2022 the year we learn to listen to love
Week 31--in which we consider the most profound words we've ever heard
Friends, soul writers, mystics, witches, and lovers of prayer,
NOTE: I wrote this for The Way of the Rose Facebook group as part of a 54-day novena exploration of the most profound sayings of Our Lady of Woodstock--all of which are stored on The Way of the Rose website. This is my contribution for yesterday, Saturday, July 30, a day dedicated to the Glorious Mysteries.
I thought you might enjoy it too.
Perhaps reading this will spark you to ask: what is the most transformative thing I've ever heard?
The conversations this novena have been, well, glorious! I have loved every saying and every reflection. When I tossed my name in the hat for July 30, I began listening for my favorite saying—the one quote I wanted to pour over, dance with, and share with you.
But it didn’t surface. Or, at least, not in the usual place.
My all-time favorite saying of Our Lady isn’t on the Way of the Rose website. It doesn’t have a date, at least not one I know. But for me, it is the most important thing Our Lady has ever said. It both changed my life and, at the same time, confirmed what I know life to really be.
Her words are in Clark Strand’s Waking Up to the Dark. That book shook me awake. Not just to the beauty and wisdom and mystery of the dark, but to everything—everything—I know is true. Everything that to the best of my knowledge, no one else has ever said in print.
Mind you, I’d never heard of Clark Strand. I read Waking Up to the Dark in 2019 only because Meghan Don recommended it. And I trust Meghan. For a prayer intensive she and I were offering on Mary Magdalene in 2019, I asked her for a bibliography.
She sighed. “I can only recommend Waking Up to the Dark.” I failed to see what that book had to do with The Magdalen, but I put it on the bibliography and ordered a copy for myself.
I confess I had doubts.
From 2013-2018, I had a Unity radio show called The Soul-Directed Life. Every Thursday, I interviewed an author of a spiritual book. (Unity ended the network this year.)
At first, the show was about the most fun a person like me could have. I was thrilled to speak with Matthew Fox about Hildegarde of Bingen and Meister Eckhart, Cynthia Bourgeault about centering prayer, Mirabai Starr on the Christian mystics, Andrew Harvey on Rumi, and oh so many more.
Publishers noticed that sales ticked up right after each episode, so they started sending me books—boxes and boxes of books. That’s how I met Meghan. Her publisher insisted I interview her for my divine feminine theme. (Meghan’s book is now republished with the title Feminine Courage.)
After 230 shows, the culminating highlight for me was a conversation with the incomparable systems theorist, Ervin Laszlo, founder of the Club of Budapest. I was nervous about interviewing such a brilliant man. To prepare I read and reread all his books. (You might want to start with Science and the Akashic Field.) I worked up the courage to ask him about this sentence in The Intelligence of the Cosmos:
“We need to revise the widespread assumption that nonordinary ‘spiritual’ experiences occur at a high frequency domain. They do not occur above the frequency of everyday experiences, but below it.”
This sentence grabbed me by the heart and wouldn’t let me go, because, ever since I stumbled upon how to drop into mystical theta while writing, I have been obsessed with exploring ways we can slow our brainwaves and crisscross the threshold between worlds.
Ervin Laszlo confirmed what I knew, but could not prove.
When that episode ended, I took off my headphones and stared at the wall for a bit. My body knew what I did not: the show was over. It ended, not just because Dr Laszlo confirmed twenty years of personal exploration into the mystical life; it ended because there were no interesting authors to interview.
As my mystical life kept going deeper and getting more alive, I asked publishers to stop sending me self-help books. I didn’t want to read them and I certainly couldn’t recommend them to my listeners. And, please, I said, no more books by white male PhDs!
I begged them to send me women writing about the sacred feminine, embodied mysticism, the Goddess, the Black Madonna, indigenous wisdom, the world before patriarchy, gut intelligence, mystical brain waves, prayer—real prayer…so many wildly interesting topics.
One by one, they all wrote back: I’m sorry, Janet, we have nothing for you.
So when Meghan recommended a book written by a guy, I confess I had my doubts. And took my bloody good time to pick it up.
Thank Goddess, I finally did.
Once I started, I couldn’t stop. I devoured Waking Up to the Dark in two days. When I read a book, I totally consume it. I underline, circle, write in the margins, and jot page numbers with cryptic notes on the inside cover so I can easily find something that mattered.
Now, when I reread Waking Up to the Dark—and I reread it often—my scratchings and underlinings drop me right back into what I was feeling the first time. And what I was feeling on p 91 was then, and is still now, a massive shudder of recognition.
“Who are you” I asked. I felt I had spoken the words out loud, but there was only silence in the room.
“I am the Hour of God,” she replied. A voice without sound.
“I believe I know what that is,” I said without thinking, because starting that night I never rehearsed anything I said to her. The words slipped out always, as if spoken in a dream.
“If you really knew,” she answered, “you would have said ‘who,’ not ‘what.’”
Further down the page:
“That the Hour of God was not a what but a who shocked me profoundly. Something like a shutter at the back of my brain went off its hinges, and I could never get it closed again after that. It was always open, by day as well as by night.
"That was the first moment of my own Dark Revolution, when my mind flipped from its light to its dark side. Everything I had understood about the Hour of God from my studies and midnight ramblings were true—except for the main thing. The reason I hadn’t seen it before was that I had never looked for it; I didn’t know it was the thing that was missing.
"But that was because it wasn’t a thing at all.
"After that, I knew that I hadn’t recovered that ancient open channel as I’d previously thought. She had recovered me.”
When I read that last line, I shot out of my chair, charging in circles around the living room screaming: Who is this guy! Who is this guy who describes everything I know is true!
- God is a woman—a young woman
- She speaks in a clear voice you “hear” somewhere in your body, not your ears
- She is on your left
- She comes in the wee hours between 3-4am
- She speaks in short declarative sentences or cryptic phrases
- What She says both shatters and reconstructs you in the same moment
- She says radical things—things you absolutely, positively know are true, but never thought of before
- She speaks, and you are changed utterly and forever
- When She leaves, you blink, and everything—everything—has changed
And that one thing that leaves me, Clark, and all of us staggering is: the world is a Who.
All our patriarchal religions tell us that the world is a what. A what that we not only can dominate, but should dominate. A world created for one purpose—to produce human profit.
In other words, a dead world. And for the last five thousand years humans have done everything in our power to make sure the world is truly dead.
But it’s not. And I know it. I’ve had the staggering experience of hearing the world speak. In a feminine clear declarative sentence that I heard, not in my ears, but behind my breastbone.
You know what’s there?
Your thymus. If you were raised Catholic, before communion, you would make a fist and thump your breastbone three times, saying aloud: "Lord I am not worthy. Speak but the word and my soul shall be healed."
Three times! While tapping your breastbone!
Sending the vibration of these unholy words throughout your entire body. I think it’s not an accident that the church has little children pounding these words into their thymus glands. Because the thymus is essential to your immune system. It produces special white blood cells called T-cells. And it produces all you will ever have in childhood.
Your Thymus is your body’s defense against pathogens. Against cancer. Against harm. Against evil. And just think the harm done when little children embed the lie “I am not worthy” into their immune system.
Here’s a truth we should be thumping into our thymus glands.
I heard it from the rocks of a glacial cave on sacred Blackfeet land in July 2012. A small group of deep soul writers and I were invited to take a private tour of an unaltered, ice-age bear cave on the Blacktail Ranch in Montana.
To get in, we had to back down a rough hand-hewn twenty-foot ladder, then slide through a small opening on our bums. When we stood, under the harsh light of a string of bulbs, we saw that the cave was massive and had multiple caverns. In a large central area, we crawled up the rocks, found a comfy place to sit, and asked the guide to turn off the lights and leave us in the dark for ten minutes.
Here’s how I describe what happened next in my book Soul Vows:
“It didn’t matter if my eyes were open or closed, but I still closed them. It felt more reverent. The cave was not silent. There were puffs of cold air and a chorus of mysterious drips. I swear I heard a few stones groan. The rocks emitted a perfume that cannot be described. In the silence, I asked the massive stone ceiling above me, ‘Do you have a message for me?’
"The stones delivered a message that arrived inside of me. No seeing, hearing, or feeling involved. It was an automatic transmission or infusion. The voice of the stones was simply inside me, and the rocks said, ‘I am old. You are old.’ At first, I thought, ‘Uh, no, rock, it’s you who are old—ice-age old; glacial rocks carved you. I, on the other hand, am just sixty-four.’ But I wasn’t about to argue with the bones of the earth. So I was still and allowed the rocks to repeat inside of me over and over, ‘I am old. You are old.’
"After a few minutes, I realized the pronouns had shifted and I had begun telling the rocks, ‘I am old. You are old.’ …
"I sensed the rocks were smiling as they watched me awaken to the truth: I am a soul, and souls are old—so old we call them ‘immortal.’ But if a soul is immortal, it is old-old—older than the rocks old. I was stunned by the depth of this knowing. This was the first time I knew—and knew that I knew—that I was a soul, and as a soul I was in touch with, and a part of, all that is, all that was, and all that will be, including these eloquent ancient stones.” (Soul Vows p 210)
That communion with the rocks was my “Dark Revolution,” as Clark called the moment he realized The Hour of God is a Who.
My Dark Revolution left me so stunned, I couldn’t stand.
I had to crawl out of the cave on all fours, and my friends had to move my feet rung by rung up the ladder.
Rocks are a Who.
The Hour of God is a Who.
Everything is a Who.
Nothing is a what. Nothing.
A Glorious Mystery if ever there was one!
Monday is the last day you can register for Re-membering the Songlines of the Witches--everyone of whom knew that the world is a living vibrant WHO in constant conversation with us.
This is the essence of what patriarchy does not want you to know. Because when you know this, when you know it with your whole being, they can no longer control you.
You have access to voices and wisdom of which they know naught.
to waking up to what we already know!
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