Pagan Heart

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Clear to me on this Easter Sunday is the reality of what I might temporarily term “my Pagan Heart.”

Of course, the term “Pagan” is problematic for a variety of reasons that boil down to our being human and being limited by language. Different people mean different things by “Pagan,” and the more pedantic among us will waste our time splitting hairs.

Our Modern Paganism is at times (perhaps more often than not) intertwined with the whole of the Western Mystery Tradition.

So you see, for me, Christianity and Wicca (to give two examples) are different flowers growing on the same plant, or at least different varieties of a certain sort of plant.

To further my point: I have the Pagan Heart in the sense that I see Christ and Christian worship not as an archenemy or as a path solely unto itself, but as “another God for the pantheon.”

That is a heresy to some on “both sides” of the discourse. For me, time has shown once and again that I cannot practice only one religion at a time.

Given, my Christianity is the mystical, Gnostic flavor, so my perspectives on Christ were already different.

I’m not sure how the Demiurge and such fit into a more Pagan worldview, but I’m also not here to try to force views to fit together. Perhaps the point isn’t to reconcile all things that can’t understand and fit reality together like a massive, crushing jigsaw puzzle but rather is to accept that blatant contradictions exist.

I’ve decided to start a Youtube vlog on Paganism. Commentary, thoughts, experiences, those sorts of things. Not entirely sure when that’s going up, but we’ll see.

Major topics will include thoughts on polytheism and mysticism and such.

Steve

Ecstasy and the Green Man

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As I stated previously, so far, the only god that I TRULY know exists beyond any shadow of any doubt is the God of Nature, the God who appeared to me as the Green Man in my mind’s eye.

Imagine, if you will, that you have blood vessels connected throughout the world, and that’s essentially what the experience is like.

While listening to Celtic-inspired music the other night, I had an ecstasy of the Green Man- it felt as though he were inside of me, the ecstasy rising and rising again such that my eyes rolled back in my head for several minutes as I was swept away to the rhythms and the sheer LIFE FORCE pulsing through my body.

I have had to re-think Hard Polytheism, and it’s true, I’ve experienced other entities/deities to some extent, but none to THIS extent. Other situations may be deemed as “wishful thinking” or “projections of my unconscious mind” and whatnot, but the god of nature TRULY EXISTS.

Lately, my practice has taken a new route- I stand before one of my altars and draw the pentagram of the day’s corresponding element, and then I empower it with the planet that rules that day, and most recently, I’ve begun adding the associated deity. Then I banish it all, and repeat, several times again.

I fell ill this morning, awakening with a terrible headache and an upset stomach such that I vomited profusely. Could this be related to the spiritual practice? It’s certainly possible.

The important thing here is that I’m practicing something. As opposed to my teenaged years when I searched for some kind of ideal system, I’m learning through the process.

Rereading Scott Cunningham’s Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, I certainly am more discerning that I was at age 16. I simply throw out what I find to be bullshit and move on with my life and my studies.

During ritual itself, I know where things must be worked on- I have trouble raising and directing energy. This is now apparent to me, though the actual casting of the circle and calling the corners is fairly effective from what I can tell.

I think some of my Hoodoo had effect because of the energy raised while doing so- things like the Litany of the Saints and so on.

Speaking of which, I understand now that my affinity for things ceremonial in Christianity comes down to it all being a form of High Magic. That’s all there is to it. I couldn’t care less about the exoteric bullshit that masquerades as anything of substance. To see the energy raised, to see people connected to the Divine through Christ and to unite with Christ- that’s an amazing feat. Long, boring sermons on how everything’s a sin and you’d better behave or you’ll burn forever has little relevance to people in this life OR the next.

As someone once said to me, “I like Christianity for its mystical aspects. Other than that, it can go to hell.”

Certainly, I’m not entirely sure about Christ and the like. I understand why the Christian Church’s…well, EVERYTHING is questionable. Certainly the track record is bad. But a majority in nearly any religion or group consists of blithering idiots who stumble blindly, and I’m lucky enough to find people in various groups who are outside that majority. Praise be to God!

Steve

 

 

The Little Office of the Blessed Sophia

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The Reverend Erik Winsor’s Little Office of the Blessed Sophia is now out.

I have my copy, and it’s amazing for all the Gnostics out there as well as devotees of Sophia in more mainstream paths.

Our Lady Sophia, pray for us!

Pax vobiscum.

Stevo

On Futility

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I had to further investigate into the Actual Freedom matter.

My investigation brought forth some of the worst information I could possibly find about any group of people.

While the method itself seems valuable, the “culture” surrounding the whole matter seems dubious at best. 

The more I researched, the more stressed I became in some regards.

But at the same time, I ended up shedding layers of myself and had to be (brutally) honest with myself- including my pursuit of Christianity and so on.

The reality is that there is a whole host of things associated with Christianity that I find dubious in a similar way, and frankly, I seemed to waste more energy trying to defend what’s good in Christianity (hint: it isn’t a whole hell of a lot) and affirm that I agree with everyone about the bad parts of Christianity.

So, point-blank, I’m now “lost” in a very real sense; it isn’t that I’m no longer Christian or that I’m not an actualist or whatever, it’s…well, it’s that everywhere I turn to find out what life is all about, some kind of problem arises and destroys any chance of that.

But I HAVE come away knowing what to do: I now know how to proceed on the “mystical” path, as it were, and the answer’s been within me all along. There are more than enough reference points online for me to use, and so, here I go. I’m lost, yet I’m not forever lost- I will find my way out of this and make sense of things.

Stevo

Heartbreak, Longing

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I’ve been attending a Unitarian Universalist Church with my fiancé for the past while. 

In many ways, I entered the Episcopal Church because I’m more of a “frustrated” Roman Catholic- I’m a Catholic in many ways with regard to imagery and so on, but it’s difficult to explain. Anyway, I compromise with the Episcopal Church because it’s the closest thing I can get to what I need. 

That doesn’t mean I don’t respect my denomination; it means that I’m keenly aware of what I really want…or more like “need.”

It isn’t just about smells and bells; it’s about finding a mode of worship and religious expression that allows for inner transformation. The Mass, when done properly and experienced consciously by the mystic, IS mysticism, IS transformation.

There are no Gnostic churches here; there are no Independent/Old Catholic churches here. What I need is not here

I’m also not knocking the UU’s. They’re good stuff, good people. At the end of the day, what I admire is their openness and their values, with which I’m aligned, and yet the spirit says, “I need more than this to relate to the Divine.” 

Some people may be turned off by ritual. That’s fine. They can leave behind ritual and do whatever they like. 

I’m not one of those people; I’m impassioned, invigorated, infused by ritual, by liturgy, by routine. 

All right, God. YOU are the One Who got me into this mess; now YOU put forth a church with the correct liturgy and apostolic succession and values that is local to where I am currently. 

Stevo

Silence

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Last week, I went on a family vacation to see my fiancé’s in-laws. We were stuck in a roach motel that smelled like a dead rat, the four of us- my fiancé, our son, our dog, and myself.

I didn’t have a moment alone the entire time we were there save for having a shower, which in my opinion is not the same thing as being alone. Furthermore, I didn’t have the chance to meditate in any meaningful way, though I did chant several times using the japa mala my fiancé bought at one time because of his interest in Hinduism.

To say that my fiance’s lack of religion and spirituality bothers me isn’t accurate; I’m not so much concerned with his adopting certain beliefs as I am his having no spiritual progress and no sense of deeper levels of reality. I would at least feel better if he would return to Hinduism and make some effort at practicing, but perhaps that isn’t how his life is meant to unfold, and I’m okay with that. He can live his life however he wishes.

Upon returning, I began to meditate again, and I came upon a very interesting conclusion- I need silence. Many times, actually, all the time, meditation results in endless loops of thoughts and songs (or pieces of songs) going on and on and on. I’ve often had a frustration about why I should give up such beautiful music or anything that makes me feel so good.

But the truth is, after not having anything approximating peace for close to a week, I realized that I do need silence and stillness. My family consists of a loud fiancé and a loud child. Fiancé is loud by virtue of his playing music loudly and making loud noises when he does things, and child is loud by virtue of his just being a loud kid.

I need my meditation to lead to stillness of the mind, to lead to silence, to lead to quiet, so I can just sit and be still and know that God is God, or know that Ultimate Reality is Ultimate Reality, or whatever the hell you want to say- and I need to rest there, in that Silence, for as long as I can.

Finally, I see Silence as superior to noise and movement; I see Stillness as something I want above other things. 

I’ve heard the phrase “Silence is God’s first language.” Well, good; God and I can then do some talking.

Stevo

Happiness, Fulfillment, Meaning, Separation, Ego

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While exercising earlier, I arrived at several conclusions, and perhaps these conclusions are springboards for even more complicated levels of reality.

Allow me to preface this by saying that I recently discovered a few things: a statement that I deserve happiness and fulfillment (and that everyone deserves such) causes a boost and a swelling in my otherwise typically damaged second chakra. This means that a key to healing this chakra has to do with allotting happiness and fulfillment for one’s self, perhaps even on an ego level.

Happiness and fulfillment are not the same, as one implies fullness or completeness and the other does not. The question is whether or not it’s perfectly possible to experience each independent of the other.

My experience is that an empty happiness is possible; one can be happy without the happiness having any kind of meaningfulness to it. Fulfillment seems to bring about what I would call “deep” or “subtle” happiness, perhaps more of a sense of contentment because one feels complete or whole.

Moving on. The striving for meaning relates to something I’ve questioned and mulled over dealing with the notion of something greater than us and independent of us endowing us with things such as meaning and ethics.

I read a long debate between some Catholics, non-Catholic Christians, and atheists on an apologetics blog recently; I took something like two days to actually read through the whole set of debates that were going on.

The essential notion is this: if a god or gods don’t exist in some capacity, then everything boils down to relativism or utilitarianism. The atheists attempted to argue back, but on this particular point, the notion of appealing to an objective set of ethics, they were completely and utterly lost; the only real answer that can be given at this point is that everything boils down to one’s subjective experience.

One could argue that meaning, ethics, and such things can only be given by something external to one’s self that is also greater than one’s self. Of course, the question here is: why would the existence of a god who gives such things imply that they have any more meaning at all? It’s strange to say that god’s existence somehow validates ethics, meaning, and so on.

And the point that the atheists and non-crazy Catholics could argue is that the assent given to the Catholic Faith, for instance, is a subjective assent- and the crazy Catholic arguing on the site couldn’t grasp that his subjective assent to the Faith was just as subjective as an atheist’s worldview.

Also, as I pointed out early on in my own theological adventures, arguing that a god exists or proving that a god exists is only one step in the process; the next argument, of course, is to prove the god in question is the “Christian” version of god exactly, yet the crazy Catholic didn’t even bother to go there.

That’s fine, though: the debate was forced to stay on topic for the most part, and this wasn’t a question that proposed or debated.

So, to break down what’s going on here, the need for something “greater than one’s self” is how we create meaning in life. Our ego, in other words, the very mechanism separating us from God, is what creates the contrast of experiencing meaningfulness in the universe.

I’m reminded both of the Hindu saying, “I don’t want to be the sugar; I want to EAT the sugar!” and the Sufi saying, “I want union, but He wants separation; thus, I leave what I want behind so that His wish comes true.”

So perhaps, then, the existence of the ego isn’t quite as big of a tragedy as we’ve thought it to be; perhaps the ego is meant to exist and be exhausted with the ultimate meaning, and then, and only then, can theosis occur. Only when God has been grasped by the ego’s experience as an infinite meaning can it be dissolved in a blissful moment of awe and triumph.

One might say that no god is necessary for this as society is greater than the individual. While this point may be the reference some use initially, society is ultimately a collection of subjectivities, and in a way, society is NOT “other” to one’s self.

A crude example that will be emblazoned in your mind from now on is that a little piece of shit can be compared to a big piece of shit, but they aren’t of a different substance; they’re the same shit, only one is “more” and “bigger.”

Thus, when making this statement, God’s being “bigger” than us is not enough; our substance must in SOME way vary from His own, for if it does not, then God is simply some variation of Man, and that’s not the case.

This isn’t to imply or suggest that the technicalities of, say, our soul ultimately being a spark of God can’t be dealt with or looked at, and maybe one might say that in the ultimate sense, we are not different than God, that God is NOT so other.

In this instance, I would argue that the mind’s mechanism of separating us from the God-stuff within prevents us from experiencing that God-stuff, and thus a part of us is experienced all too painfully as “other” or “separated” as well.

This may sound very cerebral, but my experience of it all was very lived and awe-striking.

Stevo

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