I’ve done some resting and a lot of reading since The Soul’s Twins was released in November. Two books have been especially meaningful to me and I’d like to share them with you.
Heart of a Sufi
By Rahima Milburn, Ashen Venema, Zohra Sharp
His Medicine Was Love
Heart of a Sufi is about Fazal Inayat-Khan, the head of a Sufi movement founded by his grandfather, Pir-o-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan, who introduced Sufism to the West. This book, co-authored by three of Fazal’s initiates to mark the twentieth anniversary of his death, is filled with reminiscences from people who studied with him or were inspired by his work.
This extraordinary man was a psychotherapist, spiritual guide, poet, musician, and publisher who opened the hearts and minds of his followers to authentic living and loving. The contributors tell of his personal magnetism and unconditional love for his students. They share stories about his uncanny intuition which saw into their woundedness and created just the right tasks for them that would reveal their dysfunctional ways and refine their psychological and spiritual growth. This was a man of courage and radical ideas who shook up the Sufi establishment. This was a man who knew how to heal. His medicine was love.
I can’t remember when I’ve read a book that has resonated so deeply or moved me so powerfully. Several times I found myself in tears. It took me a while to figure out why. Then, near the end, I read this description of his goals by Peter Hawkins, “He wanted to work to further the transcending of the psychological and spiritual divide and to explore the best way of drawing psychotherapeutic and spiritual traditions together to help create a new and rich synthesis.”
Fazal Inayat-Khan was born just nine months before me and died 31 years ago. He spent his too-brief life wanting to help our world transcend our psychological and spiritual divides. This is what I teach and write about. My first book was The Bridge to Wholeness. My third was Healing the Sacred Divide. Both are about conducting the kind of inner psychological work that leads to spiritual union within oneself and Sacred Oneness.
When I finished reading I wrote this comment on the flyleaf of my copy:“I really love this book about this man. He gave words to my only partly-realized mission and message. He understood the necessity of tension between opposites that has to happen before we can be reconciled in oneness. He affirmed and inspired me to speak my soul’s truths boldly and freely with joy and love. I wish I had known him. This makes me feel like I have for a very long time.”
I find it amazing that I could be so deeply seen by a man I’ve never met and only know through second-hand sources. I’ll be quoting him often in my writing and workshops from now on, and I’ll recommend this book to fellow travelers I meet along the way.
The Shepherd’s Daughter
By Deborah Gregory
There’s Magick in these Verses
Poetry is the pinnacle of writing, its highest, most refined form. The climb is so rigorous, the sensibilities so refined, and the life experience required to attain them so onerous, that few reach the summit. Deborah Gregory is one who has accomplished this heroic feat.
As heroes are the stuff of myth, it’s no wonder Gregory draws much of her inspiration from the three muses of poetry and the other maidens, mothers, queens and crones of mythology. Here she writes of Persephone’s wisdom of the underworld, Demeter’s governing of the earth’s cycles, Athena’s queenly sovereignty over her own free and wild soul, and Aphrodite’s dazzling and sensuous femininity.
Her ability to touch us so meaningfully with her artfully chosen words comes from her psychological understanding of these goddesses. This poet is also a psychotherapist who has learned for herself that myths are stories about the archetypal truths of the human psyche. In The Shepherd’s Daughter she applies this deep well of knowledge to her poetry on the Tarot. She knows that the Fool, Magician, High Priestess, Empress and Emperor, Hierophant, Lovers and Hermit, as well as the mysteries of the Moon and Star and other cards, are all parts of us.
Another section of poems is dedicated to the months of the year. This is where we experience the wonders of nature through the self-reflective lens of a photographer, the aesthetic of an artist, the knowledge of a naturalist, the ears of a musician, and the passionate heart of a lover.
This is the place…
Where, with red cheeks radiant
against the ice-cold wind,
we become happy children again.
A place where we…
Behold the dancing daffodil,
wild soul in green and gold,
heavenly love-star of March
who brightens our heart
as her golden petals unfold.
From pregnant darkness
she must push up and out,
Into spring’s sudden softness.
Or where in July…
Dressed in golden rays of light,
with Father Sun stamped
firmly into the cloudless sky,
we enter the dust-covered,
burning cathedral of summer.
Then cycle back to winter, for…
As Persephone returns to Hades,
we too must revisit darkness,
sleep awhile before we rise again,
for fading daylight demands
more logs for the inner soul-fire.
I can’t resist two more passages, one near the end of the book about the poet’s numinous dream in the time of Corona, where she finds herself inside an ancient oak elder:
Inside this dream tree sanctuary,
life had shuffled indoors.
With her memories quarantined,
waiting to be reawakened,
she knew there was nowhere
left to hide from herself.
And this from the Poet and the Plague:
The old ways have broken down,
Her resurrection will come
But first, the gathering of bones.
There’s “magick” in these verses and the poet who wrote them. It comes from experiencing life with eyes and the senses wide open and a heart filled with love.
Jean Raffa’s The Bridge to Wholeness and Dream Theatres of the Soul are at Amazon. E-book versions are also at Kobo, Barnes And Noble and Smashwords. Healing the Sacred Divide can be found at Amazon and Larson Publications.com. Her new book, The Soul’s Twins, is available at Schiffer, Red Feather Mind, Body, Spirit and wherever books are sold. Subscribe to her newsletter at www.jeanbenedictraffa.com.