Post by Jan
In the magical time of the approaching winter solstice and Christmas, we gathered once again to share our experiences, our wisdom and our food, and to listen to Wisdom’s Call. And what a rich day it was!
Sometimes, even when I think I know a bit about a subject, I encounter something that quite simply takes my breath away. Bear with me and I will try and explain.
Our Wild Wisdom journey started in deep time and we have encountered many manifestations of wisdom as we explored the unfolding cosmos. We marveled at the creativity of the Paleolithic, Mesolithic and Neolithic ages, wandered through Mesopotamia and met Inana, paused in Egypt with Isis and Osisris, returned to these lands where we stirred Ceridwen’s pot, then touched on the Grail traditions through the Loathly Lady. Travelling eastwards again to the Desert Fathers and Mothers, and the Mary-Jesus mysteries.
Our most recent gathering stayed within the biblical tradition but travelled back in time to around 500BCE where, in the Hebrew bible, we read of Hokmah or Wisdom. “Hokmah” is a feminine noun and so whenever Wisdom was invoked, it would have been heard and experienced as feminine. And She is everywhere in the Wisdom books of the Bible! As the Bible was translated into Greek, Hokmah became Sophia and also the masculine Logos and, in the English translations, the more gender neutral Wisdom.
Sam talked to us about the emergence of Greek philosophy and how that, and language, meant that Wisdom as an expression of the Divine Feminine went underground – taken over by Logos and Spiritus Sanctus – until Sophia was quite literally dug up in 1945 at Nag Hamaddi. Greek Philosophy and the Gnostic tradition are fascinating and huge subjects – too big to explore here.
What I have found astonishing is revisiting Wisdom in the existing forms of the Bible – that have been here all the time. Here I find no erudite, learned, remote figure who represents some sort of unearthly knowledge or understanding. Instead, I experience her as God’s co-worker, a powerful all pervading presence – as fiery and feisty as any goddess I’ve encountered in other wisdom traditions. But perhaps the most breathtaking for me is the glimpse of this Divine Feminine as a hugely active, energetic force with an intense love for humanity. In just one small section of the Book of Wisdom (Ch. 10) I read:
“Wisdom protected the first-formed father of the world / When the earth was flooded …….. wisdom again saved it / Wisdom rescued from troubles those who served her / she guided him on straight paths / she stood by him and made him rich / She protected him from his enemies, and kept him safe from those who lay in wait for him/ wisdom did not desert him, but delivered him from sin. She descended with him into the dungeon, and when he was in prison she did not leave him / she guided them along a marvelous way, and became a shelter to them by day, and a starry flame through the night”
She is busy, interventionist and ferociously compassionate in the stories of Noah, Daniel, Joseph and many others. Like the Shekinah, who travelled with Adam and Eve when they were exiled from Eden, She has never left us. She provides the balance our troubled world needs so very badly today.
And the idea of Wisdom as an active principle infused much of what we did for the rest of our day together. We reflected on transformative alchemical experiences in our lives and what they had taught us about our own wisdom paths; in doing so we talked about how we could actively foster them by understanding what helped and supported and what got in the way. We did a beautiful guided meditation which led us to taste the fruits of wisdom, but also to bring the fruit back into the world. And then we did an exercise based on Roberto Assagioli’s “stages of the act of will” to distil our reflections into one small, achievable action.
It was hard work. But it was powerful and fulfilling and we were, as ever, sustained by a gorgeous lunch of apple harvest soup, salmon and a squash and cranberry salad that fed us with its jewel like colours before we even tasted it! There were also multiple offerings from Ernestina the Urn along with mince pies, a Yule log and various other goodies.
For those of us who wanted to stay active in the quiet afternoon time, we were offered the craft of traditional beeswax candle rolling. It is a process that cannot be rushed – the beeswax sheets insist on being worked slowly and deliberately. It took me an hour to make two small candles, but it was an hour of intense, embodied focus and I felt centered and very calm at the end of it. Yet again I am reminded of the wisdom of the bees.
In our co-created closing ceremony, lovingly renamed by Sam as our Ramshackle Ritual, we remembered absent members of our Wild Wisdom community and we asked for blessings on all the children of the world who are living without love, on refugees especially in Syria and the Yemen, and on all the dispossessed. And we ended with a feisty rendering of The Holly and the Ivy which honours both the pre-Christian and Christian traditions of the season.
I have thought a lot about Wisdom’s Call in the few days since our gathering.
We all shared our sense of impotence in a world where so much seems to be going badly wrong and where we find ever new ways to inflict pain on our beloved planet and on each other. But somehow, I am finding deep comfort in those moments when I can be still and listen for Wisdom and her call, because call She does. And if I can hear Her from time to time, and respond by taking action – one small step at a time – and if you can, and others can…………..
Many blessings at this darkest time of the year, and may the returning light nourish hope and wisdom in us all.