A Joy For All Seasons
Article ID: 12237
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 3,821
Times Read: 3,397
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Author: Osireion [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: December 9th. 2007
Times Viewed: 3,397
At seven years old I wanted to be a scientist when I grew up. I consumed books at the public library as if my life depended on learning every iota of accumulated learning.
Then I learned of specialties. For a good many years, adults delighted in asking this little girl to recite which long word described my current interests. During that time I cycled quickly through a preference for paleontology (dinosaurs!), then astronomy (constellations - stories in the stars!), then geology (rocks everywhere for me to collect!), and so forth.
The Christmas of my second grade, Santa left a simple wooden box under the tree for me, and before the day was out I was sequestered in my room, setting up slides to view in my new microscope!
For most years of my childhood, that microscope was my constant companion. From snowflake crystals in February, to backyard creek amoebas in summer, to blood, butterfly wings, and my own unruly hair, the world around me dazzled with its infinite variety and color.
Uncles and grandparents stopped inquiring after my career-track at about age eleven when I informed them I now intended to go into parapsychology. Puzzled looks turned to discomfort and abrupt subject changes away from my enthusiastic discussion of ESP and ghosts.
Before long I learned not to fill them in on my latest readings in Edgar Cayce, Sybil Leek, and turn-of-the-century theosophists and mystics like Helena Blavatsky. Eventually, I moved on to other activities, although the mystical stayed with me the rest of my life, in one form or another.
But that microscope! What brilliant toy manufacturer understood a child’s insatiable curiosity, I do not remember. But my parents never quashed my appetite for learning, and to this day I haunt bookstores and web sites, always on the prowl for some new subject, some new treasure-trove of secrets about our wondrous universe.
All the ancient wisdom sources teach us that the very essence of the divine is to create. The Jewish Qabalah, the Hermetic flower-of-life, the Golden Ratio, the pilgrimage of medieval Christians – all trace a path of ever-expanding knowledge and insight.
For many centuries in Europe, scholarship and religious devotion were seen as inseparable, and monasteries often preserved the accumulated learning of their day, even preserving some of the priceless texts believed lost when the great library at Alexandria burned.
We need not all attain the same levels of learning, nor learn the same things. But American founders and early leaders understood that education would be necessary to sustain a democracy, since free exchange of ideas, informed debate, and healthy commerce rely on the ability to read, write and cipher.
Sadly, all these years later, mandatory public education is taken for granted, and even resented by the very students who will face a bewildering world upon graduating.
Well I remember my last years of high school, and the disconnect I felt between my school studies and the, to me, seductive allure of philosophy, religion and mysticism. It would be many years later before I determined to enter the college experience, and rediscovered how pure learning and spiritual pursuit are inseparable.
Now I am refreshed, as life grows shorter and more precious each year, by a veritable Fibonacci spiral of continual learning. To learn of the past is to understand my present and future. To understand the natural world is to glimpse the sacred order. To explore ideas and experience the arts is to ever re-create myself into a mandala of color and light.
As we wind through these last weeks of diminishing light, we can contemplate the feeling of isolation and separation our ancestors may have felt during the Dark Ages, when learning was a rarefied experience for the very few.
In the longest night, however, the light is reborn, and knowledge of our own sacred connection returns, for those with eyes to see it.
In the growing light is growing life. In growing knowledge can be fullness of understanding, and a rich, personally satisfying harvest.
This Yule, celebrate the wonder of your life, of your world, and the awesome interconnection of things seen and unseen, the web of existence of which we are so tiny, and yet so vital, a part. Watch for every opportunity to be a child again, and see the world as your own classroom, learning, your microscope under the tree.
In doing so, you will find a joy for all seasons.
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[Epilogue]: This essay is about the sheer joy of learning, my favorite way to explore and celebrate my world. But each year presents me with new challenges which require research and consultation with others possessing knowledge I have not acquired, and would have had no reason to acquire before becoming involved in the pagan community.
I’ll bet I’m not alone in having grappled with tough issues: handfasting for a relationship bearing all the early-warning signs of abuse; media reporting that misrepresents our spiritual path or even characterizes it as evil; group members facing addictions and other types of recovery; former inmates re-entering society; sexual predators who move from one group to another; emotional bullies and witch wars; funerals or memorial services for mixed-faith families; individuals with deep needs, from medical to emotional, and including mental illnesses.
One outstanding resource has made a significant difference in my life the past few years. Cherry Hill Seminary offers a solid distance education program of higher learning specific to the needs of pagan leaders. Situations such as those named above compel us to reach deeper into ourselves for wisdom, and they also push us to build a strong network of support and learning.
For me, Cherry Hill Seminary has been both. Whatever the subject, my classes are inevitably a nurturing and supportive environment, with equal participation by professors, as well as students. This supportive community grows each semester, each year, as more individuals join our growing student body. My studies have put in my hands the tools and knowledge I need for meeting the needs of my pagan community. Furthermore, I gain access to an array of experts and elders, the likes of which most of us only hear on occasion at a large pagan gathering.
As a grateful student, I offer here a note of thanks to but a few of the visionary elders who have brought Cherry Hill to its present juncture: Kirk White, our Founder; Judy Harrow, our Chair of Pastoral Counseling; and Macha NightMare, our Chair of Public Ministry. Many other distinguished individuals comprise our faculty, board of directors and management staff, and I count myself privileged both to serve and to learn among them. Their vision and dedication have created a true joy for all seasons for those who wish to move to a next level of growth.
Location: Columbia, South Carolina
Author's Profile: To learn more about Osireion - Click HERE
Bio: Holli Emore is a lifelong mystic living in South Carolina. She currently serves as Chair for the Board of Directors of Cherry Hill Seminary (www.cherryhillseminary.org)
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