On auras and seeing auras : unique experiences with the Catholic Mass
A book excerpt from the spiritandflesh.com religion and spirituality online library.
It was from my humble hermitage that I would engage in attack-and-retreat missions into the center of the cosmopolitan cyclone. These sorties were largely necessary due to my primary addiction- writing and research- which was not easily carried out in the bush, for I regularly required new books, a reference library, and also electricity and a computer plugged into it for my daily inputting and editing of the disgorged muck I had scribbled down the day before.
I was lucky enough to find a couple of drop-in centers for street folk- of which there are aplenty in this maritime city- each with computer facilities available for all the aspiring down-and-out poets who populate the dark district and its muses. And so I'd saunter down from my hill in the morning, leap on a bus into town, grab a bite to eat, and then jump on the keys and start hammering.
After a couple of hours of typing and editing, however, I'd be bug-eyed and ready to disengage from the screen. And this was the moment when the main problem of street life would become uncomfortably obvious to me: where to go to get some peace and quiet when you have nowhere to go to get it.
Of course, back up to my shack is the obvious thought. But if I had plans in the city later that day and the weather was foul there were only a couple of indoor options available- the pub, the library, or a church. Lord knows that the pub was most often my venue of choice, but when I needed real peace, and real quiet, neither the most deserted bar nor even the isolated catacombs of the library would do. So off to church I went.
In Vancouver there are a handful of quiet, large old stone churches in the inner city, and I'd make my way into one of them, find an out-of-the-way pew, sit down, cross my hands, close my eyes, and let the calm wash away the belligerence of the streets and the unavoidable visual pollution which is everywhere and so destructive to the innocent eye.
On one of these occasions, when I was seeking refuge from the outer torrent and sitting peacefully in a church, recovering my inner poise, all of the sudden the lunch crowd came hustling in, a priest arrived at the pulpit, and a Mass began.
Just my luck, trying to duck out of the ever-present hubbub and I couldn't get away from it, even in God's own house. I was just about to split, expecting the whole affair to be mentally excruciating, and make my way instead to the library or a bar, when it dawned on me that I had never witnessed a Mass before, and why not stick it out and see what all the excitement's about. So I sat back down and didn't get up again, despite the regular up and down robotics of the sinners all around me, and surprisingly I even entered back into the calm which had just been stolen from me moments earlier.
It was in this calm that I began recognizing an aura-type glow emanating from the top of a table behind the priest. I had seen auras before, but never one coming from an inanimate object. This caught my interest, though I questioned whether I was seeing just a beam of light refracted through one of the many stained-glass windows nearby.
Well I kept watching and the priest droned on with the Mass and I continued to struggle to make out what the object with the aura was. It seemed, from that distance, to perhaps be an urn, which I concluded was a likely object in a church, and there was no reason why a person's cremated ashes didn't emanate an aura after the bonfire. I had been contented with this erroneous conclusion for only a short while, however, when people began filing up the aisles for communion, and the sexton grabbed the object- which was no urn after all- and placed it in front of the priest. Then I saw that it was in fact the chalice holding the communion wafers, and the aura was all around it.
Well, that was certainly something unique, and it was enough proof for me to instantly decide that whatever kind of Ritz Cracker they had in that cup was soon going to be in my belly. And so up I got from my pew, strolled down the aisle, kneeled down, and received my first communion.
Then I got up, left the church, and headed for the pub.
I would come to tell this story of the chalice with the aura a number of times over the next many months to some of my disbelieving friends, most of whom looked at me askance, as if they suspected that the last chugging synapse in my overwrought cranium had finally stopped firing and now I was truly coocoo. However, I maintained the authenticity of my vision- as I always did, regarding every odd or peculiar event I witnessed or experienced, despite the predictable onslaught of doubt and chastisement from the earthbound rabble- and perhaps two years later I was informed, by my soror[i] no less, that Carl Jung had written, in his essay on the Mass, that the vessel for communion wafers, blessed by the proper individual, can in fact contain the body of Christ as a reality.
I was vindicated again. And not only that, I had consumed the world's most energized biscuit- the body- into me, and had washed it down a few heretical minutes later with the city's cheapest beer- the blood. And who wouldn't shout out a hosanna and raise a cheer to that?
So street life had its fortunate side at times. But if the days are tough to endure for the homeless, the nights are even harder. And if, instead of returning to my hut, I had to find a place in which to lie down within the city limits, which occasionally I had to do- if I was working at the time and had an early shift and no bus was running from my hill at that time, or if I had been out carousing too late and had missed the last run home- I'd have to seek slumber elsewhere.
At one point, for about a two-week period, I stayed in a Catholic Men's Mission downtown, at a time when I was so broke that even bus fare to my shack was an economic burden. And so I was given a bed and some meal tickets for a while and it was a tolerable enough set-up, filled mostly with downtrodden and fringe types, some of whom were seemingly just out of prison, and others on their way in. I did, however, meet one unique fellow who slept on the bunk beside me for a while. He was staying there for a different reason than most; he said that he had been living in the east up until a month earlier and then one night he felt a powerful pressure and force in his stomach area- which, as he's describing this, I'm thinking it's a hara awakening for sure- and then scenes of mountains and the ocean flashed before his eyes and he suddenly knew, with an inexplicable certainty, that he had to go west. So he dropped everything and took off with the little money he had, and there he was.
He was a good connection for me, for it was nice to meet another soul who was in the state I was in- that is, penniless and living on charity- and not because he had rejected life, but because he had affirmed the spirit. I expect that he was supposed to meet me as well. In fact, I can say that many times over the years I have ended up in places I never would have expected, only to meet someone who had ended up there as well, without intent or expectation either, and I came to understand that things like this were sublimely directed so that meetings like this one at the Mission could occur, and so myself and the other could exchange thoughts and connect our spirits through the eyes, and then part without ever being apart again.
Occasionally I'd have a dream of a person before meeting them, and in the dream there might be intimations regarding the reason behind, or nature of our time together. For the Body, like Osiris, was scattered all over the earth, and I, like Isis, was laboriously finding and rebuilding it.
When the last dawn breaks overhead, I will herald the day and kiss this plane farewell. When the last sun sets I will raise a cheer and toast to our redemption. When the glory-bell gongs for the final hour, I will go down on my knees and thank the one who knew me. When the divine dream is done, I will awaken and claim my own. When the last wound has healed I will throw away my sutures and take up my lyre. When the last foe is felled I will toss away my sword and return to my song. When the final child is born, I will fight with death no more. When all the angels have again their wings, I will fly in merriment amongst their flock. When the light comes down from the sky to take us up, I will go home.
[i] The soror mystica, or, mystical sister, is the female half of the male-female partnership. In alchemical lore these two work together seeking the philosopher's stone, or Holy Grail.
My soror- who will find her way into the story further on- and I were brought together by the invisible choreographer, as the saying goes, through a series of dreams and unexpected happenings, which also will be related later. She quickly became my lover, consort, and colleague, as we entered upon the same path, towards a destination neither of us could have imagined.
The alchemical partnership seeks, in essence, to find each person's own divinity through the conscious assistance of another who, in intimate relationship, mirrors back all the aspects of the other's soul which lay hidden; aspects which either taint or cloud the polished vision through which God could otherwise see clearly through human eyes. It is a lengthy process, one requiring commitment and humility to allow its rare completion. But, in fact, every coupleship or marriage is itself the crucible in which this process takes place, albeit mostly on a dark and unconscious level, and therefore everywhere on earth there is the possibility of husband and wife learning about themselves- via the other's stimulation- and of all that lays hidden within, including each one's dormant alter-gender other half; i.e. the man's female side, and the female's male side. And in doing so each reaches a wholeness in which the spirit comes to inhabit the flesh, the two become one, and heaven and earth are united through them.
A good soror or frater will take you inside of them, cut you into pieces, mulch these up, and then reconstruct a whole new you before spitting you back out. The working partnership is like two factories facing one another, which demolish and rebuild the other continually.
What I have come to believe that the Holy Grail, or chalice is- within relationship, that is- is the meeting of two people, each of whom have come to love the other, which they created, and therefore upon looking into each other with love, they attain the union of opposites where Creator and Created are one.
I came upon this belief in a purely synchronistic manner, when my soror and I were discussing the Holy Grail and staring at each other face to face, in a somewhat intimate way, and at the moment one of us mentioned something about the chalice, we both suddenly turned to look at an open book beside us, and there on the pages lay one of those gestalt drawings which appears to be one thing, but suddenly it shifts and appears to be another; the black-and-white line drawing which we saw was the side view of two faces looking at each other, or, when viewed from another perspective, using the space between them as the object, it appeared as a perfect chalice.
This is the visual understanding of what can be felt by two sensitive individuals looking at each other with love, for then the bond between them creates a holy receptacle, a chalice, in which the Spirit comes to rest.
I stated above that this description of the Holy Grail applies 'within relationship'. Outside of relationship the body itself is the chalice which must hold the individual's spirit; for, outside of relationship, an individual must embody both aspects (the male, or spirit, and the female, or flesh), in order to be whole. Therefore the flesh must be the chalice which receives the spirit.
It may also be the case that the philosopher's stone, or Holy Grail, is not one thing but is many things, and therefore is whatever is specific to the individual, and therefore applies only to the one who finds it and no other; each must find their own idiosyncratic gold.
(excerpted from In and Of: memoirs of a mystic journey, by Jack Haas)