The Pagan Path

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

Saturday, February 23, 2019

The Glory of the Lord & Lady

 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.
Genesis 1:26 & 27

Whether one views them as our first parents ( in other words, 'the first human beings' ) or simply the first covenant people the biblical Adam & Eve served as a Divine Example of 'as above, so below'. Their relationship was designed to mirror that within what many call 'the God-head'. As we read the biblical Story, we find that, though they were created good ( some say 'perfect' ), something called 'sin' entered the mix & corrupted 'God's' 'good' ( Genesis 1:31 ) Creation. This in itself brings up some interesting & rather uncomfortable questions, but, as this is not my purpose in writing, I will leave that in the capable hands of my readers ( if they so choose ) & we will explore this route no further! The purpose of this blogpost is to show that, in the words of a good friend of mine, 'God is not a bachelor!' As Man was not made to be alone ( Genesis 2:18, Ecclesiastes 4:8-11 ), neither is 'God' alone. The word 'Trinity' is not to be found in the Hebrew or Greek Scriptures, although most Christians say that the concept clearly is. However one chooses to read or interpret it though, according to the very beginning words of the Hebrew Scriptures, the word translated 'God' is plural in tense, indicating that this ''elohiym' was not alone in 'His' work!

In today's 'world', especially in our Western culture, it would NOT be 'kosher' for a woman, as the biblical Sarah did, to call ones husband 'lord' ( I Peter 3:6 ). According to Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary, the primary definition of the term 'lord' is 'one having power and authority over others'. It is really an archaic term, probably most familiar in terms of the Old English titles of 'Lord' & 'Lady'. Even here in America, as lately as the 1950s, the terms 'lord of the manor' & 'lady of the house' were fairly well-used. In fact, the wife of the sitting president of the U.S.A. is still called 'the First Lady'. Being a ( former ) British colony, we here in these United States of America need to understand that these terms came to us from our British heritage, which originated in their understanding & thus translation ( ? ) of the Hebrew & Greek Scriptures. In the Ancient Near East, where women ( according to our Western understanding, anyway ) were viewed as little more than 'chattel' ( this tradition continues up to this day in many or most Near Eastern countries ), it would have been 'proper' ( in that context ) for Sarah ( or 'Sarai' ) to call Abraham ( or 'Abram' ) 'lord'. However, even according to Scriptural tradition, the 'New Covenant' brought many 'changes', one being that 'the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband [ does ]. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife [ does ].' ( I Corinthians 7:4 )

Science tells us, using different terminology maybe, that, before a person is born, as the fetus is being formed in the womb, it is neither male nor female, but in some sense both, although closer toward what we know as the female end of the spectrum. As the fetus develops, chromosomes play their part, being probably the deciding factor in whether the baby will be swaddled in blue or pink clothes. Whatever the case may be ( I'm not a scientist OR a biologist ), the point is that, as in the beginning, according to the Hebrew Scripture, 'God' made them 'male and female'! Man, at least, before the chromosomes do their little dance, is not just a male, but is comprised of both male & female! Human beings comprise both male & female, even if one doesn't take the Hebrew Scriptures at face value. Because what occurs on earth mirrors what happens in the heavens, especially in an esoteric & meta-physical sense, it only goes to figure that the so-called 'God-head' is comprised of both male & female aspects as well!

We all know at least one man ( or boy ) that seems to have almost more female than male attributes, especially when it comes to the emotions. On the other hand, although the term 'tomboy' is not as popular as it used to be, some women ( or girls ) seem to act more like men than women ( that in itself would probably be regarded as a 'sexist statement' ). However one chooses to rectify it in his or her own mind, it simply stands to reason that we are all made up of the same impulses ( energy )! Like I said, I'm not a scientist, so I'm only guessing, but I would imagine that we, individually, simply manifest those impulses differently. When it comes to the human biological structure ( anatomy ), though, it is difficult to aver that this wonder we know & love came to be by accident, or by any means other than an Intelligent Designer!

The Psalmist of the Hebrew Scriptures wrote, 'I am fearfully [ and ] wonderfully made' ( Psalm 139:14 ): this should be regarded as one of the many universal truths of the Bible! Cultural differences aside, it cannot be argued that this amazing piece of work, this ancient marvel, one might say, could not have just 'happened', by chance, as it were! As wonderful, though, as is the human anatomy, almost as amazing is how corrupted it can become, even disfigured to whatever extent, through the many & varied stressors that we load upon it. This is not to say simply that we, individually have corrupted these fine pieces of 'machinery' through our own doing; no, it happens as a result of many, many generations of abuse & misuse: outside influences may not be discounted either, although, again, it is always up to us, as to how we face these exterior stressors!

Science has made great leaps towards god-hood in the last number of decades! Men & women, not being satisfied just to change their sexual preference, have, through the wonders of Science, been able to change their sexual designation, at least to some extent! As far as I've seen, though, no man has ever been fitted with a womb & though they've probably figured out how to fit a woman with a penis, with plastic surgery to remove her breasts ( they can probably even remove a man's penis & make it look like a vagina ); I highly doubt that any of these unnaturally assigned parts work like they were designed to!  Biology aside, then, it is easy to change ones sexual preference, though infinitely more difficult to actually BE other than what you were designed to BE, humanly speaking. Emotions change like the weather, however, so there are many factors which may influence how one manifests his or her feelings, in other words, whether one acts like society expects a man or woman, boy or girl to act.

Societal changes & cultural 'norms' aside, we know one thing for sure; whatever sort of biological 'shell' we incarnated, it is that 'shell' in which we were meant to carry out a certain purpose in this world in which we live!  Whether one wants to attribute this to our Higher Self, or a Higher Power ( ? ) such as the God of the Bible, we can be certain that this body that we inhabit was chosen from the beginning to serve a Higher Purpose! Again, though, this is not to say that men are supposed to act in a certain way, while women are designated for a different purpose ( like 'child-bearing' );society & culture have dictated how things 'should be', for time immemorial, but speaking of 'change', people are beginning to see the idiocy of it all & living, not as society or even their own biology dictates, but as Common Sense tells them they should. We are now in an Age where we can, if we so choose, move past the age-old cultural norms & decide to act in whichever way serves both mankind & ourselves best, no matter whether society dictates that men should act this way & women should act that way!

There are numerous resources available today, especially in this technological age, that point to the fact, not just of a plurality ( 'Trinity'? ) in the 'God-head', but that, just as the 'God' of the Bible created them 'male and female', so the One who set the worlds to spinning is also comprised of both male & female aspects! Many people, for many reasons & centuries have endeavored to hide this startling but surprisingly natural & comfortable truth, but for as many centuries, the truth has always been out there, though persecuted to the death.

Adam & Eve were the First Lord & Lady, according to the Hebrew Scriptures! Other cultures may have similar Stories, but for whatever reason, this is the Story that the majority of Westerners have chosen to pattern their lives after, to whatever extent. According to our Bible ( our Western interpretation of an Ancient Near Eastern piece of literature ), Adam was [ 'the son' ] of God ( Luke 3:38 ), so the question could rightly be asked here, 'If we are the natural offspring of the Creator, as the text seems to indicate, then is it outside the realm of possibility to assume, if for that glorious fact alone, that we are Divine by Nature?' Not only is it possible; we as human beings, whether we choose to manifest It for good or evil, DO carry Divinity Within! I encourage my readers today; choose to manifest that Divinity in the way which best serves humanity & that includes YOU!!!!

Blessed Be,
Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, February 09, 2019

The Temple of Creation

 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.
John the Revelator ( Revelation 21:22 )

A Temple without an Image is just a temple, but with an Image of the God or Goddess, it becomes a most Holy Place! So, you might say, according to many Christian, even 'secular' scholars, before the creation of man in 'the Image of God' ( Genesis 1:26 ), 'The earth was without form, and void'. According to this literal interpretation, 'God', or Elohim, 'created' humankind in order to posit 'His' own Image in 'His' Creation. Of course, according to the Story; this Image became corrupted when the Enemy of God ( a former Creation himself ( or 'itself' ) tempted this 'Image' to rebel against their Creator. In this interpretation of the Story, the Temple of the Earth still bore the Image of God, though it had been degraded, in a manner of speaking. It was not until the 'God' of the Hebrews had given the Ultimate Sacrifice, that the Image returned to Its former Glory & the Temple once more shone!

More & more scholars have come to the understanding, however, that the early chapters of Genesis ( in particular ) do not describe the beginning of Life as we know it; on the contrary, according to this view, the Hebrew Scriptures tell us a covenantal Story, a story of the Covenant that the Hebrew 'God' made with 'His' Creation, those He had formed in His own Image. Thus, according to some, the Story has itself been corrupted, most would say, because of the aforementioned 'understanding'; according to others, it has been corrupted by the traditional ( literal ) interpretation. Those who teach that the nature of the Story we read in the pages of the Greek & Hebrew Scriptures is covenantal rather than universal are often termed 'preterists'. Not all who have adopted this moniker, however, believe that Genesis 1 & 2 describe the formation of a Covenant & conversely, neither do all who believe that Adam was simply the progenitor of what the Bible calls 'the sons of God' teach that all has been fulfilled, as the term 'preterist' implies!

To say that the Greek & Hebrew Scriptures hold no truths for humanity today would be a grave mistake! There ARE many universal truths, or principles in Scripture! The words of Jesus, though often sadly misinterpreted, are one example. Quoting from the Hebrew Scriptures, He enforced the notion that we should love our 'neighbor' as we love ourselves. While some interpret the term 'neighbor' differently than others, it is universally accepted, among Christians, anyway, that we should observe this practice. Many who do not call themselves Christians, the more spiritual types, have adopted this Way of Life as well, recognizing the Divinity, or Image of God, in all humanity!

The greeting 'Namaste' is how many make known to 'others' that they recognize this universal truth, that all bear 'the Image of God'. ( Yes, ALL bear this 'Image' within themselves, though sadly, in some it is nearly unrecognizable ) The word is of Sanskrit origin & simply means ( in other words ), 'the Divine in me acknowledges the Divine in you'. Though this phrase is most often used, probably, by Buddhists or those of the Hindu or other Eastern religions, it would also go well with Christianity, though, most likely because of its Eastern origins, it is not employed among most Christians, especially those of the Western Orthodox, or Catholic Church.

The Catholic Church, of course is simply the universal ( religious ) term for 'the Body of Christ'. This phrase comes from the Bible, which is the Western interpretation of the Greek & Hebrew Scriptures. 'The Christ', in turn, simply means 'the Anointed, or Sent One' ( this is where the term 'chrism' comes from ); this was the title given to Jesus, who. according to the Greek Scriptures, was born to 'save His people from their sin' ( Matthew 1:21 ) As the Son of God, or 'God Incarnate' ( 'God with us' ) - Matthew 1:23 ), Jesus WAS the Christ, Anointed of God to free His people from slavery to sin. Because we all bear 'the Image of God', however, we ALL have the potential to become 'the Christ', or rather, to recognize & manifest 'the Christ Within' & free our people, our 'world' ( of influence ) from its slavery!

As my readers may have surmised, 'preterist' or 'preterism' has become a fairly broad term. There are different 'degrees', ranging anywhere from 'it's all fulfilled' to 'it's mostly fulfilled', with some going as far as to say the Scriptures applied to Israel Only, while others say that the Church simply replaced Israel ( both interpretations are faulty, though one might rightly say they both have their points ). As the case may be, though, 'preterism', while it is a closer, though still Western, interpretation of this Ancient Near Eastern piece of literature, fails in that it continues to define 'the People of God' as 'Those who have [a]made a covenant with Me  ( Elohim ) by sacrifice' ( Psalm 50:5 ) 'The People of God' cannot be defined as ONLY those who acknowledge the Hebrew 'God', or the 'God' of the Bible, just as 'God' or the Source of All Life cannot be defined by the Hebrew Scriptures, or the Bible, alone!

The fulfillment of the Hebrew Scriptures can be found in what we call 'the Greek New Testament'! While, from our Western point of view & thus from our human ( personal ) standpoint, it certainly does NOT seem to have been fulfilled in the first century, especially all that stuff about 'a new creation', to truly understand, as most, if not all Christians will readily acknowledge, that we are 'the Temple of the Holy Spirit', we must first realize the gravity of that statement: since the ( Holy ) Spirit dwells within us ( thus WE are the Temple ), yet the Greek New Testament ( Bible ) says that 'the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple', does that mean there are TWO Temples?!

Obviously, there is only ONE Temple & that is where 'the Image of God' resides! ( this is where it gets 'dicey' ) So, since there is only ONE Temple & THAT'S 'God' & US; where does that leave US: are WE 'God'?! Assuredly NOT, you might quickly respond! No, we are NOT the Source of All Life, though we DO bear the Divine Image ( what Christians call 'the Image of God' )! Contrary to what most Christians seem to believe, though, it is not only 'those who accept Jesus into their hearts' that bear this 'Image': all humanity bears the Divine Image; however not all bring that Image to the surface ( manifest ). In fact, one may well note; all Creation bears 'the Divine Image', for everything has in it a 'spirit' of some sort, being made of the same 'building blocks' of the Universe.

In terms that we, as Westerners in particular, are familiar with, a temple is a man-made structure, built as a shrine to a particular God or Goddess. Jesus, in what we call 'the Greek New Testament', spoke of a 'temple..................................................made without hands' ( Mark 14:58 ( II Corinthians 5:1 ); in other words, made, not by human hands, but by 'God'. It is this Temple in which we ALL reside, as the express Image of Divinity, yet again WE are this 'Temple', for we all bear within us that Divine Image!

Charles Haddon Shank

Caddeucus; the Divine Serpent

Monday, February 04, 2019

Thrillled to Healing

Then He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace."
Luke 7:50 

Here we go again, getting all mystical, playing with the occult & flirting with blasphemy! As you can plainly see above, though; these are not MY words: they are the words of Jesus, the Son of 'God', according to Luke's version of the Gospel. What if these words were true today, though, in a universal sense & we could actually save ourselves, simply by believing? ( that's a rhetorical question, by the way ) You are encouraged to read the entire story in Luke, of which the quote above is the very last statement, for it brings Jesus' words into much-needed context. The woman in question, presumably a prostitute by profession, is healed, forgiven of her 'sin' because of her faith, bolstered by her love in action. Although this story, like many if not all such, in the four Gospels, may be accounted little more than a parable of Israel, it also bears Universal Truth in that it shows ( if read with an open mind & heart ) that our inner state most often determines our outer!

While many fear to tread the plains of mysticism & esoterica, one does not need to delve very deep to realize the truth of this statement; 'As above, so below'! This is actually a very deep & comprehensive, yet simple statement, ranging from the highest 'heaven' ( sky ) to the earth below & humanity on Earth. This is not to say that every illness that any individual human being has ever experienced can be attributed directly to their spiritual state: much of the illnesses & dis-ease that modern humanity now suffers from is the product, or result of generations of abuse & neglect, 'the sins of our fathers ( ancestors )', if you will. In terms of humanity, though, there is abundant evidence that our ailments very often have a direct link to the thoughts we think. Now, again, this is not to say that every form of dis-ease is curable, simply by improving our thought processes. However, it can be shown that, just by improving our demeanor, we can improve our health, if only our mental health. Improving mental health, in turn, most often leads to improved bodily ( biological ) health!

When Jesus spoke those words of healing & forgiveness to the 'sinner' who dared to present herself to the Son of Man; do you think that she was 'healed' of her affliction ( some scholars teach that this was the same woman  of Mark 16:9 & Luke 8:2 ) because of the Strength & Comfort of His words? We know that words have the power to heal, as well as the power to harm. For example, any parent can bear witness to the power of a word spoken in haste to a little child. Most often, a word spoken in haste, whether it be to a child or an adult, is almost instantly regretted when the speaker sees the harm that has been done, but sadly, those words cannot be withdrawn; the resulting damage can only be healed by carefully chosen words, followed by action, though it usually doesn't hurt if the healing action precedes the words!

The Power of the Mind cannot be denied! Not only does every action we carry out, whether for good or evil, begin in our mind ( consciously or unconsciously ), there have been studies done which seem to prove the power of one's mind over the actions of others! While concepts like this may reside in the realm of science fiction currently, it would not be a stretch, if one approached the subject carefully ( with an open mind & heart ), to say that this concept is not only not a new one; the reality has lingered just beneath the surface of what we call 'reality' for time immemorial!

Most Christians readily proclaim that the 'God' of the Bible simply spoke the Universe into existence, that Jesus simply spoke the words, 'Your sins are forgiven' & it was so; why then, do we find it hard to believe that our words, our thoughts, might have a similar power?! As we have seen & many can attest to, our words DO have a very similar power! When someone transgresses against us personally, though it may not not have have been what we call a 'sin'( against 'God' ); if/when we forgive that person of his or her transgression ( 'sin' ), is not that person forgiven? If by our words we can make another person become physically ill ( at dis-ease ), does it not make sense that we can heal that dis-ease as well? This is not to say either, that like the Jesus of the Bible, we can cast out 'demons' or heal any infirmity, including death, although, with a careful search, one may find evidence to the contrary!

CAN we heal ourselves?! There is much 'evidence' out there to say that, 'yes, we can'! One might find that some of this 'evidence' is greatly exaggerated, while others is down-right 'fairy-tales', but one thing we can be sure of, there is more to it than superstition. Like the Bible itself, or any other example of religious literature, one must read between the lines, so to speak, to ascertain the Universal Truths therein. Jesus, yes, forgave the woman ( Israel ) her sins, but then told her that it was her faith that had saved her: if only we could grasp the true import of His words, 'what dreams may come'?!

Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, February 03, 2019

The Love of God: the Family of God

What does the phrase 'God is Love' mean to you? Two obvious questions might immediately surface in your mind here; 'Who IS God?' & 'What IS Love?' Both of these queries have been confronted in this blog, at least, in a manner of speaking, but, assuming that not everyone has read those posts or garnered those bits of information; let us entertain both questions for a bit. First of all, 'Who is God?' Well, presuming that one is a Christian, the answer should be obvious, especially if one is at all familiar with the Bible, in particular, I John 4:8. The fore-mentioned phrase come directly from this passage. According to the Bible, of course then, 'God' is the God of the Hebrews, the same 'God' ( Elohim ) that created man in His own Image. Now, to one who is not a Christian, the term 'God' may have a slightly different connotation; for instance, our American bank-notes, both paper & coinage, ( still ) sport the phrase, 'In God We Trust'. While the majority of Americans ( 75-80% ? ) may claim to be Christian; by their lifestyles, it is fairly clear that their 'God' looks more like their family, their job, their position, or just plain 'the Almighty Dollar', rather than the God of the Bible. This is not to say that these things are any less important, in the grand scheme of things, than the 'God' of the Hebrew & Greek Scriptures; the point is, everyone has at least a slightly different perception of Who, or even What, this Being ( if you can even name It that ) is that we are so used to calling 'God'. Though those of Islamic faith call It 'Allah' & see 'Him' in a slightly different light than the 'God' of the Hebrews; does that make 'Him' any less 'God' ( to the Muslim ) than the 'God' of the Christian faith; the Jewish faith?

Okay, so 'What is Love?' While the term 'God' may cover a wide spectrum, surely 'Love' is an easy one! Sorry, but no; Love, while like 'God', is what IT is, It also has come to mean many different things to many different people. Most popularly, it would seem, 'Love' is no more than a feeling, probably more akin to 'lust'. To others, in particular those of the Christian persuasion, 'Love' is more of an active proposition, wherein one chooses to do this instead of that, treating their fellow human beings as they themselves would like to be treated. Even the Christian Bible, though, seems to divide 'Love' into several ( or so ) different categories: 'agapaō', 'thelō'& 'phileō'.  Love, however, is more than a proposition, an idea that one might formulate in their mind; Love is in fact infinitely more than any ( one ) Being: Love is what we ARE! As human beings, one might be hard-pressed to agree with this statement, but it is not so much as human beings that we manifest this state of Being; it is by transcending our humanity, going Beyond it, so to speak, that we find this glorious Reality. Yes' 'God' IS Love & so are WE!

How do we, as human beings, experience 'the Love of God out-poured'? That, again, should be fairly plain; it is through 'His' People that we experience 'Love'! When we pray (to 'God' ) for this or that, it is usually, if not always through some human intervention that our wishes/needs are met, assuming we ask in the right spirit. This is not to say that 'God' does not not act supernaturally ( on our behalf ), but more often than not, the reason that the 'prayer of a righteous man avails much' is that other righteous men & women hear that prayer, whether directly or indirectly ( through the Spirit Within/Holy Spirit ) & do all within their power to meet that need/wish, out of Love, not just because of an affinity for that individual, but because they are themselves Love!

In order to understand this Glorious Fact, that we are, in Essence, Love, we must transcend our humanity; not that we become something more than human, but by realizing that we already ARE more than just human beings! We are primarily spirit beings inhabiting biological bodies, or 'shells' if you will. 'What you see' is in some sense what you get, for what you see IS what we, in our individuality, manifest, but when we choose to 'let it be', rather than striving with our Higher Self, our True Self, or Nature ( spirit beings ), we manifest Love. Even the Christian Scriptures say, 'everyone who loves is born of God and knows God'!

Yes, 'God is love'; It's that simple! Then again, it can mean different things to different people. Not that this changes the Glorious Fact ( as we've seen ), for both the terms 'God' & 'Love' are what they are, no matter what meaning or identity we strive to attach to them.In fact of the matter, one might well say that 'God' & 'Love' are interchangeable terms, as in, 'God is Love' & 'Love is God'! So, in a manner of speaking, does one have to acknowledge the 'God' ( Elohim ) of the Bible in order to rightly love one's self or their neighbor? You be the judge, but it's pretty clear that, while not all who don't acknowledge the Christian 'God' do not manifest Love, neither do all who acknowledge the Christian God manifest Love! Can a Muslim manifest Love? Again, you be the judge, but if a Muslim DOES manifest Love, does that not mean he or she is born of 'God' ( Child of God )? Whether a person chooses to manifest the Love that he or she IS, or not, does not change the Glorious Fact of what they ARE. Sadly, many in  our sordid past & present have chosen not to manifest that Love & the world has suffered many unnecessary horrors because of it. Only when we understand that we are More than this humanity will we begin to consistently manifest the Love we truly are!

Charles Haddon Shank