Thu, Nov 28, 2013 - Page 11 News List

Book review: Radical Passion: Sacred Love and Wisdom in Action

Andrew Harvey argues that wisdom of the ‘Sacred Feminine’ can solve crises of the modern world

By Bradley Winterton  /  Contributing reporter

As for mother goddesses, some that Harvey cites are the Virgin Mary, (though he believes she wasn’t an actual virgin), together with Europe’s Black Madonnas, the ancient Egyptian Isis, the many Hindu manifestations of the divine feminine, violent and cruel though some of them seem, the Roman mother-goddess Cybele, the pre-Christian matriarchal religions of Europe, and New World shamanistic traditions. The restoration of these may be reminiscent of 1960s longings, but Harvey isn’t one to be held back by such trivialities.

It mustn’t be thought that Harvey is only interested in Oriental religions. The recovery of “the full range, power and glory of the Christian mystical tradition” is vital too, he writes.

And the truth is that Harvey teaches many things.

At one point, in an illuminating interview with poet and novelist Rose Solari, he says that what the great teachers — Jesus, Buddha — have tried to tell us is that each of us is divine, but that we’ve responded by making religions out of the teachers themselves. As a result, Harvey isn’t a Christian or a Buddhist or a Sufi or even a Hindu, but an enthusiast for the great mystics from all these traditions. They have, as Aldous Huxley observed long ago in his The Perennial Philosophy, far more in common than the superficial differences that keep them apart.

Later in the interview Harvey outlines the horrors of the modern world — its pollution, its trivializing media, its self-serving politicians, the condition of the world’s poor, and the devastation of nature. He concludes that what is needed is for everyone who cares about the future of the earth to come out onto the streets and “say no to pollution, no to the proliferation of nuclear arms, no to the destruction of the earth.”

But because patriarchy, rationalism, fear and guilt have in large part created this situation, the birth of a spiritual consciousness of the Sacred Feminine is what will lead people into this form of action.

Harvey is no solemn preacher, but a lively, witty and often funny commentator. There’s an excellent hour-long interview with him on YouTube titled “The Death and the Birth,” uploaded by conscioustv, that will more than prove this point.

“One world is clearly dying in agony around us,” Harvey writes. “Another is trying to rise, phoenix-like, from its ashes.”

Whether environmentalists marching under the banner of a mother goddess will ever come about might be debatable. But it’s hard not to hope that something like the regeneration Harvey stands for will have an increasing public presence as our doom-laden century progresses.

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