Offering: November 5, 2022
Secret prayers for perilous times, with love from far out elders
Image description: A hand is holding a Tarot card in front of a colorful rug which is in a pattern of gold, sea green, red and brown. The card is The Hermit. It has a teal background and a person with white hair and a big white beard dressed from head to toe in gray with a hood on. The Hermit is holding a staff and a lantern with a star inside. The Hermit is standing on top of a mountain. There is a roman numeral nine up top.
I really wanted to cite the old story motif, where a wise elder gives a hero a secret prayer or blessing to protect them on their path. But I decided against it because I couldn’t think of any examples other than the Navajo Spider Woman’s pollen chant, which I’d read about in Joseph Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces but have been unable to verify elsewhere. Which is probably for good reason.
Then I was reading Perceval one afternoon this past week, as I often do in afternoons, and I got to the part where Perceval’s been living for “five Aprils and five Mays,” without any thoughts of God.
It was less that Perceval had rejected the divine, and more that avoiding was all he knew how to do with the immense guilt and shame he felt about having been to the grail castle and not asking about the grail. He’d missed the opportunity to do the perfect thing that would’ve brought total healing, and it haunted him.
Perceval’s shame had also driven him to enact years of senseless violence, a spiral which seemed only to drive him deeper and deeper into a sense of himself as unworthy and unforgivable.
So he’s going along and he runs into this Good Friday procession, a group of people walking, some barefoot, repenting for their sins. Immediately resonating with the idea of atonement, he asks the group where they’re coming from and they direct him to an old hermit deep in the woods who does confessions.