Archive for the ‘sacred spaces’ Category

re-posted from Dr. Taylor Marshall’s Canterbury Tales

The great saints and masters of the mystical life in the Catholic tradition often speak of the three ages of the spiritual life. These stages correspond to the three areas of Solomon’s Temple:

1) Purgative (outer court)
2) Illuminative (holy place)
3) Unitive (holy of holies)

1) The purgative way is when a Christian truly examines his life and seeks to root out sin and seek personal sanctity. This entails frequenting the sacraments (especially Holy Communion and Penance), beginning a life of penance and charitable deeds, a growing hatred for venial sins, a love for Scripture (particularly the Psalms), an awareness of predominant faults, a purification of the intellect and will.

2) The illuminative way begins with a “dark night of the senses” (not the dark night of the soul), which leads to a passive purification of the senses. This journey includes a growth in the virtues, particularly the virtues of humility and charity. The soul has great confidence and hope in God. True devotion to Mary develops. Infused prayer begins.

3) The unitive way is the stage of Christian perfection and begins with the dark night of the soul. The soul now willingly suffers for God and loves God in all circumstances. The soul delights in spiritual childhood and simplicity as we see in St Therese and other great saints. These souls practice heroic virtue, which are the kind of virtues that we find in the canonized saints. Those in the unitive way accept divine abandonment and love Christ crucified. They practice reparation for the sins of others that wound Christ. They experience mystical union and other mysteries that cannot be explained.

These three ages of the mystical life are found in Solomon’s temple.

1) The stage of purification is the outer court where the altar of fire is found and also the basin for cleansing. Here, water and fire purify those who approach the temple of God’s presence.

2) The stage of illumination is the holy place within the Temple were the hallowed lamp stands giving light. Also present there is the altar of incense representing true and fruitful mental prayer and infused prayer. There is found the bread of presence which signifies a love for the Eucharist.

3) The stage of union is the holy of holies which is dark, black cubic room cut off from the eyes of most men. There is the ark of the covenant and the propitiatory. Here is the presence of God. Here is divine intimacy.

As Catholics, we should seek to be near to God. The old temple gives a simple plan. Begin with years of purification. Prayer. Penance. Daily examination of conscience.

PS: According to Saint Isidore and Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, a priest must be in the unitive way before he should allow himself to be consecrated as a bishop. Also a man must first be in the illuminative way before being ordained a priest. You will find similar things said by the Saint Denys the Areopagite.


I encourage anyone interested in learning more about these subjects, to check out the blog of Dr. Taylor Marshall Canterbury Tales. Theology can be exciting, eh?! lol.

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reposted from “Chanel: A Lion in Tweed”

Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel’s headstone in Lausanne, Switzerland


it is only fair to pay equal respect to the woman and legend behind the brand that has single-handedly made quilted bags and ballerina flats universal fashion must-haves. Gabrielle, or “Coco” as she preferred, was a complex and complicated woman. Or, atleast, that is how she is portrayed in the three (yes, three) books that came out just this season. Having only read one so far, I can promise that Coco’s romances are explored just as thoroughly as the rumors which surrounded her life between the covers of Justine Picardie’s Coco Chanel: The Legend and The Life. Between the captivating photos of her past and sketches by Karl Lagerfeld, Picardie’s writing makes for an illuminating tale of a woman torn between two lives: fashion designer and wartime woman.

My personal fascination has been focused on Coco’s years in Switzerland. I’ve spent the past two months living in this country known for the Alps and fondue, and can’t help but imagine what it must have been like 65 years ago when the designer frequented the shores of Lac Léman. As Picardie notes in her book, Chanel once said she felt “free as a bird” when visiting Switzerland; her unsmudged red lipstick and conservative clothing concealing a life of lovers, flings, family drama, and a token best friend with a drug problem.

Following her death at the Ritz in Paris on January 10, 1971, Coco was buried at the Cimetière du Bois-de-Vaux in Lausanne. The turnout for her burial appeared meager in photos, as a formal, more-sizable ceremony had been conducted in Paris two weeks prior. Her gravestone is recognizable by five lions that appear across the top of her headstone; Coco’s astrological sign was Leo, something that defined her to the end. Today, greenery in the formation of her name, “Coco”, is perfectly placed across the area where her body rests. Next week, it will be 41 years since she passed.

As written in Picardie’s pages, Chanel once said to Paul Morand,
“I would make a very bad dead person, because once I was put under, I would grow restless and would think only of returning to earth and starting all over again.” I’ll keep my eye on her plot.


reposted from “Chanel: A Lion in Tweed”

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St. Eustace and the stag by Pisanello


Saint Eustace, also known as Eustachius or Eustathius, was a legendary Christian martyr who lived in the 2nd century AD. Prior to his conversion to Christianity, Eustace was a Roman general named Placidus, who served the emperor Trajan. While hunting a stag in Tivoli near Rome, Placidus saw a vision of Jesus between the stag’s antlers. He was immediately converted, had himself and his family baptized, and changed his name to Eustace (Greek: Ευστάθιος Eustathios, “well stable”, or Ευστάχιος, Eustachios, “rich crop”).

A series of calamities followed to test his faith: his wealth was stolen; his servants died of a plague; when the family took a sea voyage, the ship’s captain kidnapped Eustace’s wife Theopista; and as Eustace crossed a river with his two sons Agapius and Theopistus, the children were taken away by a wolf and a lion. Like Job, Eustace lamented but did not lose his faith.

He was then quickly restored to his former prestige and reunited with his family; but when he demonstrated his new faith by refusing to make a pagan sacrifice, the emperor, Hadrian, condemned Eustace, his wife, and his sons to be roasted to death inside a bronze statue of a bull or an ox, in the year AD 118.

The saint is honored on the calendar of the Melkite Catholics on December 13, as the “Commemoration of the Holy Martyrs Eustrates, Auxentius, Eugene, Mardarius, Orestes and the Virgin Lucia.” He is also commemorated in the Orthodox Church, on September 20. The d’Afflitto dynasty, one of the oldest princely families in Italy, claims to be the direct descendant of Saint Eustace.

He is one of the patron saints of Madrid, Spain. Scenes from the story, especially Eustace kneeling before the stag, became a popular subject of medieval religious art. Early artistic depictions of the legend include a wall painting at Canterbury Cathedral and stained glass windows at the Cathedral of Chartres. There is a Church of Saint Eustace in Paris. And the island of Sint Eustatius in the Caribbean Netherlands is named after him.

Probably the saint is currently best known for his cross-and-stag symbol being featured on bottles of Jägermeister. This is related to his status as patron of hunters; jägermeisters were senior foresters and gamekeepers in the German civil service at the time of the drink’s introduction in 1935.

In 1661, Kircher discovered the ruins of a church said to have been constructed by Constantine on the site of Saint Eustace’s vision of Jesus Christ in a stag’s horns. He raised money to pay for the church’s reconstruction as the Santuario della Mentorella, and his heart was buried in the church on his death.

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adjacent to Hieropolis and the Roman baths…the ancients loved their thermals

Third Country



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Well. If you can put aside your initial skepticism, and your mind’s chastising you for venturing outside provincial history textbooks, the following series of videos is interesting and rationally presented. Just as we discover that the further we go into the substructure of atomic particles, the more dimensions there are and the less we seem to know, the same is true of ancient history. The more we learn of ancient people, and even the origins of the human race itself, the less it seems we know, and the more we fear to discover.

As an artist myself, with interest in physical depictions, and how the process of what is seen becomes represented as painted wall art, or carved petroglyph lines, or three-dimensional sculpture, it is interesting to me to find physical objects becoming represented as symbols, and these symbols finding correspondence in different cultures. Ancient codexes or comic books, painted with burnt sticks of carbon or Apple iPads, art doesn’t lie! People may not like it, but artists only paint what they see. Cultures may transmute and codify art into symbols, and the idea of beauty may change through the ages, and thus a heavy-set, big-breasted and bumpy model of a primitive Venus, becomes an anorexic photoshopped version of a Cosmopolitan woman in the 20th century. And while the Greeks glorified female beauty and put woman up on a pedestal, Picasso brought her back to a primitive and jagged Mademoiselle d’Avignon.

Still, birds are birds, be they herons, ducks, Phoenixs, or feathered Quetlcoatls. And wings are wings, although sometimes it is hard to determine whether they are attached to angels, aliens, bees, or flying machines. Snakes are snakes, until they seem to become dragons or dinosaurs or staircases on zigurats, jagged bolts of lightning, or wavy rivers. Fish are just fish, and look like sturgeons, dolphin, or salmon, unless they are scaled, skinned, and worn by mermen… Palms are palms, until they become multi-branched deciduous-looking “Yggdrasil” or the Tree of Life of the Kaballah; and flowers are just flowers, until they take on the significance of the three-petaled iris or Fleur-de-lis, the five-petaled rose or cinquefoil, or the multi-petaled lotus… Lions, tigers, and boars, oh my…

This series of over eight films, is best viewed with a skeptical, but open mind — if not a sense of humor. And yet there is wonder and awe, at the mystery of it all, and appreciation that so much is still unknown to us.

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stone totem pole

Older than Stonehenge. Older than ancient Sumer. Older than Egypt. Possibly the oldest known religious structure in the world. Yet Gobekli Tepe is probably one of the least known sites in modern archaeology.

Located in south Anatolia, or modern-day Turkey, near the town of “Sanli’urfa” and about 350 miles west of Mount Ararat, Gobekli Tepe is believed to have been constructed between 11,000 to 12,000 years ago. Egypt, home of the great pyramids, and Sumer home of the Akkadians and the birthplace of agriculture and writing, have been dated to approximately 3100 BC and 2100 BC respectively. Yet Gobekli Tepe has been found to be at least 5000 years older, dated to 9500 BC. There is a life-sized statue of limestone that was found in Urfa, at the pond known as Balikli Göl, and this has been carbon-dated to 10,000–9000 BC, making it the earliest-known stone sculpture ever found.

Urfa, previously known as Edessa, located in an oasis, at the head of a spring which leaves town to join the Euphrates River, is possibly the town known as Ur in the Bible. Some have theorized that it might even be the site of the Garden of Eden. The name “Gobekli” means navel, and the term “tepe”, hill. Some have called it “the navel of the world”. It is currently the site of the oldest archaeological dig on the planet, and believed to be the first ante-diluvian (pre-Flood) site ever discovered. Gobekli is also older than any site in South America, and it would hypothetically even pre-date Atlantis, which was said to have been destroyed by the great Deluge.

Gobekli is also older than ancient Crete. However some of the stone structures have similarity to those of the Minoan civilization. There are also other sites in Turkey which have been compared to Gobekli. gobekli tepe_reconstructionThe most famous of these sites is Çatal Höyük. It was discovered in 1958 by British archaeologist James Mellaart, who began excavations in 1961 and eventually dated the site to 7500–5700 BC. Çayönü, located around 96 kilometres from Göbekli Tepe, has been dated to 7500–6600 BC. Neval Cori shares many parallels with Göbekli Tepe, such as the T-shaped pillars and is dated to 8400–8000 BC. Until these sites were discovered in Turkey, the oldest known city was thought to be biblical Jericho, in Israel, whose age was pushed back to 8000 BC.

What makes Gobekli Tepe distinctive, and makes the association to nearby Mount Ararat, is the presence of animal carvings on the T-columns. In this one location, are carvings of boars, bulls, foxes, reptiles, lions, crocodiles and birds, as well as insects and spiders. One column depicts several geese, caught in what seems to be a woven net. It brings to mind the story of Noah’s Ark, and the effort to capture all the animals to be put on board. The site is constructed, with circular “rooms” and the evenly spaced T-columns throughout, decorated with the engravings almost like the banners we see announcing exhibits at modern-day museums. Is it possible this ancient storyboard commemorated the feat of preservation of animal life Noah accomplished after the great Flood? The Hebrew Bible states that the very first thing Noah did when he landed and was safe was build an altar to God. (Genesis Chapter 8 Verse 20.)

But the myth of a Great Flood is universal, and not just a biblical tale. The individual called Noe, or Noah in the Bible, is known by many other names. In Sumer: King Ziusudra; Babylon: Utnapishtim; Greece: Deucalion; China: Yu; India: Manu; Scandinavia: Bergelmir; Welsh: Dwyfan; East Africa: Tumbainot; Mongolia: Hailibu….EVERY civilization on the face of the Earth has a flood myth and a flood hero, and even the tale of Atlantis recounts the destruction of an advanced civilization which is submerged into the ocean. And the presence of human sacrifices at the sites adjacent to Gobekli, support the moral implications of the destruction of righteous destruction of a humanity gone awry.

Interestingly, the Bible recounts that following his successful survival of the destruction of the rest of humankind, Noah was the first man to practice cultivation and agriculture. It is said he was the first tiller of the soil, and the first to plant a vineyard and create wine. (Genesis 9:20-21) Granted that agriculture was first attributed to civilizations such as the Summerians’in the Tigris Euphrates River Valley, it’s interesting that Sanliurfa was located at the headwaters of the Euphrates. And depicted on a column at Gobekli Tepe, is what appears to be the image of a scythe — the tool which cuts grain or tills the earth. What better a tribute to Noah, “the first tiller of the soil”.

from Phillip Coppens’ “Gobekli Tepe: the World’s Oldest Temple”

mythology of the great flood

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I Heart Words

currently playing on my iPod: Fade Into You by Mazzy Star

Upon watching BBC America’s coverage of the royal wedding (which was absolutely fantastic, btw), I became intrigued with the Great Pavement. The Great Pavement is the mosaic floor before the High Altar at Westminster Abbey.

The floor was commissioned by Henry III (a medieval English king known for his good taste in art and architecture) when he rebuilt the abbey in the mid 13th century. The style is deemed Cosmati work after the Italian family who developed that particular style of mosaic floor. It is beautiful, intricate, and mysterious. I love it. I want one. Seriously.

Set on a background of dark limestone called Purbeck marble, the various small pieces are made of cut metal, glass (which was not usually present in Cosmati work), precious stone, and marble–some of which was recycled from Roman ruins. 

There were inscriptions on the floor that are not very readable…

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