So today I would like to pick up where I left off .
At that stage I had been practising as a spiritual healer for a number of years. At the same time I was teaching ACIM to a group of women. Eventually the ACIM lessons was replaced by the teaching Freedom through Love and I was guided towards the Gnostic texts and the Nag Hammadi Library.
And here I discovered The Gospel of Mary and the Pistis Sophia. I started to explore the idea of the Soul as feminine consciousness and the understanding of the goddess; firstly as psychic archetype and secondly as a conscious being.
Slowly, but surely my inner world turned upside down. I discovered authors like Marion Woodman and other Jungian authors; I delved into Jean Bolen and Jean Houston's work and immersed myself in the power of myth.
My dreams became another world : a world filled with sound and symbology and speaking beings. I dreamt of the old woman, the old man, those with branches for hair and I dreamt of the snake that devours me, night after night.
It is also during this time that my meditations changed. No longer could I sit in a confined space and focus on the no-thing. No longer did my meditations provide a peaceful haven. Within myself an incredible force surged up as soon as I sat down to meditate. This force had the power of desire and the heat of suppressed energy and I was scared to unleash it. I found a book by Leslie Kenton (it had an angel wing on the cover and this made me feel secure about trying it :)) on shamanic rituals and especially the power of drumming and working with a rattle. So I journeyed into the inner world to meet this force within myself; this force that is disrupting my life and the way that I see and understand things; this force that had no respect for the intellectual and tidy psychological understanding of my own subconscious.
In the inner world I met a woman. I understood her to be Persephone and I travelled with her on many occasions. Through her eyes I came to understand that I had an entire inner world that has been locked up: that there is a hades which I have to explore and that I will be guided through this epic adventure! I did not always experience it so poetically, I can assure you. At times I was filled with fear and confusion.
The only way that I could explain to myself what I was experiencing, was to translate these experiences into 'theatre'.
Freedom through Love then started to focus on archetypal goddess teachings and I formed a small theatre group with my women. I later incorporated these mythological dramas into the course work and we re-enacted the Underworld journey of Inanna, the abduction of Kore, Pandora's box and others. One of these, Psyche and Eros, were filmed and broadcast on Free Spirit, a local TV program.
At this stage Archangel Michael was still my personal guardian - since that first meditation when he made himself known through all the blue glass. An Italian client of mine, Michele, brought me a beautiful Michael statue with blue stained glass. As he placed the statue in my hand, I exclaimed, 'where does this statue come from? I have to visit this place'.
And this was the turning point. I had reached the sacred crossing of the three paths, without realising it and by making this statement, I had made a choice and a commitment.
After this, the demand from within to take a sabbatical from my practise and wisdom school, became more and more insistent. There was no avoiding it; I KNEW I had to give it up. In exchange for the unknown. And it took me two years to finally let go. Two years of resisting this decision and two years of really struggling to maintain the energy.
I followed up with Michele about the little Italian village where I felt Archangel Michael had guided me to and decided to visit - maybe hoping to find a different option for myself.
Every year, during the weekend of 23 September, the annual Michael feast day is held in Monte Sant Angelo in the district Puglia of Italy. In this ancient village, clinging to the side of Italy, is the grotto where Archangel Michael appeared in the year 460.
The story goes as follows :
St. Michael the Archangel first appeared at Monte Sant'Angelo in 490. According to tradition, it all started when a local nobleman named Elvio Emmanuele lost the best bull of his herd. After much searching, he found it kneeling in a cave. Unable to approach it, Elvio shot the bull with an arrow, but the arrow turned around and struck the man instead.
Bewildered (and presumably bleeding), Elvio went to see his bishop, who ordered three days of prayer and fasting. At the end of the three days, St. Michael the Archangel appeared to the bishop and said:
I am Michael the Archangel and am always in the presence of God. I chose the cave that is sacred to me. There will be no more shedding of bull's blood. Where the rocks open widely, the sins of men may be pardoned. What is asked here in prayer will be granted. Therefore, go up to the mountain cave and dedicate it to the Christian God!
(It is perhaps notable that the central ritual of the Roman cult of Mithraism is the shedding of bull's blood in caves.) The bishop, however, began to worry about his own sanity and dismissed the vision. Two years later, the Christian city of Siponto, part of the bishop's diocese, came under attack by the pagan city of Odoacre. Again St. Michael appeared to the bishop, this time promising to save the city of Siponto. Immediately, a violent storm engulfed Odoacre, saving the Christian city. In thanksgiving, the bishop led a procession to the top of the mountain but did not dare to enter the cave.
Soon, Michael appeared to the bishop a third time, ordering him to enter the cave. He said:
It is not necessary that you dedicate this church that I have consecrated with my presence. Enter and pray with my assistance and celebrate the Sacrifice. I will show you how I have consecrated this place.
The bishop then entered the grotto, where he found an altar covered with a red cloth, a crystal cross, and a footprint on the ground. The bishop thereupon commissioned a chapel to built at the entrance to the cave and did not consecrate it because Michael had already done so. The church came to be known as the Celestial Basilica.
St. Michael made another appearance here in 1656 during a great plague. The local bishop invoked St. Michael for protection, and the archangel appeared to him. The plague then ceased, and the mountain shrine became more popular than ever.
The sanctuary has been a popular place of pilgrimage for many centuries: St. Francis of Assisi, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Bridget of Sweden, St. Gerard Majella, St. William of Vercelli and six popes have made the pilgrimage here to ask for St. Michael's protection. http://www.sacred-destinations.com/italy/monte-sant-angelo
Today, the Sanctuary of Mont San Michele has been built above this cave and Mass is still being held here.
So, in September of 2001 I travelled to Mont Sant' Angelo for the week's celebrations. Mont Sant'Angelo is part of the Gargano pilgrimage route and I visited the Sanctuary of Padre Pio where I witnessed the most beautiful miracle. My travel companions were witness to my experience and years later this event also fell into place. I will explain later.
I absolutely loved Mont Sant' Angelo and the pomp and splendour of a Catholic festival (my first), but I did not receive the answer I was hoping for. I also visited Rome and the Temple of the Vestal Virgins and the magnificent Santa Chiara Cathedral in St Assisi. Saint Clare was the one that provided me with some direction for the way forward and she supported me often in the future.
So, I came home and I broke the news to my students. At that stage I had three separate groups of women students (for the three levels of Freedom through Love) and also some internet students. I also had to break the news to my clients. This in itself was quite an adventure as it was received with mixed reactions. But I knew I could no longer avoid the Call.
And then I truly entered the Underworld. This was not my intent. My intent was to take a sabbatical, spend my days exploring journalling and some other crafts that I played with and to meditate often and work in my garden. But that was not part of Her plan for me.