor.

• Pay attention. This one is especially difficult. It requires that you live a duality -- focusing on what is at hand while being aware of what is going on around you. First of all, pay attention to your senses -- what do you see? What do you smell? What do you hear? When you eat, focus on the taste and texture of your food. As for feeling, it seems to me that there are three levels. The first level is external -- what sensations is your skin registering? The second is internal and has to do with pressure, pain, temperature, comfort and discomfort. The third level is emotional. As observer, it is your task just to appreciate all three levels leaving aside any judgments. Then go beyond your senses and pay attention to the feelings and reactions of others. Pay attention to the choices you are making. Pay attention to your self-talk. And at the same time, pay attention to what you are doing, how you are doing it, and the possible consequences. I told you it was especially difficult!

• Be considerate. There are times when kindness is more important than truth. And there are times when truth is kindness. There are times when the needs of others will be more important than your own, and times when your own needs are more important than those of others. It will not always be easy to know the difference. So take time to consider. Be considerate.

• Be respectful. To respect is to see clearly and acknowledge true nature. To respect, one must not underestimate nor overestimate nor ascribe false characteristics. To respect a bear is to know the strengths, the weaknesses, and the wildness of bear, and to act accordingly. To respect another human is to know his strengths, weaknesses, and intentions, and to act accordingly.

• Be happy. The key to happiness is a loving, grateful heart. So be open to love -- not just human love and animal love, but love all the little things that make life a pleasure. Love the feel of wind on your cheek, the coo of the dove, the exhilaration of jumping into cold water, the taste of the first summer peach, the strength of your body. Love Mother Earth, and be grateful every day for the glorious gifts of life incarnate.

• Be the change you want in this world. I didn’t say this, Ghandi did. And it bears repeating. If you want a kinder, gentler world, then start by being kinder and gentler. If you want a more beautiful world, then start by creating and preserving beauty. Whatever you want for the future, begin by living it today.

• Do the right thing, not the easy thing. You will sleep better at night.

• Both give and receive with grace whether it be praise or help or gifts of the heart. Don’t be stingy with words of love and don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.

• Let yourself be wild and crazy. Be serious when serious is called for, but dance, laugh, sing and act silly every chance you get.

• Don’t worry. Worry poisons today with fears about tomorrow. Do what you need to do and let the future unfurl as it will. Have confidence that whatever happens, you will find a way to deal with it.

• Focus on the solution, not the problem. Don’t spend time banging your head against a wall -- it’s not only painful, it’s stupid. Find a way to live with the wall, or go over the wall, or around it, or under it, or turn and go in a whole different direction.

• Don’t take it personally. Life can be hard. People can be difficult. Circumstances can be challenging. For all of us. And remember that other people are going through their own stuff even though you might not see it.

• Do the best you can with what you have, right here, right now. Wishing things were different than they are is a recipe for unhappiness.

• Take responsibility. You are the star of your own life and responsible for the choices you make.

• Reserve the right to change your mind. Changing your mind is good. It means you have grown or seen things through new eyes or gotten new information or just . . . changed your mind.

• Know that life is both an adventure and an experiment. Don’t be afraid to try new things, and don’t be discouraged if you fail. Failure and mistakes are golden opportunities to learn something new, and learning new things is critical to the adventure.

• Know that nothing is easy. And nothing is more satisfying than a challenge well met or work well done.

• Know that everything is relative. Try thinking of ‘old-age,’ ‘hunger,’ ‘health,’ ‘poverty,’ or ‘a bad day’ from someone less fortunate’s perspective and you’ll see what I mean.

• Know when to fight, when to cede, when to walk away, and when to run. Don’t fight unless you have to, but if you must fight, fight to win.

• Know that change is inevitable. So be prepared and be flexible, and remember that this, too, shall pass.

• Know that nothing is 100% true, not even this. Question everything, including what is written here. Ask yourself, "Is this true? What are the underlying assumptions and are they true? Is there a better way of doing this or a different way of seeing this?" Learn to recognize wishful thinking for what it is. And take the time to separate the true things from the seemingly true. Remember that reality is not Tinker Bell; it does not require your belief.

• Know that death is inevitable. Life is not about preventing death, it is about living fully while you have the chance. And that chance is now. Go for it!