Open Eye: Revitalising the spiritual parts

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The Independent Online
Mind, Body and Spirit has taken its place alongside Biography, Travel and the rest as a recognised category in popular bookshops, a testament to the popularity of `spiritual' and `alternative' topics. Honest to Goddess, the first book by OU graduate Geraint ap Iorwerth, falls into this category, but is somewhat atypical in that the author is an Anglican parish priest, albeit with an unusually broad and mystical view of Christianity.

The book is essentially an attempt to revitalise the spiritual parts that traditional Christianity often fails to reach - the worship of the feminine, the sanctity of nature, the validity of pagan and other `alternative' spiritual insights. Subtitled Russia, Sophia and the Celtic Soul, it draws on Christian traditions neglected in the west, notably the Celtic, and Russian Orthodox.

Sophia, the goddess of the title, is feminine Wisdom principle, appearing in early Jewish tradition and the subject of a Russian Orthodox revival movement in pre-war Russia.

It's also a personal account of the author's own spiritual journey, starting with the rediscovery of his Celtic roots as a parish priest in Snowdonia, culminating in the founding of the Order of Sancta Sophia, a mystical community dedicated to honouring the Divine Feminine.

Despite its mystical content Honest to Goddess is a lucidly-written book which the author has manage to infuse with his intellect, as well as his enthusiasm, and is worth the attention of anyone with an interest in spiritual development, although traditionalists will probably disagree with the author's unorthodox interpretation - or re-interpretation- of what Christianity is. Those interested in the possibility of spiritual evolution within native western tradition will welcome it.

Geraint remains a priest in the Dyfi Valley in Wales, and has followed up his OU degree with an MPhil.

Honest to Goddess by Geraint ap Iorwerth, published by Crescent Books price pounds 12.99. ISBN 1-84086-001-4. - YMC