Jesus and Danu: My Personal Presences of Divinity

The Road to Emmaus  by Daniel Bonnell

The Road to Emmaus by Daniel Bonnell

Opening to your Spiritual Guides Part 2

I have to admit, when I first read Paul Smith talking about spiritual guides, I was a little put off. My spirituality had become a little too sophisticated for something so New Age-y as that. Ok maybe Jesus. I mean, sure I had a relationship with him early on in my faith, and if I was honest with myself, I still often felt his presence—when I happened to think about him being with me. Or was that just my imagination? And that “personal relationship” buddy Jesus stuff, wasn’t that all a little, immature?  

In the course of evolving forward, we all need to go through processes of differentiating and integrating, of transcending and including. As I disentangled myself from a limited, narrow evangelicalism, I was left with many triggers and scars. Many of them still remain, but I was fortunate enough to also have had some pretty powerful experiences of God that always stayed with me. Navigating through what was real and what wasn’t was a difficult task, especially without knowing where to find guidance. Many people end up throwing everything out, and for many of them that may be the best thing to do, at least for awhile. 

Fortunately for me, I didn’t get stuck in my reactionary stage of overly modern/postmodern differentiation. I discovered a deeper invitation to integrate, to include a lot of the beautiful things that were once lost. The Integral perspective gave me the clarity I had lacked, and the Three Faces of God integrated it all in such a transformative, liberating way.

Emmaus  by Angelica Sotiriou

Emmaus by Angelica Sotiriou

A Personal God, Still 

Traditional level Christian faith generally has a personal God in Jesus, but far too often that Jesus is interpreted at (and limited by) the perspective of that stage level. It’s why we see so many images of “White Jesus,” or occasionally Jesus carrying a gun or whatever else it is that “my” tribe believes. Intermixed with the healthy and necessary personal connection to the divine are the various tribal identity markers that so define these stage of faith expressions.

Modern and Postmodern expressions of Christian spirituality often tend to look at the traditional level and conflate those two things together—the personal Jesus and the tribal Jesus. So do many who outgrow traditional level Christianity, and so Jesus is thrown out with the bathwater. At least experiencing his personal presence usually is.

So great is our need to expand our concept of God into a cosmic Christ big enough for our minds. So great is our need to recognize an inner reality of God us enough for our deepest gut identity. And at the same time, there is also the need to retain or perhaps discover the intimate God close enough for our heart. This is the Three Faces of God. The beautiful thing is that we get to, and need to have all three.

In the modern stage of Christianity, the 3rd person face of God is usually the only accepted form. In healthy expressions of the postmodern stage, the 1st person face of God is integrated. In the integral stage, we are able to reintegrate, to include a healthy and more evolved expression of the 2nd person face of God. That includes Jesus, and more.

Jesus Wept by Daniel Bonnell

Jesus Wept by Daniel Bonnell

Welcoming an Old Friend

Discovering the Three Faces of God freed my mind to overcome the barriers that I still held in place from my differentiation stages. I didn’t believe in a solely modern, materialist universe; I knew that the world was mystical and spiritual. So why shouldn’t there be spirit presences with us? Maybe all those indigenous traditions speaking about spirit guides actually knew something we “advanced civilizations” don’t.  

The field of transpersonal psychology is also helping the modern mind find legitimization for subtle realm metaphysical realities that people and cultures have been experiencing for ages. (For example or further study, see Participation and Mystery by Jorge Ferrer in our book resources section.)

What’s more, my own tradition affirmed the presence of spirit guides and the presence of the Living Jesus appearing often in spirit form. It’s all over the Bible and the historical writings and accounts of mystics throughout the centuries. I simply needed to remove my modern materialist lenses along with my traditional level exceptionalism for Jesus. If Jesus had spirit guides, as was revealed at the transfiguration, why couldn’t we?

I started with Jesus. I hadn’t exactly left him entirely—and he had never left me. I actually had a faint sense of his presence all throughout my journey, even it was almost unconscious most of the time. But I hadn’t allowed myself to accept, to believe in a personal spirit presence who was with me at all times. Opening myself up once again to sensing Jesus’ presence was like being welcomed by an old friend I hadn’t seen in many years. And what’s more, now I didn’t just imagine his presence within me, but I started to actually sense his spiritual energy field behind me and later overlapping my own field.

Danu, Celtic Mother Goddess  by Judith Shaw

Danu, Celtic Mother Goddess by Judith Shaw

And a New Friend 

I’d been open to receiving new guides for a little while. I tried to invite one which led to a faint sense of presence, but nothing too palpable. Then, right around the time of the birth of my daughter, a powerful feminine presence just rushed upon me. It was honestly a little disorienting. She pulled me from my interior space I had been residing in and into a very different one.

When I described the experience and presence to my wife, she said, “That sounds like Danu.” Not being as well versed in Celtic mythology as her, I had no idea who she was talking about. In a world with google, mystery can be a little less mysterious. I found this image and immediately recognized her. I also learned that her name means, “the Flowing One” and actually not too much is known about her. Mystery after all. She is the mother goddess, often associated with rivers, fertility, and wisdom. She is a guiding presence, and I feel her hand on my right cheek. She is often portrayed with a triskele, which has become an important symbol for me.

Why Danu? Why a Celtic goddess? Why not someone a little more Christian? Someone I was more familiar with. I have some intuitions about why it has been her, but I’m still learning. While we often are drawn to guides we have studied or know something about, sometimes we need a presence who is free of associations and emotional/spiritual baggage. It may not be quite as “orthodox,” but that’s sometimes how it goes with evolving faith.

And I don’t need to know why. The experience of the presence of a guide is not one of rational, cognitive knowing. It is visionary, and is often felt with the heart and the body.

I feel her hand on my cheek. I turn to her. What do you want to say?

“There are entire worlds to discover. Come, let yourself see. We are simply waiting for you.”

Transfiguration  by Jaison Cianelli

Transfiguration by Jaison Cianelli