It has been awhile since I sat down in front of my computer to write out something coherent for my blog. I find myself taking notes, making notes, following rabbits of thought and inquiry down their various rabbit holes…but I have not really sat down and tried to write something coherent.
Now I sit here at 6:40am surrounded by various books and a hot cup of coffee determined to bang something out, to get the ball rolling perhaps, to get back to work.
Back in late May, shortly after my move to Ashville, I wrote about the rediscovery of tradition. Since that time my thoughts about the subject have deepened and expanded. More than that, I have begun to develop some sense, and a lived experience of what actually rediscovering the tradition that lies at the root of our culture may look like.
First a bit of back story. I met a woman…no, that is not totally correct. I met the woman, my woman, my partner. Of course, as a man head over heels in love, I would be quite happy to spend this blog post extolling the virtues and qualities of my lady, and some of that will occur in time no doubt, but that is not exactly why I am telling you that I have found my woman. I am telling you about my woman because I believe that she is an answer to prayer and I think that prayer is situated at the heart of the rediscovery of this tradition.
My relationship with my ex-wife had been dying for years. I tried everything I could to try and fix it, and nothing worked. Nothing that relied on my powers, on my mind, on my words, none of that worked. In the last year of the dying relationship I began to pray. At first I did not have a real clear understanding of to who or what I was praying….that came with time and practice. My early prayers were for….well they were for magic I suppose. I was praying that my relationship be saved. This obviously did not “work”…but herein lies the trick. I don’t think one can pray for magic…I am not sure that this is how it works… and I think there is something about prayer that involves the surrender of what we want, or think should happen. We have to surrender all that when we pray….at least that is what I think…but then what do I know really, because so much of this is Mystery.
As the relationship continued to deteriorate and break apart my prayer changed. My prayers truly became cries of anguish, of agony. I no longer prayed to have my relationship saved because I recognized that I no longer knew what was right for me. I no longer knew if the relationship was right for me. It seemed that my whole world was falling apart and I found myself on my knees, with tear soaked eyes, just begging for help.
Here is another thing: I did not find myself praying to God, nor Jesus for that matter. I found myself praying to Mary.
I was not raised Catholic. I was raised vaguely Protestant and I never experienced Mary in any of the churches I was taken to as a child. Sure, I heard about Mary at Christmas time and again at Easter, but there was no tradition of prayer to Mary anywhere in my background. And yet…and yet in my time of greatest need there seemed nothing more natural…or rather, nothing else seemed feasible but to fall on my knees and call out to Mary.
I think this is important to the larger topic of rediscovering tradition. I do not have many clearly formed thoughts on the subject, and I am definitely not the first person to bring this up, but in my broken hearted prayers to the Mother of the Most High I recognized, I embodied, the loss of our connection to the feminine aspects of God. We have lost it, that is very different from thinking that it does not exist, that it isn’t there. Perhaps one of the great mistakes we make when we deride or deny the traditions of our ancestors is the mistake of thinking that the tradition is all Patriarch and no Matriarch. This is an error. The Biblical tradition, the Western tradition is full of the divine feminine…she is waiting for you just like she was waiting for me, and is waiting for all of us. But like every woman, She is a Mystery, and Mysteries must be sought after.
But the topic of the feminine manifestation of the divine in the Western tradition is a vast topic and one that I am nowhere near ready to attempt to write about. What I do want to round this post out with are some thoughts regarding prayer and the ways in which I think prayer opens a pathway into the Mysteries of the Western tradition.
I must begin by confessing that the path of prayer is new to me. I have been a meditator for years, I have practiced magick for years. In my short experience of the path of prayer I have learned that it seems to differ quite a bit from either of these other methods. The path of prayer, or my experience of it, is the path of surrender. It is the path of crying out, it is the path of girding your loins for battle. Prayer is the path one takes when there is no longer a clear path. Prayer is the path one takes when direction is lost, when the odds seem overwhelming, when it has become absolutely evident that the power of your own will, your own desires, your own plans are no longer sufficient.
The type of surrender I am describing is not a form of giving up. It does not mean that you can quit, just throw your hands into the air, ask God to fix all your problems….this is not the path. Surrender in this sense is much more like having the courage to move forward despite the fact that you fully recognize that you do not know what the outcome will be. Prayer is a leap of faith. But faith into what? Herein lies the Mystery.
For me, surrendered prayer was a full opening of my heart and my soul to the Mystery of Christianity. Perhaps it is a strange thing that it was the very act of surrendering into prayer, the very fact of finding myself on my knees, laid low, broken and calling out to a feminine force beyond my power or even comprehension, all of this came before I had much faith in such things. I think there is deep truth in the old, familiar saying that for every step towards God that we take, God runs forward to meet us. This is an act of Faith, and Faith lies at the heart of the Mystery. What might happen if you opened yourself to Faith? What would happen if your heart were cracked open enough to let the light of Mary shine in?
My experience is this: when my heart was cracked open, and when I called out like a child to his mother, my entire life was changed in ways that I never thought possible. Seek the Mysteries!