Thursday, November 11, 2010

Inside the Design: Desire

And hello there, thank you for stopping by, I hope you're having a splendid day.

Today I want to look at one of my more complex designs and why I put the stones together the way I did.


The Desire design came about because my sister asked for one. Here's a pic of what hers looks like...

Eye catching, no?

There's layers of intent with this design, which is why there are so many different stones. I usually like to have three or four stones (not counting the two Hematite at the clasp) in any Intention, since adding more can muddy things. But as I talked with my sister, I realized that she wanted something very specific and it was a challenge to find the right balance and design.

I started with the blazing Fire...Red Tiger's Eye and Red Jasper for attraction. The head turning in the middle of a crowded room for no reason sort of attraction. This is the *spark* that can happen between people. Both red stones are very active, very projective magickally which makes them perfect for this sort of intention. Red Fire is deeper, hotter than yellow or orange Fire, which is why I used red instead of golden Tiger's Eye.

Next comes the banked Fire...Garnets and Rose Quartz for a more lasting connection. Desire is fine if all you want is a booty call. However a relationship will quickly fall apart if there isn't something besides desire between the people. So I added Friendship and Love to hopefully attract someone who wants something more than a hook up. Rose Quartz is *the* friendship stone, and any relationship not based on some sort of friendship is most likely doomed to failure. Garnets represent a more lasting love connection along with promoting sexual awareness.

Now the protective all the elements, Fire can either help or harm, and is perhaps the most dramatic example of this idea. Fire brings life and light, warmth and safety when handled correctly, but can burn if not treated with care. Seeing desire much like a bonfire, I wanted to add a little protection so that the wearer would be less likely to be hurt while the relationship transitions from the first blush of attraction into something more lasting.

The layered and braided intentions in this design are unique, and I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of putting it together. As for how well it works, well, you'd have to ask my sister about her adventures, or you could read about my good friend Teresa Maharaj-Williams and the night the bracelet worked to well. :D

I hope this post was informative for you, and if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to post a response for tag me on Facebook. As always, thank you for reading.

Till next time, be well,

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

If Your Religion...Part 5

Oh, hello there! How're we doing today? Good, to hear. So I bet you're here to find out what I'm going to rant about next, huh? Then I'll just get on with the show, shall I? Without introduction...

If your religion preaches hate instead of love, you're doing it wrong.

This seems like it would be a pretty big, "Uh...Duh Red..." but if that were really the case, then the issues we're having with homosexuals and people of other religions and races just wouldn't be happening would it?

In the US we're just about to have our mid-term elections, so the political machines are churning out massive amounts of advertising for their chosen platforms. One of the favorite targets this season is gay marriage. With the national coverage of Prop 8 in California, many conservatives are using this issue as a soap box to draw in people interested in "saving the family", "protecting the sanctity of marriage", "protecting our children from the homosexual agenda" and several other phrases of dubious meaning.

So what's really at stake here? At its core, the gay marriage issue is about civil rights, not religion. Marriage in the US comes with responsibilities and rewards, things like joint taxes, health care, decision rights concerning a spouse in a critical health situation just to name a few. By banning gay marriage, people are discriminating against a portion of the American people, and I'd thought we'd gotten past that after women were given the right to vote and black people no longer had to sit in the back of the bus.

Why am I talking about this issue then? Because it's the "religious right" that is making the most noise against gay marriage. "It's Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve" is a popular phrase when talking about homosexuality in general from a religious standpoint.

Recently a video from made the rounds on Facebook. (WARNING! If you are offended by the "F word" or are in a place where watching such material would not be approved of, do *NOT* watch the video.) Someone shared the link off my wall and someone else commented that "to my dying day, I will not believe in gay marriage". When I mentioned that marriage is a civil issue and that civil rights are involved, I was informed that the Bible said no gay marriage and that's all that mattered.


I am fairly certain that there isn't anywhere in the Bible that says anything about gay *marriage*. It does say something about man not lying with man as with a woman, but that has nothing to do with marriage, does it? (If I am wrong and there is actually a passage in the Bible that deals with gay marriage, please let me know and I will happily correct my statement.) In fact, the idea of marriage as we know it today is very young compared to its history. An abbreviated account can be found here (among other places).

I really don't get it actually. As far as I can tell, someone's sexual preference should only matter to you if you plan on participating in it. And if living with someone you're having sex with outside of marriage is "living in sin" wouldn't the religious right want gay people to get married? Or would that be double sin? I've lost count. >.>

People screaming about the sanctity of marriage should really only be concerned with one marriage...theirs. They also should actually know what their book says about the subject before they try to thump other people with it too. (WARNING! The video is *very* tongue and cheek and pokes fun at the Bible. If that's likely to offend, ya prolly shouldn't watch.)

And then there's all those poor children committing suicide because they are gay and are being bullied. W...T...F...when did it become ok to traumatize someone so much that the only way out they can see is death?

Yes, I am putting the blame squarely on the shoulders of the religious right. It is because of their doctrines of hate and segregation that these tragedies are happening. I cannot endorse or even be content to agree to disagree when the rights and lives of other people are involved. If the witch hunts and crusades taught us nothing, it should have taught us that blood spilled in the name of religion is just as damning and wrong as blood spilled for any other selfish reason. And just because it was a suicide, doesn't mean that religion didn't have a hand in putting the gun there in the first place.

And then there's the Mormons. I struggled writing this part because I know many devout Mormons who don't hate anyone and I consider them true and trusted friends. But I'm not really talking about individuals, I'm talking about the leadership, the doctrines, and how they were connected to Prop 8.

This letter written over 10 years ago shows that the issue of gays in the church is not a new one. It's just getting new attention because of recent publicity. This letter written earlier this month demonstrates that the issue is reaching the point where someone is going to have to bend...I can only hope that it will be the religious leaders that currently continue to preach ignorance and hate.

Because it is hate. You can coat it in beliefs of choice and selfishness, you can spin it in such a way as the church looks like the victim, or that it is a matter of saving the soul, but it doesn't change the fact that it's irrational fear and hate speaking. I seem to remember, back when I was a Christian, that Christ preached a doctrine of love. Wasn't it, "Love one another as I have loved you"? Yeah, I'm pretty sure it was and not, "Love one another as I have love you, except those people over there." It is a shame that those with the power to enforce dogma and the will of the collective seem to have forgotten that and have twisted his words into something else.

This rant has been riding me for about a month now, and I am grateful for the chance to get it out there. If you've waded through my words this far, I thank you, and hope you understand that I know there are those who are devout and reject the principles of hate. To those, I say thank you, and hope that your example can help bring clarity to others.

To those who say, "My views may be outdated, but I thank God I will not be on this earth too many more years to see what it looks like when people like you take over everyone's thinking."

Well, I choose a different way, and so should you, whatever it may be.

Till next time, be well,

PS, for those that might say I'm only this up in arms about the issue because I'm gay and want me to admit the truth...unless you plan on trying to sleep with me, it's really none of your business.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

An Open Letter to The Pyramid Collection

Dear Pyramid Collection,

First I want to say that I *love* your clothes. I wish I could afford what pieces come in "goddess sizes at no extra cost!", and wear the pieces that don't (and afford them too!). There's a skirt, a caftan and a coat that I want from the current catalog...le sigh. I also love most of your jewelry, even the rings that would only fit on my pinky fingers (they're size 10, which is usually the largest they carry >.>). I even have a Celtic weave patterned throw blanket poncho (it's awesome, trust me) that a beloved friend gave me for my boofday a few years ago that I adore and use all the time.

Then I see on my newest catalog on the "Look Inside!" bubble and see "Symbolic Jewelry". Orly? Lemme see what you've got going on here...hmm...Möbius-strip pendants with neat little sayings, pendants and rings made from unusual semiprecious stones (Australian black jade? Ooh..), lovely. Lots of Onyx and Garnet stuff, red and black, looks classy, The Gemstone Diet pendant...wait, what?

This is a cluster of tumbled stones that look like they've been soldered together. It's not, in my opinion, very pretty looking, but whatevs...let's see what's included...Sodalite, Obsidian, Amethyst, Tourmaline (what color? dunno), and Crystal Quartz. Wait, what? Hmm, let's see what attributes are given to the stones...Sodalite, to regulate metabolism? Obsidian is a cravings reducer? Amethyst, to counter food addiction? Tourmaline for energy and Quartz "to promote positives, dispel negatives" (this is a direct quote from the catalog).




This just doesn't make any sense to me. Ok, so Sodalite doesn't really have any ancient folklore behind it and so regulating metabolism could be as good as helping emotionally balance someone or calming a body down so a person can relax enough to sleep. But Obsidian and Amethyst *do* have a huge amount of historical folklore behind them. Obsidian has been used to make tools and mirrors for thousands of years. The Aztecs name for it meant, "Divine Stone". Making it a "cravings reducer" just seems like they're making things up.

The Romans believed if you drunk out of a goblet made of Amethyst, you wouldn't get drunk. In Tibet, Amethyst is sacred to the Buddha. Even the Catholics in the Middle Ages thought the stone encouraged celibacy and piety. The purple Amethyst decor during the Inquisition signified the joining of the spirit, represented by blue, with the body, represented by red (thanks Ardriana, as always). Nowhere in there do I see a connection to dealing with addiction. I suppose someone could make a case for a link somewhere, but I don't see it.

Tourmaline's history starts in ancient Egypt and China and is closely associate with creativity in all its forms. I suppose you could find creative ways to help hunger cravings, but really? Really? And Quartz has a history that starts at least 4000 years ago. Several tribes of Native Americans believed that Quartz housed spirits and were used for divination. I suppose a stone that is often called The Master Stone for the abundance of qualities it can take on that "to promote positives, dispel negatives" isn't the farthest stretch in this piece.

Why are you so up in arms about this piece Red?

It's done so poorly. It's ugly, and the combination of stones and the attributes given to them show an astounding lack of scholarship of behalf of the creator of this piece. And maybe for some people who buy it, it will actually work (Remember, sympathetic magick is about focusing the will to help you help yourself, so if Amethysts mean countering food addiction to you, then it's going to work). However, sympathetic magick works because there is a system behind it, a logic that one can count on. Just making up attributes for stones because you "feel" that they should be used that way just doesn't have the same weight behind it as using a stone because that's the way the ancients did it.

But Red, didn't the ancients just make this stuff up in the first place?

Probably, but stacking anything in your favor to help your will focus on your goal is a good thing. So you can make up a brand new attribute for a stone, if you internalize it, let it settle in your psyche, it might work. Or you can use the stone as the ancients did, and know that you have thousands of others using the stone just as you are, there is a connection to something larger, a weight to the history you are participating in that will focus your will in ways you may not have considered.

That sounds suspiciously like psychology or "placebo effect"...

Yes, and...? C'mon now, say it with me...Helping you to help yourself...

Well, if you're so smart, how would you do it?

Well, the things I keep hearing about the problems with weight loss...cravings, food addiction, changing the way you think about food...these are all associated with the intellect. The core of this design would be Citrine. With higher clarity of thought, you can see and recognize the signs of your cravings, and have the mental fortitude to either side track them with something else or resist them. I would also probably add Rutilated Quartz and/or Picasso Stone to help with internal awareness and consciousness of changing body image.

You could also go some old school witchcraft and just banish the cravings with Obsidian (ok, so I guess the Pyramid piece wasn't that far off with this one...but shouldn't be trying to do something so passive with Obsidian like "reduce cravings". Use it to tell those cravings to GTFO! KILL THEM WITH FYIAH! RAWR! RED SMASH CRAVINGS!...cough...ahem... >.> )

Losing weight is a core body issue, so there would be a deep earth aligned stone, like Green Moss Agate or Aventurine, something to keep the body healthy while you go through a fundamental change.

Raising your metabolism, or affecting the system that "burns the food you eat and makes it energy" seems like a fire connected issue. I would use Tiger's Eye, in any of its colors, or any other deeply connected fire stone to represent this. This would also help with raising your energy levels as well.

And heck, there is folklore that says to use Moonstone when trying to diet, so I'd prolly add some in there for good measure.

The thing to remember about this however, is that you can't wear something like that pendant and then sit on the couch eating the same junk food you did yesterday and expect to lose weight. Change the food intake, change the amount of exercise, change your way of thinking about food *and* wear the pendant for that little extra "oomph" to get you through the tough times, like the plateaus where your body is adjusting to its new size.

I put a lot of thought and effort into what I do, and I hope that it shows. I don't want to just make up stuff that "feels right" to me and pass it off as magick to others (it does happen upon occasion, but that's cuz intuition can be a tricky thing...and it's not all that I do). There are rules to follow and history to take into account, and it bothers me to see when others throw those out the window in favor of something else.

In the end, I still love your catalog, Pyramid Collection, but it makes me sad to see you include spells among your merchandise and not check the quality or the effectiveness of them before offering them to your customers.

Till next time, be well,
Bhen Rudha

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Inside the Design: Sleep Well

So I've been thinking about other things I could write about in my blog that actually, you know, connect to the jewelry I'm making. Not that I disliked that giant religious/spiritual sidetrip. On the contrary, I plan on returning there often. However, since this is the blog about my jewelry, so I should talk about it too.

Enter the "Inside the Design" series. This will be a closer look at the stones I choose for the design (sort of a mini-Stonewise), why I picked them, and how I see them working together toward the specified goal. So here we go, let's see how this turns out.

I know some of this is already out there in other posts, so I'll try not to repeat myself too much.

Inside the Design: Sleep Well

The basic description of this pieces is, Sodalite and Blue Lace Agate help calm the mind, soothing you towards sleep, while Amethysts guard your dreams. A pair of Hematite empowers the Intention. And it's not a bad description, but when the average attention span of a web surfer is about 15 seconds, you don't get a lot of time for detail. So what does this really mean?

(Quick note...I put two pieces of Hematite in every bracelet, necklace and anklet that I make. It's become my signature. I do it because Hematite is a natural magickal amplifier, and so it doubles the strength of every other stone in the piece. So I usually won't mention the Hematite in a piece unless I use it somewhere else.)

Blue Lace Agate and Sodalite are both stones that calm emotions and promote balance and peace. However they are not the same, which is why I use them both. Blue Lace Agate I see working more on the surface. It is the cool shock that gets your attention and forces you to take that first deep breath. It works on the surface, easing tensions mentally, emotionally and physically. It lays the necessary ground work for the rest of the piece.

Sodalite is deep blue, like the very bottom of a clear lake. It is calm, tranquil, capable of sinking below the surface to work on the roots of the problems. There's something inexorable about Sodalite. You *will* calm down and you *will* like it. The two blue stones not only look beautiful next to each other, but I think their energies provide the potent double tap that makes this design so successful magickally.

However, there is no point in knocking you out if you're just going to have bad or unrestful dreams. This is what the Amethysts are for. The royal purple stones have been the guardians of dreams for a very long time, and it was a no brainer for me to add them to the design. Amethysts are also peaceful, calming, specifically connected to the spirit, and so it becomes another layer to the net of tranquility that I've built.

The resulting combination of stones has become my second most popular, and successful design (second only to Desire). I have had several people tell me that the bracelets have helped them go to sleep, stay asleep, take naps, change their sleeping patterns...I think the simplicity of the intention helps make this design one of my more powerful ones.

Sleep Well was the first design I put together, I did it specifically for my friend who suffers from migraines, but is violently allergic to nearly all migraine medications. She usually gets a shot of a heavy narcotic to put her out and hopefully sleep through the headache, but this time it hadn't work. I gave her the bracelet, and that night she slept 12 hours, successfully getting rid of the migraine.

As a side note...some of you might want to ask, "Do you really believe your jewelry made her fall asleep?" It doesn't matter what I believe really. The important part is that it worked. She slept and got rid of the headache. Was it magick? Was it autosuggestion? Mind over body? Truth is, don't care what the truth is. In whatever capacity my bracelet helped, which is my only purpose.

Well, I hope this was in some way entertaining and informative. I enjoyed doing it, so I will probably do more. :)

Till then, be well,

Monday, August 23, 2010

When I Speak of Myself 4

Hello friends, and welcome back! I'm going to skip the apology this time around, since you know it by heart by now, and get right into the story. Everyone remember where we were?

I had ethics, I had magick, I had a basic understanding of what a religion is and what components go into a belief system. I also had the desire to be a part of something larger than myself. Something that helps fill the gaps in my days.

And then I had to take my truck to the shop. Hang on, how this fits into the larger picture is coming, don't you worry...

I ended up having to take the shuttle home, and since I was the furthest one away, I was last to be dropped off. Once I had moved into the front seat of the van and we were on the way, the elderly gentleman driving started talking to me... Now some of you might know my gaming habits, and so will only nod when I tell you that I only had a couple hours of sleep before getting up to take my truck in at the butt crack of dawn. Basically what I'm saying is that I don't remember most of our conversation, but I do remember how I felt about it, and what lines of thinking it got me into.

Somehow we got to talking about religion, and/or philosophy, and he asked me some questions. I answered them honestly, telling him some of the conclusions I'd come to over the last couple years. He started challenging me, trying to trap me in my own logic, and how it applies to a Christian world view. I wasn't firing on all thrusters, so I probably wasn't my most eloquent or coherent...but the important thing I remember was that I wasn't upset or threatened in any way.

After I got home and had a nap, I started asking myself why I reacted the way I did to our conversation. He really wanted to shove me off the rock of my conclusions, and I just wasn't bothered. So why was that?

Ok, quick flashback...cue music...

When I was going through Catholic school, I learned quite a bit about faith and belief. One had to have faith to believe in the Church's teachings. Uh...ok...I never much liked that, because it seemed pretty passive to me, regardless of how it is for others.

In jr. high I started reading a lot of fantasy novels. I found lots of stories where the characters come face to face with their deity(ies), and even in one a Catholic priest asks that if he can no longer have faith, what does he have? The answer he got was, "knowledge".

Ahh...I liked that. Knowledge and experience (with things outside oneself) seemed to be a step up from faith and belief. I decided that's what I wanted...

...and end flashback.

How does one go about getting knowledge and experience? Well, I dunno about others, but what I did was claim that I had it. Oh, I was reading a great deal, about philosophy, pagan and otherwise. I was learning critical ways of thinking, different ways of seeing the world. There are layers to the way I see things now. Take the moon for example. As a kid I knew that the Moon could go where the Sun could not, that made her more magickal. As an adult, I have studied astronomy, and understand that the sun is many, many times larger than the moon and that we move around it. I haven't lost my view of the Moon as magickal, and science hasn't destroyed it. I just have a literal way of looking at it, and a metaphorical way of looking at it. The metaphor is still important to me because it helps me to deal with some of my own character flaws.

So I was studying and gaining knowledge, I just needed the experience to go with it. At this time I was participating in a study group that also did rituals during the esbats (the full and dark moons of each month). It was here that I started collecting experience. There are moments when things happened that aren't scientifically explainable...yet. I also had experiences outside of ritual that added to my catalog of moments that might make your hair stand on end.

While I was considering why the shuttle driver didn't make me feel threatened, I realized that all the knowledge and experience that I claimed simply because I wanted it was suddenly real. I added up my memories and felt a moment of arrival, for the lack of a better word. I had attained my spiritual goal and I was very content with it. This was the beginning of my epiphany.

Over the next few months, I kept re-examining how I felt about the conversation with the shuttle driver, and how I would react to other such conversations down the road. I thought that having knowledge and experience, instead of belief and faith, was the end of it. It was the evolutionary step I needed to take and that I was now done with that part of my spiritual growth. Little did I know that there was a step past that, and realizing what it was is what gave me the key to understanding my lack of reaction to a direct challenge to my belief system.

It has been my experience that one of the reasons people defend their faith so violently (sometimes literally), is that they don't want to be revealed as a fool or a fraud. If science came out tomorrow with proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that god (any god) doesn't exist, how crushing would that be for people? Whole lifetimes of hard choices made in the name of religion would be made worthless. To some anyway.

I asked myself how I would feel. My answer was a shrug. Seriously. I shrugged and knew it wouldn't crush me. That's a pretty strong response to a very fundamental question and it made look to try and see why.

This is when I discovered the step beyond knowledge and experience. It's choice. Conscious, self aware, fully engaged choice. Every day I wake up and choose the spiritual path I am on. And because I choose, I am not ironbound into anything. If part of my belief system no longer serves to help me be a better person, then it needs to evolve into something that does.

I joke now that I have spiritually and philosophically become like the Borg, if I find something that I like, "I will add your distinctiveness to my own". With this point of view, the possibilities for evolution are nigh limitless. I will never be in the position where I feel the need to defend my beliefs. I also never feel the need to tell anyone my beliefs so that they come to believe the same as I do. If someone asks me to explain my belief system, then I will, but my goal is to simply inform, not to convert. If there's something in what I say that works for you, great. If not, that's ok too.

It's almost impossible to convey here what a fundamental moment it was for me when I discovered the power of choice. The reason why the shuttle driver couldn't shove me off the rock of my belief is because there wasn't one. My beliefs are water, or the wind, they shift and move and I move with them.

With the power of choice comes the strength of evolution. With evolution comes a sense of security that nothing, not even myself, can shake.

I think I'll leave it at that today. There's some pretty nebulous ideas in this post, and I'm sure I'll have to do a "4a" at some point to answer questions. ^^; Thank you for wading through this post, I appreciate everyone who reads my words, whether or not they find value in them. Next time I'll lay out the particulars of my belief system as it stands now, and hopefully that'll complete the story I set out to write all those months ago.

Till next time, be well,

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

When I Speak of Myself 3a

It seems lately that I always start with an apology for taking so long. You'd think I'd learn from this and, well, post more often. Ah well, we'll see how it goes.

And to be fair, my life has been more than interesting of late, what with car troubles, illness, temporary census much so that when I sit at my puter at night, the last thing I want to do is try and be informative on my blog. You guys deserve, at the very least, coherent sentences. ;)

So I had quite the conversation happen after my last post (I have some awesome friends). A few questions were asked, and I thought I'd put them together here instead of trying to put them in the comments.

Diedre said:
"Maybe I'm overstepping here, but I couldn't quite grasp what you feel about this statement you have made about deity being beyond our experience. Do you feel comfort in this knowledge, or insignificance, or freedom, or simply satisfaction in being able to articulate the way you understand deity? Or something else? Anyway, I'm just curious how this makes you feel. Or perhaps the answer would contain spoilers for your next post..."

You're not overstepping at all, and it's a very good question. So good in fact that I had to seriously ask myself and try to hammer an answer together. Let's see if I can get it...

There's a part of me that reacts to it like I would a star going nova, or the Yellowstone Supervolcano, a detached awe. I cannot effect this in any way, so it is relegated to knowledge in the back of my head. When I do bring it forward to think about, it's scary, beautiful and humbling.

There's another part that reacts to it with hope. The human experience *now* isn't the same as it was 1000 years ago, and won't be the same as the one 1000 years from now. I have had experiences where I've touched something other, something greater than myself, and while I don't know what exactly it is, I like to think that it's some little facet of deity. As we look farther out and deeper within, we learn more about what's possible and we become capable of *more*. Hopefully a time will come when humanity grows past its infancy and becomes able to communicate more directly with whatever it is that's out there.

Then there's the sense of security. I have found a definition that fits me. I like it, it makes sense to me. This is a very basic and selfish part, as it's completely about what makes me feel best about my life and the events that have happened in it. It's also fluid and evolving, so I don't feel the need to defend my view when challenged.

And last, but not least, is an overwhelming sense of awe (not the same as the detached awe above) that I have touched or been touched by something so vast it defies comprehension. I feel that deity wants us to grow, learn, change...become the very best we are capable of, and will help us if we but become perceptive enough to notice. It is this connection that helps me put my feet on the floor on the bad days, and makes the good days all the brighter.

I hope that helps explain did for me! ^^

Diedre then said:
"I googled "petrified religion" and didn't come up with any good explanations. I could wager a guess, but could you explain what you mean by this?"

A petrified religion is one that does not change with the society. A simple example of this is when the "Great Mother Goddess" became an agricultural deity after farming was invented. The religion and the deity(ies) involved changed as not only the culture, but as science did.

The Abrahamic faiths have been tied to their respective books for thousands of years, and each change that happens is often seen as a massive dogmatic shift that results in a sect breaking off to remain with the "good old days".

The books still say things like, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live," (gee, thanks...), "Man shalt not lie with man as with a woman," there's all sorts of "shalt not's" that frankly have no place in this modern world. We shouldn't even be having the conversation about gay marriage, but because the book says, we are. There are people who believe that dinosaur bones were placed by Satan to trick us into believing the world is older than the Bible says it is. Really?

Not being able to reconcile what's in front of our faces with our spiritual systems of belief just leads to a lot of unhappy people.

Mr. One Eyebrow Priest says:

"And finally the resurrection completely ruined it for me. I think I may have asked my sunday school teacher about it. I don't remember the answer if there was one. I asked "If Jesus is God, then he can't really die, can he?" I remember at some point being told how wonderful it was that God was willing to experience death for us. But that didn't make any sense to me either. If you give your life to save mine, you do it for keeps. God wasn't playing for keeps, he got to take back any marbles he lost and go home. What is the meaning of sacrifice if nothing is lost?"

I really just wanted to comment that most of Christianity shares echoes with religions of the past. There are dozens of "So In So's descent into the Underworld" stories from different cultures around the world. There are also a ton of sacrificed son/sun deity stories too. Most often the Son was the symbol of the eternal changing of the seasons, birth in spring, youth in summer, maturity in fall and death in winter to return again in the spring. My problem with the Jesus incarnation of the story is that it became a linear, one time event, instead of remaining cyclical.

(Please don't mistake my dissatisfaction with the Christ story with my feelings for Christ as a person, real or otherwise. As a teacher, he had some truly wise and amazing things to teach, and if more people truly strived to be Christ-like, meaning that they love one another as he loved us (as a god is capable of love), then the world would by necessity be a better place.)

Descent into the underworld stories always bring something to the deity that takes the journey. One of the most famous stories is that of Inanna from Sumer. She learned the "darker" side of her powers, which was probably a metaphor for the necessity of death to continue the life cycle of life/death/rebirth. Odin hung on the World Tree for nine days and returned with the runes of power for his people.

Jesus earned the ability for humans to go to heaven through his descent, reversing his Father's decision at the garden of Eden. The issues I have with this story stem from how petty and jealous Jehovah seems. He got mad when the first people gained the knowledge of good and evil (essentially becoming like him, which was three hims to many), and condemned the species to eternal damnation. Later, after drowning the world, smiting a bunch of people, pillars of salt, death of the first born, etc, etc, he decides that he'd rather give people the chance at salvation. So instead of just changing his mind, he goes through the complex process of making a part of himself human, then has himself killed.

Now humanity has the opportunity to go to heaven, but not only do we have to be good, but we also have to make sure we keep god appeased. In other stories about the underworld, a person simply had to live a good life, their relationship with their deity(ies) was separate. You did the dance, killed the chicken, lit the candles, yadda, yadda, yadda, you were good with them. In Christianity, even the "virtuous unbelievers" go to hell. I do not like that.

Well, that went on way longer than I expected, but it was fun, and I hope you enjoy reading it. I also promise to try to get to the rest of the stuff I promised a while ago (heh) sooner rather than later. And as always, thank you for reading, I appreciate it.

Till next time, be well,

Monday, June 21, 2010

When I Speak of Myself 3

I think it is somehow fitting that I tell this part of the story on the Summer Solstice...the longest day of the year. We are drenched in light and heat (well, out here in the desert we are) and there aren't many shadows. Thank you all for stopping by.

You guys remember where we left off, right? So, I was Pagan (or was I?), I had a new understanding of ethics with which to view the world and my movement through it, and even if I didn't completely like my life, things were better and that was ok.

This next part will probably make more sense if I explain a couple more things from my childhood...cue the flashback music...

Somewhere in a history or religion class, I was taught that there was a natural evolution of religion. The primitive people of the past were polytheistic, meaning they had lots of gods, but the modern, enlightened people were monotheistic, and had only one god. In my young brain (the same one that thought the Moon was more powerful than the Sun, because She could go where He could not...) didn't like this concept. For one thing, thinking that one being could take care of *everything*, every single little thing...just didn't make sense. Heck, even at home there were things my Mother did, and other things my Father did. I also didn't care for the feeling that we were supposed to look down our noses at those poor, poor people who still thought there were multiple gods.

No matter how many times I ran across this concept during my school years, I never liked it. It wasn't like going from stone to metal...a natural technological change. Why couldn't people have more than one god? Specially since the other gods I was learning about seemed way cooler than the robed, bearded duder who seemed so far away.

((Just a side note's not my intention to insult those who have a relationship with Jehova, or Yahweh...this is simply how I felt about Him at the time.))

...and end flashback...

Alrighty, so it was somewhere around this time that I learned about Deism. From the Wikipedia page it says, "Deism can be a belief in a deity absent of any doctrinal governance or precise definition of the nature of such a deity." I realize that this only one facet to Deism, but this is the one that I gravitated to and it ended up forming the core of my eventual belief system. It made sense to me that if there was a intelligence or intelligences out there that were capable of envisioning the entirety of the universe as we know it (and perhaps all the rest we haven't discovered too...), then it would be something so beyond our experience as a human being that we couldn't possibly be able to connect to it.

Enter Joseph Campbell. Through studying at home, and seeing his lectures in a couple anthropology classes, Joe has become one of the most influential people I have ever studied, right up there with ol' Aristotle.

From Joe I learned what a religion is, and what a system of belief needs to do in order to be considered a religion. I learned what a metaphor is, separate from the literary device, and how it applies to a belief system. It was the first time I'd heard the phrase, "petrified religion", and it changed the way I looked at the Abrahamic faiths.

He said that believing the words of a book to be the absolute word of any deity was like going to a restaurant and eating the menu, instead of using it as a metaphor for the food you could order.

Woah...wait, let's see if I have this straight...

Ok, so on one hand, I have the idea that the nature of deity is undefinable. And on the other, I have the idea that metaphor is the language with which we communicate to deity.

Which deity? I dunno, it seems that it doesn't really matter...since the intelligence that created the universe is so much more vast than my human understanding.

What metaphors? Well, it also seems that there are so many out there, and most of them have some really good points, so it seems like it doesn't quite matter.

Now hold on a minute here, this is sounding like you're saying that because the nature of deity is unnamed and unknown, the metaphors that we use to communicate with it can be our choice?

Yes, that's exactly what I'm saying.



And that's exactly what I did.

With that, I think I'm going to stop here today. I have a feeling that I raised more questions than I answered, and I really want to be able to go into my epiphany that I have been promising for like a month now, without feeling like you guys are gunna get to the point where it's all "tl:dr".

So I wish each of you a blessed Solstice, and as always, thank you for reading.

Till next time, be well,