Shaping our World by embracing Ourselves: how the whole self is involved in shaping our personal landscapes and mythologies, by Laura Hood
The creative project offered me a chance to enter the academic realm with a topic which sparks joy and enthusiasm in my heart (comic books) but also allowed me to explore some themes which interest me on an intellectual level – myths, and how myth is involved in shaping the landscape of belief, on a personal and cultural level. Through my interest in comic books the role of the hero is especially interesting for me, because it is in the struggles, adventures, victories and realisations of the hero that the morals and rules of a society are transmitted. After all, the hero is held up to society as a paragon of virtue and morality, the hero is the standard against which all others are measured. Furthermore, the idea that superheroes and their stories could be interpreted in the secular sense as new mythologies for our modern era was an exciting discovery, as I had never given much thought to the deeper meanings within the comics and heroes I love so much.
I had originally intended to write a series of poems on the larger landscape of Buchan in the North East of Scotland, incorporating an alchemical theme. However, returning to this small spot on the shore of my birthplace seemed like a call, I felt strongly that the house wanted to make itself known to me again, as well as the immediate environment. In this sense, I could see this small ‘spot of time’ of my own as a symbol for potential re/birth or transformation in the poems, via communion with my immediate surroundings, as a microcosm of that larger macrocosm. And the closer I examined my surroundings, the smaller the microcosms became, these were world within worlds. This sense of ‘home,’ notions of Eden, or Paradise, were visceral. Gaston Bachelard has said that the first house we inhabit ‘is our first universe, a real cosmos in every sense of the word.’ [Bachelard 1994, p.4] The traces of my ancestors were certainly everywhere, from the enormous blooming fuchsia I believe my grandmother may have planted in its infancy (I knew this was her favourite flower) to the flakes of green paint on an ageing shed door. Moving around the exterior of the house became a kind of circumambulation, a circling of a sacred object. Bachelard states ‘that over and beyond our memories, the house we were born in is physically inscribed in us. It is a group of organic habits. … The feel of the tiniest latch has remained in our hands’. [ibid, pp.14-15] And I did feel that there was something deeply intimate taking place for me here, as if I was being greeted by a very personal, primal force. James Hillman, referring to Plotinus’ statement that we elect the body, parents, place and circumstances that suit our soul, reminds us that Plato said that in preserving this myth ‘we may better preserve ourselves and prosper’, that the myth has a redemptive psychological function which leads to a practical move, ‘then, the myth implies we must attend very carefully to childhood to catch early glimpses of the daimon in action, to grasp its intentions and not block its way.’ [Hillman 1996, p.8] This was, then, for me, my daimon in action. I did not want to block its way. The image of the house and the desk would become a container for creative reverie, the topology of land and the sea the elements to be explored in it. The shore at Phingask would provide the ‘prima materia’ which was to be, symbolically, transformed into the poems.
Doing justice to this review of my Learning Journal requires a level of self-disclosure not usual in an academic essay, but transformative learning theory and practice provides support for this type of enquiry. As Dirkx says: In exploring the nature of deep learning…my interests revolve around a kind of learning that integrates our experiences of the outer world, including the experience of texts and subject matter, with the experience of our inner worlds. Although my focus is unabashedly on the subjective, the goal is to develop understanding of this subjective world that is fundamentally human and archetypal”. He asserts the need to move beyond the thoughts, beliefs and values that we are fully conscious of into “that shadowy inner world, that part of our being that shows up in seemingly disjointed, fragmentary, and difficult to understand dreams, of spontaneous fantasies that often break through to consciousness in the middle of carefully orchestrated conversion, deep feelings and emotions that erupt into our waking lives with a force that surprises us, let alone those who know us.”In reviewing the content of my journal, I have attempted to pull together disjointed and fragmentary snippets into a coherent narrative that integrates my inner and outer worlds. Finding a
way to frame this has not been easy. I considered using the metaphor of the ‘Hero’s Journey’, a pattern of mythic story telling devised from the work of Joseph Campbell and C. G. Jung, but this is predicated on a linear pattern, one which I have come to understand as inimical to the expression of Soul. The metaphor that does spring to mind is that of the labyrinth, which is probably a well-worn cliché for essays such as this, but nonetheless appropriate.
This paper discusses the relevance of the ‘four levels of interpretation’ of medieval theology – literal, allegorical, moral, anagogical – to the teaching of astrology at both undergraduate and postgraduate level. In an educational system increasingly bound to positivist assumptions a way is required to lead students to a deeper perception, and experience, of the symbolic.
Rice University religious studies professor Jeffrey Kripal has defined the humanities as ‘consciousness studying consciousness in the reflecting mirror of culture’ (2014: 368), and indeed he sees the role of intellectuals as a ‘collective prophet’ (2017: 302) who can potentially see behind the veil of our separatist, egoistic illusions and wake up an awareness of our common humanity. This paper focusses on how Kripal’s vision informs the Masters programme in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred at Canterbury Christ Church University, for in our view, values of sustainability are intrinsically connected to understanding what it means to be a human being making meaning in the world. The MA subscribes to Kripal’s call for a broader perspective which goes beyond the ‘exterior’ world of empirical and historical information to reflect on the question of human cognition and experience—that is, on our own nature as interpreters of culture and creators of myth. The MA programme is situated within a transformative learning context, and here the programme director explains its rationale and ethos. Examples of pedagogical methods are described and student feedback included. With reference to key authors, the foundations of the programme in holistic and integrative models of knowing are discussed, together with the importance of calling on esoteric and wisdom traditions for hermeneutic frameworks. Such frameworks combine mythopoetic and spiritual insight with critical and reflexive understanding, and thus bridge the subject-object split of the Western Enlightenment which still dominates our intellectual discourse. Finally the programme is linked to sustainability values, and positioned in the context of a new vision of integrative learning for our times which fosters connections between humans, earth and cosmos.
The phenomena of spirit possession can be viewed and reviewed through the lens of differing fields of study including and most notably religious studies, psychology and anthropology. When reading in this area of research one would expect to encounter discourse giving examples from within the realms of the main world religions such as exorcism, or the more recent practices of the séance within the spiritualist churches. Here we will engage mainly with this phenomenon as presented through shamanic practices and within this conduct a study of the related context including physical space and ritual. Although there will not be a discussion around the use of the term shamanism, engaging in this particular account of spirit possession will undoubtedly highlight some of its core traits.
This discussion develops anthropological theory with respect to divination, clarifying the concepts of divinatory address and the unique case of interpretation. Lucien Lévy-Bruhl’s pioneering formulations are considered in the light of the well-known studies on Azande divination by E. E. Evans-Pritchard, and in the relatively recent description by Barbara Tedlock of the ‘cognitive continuum’ at work in divinatory interpretations. It is suggested that Tedlock’s description augments Lévy-Bruhl’s analysis and resolves apparent contradictions and inadequacies, rendering it appropriate to the cross-cultural study of divination.
The Jupiter project was set up to experientially investigate the symbolism of the astrological Jupiter by connecting myself in different ways to this planet. To this end a range of creative, imaginal, symbolical and cognitive activities was carried out. In my essay the background, set up and main results of the project are described. The results are theoretically reviewed, and the dynamic between Jupiter and Saturn is discussed in the light of Jung’s concept of enantiodromia. The nature of the connection to Jupiter is discussed, particularly the role of transpersonal consciousness in experiencing the symbolism coming to life. Spangler’s ideas on personal and pure (soul) will are used to explain the different ways in which the connection is established. It is concluded that pure will opens up the possibility of a vivid connection to the symbolism. Personal will seems to work in the opposite direction: it closes the gateway to this experience.
This presentation, called Messages in Bottles – Drifting Treasure, was made to an open group of Cosmology M.A. students and tutors during a research day, 13 December 2015, in Canterbury Priory. Lasting half an hour, it took the form of a spoken and illustrated personal narrative. It re-created aspects of a meditative walk taken along the Thames foreshore – a literal path, looking out for messages in bottles, but also a metaphorical and mythopoetic path, asking the self and the cosmos questions along the way, and acting upon the answers received.
Introduction to Goethean Enquiry – DOWNLOAD with Louise Livingstone – £15 for full recording and handouts
In this seminar we will learn more about Goethe and his imaginal method of enquiry, exploring why his method is so important for the world we are living in today.
Today I’d like to talk about studying and what studying may bring about. To be more specific, I’d like to talk about a crucial meaning of the word study, a meaning which most of us are probably unfamiliar with and which indeed the whole Western world is unfamiliar with and has been for the past 300 years or so. It designates a whole understanding of what study involves and what study can bring about in students and it has fallen by the wayside, where it still lies forgotten, neglected and concealed under the detritus of 3 centuries. But if we clear away the undergrowth and remove the rubbish, we may find that it still shines as if new with a light that may illuminate the world and ourselves. It may even bring about a transformation in our knowledge, both of the world and of ourselves.
‘I am not here to show you a dance, I am here to be danced and I invite you to witness’ – Victoria Brant
My creative project title arose from an exploration of two approaches to dance movement. Approach one explores dance movement in a meditative state of presence, which I called Being. Approach two explores the intention ‘pretending to Be’ through dance movement. The terms ‘Be’, ‘Being’ and ‘pretending to Be’ in relation to approaches one and two I will using throughout this essay. The primary intention for my project is approach one, to explore dance movement that arises from a state of presence and meditation, Being. I created approach two, so I had a counter opposing reference to approach one for greater clarity, for instance, one cannot comprehend black if they do not know white. I am using the terms ‘Being’ and ‘pretending to be’ instead of authentic and inauthentic, as authentic would suggest I am trying to be authentic, when I am only trying to Be.
Botticelli Birth of Venus – DOWNLOAD with Angela Voss and Mary Attwood – £15 for full recording and handouts
Following our popular session on Botticelli’s Primavera, here we offer an in-depth contemplation of its sister painting, The Birth of Venus. We study the mythology and cosmology behind this iconic image, and consider it in the context of the revival of the divine feminine in Renaissance Florence.
Resolution of inner conflict was at the heart of my decision to create a virtual place as the creative output of the Creative Project . This project would, I hoped, reconcile seemingly divergent ontological aspects of myself and in doing so potentially create something of interest to others. After months of consideration, I settled that creating a digital application (‘app’) might be both a cathartic and symbolic merging respectively of my professional experience and my personal passion. In seeking this reconciliation, I was unexpectedly accompanied by my daemon. The product of this companionship was to be ‘The Book of Daemon’, a digitised book whose primary aim was to inspire potential readers to possibly establish, renew or develop a conscious engagement with their personal daemon. In undertaking this initiatory endeavour, which is in process still, I had hoped the exercise would engender a deeper knowing of myself by learning new skills and subjects. What I would not anticipate was the extent to which undertaking praxis ‘and entering into unknowing’, would bring me to the edge of sense and in doing so instigate a complete re-visioning and shift of my very being.
This creative project was inspired by a trip to Lindisfarne, also known as Holy Island in Northumberland . It was here that Eadfrith created the Lindisfarne Gospels, ‘one of the world’s greatest masterpieces of manuscript painting’, around 698 CE (Backhouse, 2014 p.7). The Gospels were created in honour of St. Columba who having died in 687 CE, was formally declared a Saint when it was found his body had not decayed on its exhumation in 698 CE. After a walk around the Lindisfarne Priory ruins (which date from 1093 on the site of the earlier monastery), the project to ‘do some Celtic artwork’ was hatched in a café on the island and I went home clutching a copy of ‘The Celtic Design Book’ (Meehan 2007).
During the first term of this MA during a seminar discussion, we explored the allegory of Plato’s cave (Platos Republic VII, 514a to 517), and I felt myself being drawn to the idea of the cave being a womb like place in which gestation can occur; a place of darkness where, having lost a sense of self or meaning of life, we can either relinquish our journey or discover within us, a spark of awakening that can initiate a return or a rebirth. It reminded me of the myth of the descent of the Sumerian goddess Inanna to the underworld and that night, I dreamed of being in a cave deeply asleep as if in hibernation. I heard something calling me, yet could not identify the sound; it felt more like an intuitive ‘hearing’ and yet seemed to come from within me. It was urging me to rouse myself. On awakening I amusingly thought I had dreamed of the opposite of the opening lines to Inanna’s myth; “From the Great Above she opened her ear to the Great Below” (Wolkstein, Kramer and Williams-Forte, 2004, p.52).
I had, in my dream, opened my ear from the ‘Great Below’ to the ‘Great Above’ and the idea to explore her myth as a creative performance began.
Can we access the archetypal ideas via the practice of painting. Does “being in the world” have an effect on the soul of the artist, by retreating into a world of interiority but remaining wholly present can we access the soul?Can we create a dialogue with the imagination which is reflected in the strokes the artist puts upon the page? How does active imagination equate to this. Can we see through our projections? Can we see the “gods” in the landscape and if so, how does the painter interpret this? Is this Alchemy?
I already possessed some artwork, a painting which I produced several years ago on a short course in Visionary Art. I was interested in exploring the metaphorical significance of the images which had emerged. The painting was full of meaningful symbols in terms of my personal life at that time, and had been a helpful companion since then. Now I was in a position to revisit the picture with fresh eyes, and found that this was giving rise to even more possibilities and questions. I realised that, as well as looking at how an image emerges, I also needed to consider how the onlooker “reads” an image as symbol, and how meaning may arise from a completed piece of work when it is “out there” in the world.
The creative project has been an extremely valuable part of the MA course for me. Within the confines of academic demands it is often difficult to move out of the head, indeed this has been one of the very unique challenges of the programme. The degree has offered a number of wonderful opportunities to tackle this issue by actively encouraging a more heart centred and intuitive approach to the content that we are facing here as students. To become more “…consciously aware of our intuitive process…” (Anderson, 2004, p.70) is a refreshing challenge to the more traditional approaches of academic research and engagement. But to be able to open the heart and engage our intuition in a manner that retains a level of conscious awareness and an ability to ‘see’ this process critically, is the real nature of the challenge we face as students. This represents new ground.
The idea for this project was rooted in Marie Angelo’s imaginal inquiry. According to Angelo, imaginal inquiry means trying to look at “the image as a living presence, entering its mythos and cosmos (narrative time and ordered space) and learning of it through participating in it” (2005, p.13). She argues that “if we allow the image to teach, to educate the eye, then we are gradually led to its heart, from the general to the particular, rom the outside inwards” One of the main objectives of my creative project was to create a piece of visual art that could have the transformative function that Angelo talks about. For me this meant conjuring a project that in some way codified a symbolic message that I wanted to convey to the world. In other words, an image with which one can engage and create a living bond, and not only look at.
One particular atrophied ‘not I’ that was calling for my attention was related to making art which I denied myself very early, as it was owned by my mother. She was the artist and she tried to ‘teach’ me to make art. I rejected her tutoring and instead learnt that what I already produced was not good enough, nor was it art, and that she held primacy over what art truly was. This assumption encouraged me to reject this aspect of myself and relegate it to ‘not I’, and so I have always blamed my mother for my fear of this particular type of creativity and the shame that goes with it.
After reading about the Flower of Life for several months from a wide range of authors from the ancient Greeks to the modern new age, I felt ready to draw my own Flower of Life symbol. I wanted to try and put myself in touch with Jung’s collective unconscious through the practice of scared geometry, using it as a metaphor for universal order, where in his book Sacred Geometry Lawlor advises us that “it is the approach to the starting point of the geometric activity which radically separates what we may call the sacred from the mundane or secular geometries” (Lawlor, 1987, p16). In his dialogue ‘The Republic’, Plato said that “God is always doing geometry”, and it is said that above the door to the Academy in Athens which he founded as the first institution of higher education in the Western world, the words were inscribed “let no one ignorant of geometry enter”. It was with some trepidation, and a feeling of pressure to do justice to my attempt, that I sat and started my first Flower of Life symbol.
Learning is my life passion, much of my recreational learning arising from a desire to maintain a creative balance with a career that has been in information technology and latterly lecturing in business management. In 2015 I attended a one-day woodcarving course learning the basics of the craft. Having a lifelong love of trees and wood, the smell of sawdust is evocative of my childhood as the daughter of a carpenter. The idea of carving a finger-labyrinth in the classical 7-circuit style kept re-surfacing in my consciousness. But would this provide sufficient scope for a creative project? Although simple in style, this carving was to present unforeseen challenges.
In astrological parlance I suffer from the affliction of a Saturn/Mercury conjunction. In layman’s terms, joining together Saturn (contraction) and Mercury (communication) may make oneself very uncomfortable in one’s expression. Indeed, I have always been bad at telling stories – be they jokes or life stories – always feeling that I was losing people’s attention half way through, always having difficulties to really embody the story and own it. A cruel lack of confidence in the delivery, especially when the audience exceeds four people. The Creative Project was therefore a perfect opportunity to challenge myself and step out of my comfort zone. Tell a story and learn a little bit about yourself, I thought.
In deciding what to do for my creative project I was torn between doing something purely ‘personal’ and perhaps trying to express myself through a new medium and doing something connected to my professional life as an RE teacher. I chose the latter because I wanted my creative project to have implications wider than just the personal, and I wanted to explore ways in which my work on the MA could influence and transform my life and teaching. One of the areas of RE that I had been feeling increasingly passionate about since starting the MA was the issue of female spirituality and the divine feminine. I increasingly noticed a disconnect between my own understanding of spirituality and the experiences of the women around me, and the ‘religion’ I was teaching in the classroom. I was also inspired by the work of Kripal and McGilchrist in particular in their understanding of education and the learning process, and how in our institutions it has been increasingly dominated by empirical enquiry to the exclusion of the archetypically feminine qualities and processes like intuition, embodiment and creativity. I wanted my project to develop my understanding of female spirituality, as well as integrating it with my professional life. I also felt strongly about the representation of women in the RE classroom and wanted to address this as well.
For the creative project I chose to compose a collection of poems to present to the class and wider program community as a recital and a printed booklet. During the course of the year I have written about two dozen pieces, more or less related to materials ad ideas explored through the MA. I selected eight that were the most direct responses and memorised them for the presentation. In terms of creative praxis, the process can be expressed as comprising two parts: the act of composition and the reflective tropos, bringing the poems from the realm of the subjective to the ‘universal’ audience.
This project was a creative process that crystallized in my endeavour to attempt to momentarily create a soul connection with my fellow students through the theatrical production of a sketch titled “Speaking from the Heart”. I wanted to corroborate the idea of the value of self judgement through the act of heart-felt confession. In order to combine these two practices in an artistic fashion I had to connect the concept of the soul to an instantly recognizable cultural image that served both as a visual and empathic bridge between myself and the group; while at the same time connecting the soul to the cosmos. It was for this reason that I chose the symbol of the heart. For is it not the heart and the expression of its intentions that influence our behaviour towards others? The ‘Upanishads’ write of the supreme Cosmic Spirit, Brahman, “He is the bridge of immortality. Where all the subtle channels of the body meet, like spokes in the centre of a wheel, there he moves in the heart and transforms his one form unto many.”
Following the aims of transformational learning theory and using art as a means of expression I have attempted to do an exercise that showed how I have engaged with the materials presented in the MA course. At the beginning of my studies I was not familiar with most of the themes that are at the core of the MA programme, such as symbolism or divination. During these years of learning I have discovered and rediscovered different areas of knowledge that have impacted me in many ways and that have contributed, and will still be adding, to my growth as a person. Therefore I wanted to create something that reflected what the MA has meant for me. In my essay I will present a review of the process that lead me to create the collage I entitled “Looking out of my window”, attempting to explain its symbolism and the challenges I have faced while doing it.
The poem ‘Shards of Glass’ expresses the fragmented post-modern experience of both the sacred and the mundane, seeing if it is possible to go beyond the mere expression of this experience and find some kind of unity, at least on a personal level. It explores how our personal myths and stories may interact with ‘established’ myth, and how objective reality may function as a gateway to the sacred.
The inspiration for my creative project arose out of an essay on the role of symbolism in the Dionysian rites. I developed a very personal connection to the material, trying to imagine what the rites may have felt like for those who participated – the essay was formal, but as I wrote my head was filled with spontaneous images and lines of poetry. I wrote the poem in four sections to reflect the Four Levels hermeneutic (also the idea of cycles of life and death, and of seasonal flow) but allowed the work to grow organically. With Dionysus as the narrator, I hoped to capture some idea of this deity’s compulsive attraction and beyond that to contemplate what ‘deity’ might signify in the first place. My professional work involves teaching and practising astrology, at the centre of which are the gods of classical antiquity – for some astrologers these represent psychological drives or Jungian archetypes; for others there is a more overtly spiritual or religious connotation. Although Dionysus is not included in the astrological pantheon, the creative project was a way for me to question myself on my own understanding of deity.
This projects weaves together a family tradition of crafting with various elements of the MA that were meaningful to me, to create a tapestry of ’emblems’.
‘LONGING is. . . the defenseless interior secret core of a person receiving its overdue invitation from the moon, the stars, the night horizon and the great tidal flows of life and love. Longing is divine discontent, the unendurable present finding a physical doorway to awe and discovery . . . . Longing has its own secret, future destination, and its own seasonal emergence from within, a ripening from the core, a seed growing in our own bodies. . . leading back to some unknown origin with its own secret timing indifferent to our wills. . . to a. . . future, to a transformation, to a life we want for ourselves and to the beauty of the sky and the ground that surrounds us’. (Whyte, 2015:135,136-7)
“At the age of 45 my heart literally broke. A boyfriend finished a relationship unexpectedly and a few days later I suffered a heart attack. My understanding as an Arts Psychotherapist is that there is no delineation between mind and body, so it did not surprise me that my heart physically mirrored my actual emotions of grief and abandonment.”
An exploration and development of some of the images and dialogues that have emerged from practicing Active Imagination
Miriel’s Threads: Recovering Portals to the Perilous Realms in Pendle’s Temple of the Stars – Julie Ross
This project charts the creation of an embroidered veil. A veil is a liminal item, well placed to convey the ‘in-between places’ that can be discovered but are more difficult to describe. The design was inspired by encounters with Tolkien’s Elves in the enchanted realms that can be perceived in the sacred Pendle landscape. Does the sacred art of sewing help us to bring these realms and the material world closer together? This is a mythopoeic journey where Elves and the Silmarils are interwoven with the Pendle Zodiac.
Louise's Test Event with Angela Voss & Mary Attwood Sunday June 27th 2021 - 10:00am - 12:00 noon (BST) via Zoom Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, with Mary Attwood & Angela Voss Sunday 27th June 2021 from 10am - 12noon (BST) via Zoom. £15 Following our popular...
Botticelli’s ‘The Birth of Venus’ with Mary Attwood and Angela Voss – 27 June 2021 – 10am-12 noon (UK time) – via Zoom – £15
Following our popular session on Botticelli’s Primavera, we are offering an in-depth contemplation of its sister painting, The Birth of Venus. We will study the mythology and cosmology behind this iconic image, and consider it in the context of the revival of the divine feminine in Renaissance Florence.
Introduction to Goethean Enquiry with Louise Livingstone – 4 July 2021 – 3pm-5pm (UK time) – via Zoom – £15
In this seminar, we explore the 18th century German poet and scientist, Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe’s (1749-1832) relational approach to learning about the world; particularly engaging with the imagination.
Levels of meaning in Shakespeare with Philip Marvin – 6 July 2021 – 6:30pm – 8:00pm (UK Time) – via Zoom – £10
Shakespeare’s ‘mirror up to nature’ encompasses every aspect of human being. It is common to explore his texts in terms of plot development, themes, imagery, historical background, sources/influences, rhetorical devices, linguistic analysis etc. This all has its place. But Shakespeare’s mirror up to nature goes deep. Deeper than perhaps any other writer has ever achieved. In this session, we will explore the different levels of meaning contained in these works and their power to transform our own understanding of ourselves and the world.
Symbol & Sacred: Signs of the Daimon with Geoffrey Cornelius – 10 July 2021 – 11am-12:30pm (UK Time) – via Zoom – £10
In this session, we explore how the daimon shows itself and guides us through signs, dreams and divinations. We will draw on Platonic themes, from Socrates and his daimonion to Plutarch and the vision of Timarchus.
Meeting the World Through the Heart with Louise Livingstone – 25 July 2021 – 3pm-5pm (UK time) – via Zoom – £15
As Iain McGilchrist states in his book The Master and His Emissary, “The model we choose to understand something determines what we find….Our first leap determines where we land” (2012, p.97). Expanding our enquiry deeper into the imaginal realms, in this session we continue to take the imagination seriously and move into our heart space; known through various discourses as an organ of imaginal perception.
We are excited to announce that the Centre for Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred is celebrating its first birthday! Over the past twelve months, via our online lectures, seminars and talks, we have had the pleasure of connecting with large numbers of you over Zoom; meeting old friends and making new ones. Each day (from Monday to Thursday), we will be releasing an online lecture for you to watch/listen to. On Friday 30th, we will be hosting an on-line, celebratory coffee morning via Zoom at 11am (BST), where Angela, Mary and Louise will be available for informal chat.
A Pilgrimage through Wells Cathedral With Tom Bree Via Zoom – June 15 2021 – 6.30pm – 8.00pm UK Time – £10
Gothic cathedral design lays a great emphasis upon ‘ascent’. Whether it be the soaring spires or the very high vaults, or even the horizontal ‘ascent’ eastwards towards the rising Sun, there is encouragement for the soul to look upwards in aspiration for the climbing of Lady Philosophy’s ladder. This talk will take you on the journey of this Tetraktys Walk towards the beautiful Tetraktys-shaped stained-glass window which itself consists of nine angels who are all looking upwards towards the One.
Dante’s Illumination: An Introduction to the Divine Comedy – Dr Mark Vernon – Talk with Q&A – £10 – DOWNLOAD
This talk was recorded on 27th April 2021. In this session, Dr Vernon reflects on the Divine Comedy and the great art it has inspired. It considers themes from the links between descent and ascent, the nature of freedom, the intelligence of light, and the transformation Dante himself undergoes that widens his perception.
Mother Mary & the Mystery of Divine Conception – Marguerite Rigoglioso, PhD – Talk with Q&A – £10 – DOWNLOAD
In this talk, Dr. Rigoglioso calls upon one of the Virgin Mary’s forgotten gospels, the Infancy Gospel of James, to reveal a truth that has been suppressed for nearly two millennia: that Mother Mary was not a passive bystander to her own pregnancy but an advanced member of a sacred order of women trained in divine conception.
Dream and the Sacred with Simão Cortês"I thought the course was well structured and interesting throughout. I particularly appreciated the reading suggestions each week. And Simao was a delightful tutor – friendly, knowledgeable and approachable." "Just to say ‘thank...
In this session celebrating the Spring Equinox, Angela and Mary introduce you to one of the most famous and iconic of Renaissance paintings by Botticelli, one of only four of his paintings inspired by pagan themes.
Soothsaying: Signs, Omens, Divination With Maggie Hyde Via Zoom – May 18 2021 – 6.30pm – 8.00pm UK Time – £10
In modernity, the ancient concept of soothsaying – literally ‘truth-speaking’ – is now defined as ‘forecasting’, ‘prediction’ or ’prophecy’. Its original meaning in being able to reveal truth inherent in a dream, omen, sign or divination is lost. We will discuss the way in which diviners can bring to light a truth that can guide, heal and transform.
This talk took place on 23rd March 2021. In this session William takes us into the Wild. We follow the fault-lines between landscape and wilderness, tame and wild, civilised and savage, wildness and wasteland.
Sharon’s talk took place on 23rd February 2021. This package contains the full recording of both Sharon’s talk and the Q&A afterwards. In this talk, Sharon explores the idea that each soul has a unique way of being, a unique purpose, which is essential not only to its own growth, but to the world’s own becoming.
Conversations with Gaia with Dr Louise Livingstone & Jay Livingstone via Zoom – Saturday 22nd, 29th May, 5th, 12th June 2021 – 10am-12noon – £45
This course is inspired by the theme of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s wonderful book Braiding Sweetgrass (2013) that encourages us, through indigenous teachings, to see the world as a gift. Innate within the energy of gift lies relationships, and the notion of reciprocity. In turn, at the heart of relationship and reciprocity lies openness, love, understanding, give and take, and, conversation.
The Secret Life of Statues with Dr Angela Voss – Sunday 16th May 2021 – 11am-12:30pm (UK time) via Zoom – £10
In this session we will explore the experience of living statues, and what it means when we find our imaginations so engaged with images that we see them as living, breathing beings.
Natural Magic with Dr Angela Voss Sunday 18th April 2021, 11am - 12:30pm (UK time) via Zoom What is magic? In this webinar we will look at the classical, medieval and Renaissance understanding of the sympathy between all things which gave rise to practices of natural...
Botticelli’s Primavera – Mysteries of the Divine Feminine with Angela Voss & Mary Attwood via Zoom – 21 March 2021 – 10am-12 noon – £15
In this session celebrating the Spring Equinox, Angela and Mary will introduce you to one of the most famous and iconic of Renaissance paintings by Botticelli, one of only four of his paintings inspired by pagan themes.
Mother Mary & the Mystery of Divine Conception with Marguerite Rigoglioso, PhD via Zoom – April 6 2021 – 6.30-8.00pm UK time – £10
On this day of the release of Dr. Marguerite Rigoglioso’s new book, The Mystery Tradition of Miraculous Conception: Mary and the Lineage of Virgin Births, we are delighted to have this scholar and esoteric practitioner reveal a refreshing new view of the Virgin Mary for our coming times.
The Lynx & the Butterfly: Exploring the Esoteric Imagination with Leonard George – Fri 30th April (7-9pm EDT), Sat 1st May & Sun 2nd May (10am-1pm EDT) 2021
Defining the imagination is like grabbing the wind. Imagining is ambiguous, ambivalent, creative and subversive. Controlling others’ imaginations has long been a means of oppression; but fresh imaginings can bring liberation and healing.
In this session we enter the Wild. We follow the fault-lines between landscape and wilderness, tame and wild, civilised and savage, wildness and wasteland.
In this course, Simão explores some of the core issues around dreaming and the relationship between the dreamer and her dreams. Each session focuses on a specific set of approaches to dreams, both religious and psychoanalytic, private and communal, creative and playful.
Dante’s Illumination: An Introduction to the Divine Comedy with Dr Mark Vernon via Zoom – 27 April 2021 – 6.30-8.00pm – £10
This year, 2021, is the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante, the author of the great Divine Comedy. It is a towering work in western spirituality, which can make it intimidating. That said, he lived in a time of turbulence, in which people felt they were losing their way, and he was clear he wrote for future generations, as well as his own. So what might he illuminate for us now?
The Jupiter-Saturn conjunction in Aquarius will take place on the Winter Solstice of 21 December 2020 but you don’t have to wait until then to see it.
This is just a test post advertising our test course
The Jupiter-Saturn Zeitgeist Conjunction by Maggie HydeAmongst the many planetary line-ups in 2020, one of the most important is the Jupiter-Saturn conjunction which falls just before Christmas on the actual day of the Winter Solstice, the longest night in the...
My creative project explores “the fecundating, magical action of the symbol on the mind” (Pietro Negri, 2001, p 91). In a sense this phrase perfectly encapsulates the aims and effects of the transformative material we have encountered on the MA, as the creative project is noted as ‘the heart of the MA’.
The Music of the Spheres: Marsilio Ficino and Renaissance Harmonia by Angela Voss In The Harmony Debates, exploring practical philosophies for a sustainable future, Sophia Centre Press, 247-267 Most people are familiar with the exquisite painting by Sandro Botticelli...
The concept of ‘calling’ derives from threads in Classical Greek philosophy which suggest that each soul is incarnated bearing a unique gift that it chose to bring to this world, this place, at this time.
We currently have no events scheduled. However, check out our 'iive' (via Zoom) courses.
This lecture series originally ran in Autumn 2020. Over five weeks, the core team of the MCS Centre explored their own ‘magic window’ into the world of the mysterious, the ineffable, the impossible, the extraordinary and the numinous.
Feb 10th – March 17th 2021. Join Mary Attwood and Louise Livingstone as they explore how expanded ways of seeing and knowing carry the potential to alter our way of perceiving and consequently engaging with the world.
A five-week deepening the material we presented in our Opening the Magic Windows course.
DOWNLOAD. This course investigates a rich and dynamic period of cultural history, exploring how the newly discovered esoteric philosophy of Hermeticism and Neoplatonism influenced 15th century practices of musical and astral magic.
In this course, Sonia will guide you through making a creative portfolio using the major arcana of the Tarot.
In this course Simão is going to explore some of the core issues around dreaming and the relationship between the dreamer and her dreams. Each session will focus on a specific set of approaches to dreams, both religious and psychoanalytic, private and communal, creative and playful.
Exploring the Thin Places FREE online event by Zoom Sunday 22nd November, 3pm - 4:30pm Following on from our highly popular Opening the Magic Windows Course, in this online session, Angela Voss, Louise Livingstone, Mary Attwood, William Rowlandson and Geoffrey...
Modern astrologers calculate their horoscopes with computers but many are also enchanted by looking at the actual sky at night. Recently, despite cloudy days, the sky has been very clear at night in south-east England, where I live, and night after night it has been stunning to see Mars so bright.
My subject is the fundamental human experience of wonder. With a mixture of personal examples and respectful theory, we will consider what it is and isn’t: its characteristics, conditions, limits, and dynamics. We shall also try to find out what we can learn from enchantment, with particular reference to the concerns of the Centre such as myth, magic and the sacred. It also has significant implications for how to best go about contesting the ruling ideologies of our time.
The Book of the Sun represents the culmination of Ficino’s life and work. Published in 1494, five years before his death, it is a supreme example of the very synthesis of astrology, religion and philosophy for which Ficino strived all his life and illustrates his ability to convey the deepest mystical experience within a lucid, authoritative prose.
Astrology's Hidden Light: Reflections on Marsilio Ficino's De Sole In Sphinx: Journal for Archetypal Psychology and the Arts, vol. 6, 1994, 114-122. In this paper Geoffrey discusses Marsilio Ficino’s approach to astrology in terms of the symbolic imagination,...
The virtual return of the get-together each month to celebrate the starsign of the month. Everyone welcome, whatever their sign, astrologers and non-astrologers, but only those who have the Sun, Moon or Ascendant in the sign of the month will lead the discussion.
Reductionism and literalism are often acknowledged as problems bequeathed to us by the 18th century Enlightenment. They foster tyrannical attitudes that disqualify ways of knowing widely enjoyed by our ancestors.
Owen Barfield called it “camera consciousness”: the ability to look at but not into things. It has become so powerful that even those pursuing imaginative and intuitive modes of perception can run aground on the rocks of spiritual materialism, which can be defined as the tendency to collapse life’s multiple dimensions onto a flatland of mechanical existence.
The Longing of the Soul: an Introduction to Neoplatonism with Dr Angela Voss in collaboration with the Fintry Trust – 4 week course starting 17th September – 11am-12.30pm (UK time) – via Zoom – £60 full course/£15 per session
In this introductory course we will cover the basic themes of neoplatonic cosmology, philosophy and ritual, focussing on key texts of Plotinus, Hermes Trismegistus, Iamblichus and Marsilio Ficino (1433-99). Some reading will be sent in advance, and there will be plenty of time for discussion.
A five-week course with Mary Attwood, Geoffrey Cornelius, Louise Livingstone, Angela Voss and William Rowlandson.
Sunday October 4,11,18,25 and November 1 from 3:00-4:14pm UK time
In this course, the core team of the MCS Centre will each explore their own ‘magic window’ into the world of the mysterious, the ineffable, the impossible, the extraordinary and the numinous.
In Part One of this series of lectures on The Art of Seeing, Mary provides a more theoretical overview to the experiential and practical monthly ZOOM sessions on The Art of Seeing.
Twenty years ago, I was fortunate enough to mastermind a project of recreating the Orphic Hymns, ancient invocations to the seven planetary deities, to evoke the spirit of Marsilio Ficino’s astral magic in 15th century Florence.
This two week course will be an introduction to astrological principles for those with little or no previous knowledge. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to attend and for payment details, as numbers will be limited. Cost will be £25 for both sessions.
Opening the Magic Windows – Materials for Lecture 4 ‘Opening the Imaginal Window’ with William Rowlandson
Opening the Magic Windows Lecture 4 Opening the Imaginal Window with William Rowlandson Sunday 25th October 2020 at 3pm MATERIALS FOR THE LECTURE Please find these below. Borges - Chess Borges - The Circular Ruins Julio Cortázar - Axolotl Julio Cortázar...
Exploring the Weird is Weird. Investigating wormholes in the fabric of the space-time continuum opens wormholes in the fabric of the space-time continuum. That is my summary of Ness HighWeird.
Review by William Rowlandson – Damned facts: Fortean essays on religion, folklore and the paranormal ed. Jack Hunter
Some writers are influential enough to have their own adjective – Shakespearean, cervantino, Dickensian, Kafkaesque, Orwellian. (Douglas Adams should have one, but Adamsian sounds odd). Charles Fort is honoured not only with the adjective Fortean but also with the noun Forteana. What is, what are, Forteana?
The pesky pixies and naughty numens just won’t go away. They have been with us for millennia and they will remain with us, one assumes, for millennia. Ghostly stick beings and therianthropes adorn our ancestors’ cave walls. St Paul admonished the Corinthians to reject demons and pagan idolatry, and Christianity has since then had troubled relationship with sprites and spirits, fairies, elves and goblins. Why elves – why now?
It is an imaginal adventure to explore the imaginal. It is a little-known word that dances between discourses, and as such carries different baggage than some of its associated meanings, such as spiritual, mystical, oneiric, anomalous, paraphenomenal, psychedelic, weird…
From Primitive Mentality to haecceity: the Unique Case in astrology and divination by Geoffrey Cornelius
The question before us is the nature of divinatory intelligence,1 which is the mode of thought whereby meaningful interpretations are sustained in divination. This paper supports the view of some anthropologists that divination involves a distinctive mode of consciousness, mental pattern or cognitive faculty.
Most practices of the people we name as shamans, witch-doctors and medicine-men present our modern rational understanding with an impasse. The logic of much that is done defeats us, it is absurd and often disgusting. Treatments are offered that can have no empirical value, yet the simple primitives seem to believe in them.
My subject today is the subtle question of whether astrology is divination. I assume most of you saw Thomas Moore give the keynote address yesterday. Moore surprised many in the audience when he expressed praise for the divinatory aspect of astrology.
The retrograde square of Mars over the Capricorn group in late September and October is certainly a time to be mindful of further events and of a second wave or lockdown.
Our country from which we came is There… How shall we travel to it, where is our way of escape? We cannot get there on foot; for our feet only carry us everywhere in this world, from one country to another. You must
not get ready a carriage, either, or a boat. Let all these things go, and do not look. Shut your eyes and change to and wake another way of seeing, which everyone has but few use.
The above quotation from Plotinus, which inspired the title of this volume, points to what is perhaps its central thread..
This book is a collection of essays from a conference held at the University of Kent in 2006, and marks the inauguration of the MA in the Cultural Study of Cosmology and Divination which ran there until 2011. Its twelve essays by distinguished authors mark the beginnings of a new approach to the study of astrology in an academic context.
Only £10 for PDF version. Immediate download.
From the artistic genius to the tarot reader, a sense of communication with another order of reality is commonly affirmed; this ‘other’ may be termed god, angel, spirit, muse, daimon or alien, or it may be seen as an aspect of the human imagination or the ‘unconscious’ in a psychological sense. This volume of essays celebrates the daimonic presence
1:14:20 minutes of downloadable music
Images of Melancholy is an evocation of the revival of Hermetic philosophy in Elizabethan England, through the music of John Dowland and his contemporaries.