Saturday, May 28, 2005

I Loves Me My Messiah

(Note to the RoF: The reason for this post I will discuss later.)

Probably more magic is done in my part of the world invoking Christ, Mary and the saints than is done in the name of any other pantheon. This is not the sort of thing for which real statistics exist, but I know, because I've been at the site of so much of it -- despite the fact that my particular, early indoctrination denied flatly the existence or religious permissibility of such things as a whole.

The day when I was twelve years old, dressed in my favorite (although embarrassingly tacky in retrospect) dress, white cotton bodice on top of a primarily fuschia tropical print skirt, with a hat I'm probably better off not remembering -- this was the early nineties -- and "went forward" to be baptized, and then to receive Communion (from my own father, although that wasn't the standard practice), in an auditorium full of 500 families, was the day I first understood magic -- first understood how the mundane (getting wet all over, which I had done at least once a day from childhood -- I've been a bathtub reader since I was old enough to bathe myself) became the magical, and changed you. I was a lot too young to know the difference between transubstantiation and consubstantiation, young enough that I had started to get curious about the other, "incorrect" faiths -- especially the entirely forbidden Catholics, whose rituals and churches had appealed to the aesthetic and historical senses I was just beginning to develop. But that was the day I understood that magic is real, even if I didn't call it that, or know that name for it.

After that there were "games" that weren't, quite -- games where Mary's name came up. The first written, intentional ritual I ever did, as such, performed in tense and unneccessary fear at the back of my mother's garden, involved a rewrite of the Hail Mary I wish I hadn't burned in a fit of adolescent pique. I can't date that experience to anything other than "adolescence", but I can still see the moon and feel myself naked under my bathrobe, my legs shaking not from cold but from Fear of Being Found Out. I had read the anti-Satanist scare literature that enjoyed spurts of popularity amongst the parents of Christian teenagers, and I knew that this would definitely be misconstrued. Even then, I knew it wasn't wrong. I still didn't call it magic.

Since then, after the discovery of a lot of history, literature, and concepts, and after getting rid of the anger at the flaws in the institution that had raised me, I began to see the individual goodness. More psychically aware, I began to see the Godliness in the people who still love me, on the rare Sunday I show up with my mother and father. Eventually the universe started dropping Jesus in my path until I had to reexamine Jesus entirely.

When I was 16 years old and on a school tour, the central statue of Sri Ganesha Temple in Nashville spoke to me. I learned of, and eventually saw made flesh, Cernunnos. The cycle of the God-that-dies was a part of my year, after a short while, once I linked my fascination with the moon to the Wheel of the Year. But I bore resentment for Jesus -- Jesus who, in my mind, had become wholly associated with the repression of women, the fall of paganism, the ill-treatment of ethnic group after ethnic group, the inherited racism of my parent's generation.

I am a student of philosophy, however, and studies in logic eventually made that mental association untenable, once I had become able to forgive the wrongs done to me personally in the name of Christianity. I was a hot pick for Bible Bowl back during my Church Camp days, and I had too much information about the mythical Jesus to not, eventually, be forced to examine Jesus just as I had examined other regenerative gods. (My corresponding fascination with Mary is another matter that will be dealt with later.)

When I divorced Jesus from his cult -- the original ones, the post-Crucifixion interpreters and Church founders (with St. Paul foremost -- I must say in the interest of full disclosure that he will probably never grace my altar) -- I found the power of my religious understanding strengthened by the reconnection to the deity to whom I had sworn, over ten years before, my allegiance, and to whom I had been bound in the first act of magic I had ever actively participated in. It was as if Christ and Mary -- Mary who remains the first representation of the Triple Goddess who ever made herself manifest to me -- threw the rest of my belief in magic into high relief. It broke a barrier I wasn't even aware of.

I discovered a man who was well versed enough in the religion of the day to successfully contend with both elders and politicians about the meaning of the commandments, yet whose views were sufficiently divergent to make aforesaid groups uneasy -- much like myself. I found a man who told stories that boiled down to "Heaven is when everyone treats one another decently." I found an egalitarian. I found a man with views on racism and sexism that converged with my own, a pacifist, a man who mostly got pissed off at hypocrites and corporations -- a guy like me. Most importantly, I found a pagan Christ -- that Christ did and continues to die and be reborn as a lesson about the nature of the Universe with which he was one being. I could make the statement "All Gods, which are one God, and all Goddesses, which are one Goddess, and which God and Goddess are also One Being" along with my Wiccan sister and speak Truth, a truth I had given lip service to, and possibly even thought I believed...while mentally discounting the deity to which I had first been exposed, an act of hypocrisy I hadn't even recognized as such until I stopped, like Peter, denying Christ.

Everyone encounters God in a purely individual way, and practitioners of magic tend to draw the deities they need. As most of the aforesaid practitioners have found, those deities can be somewhat insistent about needing to be recognized. With my Christian background, it was inevitable that I either accept Christ, or lose faith -- because I could not continue in a lie of unity while making exceptions based on bigotry and fear, even my own. I grok my God now, more fully, because Jesus is contained within it.

Hail Discordia.


At 12:39 PM, Anonymous lady alambil said...

I love it when you post about your journey. It always makes me think. I'm really glad and grateful, in retrospect, that my parents never preached intolerance or disrespect for other religions, that they never discouraged my infatuation first with Greek and then with Norse, Celtic...etc. mythology.
I do know, though, the Fear of Being Found Out. If my parents found out that I'm studying Tarot...or even that I have a set of cards...they'd be "disappointed" and "concerned". I'd have a reeeeely hard time conveying to them that this is a good way for me to learn meditation and how to listen to God.

At 12:57 PM, Blogger Memphis Word Nerd said...

I'm so glad that you posted this. I had a bit of a spiritual crisis this morning. I'm visiting my parents and agreed to go to church with them, resulting in some serious introspection about whether or not I was sinning (yes, I believe in sin, just not the Christian version) by supporting a religion that I believe to be harmful.

Anyway, I'm home now and it's lunch time. Crisis averted. :-)

At 2:00 PM, Blogger GoddessAradia said...

In all honesty, Parce, I agree. Jesus plays an important role in the picture. Not the role he played in "Saved" exactly, but the role of yet another facet in the complex jewel that is deity. Perhaps because of my christian upbringing alone, but more likely because of my deep faith in Christ during highschool, I still find him peeking out in my mind from time to time. And that's ok. The Jesus I know is totally cool enough to join the club of "Sarahs Pantheon". It's just sad that so many pagans still have such an issue with their negative interactions with Christianity, that they can't use parts of it as yet another tool to grow.

At 5:40 PM, Blogger Special Sauce said...

I also love it when you post about your spirituality. Reading about how you got to where you are now, and the directions you will be going helps me to get some things into perspective. These posts never fail to make me think about my own journey, and make me want to work on my own path.

Thanks, ET.

At 7:46 PM, Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

What's Triple Goddess? In what way is Mary a manifestation of her?

At 9:22 PM, Blogger parcequilfaut said...

LadyA, the FoBFO doesn't, ever, entirely go away. I'm pretty "out", but I've taken a policy of need-to-know where my parents are concerned (I went to a lecture, as opposed to, "I went to go see Kurunamayi, an incarnation of the Divine Mother.")

What CDHSarah said is the reason I'm examining this relationship...with an eye towards possible, eventual, editing and publishing. Tish thinks a book about this topic would sell like mad.

MWN, I believe in sin too, as a very personal thing...going against your Nature. In a future entry, once I've figured it out, entirely, I'm going to talk about changing my Christian denomination for exactly that reason, I'm just not ready to make an intelligent choice. Glad I helped throw stuff into perspective.

'Rina, the Triple Goddess refers to the most common Goddess Trinity -- Maiden/Mother/Crone. Each is represented, in Wicca at least, by a phase of the moon (new/full/waning). Mary is the Virgin, the Mother, and the Queen of Heaven (Salve Regina) all in one. The Triple Goddess is kind of just a catch-all term for three related Goddess archetypes...CDHSarah? Want to talk more about this subject?

At 6:41 AM, Blogger Ghost of Goldwater said...

Religion is a neurosis, and boy are you idiots in need of therapy. Years of it. I'm just glad I haven't wasted my time reading this blog in months, and am cheerfully contemplating a long life without ever taking a look at it again. Tata.

At 2:46 PM, Blogger Special Sauce said...

I, for one, would be very interested in reading it in book format (though the greedy, impatient part of me doesn't want to wait that long, so I'm glad you're posting as you go, in a manner of speaking).

I think Tish is definitely on to something.

At 6:08 PM, Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

What other Goddess Trinities are there?

At 12:10 AM, Blogger Memphis Word Nerd said...

Irina, I'm going to go waaaaaay out on a limb here just to kick off the discussion. Sarah and Parce, please correct my mistakes and fill in the gaps. I bow to your superior knowledge.

To my knowledge, most (if not all) polytheistic religions include trinatured goddesses. The Norse pantheon includes the Norns, the Hindu have Parvati, Urga and Kali, etc. IIRC, the ancient Celts worshipped Brigit (also called Bride) who I have heard described as being a trinity within herself or as being part of a trinity with her two sisters who shared the same name. Brigit fascinates me because she was absorbed into Catholicism and the Catholic church "granted" her sainthood. ("Hey, if you can't beat 'em, subvert 'em!")

The most widely known Goddess trinity is the Greek Fates: Clothos, Lachesis and Atropos. IIRC, Clothos (the maiden) spun the threads that represented human lives, Lachesis (the mother-figure) measured them and Atropos (the crone) cut them. It was frequently believed that they shared one body amongst the three of them or that they were one Being with three different natures.

The Greek pantheon also included other female trinities, such as Hecate. She was almost always considered to be a single individual with three faces (maiden, matron, crone).

Sarah and Parce, what can you add to this discussion? I'd love to learn more about this.

At 12:20 AM, Blogger Memphis Word Nerd said...

Parce, I got so caught up in professorial mode that I forgot to respond to what you said about sin.

I went to a Christian school until 7th grade. My religion teacher was a fiesty nun named Ms. Hand. She gave us the best definition of sin that I have ever heard. Sin, according to her, is anything that disrupts the harmony between you and God, nature, others or yourself. I loved that woman.

At 9:25 AM, Blogger GoddessAradia said...

I have to be honest and admit that I don't know the mythos of many triple goddesses. I understand well the symbology of it though. The maiden form represents youth, innocence, the wisdom of a child. The mother form represents just that. Motherhood, unconditional love, the intuition of a mother, then comes the crone. The strength and wisdom that only comes from living many years and learning from your life. The wise woman.

There is a forth goddess, rarely discussed or used. She is the goddess of the new moon. She is often portrayed as a dark goddess, and in a way she is. She is the side of the goddess hidden from view. It is said that no human can understand or embrace this goddess because one must first have died and passed the grey veil to see her. I don't know about all that, but it is interesting to ponder a deity that we cannot see or understand until after death.

Once understanding the different aspects of the goddess, in witchcraft, the next step is to understand the wheel of the year. But there is no way I could discuss all of that symbology right now.

At 6:51 PM, Blogger Irina Tsukerman said...

Thank you both for your explanations. I never thought of the deities I've read about in quite that way, but now it makes perfect sense. Unfortunately, I don't know Norse or Indian mythology very well, but it's certainly fascinating to learn about!

At 9:53 AM, Blogger parcequilfaut said...

MWN, other than it being Durga, you are ten shades of correct, and I would have loved to say Aloha to Ms.Hand. And CDHSarah is right about the fourth face (the hidden face) of the Goddess.

I would let GoG get my goat, but I know better.

At 3:18 PM, Anonymous lady alambil said...

hehe...Fast Times. *cue "Somebody's Baby" on mental jukebox*

GoddessA...if you see this, I'd just like to say that I do read and enjoy your blog. But, I have no Blogger account, and thus cannot comment on your blog to tell you that "intriguing" is the correct spelling and that it was Karl Marx who declared religion the opiate of the well as other random "hey, interesting!" "Oh, I agree!" comments...

At 9:21 AM, Blogger GoddessAradia said...

Why thank you, Lady A. My post about "profound" was more of a joke than anything (I was in a weird mood that day), But thank you for the spelling and history lessons. I was almost sure it was Marx, but for some reason I always think of Churchhill...
In any case, I'm not sure why you can't leave comments...I will look into it. Have a great day!


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