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Spiritual awakening

Spirituality, religion, occult, etc.

I don't talk about spirituality much. I will get into the occasional discussion of atheism vs. agnosticism vs. faith, but it really holds interest for me in the intellectual sense, much like political discussions. It's interesting, but it's not a passion.

When I was in college and was going through the throes of a divorce, I got into a pretty heady study of comparative religions. College is a good place for intellectual theology because you have the time and the mindset to get into scholarly pursuits, as opposed to later in life when you tend to get into morning-coffee-newsfeed-blurb mode because your life gets full of other stuff.

What I found is that most of the major religions, while they did have spiritual components, were mainly practical rules of civilization designed to help keep the masses from devouring each other. Some worked better than others, but the codes of behavior were really products of their time, and don't necessarily stand well in this day and age.

Note here: I am not a believer in moral absolutes, nore much of a believer in absolutes of any kind. I am a believer in local vs. global philosophy: for instance, I will still use Newtonian Mechanics to solve mecanical problems because it is a good model on the local scale, where it falls apart badly when we start considering relativistic systems. Likewise, I believe that on a small scale, a communal-living system is excellent, but falls apart on a societal level.

I was raised as a Lutheran. I don't know that it was a huge part of my upbringing: my family wasn't particularly active in the church, but we were go-on-Sunday-and-Easter types. I did the sunday school thing, which was pretty much so immemorable as to be lost to the sands of time. My big experience with the church was one of hypocrisy and closed-mindedness, and a dont-ask-those-kind-of-questions mentality. Politics ruled, there was a coup... it pretty much sucked the life out of anything that I wanted to be associated with.

After a lot of consideration and investigation, I discovered tha the thing that I despised about religion wasn't the ideology, it was the people. Of course, one can pretty much bring that into play for any ideology, religious or otherwise.

What I really wanted/needed was something that was free of dogma that would help to answer the questions that I was having about how to lead my life. Not a religion per se, but something that would help guide me in a set of personal ethics without clinging to dogma. An anti-religion, or perhaps a meta-religion as it were.

Enter the Neopagans

I only briefly started investigating the Neopaganism movement when I was in college, as it wasn't a real religion, and the hippy-dippy new-agers that I knew were... well, let's just say that the term Fluffy Bunny was apt, as well as one specific instance of hallucinogen-fueld psychosis (not mine, thank you). And really, I was beginning to move on to other things of a more practical nature, like getting a job and moving into life.

I managed to get settled into a work-home routine with a steady live-in girlfriend and a fluffy kitty pet (now known as Stoopikitty), and eventually had time to consider bits and pieces of spiritual investigations here and there. I hit my 30's with a knowledge that I was "settling down", and it was about time I picked up the mantle. It was about this time that the X-files was beginning its heyday, and it sparked an old interest in the occult. I started reading a lot, and I eventually found Aleister Crowley.

Crowley gets a bad rap for a lot of stuff; many believe he was a Satanist (though a lot of this comes from confusing him with Anton LaVey), and he was not. He was however something of a nutjob, particularly later in life. He also had a wicked sense of humor.

The thing that cuts through to me is the core principles of Thelema. Within the structure of Thelema is the concept of the "divine will" or "master plan" or "True Will", depending on where you stand in the religious spectrum. The concept is meta: it exceeds any particular religious creed, and exists among them all as a common thread.

Consider that the primary stress of Thelema is striking a balance between individual liberty and the call of divinity within each person, it sounds an awful lot like reconciling the self or "finding ones center", both concepts that I understand, and I know a lot of others do, too. It's not a particularly religious concept, and it fits that "meta" tag.

Do what thou wilt

"Do what thou wilt" shall be the whole of the Law. This is the prime tenet of Thelema, but it is also often misunderstood (as in LaVey) as being "screw everyone else, do what you want to do". The deeper meaning is not to egomaniacally fulfil every desire, but to follow your true calling, that core bit of divinity that all of us contain, the spiritual destiny.

Compare this to the Wiccan rede: "An it harm none, do what thou wilt".

(Note: there are a lot of versions of this. Chaw not on my etherial nads, take the concept and run.)

The key difference here is that the Wiccan version is seen as being more feminine, with the primary focus being to do no harm, as opposed to Crowley's more masculine "just do it without worry of harm".

Crowley's belief was that each of us has a divine path, and that if you follow your path, you can not cause harm by definition. The more recent Wiccan recognizes the likelihood of human fault getting in the way, and urges restraint and caution when considering what the True Will entails, lest our very humanity fuck it up.

I love both. Not the nitty-gritty details about spellcasting or ritual: those are personal choices of foci. What I love are the concepts of the core self, the inner divinity, the growth of the person without the need for an external Big Red One to make the ultimate decisions for you. It grants personal responsibility a high place in the kingdom of humanity, puts integrity first, but allows for freedom.

The hard part is determining what that divine path is.

(I'm guessing that there will probably be more along these lines in the time to come. Feel free to join in if you like.)


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 20th, 2006 10:05 pm (UTC)
I heard Thelemites like the ass sex.

i don't know. Like you, it sounds like, I came up in the benign church of lies and hypocrisy. my parents said to us, at age 13-ish, "This must be your choice, not because we bring you", so I bailed.

I got the goddess thing to find a connection to spirit that recognized ME and seemed a better balance. ish, and picked and chose what I wanted from varying places. I respect people who follow the rules of their faith, however i'm not one of them.

now I'm rather turned off all of it. I keep my altar for me, I thank the trees and the clouds, give or take, and listen to other peoples conversations when I can.

my mother said we all go back to our "faith" as we get old. we'll see.

as for the divine path, I bet there's more than one.
Nov. 20th, 2006 10:26 pm (UTC)
I heard Thelemites like the ass sex.

It's true. Just like all Wiccans are lesbian. Therefore, Theleman Wiccans like lesbian buttsex. And really, who doesn't?

I don't think there is necessarily one "path" as it pertains to the "divine calling", nor do I believe that the "path" is a linear one. And I don't really think that everyone really gets there. I think that most people end up being content with the rut that they get stuck in, and it becomes them.

I don't think a lot of them read my journal.
Nov. 20th, 2006 10:30 pm (UTC)
I love the anal, tmi and all that.

sure. it's a path we hop on and off of, maybe.
rut and contentment is sad but true. ruts of comfort, dang I've been guilty of that.

sometimes I think it's all much more simple and Crowley was a trickster but then again I've never had a head for the big ideas.

for a living I wipe ass more often than I'd like but mostly I get paid to love and that's the good part.

Nov. 20th, 2006 10:42 pm (UTC)
but mostly I get paid to love...

In many parts of the world, that could land you in jail.
Nov. 20th, 2006 10:46 pm (UTC)
oh dear...
Nov. 20th, 2006 11:10 pm (UTC)
fucky lesbian buttsex? tie up the rosicurians and shpank them? You slay me, asshole. I love you
Nov. 20th, 2006 11:54 pm (UTC)
With the rosicrucians-- it is their butt cheeks that are rosy.

It's a fact!
Nov. 20th, 2006 10:27 pm (UTC)
>The hard part is determining what that divine path is.

I, too, was raised a Lutheran. I went to Sunday school, taught Sunday school, was in the choir, was an acolyte, a cantor, a lector... and even did a stint on the church council.

And I walked away. I just couldn't believe in something that saw me as inherently flawed and unclean. I couldn't believe in the contradictions and hypocrisy.

I, too, find harmony with the wiccan / pagan route. I don't have a set discipline yet, because I'm still questioning and learning. I consider myself "on the path".

My family would be horrified. I don't discuss it with them.

As far as I'm concerned, the divine path - whatever religion we choose to follow or not - is what makes us the best human being we can be. The best piece of advice I've read yet from a Wiccan / Goddess website was to read everything you can. Question. Think. And follow the path that brings you to a place of spiritual harmony. Unlike Christianity... that requires you to take everything "on faith".

*stepping down from my soapbox*
Nov. 20th, 2006 10:54 pm (UTC)
I don't think a set discipline is really necessary. Everything that I have seen and experienced is that it is all locus; mnemonics to allow you to be in better contact with that part of yourself that exists as the spiritual.

Thing is, sometimes I find myself up against the rail with a couple of choices, and the path isn't clear. I don't know whether it's actually clouded, or if I'm trying to justify my desires. Or maybe it doesn't matter, it just is what it is.

This stuff is hard. Let's go shopping!
Nov. 20th, 2006 11:06 pm (UTC)
There are many paths in life. Many choices both spiritual and otherwise. There is no one path anywhere.
The hard thing is to find "your" path.
This is the path that is not only right for you, but right for the person you want to be.

Nov. 20th, 2006 11:55 pm (UTC)
That's the trick then, innit? The gnos of how this decision affects who I want to be.
Nov. 21st, 2006 12:11 am (UTC)
There is the rub. Other than that. Are you answering the right question?
Nov. 20th, 2006 11:14 pm (UTC)
Crowley is a pollyanna. Its all bull. Its all true.
Nov. 20th, 2006 11:56 pm (UTC)
But even Pollyanna liked lesbian buttlove.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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