Monday, 3 May 2010

Body and Soul

I began this way too late to finish it properly! But, here goes!

As I peruse my own blog I have to stop and wonder if I have I have learned anything at all over the years! I read old posts and as I do it seems to me that I’ve been asking the same kind of questions for years! I’d like to think, however, that I am asking them at a different level, but I’m not always so sure! Jerome talked of always having more questions than answers, and that this works to assure humility, and I understand that. I think it’s the onion analogy again, everything is multilayered, and just as one understands one layer, one has to peel off another, and so on and so forth. It can make for a pretty exhausting journey! I assume that at some point one reaches the centre and then suddenly everything makes sense!

Today I have found myself back at the dichotomy between ego and soul. In recent months I have come to feel, with a deep sense of conviction, that (1) I have a soul and that (2) this aspect of me is divine and comes from Source – indeed, it is Source within me, Divinity in human flesh. This has been something of a significant step for me and some would argue, I suppose, that with this belief system I’m not really Pagan, but that’s for another blog at another time and in another place I think!

I found myself at Glastonbury Tor again today – as ever, one of my most favourite places. I arrived late and it was crowded, I much prefer it when I get there early and it’s just a few of us there. However, among the noise I managed to meditate for a while and was aware of my soul connecting with the heavens. I had a sense of my soul singing with Source and as I was aware of this I became aware of the song of Nature all around me and we were all singing the song of Source with Source, we were all in celebration. My own Divinity was connecting with the One Divine Life and we were in union and singing in unison. It was a most wonderful, albeit brief, moment.

At the same time I was aware of my roots being deep within Earth. I was drawing energy deep into myself from the very core of Earth and I became increasingly aware of my body belonging to Earth, and my soul to the heavens.

With this I went into something of a state of flux. My body, the current house of my soul, is of Earth. I don’t believe, as some would argue, that Earth, roots and the body are evil. Through my senses and through my body I feel, touch, taste, hear, see and understand this world and my place in it. My roots also connect me with my heritage, my ancestors and my sense of belonging with place and the spirit of place. This doesn’t separate me from my soul, but it supports my understanding of the house, the tent, within which my soul currently resides. Yet this body has desires, it has longings of its own, it has needs, and it has automated and learned responses, responses and desires that can feed the ego and which can, if I allow them, to overtake my spiritual path and quest, and here is my conundrum.

It is right to celebrate and experience the body, to take joy in this world and to revel in the wonder of what it is to be alive in this time and place and to enjoy that and those which surround us. It is right to be wild and free in Nature and to be one with Nature – we’re in this body for a reason! Yet, at the same time, I cannot be a slave to the body and its impulses. Whilst I don’t advocate a chaste and strict denial of the body – not for a moment – there has to be a place, when training as an initiate, where the body is somehow brought under the control of the soul, of spirit. Is this what Crowley calls ‘love under will’?

There’s a balance to be struck here, I guess and perhaps this balance is about each of us being ever present, being self and spiritually aware and knowing what is feeding the soul and what is feeding the ego at any given moment.

Today I had a clear sense that the only thing that truly holds me back from spiritual progress is me. The only limits that are placed upon my own spiritual experience are those that I myself set in place. Any ceilings, any blocks and any breaks are not imposed but rather allowed or even created by me.

As an individual with a hugely influential Christian past, one that seeks to cast a shadow over my spiritual development and progress, any talk or discussion of the body, the flesh, the ego, poses significantly difficult issues. However, as I read any writings of the Adepts, such as Dion Fortune, and the writings of other paths, I see that the issue of ego is always there, in some shape or form, and these writings, although may be expressed differently, talk about the need to bring the desires and needs of the body under some kind of control, and that there is a discipline required if one is to spiritually progress.

I think that my issue with this is about the fear of loss of sense of self. Much of human journey has been one of fighting for my right to be myself and to fully express myself – my sense of social identity, and to ensure that my right to be who I am is celebrated. My human journey has been one of moving out of suppression and oppression into true freedom – the freedom to be me, without condemnation or criticism or judgement.

So you see, this physical/human journey and the cost of that to me as an individual, together with the gain, appears, at some degree at least, to be at odds with the need to bring this self under control.

I think some of this may be that I am confusing what my True Self with my small self. My True Self is who I was intended to be before name and form. My True FREE self, free from the adaptations one falls into just to get through another day, to please the Boss, the Department, the neighbours, the ‘anything for a quiet life’ type of thing. But this also has to be about being free from the body being in charge, dictating, ruling what one does. It’s not about bringing the body into submission as such, it’s not about chastisement, but it has to be about who is in charge, who is in control? If I choose to have a wild time and indulge every sensory pleasure, then that’s fine, provided that I am doing so from a place of freedom and choice.

So True Self is Higher Self, that place of enlightenment, that place where Spirit shines from my own human eyes and I see the world, and my place in it, from a new place. But it is also about not letting go of my roots, not denying my place in this Earth and the fact that I experience this Earth through my bodily senses. It’s a marriage of body and soul, it’s a relationship between the heavens and Earth, between the Divine and mortal, a celebration of humanity and this earth realm and the Divine and the celestial realms.

From this understanding of True Self comes knowledge of my own true will, my own calling in this time and place, my connection with the One Divine Life and that connection of the Divine Will and mine and the two becoming one and the same. But I think that too is for another blog entry at another time. Now, I think it’s time for this human body to go to bed and rest!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Sacred Masculinity

There may be some adult content in this entry.

I spent a significant part of today in Glastonbury, with a visit to the Tor and then to Chalice Well. The town was alive with its May Day celebrations around the Market Cross, as well as at Chalice Well, and many and varied events are planned for this evening, but this year, for me, it’s been a solitary Beltane and a time for inner reflection.

I remember, some years ago, attending a Goddess Beltane ceremony in Glastonbury. At this ceremony the leader of this particular group announced, proudly “today, as we celebrate Beltane, we allow The Phallus into our midst.” One could be forgiven for thinking that any male who attended any other of these Goddess ceremonies during the rest of the year could only do so if ones phallus was detachable and could left in a box, outside, before entry into the temple would be allowed!

So my call to the Gods this year has been a simple question: what is sacred masculinity? What does it mean to be divinely male?

It’s a question that has been relevant to me for most of my life.

I’ve mentioned many times that I was raised in an evangelical/charismatic family and as a result God the Father was an ever present reality to my daily life. But this Father God wasn’t always presented as austere, he was also shown as forgiving, loving, compassionate, but he did expect you to follow his edicts and commands. There was little room for individual expression and as a result, little room for any personal expression of self. Self was to be denied, so one has this sense of being more of a clone than an individual.

In my formative years in the Christian Church it was clear that men led. Men were in charge, women were subordinate. The male leaders of the Church had the power to command people to marry, and to order people to leave their hometown and set up house anywhere else in the world that they felt ‘God’ had said was right for them. If the leader said it, then it had to be right, there was little room for personal choice or decision making.

So this ‘God the Father’ was both controlling, dominant and authoritative, with a bit of love and compassion thrown in. However, no matter what an evangelical Christian tells you, this love was and is entirely conditional.

With this kind of patriarchal experience in my own background I could partially understand the opening message of the Goddess Temple leader that particular Beltane. Why would they want to allow this patriarchal God into their midst, if to do so would be to encourage little other than subordination and control? These women wanted to be open to express themselves and their spirituality, and their sexuality, without any sense of patriarchal domination, interference or domination – and justifiably so.

However, for me, as I sat there, hearing this, I felt unwanted, unloved, unwelcomed, contaminated, despised and little more than an invader into a space that I had no right to occupy. It was an incredibly uncomfortable moment in my experience as a spiritual seeker and one that I am unlikely to forget. So those words have left an indelible mark upon my spiritual development as any of those spoken by any patriarchal Christian leader from my past. Both have been as equally as damaging.

Significant to all of this is my journey as a gay man. Yes, I am male! I have a phallus and it isn’t detachable! What’s more, I am happy being male, I like being male and I am really happy that I am a gay male! Far gone are the days where I despised myself for my own sexuality, the days where I longed and prayed for ‘God’ to make me either straight or asexual, as it was apparent to me, as a child and as a teenager, that the God of the Christians had no time for me as a gay man. I am a male who is sexually attracted to males and I have no issue or problem with that. However, just as society at large has a problem with that, so does the pagan world, in some quarters, and this has presented me with problems as I’ve tried to understand what Sacred Masculinity is and what it means to me.

The Goddess community had no real understanding of how to cope with me a gay man at all. I was also given little room with which to help them with that problem – they didn’t really want to know or understand, or when they did, it was all about camp humour and jest. Together with that was the strong emphasis upon sexuality, fertilisation and creation – where did I fit in with all this? What did this kind of masculinity have to say to me? What was interesting was that the men I observed would go out into the woods and gather wood for the fire whilst the women would sow and spin . . . it seemed little different to my own childhood Christian experience.

Interestingly, I can easily embrace Goddess. I have little problem with the concept of the Divine Mother, and I hear Her voice and feel Her deep within me. The Great Mother, She who gave birth to All and who takes All back to Herself resonates and radiates throughout me. I sense Her, know Her and feel Her and I have little problem connecting with Her. I also know She loves me.

It’s the God that gives me the problem. What is it to be Sacredly Male? More than that, what is it to be Sacredly Gay Male?

One of my guides is a very naughty, young, gay Roman Centurion. But he’s no use in asking this question ‘cause all he wants to do is get naked and mess about! He really is very, very naughty, but he can be great fun! However, he isn’t that good at depth . . . not in terms of meaningful discussion, anyway!

Sat on the Tor this morning I called to Gwyn Ap Nudd, the dark lord of the Underworld whom I find it so easy to connect with at Glastonbury Tor. I called also to Herne, and to Cernunnos, as I knew there was something here I needed to grasp. I know I need to reflect what it means to be sacredly male and I want this to be truly incorporated into my spiritual, emotional, psychological and physical psyche.

Green men were everywhere today in Glastonbury, as I am sure you would expect, and they all came in their various shapes and sizes, as again, I am sure you would expect! I had a real sense of the Green Man and spirit of the cloven hoof as I sat there on the Tor. I drank this essence of masculinity, taking it deep within myself.

I’m bored of being asked if I’m a ‘top or a bottom’ but it’s something I get asked a lot. The honest answer to that question is it entirely depends upon the mood . . . I’m both! Although, I have to say, if David Beckham were asking the question I’d be whatever he wanted me to be at any given moment! This point is relevant because there are times when I want to be ritually fucked by the God, so that his essence, his power, his strength, his qualities radiate throughout every cell in my body. That probably makes no sense to you at all, but it does to me! I want him in me! This Green Man, this God of the Greening, this God who brings life, who initiates Creation, this spiritual catalyst, I want him in me. I know that as a body who is home to an immortal soul which contains the very essence of Source that this same power of Creation lays within me. I want to make it so. I want it initiated, brought into life, made real. The power of masculinity and femininity meet within the one vessel and through the fire of love and sexuality new creation comes forth.

I sometimes sit at the Wellhead at Chalice Well and want the God to turn up and take me there and then! Part of me can’t believe that I’m actually saying this out loud, but this Beltane I need to tell the truth! Some people will say that I’m being sacrilegious, but no, I’m not. I’m saying that I understand the magic and sacredness of sexuality, but I understand this as a gay man. Go figure.

I’ve somewhere to go in really understanding what it means to be divinely male. Today I have felt the fusion of compassion and strength, I have wondered at the power created when love and nurture meet. I have seen the magic of vitality, of sexuality, and of sacrifice. I have felt the power of assertion, tempered with true respect and measured with love. I have felt the brokenness, and seen the joy. I have tasted the sweetness of running in the woods and I have sensed the wisdom that comes only with time and experience.

These are some of the qualities of the Divine Male. I journey on in this most scared and spiritual of experiences and I embrace, as a gay and proud gay man, true sacred masculinity.