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

Imago Dei Revisited

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I affirm that I am a sinner.

Where I perhaps differ from other Christians in making this statement is that my affirmation of being a sinner is a reference to separation; my statement could otherwise be read as, “I affirm that I am separated from God.” 

Here, I depart, in some ways, from so-called “normative” Christian theology in that I do not see sin specifically in terms of moral failings. 

Restated, I do not see sin as being a matter of breaking arbitrary rules that have been set. The argument that the rules exist on a Divine level and somehow make sense there is unsuitable, and I reject it. 

In many ways, but not in every way, I also reject the concept of concupiscence as it states that humans are naturally disposed toward sinfulness or making moral failings. 

I do not deny that I fail, morally speaking, perhaps even on a daily basis, nor do I deny that I fall short of ideals and high standards I even set for myself.

These matters, in and of themselves, do not speak directly to separation from God. Rather, they are a by-product, an indirect consequence of separation from Holy Trinity. 

Direct consequences of the Great Separation are firstly the broken images, of which I will speak, and secondly the pain that arises from the broken images.

Two images of reality are broken in our separation from Holy Trinity: first, the Imago Dei itself. It is no wonderful that our modern Evangelical Protestant notion of God (and oftentimes, the older Catholic notion of God) appears as a war-like, angry father figure, what I term rather derisively as the “socially-sanctioned crystallized patriarchal archetype” of God. No wonder we have so many images of God that exist throughout time, all of them imperfect in some way, all of them symbolic in some way; light, when broken down, produces color, and while the color is beautiful, each individual ray does not tell the full story. 

So, we see in the glass darkly because our image of God is smashed, a broken mirror of the perfect Holy Trinity. 

But this is not the only issue; so, too, because we cannot clearly see the Imago Dei in its perfection, we cannot see the image of man clearly. Our image of ourselves is distorted in the same way.

I touched on this idea some time ago when I had a crying and laughing spell at an inner realization of God being man’s secret and man being God’s secret. Here we arrive at it again: we are deprived of two great secrets, one of which is God’s image, and one of which is man’s image, both damaged, though not permanently and irrevocably. 

So our Separation, for reasons that are not totally discernible, perhaps because we chose to leave, perhaps because we were forced to leave, perhaps because something malevolent forced us to leave, shattered both images of God and Man, and the pain of the continued brokenness is what forces us to seek a remedy for the pain. 

And this is where moral failing arrives: if we were to affirm the notion of concupiscence, let it be affirmed that it is only a poorly executed attempt to find relief from the Deep and Terrible Pain from which few have escaped save in the arms of Saint Death herself. We break rules thinking we are breaking the veils that keep us from Holy Trinity. 

And yet even our attempts to see Holy Trinity are misguided in so many ways; God is kept distant from us, God is kept in a broken image, several broken images, kept in a labyrinth of shattered mirrors that we might ever see our reflection and His reflection distorted and in our face, and what happens but that we bump into the glass and cut ourselves again and again. 

There is no greater oppression than to be separated from God. With God, all things are possible; God is our rest, our fullness, our peace, the fulfillment of every desire. 

I’m tired at this point in the mystic’s journey. I’m at a standstill in many ways. The pain of separation is too great. To carry on is to find the heaviness in my heart so great that it stops; to cease is to find the heaviness in my heart so great that it stops. 

And this pain brings to the light the evil within; pain begets evil. The more pain we feel, the more we cry out, the more we lash out, the more we lose control, desperately seeking something that will STOP the pain. 

If the death of me as an ego is the death of this pain, then I am ready. I am ready to die. 

Stevo

So many things…

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There are certainly too many things to say to fit them all into one blog entry, though I’ll try to summarize them and be brief in whatever way I can.

First, I’ve taken a method of learning to draw up “energy” from the Earth. As far as I can personally discern, there are three major “sources” of  “raw energy” with which spiritualists and mystics work: the energy of the Earth itself, the energy of the Heavens, and our own personal energy.

I’ve termed this energy “Black Fire” and have mentioned it many times over.

To give an example of what I do, I simply “visualized” the energy of the Earth beneath me coming up through my feet and into my body. My psyche immediately draws outward to my senses, and I’m more aware of the room, of my body, and so on and so forth; that is to say, instead of simply being “stuck” in my head, I’m more aware of my surroundings.

To awaken to one’s own senses in this world is, in my opinion, a crucial step on the spiritual path. An enjoyment of the use of the senses in this world and for its pleasures is one way to make them sharper and more useful for discerning the inner and spiritual worlds.

The same process holds true for absorbing “energy” from the Heavens/God/spirits/etc., except in said case, I visualized energy coming from the sky. A very simple but effective process for me. No need to overcomplicate it or over-think it as that will make the practice far less effective.

To build energy into my own black fire, I tend to visualize energy coming from the surrounding world. I’m not sure why that is, but it works, and that’s what I care about.

Lately, my life has improved drastically. Indeed, my life (externally) only seems to get better and better; in a manner of speaking, I feel as though I’ve finally arrived at the life of which I always dreamed, accomplishing the things I’ve always dreamed I would accomplish- living with a soon-to-be husband, being essentially a homemaker who studies things cooking and mystical, and devoting time to self-improvement and so forth.

The Summer is here, and I love the Summer more than any season. Psychologically, for me, Summer begins exactly on the first of June, no sooner, no later. The warmth and humidity of Florida bring a kind of thawing-out to my chilled bones which have shivered practically since last October even into May when we had a few ridiculously cold days for a May in Florida.

I spent May honoring the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which brings me to another notion: I’m attempting to spend each month of the year devoted to a specific object of Devotion. May is already the month of Mary, and June is the month of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I’ve worked out a few more months of the year (March is devoted to Saint Michael the Archangel as that was the first month I began attending the Episcopal Church and receiving Christ in the Holy Eucharist, December is devoted to Holy Sophia, and so on.)

What else, what else…after suffering two weeks of May with an incredibly awful sinus headache but recalling the whole time that my headaches precede spiritual grace or are the indicator thereof, I finally experienced some relief, and, beginning June 1st, this immense, deep joy began to overtake my life. My mind has moved out of some kind of fog, some kind of phase where I’ve been reconciling and remembering and figuring out this and that, likely on the unconscious level, and with the help of a few articles by Bishop Stephan Hoeller of the Gnostic Church, I’ve “leapt forward” in my consciousness by discarding my attempt to “fit neatly” into the so-called “orthodoxy” of mainstream Christianity. I’m un-orthodox in many ways, and that’s fine. I have to accept that Gnostics and mystics alike are part of the true and actual flow of consciousness and not subject to trying to fit into out-dated modes of doings things that are reliant on patriarchal consciousness that is rapidly falling away. This is, I think, where our current “culture wars” in the USA are actually having their battle: the people who are moving forward with the overall shift, growth, and expansion in human consciousness versus those people who are clinging to the death throes of a dying style of consciousness.

Inevitably, though, the so-called patriarchal consciousness is going to fall away, and a new, more expansive vision of things is going to arise instead. What will appear? I’m not totally sure. I don’t know if this is going to be a golden era, and I seriously doubt that, but things are changing in a fundamental way, and the best thing to do is to prepare for and work with this new consciousness that’s arising in the cosmic drama of life.

C’est la vie.

Stevo

Modern Gnostic Practices with Gnostic NYC

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A video from a group of Gnostics of different sects who discuss various mystical practices. They’re actually considering doing a weekly video, so I’m quite excited!

In Christ,

Beaux

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