The Great Challenge of Our Time:
Awakening to a New Story
Winchester University May 3rd, 2017
Robin’s Cosmos Painting
In this talk, I will explore four aspects of the great challenge of our time and the need to awaken to a New Story: the first and most important is to heal the split between spirit and nature which is so deeply embedded in the three patriarchal religions and the creed of scientific reductionism. The second is to recover and redeem the Feminine Principle, understanding why it has been rejected. The third is to define a new image of God, taking us beyond the image we have inherited of a male Creator separate from creation. The fourth is to define the New Story that is emerging today and how our understanding of Reality is changing. All these are themes which I have explored in my book The Dream of the Cosmos but recent events have thrown them into even sharper relief.
This is perhaps the most critical time in our history: a time of the utmost depravity, greed and barbarism but also a time of tremendous opportunity to awaken to a New Story. Millions of people across the planet are responding to the longing to create a different kind of civilisation: one based on relationship, love and service rather than the pursuit of power and the deeply imprinted pattern of national rivalry, weapons and war. This awakening invites a totally different understanding of Reality, bringing with it more mature values which profoundly respect all forms of planetary and cosmic life and a new worldview.
Moon, green fields and dolmen
My own consciousness was transformed by a powerful visionary dream I had about forty years ago which awakened me to the Feminine Principle. I dreamt that I came round the side of a huge dolmen and entered a different world, a desert landscape lit by the brilliant radiance of the full moon which transformed it into field after field of shimmering green wheat. The moonlight was so bright it was like daylight and the wheat was the colour of an emerald. I floated over this emerald sea for many miles, looking for my beloved, my bare feet skimming its surface until I came to the brow of a hill and hesitated, wondering if I should go further. I decided to go on and came down into a valley which was about a mile wide. Suddenly I saw two gigantic men standing on either side of the valley. They had a huge net stretched across it and were drawing me into the presence of something tremendously powerful and numinous. I lay flat on my back on the ground, caught like a fish in the net. I looked up, half in terror, half in awe at the vision before my eyes.
Goddess Picture with swirling vortex in abdomen
I saw the figure of a woman filling the entire space between earth and sky. She was naked and very beautiful; not young, but ageless. In the centre of her abdomen was an immense revolving wheel, like the Cosmos itself. Awestruck, I gazed up at her; then down at my own body, which was exactly like hers, only tiny in comparison. I too had a wheel but mine was not centred. It was on the left. She did not speak but indicated I was to centre my wheel, like hers. This visionary dream changed my life. It was an initiation into an utterly different perception of reality. It launched me on a quest to find out why the Feminine had been so devalued in patriarchal civilisation and why woman’s voice had been silenced for some four thousand years.
Ancient of Days
What happened to the Goddess? Why do we have a God and no Goddess; why had the Divine Feminine been excised from the patriarchal religions? I embarked on a quest to recover the lost images and mythology of the Goddess and to co-write a book, The Myth of the Goddess, about the reasons why these had vanished from western civilisation and been replaced by an image of God. It soon became clear that, from ca. 2000 BC, the Goddess began to be associated with nature as a chaotic force to be mastered, whereas the God assumed the role of creating or ordering nature from a ‘place’ that was outside or beyond it. Spirit came to be defined as something beyond the world, something remote, transcendent, beyond nature and beyond ourselves. Moreover, it was defined as male and paternal. This led to the fundamental separation between spirit and nature that is at the root of our difficulties today. All three patriarchal religions ruthlessly eliminated the image of the Goddess as well as all traces of Animism — the belief that spirit is present in the forms of the natural world: in the rocks, mountains, trees and rivers. All identified spirit with a wholly transcendent concept of God.
Today, we are faced with the devastating effects of the long absence of the Feminine in our image of spirit. Because of this, our culture is radically out of balance, affecting every aspect of our lives, most importantly the education of our children. Generally speaking, there is no respect for nature; no sense of relationship with the life of the planet; no apparent awareness that we are destroying the habitat that sustains us. With our ever-growing numbers we have already destroyed 50% of all species on the planet. By 2020 two-thirds of all wild animals will be gone. A new study published in Nature (April 2017) says that if we continue to burn fossil fuels, we will cause the fastest climate change the Earth has seen in 50 million years. Awakening to a new story means moving towards a new image of God or spirit that includes nature, matter and all planetary life and indeed, all cosmic life. It means recovering what has been lost: the ancient understanding that the universe has a Soul and an Intelligence and that spirit is immanent or present in every particle of matter: every stone, flower, tree and blade of grass; every one of the hundred million atoms of our own being.
We need to go back to the Neolithic era to understand the enormity of what we have lost. The Neolithic was the time when the whole Cosmos was imagined as a Great Mother, from whose womb all life emerged. She was seen as the ruler of the sky, the earth and the waters beneath the earth. The serpent personified her ability eternally to regenerate life. The bird was her messenger. The whole of the natural world and the Cosmos itself was alive and ensouled, part of a living web of relationships, animated and sustained by the Great Mother. (1) The most important idea I want to convey to you about this time is that there was no Creator beyond creation; no separation between the Great Mother as Source and the manifest forms of her life; no separation between spirit and nature. People felt they lived within a Sacred Order, the Order of the Great Mother. Everything came forth from her womb and had meaning and value through relationship with her. So relationship and connection came to be understood as the essential quality of the Feminine. (2)
Temple of Artemis
We can follow the transition from the Great Mother of the Neolithic era to the Great Goddesses of the Bronze Age: Goddesses such as Isis and Maat in Egypt, Artemis of Ephesus (whose temple is shown here) and Cybele (Kybele) in Anatolia. The worship of these Goddesses endured far into the Roman era. In the temple courtyards of the Goddess stood the tree of life – the sycamore and the olive. The dove and the serpent, as in the Neolithic, were still associated with her worship.
Artemis of Ephesus
This is an image of Artemis, Great Goddess of Ephesus, whose Anatolian name was Cybele (Kybele). (3) Notice her black face, hands and feet that were transmitted to the image of the Black Madonna in France. Once, this statue stood in her magnificent temple in Ephesus. Resting on her multiple breasts is the great lunar crescent identifying her as a Moon Goddess, and beneath it nestles a circle of tiny acorns. On her body are sculpted different animals including lions, bulls and bees as well as angelic beings and priestesses of her temple. It is an amazingly complete statement of the unity of the great web of life carried by the image of a Goddess as Great Mother.
Phases of Moon
The mythic theme of the goddess cultures was lunar; focussed on a cyclical process of Birth, Death and Regeneration that arose from the age-old observation of the recurring phases of the moon: its birth as the crescent; its waxing to fullness, and its waning into the three days of darkness. This process was carried in the image of the triune goddess: the maiden, the mother and the crone. The constant rhythm of the moon’s waxing and waning taught us to perceive light and darkness in relation to each other. Light and darkness, life and death were not polarised as they were later to become in solar culture, but were two phases of a total cycle. (4)
Cecil Collins painting (5)
For many thousands of years the Great Mother and these Great Goddesses personified the principle of relationship: the interconnectedness of every aspect of life and, above all, the sacredness of the great Web of Life. They were worshipped as the source of life: one life manifesting as the life of each and all. Sexuality was seen as the vital expression of that life: a sacred, ecstatic impulse reflecting life’s own creative impulse eternally to renew itself.
I think we can look to them for the origin of the later feminine concept of the Anima-Mundi or Soul of the World and also the Holy Spirit as an all-embracing cosmic entity in whose life we live.
Once, long ago, the world was experienced as alive with spirit: nature was part of a sacred cosmic whole. Everything that the image of the Great Mother once embraced in earlier cultures was lost, and with it the vital sense of participation in the cosmic life of an invisible entity imagined as a containing, connecting maternal being. We need urgently to recover this experience if we are to respond to the challenge of this crucial time of choice.
The Great Father God of the Solar Era
From around 2,000 BC we enter the patriarchal solar era: an era of huge social and political change; an era that I call the Phase of Separation – lasting some 4,000 years to the present day. The solar era sees the emergence of the ego and the conscious mind from the infinitely older matrix of instinct and the primordial soul. The sun rather than the moon becomes the primary celestial body. The Great Father replaces the Great Mother. Two immensely powerful mythologies become the major influence on the social, political and religious history of the West, right up to the present time.
Raphael - St. George and the Dragon
The second factor in the loss of the Feminine lies in the dominant mythology of the solar era: the cosmic battle between Light and Darkness, Good and Evil originating in Persia with the great sage Zoroaster. What happened was that man became associated with spirit and light and woman with nature and darkness. This mythology is reflected in innumerable paintings and sculptures of St. George killing the dragon. Despite its magnificent cultural achievements, this 4,000 year long patriarchal era has been dominated by the theme of conquest, territorial expansion and the creation of gigantic empires, culminating in the First and Second World Wars and the current catastrophe in the Middle East. This mythology has also led ultimately to the battle to conquer and subdue nature in the service of Man, to the splitting of the atom and the accumulation of nuclear weapons. During this era, the drive for power and dominance replaced the older lunar emphasis on relationship with a harmonious cosmic order.
Many extraordinary human achievements, such as the abolition of slavery, owe their origin to the battle to overcome darkness and evil but it was also projected onto the struggle for power between nations and the creation of a perpetual enemy — the dragon which had to be defeated by the solar hero.
The Warrior – Alexander the Great
The third factor in the loss of the Feminine during the patriarchal era is the emphasis on the warrior, the solar hero, personified here by Alexander of Macedon. The archetype or pattern of the warrior still dominates the piling up of arms by the great nations today. Men, for thousands of years, had no choice. Their fate was to become warriors. (6) Leaders of nations still unconsciously assume the role of the solar hero battling the forces of darkness that are projected onto an enemy. In Euripides’ heart-wrenching play “The Women of Troy”, we hear what women suffered during these 4,000 years, as they lost fathers, brothers, husbands and sons and were taken into slavery, much as the Yazidi women have been taken into slavery by Isis today.
Jaws of Monster/Dragon devouring people
I would like to explain to you that, in relation to the inner world of the psyche, this battle can be understood to reflect the ego’s struggle for autonomy as it emerged from the immense power of the matrix of nature and instinct. The ego’s great fear was of being swallowed by the jaws of the dragon, falling back into unconsciousness. Because of this struggle, the ego and the developing conscious mind – identified with the solar hero – became increasingly split off from the feminine matrix out of which it had evolved. It felt it had to ascend to the sun — away from nature; away from the Great Mother; away from the jaws of the dragon. The ego’s struggle for autonomy was tantamount to matricide and it destroyed the possibility of maintaining a relationship with the Feminine.
The Myth of the Fall of Man
The fourth factor in the loss of the Feminine is the immensely influential myth of the Fall of Man. In the Book of Genesis we find the story of our expulsion from a divine world and our Fall into this world, a Fall that was brought about by a woman, Eve, who disobeyed the command of God and brought sin, death and suffering into being. In this myth the Image of Deity changes from Great Mother to Great Father. Divine Immanence is lost. Probably in the reign of King Josiah in the early seventh century BC The Hebrew Goddess Asherah was deliberately demoted by the Deuteronomic priesthood of that time into the human and flawed figure of Eve who still mysteriously holds the Goddess’ former title of “Mother of All Living”. Earth becomes a place of exile, punishment and suffering for primordial sin. Man is given dominion over the earth but he is exiled from the divine order of the Garden of Eden. All this was taken literally, as divine revelation. Why did such a negative, punishing myth come into being? Only very recently have I found two possible answers to this question.
Comet approaching Earth
Evidence has emerged over the last 10 years and was published in an article in the Daily Mail on 29th April 2017 that roughly 12,900 years ago (10,900 BC) this planet was hit by the fragments of a disintegrating comet.
Comet striking Earth
The impacts of at least 8 of these fragments, up to 2 miles wide and approaching the Earth at more than 60,000 miles an hour, generated colossal amounts of heat which instantly liquidised the millions of square kilometres of ice which at that time covered Canada as well as parts of North America and northern Europe, destabilising the earth’s crust and causing a sudden catastrophic rise of sea-levels which created the Great Flood that was recorded and remembered in many different parts of the world. This really was a Great Flood. Millions perished. It was followed by a freezing Dark Age of a thousand years known as the Younger Dryas Period when little in the way of food could be grown and people were forced to build underground shelters to survive the bitter cold. The memory of the highly advanced civilisation that had existed before the Flood has lingered in our racial memory as the lost continent of Atlantis — the lost Garden of Eden which vanished beneath the Flood in a day and a night. As for the few survivors, they had, as Plato put it, “to begin again like children with no memory of what went before.” (7) The other possible reason, less dramatic, was that there was a 300-year long drought in the eastern Mediterranean that lasted from 1200 – 900 BC — until about 200 years before the myth of the Fall was formulated. What was once a flourishing, verdant land was transformed into desert. War and famine followed and civilisation collapsed. (8)
Whatever its origin, the Myth of the Fall became the foundation of Christian doctrine, given as the reason why we needed the sacrificial death of the Son of God to redeem us from our sins. The radical change of consciousness which it reflects, with its emphasis on guilt, sin and suffering, led to pathological symptoms of anxiety and the compensatory desire for power and security resulting from a profound experience of dissociation, separation and loss — symptoms similar to those a child exhibits when it has lost its mother.
Adam Blaming Eve
This powerful myth, known even in India where rape is called ‘Eve-teasing’, is the origin of the virulent misogyny still active throughout the world today because all women were and still are unconsciously identified with Eve who was blamed for bringing sin, death and suffering into the world. Here we have Adam pointing the finger of blame at Eve. We can understand why, even today, women have so little sense of their own worth, why women have had to struggle so hard for the right to education and autonomy. Worldwide, 65 million girls still have no access to education (UNICEF). The patriarchal priesthoods are saturated with misogyny. They have kept women in a position of subservience until very recently when, against huge resistance, women have begun to throw off their oppression and male control. It is now a hundred years since the Suffragettes fought for the right to vote.
We can also understand why men have suffered for millennia through having to repress and deny their feelings, the feminine aspect of their nature. (Prince Harry’s recent courageous admission of his grief over his mother’s death — grief that he had shut out of his mind for 20 years illustrates how difficult it has been for men to acknowledge their feelings, even to themselves).
Until I researched the letters of the early Christian Fathers, I hadn’t realised the extent of their obsession with the Myth of the Fall and the sin of Adam and Eve taking that apple from the Tree of Knowledge. Without exception, all believed that the path to God required the renunciation of sexual intercourse and relationship with women. (9) The Catholic Church still refuses to ordain women as priests and enforces control over their lives by banning the use of contraception. In a dangerously over-populated world, estimated to reach 10 billion by 2050 this is quite simply outrageous.
The Effect of these two Polarizing Mythologies:
- Nature, body and woman were downgraded in relation to spirit, mind and man
Light and good were associated with spirit and man
- Darkness and evil were associated with nature, matter, the body and woman
- Woman was named as an inferior and secondary creation and became subject
- to man
- She was barred from her ancient role as priestess, healer and prophetess
- Body was split off from mind and mind from soul
Nature, matter, soul and body are the four aspects of the Feminine that need to be redeemed.
Mary Magdalene and Jesus at the tomb (Noli me tangere)
Now I want to turn to a further aspect of the loss of the Feminine in Christianity. Here is the famous scene, depicted by Fra Angelico, of the meeting of Mary and Jesus in the Sepulchre Garden after his Resurrection. Mary would not have been there unless, as his wife, she had come to anoint his body, as was the custom at that time. Since writing my book, I have discovered through the work of an archivist and genealogist called Laurence Gardner that Mary and Jesus were married and that they had three children. Although hints of their intimate relationship can be found in the Gospels we know and is obvious in the meeting shown in this painting, this fact was deliberately concealed by the Catholic Church. However, it is clearly revealed in some of the Gnostic Gospels. (10)
Mary teaching the Apostles
Two of these recovered Gospels, the Gospel of Philip, and the Gospel of Thomas, describe the close relationship of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. A third, the Gospel of Mary, where Mary describes to the apostles the teaching Jesus had privately imparted to her, confirms their relationship beyond the shadow of a doubt. She herself must have originally written this Gospel. In the Gospel of Philip, the Greek word koinonôs is used to describe their relationship. It has the explicit meaning of consort and refers to a wedded and intimate sexual partner. It does not merely mean ‘companion’. Here she is, the Apostle of the Apostles, perhaps sharing with them what Jesus had imparted to her.
The Divine Mother
Many of the early Gnostic groups from which these Gospels emerged had kept alive the ancient tradition of a Divine Mother and the Holy Spirit, a tradition the Jews took with them when they fled to Alexandria after the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD. Until 1945 when some of the lost texts of the Gnostics were miraculously discovered at a remote village called Nag Hammadi in Egypt no-one knew that some groups of early Christians, among them this Jewish community in Egypt, had an image of the Divine Mother whom they named “The Invisible within the All.” As in ancient times, the Divine Mother was identified with the Holy Spirit and Divine Wisdom and the dove was seen as her emissary. Some believed that, at the baptism of Jesus, it was the Divine Mother, the Holy Spirit, who spoke to Jesus, saying “This is My beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.”(11)
The Council of Nicaea
At the crucial Council of Nicaea in 325 AD amid furious argument between two opposing factions, Jesus was declared the only Son of God, of one substance with God (homoousious), not merely like unto God (homoiousious). Naming him the Son of God meant that he had to be immaculately conceived, free of the taint of original sin, as well as celibate. All traces of his marriage and the fact that he had children as well as several brothers and sisters and a bloodline of descent – all listed in a chart in the Vatican Archives – were erased. (12) Pope Gregory the Great in the late sixth century declared Mary Magdalene to be a “sinner guilty of all vices” and so she remained until 1969 when this calumny was removed by Pope Paul V1.
At this same Council, the Holy Spirit lost its ancient association with the feminine gender and became one aspect of the male Trinity. Divine Wisdom which had previously always been associated with the Goddess and the Holy Spirit became assimilated to the figure of Christ.
Some fifty years later, in AD 381, the Emperor Theodosius declared that anyone who did not comply with his edict that all must believe in the Apostolic Creed defined at Nicaea that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit were of one and the same substance would be declared a heretic. Following this edict, the Gnostic Gospels still in existence were destroyed; all meetings and rituals of the Gnostic groups were forbidden under pain of death. It was at this time that the idea entered Christian teaching that hell and eternal punishment awaited heretics and unbelievers, laying the ground for persecution in centuries to come. (13) Some of these Gospels, hidden at the time of this edict, were recovered in 1945 at Nag Hammadi, including the Gospels of Philip, Thomas and Mary; but many were lost forever.
Mary Magdalene preaching in Marseilles
Imagine how different the history of Christianity might have been if the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene had been recognised and if it were known that she was not only his wife but one of the apostles, another fact that was erased. She travelled to France in AD 44 with two of her children, her brother Lazarus and sister Martha, and the apostle Philip, and taught there for nearly 20 years until she died in AD 63. (14) This painting shows her preaching in Marseilles. The emphasis on celibacy as the path to spirituality might never have existed. We might have been spared the neurotic association of sin with sexuality and the mistrust of women that bedevils the Christian Churches to this day.
In 418 at a later Council at Carthage in North Africa, St. Augustine’s Doctrine of Original Sin was passed into Church Law. Generation after generation of Christians were imprinted with the story of the Fall of Man and the role of Christ as Redeemer of man’s sins. They were taught that ‘original sin’ was transmitted through the sexual act from parent to child. This Doctrine had nothing whatever to do with the teaching of Jesus but originated with St. Paul. A priest called Pelagius fought tooth and nail with Augustine to overthrow his doctrine of original sin, but was unable to prevent it passing into Church Law. If he had won the battle, Christianity would have had a very different history. With the insight given to us by psychology, we can understand what this belief did to relationships between men and women and to sexuality in general. We can see that the repression of sexuality is one of the principle features of Christian civilisation. Repressing a vital instinct leads to compulsive forms of behaviour which inflict great violence on others, as in the sexual abuse of children by celibate priests.
Mary as Queen of Heaven
A third Council, held at Ephesus in AD 431 declared that Jesus’ mother Mary, while still a virgin, conceived him immaculately, with the Holy Ghost. At this Council, the Virgin Mary was declared Theotokos or God-Bearer. Centuries later, in the nineteenth century, a Papal Edict of 1854 declared Mary herself to have been conceived immaculately, thereby removing from her any taint of sexual intercourse and original sin. The extraordinary elevation of the Virgin Mary to the level of the Bronze Age Goddesses, was completed in two Papal Bulls of 1950 and 1954 which declared her to have been received, body and soul into heaven and named “Queen of Heaven”, a title once held by the Goddess Isis in Egypt, Inanna in Sumer and Asherah in the First Temple in Jerusalem.
As the Christian Church became more and more fused with the Roman model of Imperial power and more and more intent on the persecution of heresy and the attempt to wrest the Holy Land from the Muslim ‘Infidel’, the Gnostic beliefs and practices and the feminine image of the Holy Spirit and Divine Wisdom had to go underground for many centuries, passed secretly from generation to generation. Astonishingly, they were to re-emerge in twelfth century France as the Cathar Church of the Holy Spirit, which was utterly destroyed in the thirteenth century by the infamous Albigensian Crusade, initiated by Pope Innocent 111.
To give you some idea of what the Holy Spirit once meant, there is the most sublime evocation of her in the Apocrypha, in the Books of Ben Sirach and the Wisdom of Solomon (15) The verses in these Wisdom texts describe this feminine Presence – named as Divine Wisdom and Holy Spirit – as the intelligence of the Cosmos, rooted in tree, vine, earth and water and active in the habitations of man. She is the principal of justice that inspires human laws. She is invisible spirit guiding human consciousness, calling out to the world for recognition. With their vivid imagery, these passages transform the Holy Spirit, speaking as Divine Wisdom, from abstract idea into living Presence. She speaks as if she were here, in our world, dwelling with us in the midst of her kingdom, accessible to those who seek her out. She is unknown and unrecognised, yet working within the depths of life, striving to open our understanding to the divine reality of her being, the sacredness of her creation, and her justice, wisdom, love and truth. All this imagery of the presence of the Holy Spirit in our world has been lost with the exception of the image of the Shekinah in the Jewish mystical tradition of Kabbalah, called “The Voice of the Dove”. (16)
Diagram of the psyche
I have drawn this diagram of the psyche to show you how the ego and the conscious mind – that tiny yellow triangle at the top – have slowly evolved out of the far older matrix of instinct, and beyond that, out of Nature and, ultimately, the Cosmos. Over the last four millennia of patriarchal culture, this tiny aspect of our total psyche has become detached from the matrix of the primordial soul out of which it has evolved; detached from any sense of relationship with planetary and cosmic life. Personal memories are stored to some extent within our conscious memory but the less conscious collective memories and habits of behaviour of our species are held in what Jung called the Collective Unconscious and the Primordial Soul. All the different factors explored in this talk have contributed to the separation of the conscious mind or ego from the older matrix of consciousness. Most people have no idea that there is anything beyond the conscious rational mind. This is why our culture is so unbalanced. (17)
The danger here, as the story of Icarus illustrates, is that the ego and the conscious mind can fly too close to the sun. The result for us, as it was for Icarus, is catastrophe. Unaware of the power of unconscious patterns of behaviour and beliefs to influence our decisions and actions in the world, we may fall victim to that state of psychic inflation or hubris that the story of Icarus illustrates. And this is precisely what has happened.
As the centuries passed, the conscious mind became more and more detached and more and more inflated and omnipotent until its detachment is now complete and it no longer has any awareness of or relationship with the psychic depths from which it has emerged nor any relationship with Nature or the Cosmos. This leaves us open to being taken over, possessed and driven by powerful unconscious forces we do not recognise, symbolised in mythology by the Dragon, the Minotaur and the Gorgon which can freeze men to stone. This is what happened with the splitting of the atom and the creation of nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors with their deadly residue of plutonium. Matter was no longer sacred so splitting the atom was not seen as an act of sacrilege against the Sacred Order of life.
For millennia, a tremendous problem has been troubling the waters of the soul. It is this: in a civilisation which is patriarchal in organisation and outlook, which has been structured by a male image of God presiding over religions and institutions created entirely by men, and by a polarising mythology which glorifies power, conquest and the domination of nature, how can the long-ignored voice of the soul be heard? How can we realise that matter and the phenomenal world are a living expression of spirit and that how we treat nature and matter has an effect on the web of life which embraces all our lives?
In this painting of the Cyclops by Odilon Redon a one-eyed giant gazes out over a beautiful landscape holding the figure of a naked woman. No image illustrates more eloquently the current dissociation of our rational conscious mind and its one-eyed vision from the deeper matrix of our soul.
Over the four millennia that solar mythology has been the dominant influence on society, we have reached dazzling heights of scientific, medical and technological advance which have improved the conditions of our lives on this planet and facilitated a phenomenal expansion of our ability to express the creative genius of our species in many different fields. But we have also suffered a catastrophic loss of soul, a loss of the ancient awareness of the sacred interweaving of all aspects of life, a loss of the sense of participation in the life of nature and the invisible life of the Cosmos, a loss of connection to spirit. In our secular culture the rational human mind is now the supreme value. It has virtually replaced God: it no longer recognises a dimension of reality beyond the material universe, nor any form of consciousness transcendent to its own. In its one-eyed stance, cut off from its roots, it has banished the unknown, unexplored, non-rational aspect of life. It has lost the mythic imagination.
Our current worldview, whether in the East or the West, now rests on the premise of our separation from and mastery of nature, where the resources of the planet are unthinkingly plundered to serve the ever-growing numbers and needs of our species. Our most urgent task is to heal the split between spirit and nature and re-unite our conscious, rational mind with the feminine matrix of our soul. Only when nature, matter, soul and body – the four aspects of the Feminine – are recognised as a manifestation of spirit will we be able to heal our dangerously unbalanced and unconscious culture. If we can accomplish this enormous task, we will enter a new era.
The shadow aspect of our digitally enhanced and unconscious age is barbarism, as shown in this marvellous etching of the Minotaur by Picasso — an image of blind, unconscious instinct bursting through the fragile layer of civilization, destroying everything in its path. It is an unrecognised predatory aspect of our own nature that can take us over when we abandon the ethical values which respect and serve life. Its sole attribute is the will to power: the drive for dominance and control. We see it manifesting in the horrific cruelties of Isis, in the destruction of the wonderful ancient city of Aleppo, in the bombing of helpless civilians, in the general breakdown of civilisation. But we can also see it in the demonic weapons accumulated by the nine nuclear powers of the world, ours among them and their refusal to get rid of them. We can see it in the current unconscious leaders of nations who do not serve their people or the planet but their own power-driven agendas.
Killing the Old King
In my book I explore the role of Alchemy in western civilisation. Alchemy secretly kept alive the message of Jesus about the divine spirit hidden in man – the pearl of great price or the mustard seed that can grow into a mighty tree. In what they called the Great Work – the transmutation of human consciousness – the alchemists prepared the ground for the awakening of the soul that is taking place today. Alchemy gives us this vivid image of killing the “Old King” – the immature consciousness that has to die in order that a new consciousness can come into being. (17)
The Young King
They called the awakened consciousness the Young King. The dying of the Old Order is carried in the distant figure of the Old King in the water. The New Order is shown in this beautiful image of the Young King. The words that go with this picture say: “The King’s son lies in the depths of the sea as though dead. But he lives and calls from the deep: “Whosoever will free me from the waters and lead me to dry land, him will I prosper with everlasting riches.”
What is the great challenge of our time? It is to offer a new cosmology to our children: a new story that could inspire them with hope and trust. It is to restore our lost relationship with spirit. It is to move to a higher level of consciousness, recognising that we are part of a Sacred Cosmic Order and are inseparably connected to the world around us and the wider universe. The current story offered by science is that material reality is the only reality and that consciousness begins and ends with the physical brain. We are alone in a randomly created universe that is without meaning or purpose. When we die, that is the end of us. Is it surprising that people are depressed? That they commit suicide because their lives have no meaning? Fortunately this story is fading and a new one is being born. We are not alone in the universe. We are everywhere surrounded by orders of intelligence beyond reckoning.
The New Story
The New Story coming into being is that the whole universe is a unified field. The world we experience is like a minute excitation on the surface of an infinite cosmic sea which sustains not only our world, but the entire Cosmos. We live within a cosmic web of life which underlies and connects all life forms in the universe and on our planet. Through a vast network of electro-magnetic fields we are connected to the earth, the sun and the hundred billion galaxies. So we are not separate any aspect of planetary or cosmic life. This is an illustration of the Net of Indra from the Hindu tradition.
The astounding discoveries of quantum physics tell us that we are literally bathed in a sea of light, invisible to us yet permeating every cell of our being. We are not only connected with each other through the Internet but through the infinitesimal particles of sub-atomic matter. At the quantum level all apparently separate aspects of life are connected in one invisible and indivisible whole. We, as observers, are not separate from what we are observing. All life at the deepest level is essentially One, mysteriously restoring the understanding held so long ago in the image of the Great Mother.
The New Cosmology
Through the emerging science of Unified Physics a new cosmology is being born; a new vision of our profound relationship with an intelligent, living and interconnected universe. This New Story tells us that matter cannot be separated from spirit. Not only that but at every level of existence – from the microscopic to the super galactic – the same geometric principles bring all things into manifestation.
Jude Currivan, a cosmologist who will shortly be speaking at a conference in Barcelona, says this: “A 21st century scientific revolution is about to transform our understanding of our Universe… It will revolutionise how we see ourselves and the nature of reality itself… It will reveal that mind is matter and consciousness isn’t something we have – it’s what we and the whole world are.”
I think that something comparable to an Annunciation is taking place in our world, announcing a new phase in the evolution of human consciousness: an awakening to the divine unity of life. The Incarnation is a process unfolding through millennia in the lives of billions of individuals, many of whom are not affiliated to any religious tradition. The great images of the Christian myth are archetypal realities that can come alive again in our time because an arduous process of birth is taking place in the collective soul of humanity. Many millions of us are awakening to what I have called the Dream of the Cosmos — the dream of an awakened humanity engaging in a new role on this planet: a role that is once again in harmony with the evolutionary intention of the Cosmos. The task is immense and daunting yet we have the power to change course, to bring ourselves into alignment with the Cosmos, to listen to the voice of the Soul.
As we begin to comprehend this New Story, the realisation is dawning that we are participating in a Cosmic Consciousness or Intelligence which is present in every one of the 100 million atoms of our being and every particle of matter. God or Spirit or Divine Mind is not something transcendent to us, separate from us. We are within it, co-existing with it. We are the Source as well as the seeker, even though our consciousness is still limited or incomplete. This, I believe, is one of the great revelations of our time.
At the heart of the Cosmos is a love of unimaginable dimensions. It is this love that sustains the entire universe. If God or Spirit is the intelligence and energy of the life process itself, then how we treat planetary life and each other becomes a matter of how we are treating God. The arrogant celebration of “man’s conquest of nature” would be replaced by the realisation that we need to respect, safeguard and cherish each other as well as the planetary life of which we are a part.
Awakening to the New Story means listening to the long-ignored voice of our soul. The soul communicates through the heart; through our deepest feelings, many of which are ignored and repressed in our driven and addicted culture. It speaks below the threshold of consciousness, through dreams and visions, through our deepest instincts and intuitions and through the depressions that afflict so many of us — depressions that are directly related to the loss of soul and living in a culture that has lost all connection with a deeper Ground.
Bosch -New Attitude to Death
The New Story invites a different understanding of death. Nothing is more important for our balance and well being than to know that when we die we move into another reality that is as real and vitally alive as this one. Consciousness does not die with the death of the body: consciousness is eternal. We are re-united with those we love. (18)
Jesus was a supremely great teacher, one of the greatest to have incarnated on this planet. He tried to awaken us to the divine spirit hidden within us – the pearl of great price – and our ability to bring that divinity into manifestation in the service of life. He did not ask for worship and belief but for transformation. This superb painting offers us the image of an awakened man, awakened from the tomb of ignorance and unconsciousness represented by the sleeping soldiers.
Santa Maria in Trastevere
The sacred marriage between the two great archetypal principles is reflected in this wonderful fifth century mosaic from Santa Maria in Trastevere in Rome, showing Jesus and Mary in the starry heavens, surrounded by angels, with the sun and moon beneath their feet. This new era invites the marriage of our rational mind with our long-neglected soul and the birth of the ‘child’ of a new, transformed consciousness that would be the fruit of this union and the true saviour of our species. As the light of this new consciousness begins to shine in the darkness of our time, we could heal both our divided psyche and our raped and vandalised planet. It is a tremendously challenging and creative time to be alive.
1. Baring, Anne & Cashford, Jules, The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image
2. Baring, Anne, The Dream of the Cosmos: a Quest for the Soul
3. The Myth of the Goddess
4. Cashford, Jules, The Moon, Myth and Image
5. Painting by Cecil Collins
6. The Dream of the Cosmos, Chapter 5
7. See Hancock, Graham, Magicians of the Gods and www.annebaring.com under the box Channeled Messages and a Warning to us all.
8. Eric Cline PhD on YouTube
9. See The Dream of the Cosmos, Chapter 7 & 8
10. Gardner, Laurence, The Magdalene Legacy 2005 and The Grail Enigma 2008
11. The Gospel of the Hebrews
12. The Desposyni Chart or Chart of the “Heirs of the Lord” was presented to Pope Sylvester 1 in 318 AD by the descendents of Jesus and Mary Magdalene and Jesus’ brother James. (see Gardner, The Grail Enigma)
13. Freeman, Charles, AD 381, Heretics, Pagans and the Christian State
14. See Gardner for details
15. Wisdom of Solomon 6:12-15; Wisdom of Solomon 7:7, 10, 21-7, 29, 8:1-2; Wisdom of Jesus Ben Sirach 24:3-6, 9-11, 13-21, 28-34
16. See www.annebaring.com Seminar 13 and The Dream of the Cosmos, Chapter 3
17. See Iain McGilchrist, The Master and His Emissary for the difference between the right and left hemispheres of the brain and how the left hemisphere now dominates our culture.
18. The Dream of the Cosmos, Chapter 18
19. The Dream of the Cosmos, Chapter 19
Daily Mail Article on Comet Strike 29/4/17