A Journey Through the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality

Over the next four weeks, we are going to be looking at the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality in Matthew’s own words, beginning with his definition of the concept.

The four paths of Creation Spirituality, VP-VN-VC-VT, in Individual Nexus, by Engineers Without Borders founder and UCS graduate Bernard Amadei. Published with permission of the artist.

For instance, he writes in Matthew Fox: Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality:

The four paths of creation spirituality first emerged for me on examining my own experiences and on encountering Eckhart. It is one thing to talk about the Via Positiva and the Via Negativa, but if you put them together, they are like an electric charge—the positive and negative make sparks; they make a third thing—the Via Creativa. And that in turn gives birth to a fourth thing: Compassion, Justice, Celebration… The naming of the journey in four paths constitutes the very backbone or structure of creation spirituality.

In A New Reformation, he writes:

The Four Paths
named in the creation spiritual tradition
more fully name the mystical/prophetic spiritual journey
of Jesus and the Jewish tradition
than do the three paths
of purgation, illumination, and union,
which do not derive
from the Jewish and biblical tradition.

The history of nature from the Big Bang to the present day, shown graphically in a spiral with notable events annotated. Every billion years (Ga) is represented by 90 degrees of rotation of the spiral. Image by Pablo Carlos Budassi with the help of the evolutionary biology researcher Professor Rasmus Grønfeldt Winther, on Wikimedia Commons.


… God is experienced through
ecstasy, joy, wonder, and delight
(via positiva)

And in The A.W. E. Project, he brings it into a cosmological context:

Without knowing where we come from or when
(that is, how long it took)–we are lost.
Cosmology teaches us where we come from,
where ‘here’ is,
and therefore gives us a hint
as to where we are headed.
If we don’t know our origins,
it is very difficult to be clear on our goals.
Cosmology is about time and space. 

See Matthew Fox, Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality, p. 53

See also Matthew Fox,  A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity, p. 85

Also Matthew Fox, The A. W. E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human, p. 104

Banner Image: “Four Paths” Via Positiva: “Sunset Radiance” by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash. Via Negativa: A firefighter and koala stand before a bushfire near Lobethal, South Australia. Photo from Eden Hills Country Fire Service . Via Creativa: Dancers, Istanbul, Turkey. Photo by Hulki Okan Tabak on Unsplash. Via Transformativa: A vicar is arrested during the Extinction Rebellion protests, London, UK October 2019. Photo by John Cameron on Unsplash.

Queries for Contemplation

Over the next four weeks, chart yourself on a calendar as to what path you were walking on a given day.

Recommended Reading

Matthew Fox: Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality
Selected with an Introduction by Charles Burack

To encapsulate the life and work of Matthew Fox would be a daunting task for any save his colleague Dr. Charles Burack, who had the full cooperation of his subject. Fox has devoted 50 years to developing and teaching the tradition of Creation Spirituality and in doing so has reinvented forms of education and worship.  His more than 40 books, translated into 78 languages, are inclusive of today’s science and world spiritual traditions and have awakened millions to the much neglected earth-based mystical tradition of the West. Essential Writings begins by exploring the influences on Fox’s life and spirituality, then presents selections from all Fox’s major works in 10 sections.
“The critical insights, the creative connections, the centrality of Matthew Fox’s writings and teaching are second to none for the radical renewal of Christianity.” ~~ Richard Rohr, OFM.

A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality & The Transformation of Christianity

A modern-day theologian’s call for the radical transformation of Christianity that will allow us to move once again from the hollow trappings of organized religion to genuine spirituality. A New Reformation echoes the Reformation initiated by Martin Luther in 1517 and offers a new vision of Christianity that values the Earth, honors the feminine, and respects science and deep ecumenism.
“This is a deep and forceful book….With prophetic insight, Matthew Fox reveals what has corrupted religion in the West and the therapy for its healing.” ~Bruce Chilton, author of Rabbi Jesus: An Intimate Biography

The A.W.E. Project: Reinventing Education, Reinventing the Human

The A.W.E. Project reminds us that awe is the appropriate response to the unfathomable wonder that is creation… A.W.E. is also the acronym for Fox’s proposed style of learning – an approach to balance the three R’s. This approach to learning, eldering, and mentoring is intelligent enough to honor the teachings of the Ancestors, to nurture Wisdom in addition to imparting knowledge, and to Educate through Fox’s 10 C’s. The 10 C’s are the core of the A.W.E. philosophy and process of education, and include: compassion, contemplation, and creativity. The A.W.E. Project does for the vast subject of “learning” what Fox’s Reinvention of Work did for vocation and Original Blessing did for theology. Included in the book is a dvd of the 10 C’s put to 10 video raps created and performed by Professor Pitt.
An awe-based vision of educational renewal.Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat, Spirituality and Practice.

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6 thoughts on “A Journey Through the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality”

  1. Avatar

    Can one take the path to Christ consciousness, soul consciousness, the ‘infinite’ Mystery itself, yes infinite without end, and capsulate it into 4 finite quadrants? Ours is a path of infinite possibilities, is it not? Is this likened to limiting ourselves to only be able to step forward, backward, left-side and right-side precluding stepping up, stepping down and spiritual translocation where we appear in two places at the same time? Was Padre Pio himself not known for his ability to bilocate, or “spiritually translocate,” and thus defy the known laws of physics,

    Just asking for a friend. — BB.

    1. Richard E Reich

      Bill, This is how Matthew describes the movement on the Four Paths: “The journey is a spiral journey, for we move from path to path and back again in an ever larger and expanding spiral our whole lives long. The journey is not one of climbing a ladder, but of spiraling in and out.” Matthew Fox: Essential Writings on Creation Spirituality, p. 55. (In other places Matthew says that it is not about climbing Jacob’s Ladder, but about dancing Sarah’s Circle!) I, for my part, find that anything I do throughout the day, happens on one of these four paths. Whether I’m happy or sad, depressed or hopeful, disappointed or encouraged, creative or destructive, involved in justice in keeping the law or in seeing that the law takes care of others, celebrating or helping others–all falls upon one of these paths…

  2. Avatar

    Consider, that within each of the four quadrants of Creation Spirituality lies infinite reflections, expressions and manifestations. The image and memory that comes to mind that helps to envision this, was an experience I had in an art gallery. The art instillation was interactive, being a fully mirrored enclosed box that you stepped inside of. Once inside, you saw your own reflection expanding outward in every direction. The mirrored image of Self reflected, invoked a sense of seeing oneself as infinite, expanding beyond space, time and dimensional realities. It was as if I was everywhere all at once, yet centered, all at the same time. When I moved from the center, to a particular corner of the quadrant, my perspective shifted, yet remained infinitely expansive.

    This experience also invoked a deeper understanding of being at one, moving in harmony with the infinite expansiveness of the four directions, the as above and the so below, taught in Shamanic Spirituality.

    As I moved from quadrant to quadrant and back to the center, my perspective of Self was creatively transformed. What I experienced was the awakened sense… that I was still my infinite Self, continously unfolding, evolving, emerging and expanding, while in the illusion of converging with finite space.

  3. Avatar

    Thank you for your friend’s question Bill.
    Matthew speaks to this in a previous meditation.
    “ The Four Paths are decidedly non linear.  I have always imaged them as an open-ended spiral—and spirals go forward as well as backward and this spiral is one that expands and at times may contract as well.  One image I hold of what we are doing is this: Salt and peppering the Via Negativa with the VC and VT and VP also.  This salt and peppering can—and should—happen with each of the Four Paths. “

    Here is a link to the full meditation.


    This is an opportunity to bring to the attention of our readers the Archive tools. This search engine is a valuable resource, well worth exploring during this time of meditation and reflection guided by Richard.
    Ellen Kennedy DM team

  4. Avatar

    Even though Creation Spirituality is very wholistic and helpful on our human space-time spiritual journey with others here on Sacred Mother Nature/Earth, my spiritual journey seems to also be open to the non-physical spiritual dimensions/realms experienced and written about by spiritual channelers and evidential mediums who also have Faith in a Living Loving co-Creator~Source in our inner and outer COSMOS. I know Matthew believes in Angels, has written about them, and has interviewed one prominent Christian channeler who has been gifted with experiencing angels most of her life. In our very troubled world and the potential for further destruction of our sacred planet and all living things, including our human species, we need all the help we can receive of God’s Spirit of DIVINE LOVE~WISDOM~CREATIVITY…, even through HIS~HER Spiritual guides and Angels in our daily human lives from the spiritual dimensions/realms….

  5. Avatar

    Very interesting. I should say I have been a Follower of Gaia for 35 years. I was introduced to Cosmogenesis a few years ago because I had to expand my religious views. But my own views resemble this form of spirituality. I had to discard any “Holy” books. I started with a science based worldview and try to avoid mythology. I took Gaia from Lovelock, not Greek mythology.

    It is interesting to see someone addressing the corruption of modern religions.
    Is it possible to end the 3 sided war between the religions of Abraham with a 4th way? A 4th path?

    I have one suggestion. Christianity is focused on God’s Only Son. But it neglects God’s multitude of Daughters. The Planets across the universe that carry the burden of life. If you view the Earth as a living organism with a spirit of its own, you can see how the feminine divine fits into the grand universal scheme. A living Planet sits below the Grand Universal Creator but stands many orders of magnitude above humans.

    If evolution is intelligently driven then there must be an Entity that decides which humans need to be culled from the human gene pool.

    Now is the time for Unity. It’s time for the Followers of our Mother to stop hiding from the Followers of our Father.

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