Man Seeking Woman

In the Biblical sense, to be a “Man” is to enter into the world to wrestle with its moral compromises.

Those compromises are rooted in the ancient competitions that Darwin called “natural selection.” So it’s not just humanity that we must wrestle with – no, the burden is much larger than that. Judgment is passed on us because our very presence catalyzes win-win collaboration that threatens the survival of the most successful zero-sum competitors. They marshal all their tools to eliminate that threat to their dominance.

There’s no point in complaining about it. The things that we love evolved that way. But we end up physically and psychically battered.

As I have persisted in surrender to that process, every now and then I feel a presence of infinite feminine patience, compassion and healing reach out to me. She sends me thoughts such as “Oh, my precious son. You are so lonely.” Or “Thank you for being strong for us.”

Sometimes that presence finds a route into the world through a female. Those moments, often occurring on the dance floor, are intensely beautiful. But when the dance is over, she finds herself confronted with this choice: to surrender herself to service to that compassion and healing, or to dally with males that don’t demand so much work.

And so I find myself confronted with this dilemma: they want to be pursued, but the Divine Feminine that reaches out to me requires a space of absolute stillness. I find myself often standing stock-still in the middle of the floor, eyes closed in concentration, trying to create that space. And so the ladies dance away.

That hurts, but the alternative would be far, far worse. Any lady that receives that presence and turns away from it to pursue other options would be completely crushed by the forces that oppose Men. Sustaining Men in their struggle requires absolute devotion to Her. Again in the Biblical sense, it demands that they become a Woman.

This is why I am alone in the world.

Womanhood Risen

I’ve been following a blogger here at WordPress for a while, and I wanted to send her a private message, so I’m putting this up so that I can link to it from a comment on her blog.

Her blog is a personal journey of recovery and self-affirmation. When I encountered the work, it had transformed from a powerful, moving written account of what it is like to stand at the edge of the abyss of self-destruction. From that place, the creator turned to visual memes that characterized the virtues revealed within her by Christ: courage, determination, sensitivity, patience, joy, fertility, and so many others. She has achieved what I have not: finding a means to cast the kaleidoscope of Divine Love’s influence on our lives into delicious morsels that her readers can assimilate one at a time.

As she marshalled those virtues within herself, she occasionally reflected on the turning point in her struggle: the hearing of “Here I am to Worship” while at a recovery center. The first time she wrote of that, I was cast back into that moment with her, and felt love establish a beach-head.

Her self-expression was always playfully deprecating; her concerns often that she was not making progress on the life-path that society has allocated to women. As a counter, I told her once that eventually her work would turn outwards. That is coming to pass: now she writes often of the dynamic of her interaction with the world. The terms are more and more confident of her womanly spirituality – the powerful, graceful affirmation of virtue that anchors it firmly to the future, possible only because she possesses a womb in which potentiality can take root and flower.

I cannot express how much I am in awe of that capacity. It awakens powerfully in me the urge to protect, to shield her from the corrupting influences that swirl all around us. But I am also beginning to sense the same certainty that was characteristic of Jacqueline Onassis: that her virtue will call to her protectors at the time and place of her need.

The exclamation that arises in me in the presence of such a woman has always been “Oh Woman! Oh Beauty! Oh Life!” I struggle with desire, even from the separation of a continent, understanding that distance is necessary to the end goal: that such women not become wrapped up in a relationship, but stand as shining stars to inspire their sisters.

I know that doesn’t seem fair, but we are here on Earth to create conditions in which the Divine Feminine will allow itself to be seduced. Laying down what seems to be our natural rights is to open the door to the virtues of the spirit that she tenders. It is time, dear sister, to see her as an equal to Christ, and yourself as one among her priestesses – not for the purpose of displacing Christ, but for the purpose of healing him.

Raising Tyrants

In Revelation, the One on the Throne – which is Unconditional Love – has seven virtues in his midst. Taking the numerological insight, these should be set against the methods of Self, released from the scroll when the seven seals are broken.

So we have this (I apologize for the clumsy formatting – I can’t figure out how to style the table in WordPress):

Love Self
Stewardship Dominance
Harmony Conflict
Innovation Opportunism
Peace Death
Justice Vengeance
Creativity Destruction
Passion Rage

In each pairing, we see that adding love to the method of self ennobles its expression.

So I wake up at 2 this morning, with Bannon and Rove and Putin grumpily groping for dominance, projecting negativity into my domain, and how do I deal with it? I spent an hour our so trying to damp it down, and finally decided that stronger methods were needed.

Here’s the principle: dominance is about forcing people to pay attention to your demands. That involves establishing a spiritual network for communication. So I just inject a stronger signal.

I put in my earbuds and turned the volume up as loud as comfortable, and started with songs of hope for those trapped in bondage:

  • Francesca Batistelli – “Write Your Story”
  • Lauren Daigle – “O’Lord” and  “I Am Yours”

Followed immediately by a message of redemption to those enforcing selfishness:

  • Lauren Daigle – “Once and For All” and “How Can It Be?”

Finally toning it down with:

  • The Katinas – Draw Me Close

The early visualizations came in from all over the world, and were primarily feminine. I eventually found myself looking at the world from the outside, trying to push power down into the points of contact that had been established, projecting them into ever widening circles of influence.

The message of redemption came with a shift to the oligarchy, with specific individuals considering whether the effort of trying to maintain control was actually gaining them anything. Underneath we exposed the serpent on its throne. The tyrants were forced to confront their own obeisance.

It was nice at the end to find myself again among friends, relaxing in peace back into my mattress.

I hope that you see the strategy, dear readers: don’t fight them. Just use them as a transmission network. We only need to stick together, and when they die, we’ll recover those that they’ve tried to wall off behind their greed. They have one life; we have eternity.

Divine Intercourse

At the AMP conference last month, Michelle Tepper’s topic was “breaking the silence on love, sex and relationships.” Michelle trumpeted her success reaching college students, but I found her message uncomfortable. She relies heavily on Biblical rules in framing responses to the psychological needs of individuals.

So when I approached her afterwards, I began by suggesting that we sit down, bringing our eyes to the same level.

As I explained, if any of us were complete in ourselves, we would be God. He made us a duality on purpose. I expressed my concern that this aspect of the Biblical message was underrepresented in her teaching.

Having warned us in her presentation that we shouldn’t go around looking for a relationship that completed us, Michelle was hostile to the idea. I guided her away from reiteration of her message, observing that I have been advising youth on-line.

Then the conversation took a sharp twist. She asked “Do you think that Jesus was satisfied?”

I knew that she meant sexually, but I shifted to a large view of his life. “No, he wasn’t satisfied at all. He knew that his culture needed to change, with a passion that drove him to the cross.”

Michelle wasn’t to be deterred. “I meant satisfied sexually. I believe that he was beyond that need.”

Well, it was time to plunge right in. I shrugged. “Read the description of the New Jerusalem. It is a metaphor for the union of the divine masculine with the divine feminine.”

She was struck dumb, as were the onlookers.

I continued “Look, the Bible is all about men’s problems. The holy mother is in hiding, and it is time for her to be sought out and revealed.”

I know that I appear to be uptight and tortured as regard my sexuality. But the Bible describes the brutal beast of the apocalypse as possessing ten “horns.” This is an apt metaphor for the masculine approach to dominance: many men run around the world trying to stick their penis into it. The feminine beast in Revelation is red, suggestive of the menstrual cycle. The feminine beast uses sex to co-opt masculine aggression.

So the reason that I haven’t been “playing the field” (which would be easy to accomplish) is because all the women that I meet accept these conventions. They may not wish to personify them in their relationships (part of what makes me attractive to them), but they accept that bestial patterns of dominance define the world that we live in.

Being who I am, I am incapable of submission to any ethic that limits the domain in which love is expressed. So I choose not to have a relationship with any woman that brings that with her.

Sera Beak has been in my mind ever since I read “Red, Hot and Holy.” I believe that she showed up at MovinGround one Sunday after I filled out her online contact form. In that message, I suggested that if we were each who we claimed to be, that would be apparent only in relation to one another. She was clearly uncomfortable in my presence during the dance, and stood before me timidly afterwards. My thought was “Not yet.”

She lives in Texas, though, which is a hot-bed of Christian hypocrisy. Last year I felt her reaching out in concern, and I poured power into her spirit, trying to expand her range of influence.

Why? Read the book: Sera went all the way in with the Red Lady, and found wisdom waiting for her on the other side. That wisdom came from the holy mother.

Putting this all together last night, I reached out again, sending “It’s time for us to merge our powers.”

But what are those powers? What is the nature of love, and how is sex a metaphor for its operation?

Our exploration last night was complicated by pragmatic concerns, but it boils down to this: any act of love that preserves self involves penetration and yielding. A gift is offered, but room must be made for it to be received. As we are aggregates (both physically and spiritually), reception is consensual at many levels. Full acceptance requires communication of the nature of the gift, and adaptation to the perceptions of those smaller parts. That involves circulation, which is stimulated by withdrawal so that the gift of yielding may be repeated again and again until consummated.

Yeah. This is “White Hot” and Holy. This is why Jesus told the Magdalene “Do not cling to me.”

The visualization eventually evolved as a complex many-dimensional Klein bottle. A man penetrates a woman, the women connecting to the Earth that gives life to the man, the male penetrating the Earth as light from the sun, the light from the sun sheltered in the womb of space, and on and outward.

The Bible, being concerned with men, celebrates the masculine aspect of God. But that is only half the story.

Speaks to Me

The painters at the Sunday Art Walk in Santa Barbara have adjusted themselves to my visits. I don’t know whether my criticism is of value to them, or whether they benefit commercially  from the spectacle of a spirited discussion.

Of recent, I’ve been following three of the artists. I admire John Grandfield’s sagebrush landscapes, but I can’t afford the larger pieces that capture the spirit of the land. His combed acrylic landscapes are more affordable, and the first that I saw was perfect for the site header out at Love Returns. As well as suggesting the elements of the creation story from Genesis, the piece conveys my sense that the angels perceive through a veil – albeit an exquisite veil – the sensory experience of living creatures.

I’ve had rather longer conversations with Steve Richardson, whose oeuvre defies characterization. His original sensibilities appear to be present in his harmonious landscapes, reminiscent of the middle work of George Inness. He fights against that tenderness in landscapes that suggest the battle between fog, light and vegetation in the tidal sloughs around Santa Barbara. Steve also paints the local monuments with a painterly verve, the travels of the brush and palette knife laid bare for our examination.

I first resolved that I would purchase a piece from him when struck by a speckled oak tree. The effect was as though falling through the silhouette into spatter paint drops that could be both atoms and galaxies. I enthused that I had been wrestling with the idea that our material forms were metaphors for spiritual evolution. I left him to consider whether he could create the same effect in larger format, only to be told a month later that he was giving up the style for safety reasons (the drops are created by striking the brush, which can send paint into the eyes).SoulSails.png

When I stopped by today, I knew immediately that I would buy the piece anchoring the corner of his exhibit. It has the sense of light from above trying to pierce an oppressive indigo, with the complex and truncated response from the humans in the boats below. This is very much my experience of reaching up to join my intentions with those of Jesus’s “Abba.”

I wish that the photo conveyed the subtlety of the patchy sails.

I’ve also been following the work of Avril (a pseudonym, although as you travel the Walk you’ll recognize her work), a very French woman whose introduction was an aggressive demand for philosophical clarification of the phrase on the back of my Love Returns t-shirt. Avril is one of the few artists on the Art Walk that focuses on the human form. Her most popular works may be her sisterhood cartoons (multigenerational women fishing naked on the pier). She displays a number of linotype nudes, and is particularly aggressive regarding her abstract and collage work.

What captivates me, however, are the acrylic nudes, sinuous spines and generous hips set against abstract pastel tapestries. The figures are not delineated, but ensconced in a penumbra that bespeaks yearning for a caress. Having sublimated the responsive male desire for most of my adult life, I recognize now that I will never know the flower of a woman’s sensuality, that first innocent expression of sexual joy moderated solely by the wisdom that shelters its root in procreation. But it is a power that I need to engage – it is the only power that can heal the world.

Nude

So I bought this piece, a piece that Avril warned me would “talk at night.” I countered that I already have women speaking to me in the middle of the night, and would rather wake to beauty than suffer their drama without reward.

All About Us

I’ve decided to attend services at the Unitarian Society of Santa Barbara. The first service convenes at 9:15, which dovetails nicely with the Dance Tribe celebration at 11.

In the context of Trump’s immigration ban, last week’s service was serendipitous. A local couple shared pictures taken last year on the island of Lesbos, the point of access to the EU for those fleeing conflict throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. The refugees were drawn by Angela Merkel’s pledge of sanctuary to cross from Turkey over the five-mile channel on rubber rafts. Rafts made unstable by choppy seas and shoulder-to-shoulder passengers. As water was taken on, personal goods were often tossed overboard.

The refugees arrived on rocky shores against a steep cliff. Happy but exhausted, they were forced to climb up to a receiving zone, because laws prohibit private transport of illegal immigrants. The presenters ignored this risk, ferrying young and elderly alike in their car. Seeing the stress on the faces of parents, they also brought in paper and markers, inviting the children onto blankets where many of them documented the crossing – not excluding, in one little boy’s picture, those lost in the waters.

Reverend Julia Hamilton favors the spiritual image of the “cloud of witnesses,” and in this case, the cloud was hung around the sanctuary: photographs of children with their pictures. I struggled to maintain my composure, feeling their exhaustion and confusion beating through time, and echoed in places around the world. We rode through it, and in the receiving line afterwards, I simply asked “May I?”, before joining the hands of the husband and wife in mine, bending forward to allow my cloud to affirm theirs. When I offered “Thank-you for your compassion,” the woman echoed “Thank you!”

Today’s service was more typical: a reflection on personal spiritual growth. After inveighing against identification of our selves with our struggles, Rev. Hamilton continued with a parable on the traps of dogma and creed. Visiting with another master, the Zen poet Basho quoted sage after sage, until his host interrupted to ask: “Basho, you are clearly a master of Zen teachings. But could you offer me one thought of your own – one authentic expression of self?” Basho’s embarrassment deepened minute by minute as nothing came to mind. Finally, he looked outside and felt welling up in him:

The old pond.
A frog jumps in.
Splash!

His host clapped in delight.

Rev. Hamilton explained the parable as signifying the importance of being where we were – we are not our struggles, but nor our we are achievements. We are who we are in the moment.

As she illustrated the point, I found myself wondering when she was going to remark on the emptiness of a journey made alone. But it never came. That is the challenge of Unitarian Universalism, full of iconoclasts synthesizing the views of many traditions, each achieving a unique spiritual practice. In the best case, the seeker stands on the shoulders of avatars from every culture; in the saddest case, the seeker ends up like Basho – empty of personal understanding. It was this contrast that Rev. Hamilton developed: the spiritual journey is a journey to self-knowledge.

I really didn’t catch the last ten minutes of the service, my mind spinning as I grasped at methods for expressing the flowering of my own journey from sterile self-knowledge. For some reason, they crystallized in haiku form, bringing surprise and delight to her eyes when I intoned:

Through loving,
God finds meaning:
Us.