bridal chamber

Reading 4 2 14, The Alchemical Tarot Renewed by Robert M Place

Reading 4 2 14, The Alchemical Tarot Renewed by Robert M Place



Position 1 Hanged Man, air, beginning…

Position 2 The Magus, reversed. Fire. changing. maturing

Position 3, the Queen of Vessels, Water of Water, Goddess as grail bearer of the Ocean

Position 4 9 swords, Air, destruction, cutting, moon, sex, completion not quite complete

Position 5 The High Priestess, Sophia, Lifter of the Veil, Bearer of Gnosis, Shekinah, Her of the heavens.



Tarot is an interesting thing. It works on many levels and in many ways. Some even view it as the perfect window into the soul. I don’t believe they are that good, personally…One large aspect of modern Tarot is the Hermetic traditions. The Hermetic traditions center around a form of Gnosticism (see the passages of the Corpus Hermeticum in comparison to Sethian for example cosmological beliefs etc.) centering around a divine priest in the Melchizadeck tradition honoring all priests, but from Thoth. Thoth the A Egyptian God, to Thoth the Atlantean. To a more familiar Hermes and Mercury. As an archetype for all priests the Hermetic tradition then is an interesting one. By archetype we mean more Platonic archetype and not Jungian.

One key principle or more accurately axiom of Hermeticism is “As above, So below.” The concept of macro and microcosm. The universe in miniature and in full expanse, the self and the Self. Hermeticism textually goes back around 2000 years, or approx. 1st Cent CE. Of course all text documents, of such nature are often far older than their written equivalents, oral tradition can date things… but that’s an argument for another time.

Tarot then can be seen through this lens of the Hermetic Axiom. We can see the court cards and number cards as the Microcosm, or the self. The trumps then can be seen as the Macrocosm. The Macrocosm of course can be seen as the Nous or divine mind, the mind of the divine.


The above reading is interesting in that it is composed of three potent Macrocosmic images and two Microcosmic images.

Nous: “Mind”, The soul, not the same as ‘pneuma’ or spirit. It is the part of
the anima that gives us consciousness. The anima as a whole gives life (or
literally movement.. “animates”) to our bodies. Tatian declares the soul as a
special kind of spirit. (See; Tatian’s “Letter to the Greeks’)


Ogdoad: Regarded in some texts as the “eighth kingdom above the hebdomas.” It is the realm of the Demiurgos (or sometimes that is the 7th, with the eighth being that of Sabaoth), as well as usually being the realm of the zodiac
(dodecon). Sometimes it is also seen as the beginning of freedom from the
Archons, and the beginning of connection to the Aeons. Pythagoris says…
“The ogdoad–8–was sacred because it was the number of the first cube, which
form had eight corners, and was the only evenly-even number under 10
(1-2-4-8-4-2-1). Thus, the 8 is divided into two 4’s, each 4 is divided into two
2’s, and each 2 is divided into two 1’s, thereby reestablishing the monad. Among
the keywords of the ogdoad are love, counsel, prudence, law, and convenience.
Among the divinities partaking of its nature were Panarmonia, Rhea, Cibele,
Cadmæa, Dindymene, Orcia, Neptune, Themis, and Euterpe (a Muse).” (Thomas
Taylor’s Theoretic Arithmetic, Thought by one source to be the rarest and most
important compilation of Pythagorean mathematical fragments extant.)

”… the Ogdoad, which is the eighth, and that we might receive that place of
salvation.” (”The Testimony of Truth.” See also; ”A Valentinian
Exposition.”) ) The Sacred ogdoad according to some sources is: Barbelo (deep), Sige (silence), Nous (mind), Veritus (truth), Sermo (word), Vita (life), Homo (man), Ecclesia (church). The last member of the group acts to syncretize the group.


Rba , Rabai – elect priest, chief intator and the ordainer of new Mandaean priests. Holds the office known as rabuta. Compare to the Jewish “rabbi”.

Seth: ”From Adam three natures were begotten. The first was the irrational, which was Cain’s, the second the rational and just, which was Abel’s, the third the spiritual, which was Seth’s. Now that which is earthly is “according to the image,” that which is psychical according to the ” likeness ” of God, and that
which is spiritual is according to the real nature; and with refer­ence to these three, without the other children of Adam, it was said, “This is the book of the generation of men.” And because Seth was spiritual he neither tends flocks nor tills the soil but produces a child, as spiritual things do. And him, who “hoped
to call upon the name of the Lord” who looked upward and whose “citizenship is in heaven – him the world does not contain.” (Theodotus, Criddle Collection.)

Sethian: It is a name for a specific sect of Gnostics, but also a category created by scholars to refer to a number of sects that are related to Valentinians. The Sethians as a group were known to Hippolytus who dedicated Book Five in his work, ”The Refutation of All Hereseys,” to denouncing them. (See Gaffney) Seth was a character of Gnosticism who represented a savior figure and third son of Adam, founder of the Gnostic race. Generally Sethian works include, “Pistis Sophia,” “Allogenes,” ”The Gospel of Mary,*” “Sentences of Sextus,” “Marsanes,” “Gospel of The Egyptians,*” ”The Apocalypse of Adam,*”
“Origin of The World,” ”The Gospel of Thomas,*” ”The Gospel of Philip,” “The Three Steles of Seth,” “Melchizidek,” ”The Apocryphon of John,” ”The Gospel of Judas,” Trimorphic Protennoia,” the un-named text in the Bruce Codex, and ”Zostrianos.” (Others) Some Sethian works suggest strong ties with
Jewish Gnosticism, as well as Platonic thought, as well as Zoroasterism. (They maintained three principles; darkness below, light above, and spirit in-between, according to work attributed to Dr. Roy Blizzard, University of Texas. See also; ”Sethian Gnosticism, A Literary History,” Turner) see also; ( * Indicates works from the Nag Hammadi Lib., with other works by the same name.)

Sethian Monadology: The system of the monad, constructed through the tetraktys
of the decad, which serves as an underlying philosophy in Sethian Gnosticism. It
is developed from the creation myths. The system is like, and based upon that
of Pythagoreans, and resembles the principles of the ancient Chinese philosophy
of the Tai Chi., which is based upon the ogdoad. The system is based upon
working variations of numerical values. Turner states, ”….vigorous
arithmological speculation on the first ten numbers, but especially the first
four numbers, comprising the Pythagorean tetraktys (the {mode} of the first four
numbers). This was carried on by such Pythagoreanizing Platonists as Theon of
Smyrna and Nicomachus of Gerasa, who in turn depend in part on similar
arithmological and mathematical theories produced by such early first century
Platonist figures as Dercyllides, Adrastos of Aphrodisias (a Peripatetic
commentator on Plato’s Timaeus) and Thrasyllos, a court philosopher under the
Emperor Tiberius. The harmonic ratios produced by these first four numbers and
the geometric entities of point, line, surface, and solid had been applied to
the structure and the creation of the world soul long before by Plato and his
successors in the Old Academy, especially Speusippus and Xenocrates. (See;
Turner, See also; ”The History of Chinese Philosophy, Vol. 2.,” by Fung
Yu-Lan, Princeton, 1953, See also; ”A Valentinian Exposition.”)



The Sufi mystic Ibn al-Arabi drew a diagram similar to the one used to develop a pattern around a khatam (see above). However, Al-Arabi’s diagram’s diagram is concerned with spirituality, not ornamentation. He drew it as part of his explanation that “all phenomena are nothing but manifestations of Being, which is one with God.” Conincidentally, Al-Arabi was born in Spain at around the same time the practice of zillij, mosaic design, was starting to flourish. As Sufism had particular appeal to North Africa, his spirtual use of the pattern may explain the prolific use of the eight-point star and and symetries of eight in Moroccan Islamic patterns.


The number eight was important among Sufi mystics. “The octagon, with a ninth point in the center, is also central to the mystical symbology of Sufism. It is the seal or design which Ernest Scott says ‘reaches for the innermost secrets of man’. Meaning wholeness, power and perfection, this primary geometrical symbol is one which Sufis associate with Shambhala …”

On his website of natural patterns, Ian Alexander refers to the eight-point star as both the Sufi star and the Moroccan star. He offers the following explanation, as quoted from Friday mosque in Iran “Form is symbolised by the square. Expansion is symbolised by the square with triangles pointing outwards (an 8-pointed star). Contraction is symbolised by the square with triangles pointing inwards (a 4-pointed star). The two star-shapes together symbolise the cycle of creation, ‘the breath of the compassionate.’”

Origins and Meanings of the Eight-Point Star




The spiritual vacuuming that is my life, currently unborn children, helping young people on their late 20s… a place of worship is always difficult. Other people around me of course are aware of my spirituality, some approve, others don’t, others just find it weird.

As I become and am a Unitarian Universalist, I find hard to balance a head in the clouds versus the reality of UU ism. While my very thoughts and maps of belief and reality are fully colored by spiritual walking, this is difficult for others. At our church we have a discussion groups. I realize, I do find it difficult to not sound patronizing or to simply utter something that blows everyone’s minds (if I say anything at all…..which is more often the case, that I remain silent). This group has been going on decades before I joined, yet in that time, mysticism or more accurately, direct spiritual insight has not been discussed, or barely….

I remember my days as a depressed agnostic teen, overcome with the loss of my mother, I fell into the pit of Nihilism. This bleak self defeating world view and others similar to it…absurdism and other existentialist nightmarish world views. I remember years later, wanting, tasting, to cross the veil. To experience the inner planes. I did so, eventually in downtown Manhattan, NY.

Though as I have to remind myself

GNOSIS is for everyone, when they are ready, everyone is where they are meant to be…..

I guess this is one reason why I never really joined a church before, my interests were different to feeding the poor, protesting local government about bad public transport or any other social action activities; none of which are wrong…. just not my main focus… and I think that’s the problem…..when I perceive social action etc. being the main focus over actual mystical experience…….I guess, I imagined UUism would give me both. So far, it hasn’t.

I must get over myself… stop being a bung hole, realize that spirituality is, a lonely pursuit. Get a grip, work on myself, my failings…. help me to not see others as stupid, which is difficult as I do NOT view myself as advanced or anything approaching that term. I wonder how many struggle with this?

Though, I don’t see this as ever being resolved in our UU church, people are either atheists, humanists, damaged from fundamentalism or……. Having spoken to a church regulars husband at a dinner party, I am kind of coming to the sad conclusion he made in his refusal to attend reguarly because “not enough people were on a quest.”

Of course it doesn’t help that i’m an introvert and like to sound a person out before I share….. I mean, for inner walkers, how would conveying spiritual experiences go, to non walkers? Like discussing sex with a virgin?

Well that’s more rant, had to say it…. meaningless drivel. I wonder what if anyone else reading this attends a church which makes you smile……but leaves you wanting? Why is belief so scary? Why is praxis so scary? Who knows……probably it’s just me and no one could give a monkeys about discussing various cosmological variations…. why do UUs find beliefs so scary?


Thou hast sworn unto Thy servants, for Thou alone

art He who changest not, Thou alone art the Infinite

and Boundless One. Thou only art unengendered,

born of Thyself, Self-Father, Thou only art immaterial

and hast no stain, ineffable in Thy generation and

inconceivable in Thy manifestation. Hear us, then,

O Father Incorruptible, Father Immortal, God of

Hidden Beings, sole Light and Life, Alone beyond

Vision, only Unspeakable, only Unstainable, only

[Foundation] stone of Adamant, sole Primal Being,

for before Thee was nothing.

–Bruce Codex

The Gnosis Of The Light: A Translation Of The Untitled Apocalypse Contained In Codex Brucianus (Ibis Western Mystery Tradition)

gnostic crossDeep: (Bythos) The term ‘deep,’ refers to the concept of parent or parents. The term is used in the ”Untitled Text of the Bruce Codex.” This is from Irenaeus, ”Adversus Heraeses 1.8.5.” ” Ptolemy interpreted the prologue of John’s gospel (Jn 1:1-14) “Parent” is usually called “Father” or “the Deep.” “Loveliness” is usually called “Silence.” Tertullian, uses the term ‘depth.’ The term can refer to the levels of the abyss….”let the deep open and swallow these men: yea, Sabaoth.” (Acts of Philip.)

Garment: (Vesture) Meaning clothing, but in Gnostic terms can mean the flesh covering the body. Sometimes used in various references to wearing the soul or the idea of social position as a philosophical covering. From the Un-named text in the Bruce Codex: “This is Man, begotten of mind (nous) ‘, to whom thought gave form. It is thou who hast given all things to Man. And he has worn them like garment.”

”Chelkeach, who is my garment, who has come from the Astonishment, who was in the cloud of the Hymen which appeared, as a trimorphic cloud. Ane Chelkea is my garment which has two forms, he who was in the cloud of Silence. And Chelke is my garment which was given him from every region; it was given him in a single form from the greatness, he who was in the cloud of the middle region and the star of the Light which surpassed the thought and teh tetimony of those who bear witness.” (”The Paraphrase of Shem.”)

3 sunsfinal mini

In alchemic and Hermetic traditions, suns (Sun symbol.svg) are employed to symbolize a variety of concepts, much like the sun in astrology. Suns can correspond to gold, citrinitas, generative masculine principles, imagery of ‘the king’ or Apollo, the fiery spirit or sulfur,[1] the divine spark in man,[2] nobility, or incorruptibility. Recurring images of specific solar motifs can be found in the form of a “Dark” or “Black Sun”, or a green lion devouring a sun.

Sol niger

The black sun as pictured in the Putrifaction emblem of Philosophia Reformata (Johann Daniel Mylius).

Sol niger (black sun) can refer to the first stage of the alchemical magnum opus, the nigredo (blackening). In a text ascribed to Marsilio Ficino three suns are described: black, white, and red, corresponding to the three most used alchemical color stages. Of the sol niger he writes:

The body must be dissolved in the subtlest middle air: The body is also dissolved by its own heat and humidity; where the soul, the middle nature holds the principality in the colour of blackness all in the glass: which blackness of Nature the ancient Philosophers called the crows head, or the black sun.[3]

The black sun is used to illuminate the dissolution of the body, a blackening of matter, or putrefaction in Splendor Solis,[4] and Johann Daniel Mylius’s Philosophia Reformata.[5]

At the core of this was a vision of an alchemical process occurring through a cycle of colour changes, from an initial blackness to the perfection of the quintessence.
The alchemist envisaged each stage of the process being heralded by a colour change and a meeting with certain animals.

Blackening – Black Crow, Raven, Toad, Massa Confusa.
Whitening – White Swan, White Eagle, skeleton.
Greening – Green Lion.
Rapid cycling through iridescent colours – Peacock’s Tail.
White Stone – Unicorn.
Reddening – Pelican feeding young with its own blood, cockerel.
Final transmutation – Phoenix reborn from the fire.

The phase of Blackening which usually marked the beginning of the work, was brought about either by heating the prima materia in the process of Calcination (the ‘dry way’ of the alchemists), or by the process of Putrefaction, a slow rotting or digestion over a period of weeks or months (the so-called ‘wet way’). The Black Crow or Raven was often associated with this Calcination, for on vigorous heating the calcined material would usually carbonise and layers would flake off and move like a crow’s wings in the flask. The Toad was a better symbol of the Putrefaction, the decaying mass slowly pulsating and shifting as gasses were given off, while the substance rotted down to a black mass. Another symbol of this stage was the dragon, a familiar inhabitant of the alchemists flasks. The dragon is however a more complex symbol and is also used when winged as a symbol for the spiritualising of the earthly substance. Thus to the alchemists the dragon appeared at the beginning and at the end of the work.

The alchemists paralleled these experiences in their souls as a withdrawal into the darkness of their interior space, a darkness pregnant with possibility. We have to a great extent lost the sense that still lived in the medieval and renaissance alchemists, that this darkness contained all potentialities. Like children we fear the dark, and for twentieth century humanity darkness often holds only an existential dread – philosophers of science have in the last decade brought us this terrible image of the ‘Black Hole’ which swallows up and annihilates everything that comes into its orbit. Perhaps we do not gaze enough at the blackness of the heavens. For if we look deep into the blackness of space on a clear night, we will sense more stars hidden between the known visible stars, especially in the vast star fields of the Milky Way. Cosmic space is pregnant with the possibility of other worlds as yet unseen. It is this image of blackness we must try to recover if we are to become alchemists. An echo of this perhaps remains in the often used phrase “a profound darkness”. In alchemy, to meet with the black crow is a good omen. Thus in the Chymical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreutz, as our hero sets out on his journey of transformation, he meets with a Crow which by a turn of fate decides which among the various paths open to him is the one that will lead him to the Castle of the King.

The three Suns. That above, most familiar. That within, seen in an instant, in a fleeting moment that may take a moment or a life time to see. Below the Sun at midnight. The interior Sun or Star, deep within the Earth itself.

Perhaps a supreme expression of the maxim As Above so Below. The interior pereption and exierience there in of. A hidden secret.



This I Believe:
There is a light in all of us, and the more we search out ways to express ourselves, the brighter that light shines. Whether your passion be baseball, or computers, or painting, or eating, laughing, hiking, biking, films, teaching, listening, or cooking, whenever you engage yourself in doing something that you love you make the world a little bit brighter. Through finding your own source of enthusiasm and love, you invite others to do the same in their own way, and you spread the joy that comes with truly living.
While it can be all too easy to just sit back and watch life go by, don’t forget about the things that make a difference in your life, the people that inspire you, and the dreams that help nudge you out of bed in the morning.

I believe that we all want to become a better version of ourselves, and that we are continually given chances to step up and challenge ourselves to be better. We just have to be willing to welcome those challenges, and see them as gifts rather than curses. It all depends on the perspective you choose to take. What will you choose today? Will you simply sit back, and let others take the lead, or will you step up and conquer your fear and indifference, break out of your shell, and take actions that better yourself and the world? I believe that what you focus on grows: the more you complain, the more reasons to complain will appear; the more you see life as a blessing, the more blessings will pour out into your waiting arms. Rejoice in what life has to offer, and help to open others’ eyes the the beauty and opportunity that surrounds us at every moment. We are given a great power: free will. Because of this power we are always given a choice. We may not be able to change our outer circumstances (at least not in the short run), but we can always change the way we think about something. The power of the mind is incredible! It can drag us down into the depths, or it can liberate us! Find the joy in your life today–take a chance, challenge yourself and see the resulting growth, dare to become more alive! And best of all, as you become a brighter light, so will those around you catch your reflection, and the world will be filled with suns, moons and stars…

The formula of spagyrics is similar to that of Solve et Coagula – to separate and recombine. This is the backbone of alchemy. In slightly less basic alchemical procedures, distillation is used to separate organic matter into these three principles using distillation – yielding unpurified salt in the form of black ash, essential oil, and the spirit of the plant. These are each purified after separation, and recombined, creating a purified instance of the original subject which is then consumed.

Freedom is not achieved by turning our backs upon the heritage of the land, nor is it won by force of arms. The restricting vessels of a true tradition are the way to freedom, but only if they are correctly understood and utilized. If this operation is successful, the restricting power itself is not only transcend, but transformed.

–The UnderWorld Initiation

Re-reading the underworld initiation. Just finished the hidden adept which was a fun book. Debating whether to read some Gersholm Sholem, Ibn Arabi and/or fiction about cats…..

The liberation mentioned above is a spiritual union if all opposites and transcended. The UnderWorld tradition is a universal one found world wide. The Orphic mysteries, sleeping beauty, the Cult of Venus and the Goddess in her tomb. Transformation within the very depths of the earth, within and without…

As we know in Hermeticism, “As above so below” The macro and microcosm. Transformation in the depths of the earth then is seen on a stellar, solar, lunar scale.. within this lunar scale is ourselves.  Visita Interiora Terrae Rectificando Invenies Occultum lapidem. Visit the interior of the Earth through purification you will find the hidden stone.

I realised, it is this aspect that I must initially explore in the home I live in. Misplaced from England and New york city, now in this spiritually, botanically unfamiliar land. To truly work here, I must work here. Therefore I must pass through the inverted tree, downwards into wonderland… to the realms below.

They summoned Eurydice and gave her to him, but upon one condition: that he would not look back at her as she followed him, until they had reached the upper world. So the two passed through the great doors of Hades to the path which would take them out of the darkness, climbing up and up. He knew that she must be just behind him, but he longed unutterably to give one glance to make sure. But now they were almost there, the blackness was turning gray; now he had stepped out joyfully into the daylight. Then he turned to her. It was too soon; she was still in the cavern. He saw her in the dim light, and he held out his arms to clasp her; but on the instant she was gone. She had slipped back into the darkness. All he heard was one faint word, “Farewell.”

I must embrace the Rose, meet the natives of the land….


From this it is plain that the Earth is like the bass above which the rest of the harmony of the universe progresses. If it were removed, the other voices would remain in an unpleasant and imperfect harmony of many dissonances. Believing sufficient to have been said on the universal symphony of the planets, we will now turn to the particulars of their symphony.

Athanasius Kircher

Lord, who made the lion and the lamb,
You decreed I should be what I am;
Would it spoil some vast eternal plan,
If I were a wealthy man?


Permission is given to every human being. If one chooses to incline himself to a path of goodness and be righteous, the right is in his hands. If one chooses to incline himself to a path of evil and be wicked, the right is in his hands.

Mishneh Torah by Moses Maimonides

The gift of giving this holiday is to give. When we give, we give of ourselves, we give our very selves. Money is ultimately not that important it is the thought behind it. When loved ones around you… repeatedly give for the sake of reward, they are brown nosing. Giving is about intention, consideration. To give is to seek no reward, you are telling another that you love them. Brown nosing is for the spiteful, shallow and contemptible.
It’s a real shame when loved ones act like brown nosers, they only show their own inner lack, their inner childishness and perhaps their inner ugliness. Brown nosers are often totally oblivious that life exists or can happen any other way. Be glad if you know only one or two brown nosers. Much better to surround yourself with people that actually consider each other….. You know? That silly thing, called love….
Life is a journey in consciousness. In truth, God is always one and we are always one with God and with each other. The problem is that we don’t know that truth. This is a critical point. We are always one with the ultimate—our work is to achieve an awareness of that truth. This awareness is the ecstatic experience of ultimate love.
This helps us understand the true meaning of the command¬ment “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Leviticus 19:18).
How can we be commanded to have feelings of love toward another person? What if we simply have nothing in common? What if we seriously disagree over many political and social is¬sues? How can we be expected to love people who are so different from ourselves?
The commandment is actually telling us that in reality we are already one, and we can definitely experience that to be true and feel the love. However, to achieve this realization we must act in ways that express and reveal that truth. This is the theme of all the commandments dealing with interpersonal relationships.
This is the same dynamic behind the commandment to love God. We are already one with God. But we need to acknowledge that in what we think, say, and do. Then we will feel it. This is the theme of all the commandments dealing with our relationship to God.

David Aaron (The Secret Life of God: Discovering the Divine within You)


If this metaphysical space is to be known,

such knowledge can be attained only by faith and grace,

not by ‘entering’ but by ‘being entered’

-this is so because the greater must reveal itself to the lesser.

Put differently, that which is immanently ‘Spirit’ can only be known receptively,

through its own intellective vision, and not any derivative faculty such as reason,

feeling or sensation. Reason can only discern conceptually,

at best reducing reality to a dualism of subject and object

(as in the case of Descartes) or catagorical postulate

(as in the case of Kant) or dialectic process

(as in the case of Hegel) – its ‘telos’ will tend to be utopian(as in the case of Marx),

fundamentalist( as in the cases of religious, political or secular dogmatism)

or anthropocentrically consencual (as in the case of Rousseau’s social contract);

while sensation or feeling even where elevated to

the level of empirical ‘science,’ can only discern reality as matter or as psyche,

quantitatively, thereby cutting it off from its transcendent

and qualitative roots, leading to an emphasis on hypertrophic subjectivism

(as in the case of Nietzsche), Psychologism(as in the case of Freud),

or reductive positivism(as in the cases of philosophical positivism and of scientism).

That which transcends us cannot be known reductively

but only by that transcendent faculty which is immanent in us-which in

Tradition is termed the ‘Intellect’

or the Self-knowing Spirit. To know is to discern BEING.

We must empty ourselves or our ‘self’ in order to know who we ARE.

We must return to the sacred emptiness of the space that is our

ontological core in order to know that which truly IS.

–M Ali Lakhani (the Distance between us, found in Sacred Web issue 31) Church of St Mary Magdalene, Chewton Mendip
Church of St Mary Magdalene, Chewton Mendip

In the Western world, a strong belief in the objective truths of religion, which are viewed as incontrovertible, demonstrable facts, is regarded as essential to the life of faith. When asking if somebody is religious, peo- ple often inquire: “Does he or she believe?” as though accepting certain credal propositions was the prime religious activity. Indeed, faith is equated with belief, but this equation is of recent provenance. Origi- nally the meaning of the word faith was akin to trust, as when we say that we have faith in a friend or an ideal. Faith was not an intellectual position but a virtue: it was the careful cultivation, by means of the ritu- als and myths of religion, of the conviction that, despite all the dispirit- ing evidence to the contrary, life had some ultimate meaning and value. The Latin word credo (translated now as “I believe”) seems to have de- rived from the phrase cor dare: to give one’s heart. The Middle English word beleven meant to love. When Christians proclaimed: credo in unum Deum , they were not so much affirming their belief in the existence of a single deity as committing their lives to God. When St. Anselm of Can- terbury prayed in the eleventh century: credo ut intellagam (“I have faith in order that I may understand”), he was not blindly submitting to the doctrines of religion in the hope that one day these incredible asser- tions would make sense today, if he abdicated his critical intelligence. His prayer should really be translated: “I commit myself in order that I may understand.” The meaning of dogma would only be revealed when he lived a fully Christian life, embracing its mythology and rituals whole- heartedly. This attitude is foreign to modernity. Today people feel that before they live a religious life, they must first satisfy themselves intel- lectually of its metaphysical claims. This is sound scientific practice: first you must establish a principle before you can apply it. But it is not the way that religion has traditionally worked.
Karen ARmstrong (Faith an Modernity)

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