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Burl Benson Hall and Merry Stetson Hall are the authors of Sophia’s Web: A Passionate Call to Heal Our Wounded Nature.
Burl Hall is an author, philosopher (lover-of-Sophia), mystic, retired counselor, and online radio co-host of Envision This which connects listeners to visionaries of a more resilient, equitable, and Earth-friendly future.
He writes with the editorial assistance of his muse and wife, Merry Hall, a retired teacher, author of ‘Bringing Food Home: The Maine Example’, and co-host of ‘Envision This’.
Together they enjoy grand parenting; permaculture gardening at their home in Sabattus, Maine; playing with their dogs, Sophie and Kali; and meeting and profiling the amazing visionaries they interview on their radio show.
A passionate call to heal our wounded nature is vital at this critical evolutionary moment in human history. In Sophia's Web author Burl Hall with Merry Hall is sending out such a call. Sophia’s Web encourages readers to discover how they can co-create individual, planetary and universal health. It examines Burl Hall’s individual dreams, visions, passions, and missions, in the light of Wisdom (Sophia) shared by great thinkers in all disciplines.
Sophia, the Spirit of Wisdom, has woven the multi-dimensional aspects of our lives—personal, relational, cultural, intellectual, scientific, philosophical, and spiritual—into a cosmic web. Burl Hall follows the thread within this web that connects his research in these fields to his personal mystical experience. In Sophia’s Web: A Passionate Call to Heal Our Wounded Nature, he takes the reader with him ever deeper into the heart of divine Wisdom.
Key topics in the book include:
What makes you proud to be writers from Sabattus, Maine?
Burl Benson Hall: Actually the book originated from within me when I was living in Baltimore in the 90's. I do find it interesting that I love to write, but struggled a lot with English classes. With writing, the passion is the subject and not so much the technique. Writing allows you to express your heart. It's more the creativity than writing per se. Writing takes you into a deeper reality.
Merry Stetson Hall: I've written wherever I lived--all over the place, but living here in Maine with Burl has moved me more toward co-authoring. I did write a locally based book here, "Bringing Food Home: The Maine Experience." That book grew out of my commitment to the developing local food movement.
What or who inspired you to become writers?
Burl Benson Hall: My heart. My passion for Sophia. The book began when I had a series of dreams in the 90's. Then, by "accident" I began reading the works of psychiatrist Carl Jung and mythologist Joseph Campbell. I began to understand the images in the dreams of a woman/Goddess to what they were writing about. I then began to research various religions and saw where my dreams coincided with various religions across the world. This led me into understanding the unity behind the diversity of spiritual teachings and practices.
Merry Stetson Hall: Yes, my heart starts to sing a new song and I become scribe for it. Burl's writing moved me so, but had some rough edges, so it just called out to me to begin editing, suggesting, and adding insights.
When did you begin writing with the intention of becoming published?
Burl Benson Hall: The 1990's. I was living in Baltimore, MD and was having dreams of this woman/Goddess. After reading Jung and Campbell alongside the scientific works of David Bohm, Fritzof Capra and F. David Peat I decided to write out the dreams while relating the dreams to mythology and science.
Merry Stetson Hall: When I was writing my PhD dissertation. I was so frustrated by the confines of academic writing, where I was supposed to pretend I didn't have a passion for my insights that I knew that it was the writing, not the academia that motivated me.
Did your environment or upbringing play a major role in your writing and did you use it to your advantage?
Burl Benson Hall: No. I barely passed English classes and had a really bad taste in my mouth regarding writing. I often was more of the kind of kid that English teachers would cry over and oftentimes pass just to get them out of their classroom. My desire to express was extremely intent so I wrote anyway. It was the passion regarding the subject that caused me to write. I needed to express what I was coming up with and dreaming about.
Merry Stetson Hall: I was a talented writer in school and got teacher comments like, "Bright! Write!" However, my first story about a crippled Princess who overcame her handicap got squelched by my father's judgment. As a good little Christian Scientist I shouldn't be writing about disease! That slowed me down for a LONG time.
Did you come up with your title before or after you write the manuscript?
Burl Benson Hall: I came up with the title prior to the writing. I had begun researching mythology as per Jung and Campbell and saw the connection between the dreams and what they were writing about in their books. I realized I was tapping into what Jung called the Collective Unconscious, which is an area in consciousness that is anchored in ancient wisdom (that's my definition and not so much Jung's.) During my research I came across the notion of Sophia in Judeo-Christian teachings and that She was the original Holy Spirit. This caused me to see Christian as well as Jewish and Muslim traditions differently. I was distrustful of mainstream religions and the dreams helped me to understand the religions from a different way. That way was more Unitarian in that I also researched religions from throughout the world from Asia (e.g., Hindu, Oriental) to the Native Americans (e.g., the South American Kogis and the North American Keres Pueblo).
Merry Stetson Hall: "Sophia's Web" resonated with me from the beginning. Indeed, it led me to meeting and marrying Burl. The sub-title morphed through several forms until we were both satisfied. Then, just as we were about to publish, the cover image, "Sophia-Peace Through Wisdom" by Pamela Matthews, came along. The synchronicity of it sealed the deal.
Please introduce your genre and why you prefer to write in that genre?
Burl Benson Hall: Spirituality. It's my passion and it's how I see the wholeness of the planet, the cosmos and across people of different philosophies and understandings of life.
Merry Stetson Hall: Burl says it beautifully. Spirituality is the crucial link in holistic healing of body, mind and spirit...as well as of our Mother Earth.
What was your inspiration, spark or light bulb moment that inspired you to write the book that you are seeking promotion for?
Burl Benson Hall: The passion to express myself and my experiences was extremely powerful. Also, writing was in some senses sexual. It was a birthing. It was also an intercourse in which I was expressing ideas that were seminal to the reader and would initiate a conception within her. Indeed, in that insight I began seeing the entire cosmos as being sexual as reflected in the dance of Yin and Yang of Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching. The seminal input of the book's theme and thesis was ultimately seeing the unity behind the various religions throughout the world.
Merry Stetson Hall: So much light poured through me when I first read Burl's manuscript that I was moved to edit, refine, and add to it. It resonated with me as if it came from within me, and so I have used my training and talents as a PhD in English to share his light with the world.
What has been your most rewarding experience with your writing process?
Burl Benson Hall: Writing and being creative. Most of the time I write off the top of my head. With the dreams, I would immediately flesh out the dreams on paper. This also helped me to see the themes across the dreams.
Merry Stetson Hall: Sharing--in a way cross pollinating--with Burl. We married late in life; Sophia's Web is our "baby".
Have you had a negative experience in your writing career? If so please explain how it could have been avoided?
Burl Benson Hall: Frustrations in not being heard. How could it have been avoided? I'm not sure. My writings are speaking to a whole new paradigm for the human race: the ultimate unity of all religions, which many anchored in their faith will not want to hear. Thus I get people, both atheists and theists who come after me with tooth and nail. I enjoy debate, but many of these people would partake in ad hominum arguments which generated anger in me as well as making me wonder if indeed I was a "nut."
Merry Stetson Hall: Slower book sales than I feel this book deserves. The "new paradigm" in Sophia's Web that Burl mentions as a block for many potential readers seems such an obvious evolution in human thought to me. Therefore, I find it frustrating that so many others don't see it as part of the crucial move from head dominated, top-down thinking to heart based, inclusive thinking.
What has been your most rewarding experience in your publishing journey?
Burl Benson Hall: Writing and creating. The thing about marketing, etc. is a drag for me. I'm not a sales person, but am passionate about the work and what it can do for the planet in general and humankind specifically.
Merry Stetson Hall: The perceptive and responsive readings and reviews of many other readers.
Have you had a negative experience in your publishing journey? If so please explain how it could have been avoided?
Burl Benson Hall: Marketing in a profit-dominated world.
Merry Stetson Hall: Marketing in a profit-dominated world.
What one positive piece of advice would you give to other authors?
Burl Benson Hall: Be yourself.
Merry Stetson Hall: Keep putting what you know to be authentic out there and promoting it faithfully; then leave the "results" in the hands of Universal Wisdom.
Who is your favorite author and why?
Burl Benson Hall: Joseph Campbell. His work helped pull my dreams together and helped show the cosmic aspects of the dream that we describing the depths of reality.
Merry Stetson Hall: His words helped me focus my own mission in life.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with us?
Burl Benson Hall: One of the chapters in the Bible's Book of Proverbs says of Sophia (Wisdom and Understanding in the English versions) "All Her Ways Are Peace." If the book can help bring peace to this fractured world of this vs that, then I will feel as if I had done my job.
Merry Stetson Hall: Amen to that!
Sophia, the Spirit of Wisdom, has woven the multi-dimensional aspects of our lives—personal, relational, cultural, intellectual, scientific, philosophical, and spiritual—into a cosmic web. Burl Hall follows the thread within this web that connects his research in these fields to his personal mystical experience. In Sophia’s Web: A Passionate Call to Heal Our Wounded Nature, he takes the reader with him ever deeper into the heart of divine Wisdom. Sophia’s Web encourages readers to discover how they can co-create individual, planetary and universal health. It examines Burl Hall’s individual dreams, visions, passions, and missions, in the light of Wisdom (Sophia) shared by great thinkers in all disciplines.
Have you ever felt drawn into a moving thread of energy that is beyond yourself and seemingly beyond this earthly plane?
Burl Benson Hall began his journey into this universal energy thread around the age of four. His mystic guide, named “Sophia” in Greek mythology and early Christian writings, teaches Burl to experience and understand the feminine and the masculine forces that make up the energy in our universe.
Mystic, philosopher and author Burl Benson Hall brings his experiences, vision, passion and mission to heal our individual inner wounded nature, the natural world around us (our planet) and all of humankind in his book, Sophia’s Web. He transforms a complicated philosophical theory into layman’s terms using his own experiences, poetry, scripture, parables and metaphors. For an example: “She reaches mightily from one end of the Earth to the other and while remaining in herself, she renews all things….and orders all things well. Solomon 7:27, 8:1”
In her foreword to Sophia’s Web Carolyn Baker, author of Collapsing Consciously says: “Sophia’s Web is the saga of Burl Hall’s journey from fleeting visions of Sophia in childhood to a mature, surrendered embrace of the Sacred Feminine which now underpins and informs his life, his work, and his connection with the earth community.”
In my reviews I always quote passages so the reader can get a sense of the author’s style and purpose. These are direct quotations from Sophia’s Web:
“Sophia is the archetypal image of the feminine principle and thus partner to the masculine god. She is present in all traditions, mythologies, and religions-in Hinduism she is Shakti, in Egyptian myth she is called Isis. Traditionally it is in the gnostic, mystical, and alchemical traditions that the feminine face of the divine is central and present.”
“This book purpose, then is to bring peace through the integration of seemingly opposing forces.”
“In order to achieve this peace, much emotional and spiritual work is required, but in Sophia’s Web, Burl and Merry Hall tantalize us with the rewards of doing that work and compel us to embrace the journey with Sophia, “for indeed our lives and our planet depend on it.”
Cold Coffee Press Endorses Sophia’s Web: A Passionate Call to Heal Our Wounded Nature by Burl Benson Hall as a personal, relational, intellectual, scientific and spiritual resource for those seeking inner healing and a desire to commune with nature and deity to heal our mother earth. This book was given to us to review in a Kindle e-book format. The review was completed on July 16, 2015. For more information please visit Cold Coffee Press. http://www.coldcoffeepress.com
If someone reading this interview would like to enter into conversation with us about this, we would be happy to respond...here or at our website: www.envisionthismedia.com/sophia-s-web
Visit Burl and Merry on the web where they blog, post about their radio guests, and converse with folks: www.envisionthismedia.com