And…we’re back to Christianity. Those folk with knee jerk reactions or whose eyes are glazing over, feel free to skip 🙂 More magical stuff on the way soon…then again, maybe it could still be interesting…
On Sunday I was Confirmed in the Anglican Church. I mentioned this previously in this post on the congruence between the Nicene Creed and esoteric thought. My unfolding in the Christian tradition has not exactly been normal (nor is it still). I have long fought and struggled with the inner call to engage in the social side of Christian life, the actual religion as distinct from the mysteries I am blessed to find in esoteric Christian currents from my late teacher. However, it finally got me*.
So there I was on Sunday, after a week of…well let’s use the word, “drama”.
Now, there is a well known phenomena in magical and esoteric circles concerning initiation – as one approaches it, a combination of forces and events, inner and outer, combine to produce an oppositional force. Poetically this is sometimes called the Dweller (or Guardian) on the Threshold. It can be very strong and disruptive at times. Outwardly things go wrong; machines break down, car keys are lost, pictures slide off walls, open all hours shops are inexplicably closed, plain black cloth cannot be purchased anywhere in the city. Those sort of things.
Inwardly, the initand may experience many things, but all seek to stop her moving forward. Dread, fear and uncertainty typically arise. Or one may suddenly think the whole thing is a load of wank and the group you’re being initiated into, a bunch of bullshit fed monkeys. The inner resistance can become overwhelming strong. Kinda like the story of the faery ‘curse’ on the farmer to pull up seven pails from the well; the first is easy, the second harder for some reason, and the seventh almost impossible, even though weighing the same as normal.
All this is quite common. I first experienced this phenomena preparing for my Neophyte initiation when (among other things) I found myself rolling backwards into a police car while a terrified cat was drawing blood from my left eye-ball. However, mung-bean that I am I did not expect it before my Confirmation. This shows my (now evaporated) prejudice that exoteric Christian rites are not real and deep spiritual events.
I will not go into the various manifestations of this force before the ceremony except to say the final straw was bogging my dad’s van in a specially created (and therefore safe) turn circle on my partner’s new property. This was just as we should have been leaving for the church. This event precipitated a melt down of immense proportions and by the time we got to the church I was stressed, unshaven and unwashed and feeling as wild-eyed and crazed as a hippie on a bad acid trip.
The Confirmation ceremony itself was incredible. I know most esoteric and magical folk do not feel positive about church, but Sunday was something else. Everyone was deeply touched and the Spirit flowed through the ceremony so well. It was as deep and as special as any initiation ceremony I have been through, though of course its aims were far different to a magical initiation.
Bishop Kay Goldsworthy, recently conducted into the WA Women Hall of Fame, led the ceremony. As the first Anglican female bishop in Australia, Kay has endured a long and hard road full of prejudice and hate, some of it quite close to home. Personally, I think whatever objections people have to women standing in persona Christi would have been blown away if they had attended the ceremony on Sunday.
After a number of years of learning and teaching in the magical traditions I think I know ritual well, and I honestly feel the ceremony on Sunday was the best it could have been. No other incarnated ritualist or leader could have made it flow better or impart a deeper sense of beauty and holiness. Bishop Kay’s presence and grace was amazing. It was an honour to see how she integrated and wove together all aspects of the morning into one gift for all to share, from the Old Testament reading to the lines from Little Gidding I requested to be added to the ceremony…it all was integrated into an harmonious vehicle for the One to use to touch all present.
What really struck me was Kay’s presence and standing as Bishop. Since male privilege (the extra social standing and power in our culture based solely on being a man) has so long been part of the priesthood and episcopate it has become almost synonymous with it. It was therefore a revelation and spiritually uplifting to see a Bishop without a single iota of institutional power oozing through. Kay’s authority as Bishop was so obviously based on service, love and the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit. There was no institutionalised power-basis at all. This is quite remarkable and such a gift.
One of the most precious aspects of the ceremony was Bishop Kay’s holding and acceptance of all within the church community. As I have said, she is a leader of a communion where she, for no other reason than being part of the episcopate, is derided, criticised and even hated by many members. Yet, she still holds and expresses love to them all, as she encouraged us to do for all members of the church.
This unconditional love, the acceptance and holding as precious whoever we find ourselves next to in church, is a mystery often missing in magical and esoteric circles. Often our groups are choosy and selective and as a result quite heterogeneous. In church we have an opportunity to extend our love to all, even the unwashed and loud, the conservative and staid. This is my greatest challenge, one which the Confirmation at the hands of Bishop Kay has helped me with.
So, overall, bravo to the Anglican Church and thanks to Bishop Kay and my regular and equalling inspiring priest, Rev. Julie. I will forever remember the day, especially taking Communion with my beloved M and my dad either side of me 🙂
* a clever reference to a bumper sticker from the 70s, which no-one will get. Pity.