The Mountain

Shrine

 

This post has been a long time coming. Not that this means it will be a very well written post, so please don’t get your expectations too high. It’s been a long time coming simply because I’ve never really found the words to express how I feel about this – but I’m going to give it an attempt anyhow.

So, my path has been winding. Sometimes way off in one direction, and then a seemingly folding in on itself, coming back to centre only to go past the fulcrum and off again the other way.

Drawn to different ideas, feelings and thoughts. Sometimes feeling scattered, sometimes completely focussed.

I’ve never strongly been drawn to a female deity — though have had an interest in Hathor for quite a number of years. But I have had a draw to a masculine deity. The Horned God in Wicca was always easier for me to connect to than the Lady. Perhaps simply due to the fact that in life I often get along better with men than women. I think that I am somewhat uncomfortable or not in touch with myself as female (not in the sense of identifying as male, but simply not able to embrace myself) – but that is another post.

One thing I had noticed from time to time in the past few years was the feeling of a presence. Large. Ancient. Solid. Silent yet moving. Breathing… the only thing I could think of to describe it was a Mountain. I found that when I came across different scriptures – Psalms most specifically,  and narrowing that down I’d say 29 and 104 off the top of my mind – that I would experience the same feeling of ancientness as the unseen Mountain.

Once I spoke to a scholarly, magically inclined friend from the interwebs about this. This feeling that felt like dejavu — an ancient presence that I didn’t know… and he spoke of how time can layer over, it’s not linear. I pondered that, and considered it, but still as this ‘presence’ it made little sense.

I could sense what I would imagine the vast high places of the Near East to be like. Fleeting strange feelings that made themselves evident as imagery.

Then, although I had come across this before, I came across again the name El.

I had been looking up Asherah, for personal interest. Looking for scholarly stuff to support the fact that people used to see God the Father as a Mother and Father — that God had a consort. And although I had read this before, for some reason this time when I read about Asherah (Athiratu) and came across El — I had that wave of ancient feeling.

Huge, silent, but very alive.

I realized that one of the main things that kept bringing me back from paganism to Christianity and Judaism were these aspects of El (and sometimes Ba’al) which became merged into Yahweh as the Israelites moved away from polytheism to monotheism.

I realized that certain passages from the OT would bring about that same feeling within myself – parts of me recognizing phrases that seemed to be reminiscent of El the Father of the Patriarchs. The Creator of All. El the Benevolent. El was not an angry judgemental God according to the Baal epic (cuneiform writings found at Ras Shamra). El had little in common with Yahweh of the OT except perhaps that Yahweh took on El’s titles. Lord of the Hosts of Heaven, Father of All etc. El is used in the bible many many times… and I could go into a huge discussion about the origins of Yahweh but I won’t do that here. I will leave a link to this, regarding the convergence: http://www.adath-shalom.ca/israelite_religion.htm#convergence (the whole page is an amazing read, not just this section… give it a look )

Along with realizing how strong of a pull I felt to El, I also finally felt a connection to a female Deity – Athiratu.

I still consider myself a soft polytheist however - I used to feel quite strictly that they were all reflections of the same being. Kind of like how on a disco ball, each piece of mirror reflects out a different ray of light.
I used to think that those different reflections were all aspects of the same deity , I now see it more as each reflection on that whole IS a deity within itself.
I feel like they are different Deities of the same Power, manifested in different ways, acting in different ways.  — at least that is how it feels for me.

The Lady in the Craft is not Aradia for me. I realize that for many Traditional Wiccans I would then be told that I am not properly a Wiccan — with my Canaanite pantheon  being foremost for me right now. But I can’t help feel that Athiratu, the Queen of the Heavens, of All Creation, She who Treads on the Sea (or days/time) is the main Female Deity for me at this point. Her qualities fill the Form of the Lady for me right now… and even Anat has a rightful place there.

Considered bloodthirsty, but really to me she feels like the Earth. Violent and merciless sometimes and caring, loyal and provider at others. Commanded by Baal to :

Remove war from the earth,
set love in the ground,
pour peace into the heart of the earth,
tranquillity into the heart of the fields.

The more I learn about the Canaanite Pantheon, the more I feel I have come home.

I understand this draw to the OT, the feeling of this ancient Mountain  - El the Bull, known to reside up high on the mountain at the convergence of the two rivers.  The Lady Athiratu , Queen at the side of the ocean, depicted with her cauldron, washing clothes. I have no real one tangible qualifying statement except —– The nagging feeling of the Mountain has been satiated upon learning about the Canaanite pantheon. For me, I take that as one of the markers on my map telling me I am headed in the right direction. At least for now

Blessed Be.

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LGBTQ Tolerance in the Golden Dawn

Originally posted on Sol Ascendans - The Website of Alex Sumner:

Eddie Izzard

Got Wand, will do Magick! :-)

Say what you like about MacGregor Mathers, but on one point he was resolute: he would not brook gossip about Fratres’ and Sorores’ lives – this being a matter purely between themselves and their God.

Mathers may well have had an ulterior motive: i.e. the members who had “questionable” private lives were also the ones who were supporting him during the various schisms. However, Mathers’ firm stand has led to a progressive consequence: the Golden Dawn was the first magical order to adopt a modern approach to tolerance.

However, the Western Mystery Tradition was almost derailed by the efforts of Dion Fortune. Her insistence that magick was based on strict male/female or god/goddess polarity has led in some quarters to a rather dogmatic insistence on heterosexuality which borders on the homophobic. I have read some neo-pagans saying that gays were allowed to join covens…

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A world distracted

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Originally posted on I am David Daeschler:

As an owner in a virtual world venture, I am tasked with not only predicting the future directions of virtual world consumers and virtual reality, but also to make decisions that we hope will be able to help guide the course of things to come. These times will be seen as the infancy or pre-infancy of a new mega industry. The exact date and time the VR renaissance will finally come, I do not know. For me, the technology to provide an immersive and provocative experience is already here, but for the general population current technology may not be enough. Only time will tell.

I am about half way through Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, and while it is a very entertaining novel, it definitely doesn’t seem to be predicting the best possible outcome for the future of mankind. I am left wondering if the real world that he describes wasn’t…

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Eradicating Wicca

Although I have been in the Pagan community for the past ten years  (and more of a lurker prior to that) I’ve never seen such a huge level of hostility in regards to (edit) ‘Ecclectic’ Wiccans.
Wicca became a recognized religion in the states. There are some ‘legal’ Wiccan churches in Canada. Wicca as first brought forward by Gerald Gardner, has found its way to North America and taken on a new life. Albeit many strains that have sprung up are Wiccan by name only, resembling little the practice of the Traditional Wiccan groups that got this all started.
Understandably, those who have learned and been initiated from a verifiable lineage find it irritating that anyone can grab a book, read about Wicca and say ‘Hey, yeah, I’m Wiccan’.
However it is was only a matter of time before that happened. When something so beautiful and appealing and new catches the eye of one who has ever really had exposure to the Abrahamic faiths or a new non-dogmatic esoteric approach makes itself known to someone who has always pulled away from religion due to the hypocrisy –it is only natural that it will catch on and bloom. Taking on a life of it’s own.
When Christianity first came on the scene it wasn’t Christianity. It was mainly Jews following the teachings of Jesus. This changed and became a religion, once Rome got involved. ‘What makes a Christian’ was a point of contention in the early church also. Did it require circumcision? Was it based on Good Work? Or was it based on Faith Alone?
There was only one official Christian Church. The Church of Rome. The Universal (Catholic) Church.
Since that time things have changed. Many people broke away and began their own churches. The Catholic church only recognizes those churches (for the most part) with direct lineage to the Apostles. Apostolic Succession. However this has not stopped many backyard churches from popping up, many evangelical, proselytizing, billboard churches, online churches, —– many of them with not only a completely different doctorine, but different praxis as well. However, they are still Christian. If someone says to a Baptist – “What religion are you?” that baptist is most likely to say Christian. Likewise a Presbyterian, Lutheran, etc. If asked ‘What KIND of Christian? What Tradition? THEN of course it gets broken down to it’s particular path.
Religion is like that. It spreads. Not always in the way originally intended by the originators. But the Gods don’t sit well in little neat, stagnant containers. Fluid, moving, ever present…. they find their way into and activate the hearts of humankind.
Wicca as a religion is subject to this same process.
“What religion are you?”- “Wiccan”
“ahhh… what kind?”
“Ecclectic/Gardnerian/Faery/Dianic/” etc….
It’s not that awful to share the denominator of Wicca with those who have broken away from the initial tradition.
It is frustrating if those people do not educate themselves on the history and original correct practices or ideas yes…. just as it is frustrating for someone to claim that they are Christian without having some basic History of the Bible, and History of Christianity by an academically accepted source (Yale Open University as an example) — sure the desire is there, the romanticised idea of what they think it is… but without solid founding, these people go on to further alter and change what is all means… but sadly this IS the way it goes. In any religion.
One can call themselves a variety of religions without needing lineage. All that is required is a form of dedication, and sometimes not even that.
So while I see that there is good reason to distinguish between the varieties of Wicca, I feel that going backwards and trying to strip self proclaimed Wiccans of their self identification is un-called for.
Life is full of natural consequences. If Susan declares to everyone she is Wiccan, but knows little- what harm does it really cause? Will she successfully lead a teaching coven and ‘pollute’ the minds of the non-initiated? Probably not. In this wide age of Information, anyone would soon find out she knows little. It is why each seeker needs to prepare themselves for the journey.
Instead of telling self identified Wiccans that they are NOT Wiccan, encourage them to learn more about their newfound professed religion. Suggest the books that initiates would be required to read. Let them know they will be considered Eclectic and/or Solitary unless they find a working coven. Let them know that although Self-Dedication is fine and right and good (Just like self dedication to Christianity) that self-Initiation is not acknowledged. Let them know the find points without steam rolling them, without crushing their new found love of the Gods. If Wicca is not for them they will learn that in good time and it does NOTHING to harm the relationship between anyone else and their own Gods.
This is an elitist attitude that does nothing but serve to show Wicca as an Elitist Religion for Snobs. And THAT is not what it is. It also is an attitude that seems to be more pronounced in North American, especially the US, than anywhere else.
A heated debate transpired that left a sour taste in the mouth of a few.(I had taken a snippet from it for my blog, assuming that because it was a public debate that involved me I could share it here. This was apparently seen as calling someone out and I was accused of trolling, so I’ve removed the snippet.)
We were advised to get back on topic with the thread so I opted to leave but wanted to share my final opinions in my blog. The last few pages of that thread are a bit of a train wreck, but one thing it shows for sure, emotions run high when it comes to this topic.
Wicca is an amazing path and thank the Gods that Gardner brought it out of the broomcloset and into the light.
The flavours and directions it is taking will not always be liked by many or accepted by any, but like any religion, the Seekers need to sift through the rubbish and find their way.
It is not always possible to find a teaching ‘Gard or Lexie’ tradition nearby. They aren’t often in the habit of advertising. So this makes Wicca, as a religion, VERY inaccessible if that is the ONLY way to be considered Wiccan. So yes, offshoots have shot off – some very valid and meaningful, holding some of the core praxis and ideals at heart, and some have quite missed the mark.
This is why guidance and support is mandated for these new Eclectics and Solitaries, rather than trying to eradicate the emerging forms.
Blessed Be.

(the above post was placed in my blog at wiccantogether.com  but due to the fact I will be leaving that site I wanted to repost on my personal blog.))

 

Lines that Define

Not too long ago I wrote a post ” One Path, Two Tools, or Confessions of an Anglipaganostic“. It seemed to make so much sense. Simplifying this inner battle. Things are never that simple it would seem.

I have so much faith and hope in the Progressive Christian Movement. I especially have great faith and hope in the Progressive Episcopalian Church and what it is they are doing to make this accessible and inclusive.  I really believe in it – so much that I have wanted nothing more to work on my little Sacred Path Fellowship and offer a new variety of Christianity to the locals. To put it out there, let people know it exists.

Then in a debate over my blog post at the WiccanTogether.com website I really got a good glimpse of how the majority seems to understand Christianity. Namely “Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour”, and accepting the bible mindlessly (something that isn’t that common to Christianity actually, though the general public seems to think so)

I was honestly a bit taken back by this a bit. It is not the way I have experienced Christianity among my peers, and upon further debating (arguing) it was pointed out that my ideas were so far from the ‘Mainstream’ – of which I’ve never cared much for anyhow – that how could it really be considered Christianity anymore? Why not name it something else?

Is what I (and many MANY other Progressive Christians) follow even Christianity? Those of us who love the 8 Points of:

1. Believe that following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life;

2. Affirm that the teachings of Jesus provide but one of many ways to experience the Sacredness and Oneness of life, and that we can draw from diverse sources of wisdom in our spiritual journey;

3. Seek community that is inclusive of ALL people, including but not limited to:

Conventional Christians and questioning skeptics,
Believers and agnostics,
Women and men,
Those of all sexual orientations and gender identities,
Those of all classes and abilities;
4. Know that the way we behave towards one another is the fullest expression of what we believe;

5. Find grace in the search for understanding and believe there is more value in questioning than in absolutes;

6. Strive for peace and justice among all people;

7. Strive to protect and restore the integrity of our Earth;

8. Commit to a path of life-long learning, compassion, and selfless love.

- this seems more akin to what JESUS would have actually taught. But is it what Christianity has become today?  -following the path and teachings of Jesus can lead to an awareness and experience of the Sacred and the Oneness and Unity of all life – to me THAT is what Christianity is about — but I realize now that what we know as Christianity, offers little that would impress Jesus were he to show up here one day and look around.  Unless he is impressed by big billboards, fancy cars, gold crosses with his battered body upon it….

As for two paths. There is the whole Exoteric part.
In Wicca, in Christianity, we dedicate ourselves to the religion.
Whether it be via confirmation or Initiation —
The fight to get Wicca seen as a recognized religion means that the same sort of ‘rules’ begin to apply. (societal rules – the ‘norm’ – which of course many people could care less about)
I ‘can’t ‘ be Jewish AND Christian.
Not claiming identification as Christian and Jew at the same time anyhow
The same gets carried over into the current of Wicca and Christianity.

Now on an Esoteric level, this can have a sense of validity -

Esoterically I believe that religions/spiritual practices have currents. Some currents flow well together and some do not.  (and this is referring to Wicca – not Witchcraft. Being a Witch is not a religious dedication, so there is much more leniency for syncretization)

When looking at my desire to ride both currents, I thought to myself. ‘am I a Christian, using the techniques within Wicca to find the Perfect Union with Deity as taught by Jesus? Or am I a Wiccan, who enjoys the teachings of Jesus?’

I enjoy the teachings of many. I enjoy many Christian practices of Mysticism, as I do Jewish Mysticism.

However, declaring myself as a Christian means I have put my toes into that current.

A current that carries many energies, thought forms, ideas, violent history. A current that will not always run alongside Wicca. If one is dedicating herself to Both those paths, I think it can be a problem.

To say ‘Oh I’m Christian, but not THAT kind of Christian.’ gets so tiresome. I always think – what would Jesus think about Christianity? As said above, at one point do those beliefs become so far removed from what Christianity is known as, that it ceases to become Christianity?

One pivotal discovery that prompted my decision to rededicate myself to Wicca was my new found interest in the Canaanite pantheon. This instigated the reading of many texts. Learning about the evolution of the religion of Israel. The Canaanite origins of El. The texts discovered at Ras Shamra/Ugarit.

From a young age , and increasingly so as I grew older, I felt a presence of God. A large, silent but pulsating, presence. Powerful but benevolent.

Time and time again I was drawn back to the Old Testament. There were many passages in there, especially in Psalms, in which I felt a connection to ‘this’ God more so than the God i had tried to acquaint myself with in Wicca or the angry war-like version of God found elsewhere in the bible.

When I learned about El/Ilu and the Ugaritic writings. Myths of Baal etc — it brought things into a new light. It was this El – Father of All Creation.  That I immediately identified with as the Mountain symbolism that crept into my understanding of God all my life. And whereas I had never identified well to a Goddess, except Hathor (whom I still adore) I connected with Athiratu, Ilu’s consort. (said to be the Asherah worshipped by early Israelites).

I still very much agree with this saying of Gerald Gardner:

the Gods are real, not as persons, but as vehicles of power. Much food for thought upon this point will be found in such books as The Mystical Qabalah, by Dion Fortune. And The Art of Creation, by Edward Carpenter, by those who care to seek.
Briefly, it may be explained that the personification of a particular type of cosmic power in the form of a God or Goddess, carried out by believers and worshippers over many centuries, builds that God-form or Magical Image into a potent reality on the Inner Planes, and makes it a means by which that type of cosmic power may be contacted. Nor is the worshippers’ belief in vain; for though they may themselves have built the Magical Image, the Power which ensouls it is real and objective, if the building has been done in the right way. – Gardner, Gerald. The Meaning of Witchcraft. Lakemont, GA US: Copple House Books, 1959; 1988 edition. (p 260-261)

But El/Ilu and Athiratu have become very real to me. The ‘Power’ fueling this love and dedication to me is the Divine. The One. The Unknowable.  It is the Canaanite God Form of Ilu that I connected with. The one that is found within the Old Testament. It is the Canaanite stories of Anat, and her bloodshed and Baal’s command to her to

Remove war from the earth,
set love in the ground,
pour peace into the heart of the earth,
tranquillity into the heart of the fields.

that connects me to the Goddess, and the depictions of Athiratu, near the water, with her cauldron, doing the ‘menial’ tasks, although being Queen of All Creation, that I connect with.

The Bible seems a bit different to me now.

I still find much comfort in Psalms, and in Jewish and Christian Mysticism, but I don’t feel that I can declare myself as a Christian.

I have rededicated myself to Wicca.