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Objects of the Theosophical Society
Pilgrimages through Unforeseen Sacred Places
Outline of a talk given by Aelred Edmunds to the Dunedin Theosophical Society in February 2009.
I have introduced a thread or theme for 2009 at TS, Dunedin. This will be addressed by guest speakers in any way they see fit, so we can expect....some surprises!
This is the thread or theme - a statement by the Irish theologican John O'Donohue:
"At its heart, the journey of each life is
a pilgrimage through unforseen sacred places
that enlarge and enrich the soul."
My "unforseen sacred place" is a special figure from my childhood who has kept returning over all the years - the Native American Warrior. Clearly, for me this is a personal archetypal figure, though it fits in the larger class of archetypal figures who appear in nearly all human cultures - the Child or Youth, the Mother, the Wise Old Man, and the Crone. These key figures are 'archetypal' because they are psychic shapes or energies that exist deep in the Collective Unconscious of the human race.
For me, the Native American Warrior or Brave - hero of my childhood - is the key expression of what one of my living teachers terms "The Eternal Youth and Beauty Form" (in other words, the archetypal Child or Youth).
This figure - a painting of which is the centrepiece of my personal altar -really represents what one writer terms "the forgotten religion of early childhood." The same writer speaks of "the beauty of the first images." The Native American Warrior, Deerfoot, is, I am sure, my "soul figure." For reasons that I can't go into right now, I will go even further: As Deerfoot is my soul figure, he is also (for me) Christ and Krishna - and any other masculine expressions of the Divine that I have encountered in my life as an adult. However, because Deerfoot came first in my historical time, and because he came in the setting of my innocence as a child, he has pre-eminence in terms of importance.
I see this figure from childhood as coming from, and belonging to, my "heart realm." Important as the intellect is, it is secondary in importance to the heart - at least in the area of the individual's spiritual life.
Just 4 days ago I met a Cherokee Indian - a tourist passing through Dunedin. He saw me playing the bagpipes at our Settlers Museum, and felt an urge to come and speak to me. Chance? Coincidence? Or synchronicity? This man comes from New Mexico, and works as a contractor among the Cherokee Indians of Oklahoma. He knows the South West United States very well, and is a friend of the Navajo Indians. The Navajo Indians were my passion in childhood, but when visiting the U.S.A. I was unable to get to the South West. Well, the Indian from the South West came to me - in Dunedin! He and I talked of many things of importance.
Another chance encounter? Just this week - close to the time of my meeting with the Cherokee Indian - I found, in Dunedin, an amulet of the Native American deity of the South West - Kokopelli. Kokopelli, the Divine Flute Player, is a fertility god. He is also the anthropomorphisation of the cicada, an insect very important in some Native American cultures. As a child I was totally fascinated by cicadas....still am! So yet another connection. Further, Kokopelli is the Native American equivalent of the Hindu Krishna - i.e., another Divine Flute Player. Krishna has been a focus of devotion for me for many years, but his Native American form is more immediate for me.
There have been many other synchronicities, but I cannot deal with them now.