Archive for March 19th, 2007

I’ve got archetypes on the brain. First the Labyrinth. And now, Saint Teresa of Avila.

I’m thinking about her because Liz is sitting here researching subjects for a paper she has to write for her Psychology of Religion class. She’s digging into early 1900’s new agers: Carl Jung, William James (brother of the writer, Henry James), Marion Woodman, and Annie Besant, who was close friends with George Bernard Shaw, and Gandhi. Supposedly she was the first to call him Mahatma, Great Soul.

After hours of research, Liz ran into Entering the Castle: An Inner Path to God and Your Soul, the latest book from Caroline Myss, archetype queen. Her focus abruptly shifted.

“Did you know Caroline’s new book is about Teresa of Avila?” she asked. “Isn’t that the same mystic the writer you saw in Taos wrote about?” 

“Yeah, it is,” I said. “Mirabai Starr. I didn’t realize they had both written about Teresa.” 

Wordraw and I had stayed behind a day in Taos after the last retreat to hear Mirabai read from her new book, Teresa of Avila: The Book of My Life. The book was due to be released February 13th.

On February 10th, at the pre-book launch and benefit for SOMOS, the room at Mabel Dodge Luhan House where we had sat the week before in complete silence, had been transformed in 3 short hours to a crowded, way too hot, energetic bundle of Taosenos. They had all come out to support Mirabai.

 Over in the back left corner, I sat quietly near Sean Murphy, who was manning the video camera, and Tania Casselle, writers I met in Taos at my first workshop in 2001. I was among a group of 12 tired, road-weary writers who had just ended a year long retreat. We were either busting with pent up emotion or flagging with the numbness of no feeling at all. And who was the woman up front next to the stage wearing a wrap of bright orange?

Oh, it was Tessa. Mirabai Starr’s book has a forward written by Tessa Bielecki, an author who has been writing about Teresa of Avila, from what I can tell, since the 1970’s. Tessa took the podium first. She said Teresa’s favorite color was orange and she spoke about her likes and dislikes as if the Saint herself was standing there. Then Natalie introduced Mirabai who took the stage with wild applause. She is the first woman, and one of the only non-Catholics, to translate Saint Teresa’s memoir, The Interior Castle.

Until I heard Mirabai read from her book in a mesmerizing style that sounded like the channeled voice of the 16th century nun and mystic, I had no idea who Teresa of Avila was. Maybe this says more about me and my ignorance than anything else. And it’s surprising, since I’m big on mysticism as the core root of all religions.

But even though I know very little about the Saint and her history, I do find it thought provoking that the Caroline Myss book about Saint Teresa was released on March 6th, within 3 weeks of Mirabai’s. They had to have been up to their ears in Catholic Reformation mysticism at exactly the same time.

What’s going on with Teresa?

When Liz mentioned Caroline’s book on Saint Teresa, I was reminded of Wordraw’s blog piece, a writing practice from a few days ago, on Living a Double Life. Near the end, he was talking about Rilke, writing, and Saint Teresa: 

“Not tonight. Tonight I want to stay up, to read Rilke, swim in the life of Saint Teresa and write. And I want to wake up in the morning and sing to God, dash to work before the traffic on the bridge is deadening.”

His words took me back to the reception we attended in Mabel Dodge’s sitting room after Mirabai’s reading. It was crowded with people. I was hot and tired. Mirabai was signing books in the dead space of the Rainbow Room. Wordraw and I had to pack and catch the Twin Hearts shuttle back to the Albuquerque airport the next day, a venture that, depending on the driver, can sometimes be harrowing.

I decided to go back to the Ansel Adams room and shower. But Wordraw stood in the long line and bought Mirabai’s book. She signed it and chatted with him for a few minutes. He was beaming when he got back to the room.

A few weeks later, he is swimming in the life of Saint Teresa from his loft, Liz is researching whether or not she wants to plunge into the pool with Caroline Myss (who just jumped off the high dive), and Mirabai is probably somewhere in between Boulder and Chicago on tour. 

What’s going on with Teresa? She must be an archetype whose time has come.

Monday, March 19th, 2007

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