Spiritual ‘work’?

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The use of the word ‘work’ here and elsewhere on this website is in homage to Alchemy-as-language, through which the lineage underlying the ideas on Sacred River was transmitted from ancient times to the present. The alchemical ‘work’ was referred to as the opus contra naturam, ‘the work against nature’. This phrase represents both the entire body of activities in which this art involves one and the essence of the work. In our culture, the word ‘work’ has become associated with heroic activity. Yet, Alchemy is anything but heroic. Rather than slay dragons, Alchemy meets them, listens to them, learns from them, is shaped by […]

Overworld

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overworld

The overworld resembles what is called ‘heaven’ in many traditions. It is the place where beings such as gods, angels, spirits and holy ancestors dwell. In shamanism, the shaman’s soul leaves her body in a state of trance and she travels to either the underworld or the overworld. Usually for the purpose of healing others. In contrast to the underworld, the overworld is a place of brilliant light, ‘high up’, light as a feather, transcendent and spiritual. Many traditions posit these ‘peak experiences’ as the goal, including humanistic psychologies and new-age spiritual traditions. In contrast, the tradition that became modern depth psychology, including Neo-Platonism and […]

Underworld

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underworld

In Greek Mythology, the underworld is called Hades, as is the god who reigns there. The underworld is the place where the souls of the dead go. In Shamanism, the shaman’s soul leaves her body in a state of trance and she travels to either the underworld or the overworld. Usually for the purpose of healing others. In contrast to the overworld, the underworld is dark, low, turbulent, difficult to navigate and emotionally ‘heavy’. It is said to be very difficult to travel to the underworld and impossible to return, once there. In most traditions there is usually a very dangerous river one has to […]

Tao

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tao

Tao is a Chinese word that means ‘road’ or ‘path’. But from around 1300 BCE in China, the word started taking on more spiritual meanings. Some of these spiritual texts have survived down to our time, e.g. the I Ching. The spiritual meanings of the word are ultimately indefinable. These include, ‘the way that leads us beyond ourselves.’ Or, ‘a path or discipline of self-transformation.’ Or, ‘the way of Heaven’. Which involves sensitivity to and awareness of a kind of sacred river with its origin in what does not exist (or ‘non-being’). Yet which flows through, and animates all that exists. And which is ultimately […]