Books and their widespread availability have played a huge role in the growth of the modern Pagan movement. Most of us have learned far more from books than from either one-on-one or classroom instruction. But the vast majority of Pagan-themed books are geared toward beginners – there are precious few intermediate and advanced books on the market.
This is a guidebook for spiritual transformation, a process that by definition is mysterious and difficult to define. No two souls take exactly the same route, even if they follow the same tradition and the same teachers. That makes writing a guidebook for general distribution inherently difficult, but Kissing the Limitless works.
Thorn Coyle has trained in several traditions, most notably Feri Witchcraft. While this book is grounded in the Western Mystery Tradition, its theories and exercises reflect a broad spiritual background. They’re reasonably generic and thus applicable to people on a variety of spiritual paths.
In the Introduction, Thorn recommends taking four years to work through the book. I’m surprised the publisher didn’t edit that out for fear of scaring off potential buyers, but it’s the truth. Spiritual transformation takes time and work. Lots of time, and lots of work. The Buddha’s enlightenment came in an instant, but only after years of dedicated practice. The work done on a daily basis builds a foundation and trains the spirit and creates the conditions necessary for the “instant” transformation to occur. Thorn quotes Zen teacher Baker Roshi, who said “Enlightenment is an accident, but [spiritual] practice makes us accident prone.”
The exercises range from simple to complex: breath and energy work and lots of introspection. Many of them peer into those portions of ourselves we like to keep hidden from others and those we like to pretend aren’t really there. But they are there, and we have to deal with them if we’re going to reach our spiritual potential.
As a personal note, the counter-rotating energy loop exercise is the most difficult energy work I’ve ever tried. My struggle with it reflects a need for greater work on concentration – and lots more practice.
One of the reader reviewers on Amazon said this was a nice book for beginners. That reviewer is very wrong. Without a grounding in a spiritual tradition, the concepts would seem so vague as to be useless. Without a grounding in a spiritual practice, the exercises would seem impossibly difficult, or worse, pointless. If you’ve tried to read this book and had that reaction, don’t worry. Put it on your shelf and go back to work. One day, you’ll pick it up again and it will all make sense.
But for those who have started on a mystical path, who are familiar with spiritual practice, who are ready to embrace the truth in paradox, who are feeling the call of the Limitless, this book will serve as a lantern to illuminate the path in front of you.
If you’re tired of all the Wicca 101 books clogging the shelves at Barnes & Noble, that may be a good sign you’re ready for Kissing the Limitless.
I’ll give Thorn the last word:
“Do not fear the great silence. Standing in stillness puts one in the flow of all. There is no separation – only nothingness and everything. Be within yourself. Stand within her embrace. God Herself holds you. All is held within the hand of love. Boundlessness is bounded only by the fragrance of the limitless. Breathe deeply and know that you are God.”
I’m a Druid in the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids. I’m an ordained priest in the Universal Gnostic Fellowship. I’m the Coordinating Officer of the Denton, Texas Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. This year I’m also serving as a member of the Board of Trustees of CUUPS National. I’m a member of the Denton Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
I write as a spiritual practice. It helps me organize my thoughts and work through ideas and concepts. It helps me evaluate my beliefs and practices against my core values and against what I know (or at least, what I think I know) to be true. It helps me interpret my experiences (religious and otherwise) in ways that are both meaningful and honest.