Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Love in the Time of Ebola and ISIS

And I would add Ferguson. It is interesting the stark difference between what we see in the media and what I experience when I go on my morning walk in the canyons of Orange County California. I will not be here much longer, but I am trying to soak up the beauty of this unique expression of Nature in the midst of historic drought.

The dictum “As above, so below,” has it’s origins in the ancient Christian conceptualization of the meaning of Earthly existence. Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven is another way of understanding this concept. The physical world is the Spirit manifest. When God said, “Let there be,” then what ever was spoken on the agenda for that time became a reality.

The great caveat in creation was giving Humans total and complete freedom. Freedom to the extent of completely denying the existence of the Spirit that permeates every molecule of matter. Freedom to choose to do disastrous things, freedom to choose life over death. Along with our freedom there comes evil, from which we are to encounter and transform.

We are told in the realm of virtual reality is that we must be in a constant state of helpless fear that the “other” will kill us either through violence or disease. We must avoid one another, isolate ourselves, arm ourselves and above all kill the other before they kill us, especially if they are bad, then it is almost a duty.

In the beginning of the most recent incursion of violence in the middle east, it was astonishing to me the passive acceptance of brute force as the only solution to the crisis. One person said to me, “there is no other option, this is a time where we humans just have to get this out of our system.”

What is the proper response to grave evil? How do we encounter real fear? Dr. Cornel West in a recent interview quoted Civil Rights activist W. E. B. Du Bois questions: How does Integrity face oppression? What does Honesty do in the face of deception? What does Decency do in the face of insult? And how does Virtue meet brute force?

West answers in the voice of Black Prophetic Fire, “ So, in the face of terror, in the face of trauma, in the face of stigma, 400 years of Black people wrestling with all three, what do we produce? This caravan of Love, this love train- love of justice, love of the poor, love of working people.”

In response to the horrors that Christians are experiencing in the middle east, there was an ecumenical prayer vigil in Orange County California. I had heard of plans for this event at a Byzantine Catholic Church in Anaheim. The woman who sat next to me at the after service luncheon was remarking how the terrorists must be stopped. I expressed my desire that we as a community of Christians try to find a new solution to dealing with evil since violence only prolongs the problem. She told me I was talking to the wrong person, that bombing was the only solution, and then talked about how much she loved coming to this church and asking how she could help with the upcoming Christmas craft fair.

Several weeks ago I attended a lecture regarding the state of Christians in the Ukraine. This was another eye opening experience as to how deeply people of faith are suffering in another distant land. While our local pundits proclaim oppression because mall greeters say “happy holidays” in stead of “Merry Christmas,”  groups of Priests from different denominations stood in solidarity with the protesters in Kiev, having prayer vigils and joint Mass in the midst of all the street violence, and shielding their parishioners from the brute force of the police. 

There were many tales of pastors in Crimea being kidnapped, tortured and killed. In response to this, the Clergy in the Ukraine are claiming a centuries old cannon law that forbids Christians to engage in war. If the priest knows that a parishioner participated in warfare, the fighter would be excommunicated. The soldier had to do 11 years of penance to be readmitted to the Church. The Greek Orthodox priest from San Diego who led the discussion said over and over, “War is brokenness, War is against God, we are not to participate, if we do, we are broken.” I would not call Orthodox Christian Cannon Law liberal by any stretch of the imagination, it truly astounded me that this was law dating from the first centuries of Christianity. The priest went on to say, “The just war thing, that is a Western invention, that goes against the spirit of the Word of God.”  Brave words from a man serving the military and  weapons manufacturing communities of San Diego, California. (This area is where Top Gun was filmed, if that gives you any indication of the environment.)

I took my father to the Prayer Vigil in Orange County. My name should be Popov, but the Ellis Island immigration agents in 1914 told my grandfather his name was too long. Popov means Priest, and my father told me his father always said “We are Priests, we come from Priests.” Evan Georgieff Popov came to this country to avoid fighting in World War 1. So, the descendants of Balkan Priests sat down in a beautiful modern Greek Orthodox church, flanked with choirs from three different congregations. The roster was impressive. Clergy from Syrian, Armenian, Greek, Russian, Coptic, and numerous Roman Catholic Churches processed down the middle aisle together. The sat in a very large semi circle in front of the ornate gold leafed mosaic altar of a 20 foot Virgin Mary with the Christ Child over her heart. Each and every denomination had a part in the lengthy service, from music, to readings, blessings and prayers. I thought, if it was not for ISIS, this gathering of congregations which have been split for nearly 1000 years would not be here together now.

The most profound aspect of the Vigil commenced with the sermon given by the home church Orthodox priest. The Homily began with the retelling of the numerous horrific tragedies perpetrated against Christians all over the Middle East and Africa. The theme of the sermon came from the New Testament Scripture found in First Corinthians.

“Brethren, it seems to me that God has put us Apostles on display, like those condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels and to men. We are the fools for Christ. To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated; we are homeless. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. But thanks be to God who has given us victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!” 1 Corinthians 4: 9 – 13, 15:57

The Priest said in a thunderous almost accusatory voice, “What do we do in the face of such cruel violent persecution? We are Christians, we endure! And not only do we endure, we pray for those who persecute us! We pray that their hearts be changed, of course they are committing such terrible acts, they do not know Christ! Let us pray that they can come to know the Christ!”

The Vigil then went on with a community prayer, where we all read in unison a prayer for the members of the terrorist groups that are slaughtering and oppressing our Brothers and Sisters. 

"Help us to repay their evil with goodness that we might not be overcome by evil but conquer evil with good. Deliver us from anger and the desire for vengeance. So we pray for all those who fight in the name of the Islamic State: enlighten their minds and hearts... forgive them...."

We then took a collection to help the families that have escaped the terror.

I had found my home, the home for my troubled and weary heart, I had found the answer to the questions I had been asking for so long, what should be do in the face of this terrible tragedy, what can we do that is different? Instead of praying for victory in war and bombing, we were praying for the ultimate victory of love over hate. Instead of fearing our neighbor, we came together. As Christ said to his Father in Gethsemane, “Let them be one, as You and I are one.” For that moment in time, in deep loving response to the terror and suffering of those we had never met, we prayed for transformation, and we affirmed that our response to oppression, deception, insult and brute force as Christians is LOVE. Our job as we were told in Corinthians is to ENDURE, and our method is by coming together in community to support one another with what ever gifts and talents we have to give. 

It may have taken us 2000 years to get it right, but now we were behaving as Christ behaved. He forgave his oppressors, and here we were in the middle of tract houses and conservative populations praying for just that. The purpose of evil is to invite people to transform themselves for the better, to resist the evil and become better for it. I saw that in the service, and I see this happening the world over when people respond in loving kindness to unspeakable horror.

It is clear that the adversarial powers do not want us to come together, because that is where we find the Christ in action. The constant negativity and fear streaming through the airways and internet is spiritually significant, inspired by the evil one to chase us away from one another, so we can not experience and manifest the Christ. 

 The Angels and the Trinity know what we are capable of, which is why we have been given such a tremendous gift in our lives. They know we are capable of great deeds, of transformation, of endurance, of choosing life over death, and love over hate.

In the midst of the canyons in the early dawn hours I walk, the land burnt from past fires and parched from drought. I do see life, flowers blooming, lizards, birds and rabbits going about their business. In the death, there is life. In the great horror of our current age, there is hope and there is triumph in the face of the greatest evil ever known. All because of the goodness that ordinary every day people are capable of expressing in the face of immense challenges.

The Black Madonna speaks of endurance, this is one of the reasons they are Black and they are somber. They have been placed along the way of the stars to show us that our lives on earth are an initiation to something greater. The artists of old knew what was about to happen, and channeled love from above to companion us on our journey. We are told we will be given the treasures of darkness. We can endure, because we love. This is how we can find triumph and consolation in the age of Ebola, ISIS and Ferguson.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Healing Nature of Darkness

In the Northern Hemisphere, the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. The stores are filled with Autumn Holiday merchandise, much of it scary for the end of October. Our modern culture teaches us to be afraid of darkness, but I have always found it peaceful. I had the pleasure of attending a very interesting event last night in Pasadena. As I had been busy with Church services and such for Michaelmas, I was a bit tired and the thought of going to an outdoor evening event on a Monday night seemed a bit much, but there was something in me that said "go" even though all my friends declined my cheerful invitation to accompany me on the evening of Michaelmas, 2014.

As usual, my Angel encourages me to do amazing things, I am learning to trust her inspirations even when I am not feeling up to the challenge. I learned after I arrived at the Pasadena Carnegie Observatories, 5 minutes before the performance of "Hand in Hand at the Edge of the Sky," getting the LAST parking space, that this is the location where Dark Matter was discovered in 1951. At the observatory on Mt Wilson near Pasadena, Astronomer Vera Rubin was trying to understand how the Universe was revolving. She noticed it was expanding, and her explanation was the concept of Dark Matter. 

The lecture at the evening performance was all about Dark Matter and Dark Energy, which is quite the topic of discussion and research among today's Astrophysicists. The evening proceeded with truly beautiful pictures of deep space, dark matter and hoards of galaxies that are now visible because of the telescopes that have been developed by the pioneering work at the Carnegie Observatories.

So here I was, lying on my beach towel, enjoying strawberries and sugar cookies, watching both the slide show and the glorious stars and crescent moon above, right there where over 60 years ago Dark Matter was "discovered." After the talk from Astrophysicists Andrew Benson and Juna Kollimeier, an incredible music selection was performed. 

Hand in Hand at the Edge of the Sky, written by Matthew Brown was specifically inspired by the Mountain Night Sky where Vera Rubin had her original discoveries. Mt Wilson provides stunning vistas of the Cosmos, and the music matched the magic. 

I am including an excerpt from the soon to be released book The Black Madonna Journey of the Human Heart, by me, Stephanie Georgieff. I hope you enjoy, and that you are inspired to look to the night sky to see the harmony and beauty that was made for our amazement. Darkness is to be celebrated, not feared, for it is the substance of most of this magnificent Universe we call home. The Black Madonna's are reminding us from where we have come, and to where we will go. 

I hope you will come to see Darkness as healing, and containing hidden treasures. If you can look at the pictures of the Galaxies, you will see that the words from Isaiah are so very true. Enjoy the chapter, and stay tuned for more segments and podcasts where I will be reading from the book.

Our continuing space explorations and reports returning to us from the Hubbell telescope have also shattered our materialistic concepts of the universe.  While much science has focused on the nature of light, living within the ecology of our universe of polarities, a new conceptualization of “dark” began to emerge.

Steiner spoke of universal principles throughout his voluminous lectures and writings. He invited us to conceptualize physical matter as an expression and manifestation of the Spiritual World. In other words, he asked us to focus on the invisible forces behind matter, or what is behind the physical world. In other words, the spirit behind and manifested in the material world. It is a beautiful consideration to ponder that what led Steiner to his revelations and formation of Anthroposophy were his studies and cataloguing of Goethe’s scientific writings, specifically the treatises on the theory of Color.

It is my belief that in an act of divine grace and providence, the spiritual world inspired the creation of the Black Madonna’s to BE Black specifically to counteract the effects of materialistic orientation towards life and the disastrous effects it has had on the planet and her creatures.

The Cosmic Nature of Black

Steiner taught that for everything there is a balancing effect. We see this within his Christology, through understanding the balancing effects between the Christ, Lucifer and Ahriman. (Appendix 5) Steiner also spoke of the balancing force to gravity as being levity. It is astounding to note that only until recently has materialistic science started to appreciate the phenomena throughout the existence of “dark matter.” Nigel Smith and Neil Spooner through “The Search for Dark Matter” in a 2000 issue of Physics World (24) reported, “Astronomers were …surprised and disturbed to learn in the 1930’s that our own Milky Way galaxy behaved as if it contained more matter than could be seen with telescopes. This puzzling non-luminous matter became known as ‘dark matter.’ “ Particularly challenging to the materialistic astronomers in the 30’s was that the universe was constantly expanding at an increasing speed, and yet there was not an obliteration or spinning out of control of creation. In fact, the universe and all of her inhabitants keep expanding uniformly. The key to comprehending this phenomena of every expanding universe is to visualize the baking of raisin bread, the planets and stars as raisins, and the dough as the dark matter space in-between.

Astronomer Vera Rubin in 1951 noticed that while galaxies rotate, the outer edges of galaxies traveled as fast in the center as they did on the outer edges. What was of particular interest was that the galaxies did not fall apart during all of this motion. The glue holding all of the inhabitants of these galaxies together was termed dark matter. Through the evolution of String Theory, (Appendix 6) the understanding of light as well as dark matter is to conceptualize the dark matter stretching to hold onto stars and galaxies as they travel throughout the universe.  It is interesting to note that Steiner, in his attempts to define light, said that it bends and circles back and does not travel indefinitely in a straight line. (25)

Throughout our explorations of the galaxies and the quest to understand our origins, the phenomenon of “Black Holes” has emerged. These entities supposedly range from the size of a thumbnail to the center of the Milky Way that is four million times bigger that our sun (26) Black Holes seem to be located in the center of their respective universes or galaxies. NASA’s Wide Field Infrared Survey telescope has recently received scanned images of the entire sky over a period between 2009 through 2011. Apparently there is a “bonanza of black holes in the universe,” according to astronomer Daniel Stern from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

It is thought that Black Holes are collections of the densest material imaginable, the ultimate nothing, some even label the holes collections of “anti-gravity.” These black holes are the result of collapsed stars and cosmic communities. While considered dense lifeless remnants of dead stars, black hoes emit atoms needed for the creation of new life. Scientists now believe our own Milky Way may have burst forth from a black hole. Pictures from the Hubble Telescope illustrate that black holes connect darkness to the light. Due to the depletion of hydrogen and other gasses, they become white hot. It is also thought that through black holes; there lies a connection to parallel universes, as a conduit to other realities. Another way to look at this phenomenon and associated theories, is out of the death of universes, black holes connect and birth new life.

Spiritual Understanding of Black

Sr. Madeleva, resident artist for the Sisters of St. Joseph’s of Orange, California teaches that Black is the color of the feminine. It is considered a generative color throughout all cultural artistic manifestations. In her own creations, she enjoys employing Black. When asked why, Sr. Madeleva says that, “Black makes the colors jump out.”

Steiner revisited ancient knowledge when he explained the evolution of the planet. He states that the Third Hierarchy comprised of the Archai, Archangels and Angels are the mediators between light and darkness. This activity brought about the admixture through which colors could arise. Within classical Greek Cosmology, which influenced Alchemy, Black is the color of condensation, representing the Earth. As Earth is implicit in all life processes, it is a constant. In all representations of color, Black is present in one degree or another.

Steiner invites us to think of light as ensouled, and realize the habit of seeing light as merely vibrations emanating from the sun. The Sun, as described by Steiner in Man, Hieroglyph of the Universe, (28) has a sucking action that annihilates, and in that process generates light, not warmth. Its opposite, darkness, he teaches, is filled with warmth. Light is permeated by soul and spirit.

Consider our previous discussion on the Council of Constantinople of 869, where the official dogma of the Church was that humans had no spirit, only a body and a soul. According to Steiner’s theory of Color, Light involves Human and Cosmic thought, Color reflects Human and Cosmic Feeling, and Darkness reflects Human and Cosmic willing. Color is thought to reflect the Soul, while Darkness and Light reflect the Spirit. (29) I think it is no accident that the Black Madonna’s started to appear in mass after the Council of 869, in all their Black Beauty to be a symbol of how darkness, Blackness was a reflection of the human spirit, of the spiritual nature of the Cosmos.

Goethe observed that color is perceptible only as a result of the interweaving of the two polarities of light and darkness. Too much of either end of the spectrum makes the visibility of color imperceptible. At the heart of Goethe’s theory of color was the mystery of light and darkness opposing one another as two real polar entities. When considering the deepest aspect of the cosmos, space and dark matter, there are actually only degrees of darkness. Steiner states that this dark content of space is filled with soul and spiritual beings, something similar to what the beginning words of the Bible speak of as “darkness weaving over the face of the deep.” Genesis 1:2 The miracle of balance illustrated by these phenomena is that there is no stability in cosmic activity unless the force of darkness is everywhere interwoven with the force of light. Steiner states that it is the hindrance of both light and darkness that allows colors to manifest. From this we can deduce that the challenge of the soul is influenced by the light of thinking spirit and the darkness of the will in matter, which will be lifted into the realm of true knowing. By interweaving these two states, we too can manifest spirit into matter.

Blessings on your journey!

To see amazing pictures of Galaxies, which are the treasures in the heavens, you can click on the link below: 

And if you are ever in Pasadena, you should stop by the Carnegie Observatories.