The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Thursday, October 25, 2018

The Craft

Bible-believing Christians know that witchcraft is evil, of the devil & that those who practice it are destined for 'Hell'! However, with that being said, if one is really concerned with knowing the Truth of the matter, one will find that witchcraft is nothing more, in essence, than unlocking the Power within oneself rather than searching for that Power 'somewhere out there'. This is not to say there IS no Greater Power out there ( though probably not as traditionally understood-'dogma' ), just that it must be understood, as you've read before ( in this blog ), that, being of the same Essence as that Greater Power, we ourselves bear that Power within ourselves & must simply awaken to the realization!

As defined by Merriam-Webster's online dictionary, Wicca is a religion. To be more precise, maybe, it is a nature-based religion & thus, more a way of life, not unlike Christianity in that respect. Unlike Christianity, though, Wicca honors the female aspect of the Creator, or the Divine Feminine. Wicca, as I understand it ( I could be wrong ), is not dogmatic about its beliefs, either, but rather honors the Divine in all its glorious aspects, especially Nature, which, it might be noted, is the physical manifestation of its Power. As a religion, then, Wicca falls under the umbrella of Paganism, which predates Christianity & in fact forms the foundation for much of what we know, again, traditionally speaking, as Christianity!

Although not necessarily known as such until sometime later, Paganism, as an umbrella term ( anachronistically in reverse? ), can be noted as predating Christianity. A 'pagan', in simple terms, was anyone not a Christian or Jew ( mostly the first, rather than the latter ). As such, then, 'Pagan' was a large denominator, covering everyone, from those who worshiped Nature itself to those who, like Christians, worshiped a God or gods who were petty & must be appeased through sacrifice ( human or animal )!

Modern Paganism, which is also an umbrella-term ( including Wicca ), is a throwback to the Ancient Ways, the Old Ways of understanding what ( or Who? ) made the world go round. Ranging from those who worshiped a single entity ( monotheistic ) to those who worshiped a multiplicity of gods ( polytheistic ), Paganism, from culture to culture, revealed a people's perception ( only ) of who & what 'God' was. As we've noted previously, every culture known to man ( kind ) had their own version of a creation story, all of which are similar yet dissimilar. Culturally speaking, these stories are all pieces of the same puzzle, a grasping for 'God' that has gone on for Time Immemorial!

In our English Bibles, we read about the error of those who worshiped 'the creature rather than the Creator' ( Romans 1:25 );: while it must be noted here that the Christian Scriptures are the Story of Israel, not humanity per se, this passage has been applied, in the widest sense, to any who do not acknowledge the Christian or Jewish God. While there may be some value to this consideration, it should be understood that, while there is a Supreme Being, an Intelligent Designer, if you will ( the All ), there are many aspects to the Divinity, most if not all of which are manifest in the Creation.

To worship something, again, in simple terms, is to ascribe worth to a particular object. That object may be another person that we hold in high esteem or simply an idea, true or false, that one holds ( especially referring to Deity ). Thus the Nature Worship of Wicca & Paganism, in those terms, sounds a bit different than worshiping 'the creature rather than the Creator', does it not? Now, admittedly, there are those of both 'camps' ( although the same could almost be said of certain forms of Christianity ) who are guilty of this, but this by no means implies that Paganism as a whole idolizes what is created, rather than ascribing worth to the One True God, the Source of All that Is.

Wicca, being associated with the sadly misunderstood terms, 'witch' & 'witchcraft', naturally enjoys ( just a BIT of sarcasm there ) the stigma normally attached ( in the Christian 'camp', anyway ) to those terms. 'Witches', contrary to popular opinion ( and you probably won't find anything near this definition in any but the oldest dictionary, if at all ), depending, of course, on the person, CAN be evil ( or rather, DO evil-using their Power wrongly, whether purposely or ignorantly ), are simply those who have learned how to tap into their own inner resources as well as utilizing what Nature has provided. As another religion, one might note that Wicca, along with other forms of Paganism, is simply another way to use our innate creativity & to explain the Nature of it all: as a way of life, Wicca requires simply that one live in harmony with his or her surroundings & that they respect the Divinity in All its many forms!

Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Intentional Grounding

Having been born into this life in mid-September of 1971, biologically speaking, I am a Virgo! Astrologically speaking, Virgo is an Earth sign. Although I AM a spiritual ( spirit ) being having a physical experience, as far as biology is concerned, I have always enjoyed the sensation of being in or around water ( though I don't swim & I'd likely think twice if I were ever in the midst of one of those big storms, either on or in the water ), but when it comes down to it, I've always preferred, when given the choice, to plant my feet on solid ground. Lately, I've begun to practice 'grounding' ( among other similar pursuits ). Simply put, 'grounding' is basically taking your shoes & socks off while you walk on the naked earth or just enjoy the sounds of silence ( Nature ) with your naked feet planted in the ground. It can also include planting your bare feet on rocks, or sitting on a rock with your naked feet in a mountain stream or creek.

In life, whatever your pursuits, one's true intentions are what really matter! Whether we are able, in these biological bodies, to follow through with our intentions may be another matter, but to accomplish anything one must first have the intention. It is said that 'the highway to hell is paved with good intentions': this is a fairly popular phrase ( it's really almost cliche' ), but it's actually quite untrue! First of all, though it's only a metaphorical statement ( there IS no 'hell' ( not in the traditional sense of the word ), if someone's intentions are truly 'good', good WILL be manifest in their actions. Secondly, the one with good intentions, though their actions may put someone else through the fires of hell ( again, metaphorically speaking ), the burden of guilt falls, not on the one with good intentions, but on the one who has chosen, for whatever reason, to walk 'the highway to hell'!

You've probably heard it before; 'I never meant to hurt you'! Growing up in a fairly strict Christian house, I would often hear, 'well, you didn't mean not to!' The startling truth of these words hurts; if one's intention was truly NOT to hurt someone ( else ), they would have honed their intentions ( thoughts ) a bit more carefully before acting on them! Then we have those who claim to act without thinking ( often with the result of someone getting hurt ); no one acts without thinking first, whether consciously or unconsciously .

One of the things in this life that is so often under-played is our unconscious ( desires ). An example is something frequenters of the bar-scene are quite familiar with; 'mean drunks': 'well, he's a good guy ( or girl ) until you get some liquor into him ( or her )!' In my experience though, getting 'all liquored up' only serves to bring out one's true nature! I'm not a scientist, or even a chemist, but common sense tells me that alcohol dulls the senses ( which is the reason many people drink ( especially to excess ), so when that occurs ( their senses dulled ), their true nature ( unconscious desires ) shows & we see either 'mean drunks' or men & women acting on their animal desires, doing or saying things they might not normally do or say, whether because they're not being honest with themselves or because 'it just ain't right'. Some people are just plain assholes though!

As long as we're being honest, both with ourselves & with others, there are some genuinely good people out there, many of whom do frequent bars ( even drink to excess ) that are what I like to call 'happy drunks'. These are those who drink to forget their troubles ( for awhile ), who are actually quite pleasant to be around, though in the 'day-to-day' they might be a bit of an 'asshole'. Again, you can 'blame' this on their senses being dulled by alcohol, though it might just bring out the 'best' in them, because their unconscious has a bit more leeway!

As far as not meaning to hurt someone else through our actions, one could consciously have no desire to harm another, but if they do harm another through their actions, it is because they either don't care ( if they hurt someone ) or because they actually do ( unconsciously ) wish that person harm! I must say, though, that just because one hurts another through their actions, they are not necessarily a 'bad' person; some people are simply careless in their thoughts & actions, through ignorance, willful or otherwise, they do not know themselves & therefore cannot be honest with themselves or others, for that matter!

To know oneself is the beginning of wisdom! By knowing  ourselves, getting in touch with what has been called 'the inner man', we thereby begin a slow-dance with our divinity, with our unconscious ( even subconscious ) nature, our true nature. We are more than mere human beings; we are spiritual & thus divine in nature! When we realize this glorious fact & accept our true nature, we will begin to be honest with ourselves & others; no longer will we hurt others ( intentionally or not ) because we will understand that by hurting others through our careless actions, we are really only hurting ourselves. Then, if someone IS hurt by our actions, we may understand that they are only receiving their due, paying their karmic debt, so to speak: that is not on us, that's all them!

'Grounding' is one way in which we might achieve this, one way in which we can understand & know ourselves. Meditation is another way in which we can, by stilling our minds, get in touch with our unconscious mind, even our subconscious nature. If one would truly be honest with themselves, which is where it all begins, one must first make sure their subconscious aligns with their unconscious ( desires ) & therefore, with their conscious ( thoughts ), though not necessarily in that order.

No matter the 'sign' we were born under, we still have a choice! Being an Earth sign, especially a Virgo ( for example ) explains a lot about choices I've made in the past & continue to make ( speaking of karmic debt ), but through it all, it is the choices we make, based upon our unconscious desires, that are manifest in our actions! We are responsible for our actions, no matter how good or bad the intention, whether conscious or unconscious.When we harm others, though we consciously 'didn't mean to hurt them', then we need to step back ( 'be still and know.....' ) & meditate on whether we actually did mean them harm or whether we were simply helping them pay their karmic debt!

Charles Haddon Shank

Friday, October 05, 2018

The Myth of Creation

Word of Warning; if you read the title I've chosen for this post & immediately think something like, 'Okay, NOW, this blogger's really gone off the deep end!', I counsel you to stop reading right now: however, if it didn't piss you off or offend your sensibilities, read on.......

According to the Oxford Dictionary ( online ), a 'myth' is, first & foremost, 'a traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.' Although a secondary definition might include anything from a fairy-tale ( legend? ) to a complete & utter falsehood, the term 'myth' does not necessarily connote an untruth. Many people ( this is not unique to Christianity ) have a tendency to take literally the language of creation when reading the account in our English Bible Genesis 1 & 2, or really, the creation account in any other Scripture ( from another culture ). This results in confusion for some & disbelief for others, so, in most cases, the creation is either disregarded, or at the least, grossly misunderstood!

Other creation accounts ( from other cultures ) may seem, at first glance anyway ( especially to our Western eyes ), to be more akin to the complete & utter falsehood end of the spectrum than anything else, but one simply has to open their eyes to the cultural relevance of whatever Scripture they're reading to understand that, although metaphorical & hyperbolic as it may sound ( 'so crazy, it just might be true' ), these 'myths' & 'legends' ALWAYS have a firm foundation in the Truth!

A few years back, I posted a short series of articles on the first several chapters of Genesis. At the time of writing, my intention was not necessarily to present the mythical qualities of the Scriptures we read, but I did endeavor to show how the Gospel of Jesus the Christ was pre-figured in the early chapters of the Hebrew Scriptures. ( Understanding, of course, that the chapter divisions are not original ) These articles, however, did show how many of the details did not make sense aside from their Ancient Near Eastern ( cultural ) context. Understanding these stories as 'myth', simply tales from a different culture, not as a literal history, but as literature, we can see that while they are firmly rooted in truth, they are told in such a way as to reveal what my readers might be familiar with by now; 'a deeper spiritual truth'!

From a website containing the full text of the Babylonian Creation Epic, 'Enuma Elish'; I found this quote from scholar Stephen Bertman quite interesting:

"Both Genesis and Enuma Elish are religious texts which detail and celebrate cultural origins: Genesis describes the origin and founding of the Jewish people under the guidance of the Lord; Enuma Elish recounts the origin and founding of Babylon under the leadership of the god Marduk. Contained in each work is a story of how the cosmos and man were created. Each work begins by describing the watery chaos and primeval darkness that once filled the universe. Then light is created to replace the darkness. Afterward, the heavens are made and in them heavenly bodies are placed. Finally, man is created. These similarities notwithstanding, the two accounts are more different than alike. (312)"

'The 'Enuma Elish', while a bit longer & maybe a little more sordid in detail than the Hebrew account, shows us several things. It shows us the cultural difference & the fact that the Hebrews were not the only ones to record their beginnings. Rather than the one 'God' we read about in the Greek & Hebrew Scriptures, most, if not all the other accounts tell of a multiplicity of 'gods'. Along those lines, here is another quote, this time from scholar Jeremy Black;

"The rise of the cult of Marduk is closely connected with the political rise of Babylon from city-state to the capital of an empire. From the Kassite Period, Marduk became more and more important until it was possible for the author of the Babylonian Epic of Creation to maintain that not only was Marduk king of all the gods but that many of the latter were no more than aspects of his persona. (128)"

As myths go, then, the creation account we read in the first two chapters of Genesis is but one among many. To be clear, by speaking of creation as a myth, I'm not saying, by any means, that all this glory just happened by chance: on the contrary, it was choice, intelligent choice, by which the heavens were spread, the planets & stars hung & human-kind set to rule the earth! It should be clear by now, to any but the most casual ( ignorant? ) observer that the account we read in the beginning of our English Bibles, though different from say, the 'Enuma Elish', is really not that different in ( overall ) content!

As Stephen Bertman, above, recognized, the creation account that is recorded in the beginning of the Hebrew Scriptures is not a record of the creation of the material universe, though that may be in the background as a given; it is rather an account of cultural beginnings, the creation of covenant, as some have noted, between the Creator God & His Creation.  It is the traditional story of the genesis of the Hebrew people, handed down, by some accounts, over the generations & compiled by Moses, the great Lawyer of the Hebrews. As such, we should read this intriguing story, not simply with our wondering ( wandering? ) Western eyes, but through the lens of cultural context, seeking to understand it as its original audience would have.

Charles Haddon Shank