in soul pursuit

in soul pursuit

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Exploring the Sufi Mystical Tradition in the Contemporary World

Three Day Workshops from 10.30am to 4pm (£25 per workshop)

 With Sara Sviri


Wednesday 10th June 2015

at the Rose Window Hermitage, Kilburn, NW6 7XF

(Bookings – phone Julienne on 020 8 451 5255 or

Polarity and Oneness:

How to Live the Mysterium Coniunctionis?

The workshops on 10th and 12th June will hover around the paradox of living within the embrace of the mystery of oneness – a mystery that has bewildered for millennia the hearts and minds of seekers on the paths to the divine. At this workshop, we shall ponder the divine mystery as it reveals itself within us in life: in the fluctuating states and circumstances of our lives; in our unsteady moods vis-a-vis our unceasing longing; in the depth of our aloneness and in the lively association with others. The material for observation and discussion, which I shall present at these two workshops, will be based on the Sufi tradition.


Friday 12th June 2015

at the Rose Window Hermitage, Kilburn, NW67XF

(Bookings – phone Julienne on020 8 451 5255 or email

At the Edge of Knowledge:

The Meeting of the Two Seas.

At this second workshop, will shall look into the limitations and limits of our knowledge and understanding and how to transcend them: what can we say about the mystery of oneness in view of our attachment to our comfort zones, to the familiarity of our notions, feelings, values and belief systems, and to our behavioral patterns. Participants are encouraged to bring materials and observations from any tradition they are familiar with and inspired by and - most importantly - from their own experiences of search, longing, and bewilderment.


Saturday 13th June 2015

at the Association of Jungian Analysts, 7 Eton Avenue, NW3 3EL

(Bookings – phone Sandy on 0207 7948711 or

In Pursuit of the Shadow: Reading Sufi Texts with Jung in Mind

            One of the major problems of monotheistic religions has been how to reconcile God’s infinite goodness with the experiential awareness of the negative, not to say evil, aspects of existence. Struggling with the psychological and theological implications of this problem, Jung came by the understanding of the archetypal shadow. “The shadow”, he writes, “is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality” (Aion, CW 9ii, p. 8). Ideas concerning the ‘shadow’, the other side of the luminous aspect of God and Man, are prevalent also in the Sufi lore. Sufism has tirelessly searched for the mysterium conjunctionis, the ultimate union of the opposites within the divine mystery and the hearts of men and women. Union of opposites entails the union of good and evil, light and shadow. “When light moves into manifestation,” write the 13th-century mystic Ibn al-‘Arabi, “its shadow extends and inhabits the place from which light had separated.” In this day workshop, I shall try to pursue the topic of light and shadow in some Sufi texts. Not a Jungian scholar or analyst myself, I hope that this will open up a fertile discussion bringing together Islamic mystical perspectives with Jungian ones.


Prof. Sara Sviri


Since 2002, Sara Sviri has been affiliated as a distinguished visiting professor to the Department of Arabic and the Department of Comparative Religions at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her fields of study are Islamic mysticism (Sufism), mystical philosophy and psychology, comparative and phenomenological aspects of Islam, the formative period of Islamic mysticism, and related topics. Papers on these topics were published in many academic publications and can be viewed on Her book The Taste of Hidden Things: Images on the Sufi Path was published in 1997 in the USA. In 2008, Tel-Aviv University Press published Sara’s extensive Sufi Anthology in Hebrew. She is currently preparing an Arabic version of this anthology, as well as a monograph on Aspects of the Formative Period of Islamic Mysticism. In 2012, Sara retired from academic teaching and has since been engaged in lecturing and teaching Sufism outside of academiain Israel and elsewhere. Formerly, while residing in England, she was teaching at the Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at University College London and at the University of Oxford. She also spoke several times to the Guild of Pastoral Psychology as well as to the Analytical Psychology Club.


Mental Well Being : Listening with Compassion - St Mary's University 6th June 2015

Mental Well-Being: Listening with Compassion

6th June, 2015, St Mary’s University, Twickenham

The aim of the day is to bring people together to explore themes relating to mental health and spiritual life. It will provide a forum to explore responses to these areas for those engaged in ministry, service-users, practitioners, researchers and specialists in the field.


9.30 RegistrationWaldegraveDrawing Room

10 – 10.40 Introduction and First Speaker: Bishop Richard Moth: ‘EvangeliiGaudium: Compassion and Mercy in Mental Health’

10.40 – 11.00 Response from Sr Mairead Quigley

11.00 – 11.30 Coffee Senior Common Room

11.30  Group Listening led by Sr Mairead Quigley

12.30 – 1 Responses from Bishop Moth and SrMairead Quigley

1-2  Lunch Senior Common Room

2 – 3 Small group sessions led by Dr Trevor Stammers(Poetry and Compassion) Waldegrave Drawing Room, D121, room B13

3.10 – 3.50 Final Speaker: Prof Chris Cook ‘Mental Well-Being’ (Chair: Bishop Richard Moth)WaldegraveDrawing Room

3.50 – 4 Round up and Finish
 More information is to be found on and you can book on:

Carmelite Pilgrimage to Avila, September 2015

Dear All

There are several important events coming up and I thought I would put up details here. The first is the British Carmelite Pilgrimage to Avila that takes place this September. I attach all the information below. If you are interested please download the registration form and send to Annette Goulden as per the instructions.

Best wishes



Saturday, 4 April 2015

Ecce Vicit Leo! - Hail Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah! - Easter 2015

So we are led at last to the place where all liturgies dissolve, all pain transcended  and all negations cancelled. We are led at last to see all creation shining through the clear light of the Resurrection. For as the English war poet, Siegfried Sassoon, put it 'the singing will never be done':

'Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on--on--and out of sight.

Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away ... O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done....                     

Happy Easter Everyone!


Holy Saturday/Easter Sunday 2015 - The New Christian Martyrs of Kenya and the Middle East

As Christians across the world celebrated Holy Week this year the dark events unfolding in Kenya and the Middle East revealed how the Church, and the call to martyrdom, is ever ancient, ever new. Young people, so we are told, corralled and asked to profess their faith were then shot down in cold blood. On Thursday we celebrated the 'dance' of the 'holy twelve' as they accompanied Jesus to Gethsemane and the cross. It is sobering to think that almost all of the twelve met the same fate as those young men and women in Kenya. So, on this 'night of nights' as we journey into the deepest mysteries of faith we do so knowing that we are accompanied by these young people - the new shining lights - the new martyrs of Kenya.

Eternal Rest Grant Unto them O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.


I close with the Ancient Homily for Holy Saturday that encompasses the mystery in words better than I can write:

'What is happening? Today there is a great silence over the earth, a great silence, and stillness, a great silence because the King sleeps; the earth was in terror and was still, because God slept in the flesh and raised up those who were sleeping from the ages. God has died in the flesh, and the underworld has trembled.

Truly he goes to seek out Adam, our first parent, like a lost sheep. The Lord goes in holding his victorious weapon, the cross. When Adam, the first created human, sees him, he strikes his breast and in terror calls out to all: ‘My Lord be with you all.’ And Christ in reply says to Adam: ‘And with your spirit.’ And grasping his hand, he raises him up, saying: ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light.'

‘I am your God, who for your sake have become your son. Out of love for you and for your descendants I now by my own authority command all who are held in prison to come forth, all who are in darkness to be enlightened, all who are sleeping to arise. I order you, O sleeper, to awake. I did not create you to be held a prisoner in hell.

‘Rise from the dead, for I am the life of the dead. Arise, work of my hands; arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me, and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

‘For your sake I, your God, became your child; I, the Lord, took the form of a slave; I, whose home is above the heavens, descended to the earth and beneath the earth. For your sake, for the sake of all humanity, I became like you without help, free among the dead. For the sake of you, who left a garden, I was betrayed in a garden, and I was crucified in a garden.

‘See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you. See there the marks of the blows I received in order to refashion your warped nature in my image. On my back see the marks of the scourging I endured to remove the burden of sin that weighs upon your back. See my hands, nailed firmly to a tree, for you who once wickedly stretched out your hand to a tree.

‘I slept on a cross and a sword pierced my side for you who slept in paradise and brought forth Eve from your side. My side has healed the pain in yours. My sleep will rouse you from your sleep in hell. The sword that pierced me has sheathed the sword that was turned against you.

‘Rise, then, let us go hence! The enemy led you out of the earthly paradise. I will not restore you to that paradise, but I will enthrone you in heaven. I forbade you the tree that was only a symbol of life, but see, I who am life itself am now one with you. I appointed cherubim to guard you as slaves are guarded, but now I make them worship you as God.

The cherubim throne has been prepared, the bearers are ready and waiting, the bridal chamber is in order, the food is provided, the everlasting houses and rooms are in readiness, the treasures of good things have been opened; the kingdom of heaven has been prepared before the ages...’

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Maundy Thursday - The Hymn of Jesus - Divine Grace is Dancing

John 13:3-15

3. Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God,
4: rose from supper, laid aside his garments, and girded himself with a towel.
5: Then he poured water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which he was girded.
6: He came to Simon Peter; and Peter said to him, "Lord, do you wash my feet?"
7: Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not know now, but afterward you will understand."
8: Peter said to him, "You shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no part in me."
9: Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!"
10: Jesus said to him, "He who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but he is clean all over; and you are clean, but not every one of you."
11: For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, "You are not all clean."
12: When he had washed their feet, and taken his garments, and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you know what I have done to you?
13: You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am.
14: If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.
15: For I have given you an example that you also should do as I have done to you.

Tonight we celebrate that remarkable moment when Christ called his disciples together for their last meal before the gruesome events of Good Friday. What a night! As demonstrated by Pope Francis last year (and this year too), it is a time when traditional power is laid aside and the ruler of all becomes the servant of all. In setting this scene to music the visionary English composer, Gustav Holst (1874 - 1934) chose two contrasting verses for his 'Hymn of Jesus' (link below):

The first is the ancient Latin hymn, 'Vexilla Regis', which is traditionally used at the beginning of Holy Week to initiate the mysteries:

Vexilla regis prodeunt,
fulget crucis mysterium,
quo carne carnis conditor
suspensus est patibulo.
The banners of the king issue forth,
the mystery of the cross does gleam,
where the creator of flesh, in the flesh,
by the cross-bar is hung.

Holst loved this plainchant, and on the recording you can hear it in counterpoint with his other great love: dance and rhythm. What he produces in the work is a remarkable juxtaposition of the sacred measure of the hymn with the Gnostic text from the apocryphal Acts of John describing Christ leading the disciples in the Last Supper out into Gethsemane with a dance:

'How I long to be known -
Divine Grace is dancing - fain would I pipe for you!
All join in the dance!
The Heavenly Spheres dance!
The Holy Twelve dance with us -
All things join in the dance!
You who dance not, know not what we are knowing...

I have no resting place - I have the earth.
I have no Temple - I have Heaven.
To you who knock, a door am I.
Give heed unto my dancing...

Give heed to my dancing -
And beholding what I do keep silence onto my mysteries.'

The notion of the mysteries as a 'divine dance' is of course a constant in Neo-Platonic and Gnostic texts (as well of course in most of the great world religions). In the Enneads 6.9.8, Plotinus describes the choreography of the contemplative life as being rather like a ‘choral dance’. The natural movement of the soul ‘is in circle around something, something not outside but a centre, and the centre is that from which the circle derives.’ At times we see the One and are caught up in its ecstasy, at other times we move around the circle and the vision is obscured: ‘We are always around it but do not always look at it; it is a like a choral dance: in the order of the singing the choir keeps round its conductor but may sometimes turn away, so that he is out of sight, but let it but face aright and it will sing with beauty... when we do but turn to him then our term is attained; this is rest, this is the end of discordance,  we truly dance our god-inspired dance around him.’
So on this sacred night we dance around the imago of Christ - the divine dance around which all creation moves. A divine dance that contains all - even the suffering and heartbreak of our existence.
Happy Maundy Thursday!