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Rev. Nelson is a life coach and ordained minister. She can be reached by e-mail at RevJillNelson --at-- or through her website at Don Ross is the Queen Bee of Heresy, webmaster of his interfaith and, a GLBT business directory . You can email Don at Don --at-- Both serve on the Board of Directors at the A. Austin Amerine Retreat Center in Lake County. To learn more about AAARC, subscribe to our newsletter On Board the AAARC (join below).

Spinning a Kaleidoscope of Arch-types

Copyright by the Rev. Jill Nelson and Don Ross of the Amerine Retreat Center, August 2008.
This article was written for's Spirituality column.

Eavesdrop on a conversation between Don (neo-pagan Buddhist) and Jill (progressive Christian) as they chat about their own Queer Spiritualities. Both are Board Members of the A. Austin Amerine Retreat Center in Lake County.

Don: Before we explore the specific divinities we are enshrining at the Amerine Retreat Center, what if we explore the personal lenses that we will apply to the process?

Jill: Sounds like a good idea to me. As we all know, each personís mental lenses color what they expect to see in the world, framing what they perceive and believe. While we both have shared roots in the Protestant Christian experience, even our early indoctrinations were different and the paths our lives have taken spiritually only divert further from there.

Don: True, Iíve gone through three distinct periods in my life. First, growing up in a Protestant household and then into New Age, I learned to listen to the God Within us all. Then I became a Buddhist and learned about the Buddha Nature: the practice of viewing everything as our teacher and honoring the innate enlightenment of all people equally. Now a post-urbanite living in the wilds of Lake County, it is as if Mother Nature speaks to me in a feminine voice. The Divine Creative Process fully expresses the interconnectivity of all things. Her voice is the sound of the wind in the trees and the birds in the sky. She is mama bear feeding and protecting her cubs. She is a doe darting across the road in front of a car at sunset. She is the Queen Bee being fed and groomed by her court of nurses.

Jill: Well, for my part, I grew up in a liberal version of the Methodist tradition. I was exposed to many different perspectives even in the small Midwestern church in which I grew up. What I find amazing now as I look back is how tolerant that group was of differences in faith and interpretation. I think it really helped me to grow and expand in my own spiritual journey. My parents were also avid naturalists so I spent a lot of time camping, hiking and exploring the world. I learned about God in Sunday School, but I experienced God/Spirit in the woods, walking the rivers and streams and watching the sunrises and sunsets.

Don: According to Joseph Campbell, the renowned 20th century mythologist, what is sorely needed by our society is a new cohesive mythology. As a society, we have dashed the old gods and goddesses upon the rocks of history. Bits and pieces of them still remain, some sharp and some quite dull.

While I doubt my mythological views could be described as cohesive, I do enjoy spinning a good yarn. Even so, I fear our attempts to spin the ancient arch-types with a post-modern clay may collapse into a heap of unrecognizable intent. However, if we are successful, our shared perceptual lenses will be like a fancy kaleidoscope, spinning glass this way and that, a light show of colorful images to delight our collective heart and imagination.

Jill: I think what you are hinting at is what we all do intuitively. My experience is that few peopleís perspectives are cohesive, unless they are dogmatic. Our experiences and personalities are the glue which holds our theologies together, not logic or reason, no matter what we tell ourselves. I guess that means that some degree of cohesiveness always exists, while some degree of chaos or creative energy must be at work to call new perceptions and ideas into being. We all tap into and draw from the underlying archetypes of our cultures and our shared human experiences. As we draw from the universal human mythologies, we of course craft them to our own liking, but they still remain a part of who we are and how we are connected to each other. I am not sure we need a new mythology, as much as we need to understand the mythologies which are organically emerging all around us and within us.

That is what is powerful for me about Goddess Pond. It is an embodiment of the ways that old archetypes are taking on new forms and meanings, evolving as we evolve, without losing their essential essence. What do you think?

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