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Monday, February 11, 2019

Feast day of the Immaculate Conception

Today is Day Nine in this Art Novena of Our lady of Lourdes.

 I pick the flowers from my garden and make a garland
to adorn Her image
I twist ivy and roses for Her crown

I pick the first crop of gooseberries
and symbolically offer the fruits of my harvest to Her

as I sprinkle the ground around Her with
holy water from many Holy Wells

and I plant Her blessing seeds to sanctify the ground

(You can read more about Mary's Blessings seeds

I reflect on the past eight days of this novena.

While I stayed in Lourdes, the one image that still lives vividly in me,
is that of the thousands of sick visiting the shrine AND
the thousands of volunteer helpers, carers, companions and nurses.
Such giving and such receiving.  Compassion and extension to those who cannot walk, for those who cannot hide their vulnerability.  Being a part of that procession and witnessing such love openly being given and shared, touched me deeply.

So often we shut others out because we look different, act differently, believe differently.  So often we shut others out because we close our hearts for fear of revealing our vulnerability.  

A humble heart is a heart that is strong in its vulnerability.  An open heart is a door through which love flows in and out.

And such is Her infinite Love, in whatever form is true for you;
in that which has meaning for you;

In these nine days many new voices and hearts have entered my circle, taken my hand and walked through the garden of Mary with me.  Thank you for your sharing.  May we continue to meet and share the Love!

May you bathe in the river of blessings that flow from Lourdes

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Day 8 of Art Novena to Our Lady of Lourdes

Fire and Light

Fire and light are both powerful  symbols and alchemical agents
of transformation
and they play an important role in myth,
fairy tale and religious stories and rites.

I took this picture during a full moon on the Nativity of Mary
at the light procession at the sanctuary of Lourdes
In the story of Bernadette and the Soubirous family we
learn that Bernadette's father, a miller by craft and trade,
had fallen on hard times and the family had lost everything.
To earn money he undertook to dispose of waste materials from
the local hospital.  He took the bloodied and putrid bandages
in a small wooden wagon and set off
to the grotto of Massabielles where he built a big fire

'There arises an evil-smelling pyramid of
blood-soaked cotton, pus-stained bandages,
and filthy linen rags...quickly he tosses his box
of matches to set the heap on fire...The horrid
combustible pyramid flares up on the instant...
this strange sacrificial pyre, whose smoke, graciously
accepted by Heaven, rises in a straight line.
extract from The Song of Bernadette

a vestal virgin in Rome

A shrine of Bernadette Soubirous with the
candles of Lourdes

Fire is of great importance to us.  We use it to
cook our food and to keep warm in winter.
The hearth and its fire has always been a symbol
of the divine presence of the Deity who
provides and supplies us with what we need.
The candle is also seen as the flame of the Soul.
Those with mystical sight can see the flame that
is alit on the crown of the awakened ones.

The crown on top of the basilica of Our Lady of Lourdes

One can see the halo of a burning flame with the naked eye
and holy ones and awakened ones are often
drawn with similar halos.

Even though we understand how fire is created, it remains
a mystical ocurrence with miraculous abilities.
Similarly, as prana is ignited in the body (spontaneously
or through spiritual practice) and involuntary and
unexpected changes take place in both the mind, the body
and the heart, it is a wondrous mystical occurrence.
As inner sight develops and extra sensory perception
and a vast peace eventually settles in your being,
one feels drawn to make these events manifest in ritual
and practise.

Since ancient days a candle was kept alit in the temples and cities
as an offering to the heavens and as a sign of the unwavering spirit.
This is still the practise at Lourdes and also at Kildare where
the Brigidine nuns keep the flame lit.

The candles at the sanctuary of Lourdes are
kept burning 27 hours a day

Radiant Mary, shine radiantly upon me.
Bright Lady who illuminates my inner darkness
Yours is the incorruptible fire;
As it is clean, it cleanses; as it is pure, it purifies.

Taken in my garden in the most eastern corner
at dawn


Saturday, February 9, 2019

Days 30 and Day 7

I am the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of Lebanon

Blessings to you as we reach the end of our
Thirty Days with Mary journey and as we approach
the feast day of the Immaculate Conception.

During these days we have covered so many
aspects of the Divine Feminine and who and what
Mary is to us. We have peeled away the layers
and have stared deeply into the mirror darkly.

I have offered the Thirty Days with Mary a few times
over the last few years, but this year has been
very special, thanks to all of you.
Thank you for sharing your images, your experiences,
your insights and your own resistances.
I could relate to each and every one.

Today I offer you these thoughts to ponder :

The Mysteries of Mary and the Christian mystery of the incarnation
of the Divine into earthly matter, is the ultimate sacred marriage,
the hieros gamos, the marriage of the greatest opposites,
that of heaven and earth.
We cannot fathom how does heaven and earth unite as one
and we cannot fathom that all of earthly matter is sanctified
by the divine essence that lives in all.
But we can accept the open invitation that the Soul
does exist in this body and we can accept that all is
blessed by the Presence of the Divine.

There is no separation between holy and ordinary

The Mystery of the Incarnation of the divine into the ordinary
has been told through many aeons of time and through
many cultures and traditions.  It is not only now
in the new unfolding age that we are being reminded
that woman metaphorically and in human
consciousness, represent matter (mater) and that
woman (matter) mothers the Divine.  

Preparing to greet the goddess

Do not think of her unless you are prepared
to be driven to your limits;
to rush forth from yourself
like a ritual bowl overflowing
with consecrated wine.

Do not summon her image
unless you are ready to be blinded,
to stand in the flash
of a center exploding,
yourself shattering into the landscape,
wavering bits of bark and water.

Do not speak her name
until you have said goodbye
to all your familiar trinkets -
your mirrors, your bracelets, 
your childhood adorations -
From now on you are nothing,
a ghost hovering at the window,
a voice singing under water. 

             - Dorothy Waters

Om Jai mata Mary Ma
Jai jai ma

Day 7 of the Nine day Art Novena to Lady of Lourdes

The Ace of Vessels
Mysteries of Mary tarot deck

“We are now, I believe, on the threshold of a third stage which I call the stage of the sacred marriage. This is the only position we could possibly take and still survive. This is a stage beyond both matriarchy and patriarchy. It involves the restoration to human respect of all of the rejected powers of the feminine. But it is absolutely essential that this restoration should be accomplished in the deep spirit of the sacred feminine. Not only should we invoke the sacred feminine, restore the sacred feminine, but this union between the matriarchal and the patriarchal, the sacred marriage, must be accomplished in the spirit of the sacred feminine for it to be real, effective, rich, and fecund. It must occur in her spirit of unconditional love, in her spirit of tolerance, forgiveness, all-embracing and all-harmonizing balance, and not, in any sense, involve a swing in the other direction.”

― Andrew Harvey, The Return of the Mother

She who Priestesses the Holy in the Ordinary;
The Vessel of the new age of humanity.
The High Priestess is in complete balance,
carrying the two sacred vessels of the living waters
of consciousness.  She is the vehicle for the inner
sacred marriage; the coming together of
masculine and feminine, spirit and matter,
the holy and the ordinary.

We awaken to the Inner Presence by discovering the story that
lives within each one of us.
 Here in this shrine, 
she has stepped off the wheel of fate (usually symbolised by your
astrology chart which has fixed your destiny in time and space) and
she has also stepped off the half-moon.  Often the High Priestess,
the Virgin Goddess, the Queen of Heaven, stands on the half-moon,
a symbol amongst other things, of the influence of the hidden
world of emotions.

The Soul within you is priestessing the healing balm for your own
personal story.

The Ace of Vessels
Mysteries of Mary tarot deck

Prayer for today :

I open myself to the spirit of the sacred feminine as embodied
and demonstrated by Blessed Mary and Bernadette Soubirous and the temenos
of Lourdes.  I invoke the sacred feminine
presence to cultivate the inner garden for the hieros gamos, 
the sacred marriage within myself and my world 

Blessings to you

Friday, February 8, 2019

Day 29 and Day 6

Water has always been the sacred energy of the feminine.
When one follows the leylines in the earth, the Mary line
curves and spirals around wells and you will find
cathedral and churches built on the power points of the Michael
lines (as they are known in the UK)
The feminine has always been worshipped at wells
and it is quite noticeable what an important role the well
plays in Judeo-Christianity and its stories and they
usually involve a woman..

From the very first days, miraculous cures have been granted at Lourdes to many who drank or bathed in the spring that Bernadette discovered at the Lady’s prompting. The Catholic Church is extremely slow and meticulous about acknowledging the validity of a cure and so most of the cures claimed there are never officially recognized. Even so, there are dozens of totally recognized cures that have happened at Lourdes that have been documented by the Church and the medical profession. The first healings happened almost immediately in 1858 and continue until the present day. 

This healing is brought to us on many, many levels.

A picture taken by myself of the Grotto and the spring
and the pyramid of candles

Water has the power to drown us or to quench our thirst.
We know Mary as the loving nurturing mother and also
as the Mater Dolorosa, the grieving mourning mother,
dressed in black, mourning the loss of her son.

In Lourdes you will see hundreds of pilgrims carrying large
containers of water from the sacred spring home every day.
We bring tiny bottles of the healing waters home with us.
Mary is called a Vessel of Spirit, a Vessel of Honour and here in
Lourdes she is the Vessel of the Sacred Waters.

Mary as Alchemical Vessel

In alchemy the vessel is the container in which the
various ingredients are mixed and transformed by each other.
It was believed that the alchemists were looking for
a way to turn lead into gold, but this is a metaphorical
journey of transforming darkness into light.  Or of
finding joy and peace amidst sorrow and hardship as we live
in a world of radical opposites and many challenges.

Mary is the vessel for the divine incarnated in herself as 
the Immaculate Conception and in
giving birth to her Son
and then as all of us.  

water containers at Lourdes

She is also the spiritual vessel in which
opposites combine.  As we are tested and challenged, like Bernadette,
we have the choice to obey the instructions of the voice of the Lady
that no-one else sees or to listen to the incredulous villagers and
Cure.  As we follow the calling of our heart, we are led to dig where
no-one else thought to look and we will uncover a spring that will
feed and nourish thousands.

Prayer for today :

I open myself to your presence, o Great Mother;
I commit myself to your priestesshood of miracle thinking
and the practise of faith in the extraordinary.
I am willing for my eyes and heart to be broken open
by your divine and blinding presence;
as I priestess your love and compassion in the world.



Thursday, February 7, 2019

Day 28 and Day 5

Blessings to you and welcome to Days 28 and 5 of this dual
devotion and ritual.

When we read that the Radiant Lady at Lourdes stands over the wild rose bush
and that she has golden roses on her bare feet, we realise that she is deeply identified with roses, as was Our Lady of Guadalupe. The rose just seems to be the most easily recognizable symbol for the flowering of differentiated consciousness or the unique divine spark. 
The Lady of Guadalupe brought forth roses in cold December and wrapped them tenderly in an ordinary tilma worn by an old Indian peasant. This is an image of wrapping consciousness in the outer cover of our human body, something that a mother does when she conceives a human life. It is something that the earth does when she provides us with the material for a human body. Or, another way to look at it, is that creation itself – the material world – is a wonderful cloak that covers the radiant divinity.
Juan Diego had something in common with the Lady who came to him on the hill of Tepeyac. They each had a cloak that was made of the fabric of created reality. She gave him a visual aid in order to teach him and us about this. She imprinted her picture graphically so that Her cloak – the entire cosmos – can now be seen upon his rough one.  This Lady is not interested in dogma or ideologies; she interfaces with us to teach us about our personal rose – our inner divinity – which is trying to become incarnate here.

The woman at Lourdes refuses to give any other name but to say "I am the Immaculate Conception." She does not say, as the Church would have Jesus' mother say, "I am the virgin Mary who has been immaculate from the moment of my conception." (conceived and born without sin of any kind) She says that she IS the Immaculate Conception. The Lady of the Grotto is the embodiment of the cosmos speaking to us as an aspect of God’s own Being. She shows us the breathlessly beautiful immaculate plan – God’s conception of materiality. She is telling us that she is an image of our created, material nature, which is nothing less than a cloak that covers divinity. She uses every means available to communicate to us about who we are and what will help us.

At Guadalupe she used symbolism that the Aztecs would understand. It spoke instinctively to the Spaniards, as well. She uses symbols and language that will help her immediate hearers to understand for their own purposes. As the late mythographer Joseph Campbell has pointed out, different religious traditions are like software that helps the “computer” to function. It is usually best for people to stay within their tradition, if it is helping them to function. So this woman relates within those belief systems, but is not at all confined to them.

The Pre-Christian Apparition of Queen Isis

Painting of Isis by Hettienne

In conjunction with Lourdes, it is necessary to speak more about Queen Isis whose lore is still embedded in the Christian mythology from its ancient roots in Judaism while it lingered in Egypt. The Lady of the Lourdes grotto asked specifically for processions. Queen Isis loved grottoes and processions. Processions to the goddess are as old as recorded history. What child of the pre-Vatican Catholic Church does not recall the May processions and the joy of strewing flowers in the path of the statue that represented Mary? It was a way of showing our deep devotion to our “Queen of Heaven.” She was “Queen of the angels and Queen of the May!” Bernadette referred at times to the Lady as  “The Queen of Heaven” or “The Beautiful Lady.”

We have an account, still extant, of an apparition granted by Queen Isis in ancient times that further points to the identity of the marvelous woman still appearing today. It comes from the book “The Golden Ass” written by Apuleius, an initiate of Isis, the night before he walked in her procession in 150 A.D. Here is his testimony that records the words spoken by the apparition that stood before him then:

“I am she that is the natural mother of all things, mistress and governess of all the elements, the initial progeny of worlds, chief of the powers divine, queen of all that are in hell, the principal of all that dwell in heaven, manifested alone and under one form of all the gods and goddesses. At my will the planets of the sky, the wholesome winds of the seas, and the lamentable silences of hell are disposed; my name, my divinity is adored throughout the world, in divers manners, in variable customs, and by many names.

For the Phrygians that are the first of all men call me the Mother of the gods of Pessinus; the Athenians, which are sprung from their own soil, Cecropian Minerva; the Cyprians, which are girt about by the sea, Paphian Venus; the Cretans, which bear arrows, Dictynian Diana; the Sicilians, which speak three tongues, infernal Proserpine; the Eleusinians, their ancient goddess Ceres; some Juno, others Belonna, others Hecate, others Ramnusie, and principally both sort of the Ethiopians, which dwell in the Orient and are enlightened by the morning rays of the sun; and the Egyptians, which are excellent in all kind of ancient doctrine, and by their proper ceremonies accustomed to worship me, do call me by my true name, Queen Isis." (Occidental Mythology, p. 42-43 - from The Masks of God series).

 When she appeared to Apuleius she was crowned with the headdress of the moon and two vipers, with corn stalks woven in her hair. Her multi-colored robe was woven with flowers and fruit, and her black mantle embroidered with stars and the moon. There is much similarity between the vision of Apuleius and that of Juan Diego, the visionary of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The mantle of Isis is covered on the outside by the night sky – by stars. Like Our Lady of Guadalupe, she is dressed in the cosmos itself as if it is her robe. 

 Spirit "wears" materiality like a garment. 
This garment is Earth's physical nature –  her Body. 
She/we are the Immaculate Conception!

Prayer for today :

I enter the Underworld as you pull me into your embrace, 
in every waking moment of living.
Contemplating on your Presence in the world,
opens me up to the poignant beauty and suffering
of all life in order and my  heart breaks open
over and over, over flowing with compassion.  
As my rigid mind dissolves in your
presence, all boundaries between myself and all living creatures
and the earth disappears and we are all one.
Ave Maria

Om Jai mata Mary Ma
jai jai ma


Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Day 27 and Day 4

Blessings to you.

The suit of Roses is all about manifestation and embodiment.
It is the highest suit in the Mysteries of Mary tarot deck
and it is the part of the journey where matter and spirit
crosses and blooms through the rose of the heart.

An important part of the sacred Immaculate Practise
is sacred dance.  We connect to our deepest selves through
both the free and disciplined movement of body.

Chanda Maria Devi (@shebearer on Instagram
recorded a beautiful video of a full movement
prayer and meditation as part of
Thirty Days with Mary #thirtydayswithmary.

It is a long session and you will see that you can
do it in sections.  

She invites you to step into the sacred space
and be transported to the
Temple of Dance where movement becomes prayer
and where you set your intent through the flow of your breath and body.

Below is the link for the video -
it takes a minute to upload.



Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Day 26 and Day 3 of Art Novena

Today is day 26 of Thirty Days with Mary and 
Day 3 of the Art Novena for Our Lady of Lourdes

Today we are reminded of the universality of Mary
and the mystery of who she is.
To some she is the literal figure in a Bible story;
to others she is a Western goddess;
some know her as Queen of Heaven and the Angels
and still others know as her Mama, Gaia,
Mother Earth and our nature.

'I realized that all the powers of the Mothers, of Tara, Durga, Kali are in Mary.

She has Tara's sublime tenderness;
Durga's inaccessible silent calm force;
the grandeur and terribilta of Kali.
But Mary is also a woman,
a poor woman
and a human mother. - Andrew Harvey

Visionary or apparitional culture is no static force, a cultural 'given' 
that people can join as members.
It is dynamic, responding to contemporary political, social and religious realities
and shaping those realities, and is also shaped
by the individuals who identify themselves as Marian devotees
and visionaries.
Visionary culture is a confluence of Catholic devotions, symbols,
and traditions of innovative responses to modern
contexts of negotiations among social, religious and interpersonal
forces of the interactions of apparitions believers
and apparition doubters and of the loving
and guiding influence of Our Lady, who for believers is imminently present.
Visionary culture is a worldview, a palette of practices, an understanding
of the cosmos, a palette on which individuals paint
the stories of their lives.
              Extract from Out Lady of Emmitsburg by Jill Krebs

In her the full path of the sacred feminine is lived.
In her we have a complete image of the Divine Mother,
an image at once transcendent and immanent,
other-worldly and this-wordly,
at once mystical and political and practical.

In Mary the Divine Mother comes to earth and lives on earth
and lives, the passionate, strong, serious,
simple and transforming life that shows us all how to live.

Who is she to you?
What are the whispers in your ear? 
What are the winds stirring up in your heart?
It takes great courage to answer that call
and to step out of the comfort and security
of the unexamined room in which we live.
Has she been calling  you?
Then today is the day to answer.
 Today is the day to accept the call to step out
into the unknown

To do that which you have been avoiding,
to see and hear that part of yourself that has
been tugging on the hem of your coat,
begging for attention

Prayer for today :

Magnificent Mary may I remain open
to the impossible
May I remember not to ignore the very subtle
messages of Spirit;
and may I undertake each task as the sacred task that it is
Ave Maria
Om jai mata Mary ma
jai jai ma