Center for Sacred Psychology

Soul Food Archive: Wisdom Traditions & Sources

Main Courses are offered on a frequently changing menu. Here are words and images to ingest and digest for inner nourishment. We hope these hearty meals invite you to taste and savor, to muse, reflect and remember, to journal, to create art…that is, to feast on food for the spirit.

Pascha #2, by Archimandrite Kiprian, 1973*

Our current main course, below, is just one of several Soul Food offerings. Please visit, also, our buffet of Guest Caterer Specials and, for lighter fare, our Desserts & Snacks counter. And, to sample earlier menus, we hope you’ll check out the Soul Food Archive. Like all who prepare foodstuffs, we hope to hear from those we serve! Space to leave comments, or read others' comments, on our cuisine follows each Soul Food offering.





Many think of their time here on earth as a pilgrimage, a journey of life. Others argue: "there's no place to go—we're already there" [Jung'’s "circumambulation of the self"]. Let’s stay with journeys for awhile. Now, a pilgrimage isn’t just an aimless wandering, though it often includes times that feel aimless; even the most scattered pilgrimage moves towards a goal. Folklore and world religions give us many names for the culmination of life-journeys: Elysian Fields, Paradise, Promised Land, Shangri-la, the Grail Castle, the Pureland of Buddhism, and the Emerald City of American lore are just a few such visionary terms.

Equally familiar is: The Peaceable Kingdom. This language comes from Hebrew scriptures of the 8th century B.C.E.
(Isaiah 11:6-9). The old prophet unrolls a tender scene where wolf dwells with lamb, leopard lies down with young goat, and the baby who picks up a poisonous serpent is unharmed. To what can these words possibly refer? Surely not to the state of the world, much as we would like that to be true.




Actually, in the late 1600s, English Quaker William Penn thought the state of Pennsylvania might become a Peaceable Kingdom, a political utopia. He dreamed of native Americans (lambs) welcoming their European visitors (lions), and all living in harmony thereafter. Penn’s fellow Quaker, preacher Edward Hicks (1780-1849), so loved this idea that he created not one but over fifty famous paintings of the biblical allegory; most included a small scene of Penn and his mid-Atlantic neighbors negotiating their 1682 treaty.*







Hicks’ engaging animals draw us into his vision of journey’s end. Questions arise:


Are these pictures—and their biblical source—only about longed-for reconciliations of the world’s peoples…or, could they also picture an interior state of being?

If there is a Peaceable Kingdom within me, is my life journey headed in its direction?








These were questions in the mind of an American quiltmaker at the end of the last century.  She created a golden trail meandering through fabrics from around the globe, moving toward a reproduction (on cloth) of Hicks’ famous painting.  Her quilt pattern, known as “Snail Trail,” comes from the southern U.S. and, in the past, often was a secret pattern. The route of the golden trail—or pollen path, or yellow brick road—suggests that if one could journey around the earth, gathering the unique gifts and wisdom of all peoples, the dream of a Peaceable Kingdom might increasingly become a world reality.  (Clockwise from upper left, the fabrics read: Asia, native peoples of the Americas, Europe, Africa, the near East, Oceania, and the U.S.)*



The quiltmaker reports:
            I made this quilt for a contest about human rights, praying for peace in each culture as I stitched.  Some of the fabrics just did not want to live together.  They demanded continual coaxing and reworking.  Interestingly, the English and Irish fabrics finally fell in place side by side, just as an Easter 1998 peace was negotiated in Northern Ireland.
         As the quilt unfolded, it began to speak of still another journey: one on the interior path of life.  To arrive at the Peaceable Kingdom within, would I not have to visit many inner places? meet the disparate “peoples” in myself? help the separate parts of my being co-exist in harmony? reconcile opposites?  My path isn’t a straight line--nor is life.  Some say our journey is a return to a center from which we started—in this case, a Peaceable Kingdom—rather than a trip to a new place.  Well, that could be another quilt, maybe one with a spiral road.  And, then, we hear of “the pathless path,” so maybe a whole series of quilts is stirring.

Small bits of quilt fabrics come together in a completed mosaic…

Small bits of daily life come together as we journey along to our goal, whatever that may be.


We're interested in ways this Soul Food may have touched your life.

Click HERE to send us your comments...


Read Others' Comments...

To the Center: I love your website and this quilt! Did you know that there's a book called "Spot the Differences: Art Masterpiece Mysteries Book 2"--written for young people but fun for everyone. one of Mr. Hicks' "Peaceable Kingdom" is included (Dover Publications).
Janis B.

Hi Janis, Thanks very much for your input.  This book would be fun for all of us--and, surely, any one who could paint the leopard in the pictures above must have had a sense of humor.  I think Edward Hicks would chuckle that his painting is being used as part of a game.  Would you agree that the spiritual life without any play or fun misses an important ingredient?  (Dover is a long time friend; we recommend their website  [] to anyhone who seeks interesting and colorful publications.)  Thanks again, Janis.  The Center staff.

Dear Center,  Your path of life material interested me.  I found a spiral map on a picture of an old game board* and thought you might like to use it.  What would it be like to make a quilt in this design?  Thanks for your website. 
Marcus from Dallas.

Dear Marcus,  Thanks very much for sending us this path of life picture.   This would be a difficult quilt to make!--but a really fine game to play.  We wonder: did the game start in the middle, then spiral out, at which point players then turn around and return home?  Jung pictures such a spiral journey--note: both linear and circular--from unconscious containment "at home," to development that enables us to cope with the world, to a conscious return to the center, the place from which we began.  T.S.Eliot's famous line from Four Quartets echoes Jung.  With warm wishes, the Center staff.





* Credits for this page:

~ Pascha #2 by Archimandrite Kiprian. A family in old Russia welcomes visitors with special Pascha (Easter) treats. Gratefully used with permission from Holy Trinity Icon Studio, Jordanville, NY, 13361. This excellent website is the source for inexpensive traditional icon prints and mounted icons.

~ Edward Hicks' The Peaceable Kingdom,1848. Used with permission of the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Photo-transfer onto muslin, with appreciation to Amy Padnick.  

~ The Path to the Peaceable Kingdom, art quilt by B.C.Hedberg, ©1998; hand-pieced, hand-quilted, 61"x58."  One of 40 finalists in a contest honoring the 50th anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights, sponsored by the International Quilt Study Center at the University of Nebraska (Lincoln), and Quilter's Newsletter Magazine.  Photographer: Howard Dolinsky, M.D.  Quilt now in the collection of Mary and Kevin McGinnis, Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

~ 19th century board game from The Ephemera Book, Beth Cote, ed. (Fort Worth, TX: Design Originals, 2003).   See for other paper-art books and creative ideas.