I do not like blogging about my own spiritual experiences; partly from reticence and partly because spiritual guidance is designed for the benefit of the recipient not as general teaching.
Furthermore, each experience of personal miracles, or of the guidance of the Holy Ghost, has been so different in its specifics; that the major lesson for me has been that there is no method for such matters.
(Indeed, to teach or assume generic methods for the Christian life, or to convert personal mystical experiences into advice, seem likely to do more harm than good.)
On the other hand; it may somewhat encouraging for other people to know that a long-term and deep personal question for which I sought a response for some years did, in the end, receive an answer - albeit slowly and by a very indirect and not-replicable route.
I am not going to discuss the answer I was given; but I will describe something of the strange and unexpected way that an answer was communicated to me - in such a way that the process got past my fundamental misunderstandings and false pre-conceptions, and convinced me intuitively of its validity.
I have often observed that when a question does not get an answer from divine sources; this is almost always because the question is ill-formed, and contains fundamentally wrong assumptions. These are why God cannot answer us - despite His vast resources.
Furthermore; we are (nearly always) looking for the wrong kind of answer - and often something which is self-gratifying, or perhaps fits with false ideas of our own nature and destiny.
This may explain why I was not able to get an answer of value or validity to the question oft what I ought to be doing in my life. I had too many fantasies and day-dreams that blocked my understanding.
So, God's problem, in trying to help me, was to work past a great mass of such preconceptions, false understandings, wrong notions of the kind of thing I sought; and the tendency to ignore the true answer if given me straightforwardly, because the simple truth 'wasn't what I wanted to hear'...
The only positive thing I was able to do to assist the process was to maintain my intent to find an answer over a period of years. I didn't give up.
Admittedly I wasted considerable time, money and effort on dozens of false leads; but I kept plugging away - and followed hunches.
What proved essential in the end; I let myself pursue lines of enquiry that had some kind of here-and-now interest to me; even when these appeared 'rationally' to be dead-ends, or trivial.
Thus I have recently been re-reading around the subject of Christian 'ceremonial magic' - in particular the books of Gareth Knight and Dion Fortune, who I regard as admirable people. But I had already read these authors in the past couple of years, and had become clear in my mind that such a ritual and symbol, organized, approach to Christian living was now obsolete: it simply does not work anymore.
I have also been re-reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, and focused on the episode when Childermass uses his 'Cards of Marseilles' (i.e. Tarot cards) to tell the fortune of Vinculus, and later to discern dishonesty and theft by Lascelles.
Such reading led me to re-watch some DVDs of a nostalgic children's TV series from the early 1970s called Ace of Wands; which featured the hero 'Tarot' - a professional stage magician who also had some psychic powers such as telepathy, remote visualization and telekinesis.
Having enjoyed this; I then got-out my Rider-Waite Tarot Card pack, which had featured in the TV programme; and looked-through some of its pictures.
Having replaced the cards, I absent-mindedly attempted to place it on a table; when the pack accidentally fell to the ground, and two cards jumped-out - and lay face down on the floor.
It then came to my mind that these two cards would answer my question about what to do in my life.
I immediately thought that this was stupid, because (no matter how valid the process) I would always read-into the cards whatever answer I wanted: in other words, I would fool myself, and therefore the exercise would be useless.
I don't believe in fortune telling; I don't believe that divination works (nowadays - although it did work in ancient times - up to the early years of the Roman Empire); and I certainly was not seeking 'guidance from the cards'.
Nonetheless, I picked-up the cards one by one; and immediately recognized that the first card depicted myself and my condition: not as I fondly imagined myself, but as I actually was.
This came as a shock, and I turned over the second card with some curiosity.
The second card was one of the Greater Trumps, and I did not know its (supposed) meaning; so I looked it up in the leaflet provided - all the while thinking that it would be futile, because the descriptions are (like newspaper horoscopes) always so vague and ambiguous that they cannot possibly be sufficiently specific to serve as clear guidance for life...
I read the sentence describing what the card meant, then - after a couple of seconds of dawning recognition - I realized that this was exactly the answer I needed and it was true.
The generic phrases each and all had specific relevance to my condition.
The answer was obvious, banal, simple - and it was clearly the truth; yet I had missed it and missed it, for a very long time.
I had to be set-up for this knowledge, in the right frame of mind and expectation; and I had to be surprised by the answer.
What I think can be learned from the above is that if we persist in seeking an answer to an important question; then God can and will find a way to get that answer to us; and will prepare us to receive that answer.
And God can do this even when we are (as I was) asking almost exactly the opposite question to the one we needed to ask; and when the mind is clouded and confused by innumerable wrong notions and hopes.
Therefore; don't give up, and be prepared to follow where inner promptings indicate - even when these are pointing in apparently trivial or useless directions.
And I think it is worthwhile to recall that the answer will be personal, very exactly tailored to you as an individual and your circumstances.
Also; the method by which God works to deliver the answer will be... Whatever does the job - and that method, too, will be one-off, unique - hence completely unpredictable.
Which is exactly what is necessary.
Thank you for sharing this, Bruce. It is indeed encouraging!
I had a moment of divine prescience as a young boy. I was raised in a conservative household and knew all about the Iron Curtain, Vietnam, and was reading Andrew van der Bijl and even The Gulag Archipelago from a young age. I distinctly remember a vision of the Fire Nation's citizens overthrowing atheistic communism.
There were at least three instances in my life when, due to foolish actions on my part, I should have died by accident but did not.
"I don't believe that divination works (nowadays - although it did work in ancient times - up to the early years of the Roman Empire)"
Reading this line gave me a serious 'Wait, what???' moment.
Could you explain this?? Why exactly did divination work then but now doesn't??
What is special about the Roman Empire period that marks this transition??? Is the Roman times a reference to the coming of Christ? OR the Holy Spirit??
I always understood that God, and the Holy Spirit were present before Christ's appearance of earth (as after), so I'm not clear how this would be important IF that is part of the understanding.
Anyway I was rather struck by the certainty with which you stated this ususual observation.
@c1 - I became convinced of this by the work of Jeremy Naydler, referenced here: https://charltonteaching.blogspot.com/2016/08/true-intuition-divination-and-final.html
The reason is the evolutionary development of consciousness (in The West), as described by Rudolf Steiner than more clearly by Owen Barfield. In ancient tribal societies, there was no need for specific techniques of divination because Men lived immersed in the supernatural world.
In the intermediate agrarian societies, consciousness began to detach from the divine and the spirit (Men became more materialistic) but particular adept, expert, trained people could still do simple divination with the help of technologies. The Ancient Greeks had no doubt that divination worked, the Romans began with confidence, but over the centuries reported that it became less effective and ceased to work.
Since then, and especially since the industrial revolution; divination has waned and waned; the effectiveness of divination has been regarded as sporadic and uncertain, and it has seldom been confidently regarded as an explicit instrument of public policy.
Even through the twentieth century there was a significant reduction in the confidence in divination, even in those sub-groups who continued to practice it.
By now; our consciousness is too cut-off from spontaneous immersion in the spiritual world for divination to break the barrier - except maybe by impairing consciousness, but use of drugs, and other manipulations of consciousness open the mind to false information and also impair understanding and memory.
-If God shapes creation by employing beings, and if beings need to be in relationship in order to influence each other in some unconventional way, then it could be that the decline in genuine belief in God, Jesus, human spirits, resurrected incarnates, other spirits, is cutting off communications (as well as other shapings) that could be built into creation that'd constitute everyday 'divination'.
-Praying would be actually 'physically' opening up God's ability to bear on you, praying for a rose would be making it possible for St Therese to send you one etc.
-Formalised divination might be useful because easy to read, but communications could be built into anything.
-Life is better understood as a story that's being shaped for each individual by various beings employed by God. Every moment, you're at a point on a path with content behind you that's built up to this moment, and content ahead ready to be shaped. People aren't really in 'environments', more like 'settings'. Divination isn't like an experiment in a lab (labs themselves actually being settings in stories) because it functions (like everything) as part of a divine plan. Dynamic and purposeful (for God-intended learning) not static and freely manipulable by a single being.
-If creation is being thoroughly shaped all the time from the bottom-up by God and assisting beings, then communications can be understood as being merely those shapings that are being noticed, but those shapings are existing among endless shapings that are having effects (like communications are having effects) but those effects are usually going unnoticed.
@Ben - Such a great comment!! You touch on something I've felt from intuition for years now, especially in these two lines from your beginning paragraphs:
"then it could be that the decline in genuine belief in God, Jesus, human spirits, resurrected incarnates, other spirits, is cutting off communications"
"-Praying would be actually 'physically' opening up God's ability to bear on you, praying for a rose would be making it possible for St Therese to send you one etc."
It's my feeling that our 'Belief' is (or has become) a necessary component not only to divine "communications", but also 'empowerment' of heavenly 'forces' in the world.
It seems to me that the demonic 'powers' not only fuel Atheism for this reason, but also (over the last 20 or so years) have been working to 'censor' (so to speak) reports of supernatural/paranormal experiences.
Because, if people believe anything 'other than' a strictly material world view - even just ESP or intuition for that matter - it might lead to opening the mind toward belief in God.
You know, there used to be a time when almost any media source might report on some person's experience of receiving help during an emergency and being certain afterward that the 'helper' had been an angel....
....but stories like that have become much rarer, and even when you see them, the accounts are usually several years old.
This speaks to the fact that even self-professed 'Christians' these days, don't seem to truly 'Believe' in anything 'supernatural' (I think it was C.S. Lewis who equated the word "Supernatural" with the spiritual/God)
Anyway, I think you've made a really important point re: God may 'need' our 'Belief'/prayers in order to be 'enabled to intervene' in this world.
And thus, perhaps it follows that 'Magic' no longer works, because it's no longer 'believed' to work...?
It seems to me that the lessening of divination/oracles in the Roman world coincided with the rise of Christianity. The forceful destruction of pagan temples, rites, beliefs, artworks of all kinds resulted in any divination becoming not only illegal but punishable as a crime. Divination can still be helpful today but you must work at it and pay attention to the message. Moderns today are too much in a hurry due to materialistic lifestyles and general oppression of subjective experiences as being "true".
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