Here’s a journal entry I scribbled down in my notebook while waiting for the ferry on the morning of July 25. I didn’t know that my dad would enter the hospital later that day, and I didn’t know he would die four days later. But I did have Spirit on my mind.
Lately I’ve been thinking about the names that we give to the Source of All Things. (I’m not talking about the various deities, which to me are like the color rays of a prism when the light shines through it. I’m talking about the One behind the Many.)
“God” doesn’t really work for me as it conjures up images of patriarchal oppression, although I realize that others use it with no problem. “God/dess” is more descriptive but lacks elegance. I don’t really care for “Mother-Father God.” I used “Dearest Goddess” for many years. It’s a phrase I learned from Patricia Monaghan’s book O Mother Sun (sadly out of print); I think it’s the translation of Her name from dozens of eastern European folk songs. It’s personal and affectionate, and female, and best describes how I relate to Deity (yet another boring name). But lately “Dearest Goddess” has morphed into “Mama Gaia” or “Mama Ocean” or “Grandmother” depending on my mood. I like the name Cate Kerr uses — the Old Wild Mother. I like the quasi-Native American name I learned from my Kamana nature studies: “The-Spirit-Who-Moves-Through-All-Things.” I love all the names, or titles, that Caitlin Matthews comes up with in her Celtic Devotional (which I read out loud every morning and evening). Here’s a few: “Brightener of Mornings, Singer of Summer, Hastener of Dreams, Gatherer of Dew, Keeper of the Heart, Kindler of Hope.” There’s many, many more. This is why, no doubt, that an intrinsic part of Celtic spirituality is writing poetry. There are so many ways to name and describe the Divine.
But the name that resonates the most with me right now is “the Grace.” It’s from Charles de Lint’s novel Medicine Road, and is used by characters who are shapeshifters. They’re sometimes human, sometimes animal. They pass easily between this world, the Otherworld and the one Inbetween.
“The Grace” — it’s so personal and so mysterious at the same time.