A Reflection on the Holy Eucharist and the True Nature of Matter

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Dear God, I hope this isn’t too explosive to post or write, and I hope someone reads it and understands where I’m coming from.

The universe itself, indeed, the true nature of matter, is the very Body of Christ. What happens at the Mass is an “unveiling,” simultaneously in the Eucharist and in the participants themselves, of the true nature of material reality, which the typical consciousness of humanity cannot perceive directly. Each human is, prior to their own uniqueness, existent as the Imago Dei.

 

To receive Christ in the Holy Eucharist, then, is to be drawn into and united with the Mystery of the Holy Trinity. By revealing that our bodies are in fact consonant and derived from the Body of Christ, and to be lifted back from our fallen state into this Truth is one of the aims of the Mass.

 

The veil is torn, albeit for a temporary time, the same veil that divides the Imago Dei from the Body of Christ; the Holy Eucharist serves to tear the veil time and again, and with consistent practice on the part of the Faithful, the veil is eventually totally destroyed, at least in some instances.

 

After the veil has permanently been torn within an individual to reveal that the Imago Dei and the Body of Christ are synonymous in substance (though not ontologically the same), the Eucharist becomes an ever-living dialogue, the manifested, loving relationship of the Holy Trinity. This revelation does not, however, exhaust the Mystery of the Eucharist, for the Mystery of the Eucharist cannot be exhausted, its very nature being Divine.

 

The Communion of Saints is a reference to those who have fully been drawn into or participate fully in the Second Person of the Trinity, those both living and dead, without boundaries of Creed or any other such element of Identity or Division.

 

The God-Man Jesus Chrsit is a human Incarnation of the Divine Logos,the true, underlying, cosmic Principle and Nature. But in this context, “Principle” should not be understood as merely an abstraction conducive for the sake of human understanding; rather, the God-Man Jesus Christ is substantially a perfect human image of a vital and fundamental Reality beyond the normal human understanding of “Being.”

The argument against panentheism which would normally arise at this point is the result of a few mistake notions; first, the conceptual separation between God and Creation, and second, the notion that particulars in Nature in and of themselves are Divine without their greater participation in the underlying Christ. Creation is not a process that occurred once and now remains static; rather, Creation is an ever-continuous process rooted in the Body of Christ that unfolds; Creation is a Bodily Process of God, if you will.

 

A further explanation of the issue of panentheism is the honoring of Nature as Divine is really a product of the separated or fallen human consciousness as opposed to the Imago Dei’s experience of the Body of Christ. The process is an exercise in separation rather than a Fountain of Life-Giving Unity. The exception to this lies in the person who experiences his unity with Nature on the level of the Imago Dei, regardless of his particular set of terminology.

 

These are some rather undeveloped thoughts that I jotted down today and relate to a particular experience with the Christ-as-Earth-Father archetype I had recently. More later.

 

Beaux

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I never know what to title these entries anymore.

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I have now received Christ in the Holy Eucharist six times at the same parish. This, perhaps, may not be anything remarkable to anyone else; however, to me, it is something that I’ve wanted to do for years and am now actually doing.

 

Whether joining the Episcopal Church is a matter of trying to create an identity and whether or not the identity I am gaining in Christ is real is all up for debate, I suppose; one thing can be said, I do feel more complete than I have in quite some time, and that, in and of itself, seems to be a step in the right direction.

 

Another interesting thing is to hear an interview with Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee talking about how the mystical truths in early Christianity largely were suppressed, thus being taken over by the Muslim world- hence, Sufism.

 

At the same time, reading Paths to the Heart, a book exploring the relationship between Eastern Orthodox Christianity’s mysticism and Sufism heavily supports Llewellyn’s position on this matter. So, then, it is no wonder that I was tossed between the opposites of Catholic ritual and Sufi mysticism; they belong together and are not at war. The sense of Longing for God, of Loving God, of finding God both transcendent and immanent, is all together united.

 

At any rate, Christ has given me a new confidence in Him that I need, and it’s so strange to look back through my life to see those moments of Black Fire blazing, only to realize that Christ IS the Black Fire; my awareness of the Black Fire, then, was my becoming more mature in Christ by accepting who I am in Him and not who I am in the blasphemous idol that was created by the local churches of Christ.

 

To accept myself is to accept Christ’s work in me; it is to accept that God has a special place for me and a special plan for me in this world, and that I must live out what God has intended for me or suffer in a way that only exists for those who are inauthentic to themselves.

 

I will never stop being a mystic; in fact, mysticism is the heart of Christianity, is Christianity, and the real issue is that this basic reality has been forgotten.

 

The things I would not do for myself, I can do for Christ; I may never completely fall in love with the Lord as my Lover, except by His own grace, but we’re certainly like good friends now.

 

I realized something the other day, too; trying to categorize each religion by chakra is a silly thing to do, especially when we get to Christianity; Christianity uses ALL the chakras, though it’s true that the focus on the chakra system is almost non-existent. Most especially the heart and stomach chakras are used, as well as the throat chakra (what with the emphasis on singing, chanting, and praying.)

This sense of completion I have is, of course, a smaller completion compared to the larger completion that must take place in life. Perhaps the reality is that we are always the smaller mystery and Christ the larger mystery, and we can never fully enter into Him as we should.

 

But what I really mean to say is that, no matter how complete I am at this moment, there is still something greater to be completed, something greater to be done.

 

Yet the gratitude that’s pouring forth from me now is amazing; it’s happening mostly from an unconscious level, so I’m barely aware that anything’s going on, but it is, it IS going on!

 

Whether or not I should write about this in particular, I’m not sure, but recently, I acquired St. Augustine’s Prayerbook. In the prayerbook is a Novena to the Holy Spirit- and I plan to undertake the Novena just prior to Confirmation. This seems like an appropriate devotion to do before receiving the Holy Spirit.

 

Methinks what’s happening now is that the actual grace of the Holy Eucharist is reactivating the sanctifying grace of Holy Baptism that I received when I was younger- and perhaps my own religious devotions come largely because I DID receive Baptism and was sensitive enough to it, devoted enough to God, that God worked through all the heresy and blasphemy of the church and school I attended.

I pray that God would deliver us all into unity with Him.

 

Amen, and Amen.

 

Beaux

 

Christ as Sacrifice and More Mystic Journeys

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As usual, I’m not sure where to begin this entry.

I spoke with my friend Drew last night, briefly. We discussed our differences in outlooks concerning sinfulness- he has a more Islamic/Buddhist (and, according to Michael, Jewish) view- that humans are essentially good and that we can do evil things, but that the evil things are not evidence of a particular state of being.

My perspective, at this point, is different; everyone may already understand that I think we do have a sinful nature, that we are essentially rotten to the core.

Perhaps I should edit this, and say that it’s more accurate to say that is my fear- my fear is that, in this darkness, there is no God, there is only a Devil, and that we live in a chaotic world where it is the Lord and nothing will stop it from causing us to create destruction and evil, that good is simply an attempt for us to struggle against what’s real- namely, evil.

The intensity of the evil has sense faded but remains with me in a kind of ghostly manner- the smoke after the fire, if you will.

If we humans truly exist in a state where our innate nature is to hurt God (if indeed there is a God that is not Satan), then I am at a loss of what to say about reality, about life, about what the hell’s going on.

On the practical level, when arrested by these situations, the best thing to do is continue spiritual practice. So I’ve continued the dhikr/Hesychasm to the best of my ability, continued the Devotion to the Sacred Heart, and so on.

Then, yesterday, I took a daring turn. I said Mass again, the private Mass that I’ve been saying. I took the risk, knowing that it could potentially kill me, as I would be receiving in unworthily.

Yet, isn’t that part of the nature of Mass? We receive the Eucharist unworthily; we cannot make ourselves worthy. We rely on God’s grace.

And after the Mass, I felt alright, and I obviously did not die.

Later, when I readied myself for meditation, I was praying on my chotki. My chotki is actually a Tibetan Buddhist mala to which I’ve affixed a glitzy cross. It reminds me of Erik’s tree ornament and Jordan’s reference to how crosses of the ancient world were huge, jewel encrusted things. Very gorgeous, very ethereal in its own way.

So there I was, walking around, repeating the name of Christ, naked. I stared at the crucifix, asking all kinds of questions, wondering how these things fit together, what’s really going on. I’m at a loss at this point, because there’s never been anything in the mystical literature that explained what’s been happening to me.

I have looked into Jung’s explanations; he’s my first reference point to the Shadow. Jung posited two equally disturbing ideas that oddly make more sense than I would like for them to: in Jungian terms, the Trinity is, in a manner of speaking, incomplete. The Trinity seeks a Fourth, from the perspective of Masculinity that of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and from the perspective of the Good that of Evil, namely Satan.

Now, this is a terrifying concept; the idea of deifying Satan or that the Devil could in any way complete the Trinity is totally foreign to theology, but at the same time, there is an intuitive appeal to this notion. We see the idea of Good and Evil complementing one another and the destruction that they cause in such cases as The Dark Crystal.

 

But likewise, we see the opposite notion presented in the film Legend, in which the Devil-like entity is eventually destroyed and thrown into a vortex and whatnot.

The Blessed Virgin Mary has, in many cases, all but been lifted into the Trinity; theologically, the Church may officially not recognize her as Divine, but it’s still a reality- Mary is often regarded as being almost as important as Jesus, and, for the Christians that maintain God is exclusively in the masculine, she adds the important missing feminine element.

Personally, I have no problem with Mary’s deification; in fact, I encourage it.

Gnostics have a bit of a different route with this: the Holy Spirit is regarded as God the Mother, and God the Father is entirely beyond anything we can imagine, so “Father” especially becomes a relative term.

 

Anyway, the basic idea here is that somehow, the opposing forces have to have an alchemical fusion.

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, the Sufi teacher I’ve followed for so long, has said that we must accept our Shadow. He also says that our darkness becomes our own inner divinity.

That’s terrifying. So terrifying. The notion that somehow there is salvation for the Devil, who then becomes our own personal God.

At the same time, another idea I’ve kicked around is that perhaps the purification of the darkness IS the point- perhaps we are not all sent here to express the Light; perhaps we are sent here with darkness inside of us which we must purify and turn into Light, to redeem it. In other words, the Gnostic myth of Sophia’s fall is precisely what happens to us- except we are both Christ and Sophia, falling and being sent, to capture the darkness in ourselves and redeem it.

Thus, we participate in the act of salvation, being saviors of the universe, even as Christ is often said to be our savior.

Feeling alone doesn’t begin to describe what was going on last night. I just can’t figure out what’s happening, and I avoid thinking excessively about it- instead, I try to ask the important questions, the difficult ones, to face the things that others won’t, can’t, and aren’t.

I began trying to meditate and found it almost impossible to stop any thoughts; my mind was simply too far oriented towards figuring out this puzzle. Again, I’ve not seen anything in the literature I’ve read that explains WHAT TO DO at this point.

 

While trying to meditate, I prayed for the Holy Spirit to help me to pray; She is, after all, the means by which we learn to pray, are taught to pray. I heard a voice call my name, and part of the block in my heart chakra was removed.

Then an epiphany came.

I recalled last year when I was reading Pagan and Christian Creeds the parts about sacrifice and the evolution of sacrifice. I then remembered being at my friend’s birthday party in October of 2010 and standing near the campfire that was outside; I chanted, silently, the Hindu mantra “HUM” which is used for sacrifices, offering the burning fire as a ritual to God.

The feeling, the desire, to offer a sacrifice to a God is extremely primal, and then I realized something else: offering the Sacrifice of the Mass is synonymous with this. I realized that part of the ritual that is so important is that we’re programmed to sacrifice, to give up, to atone.

The longing returned to my heart. I realized that Christ is the Sacrifice, the Sacrifice to continually and eternally be offered to God. The importance of this realization is that Christ can at any time and any place be offered in our hearts to God.

So in all my beliefs about my wretchedness, in all my self-hatred, I came to a similar conclusion of Luther, in that I had to also accept God’s grace. That doesn’t mean that my penance has been for nothing; that doesn’t mean that my actions have not led me to where I am. Rather, it means that I affirm that the Mystery of Salvation takes place by the cooperation of Man and God, through Man’s Free Will and God’s Grace.

This, too, is exemplified in Christ- Christ is both God and Man, together, joining the natures. How perfect a Sacrifice!

God became man that man might become God.

I can’t begin to emphasize the importance of the Sacrificial nature of the Mass. This whole “let’s just remember Jesus” bullshit isn’t going to get us anywhere.

The epiphany had a greater character last night and has left and impression on me, though I’m waiting to see what happens next, because no one knows.

The oddness is how I’m still convinced that Christ can be offered to anything; it’s so strange to go from fearing that there is only an evil god ruling the world to somehow knowing that Christ can be given to God Most High.

Incidentally, that name is “El Elyon,” which can be easily read as “Alien.” If God turns out to be a grey alien, well, He can go ahead and delete me.

Beaux 

I, Satan

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How best to write this blog, I don’t know. This started last night as I was falling asleep, as a great deal of my psycho-spiritual work takes place in the dream world and especially on the borders between the conscious mind and the subconscious mind.

Let us first go back to a few nights ago, during the weekend, when I had dreams. I dreamed of seeing my friends Pam, Michelle, and Brandi, and we were all going to Montgomery for some LGBT event. In the dream, it seemed we were awake early, and I remember being excessively tired and wanting to back to sleep. I remember stopping at a restaurant and needing to pee but being unable to find the bathroom or shut the door in the bathroom or something.

At another point, I recall being at my house, outside, in the sunlight, and reciting prayers. Then the Light came, the warmth, the Inner Light that I’ve seen more and more frequently.

Allow me to go back even further; the first experience with the Light happened when I was in high school or had just started college; I can’t remember exactly when it was. When I first began participating in Wicca and doing rituals, I ended up triggering some kind of kundalini energy, which was often apparent in a hypnogogic state of mind.

The experience was one of intense vibrations, of an inability to move, of an expanded psychic awareness; the vibrations felt like I would be shaken to pieces, and a few times, I felt like I would come out of my body (though I never had an experience of astral projection.)

One time, this process continued, and then I suddenly saw a light. The light was so bright and so apparent that I thought someone had turned on a light in the room. I came out of the state and threw the covers off my head- nothing. No light. I was still in the dark.

I asked the only “mystic” I knew at the time what the light was. His response, in his pseudo-guruship idiocy was merely, “Shut up.”

Anyway, last year, I had a similar experience and posted about it on Facebook. When I would come into the light, everything would be still. No vibrations, no noise, just light- dead silence.

The terrifying part about this Light is that I’m the only person there. There is no God, no angel, no entity, nothing- just me.

Now, more recently, this has happened in a more gradual way. Back to last weekend’s dream. I was outside my house in the dream, I began praying, and the light gradually appeared. Now, I noted that it was warm, that it was real, that the more I prayed, the greater it became. There was no absolute silence; the vibrations came but were not strong. I think I prayed to not die, because the pressure on my chest grew so great I thought my heart might stop.

Now, to bring us up to speed: last night. I read an article yesterday that discussed how violence is addictive in the same way as food, drugs, and sex can be. That makes sense, and I would note that a good part of my own Shadow (in Jungian terms) is a repression of my sense of violence and aggression. I often lament the modern-day culture that seems to think that if we just all decide to be happy and not hate people that those things will go away. But the problem is, our inner evil is born with us. Men do not become evil. They only discover they are evil, then go from there.

Years ago, perhaps in the first hypnogogic experience ever, I was quite young. I had almost forgotten about the experience, but I recall that it involved a process where the “seed of Satan” was planted in me, and I remember being terrified and hearing people scream that it was too late, the “seed of Satan” had already been planted.

Last night, this all collapsed in on me, combined with my sense of shame and guilt that pervade so many aspects of my life, and I realized that Satan was inside of me.

This is not an easy realization. In fact, to accept that anything remotely related to the concept of “the Devil” exists, much less that it exists inside of me, is anathema to everything I’ve gone through since I left evangelical Christianity at age 15.

 

Then last night, I had strange dreams, but the dreams ultimately culminated in seeing the light again at one point while praying, and then in having a dream that involved a grey alien. Instead of running from the alien, instead of screaming, I reached out and touched its face as it began screaming at me.

Then I awoke with the dreaded epiphany, a realization that I did not want to face, a horrifying twist in the story of reality.

I realized that I am Satan.

Maybe it would be better to say that I am “a Satan.” But the core of me stood up, and I realized I was evil, out for myself and only myself, and that all good will was an attempt to steer myself away from what I truly and really wanted.

I could put this in Jungian terms and say that I’m facing my “Shadow,” but I want to express this as gravely as possible to make clear the reality of it.

The violence, the sex, the desire to destroy, the desire to cause mayhem, pain, destruction, and hurt other people simply because I want to revel in their hurt- indeed, the idea of destruction and more destruction makes me so giddy, so enthralled, that I can’t imagine that I would have ever presented to anyone in the world that I was a good person, that I had any sense of ethics or holiness.

It truly bewildering and somehow a great cosmic joke to have sought God and the Truth so fervently only to discover that the Truth is that I myself am Satan. All the the things I’ve read about our Higher Self, our Soul, some Divine aspect of ourselves; all of it rendered rubbish by one real experience.

I sought gnosis. Well, I got it. I got what I wanted- at least part of it- and even though I don’t like what I see, I accept it because that’s all I can do.

Naturally, during this process, there are moments when I see myself as Satan and then see myself as containing mostly Satan. This sense of absolute sinfulness, of not only being pure sinfulness, but being the actual cause of sin in the first place, and the notion that I will burn forever because of the mayhem, is ridiculously strong.

Yet to see that I don’t care about the eternal judgment, so long as I can bring down everything with me, is what ultimately is bewildering. I can’t care about tomorrow when today I can steal, kill, and destroy.

Is there forgiveness for me? I don’t know. I have never felt this evil before. I have never felt this level of “bad.”

The only good news is that, knowing that I am the worst thing that exists, I understand that I have reached the ontological threshold of “bad.” Nothing can be worse or more awful than this inner Satan phenomenon. This is it. This is THE worst thing, from which all bad things flow.

The kind of power that exists in Satan is amazing. It is truly amazing. I understand his words to Christ that if he bows down and worships him, he can give Him anything He desires. It’s true. Having this sense of evil inside makes me have confidence I didn’t know I could have. When you just don’t give a fuck about anyone else, well, you don’t have anything to lose.

So this is where I am. I wondered when I first broke with Christianity if perhaps I were the Antichrist- I loved all religions, I wanted to see peace in the world, and I’m a grade-A Sodomite. The perfect Antichrist cocktail.

This whole process is exhausting, all this awful emotions, and the awful sense that I could get exactly what wanted by crushing anyone and anything that’s in my way while simultaneously standing horrified that it’s possible and that I’m somehow the cause of it.

If this is only the integration of the Shadow, well, by God, I pray for every bit of grace possible, but I dare not receive Christ in the Eucharist, unworthy as I am now, for it would surely kill me.

Pray for me, Holy Mother of God, that I may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Beaux

The Unitive State: An Experiential, First-Hand Account

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First, it would be ill-advised for us to go into the subtle metaphysical arguments of this matter, mostly with regards to how something like a no-ego state can even begin to have a “first-hand” account, as what is meant by the “no-ego” state is essentially a sudden lack or existence of subjectivity.

Otherwise, I would say to my readers, and especially to my brother-in-spiritual, a Red State Mystic, prepare yourself.

The second thing I want to establish is that, because of all the horrible things that has happened because of religion and because of religious authority’s abuse especially, I fully understand why so many people become skeptical and dismiss religion and most of all, I personally have understood and stated forthrightly in this blog my own dismissal of labeling myself as Christian- several self-identified Christians in the past have much to answer for, no matter their Church or denomination.

But this entry isn’t about defending or attacking Christianity, either. Rather, this is to comment further on what I’ve encountered and on what may well be the dawning of the Unitive State.

In the Autumn of 2007, I took it upon myself to become serious about my spiritual search. Everything that I have studied since then has almost exclusively fallen within the range of Gnosticism, Christianity, and Sufism. An underlying and connecting philosophy among these system is Neo-Platonism, though that’s again oversimplifying matters.

This is also when the experiences began starting- various kinds of insights about Christ, as it were, and of course, all kinds of experiences that way outside of any of the above mentioned systems.

Notwithstanding, eventually I came to identify what I call the Black Fire with my being Christian and with Christ. But more to the point, the Black Fire has two modes- one mode which is within, or immanent, and one mode which is without, or transcendent. The most intense moments are when this Black Fire is felt both within me and in the world around me, and this happens most especially at night when I’m driving alone but not exclusively so.

Even more recently, though, I came to realize the very real and tremendous reality of the Void that may be called Christ, something I’ve mentioned recently here. The Void seems to have been looming, moving closer and closer to me, and I’ve been forcing myself to do psychological work- facing various pains and confusions within myself, along with very real moral problems and conflicting impulses that make me a rather neurotic person on the whole.

Last night, something- and I’m not exactly sure what- happened. Something gave way within me.

Remember how I mentioned Christ as being the Earth Father Archetype? I felt the Void coming from both below and above me, moving into itself through me, uniting around my stomach area and moving even further than that- from Void to Void, from above to below and below to above.

What I came to see is exactly how deep the soul is, to put it poetically; I came to see the vast Nothingness that spreads out beyond our regular conscious mind, and it’s truly outstanding and amazing to see that absolute stillness within.

And from that point, I watched as various emotions would arise inside of me, and, as my friend Drew who is certainly in the unitive state said, be then reduced back into energy within the mystical sea.

This is identical to what Bernadette Roberts speaks of- the whole process of emotions arising and then going down the “drain” of God. Nothing sticks to one at this point- you still get angry, you still feel fear or jealousy or something from time to time, but it will fade just as quickly back into the Void.

So the realization also came to be something that has not been well-mentioned in Christianity. Christ doesn’t just live “in” our hearts. Christ is our heart. This is a mystery and difficult to explain. More to the point, I understand now what the Sufis mean about taking one step towards God, and he takes 10 steps towards us- this experience, this encounter, is more the process of God’s Grace, sheer and perfect and absolute, God’s Infinite Mercy, than my own efforts.

Lyrics from Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”

Just like a prayer, your voice can take me there
Just like a muse to me, you are a mystery

Just like a dream, you are not what you seem
Just like a prayer, no choice, your voice can take me there

I’ve listened to this song repeatedly recently. The lines in particular standing out to me are, “Just like a muse to me, you are a mystery.” This certainly describes Christ, but more importantly, this describes God’s view of us. And my favorite line of all, “Just like a dream, you are not what you seem.” This certainly rings true of my ultimate relationship to Christ or the Void.

Now, some might ask why I’m attempting to label the Void as “Christ” and not some other deity, or why I’m making this identification. I found quickly last night that if I didn’t use some kind of word to describe it, that I couldn’t process it mentally; and this must certainly be what the Sufis mean by the necessity of a “container” for the energy, because otherwise it’s helter-skelter. So, too, this is where the importance of the Holy Eucharist comes in for Christians, as the whole process of communion gives a substantial form by which we can understand and commune with Christ.

But further than that, from the union of the soul with Christ, I saw something even more important: “Just like a dream, you are not what you seem” refers also to humans. We are not what we seem and never have been so.

Red State Mystic, if you’re reading this- I can’t begin to explain the implications I have seen, but this must certainly have to do with the Fall of Mankind. The ultimate implication is that in the so-called Fall of Mankind, we began to see ourselves as we are not- this is the ultimate trick of Satan, as it were, though I have no idea how Satan fits into all this symbolically or mythologically, unless he represents our animal drives, and even then, I think that’s not quite correct.

So Christ’s coming then reveals not only the nature of the Divine but also the true nature of mankind. If one could see humanity from the standpoint of God, one would understand that as much as God is man’s mystery, MAN is GOD’S MYSTERY.

So, too, we must also see that while in the Holy Eucharist we apparently receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, in the same way, Christ receives our Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity.

Here’s to the further mysteries and revelations about God.

For me to not be Christian, I sure am a good poster-child, don’t you think? Hah!

Last night also saw a few strange psychic events. I dreamt that my friend Rheana called me and talked to me. When I awoke, five minutes into being awake, I received a text message from her. Otherwise, I didn’t sleep well- this state continued heavily until about three in the afternoon or so and has tapered off a bit but hasn’t completely gone. The emotions don’t seem to be “going down the drain” as easily at this point, but there’s definitely some kind of huge dent in the ego, and it won’t be long before it’s swallowed up whole, I bet! YAY!

Beaux


On Celebration and Paganism and More

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I sat down to write an entirely different blog than what’s about to come out.

Mainly, I think that celebration is a specific aspect of religion that has attracted me for quite some time without my being able to put my finger on it. The holidays in Catholicism, the Feast Days and such, made me especially proud.

So, too, my flirtations with Paganism and specifically Wicca largely dealt with the High Holy Days, at least in recent years. The Wheel of the Year, the High Holidays, the Formalized Rituals- this all appeals to me at my current age and since I was 22 or 23.

My blog is not the place to debate the origins of modern Paganism or Wicca or how one can identify one’s self and so on; others will rage with the battle of self-identification until the cows come home, and I’m not here to deal with that.

Naturally, it’s quite likely that most teenagers are attracted to Paganism for the aspect of self-empowerment. Contrary to what many would have you believe, the dark aspect of Wicca is something that attracts them. The image that one is a “witch” and that one can “cast spells” on one’s enemies is definitely one of power, of intimidation- and thus it frightens people, even those who boldly proclaim that they aren’t fearful, because even they have a subconscious fear that the Wiccans may actually have some power.

Paganism as a whole stands in a kind of limbo with itself. Pagans will argue amongst themselves almost as much as Christians; it’s truly amazing that a religion that should be encouraging freedom and life becomes so quickly absorbed in debates within itself.

Different than Christianity, Paganism has no centralized authority external to itself. I used to refer to this as a double-edged sword, meaning that Paganism lacks the kind of structure that we see in Christianity. However, as per the often chaotic state of Christianity, despite the sources of authority being the Pope, the Bible, Tradition, Reason, and sometimes experience, apparently external authority matters less than I think.

But the trick here is that there’s still some kind of recognizability; walk into a Catholic or Anglican parish, and you’ll notice the overarching similarities.

One Pagan’s altar can vary from another’s in the craziest way- and that’s okay. That’s truly okay. Pagans often have to make do with what they have, so it’s not a criticism.

But back to the point. Previously, I was interested only in casting spells; later on, my interest was in the use of psychological symbols and rituals that were structured and analogous to the Christian rituals.

This makes me think of the days that I flirted with Gnosticism. No, I didn’t flirt with Gnosticism- I would have been a prime example of a Gnostic were there a Gnostic parish around me. Modern Gnosticism unites Christianity, Paganism, and Buddhism- three religions that have been most influential on me- into a system that is beautiful and coherent.

How do I break this down?

Gnosticism, as I have known it, uses the rituals, imagery, and symbolism of Catholicism. Thus, it is intuitive to me and familiar.

Gnosticism emphasizes the Divine Feminine– an aspect that is sorely missing in Christianity as a whole and tends to be reflected in the Virgin Mary- but she is emphatically stated to be not God. This distinction is clearly made, despite the greatest howling of Evangelicals.

Gnosticism has an understanding of the psychological nature of the human being. Our psyches are broken down and explained, then taken and put into the context of a transformative ritual. (This reflects what we established before about the ability of the liturgy to transform the individual.)

I say that, but how does Sufism fit in? Sufism is arguably Gnosticism in an Islamic context. The Sufism I follow is mostly Sufism from a Hindu context, using both Arabic and Sanskrit words; moreover, Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee says one can be a Sufi in any religion. But saying Gnostic Sufi sounds awfully redundant.

Ultimately, these are all means to an end, not an end in themselves. I cannot mistake the finger for the Moon, but sometimes intellectuals become too big for the britches and get caught up in the concepts.

So why the turn to a more orthodox Christianity? I searched and searched for the mysticism present in it. Again, no Gnostic parishes are nearby. The mysticism is there- specifically in the Holy Eucharist- but it is difficult to extract and appears to come with a package deal. The Episcopal Church offers the best deal- the liturgy and so on being the most traditional. But I easily find myself getting lost in the attempt to extract the mysticism.

I find myself agreeing with the Gnostics about almost everything. Almost.

Now why can’t they open a church here?

Interestingly, Bernadette Roberts has many conclusions and explanations of the Holy Eucharist that overlap with Gnostic perspectives. I would say “theology,” but there is no “orthodoxy” of philosophy in Gnosticism.

Beaux


Processing, Translation, and Explanation: An Ordeal, and More on Christ

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First, I’ll initiate this blog by saying that translating one’s experiences can often be difficult, because we all come into a situation of communication with presuppositions and sometimes think that others have at least a basic grasp on the things we’re discussing when often they do not. So, I first want to welcome each and every one of my readers here to ask questions, to send me messages, to speak to me, here, on Facebook, on IM, or whatever means, if there’s something I say in particular that needs clarification or doesn’t make total sense.

Second, I want to explain that I am not an enlightened person. Stumbling up the mountain of enlightenment may indeed be a good metaphor for what I’m going through, but I am by no means a guru, a teacher, a swami, or someone who can teach anyone else. While the Sufis are adamant and wise to suggest that all we need to arrive on the Other Shore is someone who walks but a single step ahead of us, I would daresay the person walking behind me might find themselves tripping over me and smashing their nose into the ground as I became distracted by a butterfly or an apple or something seemingly innocuous.

Recently, I’ve had an increase of psychological healing. But as I’ve known for a while and as a few good teachers can point out, the healing of the individual traumas and integration of the Shadow in the psyche is not synonymous with enlightenment. A sign of maturation, yes, but a dissolution of the ego and eventually the entire Self, no.

So, as a disclaimer of sorts, I want to make everyone who reads my blog understand that I’m doing this as a first-hand account of what I personally have experienced and still encounter, a sort of real-time record of the journey and the trials and struggles that I face on it. Most accounts of the journey appear to be written from a retrospective standpoint, and thus we only hear about when expectations have been defied from that reference point. Here, I can clearly state expectations and projections and then test how they play out.

In my last blog, I mentioned a few things about Bernadette Roberts and not having a clear “system” of what to do. Now, I’ll give a further critique of Christianity and try to explain why the system appears difficult.

Christianity is, in my opinion, a difficult and cumbersome system, and I don’t mean to convey this in the same sense that a typical Evangelical would mean it: “Of course it’s difficult, it’s the TRUTH! Of course it isn’t easy to be a Christian!” This amounts to simply being, “We’re right, and so any adversity we face necessarily is proof that we’re right.”

What I mean to convey is that Christianity doesn’t tell us what to do, and when it does, the doing is in terms of ritual and has little to no direct psychological work. (I’ll address the role of the Mass and of the Sacraments momentarily, but let’s keep going where we are.) Christ says to love our enemies. Okay, but how does one do that when one naturally reacts with fear, anger, distrust, and yes, even hatred of one’s enemies? How does one simply stop hating?

So the equivalent of telling someone to love their enemies without explaining how to do deal with the hate first is of telling a child to go bake a cake for his grandparents without the child knowing how to cook. The child can certainly identify a cake, knows what a cake tastes like- much as the Christian knows what love feels like- but the child isn’t given the tools or the instructions that break the cake down into something he can create, and even then, he needs help from a parent most of the time to learn how to do this in the first place.

The most we’re offered is that we should simply resist the flesh, but herein lies the problem: when the “flesh” becomes intoxicated with its own desire, resisting that desire is not only difficult, it’s almost impossible. From what I have personally observed, one cannot “resist” the flesh; one must simply ride out the emotion or distract one’s self, as a one-to-one battle with the instincts will certainly lose and one will give in. There are no tools that are given, no instructions that are given.

Ideally, and I say ideally for a reason, we’re to love God so much that our love for him simply exceeds the passions of the flesh, minimizing our ability and tendency to sin. But this works largely only in hypothesis and is rarely, if ever, carried out in the world around us. The majority of people don’t do bad things or “sin” because they’re afraid of temporal and eternal consequences or, on the flip side, are greedy for temporal and eternal rewards. Rarely have I seen Christians being ultimately motivated by love, but I have seen it, so I know it happens; mostly, Christians seem motivated by greed and fear, which is to say, greed for heaven and fear of hell. Rarely does a Christian seek God for God’s sake. Perhaps this can just as easily be said of any other religion, and I’m not going to contest that here.

But let’s not throw the baby out with the baptismal water. Andy of a Red State Mystic makes an extremely good point in one of his responses to a comment: the beauty and holiness of the Christian liturgy will, in and of itself, eventually transform the individual. In many ways, there is a parallel here to Sufism, as it speaks of God transforming one and not the other way around. Thus, one’s ego does not have a hand in the transformative process and cannot upset it. The mysticism of Christianity is found largely in the Holy Eucharist. Simply go and partake of the Holy Eucharist, and the Great Work is done within you- Christ freely offers himself.

So the Christian mystical transformation may well begin on the unconscious level, comparable to that of the (Golden) Sufis. In theory, the transformation simply happens on its own accord, and one day you awaken enlightened. The difficulty then is the steadfastness and patience required to wait for the transformation to take place, and that is where I find myself: questioning, wondering if there’s anything happening at all. Where are the synchronicities? Where are the signs? Where is the Face of God? Moreover, the Earth has come to a crisis point with itself: there isn’t time for me (or anyone) to wait for a 30-year-process to transform us. But there also isn’t time to waste just thinking something’s happening on the unconscious level if there’s not a true restructuring taking place.

I can daresay most modern Americans cannot fathom the idea of receiving the Holy Eucharist as being a transformative process, but there’s a great deal of theory and explanation behind why it is a transformative experience. I am not concerned with a salvation in the afterlife; I am not concerned with what happens when we die so much as I am concerned with living out the divine destiny in this world, to ultimately alleviate the suffering that we as humans encounter.

As most of my readers know, earlier this year, I gave up Christianity for the third time in my life. I spoke to a friend the other night who asked if it was Christianity that had abandoned me or Christians. To add to this, he may as well have asked if Christ had abandoned me.

Frankly put, I don’t think most Christians understand their tradition. To put this into words is difficult, and certainly I’m not the first person to come along and claim that the majority of a people in a religion don’t understand their religion and what’s really being said or what’s really going on. There is a useful Christian expression about making God in one’s image, but typically this is used by a particular denomination to refer to a contradiction of the authoritative image of God in that denomination; making God in one’s image means not following the Jewish image of God according to Genesis or the early Christian image of God according to the Greeks and Romans or some other such ilk. In essence, one is redefining the definition of “God” according to that denomination.

But herein lies the exact problem: God ultimately transcends and outright explodes any system that attempts to quantify him (or it.) God exists above and beyond the images we make of him, and this, perhaps, is why the Jews prohibited idols and initially a Temple: ultimately, God could not be contained in one particular form or image. So any ideas and formulations and opinions about God we have ultimately are blown apart by the sheer enormity of God.

It’s also no secret that if one reads the Old Testament, the God presented there is not much better than the the pagan deities who demand blood sacrifices and are violent and so forth; Jehovah doesn’t come off as being any holier or better than Zeus or Thor or any other deity of the ancient world. Theologically, the only difference is that Jehovah doesn’t have anyone with whom to compete.

It’s also no secret that, despite what many evangelical Christians now think, the early Christians didn’t regard the Old Testament as that big of a deal, which is to say that the image of God being so human-like was ridiculed and used as one of the major reasons why the Jews “got it wrong.” God the Father in the New Testament is extremely lofty and transcendent, loving, holy, ethereal, beyond our comprehension and senses as opposed to the smite ’em up Jehovah of the Old Testament.

Catholic Christianity has dealt with this with mediocre success. Conservative Protestant Christianity will likely wrestle with it until the day they die. The Gnostics did the best job, though: the Old Testament deity simply isn’t the same as God the Father, but a kind of imposter an inferior God. Christ comes to liberate us and reveal the True God.

Protestant Christianity, when not devolving into complete “modern worship” ilk, simply exists as a kind of reformed and continuous Judaism. Judaism is the real mystery, and Jehovah is their God; humanity screws up, so Jesus is sent to complete the mystery of Judaism. Thus, Judaism is the essentially puzzle of Christianity, and Jesus Christ is the missing piece to the puzzle. You now have the whole picture; nothing is left out once Jesus comes as the Christ.

But Catholic Christianity has more to wrestle with. There is a greater depth of mysticism and practice; the Mystery of Christ and the Gospel certainly almost completely usurp the place of the Jewish tradition, while still maintaining many aspects of it such as the structure of the Temple, the Tabernacle, the use of incense and candles, and the Priesthood. The vibe of Catholicism being different from Protestantism cannot be chalked up to being simply because of early “pagan” influences of Christianity. Rather, Catholicism relates to Judaism in the exact opposite way that Protestantism does: Catholicism sees CHRIST as the TRUE MYSTERY of God and Reality, and Christ was ultimately intended to be the TRUE MYSTERY the entire time; what we see then is that Judaism’s role in Christianity is almost incidental! Referring back to the image of the puzzle, instead of the puzzle being complete except for one piece, Christ reveals that Judaism is only a small fraction of the real puzzle, only a small hint at the true tremendous reality of God and reality.

Now, a word about Anglicanism and the Episcopal Church.

A Red State Mystic is by no means a closet Episcopalian or mystic. He certainly has been granted the gift of Faith which I have not been, and he’s much more comfortable in the world of Christian orthodoxy than I am. So much the better, as he can communicate with more orthodox minded Christians what his experiences and encounters with God are in a language they will understand. He, too, has run into the same problem I formerly ran into with the “label game.” Anglicanism is a broad term. One Episcopal Church may be “I can’t believe it’s not Catholic” whereas another may be “I can’t believe it’s not Methodist.” There is no set standard or rule for it. To clarify where Andy’s sentiments (and mine) have lain, he has used the word “Anglo-Catholic” in the past but recently wrote this blog entry discussing why the term “Anglo-Catholic” may be unsuitable at this point. His assertions are incredibly fair and accurate when compared against my own experiences.

I cannot, at this point, properly term myself “Christian.” I have too many issues with Christianity, I have too many bad memories of it, too many negative encounters, and too many attempts at forcing the “Christian worldview” onto the world as I actually experience it. In some technical way, or, in some mystical way of which I am not yet aware, I may indeed be Christian whether or not I would like to admit it. But if I were going to participate in Christianity, I would do so at the Episcopal Church, which is to where many dreams would point. I would pray for God to show me which church I should join. I would dream of the Episcopal Church. This is not a difficult thing, especially since this happens so consistently. My other option would be the Gnostic churches, but they are so few and far in between that joining one would require a move across the country.

My main perspective on Anglicanism at this point is that it should be understood as its own tradition- instead of arguing that it is Catholic or that it is Protestant or that it is both, it should argue that it is neither- it is its own tradition in its own right with its own compromises and its own peculiarities. No one should categorize it as Catholic or as Protestant; it should be categorized only as Anglicanism. That’s a harsh pronouncement, but that is where I would stand at this point.

Most of that is quite cerebral, I am aware, and little of it has anything to do with the so-called actual practice that I constantly refer to as being missing from the writing. But the underlying theory on why one participates in such a practice is also necessary. One cannot simply have the practice without understanding what is going on, nor is it good to have theory without any kind of practice and test grounds.

Now, I turn to another subject, which goes back to Christ (who else?). The essential mystery of Christ may be that he has never been who he has portrayed to be. Several Christian mystics have come upon the horror of their image of Christ being destroyed and replaced with the raw reality of Christ, and I think this may be the key to my own experience as well. What we think Christianity is- and who we think Christ is, at least in the typical sense of both these words- happens to be incorrect, an image that has been perpetuated through misunderstanding and misinformation for the sake of power and control and so on.

But the question is why the impression of the raw reality would still be that of Christ. Is it simply a mislabeling, a forcing of the reality into a particular paradigm? Most lately I have encountered him as a kind of elder brother figure who guides me through the Void that is Reality. Is this really Christ, or is Christ only a convenient name we give to this strange reality? I wrote before about the connection among Lord Shiva, Christ, and the Earth Father Archetype. But even with that connection being established, I take into account that Archetypes are never experienced in-and-of themselves; only images and hints at the reality of the Archetype are encountered.

On the one hand, this all seems important, and on the other hand, it all seems to be a bunch of intellectual masturbation.

I know this blog has been long and tedious, so if you’ve made it this far with me, you have my thanks.

Beaux


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