Intercession Deserves Its Own Verb Form

Northrop Frye on Sir James Frazer in Architects of Modern Thought: 12 talks for CBC Radio

A ritual, in magic, is done for practical purposes, to make the crops grow, to baffle enemies, to bring rain or sunshine or children. In religion, a ritual expresses certain beliefs and hopes and theories about supernatural beings. The practical results of magic don’t work out; religious beliefs disappear or change in the twilight of gods. But when deprived of both faith and works, the ritual becomes what it really is, something made by the imagination, and a potential work of art.

magic — religion — art

One wonders if Frye is tracing a trail here.

I ask because sometimes the confluence brings the aesthetic into the channel of the theistic.

Flipping through a cookbook, I came upon a page quoting an entire Vatican II song “Spirit of God” (words and music by Sister Miriam Therese Winter), words and tune that I remember from my childhood (“Spirit of God in the clear running water / Blowing to greatness the trees on the hill.”) What was this doing in the prefatory matter of a book with the title The Chinese Vegan Kitchen? The author Donna Klein supplies an answer

China is temple heaven. The sublime states of loving-kindness, compassion, balance, and harmony emanating from these pillars of Eastern wisdom and philosophy are woven into the fabric of everyday life in China — showing up in formal attire simply isn’t necessary to receive the gift of such bliss, only presence. Climbing into a landscape painting of Chinese tranquility can help.

China is open to Western religions as well. I attended services at Changsha’s Roman Catholic Church on a glorious Pentecost Sunday. In this Gothic-style structure with its rose petal-pink walls and arched midnight blue ceilings resembling starry skies, a breathtaking Madonna floats on a heavenly orb […] Received were the twelve fruits of the Holy Spirit, flowing in infinite abundance everywhere I went in China: kindness, joy, peace, patience, goodness, forbearance, gentleness, faith, modesty, self-control, purity, and love — always love. As I sat in the pew in stillness, blown away by the music, listening to a hymn familiar from my childhood but sung in Chinese, I surrendered to the sanctity of the spirit-filled moment — a clear connection to an endless wellspring of love and light. A foreigner, I never felt more at home in my life.

By opening the book, I have accidentally entered a temple.

ritual — temple — childhood

The practice of repeated gestures and words creates a space (from Latin templum ‘open or consecrated space’) through which to connect with the magic of childhood. The poet Robin Skelton in the introduction to Spellcraft places an epigraph from Sybil Leek at the outset: “Magic is a joyous exceptional experience which leads to a sense of well-being …” aka as childhood. Worth creating the verb “intercession” for.

And so for day 2790

This entry was posted in Poetry and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.