Jesus the Shaman: The Spiritual Quest in the Wilderness

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A sweat lodge is used by shamans to overcome disease, fatigue, or depression as well as to contemplate something of importance. It has evolved into a spot for communion with the divine. In conditions similar to these, Jesus wrestled with the three temptations in the wilderness for 40 days without food. What if instead of conversing with Satan, Jesus really was having a conversation with himself? What stresses led Jesus to have such an existential crisis? Continue reading

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The Accuracy of Divination

divination_cardsDivination is a spiritual practice where one communes with spirit through some medium where unknown information is revealed or a glimpse of a possible future is foretold. Throughout the ages, many different divination mediums have been implored. Mediums using “random chance,” such as the I-Ching in Asia and the Tarot of Europe, as well as patterns observed in nature, such as tasseography (the reading of tea leaves) and haruspic (the reading of entrails), all rely on both a human component and a physical component. Given that the divine has the power to intervene whenever possible on matters on the physical plane, why is a medium necessary? Can we as humans not commune with the divine on our own without such trivial, archaic mediums? Continue reading

Right Attachment

In Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Stoicism, Taoism, and Bahá’í, it is taught that attachment causes suffering; therefore, one should “detach” to release themselves from desire, which causes suffering.  Christianity even warns against attachment in the Bible: “If any one comes to me without hating his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” Luke 14:10.

While I do not contradict that attachment, particularly greed, possessiveness, obsession, and such cause suffering, we must not forget that there are times where attachment brings us joy and happiness, such as falling in love, friendship, and priceless mementos. While the end of a relationship, friendship, or loss of an object can cause suffering, we were truly happy in the moment while it lasted.

Instead of practicing “detachment,” we should practice “right attachment.” That is, a healthy attachment to people and things that does not cause detrimental suffering if “lost.” We must remember that we are spiritual beings having a physical experience. Our true selves is spiritual; our early existence is a temporary production. Think of life as a stage performance where props and characters enter and exit the stage. While we are on the stage, we interact with our props and actors until they exit the the stage. We do not morn when an object or person leaves the stage, we know that they are somewhere else. Your mood does not change because they are no longer there; you continue own with your lines and acting.

We should approach life like all the world is a stage. We are but mere actors playing a character upon a stage. The other characters are actors too; our true selves is clothed in the role we are currently playing. When characters and props exit the stage, those are our loved ones leaving us, either through the end of a relationship or death. We do not morn these occasions. The actor simply exits the stage, ether to disrobe or to continue on to another act. We do not feel loss or anger when they exit; we know they will return to us in another act or after the play is over. Props are the same and can be recycled or re-purposed for the next play.

The Bible Does Not Condemn the Practice of Magic

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Many modern fundamentalist churches condemn the practices of divination, fortune-telling, and magic. It is said that these powers derive from Satan. On multiple occasions, the Bible does condemn dark magic, power used to undermine the work of God. However, the Bible does not condemn all practices of magic outright, just those which cause harm against others.

Hebrew priest often used divination stones known as Urim and Thummim to communicate with God. Modern scholars believe that Urim and Thummim is a form of cleromancy,  in which an outcome is interpreted by the random placement of stones as a message from God.

In the breastpiece of judgement you shall put the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be on Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the Lord; thus Aaron shall bear the judgement of the Israelites on his heart before the Lord continually.

Exodus 28:30

Cleromancy was practiced in many different forms throughout the history of the Jews. Though we are unsure as to the specific practices, there is sufficient evidence to conclude that not all forms of casting lots was banned by scripture.

The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is the Lord’s alone.

– Proverbs 16:33

In multiple places in the Bible, a Ephod (believed to be some type of spiritual clothing) was used in conjunction with the Urim and Thummim for divination purposes.

When Saul inquired of the Lord, the Lord did not answer him, not by dreams, nor by Urim, nor by prophets. 

– 1 Samuel 28:6

In many instances, those who were not prophets often consulted HaShem for guidance through the use of some mystical medium. Only prophets possessed the gift of vision to communicate with God; therefore, it is believed that the average person would have used a divination tool to seek guidance.

The King of Babylon recognized Daniel as an accomplished magician. Though Christians have attributed this as wielding the power of God, what is a prophet but not a magician by any other name?

…Your father, King Nebuchadnezzar, made [David] chief of the magicians, enchanters, Chaldeans, and diviners  

– Daniel 5:11

When Moses was before the Pharaoh, he and Egyptian magicians engaged in a witch war, casting spells and performing tricks to outwit the other.

When Pharaoh says to you, “Perform a wonder”, then you shall say to Aaron, “Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, and it will become a snake.”’ So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did as the Lord had commanded; Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers; and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same by their secret arts. Each one threw down his staff, and they became snakes; but Aaron’s staff swallowed up theirs.

– Exodus 7: 9-12

It is more likely than not that the term “wise men” most likely implied magicians of some sort. The Greek word used to describe the three “wise men” is magi (μάγοι). Our modern term, magician, is derived directly from this word. During this time period,  the terms  for magician and astrologer were synonymous with scholar or scientist. Any person who sought to understand the world also studied mysticism.

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, astrologers from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’

– Matthew 2: 1-2

The Bible does not condemn those who practice magic for the purposes of “good” intentions, only those who practice with evil intentions. Several instances throughout the Bible applaud the magical acts of magicians.

Why do Pagans attend Christian Mass at St. Pelagius Inclusive Celtic Church?

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For the last few months, I have attended Christian Mass at the St. Pelagius of the Celtics Chapel, part of the Inclusive Celtic Church. I do not identify as Christian; I personally follow a Hermetic Qabalah tradition known as Malachianism, which dabbles in Jewish mysticism, earth-centered spirituality, occult magical practices, and divination. Therefore, I primarily identify as a pagan or practitioner of “new age” spirituality.

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Concordia: General Weekly Service for Everyone

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I often long for community bonding among my spiritual friends. There are few holidays where we could all come together to give thanks to the divine and praise the spirits for their many blessing. Perhaps its my longing for something missing in my life. I loved the weekly ritual of the Catholic Church, not so much for the long service and the sermon, but for the energy being raised and the community it maintained. Therefore, I propose a standardized ritual each week that shall be known as “Concordia.”

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