Wednesday, June 30, 2010


One of the things that kind of jump started my religious seeking, was the Belief-O-Matic(cheesy, I know) quiz on Granted, it's kind of silly to base your religious beliefs on an internet quiz. But, the results I got at the time piqued my curiosity, listing some faiths I had never seen or heard of before. So, while I obviously never based my beliefs on the quiz, it did kind of give me direction in my search.

Sometimes, every few months,or when I get bored, I'll take it again. Just to see if my results have changed, and kind of assess where I am at the moment. Interestingly(or not) enough, the top 3 almost always end up being Unitarian Universalism, Neo-Pagan, and Liberal Quakers. In fact, my most recent taking, about 5 minutes ago, lists the following results:

1. Unitarian Universalism (99%)
2. Neo-Pagan (99%)
3. Liberal Quakers (92%)
4. Mahayana Buddhism (91%)
5. New Age (88%)
6. Reform Judaism (82%)
7. Mainline to Liberal Christian Protestants (77%)
8. Hinduism (76%)
9. Jainism (75%)
10. Sikhism (74%)
11. Theravada Buddhism (73%)
12. Baha'i Faith (70%)
13. New Thought (60%)
14. Secular Humanism (57%)
15. Orthodox Judaism (53%)
16. Taoism (52%)
17. Scientology (51%)
18. Islam (46%)
19. Orthodox Quaker (43%)
20. Christian Science (Church of Christ, Scientist) (34%)
21. Nontheist (32%)
22. Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) (25%)
23. Mainline to Conservative Christian/Protestant (25%)
24. Seventh Day Adventist (24%)
25. Eastern Orthodox (20%)
26. Roman Catholic (20%)
27. Jehovah's Witness (17%)

 I also find it interesting that Mahayana Buddhism is usually so high up the list, as I have been occasionally looking into Zen Buddhism as a practice as well. I haven't had the chance to delve into it deeply yet, currently focusing more on my core Gnosticism and Druidry, although admittedly Gnosticism and Buddhism do seem to have a good bit of things in common in modern times, at least where it concerns reincarnation, meditation, etc. In fact, many Gnostics seem to have a lot of Buddhist influence in their personal spiritual paths. Hopefully I'll be getting to one of my Buddhist thought books soon.

This, as you can see, is one of my less intellectually stimulating entries. I guess not all of them can be as deep and scholarly as my first few! I will probably(hopefully) do one of my more detailed entries on either a Gnostic concept or a Druidic concept on Friday, my next day off of work. Lesser-detailed entries like these are mainly to keep myself spiritually stimulated and keep myself in the habit of spiritual blogging, so that I don't get lazy again. I close with a passage from another Gnostic Gospel, The Thunder, Perfect Mind :

For I am knowledge and ignorance.
I am shame and boldness.
I am shameless; I am ashamed.
I am strength and I am fear.
I am war and peace.
Give heed to me.
I am the one who is disgraced and the great one.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Book Review

I've decided that one component of this blog will be book reviews, as I finish reading the books. In part, I'm hoping that this will help keep me motivated to do at least a little bit of casual/personal growth reading to balance out all the school reading. In any case, The review for today, which I just finished, is the book mentioned in a previous post, The Path of Celtic Prayer: An Ancient Way to Everyday Joy.

Overall, I suppose if I were to rate this book based on a 5 star rating system, I would give it 3 stars. It had a few blatant factual errors, such as stating that Helios was the Celtic sun god, when in fact he was the Greek sun god. Greeks may have influenced later Celts, but I doubt it, because if I remember my history correctly, it was the Romans that eventually went to Ireland, not Greeks. Being written by a Baptist, and being sold by an evangelical Christian bookstore(it was bought to me by my parents for Christmas). The book divided Celtic prayer up into six forms:

1) Trinity Prayer - in essence, this is basically praying in a way that calls Father/Son/Holy Spirit in all parts of it. Personally, I found no problem with this. I just have a different view of who I'm praying to than the author.

2)Scripture Prayer - as the name suggests, this is just praying scriptures. It is most commonly done using the Psalms(and, for me, the Thanksgiving Psalms and Odes of Solomon in The Other Bible).

3)Long, Wandering Prayer - basically, this is the name the author gave to what is more commonly called Centering Prayer, walking meditation, etc. Being aware of the present moment and praying(or meditating) with each step.

4) Nature Prayer - This one was one of my favorite sections, obviously. Praying to God through nature and recognizing God within the world around me.

5)Lorica Prayer - in short, prayers for protection.

6) Confessional Prayer - basically praying for forgiveness from our sins. This section, surprisingly enough, did not bother me either. I do believe in a concept of sin. However, rather than sinning against God, I believe sin to be any time we don't live up to our full potential, or knowingly act against our own ethical/moral code(regardless of whether or not it matches *someone else's* moral code, aside from things that can cause bodily/emotional/mental harm, such as in abuse cases). When we do less than we could, or feel something is wrong and do it anyways, we are sinning.

Overall, it gave me some ideas, and I might incorporate some of the prayers highlighted in the book into my own practice. Not a great read, but not a bad one either.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Little Evidence Jesus Died on a Cross, Says Swedish Scholar

Little Evidence Jesus Died on a Cross, Says Swedish Scholar

This article was sent to me by a good friend of mine. It suggests that Jesus may have been executed in a manner other than crucifixion, and that crucifixion was perhaps not as common as thought.

I personally do not think it matters. If Jesus even actually existed(which I believe he did), then to me, his teachings and example matter more than his death. Perhaps this is a good opportunity to discuss Gnostic views of Jesus, and my opinions on them.

One thing the Gnostics have that modern-day Christians do not, are Infancy Gospels. I have not read most of them, as I have not gotten to that section in The Other Bible. But what I have read shows how important many Gnostics felt Jesus' birth and childhood were.

One such Gospel is the Infancy Gospel of James, also called The Gospel of James. It is essentially a more detailed retelling of the Nativity Story that we inevitably hear every year at Christmas. It tells of Mary having to prove to the priests that she is, indeed still a virgin. As they are going to Bethlehem, Mary goes into labor, and so they find a cave(which I find more believable than the traditional version, personally). Joseph goes to find a midwife. He is assisted, in essence, by The True God, who in a show of power, stops time:

Now I Joseph was walking, and I walked not. And I looked up to the air and saw the air in amazement. And I looked up unto the pole of the heaven and saw it standing still, and the fowls of the heaven without motion. And I looked upon the earth and saw a dish set, and workmen lying by it, and their hands were in the dish: and they that were chewing chewed not, and they that were lifting the food lifted it not, and they that put it to their mouth put it not thereto, but the faces of all of them were looking upward. And behold there were sheep being driven, and they went not forward but stood still; and the shepherd lifted his hand to smite them with his staff, and his hand remained up. And I looked upon the stream of the river and saw the mouths of the kids upon the water and they drank not. And of a sudden all things moved onward in their course.

Another that I find particularly interesting, is The Infancy Gospel of Thomas. This one details Jesus' life from birth up until the time he is lost in the Temple by his parents at age 12. It actually depicts young Jesus as kind of a hellion. Another kid bumps into him, and he strikes him dead. Joseph scolds him, and he brings the kid back to life. There are several instances in like manner - a peer annoys him, so he kills him, and the kid's parents run to Joseph, who lectures Jesus, who brings the kid back to life. Jesus does seem to at least like animals, as shown at age 5, where he makes several clay birds, claps his hands, and they become real and fly away. And finally, on one instance, he brings a kid back to life to clear his name, as this time he actually didn't kill the kid:

IX. 1 Now after certain days Jesus was playing in the upper story of a certain house, and one of the young children that played with him fell down from the house and died. And the other children when they saw it fled, and Jesus remained alone. 2 And the parents of him that was dead came and accused him that he had cast him down. (And Jesus said: I did not cast him down) but they reviled him still. 3 Then Jesus leaped down from the roof and stood by the body of the child and cried with a loud voice and said: Zeno (for so was his name called), arise and tell me, did I cast thee down? And straightway he arose and said: Nay, Lord, thou didst not cast me down, but didst raise me up. And when they saw it they were amazed: and the parents of the child glorified God for the sign which had come to pass, and worshipped Jesus.

Another common element in Gnosticism is to separate Jesus the human from Christ the spiritual entity. Many Gnostics view(ed) the serpent in the Garden of Eden as another incarnation of Christ, for opening the minds of humanity to their true nature and the nature of the being that created the material world, as evidenced in The Testimony of Truth:
It is written in the Law concerning this, when God gave a command to Adam, "From every tree you may eat, but from the tree which is in the midst of Paradise do not eat, for on the day that you eat from it, you will surely die." But the serpent was wiser than all the animals that were in Paradise, and he persuaded Eve, saying, "On the day when you eat from the tree which is in the midst of Paradise, the eyes of your mind will be opened." And Eve obeyed, and she stretched forth her hand; she took from the tree and ate; she also gave to her husband with her. And immediately they knew that they were naked, and they took some fig-leaves (and) put them on as girdles.

But God came at the time of evening, walking in the midst of Paradise. When Adam saw him, he hid himself. And he said, "Adam, where are you?" He answered (and) said, "I have come under the fig tree." And at that very moment, God knew that he had eaten from the tree of which he had commanded him, "Do not eat of it." And he said to him, "Who is it who has instructed you?" And Adam answered, "The woman whom you have given me." And the woman said, "It is the serpent who instructed me." And he (God) cursed the serpent, and called him "devil." And he said, "Behold, Adam has become like one of us, knowing evil and good." Then he said, "Let us cast him out of paradise, lest he take from the tree of life, and eat, and live forever."

But what sort is this God? First he maliciously refused Adam from eating of the tree of knowledge, and, secondly, he said "Adam, where are you?" God does not have foreknowledge? Would he not know from the beginning? And afterwards, he said, "Let us cast him out of this place, lest he eat of the tree of life and live forever." Surely, he has shown himself to be a malicious grudger! And what kind of God is this? For great is the blindness of those who read, and they did not know him. And he said, "I am the jealous God; I will bring the sins of the fathers upon the children until three (and) four generations." And he said, "I will make their heart thick, and I will cause their mind to become blind, that they might not know nor comprehend the things that are said." But these things he has said to those who believe in him and serve him!

This view is further discussed in Tertullian's Against All Heresies:

To these are added those heretics likewise who are called Ophites: for they magnify the serpent to such a degree, that they prefer him even to Christ Himself; for it was he, they say, who gave us the origin of the knowledge of good and of evil. His power and majesty (they say) Moses perceiving, set up the brazen serpent; and whoever gazed upon him obtained health. Christ Himself (they say further) in His gospel imitates Moses' serpent's sacred power, in saying: "And as Moses upreared the serpent in the desert, so it behoveth the Son of man to be upreared." Him they introduce to bless their eucharistic (elements). Now the whole parade and doctrine of this error flowed from the following source. They say that from the supreme primary Aeon whom then speak of there emanated several other inferior Aeons. To all these, however, there opposed himself an Aeon who name is Ialdabaoth. He had been conceived by the permixture of a second Aeon with inferior Aeons; and afterwards, when he had been desirous of forcing his way into the higher regions, had been disabled by the permixture of the gravity of matter with himself to arrive at the higher regions; had been left in the midst, and had extended himself to his full dimensions, and thus had made the sky. Ialdabaoth, however, had descended lower, and had made him seven sons, and had shut from their view the upper regions by self-distension, in order that, since (these) angels could not know what was above, they might think him the sole God. These inferior Virtues and angels, therefore, had made man; and, because he had been originated by weaker and mediocre powers, he lay crawling, worm-like. That Aeon, however, out of which Ialdaboath had proceeded, moved to the heart with envy, had injected into man as he lay a certain spark; excited whereby, he was through prudence to grow wise, and be able to understand the things above. So, again, the Ialdaboath aforesaid, turning indignant, had emitted out of himself the Virtue and similitude of the serpent; and this had been

the Virtue in paradise--that is, this had been the serpent--whom Eve had believed as if he had been God the Son. He plucked, say they, from the fruit of the tree, and thus conferred on mankind the knowledge of things good and evil. Christ, moreover, existed not in substance of flesh: salvation of the flesh is not to be hoped for at all.

In continuing with this view, it was believed that Jesus was believed to have been born and raised the traditional way - Jesus was not born of a virgin, and was a completely normal human being. The Christ entered Jesus at his baptism by John. This is mentioned in Irenaeus' Against Heresies:


1. Cerinthus, again, a man who was educated(8) in the wisdom of the Egyptians, taught that the world was not made by the primary God, but by a certain Power far separated from him, and at a distance from that Principality who is supreme over the universe, and ignorant of him who is above all. He represented Jesus as having not been born of a virgin, but as being the son of Joseph and Mary according to the ordinary course of human generation, while he nevertheless was more righteous, prudent, and wise than other men. Moreover, after his baptism, Christ descended upon him in the form of a dove from the Supreme Ruler, and that then he proclaimed the unknown Father, and performed miracles. But at last Christ departed from Jesus, and that then Jesus suffered and rose again, while Christ remained impassible, inasmuch as he was a spiritual being.

As well as Hyppolitus' Refutation of All Heresies:


Cerinthus, however, himself having been trained in Egypt, determined that the world was not made by the first God, but by a certain angelic power. And this power was far separated and distant from that sovereignty which is above the entire circle of existence, and it knows not the God (that is) above all things. And he says that JeSus was not born of a virgin, but that He sprang from Joseph and Mary as their son, similar to the rest of men; and that He excelled in justice, and prudence, and understanding above all the rest of mankind. And Cerinthus maintains that, after Jesus' baptism, Christ came down in the form of a dove upon Him from the sovereignty that is above the whole circle of existence, and that then He proceeded to preach the unknown Father, and to work miracles. And he asserts that, at the conclusion of the passion, Christ flew away from Jesus, but that Jesus suffered, and that Christ remained incapable of suffering, being a spirit of the Lord.

And finally, one Gnostic view holds that The Christ left Jesus' physical body at the crucifixion, and therefore the Christ was never crucified. One small description of this is found in The Apocalypse of Peter:

When he had said those things, I saw him seemingly being seized by them. And I said "What do I see, O Lord? That it is you yourself whom they take, and that you are grasping me? Or who is this one, glad and laughing on the tree? And is it another one whose feet and hands they are striking?"

The Savior said to me, "He whom you saw on the tree, glad and laughing, this is the living Jesus. But this one into whose hands and feet they drive the nails is his fleshly part, which is the substitute being put to shame, the one who came into being in his likeness. But look at him and me."

It is for this reasons that the Gnostics did not believe in a physical resurrection, but a spiritual one, akin to the Buddhist concept of nirvana.

So what do I believe, exactly? I'm not entirely sure yet. I do believe Jesus existed. If the stories are largely or solely metaphorical(and Gnosticism has no requirement of believing in anything literally, unlike mainstream Christianity) it would not change anything. In fact, I do pretty much believe they are metaphorical. I believe reincarnation is a possibility, and that Christ, like Buddha, came to show us the way of "escaping the cycle" through our actions. In fact, many Gnostics(today, at least) equate Christ with other Messiah figures or enlightenment figures, the most common being Buddha, Krishna, and the Horus-Osiris-Isis godfigures of Egyptian mythology, viewing these as other incarnations of Christ, or other versions of the Christ story. I find it kind of comforting, the thought of Jesus growing up as a normal person like you or I, even being a difficult child, to then have an epiphany at his baptism and begin serving a higher purpose.

Since I have used plenty of quotes in this post, I will not end with a verse this time. Running a little short on time to find a good one.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Full Circle

By late 2005, I had grown very bitter against Christianity. I stopped going to church(except when visiting family), because I became tired of hearing the same hellfire-and-brimstone sermons I'd been hearing for my entire life. And nobody ever talked to me. If I were going to make the effort to go to church, and nobody acknowledged my existence, why bother? Church, to me, is supposed to be about meeting people of like mind and like faith and practicing that faith together. I had finally realized that I was neither of like mind or like faith with my fellow congregants, for I knew I didn't fit in, and was adamantly opposed to most of the opinions I heard in church.

I remember once, around that time, I was at a bookstore with my good friend Ashley. We happened to end up browsing the "New Age" section of the bookstore. Due to a combination of an active imagination and hearing stories of my great-great-grandmother, who was our town's local fortune teller, I had always been interested in such things - I would regularly quickly glance through the New Age section of bookstores as a kid when I went; and aside from the regular sitcoms, if a TV show or book didn't have magic, mythical creatures, ghosts, and/or aliens involved, I likely wasn't interested in it. So anyways, I recall making a comment to to her that "if there were such a thing as Christian Wicca, I would be it". I was actually pretty much joking, and was simply referring to my interest, at the time, of the paranormal and supernatural.

Later that night, out of sheer boredom and curiosity, I typed the phrase into a search engine(I believe I mostly used Yahoo at the time). To my surprise, there were many, many links, mostly by those who claim to be Christian-Wiccans or Christian Witches. Now, I have an opinion on such labels and religious paths(not a disrespectful or necessarily negative opinion, mind you, but an opinion), but as this blog entry is not about Christian-Wiccans or Christian Witches, that topic is another entry for another time.

In any case, I began talking to my friend Natalie, whom I would later come to date for a year and a half. She was a Jew from Russia, and proved to be the most dramatic(whiny addendum: and, kind of unfortunately, the most recent) relationship I've ever been involved in. One of the few things I took from the relationship, was the courage to regularly assess my beliefs, and to be comfortable being honest about what I really believe. She gave me the initial push I needed to figure out what I really believed, rather than simply reacting to the Christianity I had been exposed to all my life.

So, after a good bit of contemplation and study, I began considering myself a Christian Witch. By that time, I had discovered Unitarian Universalism as well, and began looking for Unitarian churches to visit, and became more active in their Church of the Larger Fellowship, an online resource for UUs who don't live near "brick-and-mortar" UU churches, as well as it's young adult counterpart, The Church of the Younger Fellowship, of which I still participate in today.

For me, being a Christian-Wiccan was kind of "transitional" path. It allowed me to ease away from Christianity and shed myself of the fundamentalist, conservative guilt that I had been raised with, and discover and embrace a new faith. Eventually, I shed the "Christian" altogether and decided to become Pagan. I learned and grew in my faith as a Pagan. I became, in essence, polytheistic, being drawn primarily to the Celtic pantheon of deities. I did not go to a UU church all that often, due in part to distance, but also because while I loved(and still love) UU, I found that while I agree with them on most of their social stances, and on the concept of (respectfully) borrowing from other religions/traditions/practices as I felt compelled(and in fact many UUs, as well as many Pagans, and even many liberal Christians, do just that), I also needed some kind of common starting ground, a spiritual starting ground, that UU did not fit for me. So, I didn't go, and still longed for some kind of connection to others like me.

When I moved to Charleston, one of the first things I did was visit the historical downtown touristy sites and architecture. I even visited a couple of the churches. One of which was the UU church. I even became a member of the local CUUPS(Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans) chapter, and I still am a member of the overall CUUPS organization, even though the local chapter no longer officially exists, to my knowledge. But they only met twice a month, and I usually couldn't go because of work; and the church's Sunday services brought most of the same "not fitting in" feeling as the other UU churches I had been to for the aforementioned reasons.

Then I came across, and decided to visit, Circular Congregational Church:

    I was drawn, like a lot of things in downtown Charleston, to its architecture and age. I learned about its' history. Located on Meeting Street, it is one of the oldest and longest-running Congregationalist churches in the south, being founded in 1681. It has always been a "dissenting" church, and the original building gave Meeting Street its name. Even now, it lives up to that reputation and history. Most of its members seem to be very liberal, religiously and politically. In fact, if I remember right, one of Circular's members was a major player in Charleston's first ever Gay Pride event in May. Circular is a member of the denomination the United Church of Christ , which is known for its liberal stances, and in fact turned out to be just what I was looking for: the liberal social/religious stances of UU, but with a more spiritual focus. The UU and UCC partner in many different aspects and events - for example, UU has OWL(Our Whole Lives), a sexuality course/program for teens, which many UCC churches, including Circular, also use. For that matter, Charleston's UU church originally split off from Circular.

     Visiting Circular opened my eyes to a new form of liberal Christianity that I had not been exposed to very often at that point. I knew there were liberal Christians, yes. In hindsight, I was a closet liberal for years before my spiritual journey went this direction. And when I lived in Chicago, I visited a liberal Episcopal church near my apartment. But at that time, the wounds were still too fresh, I still had bitterness towards Christianity. I needed time to heal, to shed myself of the anger I felt toward conservative Christianity, which took a lot of time, especially since I was also simultaneously healing from the wounds of a bad break-up. Circular compelled me to take a fresh look at Christianity, free from that anger. That was around when I began studying Gnosticism more in-depth. Throughout all these years, I had been interested in Gnosticism, and in fact had studied them some as a Christian-Wiccan. But now, the timing was right. I felt called back to Christianity, via Gnosticism, and was able to glean more from them without feeling a twinge of anger every time I read anything remotely related to Christianity. Gnosticism became the perfect spirituality, a merger of the Christian elements I still believed, and the Pagan views I still felt drawn to. And the fact that Druidry was a spiritual practice(akin to Zen meditation), more than a religion, and there were enough Gnostic Druids to warrant its own organization, was just icing on the cake. I attended Circular's 5-week course for potential new members, where they taught Circular's history and its stances/views on various things. I emailed the minister with my concerns about how I might be accepted at the church with my "unorthodox" views, and he assured me that nobody he knew of at the church would really have much problem with it. I joined the church. And for the most part, I have greatly enjoy it.  None of the members there really know of the specifics of my beliefs, but that hasn't been so much out of a fear of rejection, so much as I haven't gotten to know most of them well enough due to my sporadic attendance to get into such conversations. My family has even visited a couple of times, and seemed to enjoy it - though their reaction when someone in the church referred to God as "Mother" is priceless!

  That is my current biggest pitfall - I still very sporadically attend church, even though I finally have one I want to go to and be a part of. I still feel guilt on days(like today) where, for one reason or another, I sleep in and don't go. If my mom can endure excruciating back pain to go to church(due to what she finally found out last week is two herniated disks that's she's had since Feb.), why can't I get up in time, even if I've been working a lot(like when I had two jobs) or am in an insomniac phase(like now, apparently). I'm unsure if the guilt is a remnant from my upbringing, or feeling like I'm not putting forth 100% effort into something I've chosen to be a part of. My guess is a little of both.

I swear these posts will get shorter. If you read this far, I commend you on your patience. This time I close with a portion from a hymn from the Ginza Rba , a hymn of the Mandaeans , the only Gnostic sect that survived persecution and still exists today(albeit in small numbers) in Iraq and Iran:

"Before the Wellsprings were transmuted
Before the Awakening without,
Before ye were in existence
I was in the world.

The Voice of living waters (Water of Life),
(Waters) which transmute the turbid waters.

They become clear and shining
They gush forth and cast out impurities." 

 - Ginza Rba, Hymn # 121

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Beyond the Sea

Wearing my iPod, I walked along the beach, my right foot slightly in pain from tripping over a wooden step on the boardwalk from the beach parking lot to the sand. After getting my beach chair, towel, and bag situated at a spot, I always walk to clear my head and center myself. How far I walk sometimes depends on the crowd - I have a bit of social phobia and feel a little awkward going alone sometimes; not to mention I don't want to leave my things unattended too long, for fear of something getting stolen. Upon return to my beach chair, I pull out the book I've been sporadically reading, Calvin Miller's The Path of Celtic Prayer: An Ancient Way to Everyday Joy. It was given to me by my parents for Christmas. Granted, they bought it at your average Christian bookstore, so it is loaded with evangelism and Trinity references. Nonetheless, I'm still getting some interesting insights from it, and ideas for structures for writing my own prayers. Even though I'm Unitarian in the loosest sense of the word - believing that Jesus is the Son of God in the same sense that we are all Children of the Divine, and believing that the Divine is within everything, and "all paths lead to God", to put it simply, Trinitarian language doesn't bother me like it used to. Many religions and spiritualities have trinitarian concepts. When I was Pagan, one of my chosen deities, Brigid, was a triple goddess of healing, poetry,and inspiration, all associated with fires and smiths. Now, as a Gnostic, my devotion to Brigid has carried over, in a sense, to St. Brigid, her Christianized counterpart who has many/most of the same attributes and is considered by some to be simply a Christianized version of the goddess. Gnosticism has many trinities, and some entities even more complex than that: Abraxas, a sort of Aeon of balance; Sophia, Aeon of Wisdom and often worshipped as a Goddess by Pagans, and viewed as the Holy Spirit/Divine Feminine by many Gnostics, Christian Witches, New Agers, etc; and Barbelo, who I'm still learning just who She is, as she seems to be yet another Gnostic entity representing the Divine Feminine/Holy Spirit. These concepts and Aeons(including what an Aeon actually is) will be discussed in later entries, as I don't want this to become too long, or run out of future entry topics!

Likewise, the primary symbol for Druidry is the Awen, which stands for inspiration:

Each line stands for an aspect of a sort of Druidic Trinity: land, sea, and sky, respectively. The angles represent, to me at least, the common direction and eventual merger of the three.

It's very fitting that while reading the book at the beach, I happened to be on Chapter 4, which is the chapter on Nature Prayer and nature spirituality. Even with the evangelical overtones, I understand the basic point: we as humans, spiritual or not, need to connect more with nature. We are a part of nature and the cosmos, and the cosmos is part of us. In my view, we all, even animals, plants, the sea, etc., have a Divine Spark within us, making us a part of that which we call "God". It is for this reason that I believe in nature spirits. Not little flitting fairies, Fern Gully style, mind you. Simply put, "nature spirits" is the closest I can come to describe the belief that like you or I, or the birds outside, or the bee that tries to sting me, the land, the sea, everything, has a soul. When I pray a prayer of thanks to the sea, as I often do as I swim or before I leave, that's who I'm often praying to. After all, prayer is simply a way of speaking to the Spirit, within or without. Sure, within Gnosticism(in modern day practice, at least), like Roman Catholicism and other liturgical forms of Christianity, there are angels and saints associated with various things - for instance, St. Gabriel the Archangel is sometimes associated with Water. And so, sometimes, I pray to them, too. It's kind of like, if I'm asking you for something, but then I'm asking your big brother or big sister to help out. I can pray to the nature spirits themselves, but if there's a Saint/Angel associated with that element or characteristic, I might pray to them too.

Once again, I close with a verse:

"The Savior said, 'All nature, all formations, all creatures exist in and with one another, and they will be resolved again into their own roots.'"

- The Gospel According to Mary Magdalene, 4:22


I've had this blogspot account since about January, I believe. I created it in order to subscribe to a couple of blogs some friends sent to me. In reading those blogs, and upon the suggestion of a couple of those friends, I've decided that perhaps it's time for me to give a hand at a blog for spiritual purposes. At one point, I had intended that for Xanga, but I'm not much of a fan of Xanga anymore, as there seems to be too much spam and too many teenagers the few times since 2007 that I have logged in there. So then I proposed that my livejournal blog be a "spiritual diary" of sorts, but it evolved into a place to rant about things and people that I didn't/don't want to make easily read by everyone who is on facebook and myspace. So here I am, creating a new blog specifically for spiritual purposes. Spiritual matters tend to get pushed aside when life gets busy - and boy, has my life been busy these last few months, balancing two jobs and school! Apparently, I didn't balance them all that well though, as evidenced by my being put on academic probation for having a 2.9 GPA(3.0 is required to not get expelled), and the class I did the worst in was an online class at that. I quit one job, and in less than a week I will be officially part-time/flex at the other. Thank God, because we're getting some crazies there! But I digress. Perhaps this blog will help me maintain some sort of 'spiritual focus', some sort of bigger picture during the crazy times when I feel like I'm getting stuck in the problems of the day. And isn't that, after all, what spirituality is? Finding some kind of divine connection, some sort of hand to hold onto when life gets tough, to help the seeker feel as though it will all be okay in the end?

I think, in the end, I've always been a Gnostic Druid. Like many who find their spiritual path, rather than simply being raised into it, when I finally took the time to explore it, I realized I had believed it most of my life, I just didn't have the exposure or words to realize it.

In early Christianity, there were many sects: Jewish Christians, Gnostic Christians, and what would later become "orthodox" or "mainstream" Christianity. From my understanding, most of them simply referred to themselves as "Christian" - labels such as "Gnostic" were put on them later by academics for differentiation. The books that made it in the canon via the Council of Nicea did so partly because those were the ones most widely circulated at the time, and therefore already the "most popular".

Gnostics, although still Christian, held some very different beliefs from the "orthodox". For example, early Christians(and I assume most Christians today) view(ed) that they worship the same God as the Jews. Gnostics believed there were two different "gods"... the Demiurge, which created the physical world and is evil(and was equated with the Jewish YHWH), and an Unknowable Supreme Being of sorts. To the Gnostics, Christ came not from the Demiurge, but the Unknowable Being, to liberate us from the physical world, which could be done by recognizing our spiritual selves and escaping the physical world. Likewise, the serpent is seen as another Christ-figure, for making us aware of the limitations of the physical world and showing us our greater spiritual selves. This is just a very brief overview, as Gnostic mythology is very complex and diverse.

It should be noted that while ancient Gnostics were very ascetic and viewed the physical world/Demiurge as downright evil, most modern-day (neo)Gnostics do not believe as such, seeing the physical world as more of a "learning place" to prepare us for union with "God". Most of us consider ourselves just as much Christian as any other Christian, the main differences being that we are typically more moderate/liberal, believe in the possibility of reincarnation, view much of the Bible as metaphorical rather than literal, many(including myself) have a bit of a Buddhist flavor in our thinking, and we incorporate Gnostic writings into our spiritual practices in conjunction with/instead of the canonized Scripture - my current scriptures of choice are The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible with Apocrypha and Deuterocanonical books not included in most Protestant Bibles; and The Other Bible, which holds a collection of Gnostic(Christian and Pagan)Gospels, Jewish Pseudepigrapha, Dead Sea Scrolls texts, and Kabbalistic writings. My daily prayers involve a combination of the aforementioned scriptures, structured within the liturgical prayers from Celtic Daily Prayer.

Druidry is another subject altogether. I discovered it in my brief time with Paganism. It, obviously, is very nature centered, and follows the cycles of nature. While I'm still not as "in touch" with nature as I would like to be, I am more so because of this path. I've always felt connected to nature in some way. I just did not have the means, courage, or knowledge to strengthen it. While I always felt more connected to what we call "God" in nature, I never was exposed to anything that would open my eyes to the fact that God could be worshipped in nature, as part of nature, and through nature. Paganism, and ultimately Druidry, opened my eyes to that fact. Yes, like witchcraft, there is use of spells and ritual, and as such, it holds a bit of stigma and is seen with a more skeptical eye than most other spiritual paths. But,even if only psychological(and ultimately *any* faith or spiritual practice can be argued as solely psychological), the things I have tried have worked well for me, and so, for the most part, I am a believer. Unlike witchcraft, however, there is less emphasis on those spells, and more emphasis on the connection with nature. Once I finish school for my career goals, I plan on putting more effort into the Druidic practices and lessons found in The Ancient Order of Druids of America, including learning more about local wildlife and plantlife. In the meantime, I content myself with as many beach trips as possible(I'm definitely a water-based person, it seems) and spending at least a little bit of time outside each week, weather permitting.

Perhaps it's a bit New Agey, a bit weird. But I've always been weird. And I'm finally in a place in my life where I'm okay with that. I close this admittedly long, link-filled post with these words from The Gospel of Thomas, which is one of my favorites, and one I feel represents well the sum of my beliefs:

"Jesus said, 'It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the all. From me did the all come forth, and unto me did the all extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there.' "

- Gospel of Thomas, 77