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Monday, February 18, 2013

Om Ave Maria

Om Ave Maria

Oh Glorious Universal Mother of all
Divinity endless encompassing all
I thank you for showing yourself always
For opening my eyes to see

Your face Your presence
Infinity large
Minuscule small
The cloaked cloud
The constant breath
The rushing river
The focused roaming wind
The piercing sun
The rain of grace
The Light of thunder
Calm during the storm

All reaching infinitely
A force of and beyond
Tangible, solid as the biggest mountain
Gentle, subtle as the caress of the slightest feather

Your face
Bhakty Ma Ji's face
My face

Your grace

Thank you for choosing Bhakty Maji Ma
Thank you for the depth
Thank you for the darkness
Thank you for the serpent sigh
Thank you for the chaotic stillness
Thank you for the endless flowering petal
Thank you for the comforting scorch
Thank you for the place of one-ness
The sweet shudder

I am loved
I am love
All is love
All that is and all that is not
The binding of it all and the scattering of every aspect
All arranged perfectly

Your endless caved womb
Your breast
The bursting heart oozing endless
Golden syrupy nectar of love
Of life
Of death

Zaneta Astera DeviMaria

Via Maria

Maria Shrine at Sancta Maria, my home and Temple of Mary www.shekinahdove.org
Via Maria - The Way of Maria, the path of Mary

The physical world and all of creation is sacred and a gift of Grace. The Divine is present in all things and all things are in the Divine.

God is both Mother and Father, Lover and Beloved and the Absolute One

This physical universe is a manifestation of the Love of the Belove;

God and Goddess, Lover and Beloved in an eternal embrace of ecstasy.

 Our highest values are Love, Wisdom and Beauty.

 Through spiritual practise (sadhana),

devotion (bhakty),
divine inspiration and 
commitment to keeping the flames of inspiration and spiritual vision al and
compassion in the world and taking the work out into the communities as Flamekeepers of the Temple of Mary, we find our true selves.

This is a path of bhakty (devotion and worship), mysticism and creativity. We express our devotion and worship through acts of dance, song, mantra, ritual sacrament and puja; we access the Divine within ourselves and everything through deep meditation, through Vision and Beauty (the highest expression) as well as through contemplation on the suffering and painful challenges of our daily lives.

 We express our love for and devotion to the Divine through acts of creativity and compassionate giving. This is defined in the following text :

 Let my every word be a prayer to Thee
Every movement of my hands a ritual gesture to Thee
Every step I take a circumambulation of Thy image
Every morsel I eat a rite of sacrifice to Thee
Every time I lay down a prostration at Thy feet;
Every act of personal pleasure and all else that I do,
Let it all be a form of worshipping Thee.
From verse 27 of Shri Aadi Shankara's Saundaryalahari

 Via Maria draws from many traditions. There are many wells in the sacred Ganga and we drink deeply from all these wells, bringing together many pieces of the greater picture. We use wisdom from occult Christianity, the teachings of the Cosmic Christ and the Cosmic Mother, the Tree of Life, Hindu Tantra, Bridal Mysticism, the Gnostic teachings,  and Goddess religions amongst others.

In prema,
Ave Maria

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Goddess full of Grace

Painting : Sacred words by Sri Hettienne Bhaktymayi Maria Ma

Hail Mary, Goddess full of Grace
The God is with you
Blessed are you among women
and blessed is the fruit of the creativity
that spirals forth from your womb.

Through your art and rituals of beauty,
we find our forgiveness and healing.

Holy Goddess, Mother of Earth,
work the mystery for your children
now and forever

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Living by Grace

Most of us start the journey towards awakening in an attempt to escape our current state of mind or to heal the body. In the beginning various tools are applied, such as affirmations, releasing techniques and various other modalities, but then eventually, the truth dawns, that actually you are only re-arranging the furniture! Carlos Castanedas said that when you wake up and you realise you are in the house of the mind, do not waste time exploring the various rooms, get out of there as fast as you can! Well, that is one approach. But ultimately, we are walking between worlds and we have to learn to live with the tension of the opposites. This constitutes the middle road – that of living by Grace.

The mostly negative and fearful ego-mind is the greatest obstacle that stands between you and the direct experience of Soul. In order to live by Grace and to live in freedom, you need to let go of your need to suffer and to receive Love in every breathing moment! I agree that when you first read this sentence, you tend to react, what utter nonsense, who chooses to suffer willingly and knowingly? But the mind, through its conditioning and its ‘learning’ chooses suffering more often that what is obvious.

It revels in its own sense of suffering. The mind identifies with the story of ‘me’ and ‘me’ cannot exist without the story! Thus it is easy to become so enmeshed in the story that it becomes your identity and all of who you think you are. When in actual fact, you are not the story and you need to remember who you are.

The truth is that you are never separated from the Divine Soul. Your True Self is the one behind the web of the mind. Your mind is your active opponent when it engages in self-rejection, self-deprecation, criticism of the self, breaking down your self-esteem and filling you with thoughts of not being good enough, not lovable, and so on. So now you are probably thinking to yourself, well, I know that is the problem; how do I change it?

First of all, change your belief system. At first you may need blind faith. Blind faith in an ever loving Presence that has never abandoned you and has never rejected you. Accept that you in fact do not know the true nature of the divine Presence. All that you think you know about it, you have acquired through the perception of your experiences and thus your conditioning. The mind wants to keep you safe and protected against re-experiencing any painful feelings. Thus it contracts and armours itself and does whatever it takes to keep you from revealing yourself, or from taking any emotional risks. But when you apply the mind in its higher function of self-enquiry and you follow the bread crumb trail back to the origin of the thought and the belief system, you will find that your mind’s reasoning is absolutely crazy! There is no logic and no rationale. It is a story woven and fabricated by your mind and it will most probably not even make sense to anybody else. So this is where Carlos Castanedas’ statement makes so much sense. Why do you want to spend time unravelling the many, many stories that your mind created? It is so much simpler to merely jump from the plane, knowing that you carry a parachute and free float down to a new reality.

Obviously this is not as easy as I make it sound, but with consistent effort this is well within your reach. At first it is difficult to do as you now have to break a life long habit. A habit of being angry, or feeling justified in your behaviour, or feeling sorry for yourself. And obviously, it is not that obvious!! The mind has an excellent trickster and a wizard at its disposal and through the use of smoke and mirrors, it conceals these mind sets and attitudes behind a veil of justification and 'reasonable' self-centredness!
What does it mean to ‘desire God’? It means that you accept that there is a Principle of Love – complete, unconditional and infinite Love. That this Love Principle is Perfection and that its power is omnipotent and omnipresent. You accept that ultimately your will is God’s Will and God’s Will is your will and that God’s Will is only Love. So, I suppose you have to believe that your mind is not in control, it has never been in control and that personal willpower will not get you what you want!! And then by implication, this means that ‘your will’ is not the personal will of the mind. And mostly, we only get to this point in our consciousness and awareness, through hardship and suffering, and often through disease of the body! So we have gone full circle.

You can choose to look at disease or challenges in your life as signs of ‘not doing it right’ or ‘not being aligned’, or whatever terminology the mind choooses to use. OR you can look at it from the perspective of LOVE, and that is that All Is As It Should Be at all times. You may not understand, you may not be able to see the bigger picture, but knowledge of God and the true nature of Love, will set you free to accept and surrender at all times. And through acceptance and surrender, the resistance dissolves and thus the mental pattern that created the disease in the first place.
You see, you do not need self-improvement. You are innately whole. You entered this world in absolute innocence and wholeness. And then the journey started. And the pain that you felt, was the pain of believing you are separate from God, that you had been abandoned by God. And one of the many 'reasons' why these feelings were created is because this world cannot validate your sacred Individual Self. So, when you looked into the eyes of another, you could not see your True Self reflected back at you. Nowhere could you see evidence of your innocence and your purity. Your True Self was rejected in experiences with others. When you revealed your exuberance, your absolute Self-absorbed happiness and joy, it was labelled as inappropriate; your pleasure in the beingness of your physical body may have been called perverse. In many different ways, your Being were rejected. And this is the truth for all human beings, in varying degrees.

When you find someone that you resonate with, your experience is always one of ‘he/she gets me’, they understand me, they ‘see’ me. But sooner or later, this is no longer true and problems start in the relationship. Do not look for acceptance in the eyes of another, rather reflect acceptance for yourself as the other through your own eyes, back at the world.   As you are learn that you are so much more than your story and so much more than others’ reflections, and you start to gain this conviction, you become the Grace.



Friday, February 1, 2013

Bridgit, Mary and the Sacred Marriage


Beckoning, calling

A beacon of light in the darkness.

 Winds swirling, moving white light blending with white cloth.

 A smile, a halo, hair or light?

 She is calling, walking ahead, leading, guiding, gently shining

 the Light.

I follow, one foot forward, then another,

tentatively, unsure, until finally,

breaking out in a run,

feet secure, heart pounding,

following blindly,

following Her. - Hettienne  Bhaktymayi Maria Ma - 2004

The year after I found Mary's Well in
Glastonbury, I attended the International Goddess Conference in Glastonbury - the first of many to follow. That year the focus was on Bridie or Brigid and her swan.

If you have been following the story, you will know that Hestea/Vesta led me to St Brigit and Michael's Tower in Glastonbury.
I stayed in the same bed n breakfast as before and this time I shared the space with Sister Mary McAleese, a Brigidine nun from Kildare!

From her I learnt that Brigit is also known as Brede or Mary of the Gael! You may remember my mention of the one book that made such an incredible impact on my life. I read 'In this House of Brede' by Rumer Godden when I was fourteen - I still own that copy. I have given many books away since, but never that one. I could not explain to you why the book was so important, other than that I always felt that there was a story behind the words that only I could 'see'.

When those nuns told me that Brede was St Brigit, the key fitted the door and the following year I travelled to Kildare, Ireland to the sanctuary of St Brigit, Mary of the Gael.
The nuns are Brigidine nuns, living in Kildare in Ireland. They are part of a community known as Solas Brihde, devoted to the all-encompassing Celtic St Brigit : saint, poetess, protector and healer.

They have restored the original Brigit sacred pilgrimage site along with a small publication, guiding pilgrims in the power and symbolism of the pilgrimage to Brigit.

The original site dedicated to Brigit, Celtic Goddess, is still to be seen in the grounds of the Catholic Church
erected on the same site.

This shrine, near Kildare, was located near an ancient Oak that was considered to be sacred by the Druids, so sacred in fact that no one was allowed to bring a weapon there.

The shrine is believed to have been an ancient college of priestesses who were committed to thirty years of service, after which they were free to leave and marry.

During their first ten years they received training, the next ten were spent tending the sacred wells, groves and hills of the goddess Brigid, and the last decade was spent in teaching others.

Nineteen priestesses were assigned to tend the perpetual flame of the sacred fire of Brigid. Each was assigned to keep the flames alive for one day. On the twentieth day, the goddess Brigid herself kept the fire burning brightly.

The goddess Brigid was also revered as the Irish goddess of poetry and song. Known for her hospitality to poets, musicians, and scholars, she is known as the Irish muse of poetry.

The Feast Day of Brigid, known as Imbolc, is celebrated at the start of February, midway through the winter. Like the goddess herself, it is meant to give us hope, to remind us that spring is on its way.

The lessons of this complex and widely beloved goddess are many.

The Celtic goddess Brigid lends us her creativity and inspiration, but also reminds us to keep our traditions alive and whole. These are gifts that can sustain us through any circumstance.

Her fire is the spark of life. - taken from local literature.

Lighting the Perpetual Flame – A Brief history

A sacred fire burned in Kildare reaching back into pre-Christian times. Scholars suggest that priestesses used to gather on the hill of Kildare to tend their ritual fires while invoking a goddess named Brigid to protect their herds and to provide a fruitful harvest.
When St. Brigid built her monastery and church in Kildare she continued the custom of keeping the fire alight. For her and her nuns the fire represented the new light of Christianity, which reached our shores early in the fifth century.

Gerald of Wales (Giraldus Cambrensis) a Welsh Chronicler, visited Kildare in the twelfth century, he reported that the fire of St. Brigid was still burning in Kildare and that it was being tended by nuns of St. Brigid. Some historians record that a few attempts were made to have the fire extinguished but without success. It survived possibly up to the suppression of the monasteries in the sixteenth century.

The sacred fire/flame was re-lit in 1993, in the Market Square, Kildare, by Mary Teresa Cullen, the then leader of the Brigidine Sisters, at the opening of a justice and peace conference. The conference, entitled “Brigid: Prophetess, Earthwoman, Peacemaker” was organised by Afri, (Action from Ireland), a justice, peace and human rights organisation, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of St. Brigid’s Peace Cross Project. Since then, the Brigidine Sisters in Kildare have tended the flame in their Centre, Solas Bhride.

Kildare County Council commissioned a sculpture to house the flame in Kildare Town Square in 2005. The piece comprises a twisted column, which flourishes at the top into large-scale oak leaves, nestled into which there is a bronze, acorn cup holding the flame. The use of oak leaves symbolises both the Christian beliefs of St. Brigid and the earlier Druidic worship of the trees. Of course, the oak is also the namesake of Kildare, Cill Dara, Church of the Oak.

President Mary McAleese presided at the lighting of the Perpetual Flame in the Town Square on Feb.1st St. Brigid’s Day 2006. The flame was lit from the flame tended by the Brigidine Sisters in Solas Bhride. The flame burns as a beacon of hope, justice and peace for our country and our world. We still tend the flame in Solas Bhride. - extracted from www.solasbrihde.ie

I would like to quote from Riane Eisler's Sacred Pleasure, Sex, Myth and the Politics - New Paths to Power and Love :

From the Sacred Marriage of the Goddess to Male Brides of God. In conformity with male dominator systems' requirements, this tenet that woman is inferior to man pervades many mystical writings, both Eastern and Western. ...inner contradictions also characterize most Judeo-Christian mystical writings. For in these monotheistic religions the female is deprived of all divine power, which is presented exclusively in male form. Yet, even despite such radical remything, there are still in the Bible many traces of both the Goddess and her sacred marriage, confirming the archeological evidence that Goddess worship (and with this sacral sex) continued to flourish in Canaan. For instance, Hebrew prophets are cosntantly exhorting their people against backsliding to the worship of the Queen of Heaven, railing against the 'whore of Babylon' and the sinful 'daughters of Zion'. The Christian veneration of the Virgin Mary is a directly traceable to the ancient worship of the Goddess. And so also are a number of well-known Catholic saints, as it is to the Church's co-option of earlier pagan deities that many Christian saints owe their origins. A well-documented example is the famous Irish Saint Brigit, who owed her great popularity to the fact that she was once the powerful Irish Goddess Brigit.

La Feile Bride

Bridgit, Mary of the Gael, Goddess and Saint of Poetry, Crafts, Healing and Fire :
  Inpiration of poets, artists and artisans.

Brighid, excellent woman,
Sudden flame,
May the fiery, bright sun
Take us to the lasting kingdom.

Song of the Virgins of Kildare
St. Brigid's church in Kildare was built on a site sacred to Brigid. 
Where Her eternal flame had once been tended by 19 priestesses, 
19 nuns took it in turn to each tend the flame for a day and a night. 
On the 20th day, the Goddess (or the saint) tended the flame herself.

February 2 is one of the great cross-quarter days which make up
 the wheel of the year. 
In the Northern Hemisphere It falls midway between the
 winter solstice and the spring equinox and in many traditions is 
considered the beginning 
of spring and in the Southern Hemisphere it is the 
beginning of autumn.

In Western Europe, this was the time for preparing the 
fields for the first planting.
 This was an important day for grain growing communities who 
depended on the crops of the earth mother. This is the time of year, 
when the ground is first awakened and the seed placed in the 
belly of the earth. 
The fields were purified and offerings were made to the goddess.

This medieval Anglo-Saxon plowing prayer was said by the 
farmer while cutting the first furrow.

Whole be thou Earth 
Mother of men. 
In the lap of God, 
Be thous as-growing. 
Be filled with fodder 
For fare-need of men.

The farmer then took a loaf of bread, kneaded it 
with milk and holy water and 
laid it under the first furrow, saying:

Acre full fed, 
Bring forth fodder for men! 
Blossoming brightly, 
Blessed become; 
And the God who wrought the ground, 
Grant us the gifts of growing, 
That the corn, all the corn, 
may come unto our need.

 February 2 is also Imbolc, and Candlemas,
 the holy day of Brighid, 
Goddess and Saint, La Feile Bride. (pronounced Breede)  

The Sacred Well and Shrine at Kildare

Brighid is a Goddess of many names. 
In Ireland She is called Brigid, Brigit, Brighid, 
Brid. In Scotland She is called Bhrighde, 
Bride Breo-Saighit, Brede. 
The Welsh call Her Ffraid and the French call her
She is called Brigantia by the Northern English 
and Bridget in Sweden. 
Her name is pronounced Brighid or Bree-id.  
Some have said that Her name may have come 
from the word Brihati, 
which means "high" or "exalted one" in Sanskrit. 
Her name in Gaelic means "fire tipped, exalted one, high one."

 Imbolc, also called Oimelc ['ewe's milk'] marked the first 
stirrings of spring when young sheep were born, and when 
ewes came into milk. 
On this day, the first of the Celtic spring, Brigid was said to 
use her white wand to "breathe life into the 
mouth of the dead winter", 
meaning the white fire of the sun awakened the land. 

An old poem stated; "Today is the day of Bride, 
The Serpent shall come from the hole." 
An effigy of the serpent was often honoured in the ceremonies 
of this day, making it clear that Brighid had aspects as a 
serpent goddess. As the serpent sloughed its old skin and was 
renewed, so the land shook off winter to emerge restored; 
the snake symbolised the cycle of life. 
When Brighid's cult was suppressed, 
then St Patrick had indeed banished the snakes [Pagans] from 
Ireland. However, Brighid's popularity was so great that the c
hurch transformed her into a saint, allegedly the midwife of 
Christ and the daughter of a Druid who was converted to Christianity
 by St. Patrick, and who went on to found the Abbey of Kildare. 

Her festival became Candlemas when church candles were blessed. 

Brighid was invited into the home by the woman of the house, 
in the form of a doll or corn dolly dressed in maiden white. 
Oracles were taken from the ashes of the hearth fire, 
which people examined for a sign that Brighid had visited, i.e.
 a mark that looked like a swan's footprint. If found, it was
 considered a lucky omen. 
The swan was an ancient attribute of the goddess Brighid. 
Many Irish homes still have a Brighid's cross hung up somewhere.
 This was originally a solar symbol.

A small community of Brigidine nuns are keeping the sacred light
 of Brigit burning at 
Solas Brihde in Kildare.  I spent a week in Kildare, 
walking the pilgrimage of Bridgit, visiting her sacred well

Her favourite oak tree

a candle blessing at one of the stations of the Brigid walk

prayed at the Abbey of Brede

Weaving the St Bridgit cross is traditional on this day.

I found this step be step instruction on the site of the Brigidine sisters :

1.     Take the first rush/reed and hold it vertically.
2.     Fold a second rush/reed in half 
at the mid point of the first.
3.     Take a third and fold it around the second parallel to the first. 
This will now form a T-shaped piece, with one arm having one strand, 
the second having two and the third having three.
4.     Fold the fourth around the third to form a cross.
5.     Fold a fifth around the fourth, parallel to the single strand. 
Make sure you hold the centre tight!
6.     Continue folding each reed around the previous reeds.
7.     Work in a circular way until you have created enough of a woven centre. 
When your centre is as large as you want, hold in the reeds tightly so 
that the centre is tight and will hold the cross without any difficulty.
8.     Tie the end of each arm carefully and trim ends.

If you would like to read more about my pilgrimage to Brigid, 
Mary of the Gael and her presence in Glastonbury, please go here :  http://pathofdivinelove.blogspot.com/2011/04/brigidbrigitbridebrede-mary-of-gael.html
Carving of Bridgit milking a cow - on Tower of Michael,
                                                                                  the Tor, Glastonbury                                                                                  

A blessed La Feile Bride to you!!