Author & Spiritual EducatorNavigation
William Bloom, author of The The Power of Modern Spirituality.
I’ve just delivered a very different workshop from usual, and I really enjoyed it. I based it on the teachings of Saint Teresa of Avila (151-1582) -and her little book with a huge message: the ‘Interior Castle’ written in 1577. Persuaded to write by her confessor, this robust diminutive Carmelite nun changed the history of her time, by becoming one of the only women in a Holy Order to write books in her native language, teaching how to pray, and that it is possible to reach the Divine within ourselves. Posthumously given the title of Dr of the Church, as well as a Saint she has been honoured in modern times yet troubling the authorities as an ‘enigma’ during her life time. Now if any of you are familiar with the dates I’ve mentioned you’ll know this was the time of the Spanish Inquisition. A time where women were not considered spiritual enough (so they often starved themselves so that they had no outward appearance of being female) they were not allowed to teach and certainly not write. Her grandparents were jewish, and so her father had turned to Christianity and became a successful merchant. Jews were being expelled from the country or worse (unless they recanted and became Roman Catholic), and it was with this prohibitive atmosphere that she not only wrote and taught, but in her lifetime completely reformed the monastic order throughout Spain.
Teresa of Avila saw angels. She troubled her confessors (and the Inquisitors) because had visions of Christ, was seen to levitate during meditation, and was found in trance sometimes for hours. Yet her love of food and music earned her a reputation which was a far cry from the usual pious and frugal convent nature. Teresa was certainly one of the leading mystics of the Middle Ages. Her prayers, lessons and descriptions of the spiritual life are ageless, and as meaningful now as they were to her followers nearly five centuries ago.
Teresa had a vision, in her meditation, of a beautiful clear crystal ball and within it were seven mansions with many rooms. She saw it as a castle and understood that his was representative of our human soul and the internal spiritual journey to find God within. The Interior Castle introduces us to a deep and beautiful spiritual practice which leads to our centre, and the secrets of our soul. To find it we have to make the decision to take a deep breath and cross the drawbridge where as we enter the first mansion we will meet all sorts of temptations which she calls ‘reptiles’. Each mansion has a different lesson and along the journey we may make our own choices as to which of the many rooms we choose until we leave that mansion and move along to the next. Eventually we will reach the inner mansion and greet our soul, where God resides.
It’s a beautiful journey during which we learn humility, about facing our deepest shadows, that God is in the details, the importance of spiritual friends, and most importantly the benefit of prayer.
It was such a pleasure to revisit the life of this wonderfully inspiring tiny Spanish woman. During my degree course I was asked to write a personal study of 10, 000 words about the powerful interplay between her as a woman and the church authorities. For me as a student of religion and particularly mysticism the message of St Teresa’s life and work provided a few answers to some of the questions I had about mysticism, not just about aspects of gender studies. I so love it when I explore an idea and find that it leads me to an exciting and intricate piece of the great mystical puzzle of the spiritual life. Thanks to the interest of one of my own students in Ireland who encouraged me to devise this workshop, I’ve revisited the life of this wonderful woman with a fresh lens and deeper understanding.Read More
As I started sorting out my packing, and gathered bits and pieces for my workshops for this coming weekend, I’m even more aware of how little planning I do. To other people, particularly those trying to work with me I must be an absolute nightmare. For those who are efficient and plan their day and schedules which are fine timed, and for those who stick to lists (and therefore get everything done) I say a resounding and genuine “Well done you!” Part of me wishes I could be like that too.
My first husband tried so hard to get me to provide certain meals on set days, to create a routine for washing on one day shopping on another – the way his mother had successfully run her house – but I simply couldn’t. It is simply that I find it impossible to follow routine. Even my poor mother, now in her late eighties, will see me on a Friday for a few weeks but then if I’m going away it will be a Wednesday, or perhaps if I have a meeting, then it will be any other day I can fit in! However, the truth is everyone gets their visit, my children never missed a dental appointment, parents evening, drama production rehearsal or sports event. And all my work deadlines are met, on request. Strange isn’t it?
To the organised I’m totally dis-organised. And yet, my muddled chaos has a rhyme, a reason and a rhythm all of its own.
I remember my younger sister laughingly telling me that when she was young their holidays were never as planned. They would pack and load the car, even set off in the right direction for wherever they were supposed to be heading, and then my mystical father would announce that the angels were telling him to go elsewhere. Wherever they ended up they always had fine weather and a great time. It was just rarely where they thought they were going. My father received Divine guidance and followed it obediently.
Now I’d like to have you believe that my chaos is all about Divine guidance – and maybe some of it certainly is – but that might be a tad delusional. Yet somehow, I do seem to be in the right place at the right time (even though it might occasionally appear to be by the skin of my teeth).
By allowing myself to ‘seemingly’ be available I find myself able to help (the angelic realms) in a way that perhaps my friends and family don’t always understand.
When there was a massive earthquake in Haiti I had just, that very night, booked a holiday there, and rather than cancel was able to anchor massive amounts of healing spiritual energy from hundreds (or more) of people tuning in with me to send healing at regular times.
When I was sponsored to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land I was able to explain to a group of 92 (added together make an 11 which in Numerology represents Mastery), who believed they had been Essenes in a previous life, the significance of us all being in a boat together on the centre of the Sea of Galilee. For me it was no coincidence that we were there on a Thursday morning (Angel of Water – and Raphael’s day) on the 1st May which is symbolic of humanity’s joy at the dawn of Spring, with one of the most extra-ordinary planetary alignments. Consequently, together as a wonderful group we could send love and authentic healing energy from one of the most powerful portals on the Earth’s surface.
I’m always struck with awe at the phenomenal beauty of our cosmos, the stars, the elements, nature, and yet science would have us believe that it was all created from ‘chaos’.
By rigidly sticking to the promptings of our rational and reasonable mind we can definitely achieve greatness. But by following our heart and creating (something) from within what often seems to be the prevailing chaos perhaps we are also achieving a greatness which in human terms is unrecognisable, but with Divine Grace is part of a very organised plan.Read More
Do you ever get confused about how many archangels there are?
Someone recently asked me: ” I always thought that there were seven archangels. Now I have read that in the Kabbalah it says there are ten! How does that work?”
There seems to be so many opinions on the numbers of Archangels, and the more you delve into the history of angels in all the various literature , and especially the ancient scriptures of different religions, you find groups of seven, ten, eleven and even twelve major angelic beings! Although all angels are pure energy and ‘Light’ we consider the Archangels to be like the ‘managers’ or team leaders of the angelic realms, and so there probably are many more than seven really. Let me try to unpick some of the differences for you.
The great seven archangels you will have most commonly heard of are, Michael (power), Gabriel (annunciation), Raphael (healing), Uriel (peace), Chamuel (love), Zadkiel (transformation) and Jophiel (wisdom). These are the seven I have been working with for twenty years or more, and found that I resonated with the Theosophical teachings, which is where I found the angelic relationship to Ascended Masters and the seven energetic Light Rays. I’ve referred to these again in my new book Seven Steps into the Angel Light. The first four appear in the Jewish and Christian Bible and the Qu’ran.
So going back to the original question, the Kabbalah – or Tree of Life – originally comes from secret Jewish practices called ‘ the work of the chariot’ or Merkabah Mysticism, and goes back to the original recorded visions God (thousands of years ago) and the angels described by Ezekiel in the Bible. The word kabbalah means ‘receiving’ and refers to the spiritual knowledge gained from practicing the truths at each of the ten stages of the journey through the Kabbalah, based on the best of human (and Divine) qualities including Wisdom, Understanding Justice and the Law, Grace and Mercy, Truth and Peace.
Each of the stages of spiritual learning, or Ten Sephirah, of the Kabbalah and has an Archangel.
So, although each stage actually has a Hebrew name, I’m going to show you how they relate to ten Archangels instead. Starting at the top of the Kabbalah tree of life is Metatron, the highest ranking Archangel of all, and this represents the crown chakra. Raziel (wisdom) and Zaphkiel (understanding) are next on either side of the head at the level of the third eye, or brow chakra in your forehead. At the throat there is another sephirah known as the ‘gateway to the Divine’ which is ‘etheric’, meaning it is a spiritual gateway, not actually manifest – or real- and represents higher knowledge and the senses of sight, sound, smell and speech but does not have an angel. At the level of the heart are Samael (judgement) and Zadkiel (mercy), Michael (beauty) lies over the solar plexus (tummy) and the seat of the emotions. Raphael (glory) and Haniel (eternity) and Gabriel (foundation) form a triad around the area which corresponds to the sacral chakra (base of your spine) and Sandalphon (kingdom) represents the grounding energy of the feet and root chakra. The Archangels will help you to work through each of the 10 stages and eventually you may find the meaning of life.
(There are lots of good books and articles to help if you are interested in learning more about the Kabbalah I recommend: A Piatkus Guide ‘Kabbalah’ by Paul Roland, or if you like working with cards: The Angel Script, by Theolyn Cortens).