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Peter on the Soul and Magic and Matter

I was out in the back yard a few weeks ago, and I looked up and saw the full moon, brilliant and sharp in a clear night sky.  Seeing it, I found myself quietly singing a song by the ritual performance group Mothertongue:

"The Moon is high at the witching hour,
Children come to this place of power;
Our hands are raised to four directions,
Spirit force is born again."

I felt a wave of awareness of the magickal quality of its beauty, very like the feeling I once had of walking into a Benedictine monastery when I was a young man and feeling the Holy Spirit settling over my shoulders like a warm blanket.

And somehow, the beauty reminded me of how important it is to me that the Gods are persons.  I’ve been reading Plotinus, a neoplatonist philosopher, and he’s fascinating.  His Enneads are one of the foundational texts of western mysticism and magick…but he’s missing something.  It’s the same thing I found missing in the Tao Te Ching.  Taoists and neoplatonists both strive to be passionless.  Plotinus would have us disregard our bodies, the better to ascend to the level of the Gods.  His theology is all about understanding, not about loving.  That doesn’t make his mysticism worthless, just incomplete. 

A friend at Quaker meeting was talking to me recently about a plot of land that she and her husband were thinking of turning into a green burial ground, and she told me about an idea she’d heard of for a burial shroud infused with mushroom spores.  The mushrooms that grow on your grave consume your body, helping it to decompose and removing toxins that might otherwise leach into the environment.  And I thought, yes!  What better, more intimate way of connecting at the end of life to the deep magick of the Earth?

Plotinus would be horrified, not by the mushrooms, but by my wanting to celebrate the way the matter of my body joins me to the Earth.  For him, the soul is degraded by its entanglement with a material body, and our purpose in live is to ascend to the realm of divine intellect.

I say no.  Life in a body is what makes us whole.  It’s what allows us to love, not just one another but also the Gods. 

Playing with these ideas, I came up with the following:

In the beginning, God created
space. And God said,
Let space expand
and let there be time
and let time be the measure
of expansion
and of all change.

And God filled space with energy
and with matter, all manner of
particles, both matter and antimatter.
And God said, let them not be fixed
but travel as waves of the sea,
unknowable until known.

And let there be forces,
those that draw together
and those that cast apart.
Let the forces be several,
Each to rule in its own way.

The universe unfolded
And filled with light.
Matter joined with matter,
turning and turning again.
Energy turned to matter
and matter to energy
as day turns to night and night to day.

And God said, Let us know
this, which we have created,
and in so knowing,
be ourselves known.
And God breathed upon matter
and filled it with knowing.

And matter partook of the breath
and knew
and felt wonder
and all manner of pain
and also joy,
loneliness and comfort,
loss and love.
And God saw that it was good.


Illustration CC0 Creative Commons from pixabay.com

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