Philosophy & Religion

Bringing Feminine Wisdom into Secondary Religious Education – Hannah Jayne

Bringing Feminine Wisdom into Secondary Religious Education – Hannah Jayne

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.

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Four Songs of Dionysus – Carole Taylor

Four Songs of Dionysus – Carole Taylor

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.

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The Book of the Sun (De Sole) – Marsilio Ficino (1494) – £5 download

The Book of the Sun (De Sole) – Marsilio Ficino (1494) – £5 download

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.

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Introduction to Marsilio Ficino by Angela Voss

Introduction to Marsilio Ficino by Angela Voss

The importance of the work of Marsilio Ficino of Florence (1433-1499) in the awakening, transmission and dissemination of esoteric knowledge in the West cannot be overestimated. By ‘esoteric’, we mean a tradition of religious philosophy which embodies an initiatic mode of teaching – a promise of access to hidden meanings deep within the fabric of the world which will eventually lead the searcher to a condition of gnosis or unity with the source of all being.

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Life between Lives Therapy: A Mystery Ritual for Modern Times by Angela Voss

Life between Lives Therapy: A Mystery Ritual for Modern Times by Angela Voss

The theme of this chapter arose through a strange coincidence and a dream, which I shall briefly relate. Some time ago a friend introduced me to the work of Michael Newton, and I spent a session with my MA students discussing the question of regression therapy and spiritual encounter in relation to Hermetic texts and the mundus imaginalis of Henry Corbin. Shortly after this, I received an email, quite out of the blue, from Michael Newton himself. He was looking for a university department where he could develop his client work into a doctoral thesis, and this initiated a flow of personal communication on the subject of life between lives (LBL) therapy.

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Eros by Angela Voss

Eros by Angela Voss

How do we interpret the word ‘erotic’ in our contemporary society? It usually conveys a sexual allure, a physical attraction, a suggestion of passion and exoticisim. But do we connect it with spirituality, or a sense of divinity? Not usually. In our secular world the sacred is not accessible through sex. We have separated human sexuality from religious experience, yet surely everyone can testify to the tremendous emotional power of the “longing for the beloved” and probably most have sensed what feels like an
immeasurable distance between the ideal of love, the perfect beauty, and the person sitting next to them at breakfast.

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Becoming an Angel: the mundis imaginalis of Henry Corbin and the Platonic path of self-knowledge – Angela Voss

Becoming an Angel: the mundis imaginalis of Henry Corbin and the Platonic path of self-knowledge – Angela Voss

The profoundly alchemical implications of Corbin’s imaginal hermeneutics, in a spiritual sense, are illustrated by his interest in the hieratic art of statue animation, which he describes as:

neither a simple dramaturgy of the unconscious or psychological allegory, nor a simple manipulation of materials practiced in the manner of a mere chemist or pharmacist (droguiste). It is an operation at once material and spiritual, the juncture between the two aspects remaining the hidden secret underneath the symbols of the “Philosophers” (as the alchemists designate themselves).

Alchemy for Corbin is essentially the inner, spiritual work of attaining union between the human soul and its heavenly counterpart

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