Below you will find a range of papers written by the students of the MA in Myth, Cosmology and the Sacred. Click on the plus sign to see an abstract and also the link to read the full paper.
Karen Smith, Divination - Binding Matter and Spirit
Considering the question of why divination appears to be a taboo topic for educated modern thought, it strikes me that, if indeed divination is a taboo topic (and I agree that it is), it is better than being a trivialized, or dismissed topic -although perhaps both reactions are generated from the same place.
The term “taboo” comes from the Tongan tapu or Fijian tabu -“prohibited”, “disallowed”, “forbidden”. According to Wikipedia, taboo is, “A vehement prohibition of an action based on the belief that such behavior is either too sacred or too accursed for ordinary individuals to undertake.” Taboo then suggests power, an energy at work which has the potential for transformation, positive or negative, and as such is not to be undertaken lightly.
Could it be that ridicule and taboo are two sides of the same coin born of an attitude of fear? And if so why is divination, the practice of seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means, fearful to educated modern thought? I intend to explore these questions in this essay, presenting a case that divination is challenging for educated modern thought because, as a practice, it integrates the material world and the spirit world.
Laura Shannon, Hildegard von Bingen - Analysis of a Sacred Image
For this essay I have chosen to analyse an image from Hildegard von Bingen’s 12th-Century masterwork ‘Liber Scivias’, ‘Know the Ways’. Saint Hildegard was a Benedictine abbess, visionary, healer, philosopher, teacher, writer and composer, seen as the founder of scientific natural history in Germany (Newman 1997, Schipperges 1997, Throop 1998). It seems appropriate to apply the four senses hermeneutic to one of Hildegard’s images, since she would have been familiar with this exegetical method through her daily practice of lectio divina in the Benedictine tradition (Hildegard, Feiss, McNamara, and Benedict, 2005: 16).