Anglican Woo-woo

File:Samuel Seabury-Bishop Episcopal Church USA.jpgI am a very bourgeois hippy: some of the spiritual practices, none of the drug-taking. Weird woo-woo spiritual practices like channeling spirit or the Energy of the Universe through my hands for healing. These practices are interwoven in the staid, traditional Anglicanism I grew up with.

For example, the priest consecrating the bread and wine of the Eucharist speaks the same words every time, telling how Jesus at the last Supper gave bread and wine to his followers. From age 0 to age 18, I heard the words of the 1929 Scottish Liturgy, which gives precise instructions. And here the Presbyter is to lay his hands upon all the bread…. And here to lay his hand upon every vessel (be it chalice or flagon) in which there is any wine to be consecrated. What is this, but chanelling the Spirit, to make the elements holy?

For Roman Catholics, the bread actually becomes the Body of Christ. For Anglicans, taking the bread is “an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace”- it is the moment of communion with God, when we take the bread in our mouths. It is Communion, because it has been consecrated.

In the same way, at the end of the service, the priest blesses the congregation, and when s/he does so s/he raises her right hand. The gesture is the blessing, as well as the words. Some priests do spiritual healing with the laying on of hands, as Jesus commanded in the gospel. In ordination of priests and consecration of bishops, and in confirmation, the officiant stretches out her hands over the person blessed. Bishops receive- something- which has been passed down, bishop to bishop, from the first Apostles who received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. This is the “Apostolic Succession”.

That is the theory. It is the work of the Holy Spirit, Who is God.

When putting on his vestments, my last vicar had prayers for each garment, and told me he had come aross a prayer to say as he put on his radio mike. And why not? It makes the worship go better. As for these preparatory prayers as a whole, they enhance the priest’s putting his whole attention into his tasks in the ritual. It is very Buddhist, and new-age mystical, to bring your attention to the present- because it is beneficial.

4 thoughts on “Anglican Woo-woo

  1. Clare,
    I’ve read in one of your previous posts that you don’t like equating science with spiritual practices, but I’ll say it anyway. One way to explain the phenomena that you mention here is the passing down of specific frequencies of vibration. It’s called Darshan in the yogic tradition and it’s also what you receive in an initiation as a Reiki practitioner. Just sayin.

    Like the post and the great photo of Dr. Schori.


    • Thank you. I inch myself into this slowly. As a Quaker, I believe in communion with The Something unmediated by things, and without the need for others to do actions; and specific frequencies of vibration sounds scientific without being scientifically measurable. To me. And- the passing on of Something has meant so much to so many, for so long; and

      there is something passed on

      and I am prepared to quibble less, with your choice of words.


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