Sunday, 25 September 2011

Awen, Chi and the Holy Spirit

As I begin a course in Qigong exercises, which I hope will be beneficial to me in several ways, it has set me pondering on a few wayward thoughts. Something seems to have made a few connections as I try and embrace meditation, exercise, sacred space, healing, nature awareness and work/life balance. I'll probably write more in the future but, as an initial exercise, I did a quick web search to find some definitions of the three main ideas about 'spirit' that I now seem to have an interest in. I withhold any form of comment or analysis for the time being.

The word comes from a proto-Brittonic root for breath and breathing connecting well with the same sense in the English word inspiration. In the Middle Ages bardic scholars held that 'awen' came directly from God, from Ysbryd Glân, the Holy Spirit. (

'Awen' derives from the Indo-European root "uel", which means 'to blow', which is the same root as the Welsh word 'Awel' which means 'breeze'. Awen is the breath of the divine which gives inspiration; the wind of the spirit. (

Awen is a Welsh word for "(poetic) inspiration". It is historically used to describe the divine inspiration of bards in the Welsh poetic tradition. Someone who is inspired, as a poet or a soothsayer, is an awenydd.  ....   Awen derives from the Indo-European root *-uel, meaning 'to blow', and has the same root as the Welsh word awel meaning 'breeze'. There is a parallel word to 'awen' in Irish, ai, also meaning "poetic inspiration" which derives from the same ancient root.  .....   It is also said that the Awen stands for not simply inspiration, but for inspiration of truth; without Awen one cannot proclaim truth. The three foundations of Awen are the understanding of truth, the love of truth, and the maintaining of truth. (

The ancient Chinese described it as "life-force". They believed qi permeated everything and linked their surroundings together. They likened it to the flow of energy around and through the body, forming a cohesive and functioning unit. By understanding its rhythm and flow they believed they could guide exercises and treatments to provide stability and longevity. (

The Greek word "Pneuma" generally refers to spirit and is found around 385 times in the New Testament, with some scholars differing by 3 to 9 occurrences.[12][13] These usages vary, e.g. in 133 cases it refers to spirit in the general sense, 153 cases to spiritual and possibly 93 times in reference to the Holy Spirit.[12] In a few cases it is also used to mean wind or life.[12] (

In the Tanakh, the word ruach generally means wind, breath, mind, spirit. In a living creature (nephesh chayah), the ruach is the breath, whether of animals (Gen 7:15; Psa 104:25, 29) or mankind (Isa 42:5; Ezek 37:5). God is the creator of ruach: "The ruach of God (from God) is in my nostrils" (Job 27:3). In God's hand is the ruach of all mankind (Job 12:10; Isa 42:5). In mankind, ruach further denotes the principle of life that possesses reason, will, and conscience. The ruach imparts the divine image to man, and constitutes the animating dynamic which results in man's nephesh as the subject of personal life. ... When applied to God, the word Ruach indicates creative activity (Gen 1:2) and active power (Isa 40:13). The Spirit of God also works in providence (Job 33:4; Psa 104:30), in redemption (Ezek 11:19; Ezek 36:26-27), in upholding and guiding his chosen ones (Neh 9:20; Psa 143:10; Hag 2:5), and in the empowering of the Messiah (Isa 11:2; Isa 42:1; Isa 61:1).  ... In short, as the ruach is to the created nephesh, so the Ruach Elohim is to God Himself, part of God and identified with God. Ruach may be understood as the Author of the animating dynamic of the created order, the underlying Principle of creation, and the One that imparts the nephesh to the entire universe. (

Understanding the OT terms “Holy Spirit” and “the Spirit of God (or the LORD)” and the theology associated with them depends on grasping the significance of the fact that, in about 40% of its occurrences, the Hebrew word “spirit” (ruakh) basically means “wind or breath,” not “spirit.” The NT word (pneuma) is also used in this way on occasion. And when these Hebrew and Greek words mean “spirit,” the reference is often to the human “spirit.” Furthermore, certain passages draw out the correspondence between the Spirit of God and the human spirit, and the importance of God’s work through this correspondence (e.g., 1 Cor. 2:10-12). The Spirit of God is the person of God that vivifies the spirit of people to God (Ezek 37; Rom 8:16). The baptism of the Spirit shifts the metaphor from “wind” to “water,” the point being that physical purification by water has a corresponding reality in the purification of the human spirit through the Holy Spirit (Matt 3:11; John 1:32-34; Ezek 36). Similarly, like physical water, one can drink of the Spirit as water that gives life to the human spirit (e.g., John 7:37-39). The Holy Spirit did all of these things for both Old and New Testament believers, so in this sense the Holy Spirit not only indwells NT believers, but also did something similar in the lives of OT believers. (

"Is the Holy Spirit our Divine Mother? - If the experiences of the Holy Spirit are grasped as being a ‘rebirth’ or a ‘being born anew’, this suggests an image for the Holy Spirit which was quite familiar in the early years of Christianity, especially in Syria, but got lost in the patriarchal empire of Rome: the image of the mother. If believers are ‘born’ of the Holy Spirit, then we have to think of the Spirit as the ‘mother’ of believers, and in this sense as a feminine Spirit. If the Holy Spirit is the Comforter, as the Gospel of John understands the Paraclete to be, then she comforts ‘as a mother comforts’ [cf.. John 14.26 with Isa 66.13). In this case the Spirit is the motherly comforter of her children. Linguistically this brings out the feminine form of Yahweh’s ruach in Hebrew. Spirit is feminine in Hebrew, neuter in Greek, and masculine in Latin and German.” (


The late summer sunshine gathered in the dappled colours of the orchard. Cool green shadows, dew-laden grass and scattered apples belonged patiently in an autumnal morning. She walked silently, thoughtfully and sensingly. This was a place in which to give thanks and this is what had brought her here. Here she could see the fruits of the Awen before her. She knelt to the ground and selected a fruit that seemed to catch her eye. It seemed to reflect the whole of the orchard in its presence. The mottled reds and greens of its skin danced in harmony with those of the fallen leaves that sprinkled the ground around her. With thanks, she held the apple up to the sky and here the whole earth become embodied in this single, beautiful fruit. Creation, energy, life, desire - intertwined with the Divine. The earth became the fruit and the fruit became the earth. Round and fragrant, full of promise and goodness. Yet, at the back of her mind, as she brought the apple to her soft lips she remembered the tale of her sister Eve and the temptation that could only have come as she sought the presence of God. To eat the apple was to taste the goodness of God. How could God forbid the taste of His original blessing? As her mouth drew upon the fruit of the Divine garden her senses cascaded with delight. The earth tasted so good.. Here was the ultimate creation, here was a Divine blessing.

The apple tree stood and watched, it was after all, part of the narrative. And yet it remained unchanged. The Creator; standing, laden with more tempting delights as if giving an offering to the earth, sacrificing itself for the wondrous delights of its fruit.

She stood and gazed at the tree and gave it a whispered thanks. She extended a hand to a laden bough and welcomed a delicate touch of the aged bark. Together, the two of them, brought together by a single apple, a union of understanding. How could this be wrong? Both had been given life, a cosmic life. There could be no separation for each belonged to each other.

But few understood.