[I had intended originally to start off this blog with a series of posts on prayer. However, reading happens.]
The first mystical experience that I remember occurred when I was thirteen. I looked up at the night sky, the moon almost full, and had a moment of, “My god, it’s full of stars.” That moment is something that was a feeling, an expression, an embodied experience that I had trouble expressing in words. I could say that my mouth felt full, that I felt if I spoke I could reach anyone I wanted. I could say that my limbs felt heavy like the roots of a vine. For that moment, looking at the sky, it was as if I could feel each pulse of every living creature on the planet.
A few years later, after amassing a collection of books far larger than I needed, I found myself poking a finger in a book written by a Feri initiate and going, “That. That’s the god that I felt. Right there.” As I continued to read about this god – whom I heard called the Star Goddess or God Herself – I only felt more and more than this was the god whom I had felt and would feel throughout my life. But where often the books I read presented her as The God Herself that was in all things and took a very monistic approach to her, I found myself understanding her as one of many gods.
I could not deny the other mystical experiences I had in my life that were devoid of the feelings she brought to me – when interacting with my own new Gods, They each were decidedly different. Each interaction I had was awe-inspiring and required new language and words to describe and time to unpack and understand, but I always came back to the idea that there were more gods. I had no desire to pursue some ‘core’ or ‘uniting force’ that I wasn’t sure I believed in anyway.
It is a feeling I’ve experienced when thinking of humanity too. Or when walking in a forest damp with rain or atop a mountain in the middle of a desert or at the top of a skyscraper or in a library surrounded by so many books. This idea of vastness became an emotion that fueled my devotions, and my awe of it only multiplied when I realized I too was a part of this vastness. Of course, this vastness can easily be turned into a Borg-esque entity, either through mob mentalities or homogenization.
For me, the vastness and the diversity in it became backbones to my religious experiences.