- Religion and Philosophy
Teresa of Avila- The Feminine Mystic
Teresa of Avila Sculpture in Rome
Books on Teresa of Avila
"I saw an angel very near me, towards my left side, in bodily form, which is not usually with me; for though angels are often represented to me, it is only in my mental vision. This angel appeared rather small than large, and very beautiful. His face was so shining that he seemed to be one of those highest angels called seraphs, who look as if all on fire with divine love. He had in his hands a long golden dart; at the end of the point me thought there was a little fire. And I felt him thrust it several times through my heart in such a way that it passed through my very bowels. And when he drew it out, me thought it pulled them out with it and left me wholly on fire with a great love of God." Teresa of Avila
The usual mystic is a man. Our main unconscious images are Jesus Christ for the west and Buddha for the Eastern traditions. The far western territory, i.e. America does not have a female image that serves us. The European nations at least have the Mother Mary to refer to for female imagery. Italy has the ancient sculptures of Roman times. Since Italy has always been the source of art in the modern western world, they go outside of the Christian religious doctrines and create sculptures of Greeks goddesses and just sculptures of heroic woman. France also was influenced by the Renaissance Era and has sculptures of women both religious and mythological. The point is that the feminine is a difficult image in the far west. It is ironic because America might have a false sense of the feminine even though females seem more empowered here.
Teresa Avila was a Spanish nun. She lived between 1515 to 1582. Her life was not easy as illness visited her severely before she was 18. She was in a coma for three days and from that illness was paralyzed for three years after. Around the age of 24 or so she began to have mystical experiences. It was when she was 39 that the real ecstasy began. She let egoism go finally. As described above she would have these ecstatic moments periodically until her death. It was a controversial subject of the time. Half of the priests believed that the devil worked through her. Many Jesuit monks came and spoke to her, encouraging her to continue her praying and fasting and what she experiences was actually the divine.
If you asked a different monk from the east he would say her kundalini was shifting moving up the spine. This is the energy that often is referred to as feminine that is coiled at the bottom of your spine. It takes great devotion to your spiritual practice to move this energy up the chakras. Some believe that is similar to a sexual type feeling and it extends itself beyond this in the form of energy throbbing throughout your mind, body and soul. There are different experiences depending on which level you are on.
The essential idea is that a female attained the mystical altered state of consciousness. She was a devout nun who prayed and fasted everyday. She went past the dogma and words of her sacred text and theology into the realm of experience of the divine. When we believe that this path is meant for us all then we will be able to shift our state of consciousness beyond our words. It is important for females to have the same role models that men do. We need the female mystics to tell of their accomplishments- their initiations into the divine. It is an unconscious phenomena. This image or understanding sinks in to both men and women and shapes their life. We under estimate the power of imagery or stories of mystics in our unconscious life. The deep unknown-unconscious emotion- is where our dreams and desires take form- they need subtance to become our full potential.