My Ultrasyncretic December Macroholiday in 66 Words

Decemberfest

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On Religious Roundabouts

Before I recap what’s happened over the weekend, I wanted to share Teo Bishop’s most recent write-up on The Wild Hunt:

This year at Samhain I’m coming to terms with the realization that Paganism, itself, does not serve me in the way that I thought it did. Stranger even, I’m feeling pulled back to the Episcopal Church, to the God of Christianity, and to Jesus.

I admit, it was bit of a shocker at first. I mean, it’s not everyday that you hear a well-known [and gorgeous] Pagan return to the religion of our oppressors. But, is a return to Jesus and Christianity necessarily a return to oppression? Not for Teo, I would think.

Finding God in Jesus through pagan practice is not entirely unthinkable or uncommon. We live in a world full of gods–as we polytheists believe–and I’d like to think none of them are jealous. Sometimes, one god will point you to another. After all, finding solace and purpose in Jesus the Saviour doesn’t mean you’ll become a biblical literalist or a mean-spirited bigot bent on pushing your beliefs on others. Those are stereotypes–fierce stereotypes that are all so unfortunately true for a lot of Christians–but they’re not all there is to Christianity or Jesus.

So no, it’s not impossible to have Jesus in your life and be Pagan–or for that matter, be Christian and be open to the diversity of divinity (because, truth is, there are so many ways to define what it means to be Christian). Jesus and paganism aren’t opposites, first of all. We know that many of the ancients didn’t think so, so it’s not unprecedented. (The Church disagreed, of course, and that got them into trouble, but still.) If anything, my being Pagan has only deepened my understanding and appreciation of the biblical Jesus, same as Teo. If that connection brings one further into walking the path of Christ, so be it.

I’ve never really understood the sentiment behind excluding Jesus (or his Dad) from paganism. Opening your world to many gods includes the god-man Jesus, too. Unlike the oaths we took at our confirmation rites (if you were raised Catholic like I was), paganism doesn’t demand that you recant any god or way of worship, really. It merely asks that you live your life according to your own terms, the terms of the tribe you choose, the gods you hold dear, etc.

Honestly, I don’t think the Gods care about “religions” as we understand them. The Gods can’t be bothered about what we think about their nature, either. These are our concerns, not theirs. They care only about the beauty you create. They love that, and that’s why they come to us.

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Belated Paschal Greetings

Since it’s Easter week in the Orthodox world, I should better follow up on my promised Paschal devotionals before it’s too late… again!

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“Today is hung upon the cross, He who suspended the earth amid the waters.
A crown of thorns crowns Him, Who is the king of Angels.
He, Who wrapped the Heavens in clouds, is clothed with the purple of mockery.
He, Who freed Adam in the Jordan received buffetings.
He was transfixed with nails, Who is the bridegroom of the Church.
He was pierced with a lance, Who is the Son of the Virgin.”

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“You, the Life, how can You die?
How can You reside in a grave?
You abolish the realm of death
and resurrect Hades’ dead.”

I wrote this lament for Good Friday, inspired by the traditional Greek Orthodox hymns Today He Is Hung (Σήμερον κρεμάται) and The Life in the Grave ( Ἡ ζωή ἐν τάφω). Death is portrayed here to resemble Mot, the Canaanite deity of death.

Today, he is hung!
The son of Iao is slain!

He is snatched
by the gaping jaws of *Death,
stolen from his mother’s embrace.
Weep, O women,
for the son of Iao is slain!

He is dragged
into Haides,
his beauty and youth
taken away from the earth.
Weep, O earth,
for the son of Iao is slain!

His blood is spilt
from his wounds,
a river over the now parched earth.
Weep, O women, for the son of Iao is slain!

His body is broken
from the beating of Death,
like wheat ground into flour,
like grapes into wine.
Weep, O earth, for the son of Iao is slain!

All heaven and earth weep,
as women sing their lamentations,
for the son of Iao is slain!

We beat our breasts,
and shroud our altars,
for the son of Iao is slain!

How can I bury you, Lord?
Thou who art life?
How can the grave contain your beauty,
your youth?

And then, there’s this triumphant hymn below, which I wrote for Easter Sunday, inspired by the traditional Greek Orthodox hymn — take a guess — Khristos Anesti (Χριστός ἀνέστη).

Is the Lord risen?
Has he truly risen?
Yes, he is risen!
Christ is risen from the dead!

Risen from the grave,
returning from Haides,
conquering death,
emptying sepulchres,
and giving life.
Christ is risen from the dead!

Lo! the son of Iao lives.
Bread to those who hunger,
and wine for those who thirst,
Christ is risen from the dead!

So, there. Happy Pascha! to our Christian friends from East and West (well, belated Pascha, that is). May the spirit of radical love and compassion live on and triumph over the hatred and bigotry that have plagued the churches for so long.

PS: Pictures above are our devotional photo op, not actual rites held. Semana Santa or Holy Week cultus can be quite festive here.

C is for Christ

(This was actually intended to be posted on Easter, so you can start imagining.)

Yes, Jesus Christ is risen. Jesus, Son of Mary, Son of Iao Sabaoth — Man-God, the Anointed One, the Risen One, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Logos in flesh.

Yes, him. I may have recanted my ties with the Vatican and Constantinople, but I haven’t quite abandoned the worship of Christ or his mother (and sometimes, a couple of saintly spirits, too). Also, admit it, that song is ace, how can you leave it behind?

I wanted to take this time to talk about him a little — and his role in my religious life — because I will probably not have too many chances to talk about him in the next 360 days or so, being preoccupied with other spirits closer to me.

Unlike many pagan reverts who grew up in boring Protestant homes or were nominally Catholic for most of their lives, my elders were quite devout Catholics. I don’t remember anyone being all preachy about salvation or hell-fire, but people were generally devoted to the Baby Jesus, the Blessed Virgin, and other divine spirits. (I say, spirits, because that’s how I remember seeing them as — as a multitude of divine and semi-divine beings partial to decent men and women, aiding them in their daily lives. Sounds rather pagan, doesn’t it?)

Ah, I see the bishops disapproving. I suppose, I never really was brought up in a very “christian” household, if we followed their definitions of the word. I’d say, two thirds folkish and a third orthodox? After all, it’s not very uncommon for many predominantly Catholic countries to mix indigenous practices with Vatican-sanctioned Christianity. I’d go as far to say that the parts that do agree with papist doctrine are mostly coincidental, not something people do to make the Pope happy. Fiestas are fun first of all, never mind if they have any salvific component.

Sure, the Pope stinks and the Vatican is a scandal-ridden, corrupt institution run by life-denying chauvinists. Sure, I don’t regard the Gospels or the Torah as particularly sacred scripture. Sure, I don’t believe in most of orthodox Christianity’s tenets. Sure, I identify as a proud Hellene, as one who took the same path as Julian the Apostate, but what has all that got to do with Jesus or Mary?

Nothing, because Jesus is not Christianity or the Catholic Church or the Pope. Not very different from how our poets or our philosophers are not the deathless gods of high Olympos. When we sacrifice to the Gods, it is with them to whom we owe the bonds of hospitality; of xenia, of eusebeia or pietas.

I don’t care for an historical Jesus, if there even was one (or more). So, what if a hippie, feminist, 1st century Galilean rabbi-carpenter never really rose from the grave to save humanity? Does that mean people can’t walk his path of radical love, anymore? Of course, we can!

That’s because Christ is a myth, more than anything else, and — as we all very well know here in Paganistan — myth can sometimes be much more powerful and moving than history.

Is Christ a very important part of my cultus? Not by much, but he is there; a part of my household’s pantheon, and no one can tell me that he can’t. That’s the beauty of polytheism, I suppose.

I took pictures of our Paschal celebration and wrote some poetry, too, but those will have to follow.

Meanwhile, here are some rather charming thoughts on the subject:

God-fearers and Potentially Dangerous Beliefs

We interrupt regular programming with a potentially miasmic post:

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So, cruel-god meme, we meet again.

Galatians 6:7
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. WHO mocked God :

John Lennon (Singer):
Some years before, during his interview with an American Magazine, he said:
‘Christianity will end, it will disappear.
I do not have to argue about that.. I am certain.
Jesus was ok, but his subjects were too simple, today we are more famous than Him’ (1966).
Lennon, after saying that the Beatles were more famous than Jesus Christ, was shot six times.

Tancredo Neves (President of Brazil ):
During the Presidential campaign,he said if he got 500,000 votes from his party, not even God would remove him from Presidency.
Sure he got the votes, but he got sick a day before being made President, then he died.

Cazuza (Bi-sexual Brazilian composer, singer and poet):
During A show in Canecio ( Rio deJaneiro ),
while smoking his cigarette, he puffed out some smoke into the air and said:’God, that’s for you.’
He died at the age of 32 of LUNG CANCER in a horrible manner.

The man who built the Titanic
After the construction of Titanic, a reporter asked him how safe the Titanic would be. With an ironic tone he said:
‘Not even God can sink it’
The result: I think you all know what happened to the Titanic

Marilyn Monroe (Actress)
She was visited by Billy Graham during a presentation of a show. He said the Spirit of God had sent him to preach to her. After hearing what the Preacher had to say, she said:
‘I don’t need your Jesus’.
A week later, she was found dead in her apartment

Bon Scott (Singer)
The ex-vocalist of the AC/DC. On one of his 1979 songs he sang: ‘Don’t stop me; I’m going down all the way, down the highway to hell’.
On the 19th of February 1980, Bon Scott was found dead, he had been choked by his own vomit.

Campinas (IN 2005)
In Campinas , Brazil a group of friends, drunk, went to pick up a friend…..
The mother accompanied her to the car and was so worried about the drunkenness of her friends and she said to the daughter holding her hand, who was already seated in the car: My Daughter, Go With God And May He Protect You.’
She responded: ‘Only If He (God) Travels In The Trunk, Cause Inside Here…..It’s Already Full ‘
Hours later, news came by that they had been involved in a fatal accident, everyone had died,
the car could not be recognized what type of car it had been, but surprisingly, the trunk was intact.
The police said there was no way the trunk could have remained intact. To their surprise, inside the trunk was a crate of eggs, none was broken

Christine Hewitt (Jamaican Journalist and entertainer) said the Bible (Word of God) was the worst book ever written.
In June 2006 she was found burnt beyond recognition in her motor vehicle.

Many more important people have forgotten that there is no other name that was given so much authority as the name of Jesus.
Many have died, but only Jesus died and rose again, and he is still alive….
‘Jesus’
PS: If it was a joke, you would have sent it to everyone. So are you going to have courage to share this?.
I have done my part in sharing.

Do you believe that Jesus is Holy and His name should be Glorified and not Mocked?
If you believe in him, Click write Amen!

Basically, if you believe in this bullshit, you agree that your god is so petty and conceited to take human “mockery” seriously. Also, blackmail. Oh hey, you better believe in Jesus or else he’s going to kill you and send you to hell! That’s quite sick, to be honest. I can’t believe people actually believe in this and still preach about love and compassion. I went to the original post and saw a couple hundred amens. I mean, really?

I don’t really mind if you believe the Almighty God of Israel and All Nations (which is it, really?) is cruel and that he doesn’t tolerate mockers of his name (and thus, a ruthless slayer of men), but if you profess he’s also about unconditional love and forgiveness and overflowing mercy, you’re a little daft to believe in those two contradictory ideas. It’s either Jesus is all-loving and all-kind, or he’s this prick who would sink an entire ship of innocent people for the supposed “hubris” of its maker.

So, as any hot-tempered chap would do, I warned the people on my list that if they were the type to believe that I would die or be damned in “hell” for saying all this, that they’d better get off my friend’s list. (Was that too much?)

I’m a pretty decent man who loves his family and friends loyally, who tries to live ethically, who respects the all-loving Jesus as a beacon of light, but if you think that’s not enough because I’m not christian, I don’t think it’s wise to be in any form of relationship with you. You’re a little too dangerous.

PS: That is not Jesus up there, people. That is Jim Caviezel.

A Syncretic Advent

Yes, I’m celebrating Advent. Of course, by Advent I don’t mean the Christian one, but my own. Actually, I think it’s more accurate to say not the purely Christian Advent nor the pre-Christian one, but the joining of both. A Syncretic Advent. After all, to go back to the ways of my ancestors and bring them into the current age, I must cross hundreds of years of Christianity. Surely, some original Christian traditions have crept into our modern paganisms, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

In our family’s cultus (which includes Catholic traditions for many of us), I have retained the lighting of 4 Advent candles to herald the coming of the Saviour (which could be Christ’s birth or Dionysos’ rule, depending on who you ask in our family), and a 5th white candle to mark the rebirth of the Unconquered Sun.

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In addition, I have made it into a tradition to hang symbolic gifts on the Holiday Tree every week of Advent. On the 1st Sunday, I hung 12 candy canes to represent the 12 months of the year; and this Sunday, I perched 2 ornamental birds to represent the Sun’s companions, Dawn and Dusk.

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What will I hang on the 3rd Sunday? We’ll all have to wait and see.