Axis Mundi. It is a strange pair of words. Esoteric sounding? Yes. Perhaps it paints a shamanistic image in your mind? Maybe. Is it Buddhist? Yes, though it would definitely be articulated with a different language, culture, and custom. The same sort of contextual articulation would apply to a plethora of Indigenous Tribes, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Christianity. In fact, Axis Mundi, as a concept, is universally present in all of religion. We all search for our own Axis Mundi.
What is this Axis Mundi of which You Speak?
Axis Mundi is a mytheme - or a feature of a myth which may be shared with other, related myths - which expresses the idea or conceptual connection between earth and heaven or the mundane and transcendent. Most - if not all - religions offer adherents the opportunity to connect on a deep and personally transcendent level to a culturally understandable Axis Mundi experience; either in sacred, typological-laden narrative(s), or a direct, personal experience; sometimes both.
The Axis Mundi is visually vertical, most of the time. It often finds visual expression in hills, trees, vines, poles, staffs, ladders (Jacob’s?), etc. It also has found representation in religious objects such as the Christian Cross, church steeples, totem poles, the Dome of the Rock, the Temple Mount, etc. Basically, whatever symbol, vertical or otherwise, which transcends this reality by bridging the mundane and transcendent, can be referred to as Axis Mundi.
We all possess a sense of that which bridges our own gaps between the mundane and transcendent. Each one of us touches something in our lives - and regularly - which carries us beyond ourselves and into a realm of understanding that can only be referred to as “transcendent.” These experiences are not only healthy, individually speaking, but are also absolutely necessary to achieve and live a meaningful and peaceful existence.
My Own Axis Mundi
My Axis Mundi is my family (i.e., my wife and children). I experience in them repeated flashes of transcendence. The love that rushes over me as I interact with each one of them carries me beyond the mundane in which we all are seemingly mired. It ushers me into a realm that can only be described with the word “God.” The experience has become so profound, and life begetting, that if it were to suddenly vanish, I would be hard pressed to ever, ever replace it. In fact, I couldn’t; it would be vain to try.
I also find Axis Mundi in my library. Yes, my collection of books, when mined for the knowledge contained, carries me well beyond the mundane act of cordoning off a section of time in my busy day to actually sit down and read. Yes, I experience a transcendence only describable with a word such as “Aha!” God is in that “Aha!” A book is an excellent place to experience Axis Mundi.
Discover Your Own Axis Mundi
Your own life is probably filled with experiences you often consider to be merely mundane, but are, in actuality, the most precious and life-begetting experiences of your days. Take some time and consider these experiences; consider your loved ones, the green tree just outside your window, the pet bothering you right now for attention, or your reflection in the bathroom mirror. Take some time to find your own Axis Mundi and celebrate it for the transcendent experience it can be and actually is.