the pure Spirit

Another of those words that sometimes gets people, that catches, like “God” or “Truth”. Understandable, because I don’t really deal in the term “God” anymore myself, I don’t believe in it in a personalized sense of a being – and lord knows I believe in all kinds of things, personages and entities. The big One though, I don’t engage with in that way, and the neopagan fudge of an imagined female gender making it any different gives me the feeling you used to get sitting on those tiny chairs that were actually a little (ok, a lot) too small for you at the one size fits all Sunday school. I’m glad if you enjoy it, I enjoy lots of things, but you may as well say that Superman made the world.

I do believe in spirituality though. I value reason but I’m not a rationalist. I value the body, desire, sexuality and pleasure, but I’m not a denier of there being anything else of value. In part I do get what people mean when they talk about “God”, at least I believe I do (at the risk of presumption), in terms of an experience. I associate it with the Oneness of Being, and a liberated, blissful state of consciousness which I have experienced at times (sometimes extended times), and with love and with a very profound, released peace. It is awesomely freeing, and calling it “God” proved quite counter-productive after a while, as well as landing me with some really whacked out but sincerely conventional company. But it’s amazing stuff, when you can get it out of the tin.

I don’t know what to call that. Free consciousness? Consciousness-Existence-Bliss (from Hindu traditions)? Spirit? that last I am probably plucking from my long gone Christian upbringing, with its “Holy Spirit” milky bar pigeons of light, or maybe little tongues of magic luminosity. The esoteric idea of “spirit” can actually be quite different to that, more like ether, akasha, or some astral, amorphous source matter. Culturally when we say “spirit” we don’t mean that stuff, and I don’t think I do either here. And we’ve often been lectured by our good counter-cultural pioneers about the sins of dividing spirit and matter. You know, body, sex, the world, stuff = bad; transcendence, denial, ghosty stuff = good. And how that doesn’t work, and indeed it doesn’t. But that’s not to say there isn’t a valid question there, arising out of an experience, which maybe got hijacked.

If it comes to a question of “what is matter?” and “what is spirit?”, I would probably say they are qualities of experience. The former is characterized by separation and a binding at the physical senses and brain consciousness. The latter has a unitary, continuous, re-united quality, and does not feel bound by the senses, nor by separative location in space and time, within bodies, and thus intuitively feels closer to a source of consciousness which is not sourced in the brain as such. I hear people talking about spirit and matter, and matter and energy, as if spirit and energy were the keys to each other, but that is not what I intuit here. That would be materialism by an extended back door.

Within popular Paganism, what I mainly see is materialism garnished with psychology. There is a level at which those things are valid, especially where there are things to untangle personally or culturally. But it’s only as relevant as say health food is. If your diet is screwed, it is a good idea to sort it out, but as someone once said (I think it was in a Reshad Feild book): “I’m sorry but no, you can’t eat your way to enlightenment”. Well, you can’t therapize or politicize your way there either.

Spirit (if we want to keep using that word) isn’t just a tool, or a method, or an optimization. It isn’t even just a healing process, it is a whole other world. And compared to here, it’s the real world. I don’t mean that we should blacken or demonize this world (come on now, it’s bad enough as it is), nor that we shouldn’t appreciate the overlap and interaction (the other world is the real source and cause as far as I am concerned in any case), and certainly not that we shouldn’t work to improve and heal life here. But if you’re going to try and find everything here, you’re going to have to fudge things to make the picture look anywhere near complete.

When that other world impinges on this world positively, that’s when we often feel “spirit”, because of the contrast, the release. And if “Spirit” is an experience, and a world, it is also an influence. It’s an influence which human beings generally need at some time or other, and collectively we need. We may seem to screw up the whole thing over and over again in the guise of “religion”, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a real thing there. I think mystics understand that and get on with it, trying to alleviate the suffering that springs from being apparently, separatively incarnated in these bodies, on this wildly, apparently travelling wheel, and who knows what else, in all the permutations of apparent being, material and otherwise. That is why spirit is associated with compassion and healing. It’s not a sentimental impetus arising from within a predicament. It is a radical act of seeing and responding I reckon.

What to do with it, or be able to do with it, in a “world” such as ours, that is the fool’s choice, but it is at least not a lonely choice, not any more.

Living statue as Neptune (god of water and the sea) at the promenade between San Agustin and Playa del Ingés (Gran Canaria) – by Wouter Hagens (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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7 Comments

  1. I get the feeling that many people seek some sort of material experience of spirit in order to validate some kind of connection with it, but that mindset is so contradictory to the nature of spirit itself. The experience of crossing over into that other world definitely brings with it sensations that can be felt here in the material world, but I feel that those manifestations are simply a spilling over of the spiritual experience and not the source of it. Spirit is so much bigger than any one person on this earth could try to quantify, When we tap into it the possibilities are boundless.

    BTW, I love the Neptune photo! Interestingly, Poseidon has been reaching out to me lately and I’ve been working on figuring out the part he plays in my life. 🙂

    • thanks for your comments Owyl 🙂 I found the experience turned everything upside down, but in a good way. It is so unconditioned though, that collectively people fill it with all manner of conditions, but I think that is a perennial thing that goes on between religion and the mystics, piling on chains in the face of freedom.

      Astrologically Neptune would be *the* planet that I associate with the experience of Spirit. I’m not sure how that relates to mythological Neptune or Poseidon as deities, but the association is there through the work of modern astrologers.

  2. Odd that neoPaganism seems to be more about material experiences. For me, I can’t claim to be old Pagan, but I don’t like the neo ideals. Paganism however has taught me to let go of what is fake, material and totally not good for me spiritually, mentally and I suppose physically.

    Raised a Christian I never could get why a so called loving deity could also be so damn spiteful and vengeful when the teaching was that kind of thing was a sin. A real case of do as I say and not as I do.

    We will never know every answer in this existence hence I believe we have a many, and I also think they can interlink as time is man’s ideal not a spiritual one so the past, the present and the future are connected but not in a man made way. That is as best as I can explain it – I guess proving I don’t have all the answers. I can’t believe those answers are in any book, yet I know books are good resources to make you search inward and outward even beyond the mortal realm.

    Symbolising the divine as physical deities either from a spiritual or mythological arena is useful, and often the only way the human mind can make sense of the greatness of divinity. It is symbolism nothing more.

    Well didn’t intend to write all that bro, you do make me think deep and I like that

    Love and light
    Jez

    • thanks for your comments Jeremy, I think you do a lot of deep thinking anyway 😉

      I don’t think of deities as personifications of the divine really, but as beings of their own order, along with spirits, elementals, us and many other kinds of beings. I think of the sacred as being in and of everything, or everything being in it, an enormous ecology, but there is still this thing I’m calling “Spirit” here. I wonder if other animals have the same sense of spiritual lack, absence of abandonment that human beings have at times? I think it is a very common experience for human beings to feel that they are *not* home, and that the Nature we see with our senses is not the Nature that we really come from. Neopaganism makes a big deal out of the opposite, and I cannot share that sense.

      All the mainstream religions seem to have their problems (even Buddhism traditionally condemns homosexuality). I don’t think neopaganism has yet reached the point where it is even able to manifest the problems, because it is still so potential and untested, unestablished, but it has problems of its own nevertheless. On the whole, it seems neither greatly spiritual, nor greatly oppressive. The advantage of neopaganism is that it is what I would call a para-secular religion(s), ie it has grown in the shelter of secularism, and with a dissociation between religion and political power, and that is a positive thing. However it is also I feel quite poor and weak in terms of depth of spirituality.

      There are certainly what you might term “engines” of spiritual impetus within Paganism, from things like hermeticism, rosicrucianism and occultism, as well as from other sources I don’t doubt, but there is a great deal which is more sensational or therapeutic. I think it has its place, but I’m not always sure if anyone is home, even when the lights are on.

      I’m quite sure that spiritual needs are universal though, and spiritual realities are immense.

  3. Pingback: a clear sky week | Summer Thunder

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