The Unbowed Head


"I kneel only for the Cup overflowing - here to drink of something that speaks no words but gives infinitely.

Holy Art, I swear on You. You are all grace and might." –  Gede Parma


To the Gods and Goddesses, as to my friends and lovers, I give honor. I give offering. I give thanks.

The Infinite I open to. I drink from it. I sit in its embrace. I work in its flow. I listen.

I am no supplicant. The lifting of the spine and shoulder opening that happens on my meditation bench – knees touching the floor – enables all my cells to pay attention in a new way. I light candles and incense. I breathe.


My head remains unbowed when I am kneeling. The only time I bow is when I stand. 


To honor what is in front of us, we must simultaneously carry honor for ourselves.

Don’t kneel in shame if you can help it. Don’t kneel because you feel you are lesser than. You aren't. Find a way to meet the world, to meet the sacred. Find a way to meet your Gods. Stand tall inside. Feel pride in who you are and what you are becoming.

We are all becoming.

Kneel only to receive, or to offer something from a heart bursting with love. That is humility.


Humility is never, ever shame. 


In every moment – with attention – we can learn and enact the Holy Art. The cosmos is not only out there, it is also within.

The cup overflows with life force, and with love.

I am with you. We are with each other.


In the name of love and power, we can build what is to come. 

14 Responses to “The Unbowed Head”

  1. MaryAnn Jackman

    Back in the days when I went to church, i would stubbornly stand when everyone else knelt, for exactly these reasons. Thank you.

  2. David Salisbury

    Yes! And in a culture where pride is largely portrayed as sinful and an installation of a devil, cultivating healthy pride and rejecting shame is an act of revolution for the people. Pride is feared by abusive power systems because it reminds us of our godhood!

  3. Jeyn Jaffe

    This is lovely, Thorn. Thank you for writing and posting this . We are a very shame-based, fear-based culture in many ways – thank you for the reminder that humility never comes from a place of shame, but often from a place of joy and love.

    “Kneel only to receive, or to offer something from a heart busting with love. This is humility.” This. Yes. So often kneeling is perceived as something weak, when the reality is that it is often just the opposite. An individual is as strong kneeling as they are standing.

    In the name of love and power, may we continue to build! Blessings and Awen upon you! 🙂

  4. Fourge

    Beauty, Thorn. Beauty.

    Just a moment ago, I was doing practice at the altar. By accident I bowed in servitude rather than in gratitude. But what is most important is that I caught this as I was doing it.

    Thank you for your words. For that, I am deeply thankful.

  5. Karina

    I have fallen to my knees in awe before the Gods but never in shame or supplication.

  6. Ember

    I can understand why kneeling before someone might seem submissive and thus shaming, but in spiritual contexts, when I kneel, it’s to be closer to the ground. When I bow my head, it’s usually to focus. I am lucky, I suppose, not to have been taught shame as part of my spirituality.

    Awe, yes. Joy, yes. Gratitude, yes. And I have learned, once in a while, that fear is even appropriate.

    But no, not shame.


    • Thorn

      Ember, that is wonderful. Thanks for writing about your experiences. The more we share these sorts of things, the better!

      As I wrote: “Kneel only to receive, or to offer something from a heart bursting with love.”

      • Ember

        Would you say the very thorough grounding that is communing with the Earth is, in this context, a kind of receiving or offering? Certainly, it’s a way of relating…


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