Painting By Meinrad Craighead 1983, Wisdom
Lodestone: Heart of the Pilgrim Soul
“When I reach through the hole at my center the gift eludes my grasp. Whatever it may be,
I can possess it only as that mystery which beckons from the greatest distance and draws
my heart deeper into the quest.
The journey waxes full and then wanes dark, again and again. I stare into my hole focusing
on a single point, waiting for her to dart wildly through my landscape.”
Meinrad Craighead artist (1936 – 2019)1
There is something that pulls us ever-forward to the heart of our own mystery. In an unending pilgrimage our life journey orients homeward, centered in a world that we know and one in which we cannot fully know. As unseen forces guide us over each threshold, the inner muse arouses the creative impulse allowing life to continuously be revealed to itself. But never completely.
Lodestone means ‘leading stone’ or ‘way stone’. It is a magnetic stone use by ancient sages, seers, and alchemists for divination and then later in compasses because of its ability to orient toward to the north star. It is found near the surface of the earth and is thought to be magnetized by lightning strikes. From the invisible realm the heavens touch the earth, impregnating it with a polarized force stable enough to guide us through the endless cycles of birth and death so that we may discover something enduring.
The heart of the pilgrim lives in the overlapping space between surrender and discipline, compelled by mystery. Following the path of water between heaven and earth we travel embedded within the dream time of natural and preternatural realms. Through the labyrinthine caverns of physical reality, human and other-than-human beings offer nourishment and clues. Within this sacred communion, medicines are shared.
As we move into the season of late summer we enter the element of earth and the yi spirit whose faith and sincerity holds us to the center of duality in the midst of chaos and change. In the body through the digestive system, earth provides the ability to metabolize all that we take in physically and psycho-spiritually. Earth is mother/matter who brings life to fruition. She offers consistency and presence whether we are joyful, inspired, raging, hurt, or bewildered, helping us to settle back into the ground of our own inner earth.
The body of the Divine Mother holds us in her gaze, her heart, her undying love
We taste her earthy sweetness in perfectly ripened plums, ears of corn, mother’s milk, golden honey, plump squash falling ripe from the vine. From the belly of her soul she sings to life the bones of deep time through the lullaby of cicadas, honeybees, thunderstorms, the pitter patter of gentle rain quenching the thirst of parched earth in its return home. She lives at the still point between the end of ripening and beginning of decay, at the center of all change and all seasons like a lodestone—an inner compass—grounding, guiding, and centering all movements deep within our earthly, animal bodies.
Whoever you are, no matter where you are in your life dance, don’t lose sight of your pilgrim soul and follow unabashedly without expectation. Without beginning or end, there is a lodestone at the center of your being that you can find by heart. Slow down and feel the gravitational pull from your center on the inside. Lay with your belly on the belly of the earth and tell her everything you have held back. Sing with the wind, crashing sea, crows, wolves, crickets, owls and loons. Surrender your full weight to the earth and really let yourself be held. If this is difficult be patient with yourself and stay with it until one day, your body finally finds what it needs to soften and let go. Open yourself to myriad visible and invisible forces always ready to support you. Surround yourself with images that will help you re-member how you are held in the “divine gaze that holds you in existence”2 even when you forget.
Trust the gift that eludes your grasp, it is closer than you know.
1 For more about Meinrad Craighead and her art visit https://meinradcraighead.com/
2 Quoted from Meinrad Craighead in the documentary, Praying With Images, which is
available to stream on vimeo.com “This hour-long documentary explores the lifelong
pilgrimage of New Mexico artist Meinrad Craighead and her mystical encounters with the
Divine Feminine. Her spiritual and artistic journey extends from her childhood in Arkansas
to studying in Italy and Spain, and spending 14 years in England as a nun. After settling in
New Mexico in 1983 Meinrad began teaching and lecturing about the Great Mother and
art and led creative retreats in her studio. Her art combines the traditions and imagery of
Catholicism, Native American shamanism, and ancient mythology. In this film, produced
by Amy Dosser (Kellum) in association with Minnow Media and the Resource Center for
Women and Ministry in the South, shares the story of her impact and energy and includes
nearly 100 of Meinrad’s paintings and sketches. Meinrad Craighead died in 2019.”
About the Author: Monique Gaboury is a licensed acupuncturist, in Freeland, WA, specializing in Alchemical Acupuncture. She loves sharing her passion for natural healing at her clinic and through writing her blog ‘Re-membering Wholeness, Belonging and Kinship Through Changing Times’.