Ritual & Cosmic Awareness: Wicca, Indigenous & Early Christian

Not only the Eastern religions Marcel refers to, but also Earth-based religions of the West, such as ancient Native American traditions and modern nature-mystic faiths such as Wicca, are steeped in cosmic awareness, cosmic celebration, and cosmic healing.

Mini-documentary (2010) marking the 30th annual Spiral Dance of the Wiccan Reclaiming Tradition, founded by Star Hawk.

In the matrifocal pagan religions, for example, the power of the microcosm is celebrated as a Goddess who “encircles the universe.”   

About Wicca, Starhawk writes: 

In the Craft, we do not believe in the Goddess—we connect with Her; through the moon, the stars, the ocean, the earth, through trees, animals, through other human beings, through ourselves. She is here. She is within us all. She is the full circle: earth, air, fire, water, and essence—body, mind, spirit, emotions, change.

Ritual in the Wiccan tradition takes place invariably in circles and spirals to mirror the cosmos, which is also curved.

First part of a 3-part documentary on the background and rituals of the Lakota Sundance ceremony. See parts 2 and 3 HERE. Publius4321

When Native Americans gather to worship, they too gather in circles and believe that each time ritual is celebrated in this way, the center of the cosmos is found in the center point of the worshiping circle.

Native Americans could not imagine worshiping without a cosmos.

The early Christians, too, celebrated the cosmic Christ, of which Paul writes in Colossians, Ephesians, and Philippians, some of the oldest texts we possess of early Christian practice.

Divine radiance of creation: sunrise on a forest hill, Aylmer, ON, Canada. Photo by Michael Krahn on Unsplash.

The words recorded therein are hymns from the earliest Christian rituals. They are cosmic hymns about cosmic healing and cosmic rejoicing.

In Ephesians, Paul (or a disciple) sings of how with Christ “everything in the heavens and everything on earth” comes together (1.10) and how Christ “fills the whole creation” (1.23).  

A cosmic rebirth is celebrated in Christ.

In Colossians, the hymn calls Christ “the firstborn of all creation in whom were created all things in heaven and on earth.”

And through him, Christians celebrate the reconciliation of “all things… everything in heaven and everything on earth.” (Col. 1:15, 20)   

To be continued.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality, pp. 73f.

Banner Image: Sacred circle, Isle of Skye, U.K. Photo by Robert Lukeman on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

How prevalent is the cosmos in your experience of worship or liturgy or ceremony?  (The Cosmic Mass or TCM has it in the title itself.)  Do you sense what Otto Rank teaches, that only ritual that connects psyche and cosmos is effective ritual?

Recommended Reading

Original Blessing: A Primer in Creation Spirituality

Matthew Fox lays out a whole new direction for Christianity—a direction that is in fact very ancient and very grounded in Jewish thinking (the fact that Jesus was a Jew is often neglected by Christian theology): the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality, the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa and Transformativa in an extended and deeply developed way.
Original Blessing makes available to the Christian world and to the human community a radical cure for all dark and derogatory views of the natural world wherever these may have originated.” –Thomas Berry, author, The Dream of the Earth; The Great Work; co-author, The Universe Story

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10 thoughts on “Ritual & Cosmic Awareness: Wicca, Indigenous & Early Christian”

  1. Avatar

    Thank you so much for the video of the Sundance Way. Watching this brought many memories of not only the Sundances I have danced, but also the many Eagle Dances I have danced, drummed, sang and prayed in.

    The sacred medicine wheel is another ritual I participate in. My husband and I just built one on the sacred land we steward, and we a dreaming it awake with the Grandfather Chiefs and the Clan Grandmothers; for the healing of Grandmother Earth and all our relations… drumming and singing the ancient healing chants, re-weaving energetically the threads in the Great Webb of Life.

    The Sacred Circle and the Flowering Tree of Life is all inclusive, embracing all, in the cosmic dance of Oneness and Wholeness… for all paths lead to the center of this sacred union, with the Great Mystery, the Great Spirit, God/Goddess of the all and the everything of creation.

  2. Avatar

    Hi Matt,
    I so love the spiritual ways of the Indigenous people. In fact, I don’t think we can save the planet without their wisdom and leadership.
    Thank you for sharing this video about the Sundance. It moves me deeply.
    For the Earth,

  3. Avatar

    Wonderful Jeanette you have participated in these rituals of praise and communion, dancing in a Cosmic Circle with the Creator, her Creation and with others who like you are opening your hearts to receive and share this deep cosmic urge to Love Life and take care of her.
    I am in a process of transformation myself.
    I no longer see myself as a separate entity but one who exists in communion with Creation and the Cosmos. This communion is giving me a new home where Love dwells, a new vision of Life and the Earth and a response ability to share this experience with others. But sharing this is the most difficult part of it. I can go deeper on my own but find it challenging to share this stirring of creativity with others.
    I am learning from Matthews writing that Ritual is a means to do this. “A ritual that connects the psyche with the cosmos” and sharing it with others is a call I would love to answer. It seems to be the urge of evolution itself and living it my daily prayer.

  4. Avatar

    Dear Matthew, your question about the cosmic dimension of religion has been my interest all my life, since my 1985 philosophy thesis on precession in Christian theology. Last year I had a paper published in the journal Correlation titled The Physics of Astrological Ages, in which I bring together my research including on the empirical and cultural underpinnings to understand Jesus Christ as Avatar of the Astrological Age of Pisces, and also, in the imagination of the Second Coming, as Avatar of the Age of Aquarius.

    Unfortunately, to your questions, I have found no interest in incorporating these ideas about the cosmos in my experience of worship or liturgy or ceremony. I would like to find out more about Otto Rank’s teaching that only ritual that connects psyche and cosmos is effective ritual, building upon the coming together of physics and psychology. Today Christianity is alienated from nature. Understanding the grand and glorious order and stability of the cosmos, and how this informed the construction of the Bible, can redeem Christianity through entirely natural understandings of themes including salvation, grace, order and atonement.

  5. Avatar

    Long time Wiccan. Thank you for writing some true things about the practice—-I just ran across a “Focus on the Family” article today condemning it.

  6. Avatar

    My understanding of how a faith-form comes back to life after centuries of being “lost” or suppressed, is as follows:

    During its Dark Age, when it is illegal to practice any religion other than the dominant one that has overtaken all others, fragments of the older religion survive, in the form of place names, a statue that hasn’t been smashed, a superstition surrounding a particular location, etc.

    Fragments also survive in the form of folk-magic practices that still acknowledge the existence of older deities or spirits: knocking on wood, throwing a pinch of salt over your left shoulder, carving some kind of protective symbol into a baby’s cradle, etc.

    In times when people are otherwise powerless to affect the political/economic forces that oppress them, thaumaturgy refuses to die. People will always seek out someone who can help them use “magick” to effect a specific outcome, or learn to do it themselves. (Ex: making Hot Foot Powder to keep someone from harassing you.) These “spells” may, or may not, invoke the aid of a specific named deity, or they may use a socially-acceptable invocation like a Psalm. (read the rest at http://tinyurl.com/5p9vwn7w)

  7. Avatar

    The mystical and the Indigenous spiritual traditions resonate with me deeply on my spiritual journey, as well as recently the multidimensional-multiverse spiritualities, because they help us have Faith and conscious awareness/realization of our interconnectedness-interdependence with our beautiful Sacred Mother Nature-Earth & all Her creatures/blessings, and All Our inner and outer Microcosm-Macrocosm PRESENT LOVING ONENESS Ongoing ETERNAL CREATION~COSMOS of Our Beloved SOURCE~CREATOR….

  8. Avatar

    “Only ritual that connects psyche and cosmos is effective ritual”.
    We are all IN God. We are connected at the deepest level, whether we know it, feel it, or want others to be within with us, too. Rituals CAN open us to deeper, wider, more focused, richer immersion in that Truth, but if the rituals are merely “surface deep” performances or rote memorization, they will remain mostly intellectual understanding.

    Rituals are also conveyed in an embedded context that expresses a wider message. Who performs them? Who is “too much of an outsider” to do them and/or receive them? Who is worth accommodating inclusion into the group? A ritual is never just the “purely symbolic” ritual acts, ideas and items: it is the community of who is, and is not, included, and to what degree they are involved at the most central levels.
    Who is “unworthy of” or “unimportant for” the fullest inclusion in our rituals? Who is “less than?”
    Who is outside the inner ritual circle?

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