Pagan Heart

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve

Ecstasy and the Green Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Steve

 

 

On Solutions and Levels

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Lately, as I’ve come more in contact with the Hard Polytheist community, I’ve become more sympathetic to that view.

Moreover, I’m inclined in my current practice to be a Hard Polytheist when addressing the Gods.

That being said, I’ve also been re-reading Scott Cunningham’s Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, and I’ve brought the knowledge of the last 16 years of my life to the game this go-around.

I cannot deny that there’s something intuitively appealing about the idea of the Gods being Faces of some kind of Divine Nature.

Moreover, when it comes to a matter of magical operations, it’s not a matter of what is true or false in terms of theory; what matters is the result. Does the method work? That is the question.

However, many people find the idea that all the gods and goddesses of history are really just names for one great big God and one great big Goddess is superficial, ridiculous, or incongruent with what they’ve actually experienced.

Where I would counter is that it’s certainly not Wiccans who invented the idea of syncreticsm or that different deities were, in fact, the same deity mentioned by many names- it seems this was a popular thing to do with the goddess Isis in the ancient Hellenic world, whereby various Greek goddesses were identified as truly being Isis.

So that really poses a problem- how can we discern which gods and goddesses are established and exist as opposed to which ones are, in fact, different names for the same deities?

Certainly the Roman deities generally seem to be the Greek deities renamed, or at the very least, the Romans syncretized heavily their deities with the Greek gods and their mythology.

I digress.

Generally speaking, I think that all things are ultimately manifestations of the same kind of energy or Being or Potential Being or what have you that some would refer to simply as “God,” and so I think that the references to “God” and “Goddess” theologically could well be representative of some sort of “Meta-Deity.”

In other words, there’s a truth that all the goddesses and gods of history are the same- at a deeper level, they originate from the same Energy or Principle- but they, in and of themselves, are individuals in the way that we humans are individuals but are still human and made out of the same “human-ness.”

Years ago, I ran into a similar situation where I saw a competition between the idea of Nirvana and the use of Low Magic- whereby one seemed only to bolster the Ego while the other was the Ultimate Goal, and one would always be compromised for the other.

The solution came as I aged out of my teenaged years and realized that we exist on several levels simultaneously. We simultaneously have concerns about deep spirituality as well as how to pay bills and whether or not we’ll find enough friends and someone to love. So the goals are, in fact, not at odds.

Either way, with the Divine, I now walk a path of greater humility- who am I to tell the Divine what and how to do anything? That doesn’t mean I take things lying down, though; my words are heard, my thoughts expressed, my spiritual practice a consistent aspect of my life.

So far, the deities who have expressly worked with me that I can verify are Hera and Aphrodite. I did call Hecate one night along with Dionysus and asked for their blessings, but I cannot say that they manifested in the same way as Hera and Aphrodite.

Also, I seem to largely be geared toward honoring one deity at a time, which is to say that in a Circle cast, honoring ONE deity and not two or more is the best way to approach things.

Anyway, yes. The solution is that we have to throw away our systems of extreme dichotomy, of the either-or- EITHER the gods are real in terms of being external, OR they’re a part of our mind manifesting. Perhaps it’s “both, and.”

It isn’t that Archetypes are strictly part of the mind- perhaps they’re part of the cosmos itself, and the Gods are part of that.

One thing I do know that- the Gods I’ve called do NOT appreciate being referred to as “just” archetypes or “Just” parts of the unconscious mind or treated as such- they will refuse to answer when that kind of hubris comes from me.

Next blog, I’ll talk about how this relates to Christianity and the conception of the Divine there.

Steve

On Experiencing that I’m Not Pagan

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Recently, on my Facebook, I had taken to posting artwork and depictions of the Wiccan God and Goddess; a kind of movement was going through me in conceiving of That One Force in the universe as The Goddess and so on.

My husband and I did a small Wicca-based ritual before dinner this past Saturday night, and I have to say, the ritual…well, it left me empty and lacking. It didn’t nourish me the way I needed it to. I didn’t have the same connection I had once felt to any kind of Goddess-God dynamic.

I went through the Unitarian Universalism “new member” classes a few weeks ago. I actually had no interest in joining; I took the classes for the sake of my husband and to support him learning more about being UU. (He’s already a member.)

A particular status was provided for me, though- Friend of the Congregation.

And that status is identical with how I feel about Paganism in general- maybe one might making a joke and say “Friend of the Coven.”

This is most surprising to me; I genuinely thought I could partake of every religion equally, or at least to the extent that I was able, but everything suddenly has been turned on its head.

Not much left to ponder- I simply know that I’m in the realm of the Christian religion, albeit a highly mystical and esoteric one.

May the peace of God be upon you all.

Stevo

Revenge and Rules

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Revenge is often regarded as a kind of sin in Christianity, where we’re taught from an early age to turn the other cheek.

It is unfortunate that many of the “faithful” Christians happen to ignore this, and that I happened to be one of the few people I’ve known in my life who actually turned the other cheek.

However, I will also point out that practically speaking, it has never done anything good in this world beyond allowing people who treated me and other people poorly to get away with their evil actions.

Revenge, however, is something that must follow rules.

I’ve had a few people mention that embracing the darker aspect of one is not synonymous with succumbing to it, and I absolutely agree. I also point out that one must fully integrate and work with the dark side in order to understand it and become aware of it on a fuller level.

Revenge is something that I have never taken in my life until now, and it is not synonymous with breaking my moral code so much as it seems synonymous with breaking what I was told to do my entire life that no one else seemed to follow.

True, I do believe that forgiving someone, praying for a higher power to lead someone to see their ills and wrongs, and turning the other cheek ARE the nobler paths to take.

However, though I believe them higher and nobler and more beautiful, I do believe that revenge is a permissible path in so far as it conforms to specific standards.

The highest standard of revenge is exacting it. Never cause more suffering for someone than they caused for you. This is the foremost rule by which to abide; send back to the person the pain and evil and despair they caused you, no more, no less.

Another facet of revenge, too, is to include in the revenge a lesson for the other person. If the individual is prevented from hurting others in the way they hurt you, then you have taken all the higher path for it.

A variation of the Wiccan Creed I’ve heard which seems particularly balanced goes,

“An it harm none, do as ye will
An it harm some, do as ye must.”

I’ve also heard that “the witch that can’t hex can’t heal,” another testimony to the notion that we must work with both the light and the dark.

The problem with the grey area of things is that we must learn where the boundaries are and are not, and this can be difficult.

I don’t see my positions as being particularly outside the bounds here; surely one day Christ will deliver us all from the need of revenge, but until then, I must undo the chains and shackles the society has placed on me to keep me from blazing brightly from within.

 

Beaux

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

 

 

 

On the Holy Spirit as the Divine Feminine: God the Mother, the Queen of Heaven, the Pagan Goddess

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As I looked at Rosamonde’s pictures, I saw reflected in her the Divine Feminine. There are so many women I’ve known in my life who are in touch with the Goddess, as it were, with their Inner Feminine Reality. They own their femininity, they are beautiful, they are strong, they are powerful, and they are self-aware.

These are the women that the patriarchally obsessed men are afraid of most. Despite hearing about feminazis and how feminism and female promiscuity has destroyed Western society (because patriarchy never caused any problem), the average feminist should not worry these men- though they’re the ones who receive this projection most often. Rather, it is the mystical woman that should send them into states of awe.

But despite this fact, these are also the women who understand the harmony of life, the relation between the masculine and the feminine, and they, in fact, are the ones who do not abuse the Divine Feminine and femininity in general. They are the ones who embrace the Divine Masculine as it relates to the Divine Feminine; there is no war or conflict in them.

Now, to speak of the Holy Spirit. I think it largely due to my being in an Assembly of God church when I was younger, a Pentecostal or charismatic church, as we know them generally, that the Holy Spirit became such an incredible influence in my life. To the orthodox Christian, the Holy Spirit is certainly the most mysterious member of the Holy Trinity- the Old Testament speaks of God the Father as YHWH, and the New Testament is almost wholly about God the Son. God the Holy Spirit makes a few appearances, which are often vague and not really frequent. To the Gnostic Christian, however, certainly God the Father, Who is much more transcendent than the Old Testament YHWH, is the most mysterious member of the Holy Trinity, but that is not the focus of this entry.

First, allow me to say that the Holy Trinity was absolutely the most ridiculous thing I had ever heard the first time I was told of this particular theological concept. How is it that one has God the Father and then God the Son, but that they are actually One God? And how does the Holy Spirit, Who is mentioned much less frequently, incorporated into the Holy Trinity?

The rationalistic part of my mind has an easy explanation for this that likely won’t surprise the reader: the Holy Trinity developed because of the great focus that was placed on Jesus by the Christians, and as Jesus came to be worshiped, it was understand that only God could be worshiped; therefore, Jesus must necessarily be incorporated into God.

But that leaves out the Holy Spirit. That doesn’t explain how the Spirit fits into the Trinity.

That is not the focus of this entry, so we won’t dwell there.

The Holy Spirit, as far as I understand, is actually God the Mother. Thus we have God the Son, God the Mother, and God the Father- and this makes sense.

The Spirit is known as the comforter- it is the Mother, the Feminine which comforts. So, too, is the Spirit referred to as the “Giver of Life.” It is the Feminine which brings life forth in this world.

The Holy Spirit is the one who overshadowed the Blessed Virgin Mary- it is not that the Spirit impregnated her so much as it is that the Virgin Mary reflected the Holy Spirit’s power to create virginally.

Many of the charismatic churches display signs that are similar to the awakening of the kundalini energy according to the Eastern religions. The kundalini energy is necessarily associated with the goddess Shakti- the feminine and creative element and power of the masculine Shiva.

The Holy Spirit is also regarded to be the immanent aspect of God, in that the Spirit is everywhere- there is nowhere that the Spirit is not. Immanence is a Feminine principle, whereas Transcendence is a Masculine one.

After my original bout with Christianity, I was drawn to Paganism, as I’ve documented in earlier entries. The Goddess spirituality in particular drew me, and now I understand why- I had already been in touch with the Divine Feminine for a long time, and so it was natural for me to be drawn to an expanded worldview and understanding of the Divine Feminine.

Now, the full circle has arrived, and the relationship to the Divine Feminine has again fit back into the Gnostic/Christian context. The Queen of Heaven is truly God Herself, the Holy Spirit- and it has always been this way. Her time has come, Her time has come, for us adore Her in this world, praise be to God.

Not everyone will agree with me. There are many who would vehemently deny my opinions on this matter, many who would be horrified that I suggest God the Holy Spirit is indeed God the Mother, but I maintain this position, both from my own experience and my own reasoning, and I welcome Her in my life to share with others and bring peace to this troubled world.

Beaux


Quite a Nice List!

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From Dianne Sylvan’s blog, “Dancing Down the Moon: Witch, Please.”

Here are the things I don’t care about:

I don’t care what the name of your religion is.
I don’t care what the names of your gods are.
I don’t care how old your religion is.
I don’t care if your great-great-whatever grandmother passed down your famtrad Book of Shadows under the watchful eye of the Inquisition.
I don’t care if an entire civilization worshipped your Goddess for ten thousand years.
I don’t care if you made Her up based on manga or Tolkien or a dream you had.
I don’t care where you place your altar.
I don’t care which direction you call Earth.
I don’t care how psychic you are.
I don’t care if you’re smarter than me.
I don’t care why you eat meat, or don’t.
I don’t care how many shields you think you need.
I don’t care how your childhood trauma made you a powerful magickian.
I don’t care if you spell “magic” with a k.
I don’t care if you were an Atlantean Magus in your last life.
I don’t care if you’re brand-spanking new.
I don’t care how much you hate Christians.
I don’t care how many degrees you have.
I don’t care if people call you “Lady” or “Lord.”
I don’t care if you’re King of all Londinium and wear a shiny hat.
I don’t care if you can read minds or light candles with your breath.
I don’t care how the world owes you a living.
I don’t care if you’ve been studying the Craft for thirty years or thirty minutes.
I don’t care what your totem animal is, especially if it’s a wolf, raven, or unicorn.
I don’t care if you can trace your lineage back to Gardner.
I don’t care if you think I’m a moron, fraud, or basket case.
I don’t care how many books you’ve read.
I don’t care how much or how little money you have.

What do I care about?

I care that your religion has made you a kinder, more compassionate person.
I care that you can hold down a job.
I care that you’re growing past whatever happened to you as a child or last year.
I care that your gods help you become stronger without coddling you.
I care that you are willing and able to adapt and change as your life does.
I care that you care about the Earth.
I care that you care about someone and something outside yourself.
I care that you practice your religion with devotion and reverence.
I care that you respect others’ paths.
I care that you never stop learning.
I care that you can conduct adult relationships with respect and understanding.
I care that you get how hilarious life is.
I care that you know when to ask for help.
I care that you realize that someone will always be smarter, more powerful, and more together than you.
I care that you realize it doesn’t matter, because tomorrow you’ll be smarter, more powerful, and more together than you were yesterday.
I care that you have reasons for everything you do, even if those reasons are purely intuitive.
I care that you can admit when you’re wrong.
I care that you know you’re both a tiny speck in a vast universe and a rare, precious jewel in the darkened sky.
I care that you’re making a difference.
I care that you know when to speak and when to shut the hell up.
I care that you are seeking a relationship with Deity and with Nature.
I care that you are healthy.
I care that you’re contributing to your family and community.
I care that your capacity for love and joy increase with every passing year.
I care that you believe in yourself.
I care that you’re doing the best you can.

You can visit her blog here:

Dancing Down the Moon

She’s got a pretty good list going there, and I have to agree with her.

Beaux


Memoirs of My Religion III

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During my post-Christian era, the major religions that came to the forefront for me were Wicca and Buddhism. What I liked about them specifically, I’ll try to spell out here, as they were symbolic of the larger struggle that I experience even to this day.

Wicca appealed to me for the sake of power and by virtue that all was related to nature. Allow me to first back up, though, and bring out something else:

When I was in 5th grade, the movie The Craft came out. Magic had always interested me, specifically the kind you see wizards and witches using (I was obsessed with the Wicked Witch of the West as a child), and The Craft, when I finally saw it, brought out a theological point that I didn’t quite understand.

Namely, that theological point occurs when Sarah asks about Manon.

Nancy explains that Manon is like God and the Devil- that it’s everything. It’s the moon, it’s the rocks, it’s the trees. If God and the Devil were playing football, Manon would be the stadium they played on, it would be the Sun that shown down on them.

And provided, this concept of God resonates heavily with the concept of Brahman from the Hindu traditions, and the reality is that it magnifies God to be much larger and more inclusive than the evangelical Christian idea of God. There’s not a lot of room for argument on that.

Thus, Wicca was in. In the more orthodox sense of Wicca (if such a statement can be made), there is actually the worship of a God and a Goddess. They are, however, synonymous with Nature in most cases, and the question of whether they’re actual anthropomorphic spirits, personified energetic currents, archetypes, or symbols is often a moot point in the actual practice of Wicca.

The structure of Wiccan ritual was neatly defined. The theology was laid out, and as far magic and casting spells went, this was largely left up to the practitioner.

There’s an entire blog I’ll have to write about the politics within Wicca and the larger Pagan and Neo-Pagan community, along with the realm of arguing who is and isn’t Wiccan and who is and isn’t a witch.

Naturally, as a teenager outside the mainstream, using the edgier term “witch” was totally in with me. Also, I had a tendency to be drawn more towards spells and spell-books, and naturally I missed the deeper spiritual current that existed in Wicca.

The other majorly influential religion at this time was Buddhism. Buddhism was and is part and parcel of Japanese culture as well as the culture of East Asia in general. Buddhism also afforded me something that seemed more realistic- the concept of Nirvana, a state of being in which one experiences bliss, compassion, and wisdom. The ethical arguments of the Buddhists, the principles of meditation and the rational explanations that were given appealed to my highly skeptical mind.

But Wicca and Buddhism had serious theological conflicts. Now that I look back, I see they are in reality not as conflicted as I thought, and I have managed to gather what the crux of the problem is, glossing over it in other entries.

In the end, it went something like this: I was Buddhist as my religion, but not Wiccan as my religion. I practiced magic, yes, but not in terms of a religious structure.

Around this same time, a former friend, the same one who introduced me to comparative religion and the Astrotheology I had been so avid about a few years before, began to pursue Sufism because of his philosophy teacher.

Sufism, in a nutshell and by most people, would be classified simply as Islamic mysticism. The current of Sufism my friend brought was not quite like that.

Sufism was all about love. Love, Longing, and God. God was everything, and everything was God. The concepts were highly analogous to Buddhism but made use of Western religious words and imagery. The Sufis largely were everything that the fundamentalist Muslims were not- loving, embracing, tolerant, filled with a love for God and all mankind and wanting peace in the world.

The current of Sufism affected me, somehow. I’m still not sure when it took, when it began to happen, but I firmly believe even now that God cried out to me then in a way that I had never heard Him.

Then came the dark era. The same friend introduced me to a website called the Actual Freedom Trust. The AFT claimed to be a new, non-spiritual way to find liberation. Their leader, Richard, claimed to have found a state no one else had ever been in and developed a method to find that state.

Somehow, they really brought me to a point of fear, a point of, “What if when we die, we really do just stop existing?” that caused me to become one of their blind followers. The only solution, if we just die when we die, is to seek out this state Richard’s talking about!

This was my next real experience with cults.

My critical thinking skills were not sharp enough at the time, and inability to question authority except in extreme cases of abuse led me to swallow huge amounts of Actual Freedom “dogma.” Intuitively, I knew something was wrong, though I was unable to articulate exactly what it was about the AFT that bothered me so much.

I fought against their concepts but felt the pressure of the authority prevented me from thinking for myself.

At this time, I declared myself an avowed atheist, I became more arrogant and self-righteous than I had ever been (after all, I suddenly found the “right” religion again), and I was literally more miserable than I had ever been before.

Off and on again there was an internal battle with Actual Freedom, and finally at the beginning of 2006, I managed to completely shirk the 3 year long battle and move on with my life.

One of my first assessments of the AFT prior to my swallowing their dogma was that they were simply parroting mysticism of old, and even though it was repackaged and resold teachings of all the world’s traditions, they acted like they had something new- but it wasn’t. It was simply mysticism put in extremely materialistic terms. Numerous people would say things to get approval, and numerous other people said stupid things to try to explain to the poor idiotic fools who didn’t agree with them just why they were wrong.

Making an open comparison between Actualism and Mysticism was tantamount to heresy and created all kinds of ridicule of just how wrong people were.

Eventually the abuses, the lies, the contradictions, the blatant superiority complex of Richard and his followers, and failure of the method to deliver what it promised it would deliver to me caught up with me, and I rightly left that path.

That brings us almost into the modern era of my spirituality- almost, but not quite, which is to say we probably have two or three more blogs on this subject.

Beaux