Father Richard Rohr
Center for Action and Contemplation
Once we allow the entire universe to become that alive and dynamic, we are living in an enchanted world. Nothing is meaningless; nothing is able to be dismissed. It’s all whirling with the same beauty, the same radiance. In fact, if I had to name the Big Bang in my language, I’d call it the Great Radiance. About 13.8 billion years ago, the inner radiance of God started radiating into forms. All these billions of years later, we are the continuation of that radiance in our small segment of time on this Earth. We can either allow it and let the Infinite Flow flow through us, or we can deny it, which is really what it means not to believe.
This is not something I can prove to anyone. This is nothing I can make logical or rational. It’s only experiential, and it’s only known in the mystery of love when we surrender ourselves to it, when we grant the other inherent dignity and voice—the plant, the animal, the tree, the sky, Brother Sun and Sister Moon as my Father Francis of Assisi put it.
Beguines, the ‘world’s oldest women’s movement…’
Some historians believe they banded together after losing their men to the Crusades, which left behind mainly criminals and louts — beguines were not confined to the cloister. Many ministered to the poor and sick outside their walls. Lifelong celibacy was not required either. They could leave the order and marry (but not return).
Traces of these remarkable women and their idiosyncratic spiritual ways can be found today in the urban islands of quietness they once called home. Known as beguinages or begijnhofs, several dozen of these compounds are still intact (to varying degrees) from England to Germany. Ten years ago Unesco declared a select group as World Heritage Sites. No country has more beguinages (29) than Belgium, and a trip to inspect a few in three cities seemed like a pleasant way to spend a spring day, especially given the ease with which one moves by train in that convenient nation.
In its modesty, this beguinage is reminiscent of a poorly endowed college at Oxford. The bourgeois values of peace and tidiness govern all beguinages, elements that look forward to the airy clarity of the Enlightenment rather than back to the Gothic sublime of the Middle Ages.
These were “independent women who defined for themselves what it meant to live according to gospel values. Beguines were not nuns. They used their sources of income to purchase homes near the chapel or parish church where they gathered together for prayer. They emerged in the midst of a so-called first renaissance when European society was transforming itself from a narrowly defined structure of a great many peasants.
Several factors propelled this renaissance and supported the emergence of the beguines, including the Crusades and courtly culture, emerging cities and their fledging universities, a new money-based economy, the growth of lay spirituality and the cult of the Virgin Mary, as well as new monastic orders.
Additionally, there was a phenomenon called vita apostolic, which means the ‘apostolic life’ or ‘the life of an apostle.’ Beguines were a powerful expression of the vita apostolica.
Leading profound simplicity, beguines pooled their resources in order to serve the sick and destitute by building and operating infirmaries and almshouses.
- Hildegard of Bingen
- Marguerite d’Oingt
- Gertrude of Helfta
And many women became beguines as a result of their newfound literacy.
A heretic is a person who allegedly corrupts established faith doctrine, often by selecting a limited set of beliefs and denying the other parts of orthodox teaching.
It was a highly charged political environment in the medieval world.In a society strongly defined by each person’s specific place (such as belonging to the guilds or merchants, to aristocratic or religious classes or the the peasantry), beguines were violating their ‘God-assigned place’ in order to serve the gospel.
Beguines were under church investigation at different ties and in different parts of Europe for their spiritual independence.
While most beguines were quite orthodox, there were some religious laywomen who did join the Cathars, the Free Spirits, The Spiritual Franciscans, and other suspected heretical movements.
Most challenges of heresy, however, were politically motivated. When beguines challenged inept clergy, they made priests and bishops angry. When beguines condemned the red and corruption within the church, they made the church hierarchy angry. When beguines denounced the cruelty done to innocent laypeople through interdict, they made the popes angry. Beguine preaching would always make some men in power angry.
Beguines showed great strength and persistence and collaborated with fellow seekers, tolerated diversity, and raised difficult questions; they exercised both communal and personal wisdom and freedom to follow God as they felt called.
The story of the beguines affairs that women have contributed far more to spirituality and culture than history books have traditionally acknowledged. Their voices proclaim a divine presence that years for relationship with each of us.
These medieval women offer us hope and a fresh path: to think creatively, to collaborate to achieve change, and to live with prophetic courage.”
“A movement, rather than an order, there was no single style or pattern of beguine life.
While reacting against the wealth and ostentation of secular society, the beguines did not see poverty as an end in itself, rather they encouraged the development of the virtues of charity, humility and companionship.
Beguines worked in hospitals, visited the sick in their homes and established infirmaries.
As the church became increasingly paranoid concerning the presence of heterodox teachings, and brutal it its attempt to eradicate those it conceived of a threat, beguines, along with Jews, witches and various other sects, found themselves vulnerable and subject to frequent accusations of heresy, with often terrible consequences.”
The French mystic Marguerite Porete was burned at the stake in Paris in 1310, after a year and a half of imprisonment. Her crime was to repeatedly refuse to appear before the court of the inquisitorial commission to answer charges relating to her book, The Mirror of Simple Souls. During her trial, she refused to swear the oath required of her by the inquisitor’s office and she showed no remorse for having violated an injunction to withdraw her book from circulation after it had been publicly burned several years previously. Many who witnessed her execution were said to be moved to tears by her piety.
Little is known about Porete, apart from the record of her trial and what can be gleaned from her writings. It seems likely that she was associated with the beguines, a women’s religious movement which spread across northern Europe during the 13th and 14th centuries. Although the beguines devoted themselves to charity, chastity and good works, they took no religious vows and their lifestyles varied greatly, from solitary itinerants (of which Porete was probably one) to enclosed communities. The beguines were part of an era of vigorous spiritual flourishing during the Middle Ages. They were condemned by the Council of Vienne (1311-1312), which also condemned the Free Spirit Movement with which they were sometimes (and probably erroneously) identified. Although the beguine movement declined dramatically in the 15th century, some beguine communities survived until the early 20th century. The beguinage in Leuven in Belgium is a Unesco world heritage site, and to wander through its quiet cobbled roads and enclosed gardens is to feel a poignant sense of the lost history of women’s lives.
And this, by Allysha Lavino…recommend highly.
My review from 2020 for Amazon, Trust the Magic:
What did you see today?
What did you learn today?
What did you love today? (p.79)
Henry Lincoln chose to See, and now, Allysha has chosen to See with the eyes and wisdom of the Divine Feminine in The Heretic. Having both discovered their place in the universal pattern, Allysha invites us through beautiful and brilliant storytelling to find our own place through sacred geometry while meeting the Good People, the ancient Cathars, in Southern France. Reading The Heretic, I had the remarkable context of a Sacred Mystery Tour with Allysha and her husband, Mark, co-led by Sir Henry, to visit the sites revealed in the Languedoc region of Southern France. My hope is that if you’ve landed in this virtual space—”nothing is done par hazard” (p. xv)—either directed by the Divine Feminine or a passionate friend, you, too, will be called to physically explore the ruins and profound spiritual places Allysha excavates in the pages of The Heretic. If not, this book will be your experience. Allysha has magically captured through character and compassion the Wisdom resting beneath all things, the dualism of good and evil. During this time of pandemic and global social sadness, Allysha reminds us through her ancient research and inspired writing that suffering cannot destroy us, beauty is in everything, “though the world around us was filled with the shear chaos of the unknown” (p. 217). She gently encourages us in her story to “trust the magic,” as she gathers what Emily Dickinson called the fruits of the spirit: patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. It is Lily’s discoveries along with her young ethereal guides at the old hotel in Alet-les-Bains who encourage us to charge the awakening. I didn’t want this book to end—gratitude to Gaia it is a trilogy! Allysha, “thank you for your wisdom…your joy…your peace…your guidance…your strength…your love (pp. 265-266). As Henry writes in his Forward, “The world has been preparing Allysha for this task for years, unbeknownst to either of us.” Baphomet, friends…the path awaits.
Author Beatrice Bruteau [1930–2014]: “We need a new theology of the cosmos, one that is grounded in the best science of our day, so that all the world turns sacred again.”
“We show up, burn brightly, live passionately, hold nothing back, and when the moment is over, when our work is done, we step back and let go.“
M O K S A is liberation. To be free. In the flow of our practice, it is the action of letting go.
We do our duty, live abundantly, express gratitude, and let go.
M O K S A is the state of non-attachment, the rereleasing of the fruits of our actions, our efforts, our hopes [magic], and dreams.
The open space of M O K S A has no meaning without the focus and drive of dharma and artha.
(Dharma: inner harmony. Artha: outer harmony.)
A hundred times a day I remind myself that my life depends on the labors of other (wo)men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give, in measure as I have received, and am still receiving.
Intentionally moving energy.
I am holding space for the new era on planet Earth. -Allysha Lavino
Allysha Lavino/Sacred Mystery
“Kindness is often overlooked – we can sometimes forget how PROFOUND and TRANSFORMATIVE it is.
One of the most profound shifts that we undergo as we awaken, is the shift from being told what qualities we should engage, to truly understanding the beauty and magic they embody.
AWAKENING means transitioning from teachers’, parents’ and society’s lessons about sharing, being kind, and saying “Thank You” …
… To the expanded consciousness, where we experience the value in truly living these themes.
KINDNESS BRIDGES THE DIVIDES OF RACE, RELIGION, POLITICS, GENDER, AND ZIP CODES – a bridge that can lead us into a beautiful tomorrow.
Be grateful for the Goodness that we feel when we tap into the energy of loving-kindness.”
You gave everything. For what? Look at us. Humanity. We’re a mess. We can’t even don a mask because, you know, our rights not to wear one are greater than your right to live.
But yeah. Thank you for your service. We truly don’t know what it means, as a
C O L L E C T I V E
to take care of our own.
We dishonor you with our actions during this global pandemic.
Some continue to try. ♡
“I am just grief stricken by how many Americans are OK with racist dog whistling and white supremacy and cutesy nods to white nationalism. Even if 45 is gone, that all stays. This is who we are.”
A friend, the White mother of a Black child, posted this on Facebook on election night. That last line floored me: This is who we are.”
It is exactly who we are. Since before the birth of this nation.
The pandemic’s toll on veterans
by, Ashley Gold
“A number of recent studies highlight the problems facing veterans as the coronavirus pandemic rages on.
- According to one recent survey of 30,000 veterans wounded after 9/11, 52% said their mental health has gotten worse and 49% said their physical health has become worse since they started social distancing during the pandemic.
- Sixty-one percent said they felt more disconnected from friends, family and community, according to the survey by the Wounded Warrior Project.
- Veterans are delaying doctors’ appointments too, with 70% reporting having in-person appointments canceled or postponed. And 40% noted employment difficulties.
- The Associated Press reported in September that military suicides have gone up as much as 20% this year compared to the same period in 2019.A study by the
- Bob Woodruff Foundation this spring said emergent trauma, loneliness due to social isolation, and unplanned job losses creates a “perfect storm” threatening the mental health of veterans.
By the numbers: Beyond the stress caused by the pandemic, coronavirus cases are up among veterans, too. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, there have been 83,383 cases among VA hospitals with 4,223 known deaths.”
Exhausted. On edge.
Now, as the world heaves a collective sigh of relief (or grief), whatever you’re feeling, wherever this finds you…
Let’s take a moment to remember that the great task of our lifetimes is not to change the world.
Our task is ONLY to transform ourselves …
The world is naturally transformed by our Light.
‘Since the “map show” of last week—all those blues and reds signifying, well, everything and nothing—we’ve been hearing calls for unity. I get it. I really do. I crave more steady common ground rather than the shifting tectonic plates we’ve all been surfing unsteadily these last four years. I want a news network called Truth that everyone, regardless of political party, actually trusts. Let’s spend some time disagreeing about our values and how to get things done, not the facts, for a change. Let’s log off of social media where our most base emotional wiring is being profoundly manipulated. At this point, I’d rather our commander-in-chief communicated via interpretive dance than twitter.
But as much as I honor our collective desire for kindness, this is not the time for congeniality. This is the time for a fiercer form of moral leadership. Our foundational values need to show up in public—calm, sure, if that feels authentic, but more importantly, uncompromising on questions of basic humanity. We have developed some powerful new muscles the year for tolerating uncertainty, for unvarnished truthtelling, for outraged solidarity; now is not the time to get back to compartmentalization and quiet desperation, violent death and violent denial.
It’s not unity we need. It’s a basic agreement that racism, sexism, ableism, etc. will not be tolerated. There are not two sides on this. There are a million shades of gray on how we live and lead, but there are not and should never be two sides on dehumanization.
And, yes, that means that my work is not to dehumanize those who didn’t vote as I did. My work is to get ever more curious about them, about our current ecosystem of information and the way it has distorted all of our perceptions of truth and trust. My work is to disagree with them out loud, on the page, wherever I need to, whenever I need to—boldly and respectfully.
I am especially invested in doing this with White women right now, having seen that half of those with a similar racial and economic status as my own supported Trump; I am baffled and profoundly sad about this. My job now is to transform that bafflement, that disappointment, into fuel. I am tired of looking at the demographic data the day after an election and being ashamed of the way “my people” voted. But I won’t reject those people. I will pick my chin up and get after organizing with them—figuring out what my gifts are and how I can bring them to bear on this conundrum (the conundrum being that even the dehumanized vote for the dehumanizer).
I see that as work of those who have had the privilege of not watching their humanity be debated. I am not going to ask my Black or immigrant or disabled friends to spend their precious energy empathizing with someone who doesn’t believe they are as worthy as I am. If that’s someone’s spiritual practice, so be it, but to publicly call for all Americans to unify is to ask those who have been systematically and interpersonally dehumanized by racists and xenophobes to invest in them. That’s not just insensitive, it’s emotionally violent—particularly within the context of 400 years of this shit. That’s not their sacred duty. It’s ours.’
To those calling for unity, here is my ask: Stop requesting self-annihilation from anyone. Yes, we need to combat the reductive thinking that is only further entrenched by the “map show.” No, we don’t need to capitulate, compromise, or God forbid, normalize the hatred that has always been part of this country, but was surfaced so painfully this year.
And while we’re at it, stop painting fierce moral leadership as wokeism (looking at you, David Brooks). It’s patronizing and inaccurate. Sure, there is a faction of the progressive movement that is more performance than substance. That’s true of any movement at any time. But there are a huge number of people who put a tremendous amount of effort into taking a stand for basic humanity this year; we even risked our own health, the health of our families, to show up at protests and work the polls. We donated money at a time when money was already tight. We talked to our children, however clumsily, about the brokenness of the world. We didn’t do it for woke brownie points. We did it because something intrinsic to our very souls resists the dehumanization of others.
We must not parody that, or call for its politeness. We must nurture and grow and honor that. We must push progressive White America to look at the places where hypocrisy and neglect live in our own lives, not just point the finger at Trump voters. We’re coming to the close of a year of painful unearthing; don’t dishonor that with pavement of politeness.
If you are a White person on this journey to figure out how to organize with other White people, check out my bud Garrett Bucks’ new Barnraisers Project, Showing Up for Racial Justice, and/or Integrated Schools.
‘The journey to becoming the hero of your own story isn’t easy … but it is a well-marked path.
There are certain signposts, trials, and tribulations every hero must undergo in the process of becoming. While Your Path will certainly be your own, there is a crucial first step to embarking on any quest.
ASK TO BE SHOWN THE WAY.
This might look like a prayer, a wish, a hope, a whisper, a willingness, a plea … It is a conscious pulling on one of the strings of the quantum web, so that the music of the Quest may begin.
“…it’s all part of the process. The Initiate has to set out on the quest without knowin’ where she’s goin’. It’s in all the stories … Along the way, there are clues and tests. The Initiate has to gain new awareness and use all her skills to survive and complete the quest.” ~THE HERETIC
The key to questing is that you don’t know where you’re going. It is all ways a journey into the UNKNOWN. That is how I know that we’re all on a Quest right now.
I may not know what the terrain ahead looks like, but I do have some experience with the process. No matter where we go, or what we may become, the spirit of the Quest is the same.
The possibility of initiation is being offered to each of us.
Will you ask to be shown the way?
It will take courage. You’ll have to choose in every moment. And you do not get to know the way. It is a step of trust … of courage … into the Unknown.
It may not be for the faint of heart …
But some of you are ready.
I can feel it.’
‘…remember, it just means to CHOOSE.’
“Wonder and amazement are as old as the Earth. Magic, myth, and merriment are our deep inheritance. As the world changes – we change – yet the beauty of this birthright shines ever-bright within and around us.
I’VE GOTTEN SPECIAL PERMISSION TO RELEASE ONE OF MY FAVORITE CHAPTERS of THE HERETIC to YOU!”
“Don’t worry — no spoilers! I just want to let you in on where the story begins … with a village priest in a hilltop hamlet called RENNES-LE-CHATEAU, and the CODED PARCHMENTS that would change Everything.
Whether you’re already a Heretic (remember it just means ABLE TO CHOOSE) who’s been waiting not-so-patiently for this book to be released
… or a Heretic-in-training who’s just learning about the limitless possibilities in store for you ~
I HOPE YOU’LL LOVE DIVING INTO THE ADVENTURE.”
“P.S. If you have any friends who are into ancient mysteries, spiritual transformation, codes & ciphers, or math & magic … make sure they get on our mailing list right away! www.AllyshaLavino.com/Join-the-Heretics
The Kickstarter Campaign launches January 14, 2020 with the first opportunity to pre-order THE HERETIC and other amazing offers, but the EARLY BIRD SPECIALS WON’T LAST LONG!”