Cosmogeny of an Animistic Mystic

Illustration by Sarah Anne Lawless

A mystic is “a person who believes in the possibility of attaining insight into mysteries transcending ordinary human knowledge by direct communication with the divine or immediate intuition in a state of spiritual ecstasy” (source).

as an animist I believe everything in the Universe possesses souls and is sentient. I believe the Universe itself is a massive sentient being and all within it are pieces of this great being just as our bodies are composed of individual organs, systems, bacteria, and parts, each distinctive from the other, but working in united harmony for the body they compose.  Like ancient animists before me, I believe this creator-being is too great and too distant for us to directly commune with just as our liver cannot talk to us directly. But there are intermediaries to help us tap into the greater ebb and flow of the Universe just as our organs can send signals to our brains that something is either wrong or alternatively good. For us here on planet Earth, the intermediaries include the Sun, the Moon, the more distant stars, and the much closer plants and animals all around us. I believe these entities are divided further into great spirits some call gods who have their own distinct personalities within their cultural contexts. Animism, monism, and polytheism do not conflict within my syncretism.

I believe time is non linear and so the universe is being born and being destroyed simultaneously and therefore can never actually die. I believe the Earth has been created and destroyed already, over and over again. I see this as truth before my eyes reflected here on Earth in the death and rebirth of spring each year, the ancient Yew trees which are simultaneously the oldest and youngest trees at all times due to their growth habits, and in the never-ending cycle of the death and birth of animals and mortals. Because I see it with my eyes I have no trouble believing in rebirth and reincarnation of our souls whether as a new person or as a part of the Earth or back to the star dust we are all made from.

I believe all has three souls for when the feminine and the masculine are combined they create a third form in their balance – the whole. The Earth is one, and two, and tripartite. The Gaels called them the Three:

The Three who are over me,
The Three who are under me,
The Three who are over me here,
The Three who are over me yonder,
The Three who are in the earth,
The Three who are in the air,
The Three who are in the heavens,
The Three who are in the great pouring sea.

The mystery of the Three and the Two and the One can also be found in the Emerald Tablet. It is a key to the initiation of the mystic. Here is Madame Blavatsky’s translation:

What is below is like that which is above, and what is above is similar to that which is below to accomplish the wonders of the one thing. As all things were produced by the mediation of one being, so all things were produced from this one by adaption. Its father is the sun, its mother the moon. It is the cause of all perfection throughout the whole earth. Its power is perfect if it is changed into earth.

Separate the earth from the fire, the subtile from the gross, acting prudently and with judgement. Ascend with the greatest sagacity from earth to heaven, and unite together the power of things inferior and superior; thus you will possess the light of the whole world, and all obscurity will fly away from you. This thing has more fortitude than fortitude itself, because it will overcome every subtile thing and penetrate every solid thing. By it the world was formed.

The Moon – The Lower World (Water)

The Moon is a symbol of the subconscious –your soul-fetch. It is the part of your soul that travels separated from your body shapeshifting between forms. It dwells in the womb or the belly. It is conscious in your dreams and asleep when you are awake as the moon shines brightly at night but disappears or is dulled during the day just as the spirits of the dead rise each night after the setting of the sun and return to their graves at its rising. Your soul-fetch is the primal, animalistic, and most deeply intuitive part of yourself. It is feminine, but not female. It is directly linked to your ancestors and carries foreword their knowledge to you. The ancestors were worshipped in Pagan Europe as the source of all fertility and to them the sea was the realm of the dead and the source of all life. They saw the effect the moon had on the tides of the seas and tides of women (of blood and birth) and so the Moon and salt and fresh waters too are linked with fertility and the dead. The cool small death that is night allows the Earth to rest under the glow of the moon so that the greenmantle doesn’t burn up and die under the rays of the sun.

The moon moves to the left across the sky. In old European superstitions left and West are considered to be feminine and unlucky (although the unlucky part comes from after Christianization). They represent the unknown within ourselves and the unknown within the deep waters of Earth and vastness of space. The west is where the Sun must go to die each night. Widdershins is moonwise. To spin thread, to dance, and to cast the sacred space to the left is to work in harmony with the moon. To perform your sacred rites moonwise is to go deep within yourself to commune with your soul-fetch or to journey to the gates of the underworld itself. Some ancients believed the moon was the underworld. It is the Island of the Dead beneath the sea that is space. Its gatekeepers hold the name “Shining White” after the celestial body they guard.

The Moon rules the night and the night is for shapeshifting, hedgecrossing, necromancy, gathering plants sacred to the Moon, and for communing with the spirits of the waters and the Earth’s nocturnal creatures.

The Sun – The Upper World (Sky & Fire)

Our Sun is but one of billions of stars in the known Universe. The Sun moves to the right across the sky and is reborn each morning from the East. The Sun is found in your Godself. Some call this part of your soul the Holy Guardian Angel, Jung called it your superconscious, and the Catholics call it the Holy Ghost. Modern witchcraft practitioners may be more familiar with the terms Cunning Fire, Awen, Óðr, or Yeats’ “Fire in the Head”. This is the part of your soul that is linked directly to the divine. It dwells at the crown of your head or where the top of your spine meets your skull. It is the flame between the horns of the Black Goat , the fire in the hearth and forge, the molten rock in the belly of the Earth, and the starlight shining down upon us at night.

The part of your soul associated with the sun is the fire of star dust running through the blood in your veins causing your body to glow at a level the human eye cannot see. Everything on Earth glows. Everything in the Universe is composed of ancient star dust from the endless explosions and deaths of stars since the Universe began. We all carry a piece of this light, this flame, this divinity within us. We are not Gods, but we are their children. We commune with this part of our soul through spiritual and ritual ecstasy whether it be triggered through dance, music, mead, wine, or external stimuli.

To perform rites sunwise (clockwise) is to work in harmony with the Sun and the Stars for sunwise is also starwise. Sunwise is the way of healing, blessing, and protecting, but it is also the way of the warrior and can call upon the destructive powers of fire and frenzy. Madness doesn’t only lurk in the darkness of the moon, it also hides within the ecstasy from the Serpent’s fire.

The Earth – The Middle World (Earth)

The Earth is reflected in the part of our soul that is the conscious mind. It is us when we are awake walking upon the Earth in our day-to-day lives — smelling, seeing, tasting, and sensing the world around us. It is easy to think this is the only part of us and the mundane is all there is and Middle Earth is the centre of the Universe. We have not changed our patterns of thought and behaviour so much in the passing centuries. Your conscious self is the part of you that is here to truly live and experience all the joys and pains of life. Those moments when you feel your heart might burst from joy feed your souls. The more you truly live your life and spend your time on things and people who bring you joy, the more your soul will fill to bursting with light. Dance, sing, drum, run, laugh, love, make love, chase your dreams… it is all as important as breathing. This is the part of your soul that is not reborn. Your conscious waking hours are memories you will not carry forward. When we call up the ancestors it is this part of them we speak to.

The Earth rotates on its own axis. It rotates widdershins. It also orbits the Sun widdershins and so counter-clockwise is not just moonwise, but also earthwise. Which follows the other, the Earth or the Moon? They rotate in synchronous harmony as one. Widdershins is not evil, or negative, or unlucky. It is magic. It is of the deep cold sea and the dark soil. For many cultures, in the New and Old World, thread handspun counter-clockwise was the only kind of thread that could protect from illness and harm as well as confer blessings and luck. How many stories does one hear from Europe of witches dancing widdershins around a tree or on a hill? It’s not the devil they’re calling up, it’s the powers of Earth and of the Moon.

The Earth is a perfect balance of the masculinity of the Sun with its warmth and light and the femininity of the Moon with its cool darkness. All genders are found on Earth in the plants and trees, the insects, the animals, and in us. The Earth is always split in two; the light half facing the Sun in spring and summer (the young fecund lovers) and the dark half of the Earth facing away from the Sun in autumn and winter (the crone and old man with a cane). This is reflected in myth in the faces of Brighid, Nicneven, Hulda, and Hela. Half her face is young and beautiful and the other the decaying corpse of an old woman. The changing of the fairy court is the changing of the seasons, the changing of rule from young to old gods, and the changing of rule from spirits of living plants and animals to the spirits of the dead. Our nomadic ancestors moved with these changes and sometimes their spirits can still be seen or heard at the solstices and equinoxes on their fairy rades.

The Earth is like the Yew tree; both ancient and newly born at the same time. As it rots from the inside out new suckers are always growing and so the tree may never truly die. The Earth is the World Tree. It is the ladder to the stars and an intermediary between us and the Universe. We are the Tree’s fruit. Why the metaphor of a tree? A tree’s branches reach high up into the air holding up the sky and the roots reach deep into the soil holding the world together. Many trees are hermaphrodites or can change sexes. They are neither feminine nor masculine, but both in harmony as with the Earth. We mortals too are neither masculine or feminine, but both. Many of us resist the harmony and cause damage to our souls. Within these truths lie the secrets of Luciferianism, of Alchemy, and of the great mysteries. The child of Diana (the Moon) and Lucifer (the Sun) is the Earth, is us. Solve the riddle of the Emerald Tablet and you will eat of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Everything in the Universe, Good and Evil as well as the fruit of the Tree of Life.

The Stars (Shining Spirits of the Land Beneath the Sea)

Oh the Stars! How beautifully do the hearts of the galaxies shine! They are cities of souls –heroes and great spirits who reach apotheosis in the heavens. Some are friendly towards us tiny mortals and others are cold, distant, and alien. Some can travel among them and to them.  When I see a starry sky at night, untouched by light pollution from the cities, something incredible happens to me. The whole sky filled with innumerable stars pulse down at me like billions of soundless heartbeats together as one. My skin is turned inside out and for a moment the Stars are all inside of me and I am the skin of the Universe encasing them in. It feels like an intense orgasm – a rapture of light inside me. As fast as it happens, it is over. I’m back in my body staring at the Stars.

The Stars are great teachers of knowledge and wisdom. They know much of time as do the planets. So many ancient cities are named after the Stars and there are many myths across the world of people from the Stars visiting the people of Earth. Fly to the Stars if you can and discover the mysteries of souls and of the Universe.

In Conclusion

This is what I believe, what I know. It is pieces of what my mystic teacher taught me, what the dead told me, what the gods told me, and what I read in myths and fairy tales. This is one way, not the way. I am a syncretist, a monist, an animist, and accepting of polytheism. Do you know what you believe? Are they your own truths or someone else’s? Light the flame within your lantern, walk your path and find out.

Author Sarah

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Join the discussion 21 Comments

  • A very beautiful cosmogenic and mystical reflection! I’m constantly inspired by and in awe of how you weave words and experiences. The other day I was talking with a friend about my praxis and used a very similar analogy to your discussion about intermediaries – specifically how the parts of the body relate to one another as individuals and as wholes.

    Keep writing! You’re an amazing inspiration.

  • RavenandRose says:

    Wow, I absolutely LOVE this illustration, Sarah! You are a mystic and a poet and an artist of wisdom. Inspiring!

  • Rose says:

    So … when’s the book coming out? 😉

    This is mostly how I feel put in words. Very nice 😀 The only other thing I add into it is the relationship of the moon to the earth. It is said now that if it weren’t for the gravitational tug of the moon the earth’s tilt would be constantly changing and life as we know it wouldn’t exist. The moon, She gives us the regular seasons, by keeping the earth’s tilt in check. Without Her, we wouldn’t have the Wheel of the Year.


    • And could you imagine if there were no tides! So many little things that together allow life to exist on our little planet – so many there’s no way they could be coicindences…

      My problem is I want to write too many books! I need to pick one and just finish it!

  • Zirna says:

    Thanks for this post, I know you get this a lot (I have been lurking for a little while) but it seems like just the answer that I have been looking for to my quandary of how to reconcile my rational mind and spiritual soul. After a very bad few days, this was a call to reawakening. There is something to be said for a path of rational knowledge rooted in reason and experimantal fact, but that is just one facet of these great kosmos that we inhabit. There are other “things” waiting just out of our mortal sight that are just as valuable but require a different skill set to acknowledge. These different facets bear no value of one over another but can quietly exist beside one another to grant a person a more complete view of the beauty around them. Thank you for reminding me of that.

    Oh yes and I love the blog, you are a wonderful teacher and there is always beautiful insight to be found in this little corner of the internet ether.

  • Pombagira says:

    ok weirdish question from teh southern hemisphear..

    so i have been trying to get my head around moonwise.. and am left wondering if the moon is in a somewhat different position in the sky from that of the southern hemisphere, as the sun in. here in the southern hemisphere we cast our circles sunwise.. which for us is East, then North, because that is the path of the sun. so to this happens with the journey of the moon, it rises in the East and heads in a north direction pretty much taking a similar the path that the sun dose when it treks acorss out skys.

    so my question is for you in the northern hemisphere.. where does the moon track after it has risen in the east? does is go northish like here in in the SH or dose it goes South, cause for some odd reason in my mind and after trying to understand astronomical pictures and graphs,, i suspect that it tracks north?

    hmmm.. *pondering much again*


    • I think the moon’s path looks different depending on where you live on the globe. As seen from space the moon orbits counter-clockwise. From where I live on the West coast of N. America the moon appears to rise from the West and moves East but also North as it gets higher up in the sky – I have to face South to see it, so from that direction it does look like the moon is moving left and up.

      • Pombagira says:

        hmmm.. *ponders this*.. that is quite interesting.. always happy to learn about how stuff, moon sun etc looks from a different hemisphear.. i find it difficult often to put the words into pictures, thus my head explodes a tad but it gets better.. *grins*

        thank you it this has helped..


      • Pombagira says:

        errmm.. also you sure teh moon rises in the west? *is confused a little on second read*..

      • Not always, it seems to change based on the time of year. Right now I can’t see the moon at all so I can’t double check. I’d need to stay up to the wee hours.

      • So last night I saw the moon move from east to west – it was “setting”. Go figure!

  • scott says:

    You have presented something that was pulled from our occidental learning.

    A reasonable intuition of our observable lives.

    It’s good to see a return.

  • I loved this post. 🙂 You should write a book- I would buy it.

  • Thank so much lovelies for your wonderful comments! I almost didn’t click publish for this one and now I’m glad I did.


  • Prinny Miller says:

    Thank you so much, Sarah. This is the best articulated and most succinct description of what I, too, have come to believe. I want to extend my profound thanks to you for expressing this so beautifully!

  • judith says:

    That’s extradinarily beautiful…..

  • Riverhorse says:

    Nicely put Sarah. When I lived in Hawaii I saw the earth being destroyed by the volcano and at the same time, new earth was being created by it. Pele was very visible to us.

  • Soraluna says:


  • Donna Murphy says:

    This is how I’ve felt about the universe etc… for a very long time. Your posts are always full of wisdom. I enjoy them very much. Thanks, Donna