For the last couple of days, there has been a great deal of consternation throughout the Filianosphere about the recent announcements coming from the Janite Order of Priestesses. It is not clear to me, at this time, whether the whole organization is redefining itself in a non-Filianic direction, or whether only key members of their leadership are doing so, but they have provided a great deal of support to many Filianists over the last couple of years, and I know there are many who feel somewhat bewildered, not to say rattled, by this change in direction.
And so at this time, as we emerge from the season of the Festival of Divine Life which urged us to contemplate the mysteries of the cycles by which all things are born, grow, and die, only to be reborn again, I find it fitting to reflect a little bit on the nature of our Ekklesia. It goes without saying, of course, that the Ekklesia in its fullest sense is a thing eternal—a sororal order of all souls united in their love of Her, which encompasses the very Janyati of Heaven. We sometimes need reminding, however, that the Ekklesia’s instantiations on the earth are, like all things of the earth, merely temporal, and that they, too, have their births, flourishings, deaths, and rebirths. So it was that the Madrians could speak of the whole current of feminine monotheism—from deepest prehistory through the Isiac cult, the cult of the Blessed Virgin, and then themselves—as a single inheritance under the unitary name of Madrianism. All were, from their perspective, fluctuating manifestations of the same eternal teaching.
Modern Filianism can thus be seen as one wave upon this rolling tide, but can also be seen within itself to contain a multitude of projects and efforts that have come and gone, though not without lasting contribution. Lux Madriana itself flourished and then passed away, as did the Aristasian Experiment after it. Their legacy is continued both by Chelouranya and by the Independent community, which has been a kaleidoscope of groups and individuals which, despite their ephemerality, have collectively managed an enduring presence over more than a decade. What matters, ultimately, is not any particular one of our enterprises, but the cause of the faith which all those enterprises have been intended to serve.
New efforts at organizing and building on the worldly level will be needed. A 501(c)3 organization to represent our interests and qualify us for the common considerations given to other religious groups is certainly a missing piece of the puzzle to how we “go out among maids and teach them the Good Doctrine” (2 Teachings 1:17) in today’s world. Though there are some important discussions to be had about the nature of priestesshood and the apparent end of the Madrian lineages with Madria Olga’s passing, it is certain that our community will need a mechanism for designating leaders, whether lay or ordained. All of us, I think, dream of seeing some kind of beautiful and well-appointed public space for Filianic worship in our communities, however simple and small in scale.
For now, however, as we take a moment to respectfully acknowledge the passing of one significant worldly effort at building the Ekklesia in Telluria, I find it comforting to turn eyes again to the essential Ekklesia’s eternal nature, and to revisit one of the enduring legacies which our Madrian foremothers left us. (I quote directly from TCA 3:15.)
After several requests to accept lay sisters, the Order of the Silver Star have founded a new group called the Handmaidens of the Sacred Rose: ‘It is completely uncentralised — anyone can become a handmaid without notifying us — there is only one rule which all must follow: a commitment to say the Rosary each day. Beyond this, we hope members will construct a special Rule of life for themselves; this can be as great or as little as each individual feels right. We will be pleased if you would submit your Rule to us via Lux Madriana, but it is not necessary. We would like handmaids to help each other, to come together in groups, to form bonds of love and obedience — to become a real lay Order from the ground upwards. We will advise, but feel that we may not direct. Go forward, children.’
I cannot express my joy at discovering this little announcement, which was tucked away in the “Works in Progress” section of the magazine. The Madrian orders are all defunct or occulted, and their lineages of ordination appear, at least publicly, to be extinct (someone please correct me if I am wrong!), but the order of the Handmaidens of the Sacred Rose remains open, with the perpetual blessing of the Madrian priestesshood. To the eternal Ekklesia in its broadest and grandest sense, our foremothers added a practical order which, if eternal seems too strong a word, we might regard at least as enduring until the end of the Age—open perpetually to any and all who will accept its rule.
And if there were ever a time to bring this little notice again to the attention of our community, it is now, for 3 October will also be the first day of Vois, which the Madrians celebrated as the “Rosary Month”, in which all were encouraged to take up a daily practice with the Rosary or, if they were already in that habit, to supplement it by the practice of a full (fifteen decade) Rosary weekly for the duration of the month, renewed dedication to mindfulness in the accompanying meditations, or any other such intensification of their Rosary work as they might find practicable and beneficial. This year, I will be taking advantage of the occasion to convert my sporadic making of the Rosary into a daily practice, which I hope, Dea volente, to continue after the month’s end in order to maintain good standing as a Handmaiden of the Sacred Rose. I would cordially invite any of you who may wish to do so to join me in the endeavour.
You need not, of course, let me know that you are doing so, but it might be a charming way of lending support to one another in the keeping of a discipline if those of you who felt comfortable doing so did let me know. Indeed, for those willing to announce themselves one step further, I would be happy to make a page here to list the names (and blog links, of course) of participants, so that we might all take some small strength and encouragement, when it becomes difficult to make the time for the Rosary (though it is only 15–20 minutes), of knowing that we are not alone, and that the words of our recitation mingle through the long arcs of the earth’s atmosphere with many others each day.
For those of you new to the practice, I reproduce below the Madrians’ basic instructions for the Rosary, with bracketed notes giving links to additional, more detailed material in the Archive and some of my own comments.
Appendix 2: The Rosary [transcribed from Philip Jackson’s text in The Sacred Myths and Rites of the Madrians, pp. 84–5, which reproduces the catechetical booklet issued by Lux Madriana]
The Rosary is usually a looped string of beads (though it may also be a cord containing knots). The beads are arranged in five decades or groups of ten. There is a single bead at the beginning and end, and one between each decade. [It is relatively easy to modify a common Catholic Rosary for Filianic use, as I did. One must simply be mindful that one will be lacking the “single bead at the beginning and end”, and so must make use of the Rosary “centre” twice, both to open and to close the recitation of the prayers.] The closed loop represents both the walled rose-garden and eternity.
For each bead of the decades we say the Silver Star [see below], and for each single bead we say the Prayer of Eternity [see below].
Begin by composing yourself in quietness, then make the Pentacle upon yourself [see below] and say the Rosary Prayer [see below] before starting.
Each decade represents a point of the Pentacle. Beginning at Earth and Autumn, we move sunwise, meditating on the Mysteries of each as we pray.
Earth; Autumn; the Golden Apple; the Mystery of Divine Life; our Lady the Mother as Ground of all Being.
Air; Winter; the Star; the Mystery of the Nativity.
Spirit; Moura; the Cross (or Labrys); the Mystery of the death of our Lady.
Water; Spring; the Dove; the Mystery of the Resurrection of our Lady.
Fire; Summer; the Rose; the Mystery of the Rose of the World; complete personal assumption in the Mother.
Although a child can say the Rosary, a lifetime cannot exhaust its depth. Frequent Rosary devotion will lead the soul ever deeper into the fivefold structure of the Universal Mystery.
In the full Rosary, the process is repeated three times, meditating upon the Mysteries in the Life aspect, the Light aspect and the Love aspect. But this is a rather advanced exercise.
The Rosary is a powerful generator of spiritual energy as well as a purifying force. Each completed Rosary not only confers great spiritual benefit on the individual, but is a real force for good in this world. Regarded as a personal sacrifice, the Rosary is a small but beautiful gift to our Lady. For each Rosary is not only a thing said and a thing done, but a thing created – it is a shining Pentacle of spiritual force.
[This treatment is greatly expanded by two articles in TCA 2. “An Introduction to the Rosary” (pp. 6–8) offer some general reflections on the history and nature of the practice, while “Three Paths Into the Secret Garden” (pp. 11–14) is an absolutely indispensable guide to the meditative practices undergone while reciting the prayers, including very helpful suggestions of individual images for focus on each bead.]
The Rosary Prayer [Jackson, p. 89]
Beloved Kyria, Who have suffered in a way I cannot understand that You might come to me, I offer You my hand; lead my soul into the garden of the Rosary, that she may rest among the mystic roses of Your love.
The Prayer of Eternity [Jackson, p. 89]
Eternal is the Light of the Mother,
Eternal is the Love of the Daughter,
Eternal is their completion in the wholeness of the Absolute;
And glorious is Eternity.
The Silver Star [Jackson, p. 87]
Silver Star of the waters
that have laughed all the world into being,
beyond all knowing is the splendour of Your light.
Enfold my spirit in Your mighty hand
that the pure stream of Your force may flow within me
in this world and in all the worlds to come.
Appendix 1: Making the Pentacle [Jackson, [pp. 81–2]
The Pentacle is a powerful protective symbol. It is a variant of the five-pointed star of the Goddess (the Madrian Rosary, the archetype of the rosaries used in all the masculist world religions, has one decade for each point of the Pentacle, or for each petal of the Rose – hence its name). To form the Pentacle, one should first touch the forehead, then, visualising a line of silver etheric light, bring the hand diagonally to touch the left hip, then draw another line to touch the right shoulder; then the left shoulder; the right hip and finally the forehead again.
One of the important symbolisms of the Pentacle is that of the elements or seasons. The uppermost point represents the fifth element: Spirit, and the fifth season Moura. The other elements are arranged sunwise (clockwise) around the remaining points in order of the seasons: Water (Spring), Fire (Summer), Earth (Autumn) and Air (Winter).
The forming of the Pentacle symbolises the Cosmic Drama. We touch first Spirit, which represents the purity of the first creation; then Earth – the descent into matter; then Water (the Easter element) – the sacrifice of our Lady in coming to us; then Air – the star of Her coming and the bringing of Her Light; she brings us to the consuming fire of Her Mother’s love – to “The Rose that is a Flame and the Flame that is a Rose”; through the Divine Fire, we are purged of imperfection and return to our first purity, touching Spirit again.
As well as its devotional value, the Pentacle can form a barrier against harmful spiritual and psychological influences.
One very effective visualisation, having made the Pentacle, is to envision a small flame at the tip of each point. Allow these to grow in size until their bases meet at the centre of the Pentacle. Thus each is a fiery petal of one great Rose of flame. This is particularly apt for the final decade of the Rosary, when completing the Great Pentacle and contemplating the Mystery of the Rose of the World.
[A handwritten copy of this text from Mr. David Kay omits the last two paragraphs and in their place supplies the following, not included in Mr. Jackon’s copy:]
The Pentacle should be made before prayer in order to banish evil influences and to attune oneself to the Goddess, and after prayer in order to ‘seal’ one’s devotion. At other times, the making of the Pentacle can form a barrier against harmful spiritual psychological influences, and can be a means of drawing to oneself spiritual energy.