Thursday, March 6, 2014

On the Cover of the Rolling Stone

In a "USA Today" story recently, a woman reporter relates the Pope's opinion on women priests, which is No. She concludes:
"Women priests may not top his list, but perhaps Francis is serving women through his focus on global poverty and hunger. Is that enough?" Uh, no; it's not enough.
Theology professor Alice L. Laffey makes a similar point in her op-ed, saying: "Throughout the world, women and their children make up the greatest percentage of human beings living in destitution. Their main concern is not women priests but food, health, education and physical safety. Francis' genuine concern for the real lives of the poor and suffering warmly embraces women."

In other words, Francis is serving women through his focus on global poverty and hunger, because for some obscure reason, the majority of the world's poor are women and children.  So look how much he likes women; he's going to talk more about what they need and maybe see if he can get them some management positions in the Vatican, (although most Vatican positions of authority require high ranking clerical ordination).

Here's my take on Francis' position: The majority of the world's poor are women because women have no status in patriarchal government, in patriarchal religion nor as the Divine Archetype.  Patriarchy is an old fashioned word for men rule, make all the decisions concerning women and children and God looks like one of them, an old white guy.  In patriarchal paradigms, woman's power is stripped from her; consider that it's been less than 100 years since American women got the right to vote  If you wonder what it took to get the 19th Amendment passed, watch Hillary Swank's portrayal of Suffragist leader, Alice Paul in "Iron Jawed Angels."  You may have to close your eyes during the part where jailers force feed the prisoners on a hunger strike; it's gruesome.  But that's what our grandmothers had to do to get us the vote in this great country.  Now when do you think women in some Muslim nations, or in Orthodox Hebrew communities or in the Catholic Church will get equal rights? By the way, American women are not guaranteed equal rights under our constitution, as we somehow couldn't manage to pass the ERA.  

Women are poor because women are on a sliding scale of denigration in patriarchal cults around the world, so don't tell me that the head of one of the big 3 global patriarchal cults is doing enough for women by talking about how they are poor and need help.  By the way, I think he talks in general, about poor people, not poor women, but we all know how inclusive patriarchal language can be.

So then comes an interview in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, Ash Wednesday, (the infamous time of penitence for Catholics that kicks off, wisely enough with Mardi Gras) with the Jesuit editor of the Catholic magazine, "America", James Martin.  Headline: "Women Could Have Greater Role in Church, Pope says." (Sorry, it's a little hard to watch with a straight face because he has a big black cross smudged in ashes on his bald pate.)

Gee whiz, I wonder what Pope Francis has in mind for our new roles in the church?  Ordination?  Making Pope Joan known to the world or apologizing and asking the church to do penance for the millions of victims. the majority women, of the bloody Medieval and Renaissance Roman Catholic Inquisition? Gee, what could the Pope have in mind, because he already said ordination is off the table because he doesn't want to see women "clericalized," huh?  Now that's sweet; he doesn't want to see us bothered with those long black robes and stiff white collars, but maybe we can run the Vatican equivalent of the PTA or go help the poor like Mother Teresa.  Besides, he says, we've talked about ordaining women in the Church before and decided against it; there's no need to revisit this pesky little subject.

Now, according to Father Martin, the Church has already said no because...(No, not because we don't have a penis like Jesus did, that wasn't the reason he gave), because if Jesus had wanted women to be priests, he would have started off picking one as an Apostle, which he didn't; so there, women can't be priests now.

OMG!  Did he just say that?  Despite the volumes of scholarly exegesis on John 20:11-21, in which Jesus appears first to Mary of Magdala on the third day after he's crucified? She doesn't recognize him  (most departed appear looking terrific and I'm sure that's not what she was expecting), until he says her name, and she knew him.  (Did they embrace?) "Don't cling to me" he says,  "because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go and find the brothers and tell them: I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my god and your god."  Jerusalem Bible

You see, the word "apostle" is derived from the Greek, "apostolos"; John wrote in Greek. It means messenger  or ambassador.  Now whom did the Lord choose as his first "messenger"?  To whom did He first appear, though Peter and the Beloved Apostle were duly fetched by Mary when she found the tomb empty.  Yeah, they searched around, found the linens and went running back to establish a religion based on artifacts.  Mary stuck around and was rewarded with the real thing; she was first to see the Risen Christ and the first to "take the message to the brethren, "Jesus is Alive.  He is Risen;" Mary of Magdala was first to proclaim this message.  The first Apostle to the Apostles was a woman, selected as his ambassador by Jesus himself.  She was also made a disciple by Jesus, (Luke 10: 38-42; since I know the good Father Martin might argue that one can't be an Apostle without first having been a disciple) the day she and her sister Martha were supposed to serve the food for the hungry dozen, but Mary was sitting there at Jesus' feet listening to Jesus teach.  Martha complained, but Jesus replied, "Mary has chosen what is better and it won't be taken away from her."  Did I mention that the word disciple is derived from the Greek word that means "to sit at the feet of a teacher" and that it was a crime punishable by death to defile the Torah (the holy Hebrew laws Jesus was purportedly teaching) by teaching it to a woman?  

Jesus was a Feminist; his treatment of women with respect and compassion probably contributed greatly to his condemnation by the religious authorities of his day. If he was running the RC today, we wouldn't be having this conversation, but he probably never intended the institutions that came after his death; he taught that "the kingdom of God is within you."  What's more, according to many ancient but non-canonical (meaning the RC won't credit their authenticity) texts, women had lots of authority in the early Church. Just one century into the "Christian Era, not so much.  How did that happen; ask Paul, a great proponent of keeping women silent and veiled.  

There are lots of skewed reasons for not ordaining women, beginning with the mythical fact that women are guilty from the get go; if it wasn't for Eve, we'd all still be living in paradise.   In reality, women threaten the very bedrock of the patriarchal RC church, that God is Male.  When I was a divinity graduate student and a candidate for priesthood in the RC through the "Women's Ordination Movement" of the 70's and early 80's, our motto was "New Women, New Church."  We weren't going to lie; you have sexist repressive dogma and we're here to take ink to that parchment and make some alterations.  For one, we will call God "Mother" as well as "Father" in recognition of the great historical and ancient Goddess traditions that were all but silenced by patriarchal brutality; we will bring back the full Divinity of the Feminine Archetype and represent that archetype in our priesthood. 

Okay, so it's no surprise we didn't get ordained; we were and are an open threat to the misogyny that has reigned too long. 

I can understand the Pope-u-larity of this pontiff; he's definitely a relief after the tight ass party line toters we've had recently, but he's got to walk the walk, not talk it.  Religious theater like foot and baby kissing doesn't do it; neither does unexpected papal humility, charm or ordering your own pizza. Francis says he can't change what Pope John Paul II (J2P2) said on the subject of Women's Ordination, despite that he's been contradicting that particular predecessor on other matters, like Gay inclusivity and letting divorced Catholics take communion.

"For now, though" the news reports, "Catholics have to settle for slow, subtle shifts, which, to give Francis credit, are already occurring."  

Really?  Why do women and men who support women's ordination have to settle for anything?  It's crucial I think to speak out now; there is no reason not to ordain women and every reason, including historical precedent to ordain them.  If Pope Francis wants to earn his picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone ("the thrill that will getcha when you get your picture on the cover of the Rolling Stone." playing in the Vatican?), he needs to act to bring real balance not just to the Roman Catholic Church, but to the Modern Collective Psyche that cannot function, as Carl Jung warned, in such a state of disequilibrium without creating the collective psychosis we are clearly experiencing today.  Raise women to equal status with men, physically by ordaining them and psychically, by restoring the Divine Feminine.  If there was ever a Pope who could accomplish this, outside of John XXIII, it's Francis; I hope he wants to.  Let's all focus on sending him the message: "Ordain Women, Hail Mary, Save Humanity"

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What's My Story?

In a recent interview I say that we're in the midst of a spiritual revolution and that dreaming is at the center of it.  One aspect of the Consciousness/Awareness movement that we're experiencing right Now is the individual practice of "Mindfulness." Mindfulness encourages us to be the watcher as well as the do-er; the Self as well as the Ego, Jung might say.  More and more people are learning to "watch yourself."  Dreams are Magic Mirrors that let you see your "little self" your ego, as your Self, your Observer does.   In his latest book, "The Boy Who Died and Came Back," Part IV: At Home in the Multiverse, "The Double on the Balcony," Robert Moss writes some very fun stuff about this topic.

I've written here about one of my all time favorite dream sequences, In the first, I hear a voice that says, "Can the Ego be dissolved?  What is the role of the Observer?"  Dreams are often koans, mental jigsaw puzzles or parables.

Two months after this dream, I got my answer by way of a lucid dream, perhaps an OBE because of the hyperconsciousness of the experience. I was in what Robert Waggoner calls the Clear Light, though I hadn't read his books, yet.  I always chuckle that I had this transcendent experience as an unexpected dream gift. I came awake from the dream saying, "I'll never be able to explain this, not even to myself."  In my dream my sense of "I" was in that Light, as I came to, the sense of Oneness I experienced began to fade, my separateness became stronger.  As my ego took charge of waking life, I could re-enter my dream and feel the sense of awe over and over again.  Today, these many years later, that dream is my portal to the Light; the feeling is still strong.

What I learned from the dreams and where they took me in my studies is that the Ego needs an Observer to keep it in check and to help it really blossom.  In my two previous posts reviewing Robert's new book, I talk about the power of story.

As human beings, maybe even in some animal clans, we love stories.  "Tell me a story"is frequently the request we hear from young children.  I love to hear stories or to read them, but what this dream koan and the many wonderful teachers of Mindfulness, like Eckhart Tolle, have taught me is that my thoughts are frequently telling me stories that aren't really that groovy.  I might quite unconsciously be telling myself the story of a puny checkbook and a robust bill basket while I'm brushing my teeth.  What I've learned to do is say; "Aha, listen to that story!  Where does that get me?  Is this the story I want to entertain.  Duh; no."

By listening to what I'm really telling myself all the time, I can choose the best story for me.  Okay, "all the time" is perhaps not realistic; the drunken monkey, as Buddhists call the ego/mind, is a tricky and slippery little devil.  Luckily, Monkey isn't hard to please once you get to know it through Observation.  Dreams hold up a mirror that helps us see Monkey working.  Dreams knock on our inner doors and ask us to open to our own Wisdom and connect to the Light.

In a recent extended-family drama, the kind of thing that has the phones ringing and different relatives chiming in, I found myself feeling fearful, protective of the Me and Mine.  I asked for a dream of guidance; "What can I do?"  I dreamed that two of my nieces, (one was purely a dream niece), wouldn't allow me to use their make-up; yet, all I needed was a simple eyebrow pencil. I felt they were shallow, heartless and careless of my feelings.  I woke up feeling the sting of rejection.  Reality check: real niece, but not the relative involved and unlikely to deny me an eyebrow pencil, dream niece not someone in waking.  As I lay there feeling the strong emotion this dream evoked and trying to fit it with my question to the dream source, I saw what my dream was saying.  "What can I do?"  I can focus on my heart; I can marshall my kindness, (when I first typed the question, I found I'd written, What kind I do?:-).

As often happens, these nieces were Shadows my Ego was casting with its fearfulness; their behavior mirrored an unconscious story that could dictate my conscious behavior. I relaxed and focused my awareness on my heart chakra and bathed it in emerald green light. I expanded my heart center with every breath.  My dream gave me the perfect answer.  As I wandered through the emotional land mine (I wrote "land mind") of the crisis, I was predisposed to close down in fear.  I focused on my heart and trusted that step by step, in the moment, things would work out.  And they did.  The outcome opened a door that had been shut in anger and created new possibilities for personal growth on everyone's part.

This is one reason I think dreaming is at the forefront of the Spiritual Revolution.  If Self-Awareness, Mindfulness is at the heart of Enlightenment, really of Being, then dreaming is a vital practice.  In dreams we get to talk to and listen to the Observer, who has a much bigger picture to offer than the blinkered Ego.  What's my Story?  I'm writing it as I live it.  I write as consciously as I can and look to my dream stories for the best suggestions, the best plot ideas for my waking ego to use.  I stay connected to my dreams so that my Big Story, the reason I joined this human experience again, will inform all the little stories, the personal dramas that can take too much time and sap too much energy, unnecessarily.

Each of us has a Story.  Together, we  are the Book of Life - All of Nature included.  No one can tell us what our story, what our purpose is, but we can lose the thread and go off narrative if we're not connected to the Watcher, our own Soul Mate in the Multiverse.  Dreams are an organic, innate avenue to Spirit.  All we have to do is pay attention, listen and learn; then we'll each find our own story and how best to live it.

May it Be So!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Power of Story II

I finished Robert's new book and wrote the following as a review on Amazon; since most of it is new thoughts on my reading experience, I'm sharing it with you, as well.

Robert Moss’ new book “The Boy Who Died and Came Back” is reminiscent for me of reading Carl Jung’s “Memories, Dreams and Reflections.”  It’s not quite an autobiography, it’s more like being allowed to follow a seasoned explorer of the dreamscapes through the life memories, events and encounters with the Unconscious, in Jung’s case, more like the Multiverse in Robert’s, that have shaped their teaching and practice.

Robert Moss is a master storyteller. The many stories about dreaming adventures in his new book open new windows for anyone interested in lucid and conscious dreaming. The book offers possibilities like dreaming our way into ancestral realities that can be accessed through the parallel universes of dreaming where all time is NOW.

It’s a very easy read, especially for someone who finds dreams and dreaming a fascinating topic. Robert Moss began teaching his own dream approach “Active Dreaming” in the mid-80s and has been refining this rich synthesis of modern dreamwork with ancient and shamanic dream practices ever since in the workshops that he teaches around the world and in his numerous books on the subject.

This book allows us to travel into the dreaming of people around the globe; it’s global Active Dreaming in action. As a certified and practicing teacher of Active Dreaming, I appreciate the many examples of journeys he’s led in so many lands because they inspire new dream plans for my own workshops.  As a dreamer, I appreciate the inspiration I’ve found in these pages for conducting further experiments of my own in the dream worlds 

From this book, I’ve also come away with a deeper reverence for Nature and learned new ways to connect with Her in waking and dreaming. Many of the stories Robert shares illustrate how we can dream with the land we inhabit. What some might call Eco-dreaming today is part of Active Dreaming as a practice remembered from indigenous peoples, ancient and contemporary, around the world.  Nature speaks through signs, symbols and dreams, listening to these helps us attain the balance our race must reach and maintain if we’re to survive on this planet.  If we pay attention, we dream with the land we inhabit and perhaps we visit the lands our ancestors inhabited in order to return with wisdom and healing to apply in our waking lives and in our communities. 

Robert calls his method  “Dream Archaeology.”  My favorite chapter on this wonderful theme is chapter 40: “Dreaming with the Goddess” where he pays tribute in beautifully compelling and poetic prose to both the Goddess, Mother of all Lands and all People, and to the great scholar of ancient Europe and Goddess traditions, Marija Gimbutas. The stories of his dream adventures conducting workshops in Gimbutas’ native Lithuania in this and the following chapters are among my favorite in the book. “Dream archaeology gives us ways to grow her (Gimbuta’s) vision, to enter into authentic communication with keepers of ancestral wisdom, to find clues to meaning and leads for original research – and to help heal the collective and cultural soul loss that blights our age.” RM P. 284 

The Boy Who Died and Came Back” is both a dreaming primer for beginners and an esoteric dream map for seasoned dream explorers.  It’s a rich read for the senses, too; his descriptive prose is beautiful. Telling us about a dream circle he led in the Adirondacks, on a wonderful Garnet Mountain during a lunar eclipse he writes:

“We danced until the return of the light.  The sun’s light, reappearing at the bottom of the moon’s disk, rolled up like a drop of liquid gold over the face of a bronze mirror.” P.292

As a long time student of Robert’s, I know that a central focus of his work is resurrecting the Art of Dying for our modern Western society. Making Death your ally is an ancient teaching and one that he writes and teaches about frequently. This book takes you “Through the Moongate” and into the Multiverse. It lights the way in the cultural darkness that is our Western heritage to the possibilities that await us once we learn we are infinite spiritual beings living in these finite physical shells, but living with a purpose, a story, a contract we came to fulfill. Robert shows us how his dreams led him to this knowledge and how our own dreams can enlighten us.

Here’s the endorsement Robert receives from the renowned author of “Life After Life” Dr. Raymond Moody: Robert Moss' extraordinary life story, told with beauty and passion, confirms that there is life after life and will inspire all who read it to transcend the fear of death and live richer deeper lives."