“…their Covens and Fleets have rhythm and pattern. This running together and running of all to a centre and yet without loss of identity, has been prepared for by their exploration of their moral life, of its beneficiaries and its victims, and even of all its untrodden paths, and all their thoughts have moulded the vehicle and become event and circumstance.”—W. B. Yeats, Per Amica Silentia Lunae (75)
This is beautiful, isn’t it? Yeats has such a graceful pen, knows how to turn poetry to the service of spiritual truth. The image of the dead of a people, gathered up beneath the spirit that guarded their religious life, whirling through the spirit of the world…I hope for such a fate. But let us not get too caught up in the beauty to notice the center toward which they are traveling. What is that journey about?
Spiritualism has a clear enough answer to this. It is the movement of the spirits toward the center beneath which they shed the last of their mortal selves and rise up toward heaven. The heaven in which Mawu speaks, in which the prophets are gathered, and to which the spirit of wisdom looks before she turns her potent eyes upon the world.
These spiritual covens come to us on their way out of this world, traveling as they do before passing on to some existence where there essence may be preserved, but their external trappings having been released. They are bright, possessed of insight and often willing to aid those to whom they have sympathy, but they are no longer of the living and no longer possess all the potency that goes with that. Or, as Yeats says more elegantly:
“The dead, as the passionate necessity wears out, come into a measure of freedom and may turn the impulse of events, started while living, in some new direction, but they cannot originate except through the living.”—Ibid. (74)
They carry with them the reflexes of their lives, rites and words, but they are no longer capable of transmitting, of originating the spiritual force that animated those rites.
I have a feeling that we are at the end of some massive spiritual era and that as the era comes to a close, there are a lot (a lot) of these covens and fleets gathering together, preparing to pass through the channel opening between heaven and creation. As they do, many of them are eager to do just a few more good turns for people because that beneficence is in their nature. They are speaking and sharing and we should appreciate that, deeply.
We need to appreciate and, to the best of our ability, incorporate the blessings they pass along. To do that, though, we have to appreciate their essential nature as dead, as having reflexes honed in another time and doing our best to liberate their wisdom from the reflexes that sustain them. And we need to appreciate that we may be on the edge of a new era, and that we may need to accept that some of the wisdom of the old will simply depart with it.
We need to be able to hone a new wisdom. That won’t look quite like the old, in part because the old wisdom is so full and mature. If we can manage to make our way to the next era, the wisdom we will need will look awfully humble at first, but humble things lie at the root of great things. We must be willing to crawl and stumble for a good while yet.
That is going to take some real bravery on our parts, because we’ll need to let go of that which is dearly held. Some of what we hold to, we cling to out of fear for what will happen if we let go. Some of it, though, we hold onto it because it is so worthy, in and of itself. And yet, even there, some of what is worthy needs to be released, too. Not all of what which comforts us must be released, not all of that which is worthy must be released, but some.
But especially in the case of the worthies, we ought to remember that they have a destiny beyond their entanglement with us and we must be willing to release them to that when the time comes.