christian

Gael Song

April, 2018

Healing the Pagan-Christian Divide

An ongoing sadness of my life has been the great divide between Celtic Pagan practices and Christian ones. Folks I’ve met are nearly always vehemently for one and against the other. But I love both traditions (though each has some pretty hefty distortions that need to be healed!). My own inner feminine has been a Pagan Priestess over many lives, my masculine, a Christian Minister several times over. It isn’t always easy for them to get along, either. So, during this Christian Holy week, just past the celebration of Alban Eiler, I think it’s a good time to ponder the intermingling of the two and, hopefully, soften the miasma between more recent and older spirit ways.

As I moved up through planes of light on my own path of transformation over the past 22 years, I was led into understandings about the Ogham letters and their meanings. And one of the hidden Celtic streams associated with those symbols, I discovered with great surprise, was identical to the Christian calendar. So, let’s go through it, shall we? Over those 22 years of daily healing meditations, I moved up through seven heavens in the inner planes: sensate, soul, spirit, logos, cherub, centerpoint, and diamond core realms.

If you look closely at the structure of the human energy field, you can also see seven concentric rings of light or sheaths, matching those seven heavens. Folks move from outside to core in an ascension process during their personal transformation as the spirit initiations are completed: first earth, then water, air, fire, cherub, centerpoint, and finally diamond initiations.

In the seventh heaven, the highest one, the Diamond Core, there are also 15 cosmic light structures that regulate many, many cycles of life on earth and across the universe. See my first article for a fuller description of those, if you like. This time, we’ll focus only on the lowest of these light structures, the cosmic first chakra, the White Pentagram. It’s the light structure of the Goddess, the White Tara, and it overlights the birth of everyone’s inner divine child during each solar year, a bit of every individual’s divinity reawakened, always carrying one spark of the cosmic God/Goddess to be revealed on earth. But this cycle actually is the progress of the yearly growth impulse through those seven sheaths of light within. This time, the impulse moves from inner light sheath to outer, a descent process though the heavens, as some new part of the self is manifested into our physical world. And there are Ogham letters which signify the birth-pushing forces through these inner sheaths of light. But more to the point, these phases of the year and of this hidden druid cycle precisely match the Christian calendar! I found all this quite fascinating. Maybe the two aren’t so different after all!

The seeds of light for the year ahead, which include one major growth vector for every individual, are implanted into each person’s womb of light (both genders have inner male and female aspects of the spirit) on Midwinter dawn, Alban uran. Then these seeds of light steep in everyone’s pelvic bowl, the unconscious, for three days, while the Goddess chooses the exact timing and form the new growth impulse will take over the year ahead. So, after three days, the first seeds lift up and out of Her cosmic ocean, the very first inkling of what is to come. This is Christmas morning!

And the growth impulse enters the very inmost sheath of light, matching the diamond core, the seventh heaven. Always, the feminine lights up during the first half of these growth phases, the masculine during the second half. In the spirit world, I’ve noticed, it is ever ladies first! The inner divine child spark also grows from an infant form to an elder during the yearly cycle, so this first sheath contains infants of light, baby girl and boy. The Ogham letter A for Ailm, Elm, signifies the yearly growth through the core sheath then, when fears and blocks from the seventh heaven are brought forward into each person’s life to be faced and healed. Then the new aspect of self is fully released into the core sheath on Candlemas eve, the first birth. So, this long A sound means having the faith of a child and the fortitude to move through our deepest fears to birth new life. (The Ogham symbols for each letter are given below each paragraph.)

Then the growth impulse enters the centerpoint sheath, the next one out, on Candlemas day, Feb. 2nd, the date Mary brought Jesus to the temple for sanctification after his birth. Quite appropriate to this inner cycle! This second growth phase brings forward fears from the centerpoint realms, the sixth heaven, usually hurrying or overwork challenges (the sixth heaven holds the abyss, where intense fears were built into each one of us during our long-ago fall to earth), and the inner divine child looks like a toddler this time. The centerpoint phase ends on the eve of Lent. And then the divine child or yearly growth impulse enters the cherub sheath, the next one out, and the fears of that heaven come into each person’s life during the Lenten season. These fears relate to dark mother memories, ancient sacrifice or cruelty that once caused the closing down of each individual’s inner divine child.

On Easter dawn then, the three core fears of winter (that opened in early November, on the cross-quarter day, Samhein), heavy bands over the heart, are removed, and the divine child within is also born out of the cherub sheath. It’s the long O sound, Onn (ohn) or Gorse, the struggle and sweetness of growth, succeeding through both centerpoint an’ cherub challenges. So, it’s a VERY sweet morning, Easter, named after the Celtic goddess who overlights the inner climb through these two heavens, Eostre (or Ostara). On Easter dawn, I always go to a sacred place in nature to really FEEL and enjoy those dark bands coming off and my own birth out of the centerpoint/cherub difficulties!

Then there’s a period of rest and integration for a quarter moon, after which the logos sheath lights up. The inner divine child has become an adolescent now. Then, the inner feminine is fully built into this logos sheath by Pentecost, fifty days past Easter. The virgin goddess’s element is fire, too, so this passage can bring great passion into play. At Pentecost then, the virgin masculine half o’ the logos sheath within lights up until late June, as the old logos fears are faced (often male domination or brute force impulses). By John the Baptist Day, (June 24th), the masculine of the logos sheath is fully formed, and this new logos-self is birthed into the spirit sheath. This logos birth-pushing force is the long U sound, Ur or Heather, signifying the wild passion, backbone strength, freshness, and heart love of the inner virgins. And on this day as well, all fear debris of the first half of the yearly cycle is washed away within. It’s inner baptism, the halfway point of this hidden divine child stream for the year. No wonder it’s named for John the Baptist.

Then again, there’s a short period of rest. But usually, some project will surface that grounds the growth of the first half of the year into action. Then, the spirit sheath opens, the feminine, on July 22nd, Mary Magdalen day. That’s the time the Goddess sends some personal message to everyone, a hint of what the fears of the coming winter will be like. And the feminine climb, now in a mother form, lasts until August 15th, Ascension day, when Mary of the Christian tradition was said to rise up to heaven. The challenges of this level usually involve exhaustion, the inner mother giving so much to others that her own needs don’t always get met. And then, the masculine half of the spirit sheath opens with some strong action-oriented drive that’s needed to bring in the harvest for the year. This divine child, who looks like a father now, opens new intellectual interests for the coming year at this time, too. The divine child of the spirit sheath is fully formed by Sept. 9th.

But then, there come extra difficulties or delays that must be faced, heavy darkness as the dark child of the year or major fear impulse falls away on October 6th, one full gestation cycle after Midwinter. And the new child of light finally emerges two mornings after, on October 8th, both feminine an’ masculine fully formed in the spirit sheath. This is a momentous shift, for descent into the lower worlds is the major birth for the skyturn, when the most significant gains are achieved. This very long birth-pushing force is signified by the letter E, the long sound, Edad, Aspen, meaning significant victory over fear, with only a short way to go to completion.

October 8th is when the autumn celebrations begin, a moon of rest after the long trials of birth. And toward the end of this moon, some recognition of the newly born divine child will be given by the tribe. But within each individual, there can be lingering uncertainty about the new aspect being observed, for the deep fears that kept this part of the self hidden for so long are not yet forgotten. But it’s a joyous fulfilling time as well.

Then, on Halloween, the soul sheath lights up. Often costumes worn that night foretell the fears of the soul or second heaven that will be brought up during the next moon. But this shift is really on All Saint’s Day because in Celtic life, days were counted beginning at sunset. Soul fears can be quite dark and slippery, and nearly always involve letting something cherished go. But the healing of them brings the divine child through the soul sheath climb, though this inner child is in a grandparent form now!

The breakdown process greatly intensifies during the five intercessory days of the Celtic calendar, too, Nov. 24rd-28th, the old gratefulness celebration to the Goddess for the living of the year. And double II is the letter for this Goddess time, when the White Tara washes off all inner debris in the sheaths that have been lit up since John the Baptist Day; logos, spirit, and soul, all except the sensate that remains to be faced. This letter signifies the washing down of the inner self, cleansing and letting go, to make way for the new light seeds soon to come.

And finally, one moon before Midwinter, the sensate sheath opens, this phase identical to Advent. Often this moon entails facing strong challenges, too, for sensate is the densest level. But it’s the final climb of the passing skyturn. The darkest impulse of the sensate phase, the minotaur, opens on Midwinter Eve. And it’s the girl within who goes to meet it with that circle of light round her head to pave the way for the new implantation in the morn. At midnight then, both feminine and masculine divine children of the passing skyturn are fully born, the androgyne for the year, all the way through the sensate sheath! And the spirit world celebrates around them, for it’s the goal of all life on earth, the building of divine Ogham/Tara children into our sensate realms. And the birth-pushing force through the soul and sensate sheaths is the long I sound, Ioho, Yew, signifying some new aspect of the divine or forever self fully individuated into this world.

Then, the yearly cycle begins again on Midwinter dawn with the implantation of new divine child seeds for the year ahead. That’s the Ogham letter J, mistletoe, Iulioc, with no Ogham symbol for it, though. (There are short vowel streams of light, too, small a, o, u, e, and i sounds, which relate to the ethers within each sheath of light; mind, emotion, and action ones. But it all gets too complicated for a single article.)

And lastly, I’d just like to add that one morning several years ago, in the midst of a healing meditation, the similarities between Pagan and Christian traditions came into me with the most startling intensity. Usually, I invoke the White Tara and Oghama to overlight me in my healing times, the Celtic high Goddess and God. But for some reason that day, I called in the Magdalen and Christ, instead, for old time’s sake, I guess. And feeling those spirit Presences surround me, I suddenly realized They were IDENTICAL to the Celtic Ones! And I was utterly stunned, opening my eyes and literally shouting out, “WHAT have we been fighting for all these centuries then?” And I heard just one quiet word in my mind, “illusions,” Oghama/Christ’s voice. And a bright wave of joy washed through me as my inner feminine (Pagan to the core!) and my inner masculine (a very upright Christian that she persuades to dance skyclad in the moonlight now and then!) merged together in spirit in the deepest way possible. Ahhh! Thank Goddess for healing! I hope your day is just as glowing as that one! Blessed be.

***

About the Author:

Jill Rose Frew, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, energy healer, workshop leader, and author. She is hoping to found an intentional community in southern Scotland in the near future. For information, please see www.thehomestarcommunity.org

She is author of Guardians of the Celtic Way (her name was Jill Kelly then), and Alba RebornVolume One Revised, and Volumes Two and Three.

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Spiritual Seeker

August, 2013

If you ask a group of Pagans why they left the religion they were brought up in, I’m willing to bet that a majority of them will cite restrictive rules as at least one of the reasons. And yet, when you get down to it, aren’t rules part of the reason we turn to a religion? Don’t Wiccans have rules just as complex and important as the those of Catholics? Isn’t the Rede really the same thing as the Golden Rule? Pagans, if we are honest, love rules just as much as any other religion.

This past month I’ve been studying two religions at once. The first is Buddhism, but through an agnostic point of view, with the book by Stephen Batchelor. I’ve also been reading about Judaism thanks to Rabbi Ted Falcon and David Blatner and their book Judaism for Dummies. (Don’t knock the Dummies book. This one weighs in at over 400 pages, and is packed full of information.)

Both religions really seem to thrive on lists of rules. Judaism has its list of 613 mitzvot. These are mandatory rules scattered throughout the Jewish bible; the number that can still be followed in the modern world, by Jews not living in Israel, is around 400. In Buddhism there is the Eight-Fold Path, the Five Precepts, and so many other lists, that, when you get down to it, function as rules. Parallels can be drawn to Paganism as well. I’m most familiar with Wicca, and I can think of several traditions off the top of my head who have pages and pages of rules and lists of responsibilities. These rules shape their respective faiths, giving them their unique form and provide followers with touchstones and measuring sticks for their practices. A religion lacking in rules really isn’t much of a religion.

It can be argued that some religions have harmful rules or rules that don’t make sense in today’s world (although, you’ll find in most cases that these so called “rules” aren’t in the holy text, but are rather derived from a religious leader’s interpretation of the text or even fabricated completely). And this is where critical thinking comes into play. We need to be wise enough to decide which rules we have to follow to still be a legitimate member of a religion, but at the same time stay true to what we believe is morally or socially correct. Sometimes, we need to admit to ourselves that we have to leave a faith (or not become a follower in the first place) because the rules don’t make sense to us. There is bending the rules, and then there is breaking them. For example, I could never convert to Judaism no matter how much I respect the teachings because, to me, important dietary and idolatry rules make no sense. On the other hand, I really respect many of the rules dealing with charity, the poor, and business practices.

My biggest take away this month is that when it comes to faith and religion, more is needed than just believing in a deity. To be a member of a faith, you need to also believe in and support the rules that have grown up around the faith. Giving them lip service isn’t enough, because the rules are, in many ways, as important as the deity. After all, that is who they are said to have descended from.

Esoteric Christian Witch

May, 2009

May has always been known as the month of Mary, the mother of Yeshua/Jesus. In fact, the main verse of a long-beloved hymn, sung during the crowning with roses of the statue of Mary in May entitled “Bring Flowers of the Rarest” is, “Oh, Mary, we crown thee with blossoms today, Queen of the angels, Queen of the May”.
There are several feast days of Mary that are celebrated in the Church in May. May 12th is the feast day of Our Lady of the Divine Shepherd, May 15th is in honor of Our Lady of Fatima, May 24th for Our Lady, Help of Christians and May 31st celebrates both Our Lady Medatrix of All Graces as well as Our Lady, Virgin and Queen.
Devotees of Mary Magdalene celebrate two beautiful feast days; May 1st is the Feast of the Sacred Bride and on May 15th, the Festival of the Sacred Marriage.  The Flowering of Divine Union, the beautiful ritual found in The Holy Book of Mary Magdalene by Jennifer Reif, may be performed on this day.
The feast day of St. Sarah the Egyptian, who to many, may very well have been the daughter of Yeshua/Jesus and Mary Magdalene is on May 24th.
All of these days may also be considered feast days of Holy Sophia as in the Esoteric, Gnostic and Christo-Pagan traditions, both Mother Mary and Mary Magdalene are considered to be either incarnations, archetypes or emanations of Sophia as both Mother/Barbelo and Daughter, however one may choose to perceive them.
May is also the traditional month of marriage.  Certainly Beltane is the Feast Day of the Sacred Marriage, the Divine Union reflected here on Earth.
Most Pagan religions had God/Goddess consorts. Isis/Osiris, Odin and Frigga (or Freya), Zeus and Hera, Mercury and Rosemerta and Yehovah and Asherah are an example of Divine Unions.
Esoterics and Christo-Pagans also have a pantheon of Divine Consorts, a Triple Divine Consort, if you will. They consist of, as emanating from the androgynous Barbelo; the Sophia/Christos, Mother Mary/Joseph and Mary/ Yeshua/Jesus.
The May Queen’s Consort, Joseph, wasn’t as much largely forgotten in dogmatic teachings, as he was separated from Her. Dogma taught us that theirs was not a marriage in the fullest sense. It was as if they were married ‘in name, only’.
Joseph no longer appears in the bible after Yeshua is twelve years old, when He is found in the temple by his parents after they had been searching for him for three days. This led us to surmise that Joseph died between the time Yeshua was twelve years old and the time he started His public ministry.  We were led to believe his death took place shortly after Yeshua was twelve. But, no-one really knows whether that was so or not. There were 18 years between that particular scene in the bible and the beginning of Yeshua’s ministry.
The May Queen and Her consort could have had a long-lasting, full and successful marriage. Or, She could have had a short and loving marriage.  The point is, the May Queen had an husband, a Divine Consort. Their marriage, as well as the marriage of Mary Magdalene and Yeshua was a bringing down to Earth in archetype of the Bridal Chamber of the Christos/Sophia.
Some scholars are now of the consideration that Yeshua/Jesus sent out his disciples in pairs of two, not as two males, but as male/female partners, consorts who preached His teachings and ministered to the people in His Name.  They are of a further mind that His teachings were actually about Sacred Partnership.  This is an area in which the author intends further study.
The Queen of the May’s joyous celebration may take place on either May 1st or May 15th. The priestess would wear a crown of roses or  other flowers in her hair and be dressed all in white.
Hymns are sung, the rosary (I substitute the word ‘children’ for ‘sinners’ in the traditional Hail Mary prayer) and/or the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary (a prayerful list of Mary’s attributes) may be recited followed by the placing of a small crown of roses on the statue of the Blessed Mother Mary.  Many, at least it used to be so years ago, will carry a vase of a dozen roses or other of Her flowers into a church and place them at the base of Her statue.
Meditation could center around not only our Heavenly Queens, Sophia and the two Marys, but also the importance of Sacred Consort-ship.
Mother Mary’s colors are blue and white. Her flowers are red roses, white lilacs and white lilies.  An enclosed “Mary Garden” may be planted at this time. The garden’s flowers could include roses, violets, morning glories, summer flox and peonies.  St. John’s Wort is an herb in Her honor. Mayflowers and lily of the valley are Her wildflowers.
Rose incense and rose quartz would complete ritual items for Her feast day. An angel cake topped with strawberries would be a delicious finale to the feast.
The celebration of the Queen of the May is a living, albeit veiled, Goddess-centered tradition, a Tradition that has been continuously practiced for almost one thousand years. While stemming from the Church, it has many Pagan elements.
Our Queen also took part in a Divine Marriage. The Queen had a consort and so the Month of the Sacred Marriage reminds us to ponder Her own marriage as well as that of Her Son and Daughter-in-Law,  reflections of below and above.
A picture of the work of the artist, Claire O’Hagan in decorating the Queen of the May statue in Ireland may be found here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/May%5FQueen.
—      Blessed Be during the Month of Our Queen.

Esoteric Christian Witch

March, 2009

The Anointer of the Sacrificial King

Springtime will soon be upon us, for some sooner than others.
At this time of the Pagan/Heathen feast of Ostara and the Christian feast of Easter, we think of the resurrection of all life.
Life on Mother Earth and life within ourselves are yearly renewed with each blossom that pops through the soil and each new leaf budding on a delicate tree branch. Islands of ice begin to melt in the brooks revealing cold, fresh bubbling water flowing gracefully on its merry way through-out the awakening woodlands. The last of the winter snows refresh the ever greening grasses newly springing up to greet the mild southerly winds. Robins reappear in backyards pecking for elusive worms and the glorious sun shines ever more brightly with each new day, as the promise of summer approaches, yet again.
Before the resurrection of life, there must be the sacrificial death. We see this in Nature with each autumn and winter season. Trees fall into a deep slumber while seeds fall into the earth waiting to give fruitful re-birth in March, April and May.
We also see this life and death cycle reflected in the Pagan myths of the Sacrificial King who offers his life for the fertility of the land which will in turn, nurture his people for the coming year.
The Sacrificial King cannot perform this holy task on his own, however. He must be anointed by the priestess of the Great Goddess. It takes a royal partnership of the Sacred Union, a partnership of the Divine Male and the Divine Female acting through their incarnated representatives on Earth, to produce this Great Sacrifice of renewal. In acts of fertile sacrifice resulting in acts of new creation there must be the precious Sacred Balance of the Male and Female Energies which spark and sparkle into existence the Spiral Dance of the Universe.
Mary Magdalene was the High Priestess of the Great Goddess (Barbelo/Sophia/Isis/Astarte) who anointed the Sacrificial King of Christianity. The significance of this anointing, faithfully recorded in every Christian bible on Earth as fore-told by Yeshua/Jesus, Himself, has gone unnoticed and unrecognized for centuries upon centuries upon centuries.
The earliest Christians, many of whom were emerging from the great ancient Pagan and Mystery religions, recognized this act for what it truly was. However, within just a few hundred years from the infancy of Christianity, the true meaning behind the anointing and the real identity of the Anointer became buried beneath unbalanced male-dominated dogmas and rituals.
The evidence for the marriage of Jesus and Mary Magdalene will be borne out in a future article. Suffice it to say for now, that Yeshua/Jesus was of the Jewish royal blood-line. Mary Magdalene was His Royal Bride. As Her initiated priestess, I believe that Yeshua was an incarnation of the Divine Male.  I also believe Mary Magdalene, His Consort, was an incarnation of the Divine Female.
This is the true Myth of Christianity, the myth that was drowned beneath waves of one stifling doctrine after another. This myth is now coming to light thanks to the scholarship of people like Margaret Starbird.
The Divine Sacred Union was never lost to us rather, it was hidden from us like a precious jewel which had been dropped, trampled upon and deeply embedded in the mud beneath mindless feet, waiting to be re-discovered by those who persistently sought for it.  Those who sought for and found this jewel of Sacred Union within Christianity have graciously raised it to the Light, revealing it’s shining luminescent glory for all to see and rejoice.
Like the Pagan and Mystery religions of old as well as major religions like Hinduism, Christians also have a Divine Couple, a Sacred Balance, a Royal Bride and Bridegroom, a God and Goddess to honor and worship.
The Royal Bride, Mary Magdalene, anointed the Sacrificial King with her costly spikenard which was carefully sheltered within the swirling earth-toned colors of the alabaster jar. Without this anointing, Yeshua would not have been truly King, He would not have been the Messiah. A King must be anointed. Indeed, messiah means ‘anointed one’.
As Margaret Starbird states in her book, The Goddess in the Gospels, “The anointing of Jesus in the Gospels is an enactment of rites from the prevailing fertility cult of the ancient Middle East. In pouring her precious unguent of nard over the head of Jesus, the woman whom tradition has identified with ‘the Magdalene’ (the Great) performed an act identical to the marriage rite of the hieros gamous- the rite of anointing the chosen Bridegroom/King by the royal representative of the Great Goddess”.
She goes on to say, “Highlights of this story recounted in the four Christian Gospels are reminiscent of myths celebrated in pagan fertility cults of the Middle East, those of Tammuz, Dumuzi and Adonis. In the Pagan rituals surrounding the ancient myths, the Goddess (the Sister-Bride) goes to the tomb in the garden to lament the death of her Bridegroom and rejoices to find him resurrected.”
One has to wonder how differently Christianity would have evolved, both as a religion and within our own psyches, especially  the psyches of countless generations of young girls and women, had the significance of this story and the true identity and role of Mary Magdalene not been lost to us over the aeons.
It was when I was Russian Orthodox that I first learned the legend of Mary Magdalene and the red egg. It is a tradition within the Orthodox Church to give red eggs as gifts during the feast of Pascha/Easter after the long winter-ending Fast of Great Lent.
The legend, as it was explained to me by a Russian priest, states that Mary Magdalene traveled to Rome and had an audience with Tiberius Caesar. A gift to the emperor was expected at the time of the visit. Mary Magdalene brought, as her gift, a simple white egg.  The purpose of Her visit was to protest the death of an innocent man, Yeshua/Jesus under Pilate. She greeted Caesar with the words, “Christ is Risen”. Caesar replied with the disbelief that no-one could more rise from the dead than a white egg could turn red. As he spoke those words, the white egg held in Mary Magdalene’s hand slowly turned a deep crimson red. Mary Magdalene explained to Caesar that the red egg symbolized life rising from a sealed tomb. The Pagan emperor would have recognized the meaning behind life arising from a sealed tomb.
Each year, priestesses and devotees of Mary Magdalene place a red egg upon Her altar at Easter time in memory of this ancient miracle.
The rites and rituals of spring may include a reading or recitation of the tale of the Anointing and Sacrifice of the Great King by His Royal Bride. A story, in and of itself, that stemmed not just from the ancient Pagan rites but also within the true, inner tradition of Christianity. A story that has been long buried beneath the winter-snows of time and is now being resurrected amongst the lilies and lilacs of the spring of our century. A story that has been faithfully transmitted through legends, images and stonework.
In her book, The Holy Book of Mary Magdalene, the author, Jennifer Reif, has a beautiful spring ritual entitled, Day of the Verdent Magdalene, Grail of Earth and Heaven. Other rituals might possibly include a self-anointing of spikenard and myrrh as well as an offering of these precious ointments to Mary Magdalene, Herself. These sacred oils and ointments as well as candles and alabaster jars are available from www.abbaoil.com as well as other sources from Jerusalem.
Spring is a great time to plant an outdoor sanctuary garden in Her honor.  Roses, lilies and fragrant herbs planted beneath an arbor covered in grapevines would create a tranquil surrounding for Her statue or the statues of the Christian Royal Couple.
Green is both the color of fertility and the color Mary Magdalene wears in many of the paintings and icons that have been drawn in Her honor.
Of course, hot cross buns, braided egg breads and roasted lamb are favorite feast foods at this time of year.
Without the Sacrifice of the Divine Father incarnate, there could be no Life. Without the Blessing/Anointing of the Divine Mother incarnate, there could be no Sacrifice. Such is the myth and story of Spring. Our Story. The Earth’s Story.
Along with our offerings this coming season, let gratitude and appreciation be the greatest amongst them. No matter what trials we may be currently under-going during this troubling economy, spring ever returns, the sun warms our hearts, blue skies form an heavenly horizon above our heads, gentle breezes kiss our cheeks, the Creative Pair’s artistry colors anew our daily surroundings, the full moon rises every month and lakes, streams, rivers and forests await our visit in order to soothe our anxious spirits.
Everyone, everywhere can plant a simple plot or potted garden  of flowers, herbs and vegetables, tending Mother Earth and She tends us.
The Great Sacrifice of the Royal Couple, He, in the sacrifice of His very life, She, in the sorrowful anointing of and subsequent loss of Her Beloved, eternally begets the Great Resurrection and revival of all life everywhere.
Christians through-out the world remember and honor the sacrifice of Jesus/Yeshua at Easter-tide. Now, it is time to also remember and honor the One who anointed Him for His sacrifice, His Royal Bride, the One Who stands at His left-hand, Mary Magdalene. There is and always has been a Sacred Balance within Christianity’s core myths of sacrifice and resurrection. We just didn’t know.  We didn’t remember.
At last, after hundreds of years of being labeled as a penitent prostitute, the Lost Bride, the Royal Anointer is rightfully being restored to Her Beloved, the Sacrificial and Resurrected Bridegroom/King of Easter.
“I am the first and the last. I am the honored and the scorned. I am the whore and the holy. I am the mother and the daughter. …Do not banish me from your vision….in no place, in no time, be unknowing of me. Be alert. Don’t be ignorant of me.” (excerpts from Thunder, Perfect Mind, a Gnostic text. Author, unknown.)
Diakonissa Sr. Pamela Lanides.

Sources:

The Goddess in the Gospels by Margaret Starbird.
The Holy Book of Mary Magdalene, The Path of the Grail Steward by
Jennifer Reif.
Thunder, Perfect Mind, Gnostic text, author, unknown.

Christian Magick, Then and Now

February, 2009

It might come as a surprise to learn that ancient Christians practiced magick.  In fact, they had elaborate systems of magick ranging from healing spells, charms, amulets and erotic love spells to revenge curses as varied as separating a man from a woman and a curse against a woman’s face and work.
These were mainly Coptic Texts dating from the first century C.E. to the eleventh or twelfth centuries.  Many of the texts invoke the Archangels. They include prayers, hymns, magickal words and involve chanting sacred vowel sounds while performing elaborate rituals.  Upon studying them, the reader quickly gleans that these must have been powerful spells, indeed.
From my own life, growing up as a Catholic, I look back now and realize that we practiced our own cultural form of magick.  This was a magick practiced by my ancestors for many centuries. And, yet, I could never see it as magick, until now.
We certainly didn’t consider our pious practices as being a form of magick.  Our faith, our belief was absolute. The outcome was certain in our minds. We foresaw the end result in our imagination. Those three things, belief, direction of will and visualization are the basis of magick.
The saints were our version of the Gods and Goddesses and the Blessed Mother was our Queen of Heaven, our own veiled Divine Feminine.  A crown of stars shone above her head and her feet eternally rest on a crescent moon.
There were many spells that we Catholics practiced, not realizing that they were spells. For example, place a dollar bill beneath a statue of the Infant of Prague and you will never lack for money.  Or, pray the blessing before and after meals and nothing you eat will ever make you sick.  Keep holy water at home to bless your house against demons, storms and evil and to bless yourself for health, grace and protection.  Light a candle at church for a particular intention and leave a small offering of money for the candle. Novenas are nine days of prayer to the Blessed Mother, Jesus or to a saint or archangel, nine being a magickal number.  I’ve never, ever known a novena to fail.
Pray the daily rosary and fifteen promises would be obtained. Wear a blessed medal and you will be protected.  Go to church the day after Candlemas on the feast of St. Blase and have a priest place two candles on your throat in blessing. The candle blessing will heal and protect your throat. Bring the blessed palms home from church on Palm Sunday and place them in your home for yearly protection and blessing.
The important thing to note is that the work depended, not upon the person performing it but, upon the deity or saint invoked.
The Traditional Catholic Church has maintained a beautiful ritual that was performed each year, in every parish, before the vast changes of the council of Vatican II occurred.  Every year, on May 15th, the parishioners would form a long, out-door procession in front of the church doors. The priest, carrying a silk pillow upon which lies a crown of fresh roses, lead the way round a winding path to a large statue of the Blessed Virgin which was flanked by meticulously trimmed shrubs shading pockets of marigolds and zinnias. A troupe of altar boys, the eldest carrying the processional cross, dressed in traditional white and black flowing robes, swung their incense from side to side while chanting the prayer responses in Latin. Girls followed along, dressed all in white, their heads were draped in white lace mantillas while a basket of rose petals graced their wrists. Garlands of flowers crowned their mantillas.
A long parade of the faithful, women and girls in skirts and long mantilla veils, men and boys dressed smartly in their Sunday suits and ties, followed along behind the statue of Our Lady with deep reverence and heart-felt love.  They clutch rosaries and wear the Miraculous Medal, in honor of Our Lady.
Forming a ring around the statue of the Virgin Mary, the crowd sung sweet, uplifting hymns and devoutly recited the prayers, heads bowed low or eyes gazing hopefully at Our Lady.
Sweet, exotic smelling incense wafts towards the statue and billows over the crowd.  The priest ascends a small step-ladder and places the precious crown of roses upon the statue. Our Lady, Queen of Heaven, is now also Queen of the May, as the hymn pronounces Her.  This can be performed as a solitary within the home sanctuary.
How magickal, how Goddess-honoring, how beautiful is this ritual? It’s an ancient, yet still living, unbroken tradition held within the remnants of today’s Traditional Chapels.
Modern day Esoteric Christians (and anyone else who would find this of interest) inherit the ancient Judaic-Christian tradition of a wide array of magick and ritual.  Kabbalistic magick both esoteric and practical, kabbalistic tarot along with esoteric meditations on The Sphere, the Fiery Spear, The Grail and The Lance of Light all figure greatly in the Esoteric Christian tradition. Other Christians, including many clergy, are attracted to Enochian magick.
A potent form of healing and protection magick may be practiced by anointing the forehead with a biblical oil while praying specified psalms.  There is also the Templar Tradition and other  magickal Orders from which to choose and learn.  Mojo bags accompanied by psalms or prayers fit quite nicely within the Christian magickal tradition.
Novenas remain a powerful source of help no matter what the need.  Each saint is the patron of a certain cause. St. Lucy is the patron saint of eyes.  St. Gerard Majella is the patron of expectant mothers and young children while St. Jude is the patron saint of hopeless cases. There are hundreds of saints all with a particular area of specialty. At the beginning of the novena, one may light a blessed and consecrated glass-encased novena candle with appropriate herbs floating beside the wick.
The Element Encyclopedia of 5,000 spells by Judika Illes contains many saint-oriented spells including a number of spells invoking Mary Magdalene.
Wanding, by Evan Twede remains a form of magick that can be practiced by anyone of any faith or tradition.  The wand is named and undergoes a special consecration ritual. A few simple words invokes your spirit ally into the wand.  Sometimes, when performed against a white background, a blue aura can be seen as soon as the spirit of the wand is called into the world, the wood, the wand.  The wand becomes much more than a tool, it becomes your closest ally. Wanding is simple, easy and effective.
For those who join certain Gnostic or Esoteric Orders or schools, many powerful rituals become available.
A mystical magician is one who works in harmony with God (the Father and Mother) and is able to become a link between the outer and inner creations or worlds.  A Christian Witch strives to become the mystical magician.

Sources not cited:
Experience of the Inner Worlds,  by Gareth Knight.
Magical Christianity by Coleston Brown.
Ancient Christian Magic by Marvin W. Meyer and Richard Smith.

The Christian Pantheon at Yuletide

December, 2008

Years before I rather, due to unforeseen circumstances, fell under the potentially incendiary term of becoming a Christian Witch, I was intrigued by the concept of the Triple Goddess.
The subtle beckoning of both the Triple Goddesses Bridget and Hecate tugged at my heart, yet I felt hesitant about calling upon Them or inviting Them into my life.
In many ways, I was quite drawn to Hecate, but I harbored a bit of fear or should I say a deep respect regarding her Dark Mother/Crone aspects. I wasn’t sure I could safely handle those aspects.
The Goddess Bridget had been turned into St. Bridget by the Catholic Church.  Try as I might, I couldn’t separate the two in my mind.  So, for me and in all un-fairness to Her, Bridget was ‘too Catholic’. The desire for the Triple Goddess to enter my life and to join in my rituals lingered within the misty yearnings of my soul, but I gave up my search for Her.
About a year after I became a Sophian Gnostic nun and an Esoteric Christian deaconess and priestess, I sat before my altar and fell into contemplative thought, a kind of meditative trance.
My altar is graced with statues of  Holy Sophia, the Blessed Mother and Mary Magdalene. Living devotional flames illumine the feet of each Goddess.  Their iconic images, believed by Orthodox Christians to be literal windows to Heaven, hang on the wall above my altar breathing jasmine incense and receiving warmth from the olive oil nourished icon lamp, a hanging sentinel of light.
As I gazed upon my statues, a revelation struck me, soared through me and melted the phoenix-fired core of my soul. Actually, it was a ‘duh’ moment.  I have the Triple Goddess! She has already entered my life!  Her triple reflection, Her triple images are right before my eyes.  She’s been with me for a while now, yet I hadn’t recognized Her.
Her maiden aspect is the Holy Mary Magdalene, High Queen, priestess. The Mother aspect is Blessed Mary, the Queen Mother. As Grandmother Wisdom She is Sophia, the Divine Source of the Feminine.
When you know something is right, you just know it. This form of the Triple Goddess is right for me. She was and is my Truth. This Triple Goddess resonates and echoes through-out all the auras of my being.  Her, I could believe in with all my heart, all my soul and all my mind. They are one and are all manifestations of the Barbelo. The Triple Goddess of all Christian Witches and Esoteric Christians who so choose to honor Her as such.
But what about the male aspects of my Christian pantheon? It had been a while since I had considered myself a Christian. I wasn’t sure about my relationship with Jesus. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go back to Jesus.
The Big Book of Near Death Experiences, by P.M.H. Atwater, made a deep impression on me. Initially, I had hesitated to buy it. The title struck me as one of those books you’d be embarrassed to purchase. However, my curiosity overcame my false sense of pride. I’m glad it did. The title is both misleading and accurate at the same time. This almost 450 page book includes both sides of the question of near death experiences. It includes the side which claims through science that near death experiences are a phenomena of dying neurons in the brain alongside the opposing testimonies of those who have died and come back. The book also includes the writings, with thirty years of experience behind them, of many experts in the field
One of the main things my soul and psyche soaked in from this book was the reality of the Divine Light. This Light is described as brighter than a million suns, yet It doesn’t harm the eyes. It is described as being pure, unconditional love, intelligent, caring and non-judgmental.
Yes, I could believe in the Divine Light, the All-Source.
When I began, after more than a decade, to re-read the Bible, both Gnostic and Church-ordained canon, the passages about the Light appeared to highlight themselves before my eyes. Flying arrows of thought, rushing messengers of understanding between my Higher Delta Self and my beta brain, acting in the manner of the Tarot eight of wands rushing towards their destination, pierced their way through my consciousness. These verses aren’t just metaphors! They are describing a literal Divine Light which we encounter in the next realm! Those who have died and come back to life have seem It! They have experienced It! They have learned from It!
The book goes on to describe the next level which, after the All-Source-Million-Suns-Light, many describe a bright, Father-male Light and a dark, Female Light, both of which emanate from the All-Source.
Great by me. This all confirms both my Wiccan and my Esoteric Christian beliefs in that a Divine Masculine and a Divine Feminine emanate from the All-Source.
Sigh, but what about Jesus?
I simply couldn’t go back to my old beliefs and my old practices. I had fought too hard for many years and had come too far in my spiritual life and freedom to retreat back into my old fear-based belief-system and accompanying mindset. This mindset equated Jesus with its own self.
“My leaving the Christian Church wasn’t because of Jesus. I left it because of the Church system and the way the Church portrayed Jesus,” I continually reminded myself.
At this point in my internal struggle, I entered the whole mythic vs historical Jesus debate. In searching for the absolute Truth about Jesus, I participated in online arguments through my Gnostic forum, I surfed every pertinent website I could find and I poured over countless books authored by biblical scholars.  The search was head-spinning and mind-numbing.
My ending determination was that both sides have entirely valid points and neither argument is stronger than the other. I did notice, in all aspects of my reading, that those on either side of the fence are firmly entrenched in their opinions.
Slowly, it began to dawn on me that it doesn’t matter who or what Jesus was or whether He was historical or mythical. Mythical, in this case, meaning an underlying Cosmic Reality beneath the stories.  Rather, I became drawn to the enigmatic Jesus of the Gospel of Judas, the Hero of the Cosmic Mysteries in the Pistis Sophia and the magickal Jesus of the Round Dance of the Cross.  This is the Jesus Who invited me to see Him in a New Light. He is the Twin Aeon of Sophia, the Logos of St. John and the Divine Christos of Humanity.
It is His teachings which are important, both exoteric and esoteric, not whether He was pre-ordained to die on the cross for our sins, whether or not the resurrection really happened or if He truly physically ascended into Heaven. For many, these things are important and help to define their faith and that is fine. I had to come to terms with these questions for myself. And so, I realized that the Sophian/Christos Light-Spark dwells within me and within all.
The Gnostic Jesus is the Jesus I could accept.  My Christian pantheon now consists of the All-Source/Divine Light/Father, the Gnostic Jesus/Son and the Triple Goddess, Herself.
Yuletide is both a Pagan Mythic Holiday and a Christian Mystery Play. As Pagans, we welcome the birth of the Sun and witness the triumph of the Oak King over the Holly King.  As Christians, we celebrate the birth of the Son and witness the triumph of good over evil.
This Yuletide I will be celebrating the birth of the infant Sun beneath the stars and moon, with my cakes and wine, my songs, prayers and poetic myths.  This Christmas I will be celebrating the birth of the infant Son beneath angelic choirs and Heaven, with my cakes and wine, my carols, prayers and poetic scriptures.  For you see, the essence of the Eternal Story ever remains the same for All is One.
As we ignite our candles during this great Festival of Light, may we remember that we are all birthing our own Sun/Son within and as the Season of the Wheel continues to turn, so must the Sun/Son within continue to wax larger and brighter until It bursts through our representative personality masks which populate this incarnational matrix game and blazes forth as a thousand suns, yet never harming the eye.  The message is simple.  Love God, find your Divine Sun/Son Spark within and bring it without, love others and harm none.

May the Gnostic Jesus continue to dwell and grow within my own soul.
May the True Sun/Son of All dwell and grow within yours.
A Joyous and Blessed Yule/Christmas to all.

Journey Towards Christian Witchcraft

November, 2008

This article is dedicated to Father Jordan Stratford+ of the Apostolic Johannite Church and fellow witch, who helped me to find Holy Sophia.

My long, agonizing journey towards becoming a Christian Witch began on the day that I left the Christian Church forever, which was thirteen years ago.  After having been an Ultra- Traditional Catholic followed by my conversion to the Russian Orthodox Church, one day, I simply walked out of the 2,000 year old, heavy oaken Christian door and never looked back.  Or, so I thought at the time.
Leaving Christianity had nothing to do with Jesus Christ or his Mother Mary, the latter, to whom I had been deeply devoted all my life.
I  finally had enough of the rules and regulations regarding every aspect of my mind, body and soul. I was done with the politics and the scandals which touched me, personally. I was finished with the hypocrisy of a priesthood that didn’t always follow it’s own rules, alongside a male hierarchy which felt it had a God-ordained right to instruct me as how to conduct the most private parts of my life under pain of ever-lasting fire, anguish and desolation.   I was angry, very, very angry.
The first thing I was determined to do upon my new-found freedom, was to read every book that had been banned to me as both a Catholic and as an Orthodox Christian.  Anything that had been deemed heretical, I read, most voraciously.
My eyes slowly opened to a greater, wider truth.  Hmmm, Church history wasn’t quite what I was taught. Gee, St. Dominic and St. Simon Stock were torturers.  Wow, the Church wasn’t exactly ‘in place’ from the very beginning. What, there were ‘other’ gospels?  And, oh, most of our holidays and even some of our ‘saints’ came from Pagan places and myths, what do you know? And, omg, you mean the Resurrection could actually have been a MYTH?
Well, that’s that.  St. Paul said that if the Resurrection did not take place then there was no point to being a Christian. (Pardon my paraphrase.)  Well, that was good enough for me.  I could now happily leave Christianity with a clear conscience.  The in-bred fears, however, took years to overcome.
A day in the bookstore brought me to the most evil of part of the store, the New Age Section.  The section at which I used to glance quickly with judgmental derision.
I knew that the New Agers consisted of a vast net-work of the most highly sophisticated entrepreneurs, a matrix of high-placed businesses and people which and who were connected to each other in a web-like conspiracy that prefigured the vast cyber-maze of the internet.
The New Age Powers that Be were obscenely wealthy people who, through invading our schools and infiltrating our homes and bookstores, were going to take over the world for the very-soon-to-appear-upon-the-Earth, Anti-Christ.  This was the absolute Truth.  I had been taught this at Church and I had read it in many a bona-fide Christian book.
Funny thing was, I had always secretly whispered to myself that if I wasn’t such a staunch, loyal Orthodox/Catholic (they were both one Church for the first thousand years) Christian, I would so love to be New Age with the crystals, the fairies and the tarot cards!  How fun would that be?  What a joyous spirituality!
That’s the way the world should be; magick flowing through the air, so thick you could feel and sense it. The glowing light of fairies hidden beneath draping willow trees.  The mists of the lake, beckoning you to dwell within its swirling multi-dimension, veil-ripping-connecting energies.  The tropical breeze-kissed mid-summer nights, enticing you to venture beyond your own drab world to Summerland.
Back at the bookstore, The Mists of Avalon looked intriguing, as well as the books by Scott Cunningham, who-ever he was. What kind of name is SilverRavenWolf?  I figured I might as well read what she had to say, also.  And, as I began to read these bizarre, almost fearful and bordering on the spiritually dangerous books, I began to remember……
I remembered how my pockets were always filled with special rocks and gemstones, nestled alongside the little white, cloth ghosts that I both made and named (after the gemstones), until I was 11 and such things became too childish.
I remembered that I could talk to and understand the trees, at least, until I was 13 and high school began to overwhelm me.
I could gaze into a brook and become so connected to it, I could so feel it’s spirit, I could so meld as one with it, I so understood it, that is, until I turned 14 and the brook was covered in pavement.
I remembered the stars, the planets, the star clusters, galaxies and quasars.. my greatest passion and the greatest love of my life, the Cosmos, until I turned 16 and realized that I was never going to be an astronomer.
I remembered the forest, the home place, the most safe place, the most secure place, the place where I belonged,  until I turned 17 and entered the ‘real world’ of working to make money and searching for my future husband.
I remembered the magick I used to try to practice, until I turned 18 and started studied Christianity as an adult.
I remember the moon, who was my very best friend ever since I was five years old and she followed me home from school one day, (except back then, I got the impression that the moon was male,) until I was married and had to focus on raising children.
I don’t know nor understand what happens to us as we get older. I no longer want to understand.  But, it’s so wonderful to know that we can get it back, again. It  grew stronger each year that I was, well, to use a term that I never really, actually wanted to use let alone fully acknowledge to myself, a witch.
I’m no-one special. I don’t want to be part of a fad. I have no special ‘powers’ or secret knowledge. There are so many who leave me in the dust when it comes to occult knowledge and the practice of magick.  But, when you get right down to it, I guess I have to admit, I am a witch.
I thought to myself at the time, Wicca is the most perfect religion in the world. Just perfect. My Hand-fasted husband thought so, too. It was great to have his support in my new-found religion.
, home-study courses, tons of reading and lots of magickal practice took up the next five or six years of my life.  The Sabbats and Esbats, well, they were just awesome, to say the least.      My own personal rituals consisted of prayers, poems, magick and a true Goddess-Communion.
I found Wanding, by Evan Twede and became a wanding practitioner. I studied the Tarot and Runes (didn’t really ever get to crystals but, I still love them) along with the use of the pendulum.
On a trip with my sister to Louisiana, where I had lived for a time as a child, I both read about and marked the tomb, in New Orleans, of Marie Laveaux, with three x’s and left a lit candle.  (This was the November before Katrina.)
The study of reincarnation simply gave life a whole new meaning.  Reincarnation gave life the meaning of Hope. This wasn’t an all or nothing life, after all.  We have plenty of time to get it right.
The greatest gift that I have received from Wicca is not only this great feeling of flying freedom but, it has reconnected me to my Mother, to Nature, Herself, to what I knew was true in my childhood but, now I understand things at a more mature and wiser level.  At least I hope so, anyway.
There was always something missing for me from Wicca, though. I tried and tried to connect with the Old God/desses, the old pantheons. I endeavored to bring forth the meaning of the old myths into modern life. Aside from a connection to Woden and my ancestral Gallic Goddess, Sequanna, it just wasn’t working for me.
Despite my maternal Breton ancestral background, the Celtic myths didn’t touch me, they didn’t reach my soul. The Celtic pantheon just felt distant and alien to my sensibilities.
I understood the concept that there are many Goddesses who are all aspects of the Great Goddess.  Heck, I had been Catholic.  We had dozens of different names for the Blessed Virgin Mary, all with different aspects, myths, messages, colors and costumes. But, somehow, the pantheon part of being Pagan/Wiccan just wasn’t working for me.
The other cultural pantheons felt even more remote.  I was an American living in the 21st century. I wanted to discover the true Universal Divine Feminine for now, not the Tribal Goddesses of old.
I wanted to know HER Name.  HER true Name.  I wanted to know Who She really Was/ Is and Will Be Forever with every quantum particle of my being, with every breath from my lungs, with every beat of my heart, with every firing neuron of my brain.  I wanted to know Who She truly is, now, for me.  I wanted to know Her very Name.
There was another aspect of being Pagan/Wiccan that was sorely lacking in my practice and that was a disparity of a profound depth of spiritual life. Sure, the rituals, the magick, the divination and even the meditation were all great but, it just felt like something huge was missing.
And that is when I found, through Father Jordan Statford+, the Holy Sophia. Sophia Who is The Holy Spirit, the Feminine Face of the Very God, the True Divine Light, Isis, incarnate, Mother Mary, incarnate, Mary Magdalene, incarnate, all in Her various aspects, Whose Daughter is Eve. The Breath of the Shekinah. She Who was hidden in the form of the ancient Jewish Goddess, Asherah.  She is the Gnostic Barbelo, the True Divine Feminine, descended to us, Herself.  She is beyond Goddess. She Was, Is and Forever Will Be.
It was only when I found Sophia that the Charge of the Goddess truly came alive for me, for Whom the poetry truly made sense and in Whom the words were completely validated. She was, is and ever will be, the Soul of Nature. She was, is and ever will be, our true divine Mother. She and She alone, is truly within and without.  I had found Her.
I rushed outside and whispered to the night, “Sophia, is it You?” And a sudden rush of wind answered, ‘yes’.
Thanks to Father Jordan’s patience, I learned that I couldn’t separate Sophia from the Gnostic Christian myth nor from her Twin, the Divine Christos. I learned about Cosmic myth and it’s meaning. I learned the importance of not taking exoteric Christianity as a literal/black/white/set in stone fact.
I had to come face to face with and wrestle against, as if my very life depended upon it,  the black demons of my former Christianity to the point where I literally felt like I was about to lose my mind and I had to pray for help like I’ve never prayed, before.
I once had to learn to become free through Wicca. Now, I had to learn to become free within Gnostic/Esoteric Christianity. I had to come to terms with my Catholic/Orthodox background.  And, when I did, a whole new universe of spiritual wonder opened up before me.
We have to see things as cosmic realities, not Earth-bound realities.  All of our religious truths, from every single religion in this world, including Christianity,  all of them contain golden nuggets and rainbow embedded jewels of a world beyond us that we only see in a darkened mirror, as St. Paul said.
There is nothing wrong with Christianity. There is nothing wrong with Wicca.  One is not more ‘true’ than the other. They just both need to be expanded beyond this earthly/political plane to encompass the spiraling dimensions of what lies beyond the veil.  One does not preclude the other. They just both have to be seen in a New Light. The True Light of our True Father and our True Mother.
Did you know that Jesus, in certain Gnostic Gospels referred to the Holy Spirit as His Mother?  Did you know that ancient Christians practiced a very powerful and potent form of magick?  Did you know that there was an ancient form of Christianity that was very different for the modern form? Did you know that many of the teachings of Jesus might have come from Egypt?
The combination of Esoteric and Gnostic Christianity along with the deep prayerful life of the Exoteric Church and the natural, magickal life of Wicca has completed my journey towards becoming a Christian Witch. Or, more specifically, a Sophian Gnostic-Esoteric Witch.
I have found the Great Goddess, the True Divine Feminine, Most Holy Sophia, for Whom I had searched so long.
Do yourself a favor, if you are searching for the Goddess, read Thunder, Perfect Mind, in the Gnostic texts or online and you will find Her.  Read  the Gnostic, Song of the Pearl, and you will find out what life is all about.  Read the Gnostic, Round Dance of the Cross, and you will find a different, ritualistic Jesus.
I have found the spiritual depth and abiding, soul-nourishing prayerful/spiritual life for which, as a Pagan, I had searched for so many years. And, I’ve learned to combine them with the re-connection to Nature that I have so preciously re-learned and re-experienced through Wicca.
Father Jordan Statford+ once told me that Wicca was designed to lead to Gnosticism and that journeying from Wicca to Gnosticism was like following the breadcrumbs Home. He was right. But, for both Father Jordan+, myself and many other Gnostics, both Christian and non-Christian, that does not mean you have to leave the witchcraft behind.
So, yes, I guess you could say I am a Christian Witch. I am now spiritually complete. I feel I have the best of all spiritual worlds, so to speak.  Those who feel that Christianity and Wicca/Witchcraft do not mix, truly do not see Christianity in its true Light nor in it’s true evolution from Egypt through Israel and beyond to the East and West. Prejudices must be put aside. Toleration and education are the key.
No journey is traveled without the greatest of teachers of whom I send my most heart-felt gratitude: Gerald O’Donell, of the Academy of Remote Viewing and Influencing who, more than anyone, taught me that we are One,  my truly loving mentor, Dr. Katia Romanoff, of the Mystery Schools at Northernway.org and The Church of the Way, of whom I have the highest regard and is, perhaps, my idol in this life,  Deacon Anthony Silvia, of the Apostolic Johannite Church, whom I miss dearly and from whom I gained a wealth of Gnostic learning,  my dearly and beyond any imagining, most beloved, Rev. Mother Marsha Emrick+, Gnostic Priest of the Gnostic Church of St. Mary Magdalene, Buddhist, proctor of our Order of Gnostic nuns and Wiccan high priestess, and especially, Father Jordan Stratford+, Arch-priest of the Apostolic Johannite Church, proctor of the monks of our Gnostic Order of St. Esclarmonde and witch, whose patience, love and caring knows no bounds. He is the one who helped me find Sophia and he is the one to whom this article is dedicated.
Thank you all, for helping this poor, wandering soul, to find her Path.
May you all, dear readers, find your true path. May you find your true teachers to guide you along the way.
It can be a long, deeply frustrating and  precariously steep mountain road full of switch-backs and down-ward slides, but the Treasure, that precious Pearl is worth the journey. Keep your mind OPEN.
May you be Blessed during the coming Yule season.
Diakonissa Sr. Pamela Lanides, O.S.E., O.D.M., O.M.M.

X-Witch

August, 2006

I was speaking with a friend the other day who told me that when she went religion shopping a few years ago she came extremely close to becoming Pagan. Paganism had almost everything she valued—the Goddess, respect and reverence for nature, the choice to worship with a group or be solitary, amazingly beautiful rituals, a deep, rich mythological history with such a strong connection to the ancient, primeval forces so as to be almost synonymous with the life force itself.


There was one problem and for her the problem was insurmountable.


Just as there was no room for Jesus at the inn in Bethlehem, it also appeared there was no room for him in Paganism. To my friend, this was a sad state of affairs because there was so much she did not like about Christianity and so much she adored about Paganism. In the end, Christianity won because, as she put it, "Jesus was just far too important to me to leave out."


This made me think: Is this statement true? With its pantheon of gods and goddesses from cultures the world over, is there in fact no room for Jesus? Or is that the point—that Jesus does not qualify as a god? And even if he does, does that mean that he must, as many of his followers believe, be the only god?


Or is it more that there is plenty of room for Jesus but no room for his followers— the Jerry Falwellites and Pat Robertson clones who have hijacked the open, accepting, embracing religion of Christ and morphed it into the judgemental, "kill them all, let God sort them out" variant we have today?


I have my opinions on this matter but what I’m really hoping for this month is to hear yours. Do you think there is no room for Jesus in Paganism? Do you feel that he already has his own religion so why in god/dess name should Pagans add him to theirs? Do you think that people like myself are little more than fence straddlers—folks who are Pagan wannabees who are unable to surrender our "Jesus Safety Blankets"?


I really want to hear your thoughts. I’m encouraging any one who reads this column to email me at aine@sang-reaita.com to let me know how you feel on the whole idea of Jesus in Paganism. If you consider yourself Pagan, do you ever include Jesus in your practice? Or does the whole idea just seem anathema to Paganism?

I’m looking forward to hearing from you!


***


author bio:

R.A. Áine Laisrén, a novelist and psychic practitioner for over twenty years, is devoting her life (and the life of her pet chinchilla Fionnghuala) to restoring the Goddess and all Her gifts to Christianity. She will absolutely lose her mind if you refer to the Holy Spirit in the masculine gender, so please just don’t do it! More information about Áine’s writing and practice may be found at www.sang-realta.com

X-Witch

July, 2006

Later this month, on July 22nd, the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast Day of Mary Magdalene. In honor of what I like to think of as her “birthday”, this month’s column is devoted to her.

What we know about MM comes primarily from three sources: the Bible, the Gnostic texts, and legends.

Let’s start with what the Bible says about her. Actually, let’s start with what the Bible DOESN’T say about her. No where, absolutely no where does the Bible state that MM was a prostitute. As a former Bible quotin’, Bible totin’, Bible knowin’ fundie, when I first heard this (courtesy of Margaret Starbird) I thought, “Somebody’s obviously not done her Bible homework.” It was true; someone hadn’t—me! I quick look at any Bible Concordance reveals a simple truth: there is no mention whatsoever of MM in connection with prostitution.

The prostitution view is an invention of early Christian leaders. Beginning in the 200s Tertullian associated the unnamed “repentant sinner” who anoints Jesus’ feet with her tears with Mary Magdalene. After this, St. Jerome and Pope Gregory the Great took this association a bit further, giving Ms. Maggie her status as prostitute extraordinnaire.

On to what the Bible does say. Without any interpretation, guesswork, theory, or radical conjecture the Bible credits MM as: the woman from whom Jesus cast out 7 devils, one of several devoted female disciples who attended Jesus during his crucifixion, and as the 1st person to whom the Christ appeared after his resurrection. Isn’t it odd that the Bible credits NONE of Jesus well publicized Twelve with standing by him during the crucifixion? And isn’t it especially odd that the first person Christ wants to see after coming home for a while is Mary Magdalene?
Students of mythology and all good pagans won’t find it odd. The myth of the dying, resurrected god predates Christ. In many cultures the myth is basically a play in five acts: god is born or conceived through some type of extraordinary means, god is selected by goddess and anointed by her, god grows in power, god is sacrificed, god returns—usually to his goddess, oftentimes in a garden.

Christianity has promoted 3 and 1A of those acts. The birth, power, and sacrifice are undisputed. The anointing has been completely overlooked and the return, well he returns all right, but no one ever puts the spotlight on to whom it is he returns—to Mary Magdalene. Why? Is it maybe because of the mythological connection, the connection that implies that MM was his lover, if not his wife, or Lord forbid, a goddess?

Let’s look now at the Gnostic texts. The Gnostics state quite clearly that it was to Mary Magdalene, not Peter, that Jesus gave the keys to the kingdom. It was she who was to be ‘Apostle to the Apostles’. The reason for this has an historical context. First off, remember that Jesus was extremely egalitarian. Women followed him (men were not his only disciples) he ate with them, gave them positions of status in his ministry. Second, remember that Jesus preached again and again about his “return” or the “kingdom” coming. Now we all know how anxiously today’s fundies are waiting for the mushroom cloud that I guess Jesus will ride in on and put things aright. But back in early Christianity the followers were, believe it or not, much more zealous than today’s fundies in their belief that Jesus was coming back “pretty much any day now”. So when deciding who was doing what in the early church, gender roles didn’t much matter. Nothing much mattered. How could it? For crying out loud, it wasn’t like they were setting up a religion that might last a couple thousand years! Jesus would be back tomorrow anyway and then he could set things up like he wanted! So, if, as the Gnostics say, Mary Magdalene was Jesus’ choice as ‘Apostle to the Apostles’ so be it. When Jesus got home, a man would be in charge anyway! Of course, as Jesus’ return became somewhat delayed and as the delay extended and the church grew, the patriarchy got busy putting Jesus’ house in order for him. The keys to the kingdom were taken from MM and handed over to Peter.

Lastly, there are the legends. My favorite is the one about MM changing a white egg to red which contributes to our current tradition of dying Easter— Ostara—eggs. Then there’s the legend of her landing at Ste. Maries-de-la-Mer with her handmaid or daughter, St. Sarah, and of course, the legend of her marriage to the Christ.

I like the idea of MM being married to Christ, but I like it in the mystical sense, the sense that we are all, female and male, potential Brides or Partners of Christ. I like it not in the celibate nun way, nor in the purely physical sexual way (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) but in the sense that we can all be what Christ was and do what Christ did. Christ himself said that we would all do what he did.. .and more!

The entire message of Christ was one of completion, of wholeness. What better way to exemplify that teaching than by breaking all patriarchal tradition and make a woman his equal?

Happy birthday Mary Magdalene!

***

author bio:

R.A. Áine Laisrén, a novelist and psychic practitioner for over twenty years, is devoting her life (and the life of her pet chinchilla Fionnghuala) to restoring the Goddess and all Her gifts to Christianity. She will absolutely lose her mind if you refer to the Holy Spirit in the masculine gender, so please just don’t do it!

More information about Áine’s writing and practice may be found at www.sang-realta.com

The “Roads” of Religious Paths

July, 2006

In this modern day, our highway system an infrastructure made by man and comprised of concrete asphalt and steel, is built upon routes that are delineated from adjacent real estate by deeded and recorded easements, routes that are so inflexible as to be set in stone. We all take this system for granted; seldom questioning why the road we are traveling upon takes this particular path. For the most part our highway system does a wonderful job of getting from where we are at to wherever our destination happens to be. However this system of exact routes has not always been the rule.


A century ago, in large parts of rural America, roads were ambiguous routes, more of a concept than the concrete inflexible roadbeds as we have today. If you lived in those times and were to be traveling upon these wonderful old roads you would be quick to discover that they were paved only by the earth compacted under the feet of those that had passed that way before you. If traveling in rainy weather and you encountered a section of the road that had become impassable due to a muddy bog, rather than to risk getting mired in the muck, if possible you simply detoured around the bog, blazing a new section of the road which was sure to be taken by those following in your path.


Routes that connected two cities, might be fairly well defined in areas were natural geological obstacles prevented variances in the path, while in areas where the going was easier the road might fork with one path venturing into a village and the other path serving as a bypass much as we have bypasses today, and often these two paths would converge, becoming as one later in the journey.


In today’s world, man has found it necessary to establish al sorts of laws regarding the usage of the highway system. We have speed limits, maximum and sometimes minimum. We have passing and no passing zones, weight, length, height, and width limits, as well as countless other rules of the road. There are laws establishing taxation and tolls to pay for the upkeep of this infrastructure. Each of the before mentioned, are laws designed by and enforced by man, presumably for the safety and good of the public. Whereas a century ago few if any laws regarding road usage existed.


It does not take too much of a stretch of the imagination to see a certain analogy between roads, past or present to the history man’s interpretations of religions or spiritual paths.


Today, many religions seek to define, to set in stone, dogma and doctrine authored by man as laws, often these laws that are authored by man are concealed behind a façade that perpetuates a belief that these same laws or doctrines originated from supreme deity. Due to the very nature of our modern society we find ourselves unable to contend with esoteric shades of gray, and compelled by the desire to define or package everything into uniform descriptive packages. We feel compelled to establish exactly what our faiths represent, their direction, and various tenets. We seek to set in stone the exact routes and boundaries of our spiritual paths, just as our highway system follows uniform deeded easements. The end result of this process of defining faith or spiritual path is to either purposefully or inadvertently discourage and or even eliminate esoteric or free thought.

The previous issue of "Pagan Pages" included an article entitled "Pagan As Free-Thinkers" by Reverend Crystal. The Reverend wrote;


"So often we attempt to take what is so wonderful about paganism and squish it into a box that was really meant for the book religions of the world. Now, in all fairness, there are many reasons to try and do that. Some include the legalities of what is considered a "religion" under the law."


Sometimes it is necessary to comply with the demands of secular legalities and define who and what we are, but we must in practice seek a point of balance, somewhere between defining strict descriptive boundaries to comply with secular legalities and allowing freedom of religion for the individual. Otherwise we face the risk of becoming as those religions that discourage free thought and eliminate the possibility for the individual to pursue that, which as Reverend Crystal wrote, "the path to the divine is an individual journey for each person."


So why does one’s path to the divine, absolutely have to have rigid inflexible borders just as our modern roads have rigid deeded easements? Why can we not accept that our brother or sister follows a different path, parallel but yet slightly different?


Christians use scriptures such as John 14:6 ("Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.") as a means to justify a rigid exclusive doctrine, as they tend interpret the passage to mean that ONLY Christians can achieve salvation. They take this passage and others quite literally, ignoring the possibility that he meant that the principles and tenets of his teachings and philosophy are "the way" and instead they try to make it, man’s literal interpretation "law" that only those that worship him in a manner prescribed by humans, can achieve spiritual salvation. However there is a small grassroots movement of Christians seeking to reevaluate the meaning of this and other passages, one such group is The Church Of Interfaith Christians.


A FANTASTIC CHANGE HAS BEGUN IN CHRISTIANITY!


The slogan above is displayed on each page of interfaithchristians.org signifying to progressive Christians that they have found a fresh breath of air, and after reading several web pages, Christians that also practice other paths such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Wicca, Paganism, or other Earth based traditions, realize that they have found an inclusive home. Others who may practice only a Christian path, but who are tired of doctrine and dogma that seems to be the anti thesis to the very teachings of Christ also find a spiritual home there as well.


Beginning as an e-mail discussion group in 2002 and quickly evolving into a church, one that is listed in the Encyclopedia of World Religions as a new denomination of Christianity, the Church of Interfaith Christians (COIC) has more than two hundred members world wide, many who practice a Christian/whatever path. While its numbers are low compared to other groups, one must realize that everything that has been accomplished to date has been done totally without any tithes or other cash flow that would allow for publicity, but rather just by "word of mouth" from volunteers.


Unlike other Christian denominations, the COIC never dictates the manner in which its ordained ministers conduct their individual ministries nor does it require its lay members to adhere to a strict doctrine, but rather encourages the ministers and members to seek out the sprit and explore their individual callings, in the worship of God/Goddess. The one doctrine that the COIC has authored is a doctrine to establish no doctrines. Unlike many Christian organizations there are no "rules" of the road. Rules that regulate one on their spiritual journey just as highway laws regulate travel upon the byways of our modern transportation infrastructure.


To explain and define the difference between the COIC and other Christian denominations, the founder of the COIC, Reverend Ernest A. Steadman wrote; "The Interfaith Christian embraces all positive spiritual paths including Shamanism and earth-based traditions, often being called upon to heal gaps between the many disparate religious faiths using the original teachings of Jesus Christ, minus convoluted manmade doctrine." He went on to further explain his concept(s) with a quote of the Dalai Lama;


"The greater our awareness is regarding the value and effectiveness of other religious traditions, then the deeper will be our respect and reverence toward other religions. This is the proper way for us to promote genuine compassion and a spirit of harmony among the religions of the world."


Reverend Steadman started the e-mail discussion group as a forum for those seeking to develop their awareness of other religious traditions and celebrate that diversity so as to promote harmony and healing among the various religions. Reverend Steadman had long noted that on many of the hundreds of e-mail groups, any Christian that varied from that "road set in stone" was immediately set upon by self appointed protectors of the faith with just as much ferocity as these "Christian guardians" attacked practitioners of other faiths. He further justified his position on the founding of the COIC by quoting 1 Corinthians 12: verses 4-6; "Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. Now there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone." Always giving it as his opinion that the only difference between the deities of the world’s religions was that difference authored by man, a difference designed to serve the needs of the flesh (the organization) and not the needs of the individual’s spiritual enlightenment.


The e-mail discussion forum grew into a fellowship of friends, an extended family. And as the various commentaries offered by the membership of the group took on more of the aspects of sermons, the group became a church. One that now offers ordinations to anyone absolutely free of charge. The e-mail group remains open to anyone regardless of path, but in order to comply with secular authorities and give some degree of credibility to the ordinations offered by the COIC there is now a requirement for those petitioning for ordination to profess a "Christian slash whatever" belief, or otherwise involving Christ in some form or fashion in their practice.


The church’s website is a volunteer effort and a work in progress, archiving articles submitted by members of all faiths, including various ceremonies such as handfastings. Dozens of pages have been contributed that cover a wide range of topics, from developing understanding between the world’s religions to defending religious freedoms.


But of all of the articles and writings of individual members found in the web pages on the interfaithchristians.org web site, the phrase that sums up everything, has become the slogan of the COIC, "ONE GOD – Many Names / ONE SON – Many Paths / ONE TRUTH – Many Faiths" by this statement we mean that we believe that there is an universal deity, known by many names, one that inculcates universal brotherly love and understanding. ONE SON who taught principles that are also found in all religions and regardless of their chosen path, those that follow these philosophies have an equal chance to obtain spiritual enlightenment. And finally if one opens their hearts and minds and "thinks out of the box" created by mankind to establish the boundaries of the "road" of their particular path and takes note of the similarities in the paths of all religions, one finds that ONE TRUTH which is also common truth throughout the Many Faiths of the world.


We cordially invite the readers of PaganPages.org to check out interfaithchristians.org, in the hopes that together Interfaith Christians and Pagans can work to promote acceptance and tolerance of all faiths.


***


author bio:


Reverend Ed Crabtree D.D. (Hon)


Chief Executive Officer

The Church Of Interfaith Christians


Senior Pastor

Lighthouse On The CornerMinistries

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