All peoples have their way of expressing grief and of ritualizing the death of their loved ones. Archeologists have found evidence of death rituals extending back hundreds of thousands of years and not only among homo sapiens but among Neanderthals and other cousins of ours as well.
I am currently undergoing a certain expression of ritual and grief being led by women from an extended Filipino family as one of their members with whom I have been living for the past five years died in my home last Saturday at the age of 83.
The Roman Catholic Filipino tradition proposes a novena or nine days of special prayers and the turnout for this event, by zoom, is impressive and traverses two continents.
Rafael had seven children and two of them still live in the Philippines while five live in the Bay Area along with several children, grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and numerous sisters, aunts, cousins, etc.
The ritual practice consists essentially of reciting the “glorious mysteries” of the rosary, some short litanies and another practice new to me called the chaplet.
St. Dominic is credited with having initiated the rosary in the early 13th century. Since he was from Spain, it is very likely that he borrowed it from the Muslim tradition which in turn may have borrowed it from Indian traditions of the East.
In Dominic’s version it centers on the prayer to Mary, the mother of Jesus. It is a good and refreshing thing to celebrate the Holy Mother thereby recognizing the divine feminine at the center of the Christian prayer tradition. (Otto Rank emphasizes how early Christianity was a goddess religion.)
The reformers of the 16th century more or less expelled the goddess. That century, by any one’s estimation, initiated a hyper-masculine era which we now call the “modern” age.
Patriarchy is not at home with the goddess.
To its credit, the Catholic Church and the pre-modern era made room for the divine feminine of which the gothic revolution in architecture of the 12th century is an essential and explicit reminder.*
To be continued.
*See Henry Adams’ classic book, Mont Saint Michel and Chartres and R.P. Blackmur, in “The Revival” in Blackmur, Henry Adams (NY: Harcourt, Brace Jovanovich, 1980), pp. 176-242.
See Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp. xviif, 280f, 223f, 246f, 221, 278.
And Fox, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance, pp. 11-34.
Banner Image: Flowers with a rosary and prayerbook. Photo by Ksenia Chernaya on Pexels.
Queries for Contemplation
How important are prayers to the Divine Mother to you in your spiritual practice and in your prophetic action in the world?
The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine
To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature, to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God
The Coming of the Cosmic Christ: The Healing of Mother Earth and the Birth of a Global Renaissance
In what may be considered the most comprehensive outline of the Christian paradigm shift of our Age, Matthew Fox eloquently foreshadows the manner in which the spirit of Christ resurrects in terms of the return to an earth-based mysticism, the expression of creativity, mystical sexuality, the respect due the young, the rebirth of effective forms of worship—all of these mirroring the ongoing blessings of Mother Earth and the recovery of Eros, the feminine aspect of the Divine.
“The eighth wonder of the world…convincing proof that our Western religious tradition does indeed have the depth of imagination to reinvent its faith.” — Brian Swimme, author of The Universe Story and Journey of the Universe.