Who and What do I have Faith in?
I started typing this last night in the form of quick notes, and then edited it this am, but it still rather rambling:
I was raised a Christian, so my emotional religious feelings used to be all around Jesus. They are also around Mary even though i am not Catholic, i think because everyone has a mother and Mary represents the loving mother.
I think Buddhism was my faith in a previous life, and also Christianity. Buddhism gives me a sense of peace and the faith in reincarnation, and a metaphysical system that makes sense to me. I feel very centered contemplating an image of the meditating Buddha for sure. The eastern deities give me a long view of life and make me feel at peace, but i do not feel like i am really emotionally connected to them. I guess its more from the head than the heart. Buddha feels wise and full of light, but not someone close to me. Shiva is wild and crazy like me sometimes, but he is from a completely different culture. When i meditate and visualize Yeshe Tsogyal and Padmasambhava they are great, but they are not deeply embedded in my mind, except from past lives. Karl Jung once said that westerners cannot take up eastern faiths because the are so different from how we are raised, and he may be correct.
The old pagan gods give me a sense of ancestry, but they seem like dead gods to me, very far away. The Christians virtually wiped out paganism in Europe and only a very few old families remember much except some superstitions and herbalism. Witchcraft, which is based on the old Mediterranean and Northern European paganism, is basically a revisionist faith. I am sure there is some blood dna connection with these old gods since i am of European extraction. I do not feel at all connected with the Greek and Roman gods, never have, and my witchcraft gods just seem like symbols far away. I only feel the energies of those gods and goddesses in nature when feeling the sun and wind and seeing the moon in a starry night sky. I do feel the fey and elementals, and even the ancestors of the land, but they are like ghosts shimmering out of the corner of my eye. Sometimes they do come to me in dreams or visions if i am tuned in to nature.
The Vodoun Lwa feel more like wild and crazy and powerful friends i can play with. I like them. They came to me and i embraced them in our dance.
Rahula and Vajrakila and Ghede and Exu and Shemeneto are very powerful, but i feel no emotional connection to them. They are just loyal powerful friends.
I have a problem with how religions visualize women. In Christianity they are virgin or whore. In heathenism they are virgin, warrior, mother or crone. In Buddhism they are virgin or whore again, except in Tantra where they are wisdom figures. But main line Buddhism does not like women. Even the Dalai Lama in a recent interview with Piers Morgan referred to a sexual relationship with a woman to being “dirty”. Only in witchcraft is woman raised to a Goddess on not just a ritual temple setting but also in the real world. I read an interview with the head of the OTO and when asked why all the Gnostic Saints are men his answer was not quite convincing.
But to me witchcraft has no deep metaphysical system, which is why i am a Buddhist. The various realms in Asatru mean nothing to me. The Kabalistic Tree makes sense to me, but then i am a westerner. Witchcraft to me means feeling the divinity in and harmonizing with the cycles of nature, but i feel no personal connection to Cernunnos or Diana or anyone else in that pantheon. The Lwa are more demi-gods and divinized humans than gods per se. All these religion’s gods are more symbolic to me, even the gods of India and the Himalayas, of Shaivism and Buddhism. I do feel like i followed those religions in past lives though and find them very attractive and familiar.
When i think of my statues and icons and altars, they give me feelings of both wisdom and power. The wisdom is about the light and the dark. The power is about security, money, protection, sex and death. That about covers it.
None of these deities makes me feel like surrendering to them and crying and praying to them in the “other power” way that Charles O’Hara told me about.
If i was in an accident and had a piece of metal through my belly and the car was on fire, would i pray out to Buddha or Shiva or Wotan or Pan? No, i would pray to Jesus and God because they were who i grew up with and have emotional connections to.
Our western psyche has to do with the dying and rebirthing gods and goddesses, probably because we live in a temperate zone where the seasons change. So Christianity came easily to the old pagan Europeans and even AmerIndians because the dying sun god myth cycle.
Which brings me back to the gods i grew up with. I find the theology of Christianity absolutely silly with its one lifetime and then eternal heaven or hell, God’s son as a sacrifice for our sins, the resurrection of the physical body, etc etc. But symbolically i feel more emotionally spiritual looking at and praying to Jesus and Mary than to many other gods. Once again they are symbols, but they also have a life like an egregore in a way too, which i think is from my being raised Christian.
According to my friend, the late Charles O’Hara, there are the paths of “self power” and “other power”, and Buddhism in its original Pali form and purist Zen form is “self power”. There is no Buddha God to save you, only you can save yourself, as the Buddha said with his dying breath. But that is a very difficult path, pulling one’s self up with one’s bootstraps so to speak. Charles said the path of “other power”, of surrender, devotion and prayerful meditation, of mantras and offerings, was much easier and actually faster.
When i look at a picture of Jesus or Mary of the Sacred Heart i feel more emotional energy than when i look at a picture of Tara or Buddha or Krsna. I have altars all through the house that are Buddhist, Shaivite, Wiccan and Vodoun. But on one shelf in the living room where i sit i have a small altar with Christian deities of Jesus on a black and silver Benedictine cross, a paten of St. Benedict, Jesus of the Sacred Heart, Mary Dolorosa, Our Lady of Lourdes (her feast day is my birthday) and San Lazaro. When i feel sad and depressed because of my illness, i take great comfort looking at them and praying to them because they are deities of sorrow and compassion. They can suck up those tears. The closest image i can find in any other religion are some Japanese images of Kwan-Yin.
So there you have it. Am i a witch and tantrika who is a closet worshipper of Jesus and Mary? Maybe. Do i follow Christianity? Hell no, as that is one twisted religion both in theology and history. But i guess i am either western enough and old enough and spiritually experienced enough that i can smell the sweet scent of devotion when and where i need it. Meditating on the image of Jesus hung on the cross to me is a representation of all of us crucified in Malkuth. I often feel nailed on the cross of Malkuth and wish to transcend up the Sephiroth, and i often feel my heart pierced with swords, and this is one of my methods of dealing with these realities.
Not too many people look at this blog, maybe a hundred a day. Strangers may freak out by this post and be totally confused, especially in the context of some of the other things i post here. Most witches absolutely hate anything Christian, with good cause. But i don’t blame Jesus or Buddha or Mohammed for the atrocities that have committed in their names. I am not talking about a religion; i am talking about religious symbols as egregores. My friends who know me will understand because they know where i am coming from.
Addendum – Of course any witch worth their salt in research would probably agree that ISIS is the primal Goddess of both the witches and the Catholics, the latter worshiping her in the form of the Black Virgin of Cathar and Templar Europe.