A Vocabulary Lesson ~ Anamnesis

This is what I love to do. I love to borrow back words the Church has claimed for its own and re-introduce them into a more universal context. Anamnesis is such a word, a wonderful word. In the Church, it’s associated by the act of remembrance, with the death, resurrection and ascension of Christ. The word comes to us from the Greek, and it can mean as well, the remembering of things from a previous existence. Literally, it means a loss of forgetfulness, and it’s that silken nuance of the phrase that intrigues me. We can easily say that to lose forgetfulness is simply to remember, that it’s nothing more than a question of semantics. This is what fascinates me, though. Remembering becomes a two-step process. First, we have to lose, or release, our forgetfulness. Only then, in step two, will we be able to remember.

For Reflection

This is a good time for an art project. I am thinking of a collage in particular, something not too threatening. Finger painting would do as well. As you’re settling in with the materials, hold in mind this question: What have you forgotten? Color? Shapes? Making messes? The art of play? Have you forgotten what it’s like to engage in something and not worry about outcome? Have you forgotten to listen to your own inner knowing, your inner teacher? Take this project outside, if you can, and ask the same questions of the wind as it breathes through your hair, the songs of the early robins or the peepers, the rustle of grass, the smell of the season. What of your forgetfulness do you need to lose in order to know your place within the earth community?


  1. Amanda Joan Murphy Venezia on February 24, 2011 at 11:46 pm

    Dear Caroline,

    I love this word Anamnesis. I must admit it is the first time I have even heard it. I believe the mind is a wonderful place to wonder and I have enjoyed that time to play. I have been living in a mode anamnesis the last few months. Like the butterfly drying her wings. When we enter a new place in life it is wise to look back and remember what it was that brought us to this new life. As a trans-gender woman I feel this on a daily basis. I have released long supressed emotions and feelings. Then I think back to when I had burried those emotions and feelings. These amamnesic moments can be painful. It does not mean that I do not learn or re-learn in these expiences, I do. Being still enough to release my forgetfulness is a challenge for me on the busy days of my life. I wonder what acts of War will furter infect our water. The unrest in Northern Africa has me feeling very uneasy. There have been threats that oil feilds will be set on fire. When Iraq did that 21 years ago the impact was terriable.

    I hope and pray the with your help more people will find their connection with God and the earth the he prepared for us.

    Peace & Love Amanda

  2. Judith Davis on April 5, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Caroline, I love this blog. thank you so much.

  3. Caroline Fairless on May 31, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Judith, you are so welcome! I hope you and Anne keep checking in. Also to the FB page Restoring the Waters, because everything posted here flips over there.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.