In yesterday’s DM, we shared some of Emily Dickinson’s experiences of death and resurrection. Artist-shaman David Paladin tells us that the warrior-shaman rises above his own dead body and says, “I have died, too. Now let’s dance. We’re free. The spirit is ours because we have died. Now we are resurrected from the ashes.”
This theme is common to shamanistic practitioners, as Mircea Eliade makes clear when he says: “initiation rites…(shamanic or other) involve the ritual of the candidate’s death and resurrection.”*
It is also how Paul describes the experience of baptism—as an entrance into the death and resurrection of Jesus. Thus we can say that not only Jesus but Paul too is bringing forth elements of the shamanic tradition. And of course Paul underwent his own death and resurrection experience in his conversion experience, being thrown off his horse and rising eventually to becoming a very different person from the one who persecuted Christians.
Comments Herrmann, “When she [Emily] says, therefore, she died and arose from the dead, I do in fact believe her. This is the basic experience of shamanistic dismemberment.” Herrmann comments that “no poet I have read focuses so intensely on the experience of Crucifixion, Death, and Resurrection as significantly as Emily does.” And he cites her statement, “’Twas just this time, last year, I died.” And again, “It was not Death, for I stood up,/ And all the Dead, lie down—”.** Thus she underwent both death and resurrection.
This teaching very much resonates with that of the contemporary Biblical scholar Bruce Chilton, who in his substantive study on Resurrection (as well as in our dialog about the same HERE), Resurrection Logic: How Jesus’ First Followers Believed God Raised Him from the Dead, emphasizes how the real meaning of resurrection in the New Testament is not about an empty tomb (Paul, who wrote first and most frequently about the resurrection never once mentions an empty tomb), but about a death and deep transformative awakening—such as Paul underwent. All the apostles underwent a version of it in their own way after Jesus died, as did the “500” others who claimed to have encountered a risen Christ.
Are all of our awakenings and breakthroughs, oneings, ecstsasies and deep transformations, experiences of resurrection that follow on rupture or death experiences?
If this is so, is it possible that the dying we have been undergoing as a species due to coronavirus a prelude to a resurrection, a change of consciousness, a transformation that allow us to see the world anew? To melt the denial and divisions that divide us from each other and from nature to enter into the love that, in Julian of Norwich’s words, keep the whole universe together?
That moves us beyond our human-centered and species-narcissism to a greater experience and love of the whole? That marries psyche and cosmos? Is this what Paul rhapsodized about when he sang of a “new creation”? Meaning a new relationship to creation? “All our relations.” Amen.
Adapted from Matthew Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet, p. 173. See also: 88-153.
*Steven Herrmann, Emily Dickinson: A Medicine Woman for Our Times, p. 269.
** Ibid, 269, 266f.
See also, Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic – and beyond, p. 40
Have you also died and resurrected? How many times? What was born of those experiences?
Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet
Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow. Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism, Living in Sin
Julian of Norwich: Wisdom in a Time of Pandemic–and Beyond
Julian of Norwich lived through the dreadful bubonic plague that killed close to 50% of Europeans. Being an anchoress, she ‘sheltered in place’ and developed a deep wisdom that she shared in her book, Showings, which was the first book in English by a woman. A theologian way ahead of her time, Julian develops a feminist understanding of God as mother at the heart of nature’s goodness. Fox shares her teachings in this powerful and timely and inspiring book.
“What an utterly magnificent book. The work of Julian of Norwich, lovingly supported by the genius of Matthew Fox, is a roadmap into the heart of the eco-spiritual truth that all life breathes together.” –Caroline Myss
Now also available as an audiobook HERE.
Join Matthew Fox for a free, thought-provoking hour and Find Inspiration & Healing in the Radical Teachings of St. Hildegard: Discover the Uncommon Life of This 12th-Century Mystic to Reconnect to Nature & the Divine. Saturday, May 29, at 1:00 pm Eastern (GMT/UTC-4). Register HERE.