“How beautiful is the black, lascivious purity of small children and wild animals.” ~An African proverb as told by Victor Anderson
|“The Black Heart
The other day, I came upon a couple blog posts about the Black Heart of Innocence in Feri. Just wanted to add my thoughts to the mix.
Rather, I began to think, the Black Heart is the state of awakening fully to one’s authentic self – it means one steps up to take the helm of one’s own ship. It means being ruled by no one other than one’s authentic self, being self-mastered. It means throwing off the masks and shackles of coercion, manipulation, or deceit so that one can by guided by the deep wisdom of innocence.
This makes me think of a Feri proverb that I’m told comes from Victor Anderson:
“Never submit your life force to anything or anyone for any reason.”
This very much is taking the helm of our own ship, being “self-mastered”.
|Image from gothamist blog.|
When a spirit or god possesses you, that being controls you. It’s very intimate. Possession is practiced in many traditions, including Voudou and some branches of Feri. It can also be seen in Charismatic Christian churches with the Holy Spirit, though most wouldn’t use the term “possession”.
This is different from what most of the West thinks of as possession, the idea of a demon forcefully taking control of someone, where the person has no choice or control, and the possession is basically permanent. This version is basically spiritual rape. It does happen, though what’s a demon, and what’s a spirit is another question. Even in occult and witchcraft circles, not just Christian circles, there are exorcisms performed because of this type of possession. Though this is the type of possession most people in the “Christian world” (the Western, developed world) think of, this isn’t the only type, and not the type I’m talking about.
The type I’m talking about is voluntary and usually temporary. The priest, the person being possessed, has a measure of control, choices to be possessed, and regains control at the end. It is a form of worship, and is a great source of power and magic.
Thorn’s term “self-possession” builds on this idea. But instead of surrender to a spirit, to something external, you surrender to your own will, your own soul. It’s about taking full control of your own life, owning your actions, being conscious of your actions. It’s about living consciously, being present in the moment instead of being on auto-pilot. It is knowing yourself in all your parts. In Kissing the Limitless, Thorn says the following about self-possession:
When we see a person who seems collected, confident, and stable, we may say that he or she is “self-possessed.” That meaning reflects some internal mastery cultivated by the individual. This mastery is a large part of what I mean by self-possessed. I am speaking of an individual who has done the work to know himself, and who has faced himself unflinchingly and learned to love what he sees. This person has integrated many of her parts, and remains essentially the same in any situation or in the midst of any emotion. By self-possession I mean all of this and something more as well.
Feri Tradition artist Anaar, says simply that our goal is becoming self-possessed. Not initiated. Not holding power over other people. Not commanding forces outside of ourselves. Our goal is to possess ourselves, fully, in every moment.
Self-possession is the quality of being fully in touch with all of one’s parts and aware of the relationship those parts have to our own divinity, known as our God Soul or our Sacred Dove. Since the God Soul is connected to all things, establishing a constant link to this places us into concert with the All-encompassing. Self-possessed, we open fully to an awareness of ourselves as a point of matter anchoring the endless flow of spirit and energy. In this stage we not only have knowledge of our divine natures, we have active conversation with it.
|Image from Heather Louise
Photography on Flickr.
To do that, we need to know ourself as we truly are. We use masks and walls to hide our true selves. Some masks we create ourselves. Others are created and placed on us by our childhood, our parents, our peers, our bosses and coworkers, our family, our friends, our enemies, society, culture, religion, and many other things. We need to strip these masks away and see what’s underneath. Masks can be very useful, but only as a tool. We need to use our masks, not let them use us. Masks are for a task, to do something in our lives or practices, not define us, not to control us, not to be what we see. To be self-possessed, to be “self-mastered”, we need to take off the masks when we look in the mirror and truly see the “us” that is underneath all the masks.
Our culture thinks of Innocence, or rather innocence, as a state of ignorance and naivety. We think you preserve innocence by protecting a child, isolating them from the world. The innocent don’t know good or evil, don’t know about death or sex, about pain, suffering, sorrow, loss. We think of the new born infant. We think of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, naked, chaste, ignorant, powerless. To know is to lose innocence. To remain innocent is to never know.
|Pandora by blackeri
When you view innocence this way, innocence is lost and can never be regained. I’ve seen Christians who come to Christ later in life, “washed in the blood of the Lamb”, try to ignore the world, pretend that there isn’t hurt or pain, suffering or violence. But once you know these things, there’s no going back. It’s like Pandora, opening the box and releasing these things into the world. Once it’s opened, it’s opened.
But still in the box was one last thing: hope. Innocence isn’t lost, we just forget how to be innocent. Innocence isn’t about ignoring the pain in the world. It’s found in accepting that it’s there and moving on. It’s kind of like the Buddhist concept of Enlightenment through detachment. To the Buddhist, suffering is caused by attachment to the things of the world. Only by getting rid of attachment do you bring an end to suffering. Except detachment is a lack of emotions and desire, and Innocence is full of emotion, pure desire. Innocence is the way Fetch looks at the world, and Fetch is filled with emotions and instincts, like the wild animals in the African proverb at the top. In Fetch, we find Innocence. Talker will always dwell on what she sees in the world, all those “negative” things I listed, the things that make us forget Innocence. So we must turn to Fetch and see the world through her eyes.
A song by Jewel comes to mind, Innocence Maintained. The chorus says:
We’ve made houses for hatredIt’s time we made a placeWhere people’s souls may be seen and made safeBe careful with each otherThese fragile flamesFor innocence can’t be lostIt just needs to be maintained
Innocence, like Fetch, is concerned with connectedness. When Fetch touches something, she leaves a connection to it, an aka thread. Part of its substance flows into her and part of her substance flows into it. Fetch is part of everything around her. Part of Innocence is seeing the divinity in other and respecting them because of it.
Back to self-possession, heartssdesire goes on to say:
Then, I realized, I couldn’t come up with a proper name for this condition. It isn’t anarchy, rule by no one. If there were a name it might be something more like autarchy: self-rule, mastery of the self. That word, I discover, already exists, but its meaning in usage is more like autocracy – rule by one person over others. Or perhaps autonomy will serve; it is closest in meaning to what I’m looking for, but interestingly its literal significance is self-naming. Knowing one’s own name. In legend it is often seen that to name something is to own it, to master it. Perhaps that is it.
|Baal Shev Tov
from Judaica Art.
Knowing one’s own name is very much important here. In the White Goddess, Robert Graves talks about the Battle of the Trees, about the riddle. The man could not be overcome unless his true name was known. Gwydion guessed his name, Bran, and hence could overcome him. It is said the Baal Shev Tov (Master of the Good Name), a famous Kabbalist, knew and had mastery over the true name of G-d. He could work all types of miracles because of it, for to have power over G-d is to have power over His creation. Unless we know our own true name, we can never hope to be our own masters. We let others name us, to define who we are, and so, they are masters over us. Only by knowing our selves can we give ourselves our own name, and be masters over our own destinies. It is in knowing, fully knowing, ourselves in all our parts that we overcome Fate and become masters of our own destiny.
heartssdesire goes on to say:
That is the Black Heart’s gift. When we have stripped away the layers of false selves we were wearing, torn away the habits of thought and feeling that do not belong to us, liberated ourselves from self-coercion, self-deceit, and we step into the Black Heart state, its gift is a radiant, black light that makes all things transparent to the gaze of innocence. That black light illuminates the chambers of the soul and shows us our true name. To speak a name is to invoke that being. The Black Heart lets us invoke our most true being to step forward and claim self-guidance of our lives, take the helm of our own ship, be master of ourselves. The Black Heart’s gift is sovereignty.
When I think of sovereignty, I think of Kether, the Crown, in Kabbalah, and of Malkuth, Kingdom. The Crown has sovereignty over the Kingdom. Kether is the King, the Throne, Kingship. But what is a King without a Kingdom? What is the King without the Land?
|Image from Mythic Meditations blog.|
This is shown in the story of the Fisher King that became part of the Arthurian Legends. The Fisher King is a Graal story. The basic story is that the Fisher King is ill, both physically and of heart. Because of this, so is the Land. There is drought, there is sickness. For the Land to be healed, the Fisher King must be healed. So he sends out his men in search of the Holy Graal which can heal anyone who drinks from it. There’s three parts here: the King, the Land, and the Graal. Without the Graal, the King will die, and with the King, the Land.
In his second letter to Joe Wilson, Robert Cochrane said:
Some groups seek fulfillment in mystic experience – this is correct if one does not forget the duty of ‘involvement’ – the prime duty of the wise. It is not enough to see The Lady, it is better to serve Her and Her will by being involved in humanity, and the process of Fate (The single name of all God’s is ‘Fate’). In fate, and the overcoming of fate is the true Graal, for from this inspiration comes, and death is defeated. There is no fate so terrible that it cannot be overcome – whether by a literal victory gained by action and in time, or the deeper victory of spirit in the lonely battle of the self, Fate is the trial, the Castle Perilous in which we all meet to win or to die – Therefore, the People are concerned with Fate –for humanity is greater than the Gods’, although not as great as the Goddess. When Man triumphs, fate stops and the Gods are defeated – so you understand the meaning of magic now. Magic and religion are aids to overcome Fate, and Fate is a cradle that rocks the infant spirit.
So, “In fate, and the overcoming of fate is the true Graal, for from this inspiration comes, and death is defeated.” I alluded to this above to overcoming Fate. Our sickness, that which hides Innocence from us, is only healed with the Graal, with overcoming Fate. Because we are sick, so is the Land. In this case, the Land being the things in our lives, our relationships, our jobs, our spiritual practices. Kether, the Crown, the King, is our divine nature, and Malkuth, Kingdom, the Land, is our human nature. In the Graal, our divine nature, Kether, and our human nature, Mulkuth, become one. The King and the Land are one.
Innocence is the Graal, and we must drink from her to be healed, to gain sovereignty, for the King and the Land to be one. The Graal, Innocence, is Fetch. The Land is Talker. The King is Godself.
|And a Little Child Shall Lead Them
by Charles Christian Nahl.
Image from 1st-Art-Gallery.
By Muninn’s Kiss
The wolf will live with the lamb,
the leopard will lie down with the goat,
the calf and the lion and the yearling a together;
and a little child will lead them.
~Isaiah 11:6 NIV
The wolf stalks her prey,
The mouse trembles,
Little child sits,