I just wanted to take the time out of my day and say thank you. Thank you for opening doors and having opportunities come about for me, being there for me when I had no one else and being there when I needed someone to talk to. Only you know my story and know what I’ve been through these past two years. I endured a surplus amount adversity, learned to mature, understand who I am as a person and being able to be comfortable in my own skin. Without you’re guidance and power only you would have known where I would have ended up at.
1 Now Moshe was keeping the flock of Yitro, his father-in-law, the Kohen of Midyan, and he led the flock to the back of the wilderness, and came to God’s mountain, to Horev. 2 The angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. 3 Moshe said, I will turn aside now, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the midst of the bush, and said, “Moshe! Moshe!” He said, “Here I am.” 5 He said, “Don’t come close. Take off your sandals from off your feet, for the place you are standing on is holy ground.” 6 Moreover he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitzchak, and the God of Ya`akov.” Moshe hid his face; for he was afraid to look at God. 7 The LORD said, “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Mitzrayim, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. 8 I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Mitzrim, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and large land, to a land flowing with milk and honey; to the place of the Kana`ani, the Hittite, the Amori, the Perizzi, the Hivvi, and the Yevusi. 9 Now, behold, the cry of the children of Yisra'el has come to me. Moreover I have seen the oppression with which the Mitzrim oppress them. 10 Come now therefore, and I will send you to Par`oh, that you may bring forth my people, the children of Yisra'el, out of Mitzrayim.” 11 Moshe said to God, “Who am I, that I should go to Par`oh, and that I should bring forth the children of Yisra'el out of Mitzrayim?” 12 He said, “Certainly I will be with you. This will be the token to you, that I have sent you: when you have brought forth the people out of Mitzrayim, you shall serve God on this mountain.” 13 Moshe said to God, “Behold, when I come to the children of Yisra'el, and tell them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you;’ and they ask me, 'What is his name?’ What should I tell them?” 14 God said to Moshe, “I AM WHO I AM,” and he said, “You shall tell the children of Yisra'el this: "I AM has sent me to you.” 15 God said moreover to Moshe, “You shall tell the children of Yisra'el this, 'The LORD, the God of your fathers, the God of Avraham, the God of Yitzchak, and the God of Ya`akov, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and this is my memorial to all generations. — Exodus 3:1-15 | Hebrew Names Version (HNV) The Hebrew Names Version Bible is in the public domain. Cross References: Genesis 11:5; Genesis 15:13-14; Genesis 16:11; Genesis 21:17; Genesis 24:12; Genesis 28:16; Genesis 31:3; Exodus 2:16; Exodus 2:23; Exodus 4:5; Exodus 4:10; Exodus 4:12; Exodus 7:16; Deuteronomy 26:7; Judges 6:15; Matthew 22:32; Mark 12:26; Luke 20:37; John 8:24; John 8:28; John 8:58; Acts 3:13; Acts 7:6-7; Acts 7:30-31; Acts 7:32-33; Acts 7:34; 2 Peter 1:18; Hebrews 11:6
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone reading this: The ancients viewed the world much differently than we moderns do.
As I’ve been reading through more and more books on spiritual exegesis, symbolism, and the biblical worldview, I’ve come to understand that for the ancients, everything had a deeper spiritual meaning.
In his book, The Language of Creation, Matthieu Pageau distinguishes between the modern materialistic view of the world and the ancient spiritual view of the world stating, “[The] Spiritual Perspective [asks] what does it mean? What truth does it embody? [The] Material Perspective [asks] how does it work? What material is it made of?”
Since reading and reflecting upon this, I have found it to be true. Until I read this work by Pageau, I didn’t realize how materialistic my worldview was and in some ways still is. Upon reflection, I realize that in some ways I was very much like Tolkien’s Misomythus from Mythopeia who simply looked at trees and labeled them so. Pageau’s work and similar works have helped me to see the world through new eyes, and have helped me to realize that there’s an unseen realm lurking just behind everything.
My Journey To The Beastiary
After reading Pagaeu’s work, I started taking up a practice I learned from C.S. Lewis and Jonathan Edwards, which is the practice of meditation.
Lewis practiced meditation in his toolshed. Edwards would ride his horse off into the mountains and practice meditation there. I started taking up the practice while sitting on my porch in the mornings with a journal, cup of coffee, and jotting down some reflections on creation. As for my practice, I simply look at various parts of the creation, and I ask the questions “what does this mean and what higher spiritual truth does it point to?”
Not long into putting this way of viewing the world into practice, I stumbled across a long forgotten, yet helpful tool called the Beastiary.
The Beastiary basically takes up this same task, but rather than being reflections on all of creation, it served as a compendium of traditional stories and lore concerning beasts and their characteristics. It also often provided mystical and symbolic interpretations of these beasts in light of the Gospel.
Since discovering the Beastiary, I have been fascinated by reading the symbolic interpretations of these beasts in light of the Gospel that the Medievals provided. I use it as a sort of cheat sheet to “check my work” against; to see if I’m thinking in the same way when it comes to providing my own Beastiary meditations.
And, that’s really the purpose of this post. I wanted to introduce you, dear reader, to this wild and wonderful world that I have (re)discovered because I plan on providing you with my own Beastiary thoughts here on the Sword and Staff.
These thoughts won’t be long. They’ll basically be short reflections from my morning porch meditations. But, they’ll be here for you to read, nonetheless.
My hope for this project is really twofold: First, I want to sharpen my own thinking of the world from a symbolic perspective. Second, I’m hoping my reflections on the symbolic nature of the world causes you to reflect on it in the same manner.
I believe that one of the things we need right now is a recovery of symbolic thinking. I believe that being reared in materialism has naturally led to many to nihilism. There is so much meaning in the world that we can’t see simply becaue we’re not asking the right questions. I’m hoping these reflections becomes a small tool in helping us all to see the world in a more meaningful way.