Evoking the spirit to practice religiously: Somatic and narrative ways of knowing for transformative learning in a living tradition

Orla O'Reilly Hazra, Fordham University


This narrative research documents an emerging story of postmodern religious conversion. The research reveals how the issues of eating and attention difficulties are a result of an embodied Cartesian epistemology. Narratives of the author and other women in educational forms of school, family work and recreation offer an account for how this epistemology is taught, by showing what is not taught, the null curriculum. Cartesian null curriculum dispossesses its citizens of somatic and narrative ways of knowing, sonar. For these dispossessed women, retrieving sonar was through an experiential pattern well-known to mystics in all religious traditions—the well-trodden path of alienation, awakening and connection. In the research narratives from indigenous scholars expressing their holistic cosmology and epistemology are placed beside the story being told by scientists of the origins of the universe and its continuing emergence and creation. Both share a similar view (the integrity of creation) and call for radically different ways of being in the world—a way of being responsive to “all my relations.” The research also presents an educational model to sponsor this conversion. To somatically re-member and retrieve sonar, Cartesian women engaged the process of religious education. The two-sided dynamic to teach religion/to teach to be religious was achieved through various languages, therapeutic, homiletic, and academic instruction. These languages began a type of liberation (through an integration of opposites of a relational matrix: rational/nonrational, dependent/independent, life/death) and homecoming from exile, a homecoming to themselves, the planet, Gaia, and numinous co-creating force. Accordingly, as Gaian citizens, many are now engaged in a new vocation, the repair of the world, tikkun olam.

Subject Area

Religion|Social psychology|Womens studies|Public policy

Recommended Citation

Hazra, Orla O'Reilly, "Evoking the spirit to practice religiously: Somatic and narrative ways of knowing for transformative learning in a living tradition" (2009). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3357195.