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Nurturing the Feminine Soul in Mother Earth

Nurturing the Feminine Soul in Mother Earth

posted 20 Jun 2017, 16:41 by Peter Harney

This weekend experience evolved out of Tony Hempenstall’s desire for a Women Space at The Archer. Tony floated this idea at one of our monthly Agape gatherings and so a small group of women met in October, 2016 to plan a weekend experience – Nurturing the Feminine Soul in Mother Earth. On Saturday 17 June, 2017, nine women gathered in The Potter’s House to connect with one another in this beautiful lush setting of The Archer.

 

As we entered The Potter’s House, we were drawn to the figure of Mother Earth on the central table, welcoming us to this sacred space. Colourful scarves gleamed at us from the floor and soon we were participating in the Cosmic Dance of The Archer. Zoe led us gracefully as we moved with delight, twirling and lifting our scarves, our faces beamed with joy. Clutching our symbols, which represented where we felt we were at this point in our life, we shared our reason for bringing this symbol and soon the table was beautifully bedecked with all our symbols.

 

Holding in our hearts the sacred story of each woman present, we moved quietly outside to lie on the ground, sit in the Thomas Berry Sanctuary, admire the Autumn colours of a deciduous tree, walk amongst the lush vegetable gardens, sit on the swing or the verandah to take in the beauty of the surrounding Stanley River valley – to just “be” in the silence.

 

On our return to the Potter’s House, we were invited to participate in the Earth Mandala. Four different spaces had been created around our Mother Earth figure, the Cosmic Dance of The Archer, Home - Our Place, Awe and Wonder, Mother Earth’s Pain.

 

Respectfully and with reverence, we listened to one another as we stood in the space or spaces that spoke to our heart centre. Emotions of joy and delight, pain and deep sadness, vulnerability and yearning, mirth, questioning, gratitude and the desire to walk gently with bare feet upon our Earth and really connect, touched our hearts deeply. Holding all this sacred sharing in our midst we danced again, reverencing the depth of compassion that manifest itself in this connecting of our heart centres. The afternoon light held us all in its tender glow.

 

“The first chirps of the waking birds mark the ‘point verge’

of the dawn

under as a sky as yet without real light,

a moment of awe and inexpressible innocence,

when Sophia wisdom in perfect silence opens their eyes.

They speak to her, not with fluent song,

but with an awakening question

that is their dawn state, their state at the ‘point verge’.

Their condition asks if it is time for them to ‘be’?

She answers ‘Yes’.

Then they one by one wake up, and become birds.

They manifest themselves as birds, beginning to sing.

Presently they will be fully themselves, and will even fly”.

                 adapted from “Psalm” p.45 Thomas Merton, “A Book of Hours” edited by Kathleen Deignan

 

So they wake - the Kookaburras singing from one ridge to the next and to the next. Their joyful singing, piercing the dark morning sky. Roosters, ducks, horses and dogs each greeting the dawn.

 It is time to be!

 

The first rays of light appear as our Mother Earth moves towards the Sun. The Glass House Mountains emerge from the dark and the valley is shrouded in mist.

 

“Today, Sophia, this blue sky lauds you.

The bright red flowers, of the poinsettia bush praise you.

The Autumn colours of the Liquid Amber tree praise you,

the distant blue hills praise you, together with

the sweet – smelling air that is full of brilliant light.

The galahs and cockatoos, praise you,

with the grazing goats

and the finches which dart to and fro.

I too, Sophia, praise you, with all these my sisters,

and they give voice to my own heart and my own silence.

We are all one silence and a diversity of voices”.

                  adapted from “Psalm” p.47 Thomas Merton, “A Book of Hours” edited by Kathleen Deignan

 

A single candle flickers in the dark of the Thomas Berry Sanctuary.

“I beg you to keep me in this silence so that I may learn

from it

the word of your peace

and the work of your mercy

and the word of your gentleness to the world”:

                  from “Psalm Prayer” p.48 Thomas Merton, “A Book of Hours” edited by Kathleen Deignan

 

“Contemplation is the response to a call:  a call from Sophia Who has no voice and yet Who speaks in everything that is, and Who, most of all, speaks in the depths of our own being”.

                  from “Reading” p.48 Thomas Merton, “A Book of Hours” edited by Kathleen Deignan

 

The pebbles on which we walked to reach the Sanctuary, cried,

“Welcome –

rest in this stillness,

this silence,

this beauty of the new morning”.

Gently we removed our shoes.

Lavender, mint, rose petals, nasturtiums and the exquisite beauty of the silk cloth, dazzled our senses and beckoned us enter. Some tears flowed as the lilting voice of Caroline McDade’s, “As we so love”, filled the space.

 

Where in me does Viriditas/Wisdom need to come, to moisten, to make green, to add humidity to, and to make fertile? Hildegard of Bingen calls us to look for fecundity in barren places.

 

Zoe led us in a final, joyful dance of Viriditas energy, greening our lives.

 

Mary Nelson and friends

Earth's Desire

posted 8 Apr 2017, 17:11 by Chris Gibbings

To be seen in her loveliness, to be tasted in her delicious fruits, to be listened to in her teaching, to be endured in the severity of her discipline, to be experienced as the maternal source whence we come the destiny to which we return.  Thomas Berry
Thomas Berry and Teilhard de Chardin both knew that all life was a communion of subjects not a collection of objects.  All is connected through 14 billion years of unfolding creativity.  The great symphony of creation emerges in enormous diversity.  The unfolding story is not a random series of events but a chaotic order that is both bursting with novelty and the unexpected yet swirling with mysterious attractors that create elegant patterns of galaxies and starfish of exquisite beauty.  There is an inner self-organizing dynamic that allows the galaxy to know how to be a galaxy and a starfish how to be a starfish.  Each has an inner spirit that ensouls matter and holds it in a communion of life. 

We are the children of 300 years of the scientific revolution known as the ‘Enlightenment’ but do not connect intimately at the heart in a deep sense of communion with every emerging element of life but experience the very opposite.  There is a sense of isolation, separateness and aloneness.  The suicide rate among young people testifies to that phenomenon of disconnection.  We do not believe the Earth is our true home but a place that an external creator has made for us to work at our eternal salvation and hopefully, in the end, a heavenly reward.  If we are to come home to being ‘earthlings’ then we may have wisdom aplenty from our indigenous brothers and sisters.  Miriam Rose Ungunmerr invites us into a relationship with the Earth through ‘inner deep listening and quiet and still awareness’ which is not a passive activity but rather attentiveness.  Is it time we spent weekends walking in the local forests and bush land listening attentively, working the soil in the garden with our bare hands to feel the energy of earth and lying on the cold grass gazing at the milky way at night experiencing her invitation to fall into her shimmering stars.  We have much to learn and experience from gazing regularly at our own local group of galaxies.  We are invited to participate as co-creators in bringing to life a world that respects all of life and to appreciate the connectedness of everything.  ‘Only mutually enhancing human/Earth relationships will bring forth a new ethical way of living,’ says Freya Matthews. The Earth’s ethic of ‘mutual enhancement’ is reflected in the emu’s desire for zamia nuts and in the process of digesting them prepares them for germination.  There can be no self-interest or acquisition that has no life giving purpose.  An ethic of self-interest and exploitation for personal gain and profit is what brings many life forms to extinction.

Science tells us that the Earth, from which we have emerged as a species among many species, is a single living organism whose life force is grounded in communion, interrelationship and interdependence.  As our consciousness evolves we may come to a new revelatory experience wherein human consciousness awakens to the grandeur and sacred quality of the Earth process.  In such a renewal lies our hope for the future for ourselves and for the entire planet that sustains all we have ever loved and cared about.  Are we prepared to make the change or at least begin to spend our free time differently?

PH

(the basis of this reflection is from the editorial of Earth Song:  Ecology, Spirituality and Education Vol 3, Issue 4, Autumn 2017 by Anne Boyd and contributors such as Miriam Rose Ungunmerr, Freya Matthew and Thomas Berry).

Celtic Spirituality - Response for Our Time

posted 7 Mar 2017, 18:43 by Peter Harney   [ updated 8 Mar 2017, 15:29 ]

       
A View from the Isle of Iona
 
The Wider View

Irenaeus held the seeker was apavia or ‘roadlessness’, that was to say he/she was attuned to the mystery in themselves to discover the next step in the journey along the way.  The feet would lead to places of the heart and into moments of resurrection.  This sense of apavia has been integral to my sabbatical year that included both intentional attentiveness to the presence of ‘the light’ and ‘the shadow’ within and without.

Entering the Dynamic of an Eco-Community

Last year I journeyed to Forres and Findhorn in northern Scotland sparked a new awareness of my kin-ship with nature that I tried to capture in this poem written when walking the trails along the Findhorn River.

An afternoon at Findhorn River and Forest

Gaia responds to my touch…
I feel her soft skin…
Underneath, her beating heart!
There is a tinkle in the air…
water falling on rocks unseen…
a note caught above the gushing flow
of the busy river below…
Yet this gushing is soft and mellowing
Inviting quiet…in time…
Everywhere the sturdy rocks give forth life
moss, lichens and bread sponges.
Stop!

I too came from rock
My ancient ancestor…my kin…
Sunlight below dances on watery foam
The colours vibrate with radiance…
Orange, sapphire blue, iridescent green
And rusty brown – an energetic display
Nature’s diaphanous light show….
Everywhere there is a fresh moistness
it refreshes with a clarity not felt
in built environments.
The earth here is porous…the air thin.
Water creating unexpected openings in rock
in the quieter spaces…ah! dappled light…
And the music of the cosmos is audible…
Attend!

Moss grows on the slow face of solid earth
And the ancient trunks of cedar trees…
While branches stretch with more
rapid intentionality…
This striving is too fast for the
slow paced spongy moss.

The side of my path decays and falls
Roots of the beech are visible now…
Here is the life source…
The connection to mother earth…
The cavernous world of middle earth…
The long life-work of soil is revealed…

The stranger here is me!
Temporary, walking over…
Sensing momentarily connection
The forest family stays present…
very conscious and speaks of
wisdom born in deep roots
Attentive listening to a sense of…infinity!

Findhorn is founded on 3 principles – co-creation with nature, inner listening and work is love in action.  In this context I entered into the ‘Experience Week’ that introduced me to ‘attunement’ and the role of the ‘focaliser.’  When members of the Findhorn eco-community come together they connect-hands and attune to the presence of the spirit of the earth community (the divine) alive within them.  Insights are shared in creative ways before the work of the day begins.  This reflection is led by a ‘focaliser’ who invites those gathered to be still and attend to the movements of life within.  The ‘focaliser’ continues to hold the group’s welfare during the time the group is together.  The ‘Experience Week’ involved learning the spiritual practice of mediation (silent and directed) done each morning and evening in the sanctuaries that are dotted across two sites - The Park and Cluny (hotel). 

The Findhorn experience included talks by community members each evening on various communal and spiritual issues, working in the Cullerne Gardens (organic gardens which provide food for two meals each day feeding 300 people), the Kitchen (vegetarian meals only), Home Care and caring for the gardens, lawns and trees in The Park.  The sharing of experience each day invited participants to deepen a sense of their inner selves, others and the energetic presence of the natural world.  The Findhorn community has been evolving over 50 years, adjusting its operation to the changing circumstances of those who come to join the community.  Governance has been responsive to the needs of members over the years with a system of communal decision-making in place.  Of course it takes great personal integrity and skill to ensure diverse views are heard and responded to meaningfully.  What I found engaging was the willingness of those elected to governance to listen and change as membership changed, always attentive to the vision of the community of living sustainably according to the founding principles within spiritual reflective practice.  Every building in The Park reflected good eco-design, power was provided by four wind generators, human waste was recycled to the soil through what was called ‘the living machine’, restoration of the devastated natural forest was well underway and each family group generally practiced permaculture gardening. 

Some thoughts on community:
•    The community needs to be continually open to new members who share and live the founding principles that ensure a sustainable earth community of life.
•    The way the community evolves must include the residential and wider community all sharing their energy, wisdom and dreams.
•    Those who come need to be aware of the foundation story of the unfolding Universe and be prepared to engage in spiritual meditative practice and rituals especially connected to the beauty and life of nature.
•    Creativity of members is encouraged to flourish within the context of the foundational spirituality and principles.
•    The cries of the earth and those made poor are heard and practically responded to through outreach projects.
•    The community seeks to live sustainably through sourcing needs locally and from the production of food utilising the gifts of nature in season.
•    Everything gardens – as much as possible is returned to the soil.
•    ‘Program Offerings’ of The Archer Mountain Community grow out of the foundational spirituality, founding principles and the needs of the earth community
•    Members are asked to contribute according to their capacity and capability.
•    All are welcome to come, to attend, receive and make a contribution.
•    Attune to the heart of the earth wisdom within each person before decisions are taken.


Journey to Indigenous Spiritual Roots

Thomas Merton wrote of his experience when reading of the community on Iona: ‘I am reading about Celtic spirituality, the hermits, the lyric poems, the pilgrims, the sea travellers – a whole ‘new world’ that has waited until now to open up to me.’   Here is my ‘new world’ experience:

The Hermit’s Cell – Iona

I sit quietly alone on a rock
one cell in the wall built by Columba in 590…
A place of refuge, of reflection and silence…
Pilgrims have left sacred stones 2.6 b years old…
I put 3 in my pocket for the sanctuary of the Archer…
This ring of cell rocks holds the secrets of a mystic heart…
Columba’s…be still…
 
He came…sat, contemplated and pondered
What would become of his Celtic Community?
Would it grow?  The Book of Kells would be finished soon…
The marauding Vikings have brought
Destruction and death to the abbey and
The lives of the monks
Devastating!  Now to rebuild in stone…
From the stones of the island…

From here the Abbey is hidden…
It is a world apart…solitude and quiet at last…
The sea is visible...disturbed but watching…
The wind is always whistling its messages of hope
The breeze catches the low grasses and heather
Tossing the thin strands and seeds into the air…
Quiet descends again…rest from the labour of community life…

This sanctuary is vibrant with spiritual energy
I cannot sleep when I am here…
Yet my bones are aching for rest…
The earth speaks and invites me to listen…
Attend!!!
The breeze drops…a moment of utter calm…
It is back with its gentle fingers on my face and hands…
Here is a thin place where the rocks have voice…

They tell me that our spirit will continue for 600 years
Then the Roman church, its wealth and empire
will destroy all that we have made…
The monks will be expelled or forced to join
Another… religion!…
A religion that is male dominated and hierarchical…
Doctrine is set and enforced by Roman patriarchy…
All must follow or be driven out…
Easter will be celebrated with royal majesty
Not as the re-birthing of creation
The coming alive of the Cosmic Christ…
Women will be suppressed and excluded…
No longer will they have an equal voice with men…
No longer will they be considered equal as scholars…
They will be kept apart and suppressed into maidservants…
Hilda and Bridgette will be undermined and belittled.

But a different more humble voice stirs…
The spiritualty of the Celts will endure…
Monks with satchels – blanket, bell, bible and staff
Will go forth to the known world…
They will bring the good news of creation
The gift of original blessing and
Equality for all in the earth community…
The feminie will be present and tangible everywhere
A voice of nurture and compassion
Of learning and intuitive wisdom…

This will be a time in history
Remembered for learning, art, the growing of soils
Herbal medicine, dance, attunement to the natural world…
Open-heartedness and inclusion of all
Especially the marginalised and
rejected classes and tribes.
Wherever the spirit of Iona is embraced
the sound of the pilgrim’s bell will be heard
Ringing a note in tune
with the bells of this Abbey.
Within the silent heart of this cell…
I wait and listen…
Surely this time will be know as
The Enlightened Age not the Dark Ages.

 

Vivienne Hull in here book on Iona and Celtic Spirituality writes that the Roman emperor Constantine in 386 AD made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire and the church reflected the trends of society rather than standing for its reformation.  So the Roman church in its foundation story holds the vestiges of power and domination.  There is evidence of patriarchy, bureaucracy, the divine right of kings with its consequences of infallible dogmas and doctrines, males wielding ultimate authority, top down processes, secrecy, exclusion of women and often the vulnerable especially children and the natural world are see as tools for human use.  Humanity is viewed as fundamentally flawed and so intervention by Church authority is needed for redemption and salvation.  

Celtic Christianity grew up in association with the Roman Church before the year 1000, a period in history that was dubbed by secular and church scholars - the Dark Ages.  A key figure of these times was Pelagius born in 359, possibly the same year as Augustine.  He as was a bellicose Irishman and Jerome, who translated the bible into Latin from the Greek, could not tolerate, as Pelagius was a free spirit.  This was at a time when Christianity had not yet been declared the religion of the Holy Roman Empire.  Augustine, the leading Roman theologian of that time, respected Pelagius but saw him as a threat to the establishment of Roman authority as the true seat of Christianity, as the Celts saw John, the beloved disciple, as their Founder not Peter as Rome did. 

Augustine had Pelagius brought before 3 synods comprised of bishops selected by Augustine from Roman, Eastern and African churches.  Pelagius held centrality of the gift of free will and denied Augustinian’s teaching on the doctrine of the Fall and Original Sin. Pelagius was vindicated twice but in 416 Augustine appealed to Pope Innocent, who saw Pelagius as a threat to his authority and ruled against him. This decision against the Irish Celtics and their creation sensitive spirituality by Augustine, established that the highest court of appeals with regard to doctrine was now centred in Rome.  It was a turning point in the history of Christianity.  From the 5th century Augustine’s pessimistic view of humanity was set to dominate Christianity for the next 1500 years.

The Cosmic Christ is in every sentient being. Christ is the inner anam cara, or soul friend, the one who shows the way, guiding each person at every moment and reminding them of their true nature.  So what matters was developing a third eye that was attentive and present to the Cosmic Christ, not just believing in the death and resurrection of the historical Jesus.  Augustine held another view that only through the mediation of the church could salvation and eternal life be assured.

The Celtic view on the inherent goodness of creation was a further irreconcilable difference with Augustine.  The creator was not apart from creation but imminent, in creation, and all things were lit through and through with the light of the Cosmic Christ.  There was a sacramental presence in all life.  This was a non-dualistic view of creation that led Augustine to accuse Pelagius of pantheism.   The mystical intimacy of human nature and the imminence of the divine, characterise the essence of the Celtic Christian tradition, and demonstrate that for the Celts there is a mysterious presence in all life, holding all in love and original blessing.

The Celtic influence spread widely and the confrontation with Rome came with the invoking of the Council of Whitby in 664.  Hilda, the abbess of Whitby, leader one of the finest Celtic abbey schools of the times, presided.  Who would determine the way doctrine would be approached?  The debate included such topics as the date of Easter that the Irish celebrated according to the way of the ancient Druids that differed from the Roman church.   Abbesses would not concede authority to the abbots and bishops seeing themselves as equals.  The Celts held that the Eucharist could be celebrated outside in nature not always in a church.  At the end of the debate King Oswie asked: ‘Who holds the keys to the gates of Heaven?’  To the Celts this was a nonsensical question because they believed the world was a thin place where the experience of God was available to everyone at anytime.  However the Roman delegates saw that it not only held the keys but also extensive financial resources.  Ultimately the King decided in favour of the Roman delegation led by Wilfred a delegate of Augustine of Canterbury.  It took another 500 years before the Roman church finally subjected the energy, grace and influence of Celtic spirituality to rule.

By 1100 the Columba communities on Iona were replaced by the Benedictines that held a theological view of separating the sacred from the secular.  Pockets of those who followed the way of John the apostle persisted for centuries.  By the 18th Century those who followed the Celtic way were small and quite marginalised and branded as ‘superstitious’ as Enlightenment thinking took hold of western culture.

Celtic Christianity’s life-celebrating spirit and hopeful perspective on human nature were replaced by the Augustinian pessimism that has characterised so much of both Catholic and Protestant Christianity to our own day.

A question to ponder: What are the dysfunctional spiritual and psychological practices found in the Church today as a result of the Celtic community of John the apostle (who the Celts saw as their founding inspiration) being suppressed?

Many people with European roots have in their gene pool the Celtic DNA.  Perhaps at this stage in our unfolding story of ever awakening consciousness, we might explore with much potential benefit this forgotten spiritual tradition. 

PJH 7/3/2017

Collective Emergence: A New Possibility

posted 7 Mar 2017, 17:25 by Peter Harney   [ updated 7 Mar 2017, 18:48 ]

Over 30 people gathered at The Archer March 4th to participate in a workshop experience facilitated by Gail Worcelo from Green Mountain Monastery Vermont USA and Margaret Kehoe from Lima Peru where she is involved in two centres offering teachings and natural healing.  Both women are working with the wider earth community to engage with the collective emergence of new possibilities for our time. 


The Universe has proceeded through a series of creative unions! Atoms unite to form molecules, molecules unite to form cells and so the story goes. Each new union brings forth greater possibilities and more depth of being. The French Jesuit and Paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin predicted that the next creative union would be us, the human community! Creative union happens when we come together in new ways, beyond separation. During our day together, through guided practices, input and the sharing of a series of visual paintings we created a space together where something new broke forth.

We began the day exploring the life cycle of the cicadas.  The cicadas live for 17 years in the warm dark of mother earth before emerging to climb into the trees where they give birth to the next generation.  They only live for another 6 weeks but their progeny birth and quickly fall to earth to find their new dark home. The cicadas have no defence mechanism so they emerge in their hundreds of thousands and sing their high pitched song to protect themselves from predators.  So within this metaphor of the collective awareness of the cicadas we entered our day.

Teilhard de Chardin provided us with a way into this emerging phenomenon of complex collective consciousness.   In his prologue to The Human Phenomenon he provided 4 qualities constitutive of the resonant field in which we move and have our being – Cosmogenesis, Convergence, Complex Consciousness and Christ and Omega.  Gail and Marg called these the ‘4 Cs’. 

Cosmogenesis refers to the ongoing creative evolutionary emergence of the Universe that is birthing new life and energy at every moment of the space/time continuum.  As humans have the capacity to reflect on this dynamic process we actively engage in the evolutionary process by attending to the quality of our relationships, awareness, intuition and understandings.   The group was asked to share responses to the questions:
What is emerging in me now?  What are you experiencing now?

Convergence, Teilhard says, is a geophysical fact because we live on a curved planet.  Everything eventually meets or converges.  We expand naturally to fill the limits of the curve.  We can fall back on ourselves, unite and birth something new.  However like the particles that constitute the cosmos we are separate and generally resist attractive forces.  Yet to grow to full human maturity we need to respond to attractions and be open to the influence of others.  We do not lose our individuality by coming together but accentuate our individuality.   This is done through relating ‘centre to centre’ or ‘person to person.’  We come close enough to experience the collective energy of union but separate enough to allow emergence to happen.  There is creative union in the process of emergence.  Hydrogen and oxygen engage to form a new substance Water (H2O).  Questions explored were:
What are the qualities of connecting centre to centre?
What prevents you from going into heart to heart connections?

Complex Consciousness is the tendency of matter to become more complex over time.  The higher the degree of structure in a system the more consciousness it exhibits. The degree of internal differentiation measures the complexity of matter e.g. stars are large but have a reasonably simple structure and do not exhibit as much complexity as the human person. The richer the construction the more highly developed the consciousness. Teilhard used the metaphor of a tapestry.  A multi-dimensional image evolves with threads moving in and out of each other.  The tapestry gradually complexifies over time as it becomes more unified. The greater the union the more capacity there is for differentiation and this is done through coming together centre to centre. This process facilitates collective emergence birthing new possibilities.  It is how newness emerges as the complex strands both hold myriad patterns yet keep their flexibility allowing difference and unpredictability to be inherent to the movement towards maturity.   As elements come together old patterns are re-patterned and new levels of relationships emerge.  At each phase of deepening consciousness freedom, love and spontaneity are integral to convergence and emergence. It is a via collectiva where the earth community plunges into the mystery of the now and is open to the mutual awakening of the divine within.
Questions:  How can we plunge into the space between us?  How can we go beyond the known? How do we take flight?  How do we discover the space between?  What is your experience of diving in?
Gail and Marg have invited a group of 40 women around the planet who meet regularly using Skype/Zoom to share their awakening awareness and consciousness one on one and as a community.  It is about being open to the continual blooming of the human spirit when there is a subtle pressure to evolve.  Gail and Marg also shared paintings they created through sitting opposite each other and sharing the artist’s canvas.  This gave birth to creative activity: plunging in, going beyond, taking flight and attending to the space between.

Christ Omega is the awareness that Teilhard had of the creative order of the cosmos.  There was not only had creativity and spontaneity at its heart but also directionality.  There was a sense that love which was the deepest creative energy of the cosmos was inviting movement towards an end which was the Christ or the oneness in the mystery.  The universe was not a random series of events but chaotic order which forever is evolving around attractors into elegant patterns of creativity and beauty.  Life, death and re-birth is the life cycle of the cicadas and the life cycle of the entire cosmos.  Stars die and are born again, as are trees, flowers, mammals and birds.  We live in a cosmogenic universe that is forever evolving into more complex consciousness.

Gail Worcelo and Margaret Kehoe leaders in workshop

The Opening and Blessing of 'Julian' the Hermitage

posted 7 Mar 2017, 17:20 by Peter Harney   [ updated 8 Mar 2017, 15:49 ]

Archer Mountain Community - 12 April 2015

The morning began with thick fog which eventually lifted to a day of brilliant sunshine and blue, blue sky.


They came from afar, Victoria, USA, Iran, Gympie, Brisbane and Villeneuve… neighbours, friends, brothers and supporters. Over 40 gathered to participate in the four-part ritual, Gathering, Pilgrimage, Blessing and Agape.

The opening song proclaimed, “All are Welcome, Let us build a house where love can dwell and all can safely life!” and then we were treated to a show where we witnessed Julian emerge from theearth over many, many months to be the thing of beauty it is today. We heard of Julian of Norwich for whom it is named and her simple, prayerful and hermetic life walled in beside the church of St. Julian in Norwich, England.

And so began the pilgrimage up the mountain accompanied by the Blessing Songs and acknowledging the first custodians of this sacred land here at the base of Mount Archer, the Dungadai people. And the four elements of Life: Earth, Air, Fire and Water. As we progressed we sang,

            The Blessing of God goes before us
            God’s grace and peace abound
            The Spirit lives among us
            We walk on Holy Ground.

as well as the words of Julian herself,

            All Shall be well
            And all shall be well
            And all manner of things
            Shall be well!
Slowly the procession wound its way towards the mountain top where Julian sat overlooking the valley and as we walked we listened to the wisdom of Earth, Air, Fire and Water:

            These are the eyes of Earth
            And this is the voice of Earth

said Joseph Campbell.

            God is a river, a wild, raging rapids
            And a slow meandering flow

sang Peter Mayer.

We heard from the Song of Songs

            Awake, O North wind, and come O South wind
and also the great Hildegard of Bingen,

            Fire of the Holy Spirit
            Life of life of every creature…

As this group of pilgrims approached the top, Julian stood out, a red glow in the morning sun, recalling he glow of Uluru in the desert at dawn and dusk. Truly the spirit of our Sacred Land was with us.


Blessings flowed from our mouths and using the elements we had just celebrated, we walked into Julian to complete our individual blessings on this sacred space… flowers, candles, incense, water and gifts were scattered around the interior as we sang the blessing song and the words of Julian of Norwich.
Finally, some words from Julian of Norwich followed by prayer while facing the Six Directions and then the descent back to The Potter’s House for the final part of the ritual, Agape! Food and drink, good cheer and company, stories and connections.

Julian stands atop the mountain, a place of hermitage, of openness to all and welcome to those who long for solitude and silence, for immersion in creation, for simplicity and beauty.

Archer Mountain Community



Araucaria bidwillii (Bunya Pine)

posted 7 Mar 2017, 17:18 by Peter Harney   [ updated 8 Mar 2017, 15:55 ]

My thoughts on the Bunya ...
I have kept these reflections to the relevance they may have to The Archer Mountain Community/Companions.
You will have your own reflections if you would like to research the Bunya some more.
I leave it to each of you to draw your own inferences.


Julian

The Tree

posted 7 Mar 2017, 17:17 by Peter Harney   [ updated 8 Mar 2017, 16:09 ]

The tree itself is magnificent and the sight of large dominant conifers in full rainforest can be a new and unexpected experience. The dome shape of its uppermost foliage is iconic and the massive bunya cones are spectacular.

The greater Araucariaceae family, literally like
something out of Jurassic Park, were distributed
almost worldwide during the Jurassic and Cretaceous
periods, becoming entirely extinct in the northern
hemisphere toward the end of the Cretaceous and now
found exclusively in the southern hemisphere,
survived by approximately 41 species across three genera. Other members of the family include the iconic Kauri of New Zealand , the Norfolk Island Pine and Australia’s other ”living fossil” the Wollemi Pine.

few things say ancient like a Bunya Pine.

It is an emergent species in rainforest and is confined to Queensland, where it occurs mainly between Nambour and Gympie and west to the Bunya Mountains, with a small occurrence in north Queensland on Mt. Lewis and at Cunnabullen Falls.

Although its timber has been discovered to be ideal for use in the production of acoustic musical instruments, its real potential comes in its already ancient role as a human food source.

Like so much of Australia' indigenous history, the true and full history of the Bunya Nut Festivals in South East Queensland may never be known. Stories of celebration and cooperation, finely tuned to the erratic fruiting of the Bunya Pine, which drew thousands of Aboriginal people from as far away as Charleville, Dubbo, Bundaberg and Grafton.

During January of each year, female flowers form in the top 1/3 of the tree while the sausage shaped male cones form below. Around August – September pollen from the male cones drifts upwards to fertilise the female flowers. The cone starts to develop and is ready to drop in approx. 17 months i.e. around February / March.

The tree has an amazing capacity, due to its leaf structure, to trap and condense available moisture, dropping the moisture to the base of the tree.

Each cone has the potential to produce up to 80 new Bunya Trees The leaves and the bark of the tree are very prickly!

The Nut

posted 7 Mar 2017, 17:12 by Chris Gibbings   [ updated 8 Mar 2017, 16:01 by Peter Harney ]

Apart from the above, it may be said that we are all a bit ‘nuts’, and it may be very helpful to stay that way!
I think, after my propagating many of them, we could have a Bunya Planting Festival in April/May 2017?

The small nut (each one the scale of the larger cone) develops around a soft core, each one attached to the core and to each other – they are individual, sharing the essence.

The very sizeable nut/cone, takes the shape of the tree itself, with it's distinctive flavour and high nutritional value, could be described as the quintessential bush tucker.

Over thousands of years aboriginal people have
gathered from such huge distances to celebrate
when the nut was in season is testament to its value
both as a food and as a unifying symbol of Aboriginal culture. the traditional people and culture of this land.

The nut is 40% water, 40% complex carbohydrates, 9% protein, 2% fat, 0.2% potassium, 0.06% magnesium and contains approx. 32 calories and gluten free.

The nut can be boiled or roasted, and make a great pesto; there are many varied recipes for the use of the nut - savoury and sweet dishes. It is one of the most versatile and useful of all our native foods - soups, casseroles, quiches, pies, pastas, vegetables, desserts, cakes, biscuits, bread, damper, scones, pikelets, pastry, lollies and porridge.

The simplest way to prepare Bunya nuts for eating is to put them in a saucepan of water and boil for about half an hour. Remove from the water and split open while still hot. Remove from the shell and serve with butter (pepper and salt if required). They may be eaten cold, but are better hot.

Apart from the above, it may be said that we are all a bit ‘nuts’, and it may be very helpful to stay that way!
I think, after my propagating many of them, we could have a Bunya Planting Festival in April/May 2017?

Julian Maher 

Meditating with Tildy

posted 7 Mar 2017, 17:10 by Chris Gibbings   [ updated 8 Mar 2017, 16:06 by Peter Harney ]

At dawn Tildy trots to the meditation room. 
A small bundle of tossed, white curls 
     ears, nose, tail — 
signposts pointing to the sky. 

She has her own chair. 
We watch as she eyes it carefully, 
leaps up, turns around once, 
settles into the orange cushion. 

Like a conductor 
she lifts her chin 
looks towards our teacher. 
     Permission to begin. 

Music leads us. 
We sink into our breath 
     deeper    deeper 
but some of us hear 
the clitter of toenails 
on the floor. 

Finally called back 
we blink, wriggle toes and fingers. 
Tildy is curled on the mat 
     all liquid bones and fluff. 

We gather our belongings, 
slide open the door. 
Coming Tildy? 
Tildy cocks one ear. 
Her eyes open in gentle reproach. 
You lot go on, she seems to say, 
I have hours more meditation
to get through this morning.

Beverley Sweeney (on Meditation Retreat)

Rain – Make up your mind!

posted 7 Mar 2017, 17:09 by Chris Gibbings   [ updated 8 Mar 2017, 16:13 by Peter Harney ]

Rain- make up your mind! You have been coming & going all day! 

I have to admit that too often I see you as an a darn inconvenience to my well laid out plans, a dampener on my mood, a downer on my great BBQ . 

But today I see you as blessing. You fall to earth in droplets, laughing through trees & leaves, gurgling and splashing down on rocks, creeks and drains. By afternoon I see you in a whole new light. The sun peeks through the clouds and I behold a treasure chest – a jewelled landscape as you glisten and sparkle like diamonds on every branch & blade of glass all the way down to the dam. 

You know you are a curious thing, Rain! What is it you are saying to me? if I could only listen a while… 

I am water and I play in the form of rain, vapour and ice. 

I provide snow to the polar caps and home to the polar bear, too! 

I swirl freely with frogs & fish through rivers and gullies and bubble forth with delight from fountains. 

I dance on mountain tops, forests and the odd tin roof. 

I lie in ponds and puddles waiting for children to jump & splash in me. 

I give abundantly and joyously to nourish planet earth till it becomes green with envy!!! 

If you can swim, it is because you once swam in me- in the great oceans. I make up 70 percent of the planet and your body too - You big drip!! I am your life-force.

So for once, throw caution aside - the wind will catch it, forget the barbie, feel my joy and dance to my rhythm in your heart.

Jim D’Arcy (on Earth Mystics Retreat)

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