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Contemporary Voices from Anima Mundi

A Reappraisal

Edited By Frédérique Apffel-Marglin and Stefano Varese

This book is a reconsideration of spirituality as a lived experience in the lives of the contributors. The authors speak both as well-informed scholars and as individuals who experienced the lived spirituality they give voice to. The authors do not place themselves above and outside of what they are writing about but within that world. They speak of living psychospiritual traditions of healing both the self and the world; of traditions that have not disembedded the self from the wider world. Those traditions are from indigenous North and South America (5 essays), a Buddhist/Shakta from Bengal, an Indo-Persian Islamic psychoanalyst, and a mystical Jewish feminist rabbi. The book also includes a historical essay about the extermination of the Renaissance worldview of Anima Mundi.

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Chapter Six: To Dwell in the Thick Darkness (Rabbi Fern Feldman)

Extract

chapter six

To Dwell in the Thick Darkness

The Sacred Dark in Jewish Thought

rabbi fern feldman

It came to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound heard, praising and thanking Adonai, and when they lifted their voice with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of song, praising Adonai, saying, For God is good, for God’s loving kindness endures forever, then the house, the house of Adonai, was filled with a cloud; And the priests could not stand and serve because of the cloud; for the manifesting presence of Adonai had filled the house of God. Then Solomon said, Adonai has chosen to dwell in the thick darkness. (II Chronicles 5:13–6:1)

When I explore my own nature or experience the sacred, most often I find darkness. Although dominating theologies assert binaries in which light is holy and darkness is evil, a recognition of the multivalent nature of all that is can evoke awareness of wave upon wave of dark and light.

Some say they want to “embrace the dark” when they mean embrace the grief, anger, and suffering in the world and be present with it rather than denying, ignoring, or hating it. But that is not the aspect of sacred dark that interests me most. What interests me is how in darkness all separation dissolves into oneness. Darkness is depths, cave, womb, soil that sprouts seeds, soothing shade,...

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