Animus, Anima, Archetypes

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Gnosis tends to creep up on us. 

Lately, I’ve noticed the use of the word “gnosis” to be different for different people. This seems only natural as its unfortunate how often people have completely different definitions for the same word. Largely, I myself had conceived of “gnosis” to refer to direct or first-hand knowledge about God; in other words, “gnosis” is the “information” about God that’s apprehended in, say, a vision of God or an angel or some sort of spiritual being. That is “gnosis” as opposed to “epistemis,” which is instead a hypothetical knowledge that potentially derives from a specific line of reasoning but is not necessarily something that one has encountered for one’s self. 

So, this is the manner in which I use the word “gnosis.” I don’t use the word to refer to enlightenment or some kind of higher level of knowledge as other Gnostics do; instead, “gnosis” is used kind of like “grace.” One might be in a state of grace, one might be in a state of gnosis, but gnosis is not equivalent to something like Nirvana or theosis; on this point I agree, but I would also disagree with the Gnostics in the Apostolic Johannite Church who insist that the goal of Gnosticism and Christianity is not Nirvana or enlightenment but gnosis as gnosis seems something like the building blocks that lead to Nirvana.

Enough of this. To the point. 

Earlier today, something registered with me. I initially had a suspicion that the dyadic nature of Christ/Sophia suggested in some way the Animus and Anima, and so, too, I think this is even more clearly represented and supported by the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary whereby Mary is understood to represent the functions of Sophia in a parallel way that Jesus represents the functions of the Christ. 

The problem, of course, is that in circles mystic, esoteric, New Age, and otherwise, the Christ Consciousness is almost always attributed to being the elusive Higher Self/Buddha Nature. This poses a problem, because if Christ represents the Higher Self, then how can He also represent the Animus?

The answer exists to some extent in the sphere of Gnosticism and those who would separate the Eternal Christ from the man Jesus. Jesus of Nazareth becomes the image of the Animus; hence the concept of the “Sacred Heart of JESUS.” I’ve never come across literature who refer to the Sacred Heart as the “Sacred Heart of Christ.” Not once. The Sacred Heart of Jesus is the phrase always used. Thus, the notion is that the Eternal, Pre-existent Christ is the Self and cannot be given a specific form but the man Jesus DOES have a specific form or image- hence, the Animus, the Ideal Image of the Masculine. This is further supported by the Sacred Heart itself and the countless images of Jesus pointing to His Sacred Heart as if to say, “I AM Love; I AM the Passion; I AM the Animus.”

However, for heterosexual men, the parallel devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary is necessary. Devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary is necessary in order for the man to integrate the Anima into himself, I think. Her perpetual virginity is easily explained in the sense that the Anima can NEVER be truly touched or defiled; projected, yes, but ultimately, the Anima is a part of the person, and thus the Blessed Virgin Mary is a perpetual virgin who is the Queen of Heaven because she is assumed into the Divine Self once the person has fully (or mostly fully) integrated the Anima. 

This, too, explains why the notion is that she is conceived without sin, that she is immaculate, even as Jesus was sinless; both the Anima and the Animus are CONCEIVED IN THE PSYCHE WITHOUT STAIN OR FAULT. 

I have no idea how I know these things; archetypal relationships just seem to pop out at me, and that reinforces the notion that I must approach Christianity through a Jungian lens for it to make sense.

A while back, a friend said something to me along the lines of how he just can’t take most of Protestantism seriously, and I agree. Protestantism seems so geared toward decidedly making itself Not Catholic that the archetypal relationships are all but lost; it isn’t to say that the Catholic variety of Christianity doesn’t have its own issues, for it does, but for a different set of issues. 

More and more, it does seem that the Gnostics are about the only Christians in the history of the religion who actually knew what they were talking about. 

Stevo

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Wicca, Christianity, Rituals, Thoughts

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Good grief, I know, I make a bad habit of constantly repeating myself on this blog, but right now, I have a few excuses, namely one: I’m sick, and I’ve been drinking Hot Toddies, so I’m in a position to not be completely in my head.

When I first left fundamentalist/evangelical Christianity and entered into the world of religious exploration, the religions to which I finally came after all was said and done were Wicca and Buddhism. For years, I held these two, and they stayed in conflict theologically. I could never make up my mind which I was, and I simply had to say that I was both Wiccan and Buddhist- a concept that not many people could grasp.

This same cycle repeated itself in recent years with Christianity and Sufism.

The content came down to this: one system would articulate the need for inner transformation and offer Nirvana, and the other system would offer a set of rituals and an external beauty; one religion focused on the inner world, and another the outer world.

More hurtful is the process of trying to explain to others that I don’t actually change my religion, I only change the “language” in which I speak that religion. It has been a long and difficult road, and it’s difficult for me to guess that someone could pick a religion, agree with everything in it, and then go on in life with, “Well, that’s that.”

Yet I do envy those people on one level.

Anyway, the more I reflect on it, the more I realize that perhaps it was not Wicca and Buddhism that were in conflict but rather my idea of what each represented to me: one represented power in this world, one represented liberation from everything.

In other words, one represented a catering to the ego, the other represented its destruction and dissolution.

Now, of course, we also have huge problems with Wicca for other reasons. The system is admirable, to be sure, in its most idealized form- it is, in my opinion, a stripping down of Western religion and an iteration of it through generalized symbols for the archetypes and the Divine. The original form of Wicca with which we are acquainted, from the mid-1900s, actually has several laws and by-laws and so on.

Modern day Wicca isn’t quite the same. Instead, it’s become a Pop Witchcraft phenomenon; there are infinite numbers of cheesy Wicca 101 books to be found in every bookstore, and though some of them have tons of information, they almost invariably miss the point or don’t go deep enough.

Some would say that about 99% of religion, but I’m not here to address that.

Some would also say that I could’ve simply taken the Buddhist deities and inserted them into the Wiccan pantheon and gone from there.

This brings us to one of the most irritating aspects of Wicca: when people, who don’t understand what it is, who haven’t studied it, who have no idea that there is something to be said for organization and tradition, say the damnable words, “It’s whatever you want it to be.”

No. No, the fuck it isn’t. It’s never been “whatever you want it to be” and it never will be. If you want a religion that’s “whatever you want it to be,” go call yourself an Eclecto-Religio-Practice-Person or something, don’t call yourself Wiccan.

Back to the Buddhist pantheon. First, I understood that, while there may be Buddhist deities who cater to the various spheres of life, Wicca, too, was a Western, not an Eastern, thing. Randomly inserting Eastern traditions into the Western mindset would upset some kind of balance I saw in the whole process, and besides, the Buddhists don’t necessarily work with the deities in the way that a Wiccan would, so the process is culturally and theoretically removed.

This, too, was the beginning of trying to make things all fit together, of trying to have the so-called elusive “seamless garment.”

Wicca, on the whole, has turned into a kind of Protestantism. Not Protestant Christianity, but Protestant OF Christianity. The few individuals who would dare take Christ entities and insert them into the Wicca system are immediately dubbed “Christo-Pagans” and ridiculed.

But in a way, that ridicule is understandable; somewhere, hidden in the depths of Wicca, IS the Protestantism FROM Christianity; it’s part of its heritage, its lifeblood, complete with the mythology of the “burning times” and blaming Christianity for everything bad that ever happened, not unlike the dimwitted Modern Atheists™.

A good example of this I read recently was on a series of articles I once praised on witchvox.com. The author did a good job (or so I had thought) in going through Wicca, doing research, and separating what can be traced to ancient religions and cultures and what was most likely an invention of Gardner.

Then I saw a statement about the Cakes and Ale. Now, recently, Michael and I had a conversation about how the Wiccan communion is related to the Holy Eucharist; indeed, this much is obvious, because it maintains a certain thematic integrity.

But the author of this article said that the Eucharist was based on the Celtic ritual of blessing grains and alcohol, and that the Roman Church “borrowed” the ritual, and then Gardner “borrowed” it back.

That’s an example of shitty scholarship, folks.

 

Now, I’m not going to try to convince anyone, including myself, that the Holy Eucharist is entirely something related to the Passover meal and Jesus’s words and so on, but let’s not forget that DID happen. Pagans and Jews alike pretty much ate bread and drank alcohol, so saying the Celts blessed grain and alcohol (AKA, prayed over food) and that somehow the Catholics stole this idea of blessing food and inserted Jesus into the mix just doesn’t make any sense.

But then, there are the Wiccans who say that the Christians stole all things ritual from them, and then there are the Christians who agree with the Wiccans that the Eucharistic traditions did just that; neither group checks into the rituals written of in the Hebrew Bible, apparently, where there are candles, incense, bread, wine, and prayers everywhere.

Oh, yeah, and there’s that part in Genesis about the High Priest Melchizedek offering bread and wine to God Most High.

So the idea of bread and wine being offered to the Divine is a pretty ancient idea, just saying.

And also, I should point out, I’m not here to defend Christianity or discuss the atrocities committed in Christ’s Name or anything along those lines; Christianity will have a great deal to answer for in the hereafter, even as it has a great deal to answer for in the here and now.

Nor am I here to blast sincere, seeking Wiccans. Wicca has a good theory underlying it, and it’s potentially empowering for the individual. The mysticism in it is underdeveloped, but as it stands, so is the mysticism in modern-day Christianity. We mystics must, in fact, dip rather deep to find it a good deal of the time.

Erik and I discussed these things, and I told him a very true point: after all is said and done, I would MUCH rather be a Pop Wiccan than a Pop Christian. What I mean to say by this is that the “Pop Christian” books by individuals such as Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen are just awful. The worldview through which they operate, the American Evangelical perspective, is just terrible. I would rather be a Pop Wiccan and do my little rituals and wave my little knife any day of the year.

A good thing about Wicca is that it made me feel like life has meaning; it made me feel as though Nature truly was holy, powerful, and a good thing. I could appreciate the changing of the seasons as part of the Great Happening of reality.
But then, I was always more focused on casting spells than I was on actually practicing a religion, so I mean, yeah.

Gnosticism did offer me a great deal of comfort, as it seems, in many respects, to be the meeting ground of Christianity, Wicca, and Buddhism. So three primary religions influencing me in my life ended up being rolled into one.

Jordan Stratford jokingly says that Gnostics are Catholic on the outside and Buddhist on the inside, and I think this wouldn’t necessarily be far off; I would edit that to say that Gnostics are more like Buddhists wearing Christian vestments or something.

But that doesn’t devalue the more orthodox Christian mysticism, either- Christianity is replete with symbols that have a lot to offer us.
Then again, so is Wicca, and you see how often that devolves into crap.

I think Wicca does have a problem with not being defined enough. It’s the double-edged sword; one is free to do whatever, but one doesn’t necessarily know WHAT to do.

If Wicca had specific symbols associated with the Wheel of the Year, I think it would make it easier. Perhaps there ARE definite symbols, signs, and underlying meaning present in the Wheel, and I’ve just failed to recognize. It wouldn’t be the first time.

When more thoughts come, I’ll write more. I’ve been so into writing lately, all these thoughts pouring through me, even though I’m sick, I can’t help but continue to write down my concepts.
Also, I should point out that in Wicca, the God is associated with Day and the Goddess with Night. I actually encountered the Divine in the opposite way- Sky/Day Mother, Earth/Night Father. It’s very strange that my actual experience would be in contrast to what is constantly repeated in Wicca, and that seems to be a huge problem- people repeating beliefs, repeating ideas, with NO experience to back them up.

One person, in fact, told me when, I spoke about the Earth Father Archetype, that he thinks of the Earth as both masculine and feminine; he missed the entire point and threw some theoretical, all-inclusive bullshit at me. Then again, if he were to speak of experiencing the Earth as both, that would be a different story.

The point is, this was an experience, an encounter, a real-time happening, not a mental concept that someone wrote about that I said, “Oh, that sounds good.” This was actual.

I can understand the feminine associations with the Earth, but it’s strange that the Earth would appear to me as masculine- and as Christ, no less.

Oh, the games archetypes play with us!

Pax Vobiscum.

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


Hidden in Plain View

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The Sufi master Llewellyn Vaughan-lee talks about how the the ancients had a way of keeping esotericism esoteric, and that one such way is to hide a profound truth in plain sight.

Such is my relationship with Christianity. After the discovery of the Sun God Mythos at age 15 and the subsequent ditching of what I thought was Christianity, I journeyed long and hard, searching for truth. For a while, I was to label myself as “agnostic.” Agnostic to me meant not that I was incapable of knowing that God existed, but rather that I was unsure on the matter or felt that the matter was by and large unresolved.

So strange, then, that I would fall into a category known as “Gnostic” in this day and age.

Notwithstanding, I stumbled around through several different religious systems for a long time, and the exploration, of course, in my own opinion, was a stage of my religious growth. It was only recently that it dawned on me that I left labels and paths behind because of someone else’s misunderstanding of the path or the ridiculous and endless theological debates that happen on online forums.

I did not like Christianity the entire time. I often deemed it an “immature” path, and I rarely gave any credence to Christianity with regards to anything. If it came down to my mystical self siding between an atheist and a Christian, the atheist would have had my undying loyalty.

The problem with such a model, though, is that it implies that the atheist is more intellectually honest- and if I learned anything in my journey, it’s that whether or not there are correlations among things, in the end, people and situations are by and large a case-by-case phenomenon. I have encountered dogmatic atheists who are as bad as (and sometimes worse) than evangelical Christians.

On MySpace, BadAlex once said that he admired the Intelligent Design crew. BadAlex himself is a physicist, extremely intelligent, and an extreme, for want of better words, asshole- and he makes it clear to everyone that he’s not a nice person and not to cross him. He didn’t like the Intelligent Design crew because they were intellectually honest or because he agreed with them but because they challenged the mainstream scientific view on things and weren’t afraid to do so.

He also pointed out that science is far more like a religion than outsiders understand. I myself have made comparisons of the scientific community in terms of our “modern” world view with how the Roman Catholic Church must have been viewed in the Middle Ages- the looming, cutting-edge “knowers of things” who also would silence anyone who opposed them.

Now, at the same time, there are many intellectually honest and frank scientists out there who will simply point to lack of sufficient data or conclusions, and I admire that. I’m not trying to oppose science. I’m not trying to suggest that the scientific achievements we’ve had in the past 500 or so years is a terrible thing; my ultimate point is that there are some scientists who are equally dogmatic to the most horribly dogmatic Priest, and atheists who are as bad as Bible-thumpers.

Now, on to the point. I learned some things in college. The foremost thing I learned is that it’s possible to be Christian and not be a complete nut job who throws out any kind of reasoning process that doesn’t accord immediately with some Bible Verse. My religion and history teacher was an Episcopalian- and she was the first Episcopalian I ever met. She, along with many Episcopalians, avows the Catholic side of the faith, and she vehemently insisted that Anglicanism was not a “Protestant” denomination. Obviously, she left her mark on me.

But what really left the mark was when I learned that Episcopalians and Catholics alike went to church to receive the Holy Eucharist, not just to hear “preachin’.” That intuitively struck me hard and flipped my idea of Christianity upside down on itself.

Dr. York (my teacher) also told us of the various Church Traditions around each part of the year- and that further thrilled me. I know one friend in particular and I wanted to go to Dr. York’s church just to see these things, because we were really enthralled at the idea.

Anyway, flashing forward. The next great slam into my life was when I stumbled upon Bishop Stephan Hoeller’s article The Gnosis of the Eucharist, which you can read by clicking anywhere on here. This was the solidification of my understanding of Christ and liturgy- something made sense on a new level, and I was drawn back into Christianity as a whole.

The whole point is that Christianity contained all the elements for which I have been looking for a long time, and that Christianity is highly misunderstood by most of its adherents, but I’ve also learned that’s par for the course in any religion. Followers misunderstand the key to it all, and the misunderstanding leads to gross misinterpretations, which in turn fuel more misunderstanding and eventually spiral into people taking sides and being violent.

The familiarity of the system is also highly important. I myself might be happy to see Vishnu or Shiva appear before me and would likely understand their appearance as a manifestation of some particular aspect of God, but if God were to appear as Vishnu to the average Catholic, they might be taken a-back and feel they were being attacked by a demonic vision. I would likely feel very comforted if Vishnu appeared, but I would be much happier seeing Christ, because I would be able to relate the vision to other people and explain what had just happened.

The first encounter, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, with the Holy Eucharist happened in 8th grade when we were learning about the Protestant Reformation, and the listing of the Seven Sacraments of the Catholic Church came up. The mentioning of the Body and Blood of Christ mystified- I was very attracted to the notion, and it made sense to me that we would actually receive the Body and Blood of Christ as opposed to simply always talking about it in abstractions.

Before that, when I was in 5th grade and we went to the National Cathedral, I remember being mystified by the High Altar, not really understanding why it was there or what it was for.

So you see, the actual of events were:

  1. Seeing the High Altar (Age 10)
  2. Learning of the Holy Eucharist (Age 13-14)
  3. Learning that Catholics go to church to receive Communion (Age 19)
  4. Learning of the Gnosis of the Eucharist and the Gnostic Church (Age 23)
  5. Finally attending Mass at an Episcopal Church and receiving Christ (Age 25)

Wow. I never thought of how that actually spanned 15 years, but it’s intriguing to me to say the least.

I do want to say I also attended a Catholic Mass somewhere in there- but I was extremely nervous the whole time, thought not highly bothered by the actual Mass itself. I was more disappointed because it wasn’t very traditional and didn’t seem like the Mass I would watch on EWTN. Also, one major difference that I’ve seen at three different Catholic Masses at least is that they feature a “singer.” Now, I don’t know if the “singer” is supposed to be like the choir, because I’ve also seen Catholic Masses with choirs, but the “singer” sings part of the Mass- responses to the Priest, and it sounds just awful. Not that the singers can’t sing, but that the actual lyrics and music sound dreadful.

I would much rather take my chances at a Latin Mass, but that’s just me.

Anyway, the point- the mysticism of Christianity is hidden, right here, in plain sight. I had to go through many, many years of traveling, dreaming, and mulling things over to get where I am now, and who knows if I can ground myself in the path at this point? It seems far more likely, however, because now I have a reference point, and the Gnostics are certainly coming into communion with one another.

Also, let me give you an example of how I feel about different branches of Christianity. For the sake of the examples, we’ll put Gnosticism here, despite its pre-Christian aspects.

Roman Catholicism- gold.

Eastern Orthodox- silver.

Protestantism- wood.

Gnosticism- crystal or gemstones; light.

Anglicanism would be built with varying degrees of those materials. Or made of fruit or something. You get the point.

DONE!

Beaux


Lately

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Does the darkness indicate that one is again approaching the Light?

Last week went so terribly on so many counts for me, and now this week, despite the physical pain, or maybe because of it, I’m having incredible insight. Is this the meaning of gnosis?

The love- oh, the LOVE! I remember in high school diving into the love, I remember the trip back from New Orleans when I understand my mission was to love, to love, to love, and that even when I died, I would reincarnate and suffer more for the sake of love. Is this the reality I’ve forgotten for so long?

Is that what it means to surrender to God? I will gladly return to this Earth to love. I will gladly endure the horrors to tell others of the Great Being of Divine Love.

Do you know what it feels like to be unable to love? That is a hell, a prison, a terrible place in which to be. To struggle, to fight, to break free and love again is not an easy task. Possible, yes. But it is not easy, and you will endure a hell to get there again.

Bernadette Roberts is wise in stating that the stages of the mystic’s path are only outlined in retrospect. I can now see that 2010 was such a horrible year because I facing my own Shadow.

Facing the Shadow is not what you might think it is. You’re plunged into it. Or at least, I was plunged into it- thrown into the very depths of my own darkness, unable to see that’s where I was, unable to see that there was a world outside of that strange and dark universe. I thought that was reality, that my actions were justified, that perhaps what I did was the will of God operating on a level that is beyond normal human understanding.

Now I can see the intense egotism in it all. I can see where I knew I was wrong but pushed forward anyway. Again, this is all in retrospect.

Then again, maybe there was a dim understanding that I was facing my Shadow, but as with so many things that happen mystically, these processes are unconscious. The Shadow is an unconscious process, and the dealing with it, the controlling it, the integrating it, relies on becoming aware of it. But you can never fully understand exactly how unconscious these things are until later on, when you’re far more aware of them.

At this point, through my own observation, I truly opine that the mystical changes in an individual begin on the unconscious level and trickle into the conscious mind. We can participate in our own transformation, yes- and those of us who are aware that such a process is going on are obligated to do so, I would say- but we do not create the change by our own hand in the ultimate sense. We can say, “Yes, let this happen” and start the ball rolling, but we are not responsible for the end results- something greater than us intervenes.

This is the reason I think religion is so important. It isn’t just about having a belief. It isn’t just a bunch of outdated science. Religion is a reflection, a conscious incarnation, of man’s deepest inner psychological happenings. Religion is a map, concretized and depicted, of man’s own consciousness. People of our modern era constantly miss that point.

These days, I often see the more orthodox-minded Christians going at it with one another, arguing over silly things like homosexuality and citing this verse or that verse in the Bible. The entire approach is often so far off-base that it makes the whole things laughable. I feel as though the entire point has been overlooked.

Maybe the days of being a self-proclaimed heretic should be embraced. Father Jordan said something interesting in one of his blogs once, that it seems most arguments come from people who are claiming to be orthodox but have nuances in doctrine as opposed to being between people who are orthodox versus so-called heretic.

But maybe I should also face the truth about myself: my views would typically be deemed heretical by the more mainstream churches. I’m not against the orthodoxy, though- I’m very much a huge supporter of Catholicism (both Anglican and Roman!) and Eastern Orthodoxy. When it comes to Protestantism as a whole, I tend to be more cautious, because Protestant encompasses everything from Lutheranism to Pentecostalism. Some would also lump the Anglican Communion in with the Protestants, but I’m staunchly against that for a variety of reasons.

But would it do any good to call myself Gnostic? Gnosticism, too, has a problem with the label game. There are so, so many misunderstandings about Gnosticism, and people much wiser than I have detailed endlessly how often misconceptions are spouted about Gnostics.

Something will come of it, I’m sure.

Beaux