American author, Starhawk, talks about ‘…the symbol of the Goddess, having a dreamlike quality where ‘…one aspect slips into another’. She speaks of ‘…images that do not define or pin down a set of attributes,’ but instead ‘…spark inspiration, creation, fertility of mind and spirit’.1
Throughout my first year at Thresholds, I have occasionally experienced an (entirely inner) pressure to ‘pin down’ my spirituality, to settle on something, and then display it. I think it is partly a sign of the times. We are often called to sit on one side of a fence or another. To take a position. But, alas, my version of the divine remains unfixed. It contains all of the reds, blues and yellows of a butterfly, but will not be captured, framed and named when it has the option of flitting from buddleia to lavender and back.
I like the way our regular columnist, Alistair Ross, always leaves it open. He’ll write God/Goddess/Gods/ Powers/Universe/Ultimate/Infinite one time, and god/gods/God/G-d/Mother/ other/Other/Universe another. This distinction is, most probably, for the reader to insert whatever they may, but my divine constantly resides between these obliques.
Perhaps, naming things dilutes them. Indeed, in his article about meditative practices within Christianity, Simon Spence wonders whether the vocabulary of tradition gets in the way of the ‘lifegiving’ practices it is seeking to describe.
Writing about her experiences of long COVID, Karen Rawden points out that there is a whole lot of divine within chaos. And that sometimes this is the shape it wants to take. We embark on this new year with far less certainty in our new year’s resolutions. Last year provided an exceptionally good set of lessons on how to tolerate a blur.
That said, when it comes to the chaos of earthly relationships, sometimes the inverse is called for. In this issue, Robin and Joan Shohet share their 40 years’ experience bringing the unsaid and unnamed to the fore in supervision, in order that we really know it. Jungian therapist, José Luis Leal, makes the case for naming the impending end of a therapeutic relationship from the beginning. He argues that much meaning, transcendence and transformation are contained there.
It is hard to put words to spirituality. It is a wonder that any of us can, or do. It is the stuff of hearts and souls. It is, as Alistair writes in this issue, the starriest night. Yet, for some (many, perhaps), spirituality is simply not a part of their landscape at all. I guess that is why it doesn’t always show up in the therapy room – or appears uninvited, unexpected. Thresholds, and the BACP Spirituality division meetings, are places where we can attempt, together, to get a better hold on this thing that cannot be held.
Amy McCormack, Editor