John of the Cross: On the Creation

He created the world

A place for the bride

Fashioned with great wisdom

And divided into two rooms.

One above and one below.

And the lower part of the place

Was made of infinite differences,

But the one above was adorned

With glorious jewels

So the bride might know her Bridegroom.

Full poem below…

This 16th century poem shows what we might call today a wonderfully ‘queer’ vision of the relationship between the creator and the creation, which presents the latter as God’s bride, as the feminine partner of the Father creator. This resonates with Hindu philosophy of Shiva (transcendent consciousness = male) and Shakti (material reality = female). The concept exists also in Judaism, where God’s presence in creation is seen as feminine and called shekhinah. The poem points to the miracle potential of the non-dual union of humanity and spirit.

Females birth new life into the world and it shouldn’t be too hard to work out therefore that physical life is feminine at the core, that the feminine exists in everything. Male members of the species are often well out of touch with their inner feminine, after centuries of men fooling each other into thinking they are the superior gender. A truly evolved male person embraces his inner femininity, his inner Venus. He only has to look at his birth chart to find out through what kind of energy she manifests, and what she wants in his life!

So long have men subjugated and denied the power of the feminine. Prejudice and persecution of gay, lesbian, bi and trans people is part of this fear of the feminine in us all. Shockingly, some women today have become so materialistically minded that they buy into the persecution of gender and sexuality minorities, instead of meeting them with compassion and understanding – the classic ‘feminine’ traits. Methinks women shouting angrily against trans people are in the grip of their own, unacknowledged, domineering, toxic, inner masculine.

Christianity is often used to justify persecution of queer people, as it was used for centuries to justify slavery and the subjugation of women, of native cultures. But this is not real Chistianity, this is the dark, twisted version that Jesus predicted:

the time cometh when darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people, and the enemies of truth and righteousness shall rule in my Name, and set up a kingdom of this world, and oppress the peoples, and cause the enemy to blaspheme, putting for my doctrines the opinions of men, and teaching in my Name that which I have not taught, and darkening much that I have taught by their traditions.

But be of good cheer, for the time will also come when the truth they have hidden shall be manifested, and the light shall shine, and the darkness shall pass away, and the true kingdom shall be established which shall be in the world, but not of it.”

Quoted from The Gospel of the Holy Twelve, also known as the Gospel of the Nazarenes, believed by some to be the Gospel described by many commentators of the early Church as the original teachings of the Nazarene called Christ. A copy of this Aramaic gospel was found in a Tibetan monastery in 1870. In it God is repeatedly called the Father-Mother or the All-Parent, and Jesus says that the Law given by Mose had been altered, betrayed and adulterated by the priests of Persia during the Jewish people’s captivity there. The true Law given by Moses was, this scripture maintains, the same ancient Law that is pre-written in the hearts of all men – the “Law of Love and the unity of all life in the One-Family of the All-Parent”. and declares that the key to salvation, Eternal Life, and the Kingdom of Heaven is to live in accordance with the inner Law of Unity, and through the reconciliation and integration of these two primordial elements of being, the male and female.


He created the world

A place for the bride

Fashioned with great wisdom

And divided into two rooms.

One above and one below.

And the lower part of the place

Was made of infinite differences,

But the one above was adorned

With glorious jewels

So the bride might know her Bridegroom.

And in the higher sphere,

The order of angels was unfurled

But human nature was placed in the lower,

For in his making man was a lesser thing.

And although beings and places

Were divided in this way

All are part always of one body

Which is named the bride

For the love of one bridegroom

Has made them all one bride.

Those above possessed the bridegroom in ecstasy

And those below lived in hope rooted in the faith

Which He infused in them

When He said that one day

He would raise them up

And raise them from their dereliction.

So no one would insult them any more

For he would himself come with them

And live with them

And God would be man and man would be God

And he would talk with them

And eat and drink with them.

And he would remain with them constantly

Until the end of the world

And when that end came He and all of them would join together

In eternal song

For he was the Head of the bride he had

Whom he would take tenderly into his arms

And there give her his love

And so when they were joined as one

He would lift her to the Father.

And there the bride would rejoice

In the same joy

That God rejoices in.

For as the Father and the Son

And he who proceeds from them

So it would be with the bride;

Absorbed within God

Live in one another

She will live the life of God.

John of the Cross (1542-1591) was a Spanish priest, mystic and Carmelite friar, a major figure in the Counter Reformation, which brought emphasis back to a mystical experience of the divine, in reaction to the dry and anti-magical teachings of Protestant faiths. He was canonised in 1726 and is known as the ‘mystical doctor’. He also wrote homoerotic love poetry to Jesus (not as rare as it may sound, eg many Islamic mystics throughout many centuries also used homoerotic imagery to describe their relationship with the divine):

From Toby Johnson, author of Gay Spirituality, Gay Perspective, and other works –

“St. John of the Cross spent a grueling nine months as a prisoner in a monastery of the Order in Toledo. He was kept locked up because, inspired by his friendship with his fellow reformer, the Carmelite nun Teresa of Avila, he was so insistent that the Carmelite friars practice mortification and austerities. The other friars had him sent to his cell to keep him quiet. He was flogged in front of the community at least weekly. While locked away, he wrote numerous poems and elaborate commentaries on these poems. Like the spiritual poetry of the Persian Islamic Sufi mystics a few centuries before, St. John’s poetry is hotly homoerotic.

“On a Dark Night” describes John’s romantic fantasy of running off into the night to meet a lover. “On a dark secret night, starving for love and deep in flame,” he begins, “…unseen I slipped away.” Wearing a scarf over his face, he fled unseen, climbing down what he called a secret ladder (perhaps a trellis outside his cell?), guided only by the fire burning in his breast.

“He goes out to a spot outside the fortress walls of the old medieval walled city of Toledo, a spot which he describes as “a place where no one comes.” But there waiting for him is his Beloved. John rhapsodizes: “O night that guided me, O night more lovely than the dawn, O night that joined Beloved with lover, Lover transformed in the Beloved!” In the darkness then they make love.

“Afterwards, the beloved falls asleep with his head on John’s chest. As the wind blows through the cedars overhead, John caresses and fondles him and then falls asleep himself, now with his face lying on his beloved’s breast (like his Apostle namesake who lay on the breast of Jesus at the Last Supper).

“When the sun rises John wakes feeling that all his cares are gone, and he sees that he and his beloved are lying among a field of lilies.

“The allegorical explanation is that this is about the stage of depression and aridity in the religious life, the so-called “dark night of the soul.” The secret ladder is living faith; the disguise, the three theological virtues, faith, hope and charity. But that is not what’s in the poem! There is nothing about depression or spiritual suffering, much less the theological virtues. It’s about sexual passion. Perhaps the lover and beloved represent the soul and Christ, but that is still a homoerotic image.

“Perhaps it is all allegory and St. John never left his cell. But it really sounds like he was sneaking out and engaging in 16th Century bush sex, or at least fantasizing it. What was mystical was that he probably was in such a state of religious intensity (and neurotic denial) that he truly experienced the men he was meeting out there in the bushes as palpable manifestations of Christ.”

ONE DARK NIGHT by John of the Cross:

One dark night,
fired with love’s urgent longings
– ah, the sheer grace! –
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.

In darkness, and secure,
by the secret ladder, disguised,
– ah, the sheer grace! –
in darkness and concealment,
my house being now all stilled.

On that glad night
in secret, for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything
with no other light or guide
than the One that burned in my heart.

This guided me
more surely than the light of noon
to where he was awaiting me
– him I knew so well –
there in a place where no one appeared.

O guiding night!
O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
the Lover with his beloved,
transforming the Beloved into his Lover.

Upon my flowering breast,
which I kept wholly for him alone,
there he lay sleeping,
and I caressing him
there in a breeze from the fanning cedars.

When the breeze blew from the turret,
as I parted his hair,
it wounded my neck
with its gentle hand,
suspending all my senses.

I abandoned and forgot myself,
laying my face on my Beloved;
all things ceased; I went out from myself,
leaving my cares
forgotten among the lilies.

Published by shokti

i am shokti, lovestar of the eurofaeries, aka marco queer magician of london town. i explore the links between our sexual-physical nature and our spirits, running gatherings, rituals and Queer Spirit Festival. i woke up to my part in the accelerating awakening of light love and awareness on planet earth during a shamanic death-and-rebirth process lasting from January 1995 to the year 2000, and offer here my insights and observations on the ongoing transformation of human consciousness, how to navigate the waves of change, and especially focusing on the role of queer people at this time.

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