Wisdom Teachings

Cynthia Bourgealt may be a sign of the resurrection of Christian spirituality that I suggested in A Point of Balance. Her ten minute podcast, “The Wisdom Teachings of Jesus: Beyond Belief and Into Practice,“ found at Sounds True is refreshing. Ms. Bourgealt discusses aspects of religious doctrine and spiritual principles in a manner much like a Pagan, except that her focus is upon Jesus.

I am certain that Ms. Bourgealt’s ideas will not be well received by the pseudo-Christians because of their hateful proclivities, but it seems the time for separating the grain from the chaff is long overdue. Of course, I did not purchase any of Ms. Bourgealt’s work because I am not a “Christian” now, but the foundational principles provided in this short podcast sound promising. Personally,I would love to see the spirit of Christ resurrected within Christianity, despite having been directed down a different path.

This is a short post because I simply want to bring this to the attention of Christians with a true heart and wary Pagans. I do not know if the direct link to the podcast will work because I am a member of Sounds True. Otherwise, any interested person should be able to find it by clicking on the link to Sounds True and looking around. Here is a link to their Weekly Wisdom (see: Producer’s Pick) which might also help if the other links don’t work as I would expect.

Blessed be!

An Earth Day Tale

The lore of Arianrod is most appropriate for Earth Day. This story is found within the fourth portion of the Welsh Mabinogion which is entitled “Math the Son of Mathonwy.” This is a rather convoluted tale of intrigue in the court of Math, lord of Gwynedd. Arianrod is not dragged into the mess until halfway through the tale. For those curious about the details leading up to Arianrod’s involvement, the full story can be found at Sacred Texts (all quotes sourced from there.) A much abbreviated version will suit the purposes here.

Math was not only lord over Gwynedd, but he was also a powerful magician capable of making physical transformations. Except in times of war, Math lived under a geis (destiny) that required his feet to rest in the lap of a maiden. While some might equate this geis with a curse, I suspect this connection with the divine feminine (grounded in the lap of a maiden, the untouched womb) may be the source of his superior magical ability. The context of the story makes it clear that the usage of maiden is the same as virgin.

Gwydion is the nephew of Math. Gwydion is also powerful magically, but not as powerful as Math. Gwydion cannot transform anything, but he is adept at creating illusions; illusions that fade relatively quickly. It is Gwydion’s deceptions that cause Math to lose his foot maiden. To make amends to Math, Gwydion nominates his sister, Arianrod, as a replacement maiden.

Arianrod is summoned to the court of her uncle, Math. Her virginity must be tested before she can become Math’s foot maiden. Math has Arianrod step over his wand to test her virginity in the presence of Gwydion; she steps over a powerful phallic symbol in the presence of two powerful male magicians. A fully developed man-child appeared which Math, the more powerful magician, took charge of. A small form (partially developed fetus?) appeared which Gwydion, the lesser magician, spirited away quickly. Arianrod ran for the door in shame.

I do not believe (as some) that Arianrod’s definition of maiden was different from that of Math and Gwydion. Having previous intercourse with other men doesn’t explain the different stages of development of the two manifested children. If we perceive Arianrod as the epitome of the divine feminine most fertile in the presence of two male sorcerers of different potency, then nothing remains to be explained. I believe she was a maiden who was publicly shamed by the foolishness of two male magicians who lacked the wisdom that most attributed to them. Arianrod’s anger towards Gwydion later is much more understandable in this manner.

The first born was named Dylan by Math. Dylan means son of the Wave, and he lived up to his name when Math had him baptized. No reason is given for his being killed by his uncle Govannon. It should be noted that Water is considered a feminine element in most circles.

The small form eventually grew to be a strapping young man. Gwydion then presented him to Arianrod. She responded, “what has come unto thee that thou shouldst shame me thus? wherefore dost thou seek my dishonour, and retain it so long as this?”  (There’s that anger I mentioned earlier.)

Gwydion wanted Arianrod to name her son. She responds, “I lay this destiny upon him, that he shall never have a name until he receives one from me.” Gwydion then tricks Arianrod into naming the boy Llew Llaw Gyffes. It seems significant that Gwydion acknowledges the authority of Arianrod’s geis (destiny) by tricking her, instead of ignoring her and naming the boy himself.

Gwydion then wants Arianrod to arm Llew. She responds to this with a similar geis. Gwydion tricks Arianrod once again. A pattern appears to be developing, but Arianrod seems aware. She proclaims a third geis: “‘Now will I lay a destiny upon this youth,’ she said, ‘that he shall never have a wife of the race that now inhabits this earth.’

Gwydion does not try to trick Arianrod this time. He conspires with his uncle, Math, to transform a bunch of flowers into a bride for Llew. This bride is named Blodeuwedd. She was unfaithful, though, and almost cost Llew his life. Gwydion eventually found her and transformed her into an owl. This is actually a lengthy part of the tale that ends quite simply:

A second time did Llew Llaw Gyffes take possession of the land, and prosperously did he govern it. And, as the story relates, he was lord after this over Gwynedd. And thus ends this portion of the Mabinogi.  (Math the Son of Mathonwy, Sacred Texts)

There seems to be much lore in the British Isles about the king being wed to the land so all may prosper. It should also be noted that the element of Earth is considered feminine in most circles. Arianrod did not proclaim a destiny for Llew where he would not be married, just that he shall never have a wife of the race that now inhabits this earth. It appears that once Llew accepted his destiny and took possession of his true wife (the land, or Earth), it was prosperously governed.

I am sure Arianrod (or Arianrhod) is perceived differently by each individual. The perception of her as a Mother Goddess seems common, particularly in conjunction with the full moon. She is also perceived as a goddess of reincarnation because of her power over destiny. Some perceive a dark aspect to a goddess who personally understands injustice.

On this Earth Day, I see Arianrod as a goddess of wisdom who tries to teach her children to love and respect the Earth. Let us care for the Earth so she remains a fertile wellspring of life. In this manner, we can all prosper.

To Walk in the Rain

I await the rain. It seems an odd thing to do, doesn’t it? Most people seem to associate rain with gloominess and being limited to the indoors. Sunshine is associated with warmth, joy, and freedom to roam, but I await the rain.

I await the rain because it is as important to life as the Sun. We have had a fair amount of “nice” days lately, but no rain. I have planted snap peas, radishes, and a young oak, so rain would be nice. Yes, I water these things with a hose, but predictions of a drought this year cause me concern about the rain. It seems that in all things in balance is best, so I await the rain.

I remember a dry summer several years ago. We would get cloudy days like today, and I would hear people wishing for the Sun to come out. There would always be a few quiet, dour souls, though. Their springs had gone dry and they had to carry water home, or they were farmers worried about their crops. We had seen too many overcast days that produced no rain. Although these overcast days did not produce rain, the temperature was at least a little more comfortable. Nevertheless, there always seemed a number of insensitive souls vocally wishing for the Sun to come out.

Those who unknowingly were praying for sunshine were connected to municipal water supplies and did no gardening of any form. They didn’t want their recreational activities like boating, biking, or riding their ATV’s to be threatened by rain. Apparently, they had not noticed that it had not rained in a long time, and I wondered how non-raining clouds interfered with their pastimes.

I was amazed at how disconnected people could be from the world around them simply because of technology like municipal water supply, industrial food supply, and two-cycle engines. Sometimes I would ask one of the quiet people about their spring or crop of corn, hoping the vocal ones might wake up to what was going on around them, but it was to no avail. Apparently their senses and sensibilities had become more dulled than I suspected.

I could not help but wonder if there was a connection between the unbalanced weather and unbalanced people. Within the Hermetic principle of polarity, I view selfishness and selflessness as opposite ends of the spectrum of Ego. Selfishness (or self-centeredness) was as predominant as the lack of rain and social graces. I could not help but wonder about the possible correlation here because I have been taught about the power of thought-forms manifested through both prayer and magic.

“Be careful what you wish for” and “think before you speak” were fairly common sayings in the early to mid-twentieth century. I wonder if these aphorisms are taught anymore because the behavior of many belie that. However, I also marvel at how those old adages align with contemporary spiritual principals. Perhaps our ancestors possessed wisdom that we failed to recognize because we know that we are much smarter than they were?

I believe there is much we can learn from nature, but we have to pay attention first. Perhaps the purpose of natural disasters (like droughts) is simply to get our attention. That may be a tall order in a time where minds are numbed by television, medications, and technology in general. However, as I write these last lines reflecting on the rain, the rain that I awaited has arrived. I think I will go sit on the porch and enjoy it. By the way, has anyone learned to enjoy a walk in the rain?