Archive for the ‘god-form’ Category

Gods for the Ungodded — and Vice-versa   Leave a comment

With the pervasive influence of belief-religions like Christianity, Islam and Judaism on many of the readers of this blog, we tend to think of the dividing line between “who’s in” and “who’s out” as something marked by beliefwhen there are numerous other options available. It’s not just “paper or plastic?” There’s canvas bags, and boxes, and carry-it-out-in-my-hands-without-any-container-needed-thank-you, to name a few. And if we look over some of the terms available to describe this range of approaches and objects of our attention and intention — terms like atheist — they often bring way too many non-useful associations with them. Often atheist really isn’t a particularly useful term for many who just don’t bother with deity, as deity has never bothered with them. Hence the term ungodded in the title of this post, an awkward attempt to get at this phenomenon.

After all, orthodox Hindus aren’t normally labelled a-carnists, non-meat-eaters, though most are vegetarian. It’s simply their default setting. If I’ve never paid any particular attention to deity at all, I’m not so much an atheist as an alter-cosmist — I live in a different cosmos, where the question doesn’t arise, or hasn’t done so recently. At least until the door-to-door folks come calling with their pocket sermons and their flyers and leaflets and their “either you’re in or you’re out”-trips. Binarists, every one of ’em, devotees of a binary black-white, either-or world that ignores an immense and uncharted middle ground. Worshipers of Binaria, goddess of absolute distinctions in a world of shaded and subtle continuum inherent in almost everything.

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Marduk and his dragon Mushkhushshu — public domain/Wikipedia

Or to take another tack, I don’t believe in my ancestors so much as understand they exist(ed), from the evidence of my own existence right now, though many of their names and faces are lost in time. (The same happens to gods. Marduk, son of Enki, anyone? Does your non-belief make you an a-Mardukist?! Or can we concur that most of us check the box marked N.A. — “not applicable”?)

Some ancestors contribute to my genes and bloodline directly, while the others subside into the background, distant cousins, every one of them. Imagine — and I mean imagine — that god/desses fill some of those same spaces. Powers that made and are making a difference, even though I never meet them directly. Imagine the cosmos filled with nothing else than cousins. My counterpart in Azerbaijan gets along perfectly well without my knowledge or belief, and he’s a mortal man. What of god/desses? Can’t they do at least as much?

“Oh brave new world, that has such people [deities?] in it!” — Miranda, Shakespeare, The Tempest, 5.1.186-187.

Gravity existed long before anyone believed in it. We could call it a goddess, except that we (mostly) haven’t conceptualized that Power in such a way. And no, I’m not suggesting that we pray to Gravitas at her altars — although doing so would doubtless reveal some world-widening insights we haven’t yet reached. Any scientist worth her training knows that dedication to her field reveals secrets obtainable in no other way. What else is devotion, after all, but a means of contact, a chance to widen the world and make use of the divine gift of our imagination and creativity? What else, you might ask, are we for? (Try that out as a subject for meditation and practice for a month of days, in any way you like, and get back to us with what you discover.)

R. J. Stewart offers an “American Goddesses Meditation” as a way to explore deity that you might connect to quite naturally. (Why not use what’s nearby first?! If you’re not an inhabitant of the States, adapt to your locale — who’s a goddess in your area? There might be rivers, mountains, and so on that deserve attention, if only for experimental devotion. Who gets represented in statues, names, images — even and especially if they don’t at first come across as goddesses? And you can try the same with gods, if you’re so inclined. Many deities are partly or proximally incarnate — they have a physical form you can use to approach them, much as the Orthodox in some traditions have icons, statues, etc. Looked at one way, some of the most seemingly Protestant and Evangelical among Americans are polytheists, also worshiping a hard, metallic and martial war-god, carrying around his talismans and charms in the form of AK-47s, Glocks, etc.)

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Liberty — Wikipedia/public domain

If, on the other hand, you do practice devotion or dedication to some form of deity, it behooves you to try out non-belief, for what it can offer you that nothing else can. By that I mean, among other things, rather than fearing doubt, to harness it as a tool for insight and exploration. One of my teachers exhausted doubt as a factor when he finally pursued it to its deepest ends — ran it to earth, so to speak — and realized that for him it no longer exerted power. Doubt became merely boring, not worth the time (like chewing gum you’ve worked on for hours). Doubt no longer offered an illicit thrill, or troubled his inner worlds. As far as doubt is concerned, then, he’s now an atheist.

Can I be an atheist towards fear, or anger, or some other Power that asks for my worship and energy and attention? Who and what else do I worship that doesn’t deserve it, or that I’ve outgrown? (And to turn the wheel another quarter turn, who and what might I be overlooking or ignoring that merits more attention than I grant today? Chances are great there’s something more I can discover about this endlessly amazing universe.)

[“Why, when God’s world is so big, did you fall asleep in a prison, of all places?” — Rumi.]

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Thirty Days of Druidry 19: What’s So Dark About Your Awen?   Leave a comment

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“Well, Druid, you need to work on manifesting your intention. Lots of missing posts in your ‘Thirty Days of Druidry.'”

“I know. I’m doing the best I can. Really. Remember what it is that ‘happens when you’re making other plans’? Got some of that going on. Hey, look at that bird over there!”

I’m finding that occasionally setting an intention publicly, however modest it is, is good training. In my universe, the secret to success is to keep failing until I don’t anymore. They’re inevitable, really, both the failure and the eventual not-failing. And I find that remarkably comforting. All I have to do is to ‘keep on keeping on.’ I can even ‘give up,’ until I weary of that, too, and I start again. Of course failure is always an option — I’ve come to know this intimately. Don’t we all? Otherwise, what would success even mean?

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One of the listeners who had joined us a short while ago around the fire now spoke up. A small silver brooch on her robe at the left shoulder caught the firelight and flashed briefly, transmuted to gold in the flickering orange glow.

“Morgrugyn,” she said, and now I knew the old woman’s Druid name, though not yet its meaning. “You said earlier this evening that the Dark, like the Light, seeks a particular consciousness to manifest through. But doesn’t the world around us manifest both light and dark all the time, already? Why the need for specific individuals — people, or spirits, gods, other beings? Why does there have to be a designated ‘Order’ at all for this to happen? Isn’t this just already a part of the weave of things?”

“Daughter, the dark and light halves spiral up through consciousness like two vines that curl and climb round a support. They flower most vividly and distinctly through consciousness. It’s true they often seek the easiest channel to flow through, and they pervade all things, as you said, working through all those many channels. But what is ‘easy’? A developed consciousness in a manifest being that is active on all the planes affords an unusually vital and, I will say, attractive channel.”

Morgrugyn paused for a sip from her water bottle, then continued. “A paradox — the Dark is as bright as the Bright is dark. For there is a kind of brightness in the Dark, focused through consciousness, that draws the awen in and gives it life. Charisma, to give another example, chooses its favourites from both halves. There is a ‘sinister appeal,’ as it’s been called, to certain persons and things. It’s the intention of a consciousness that makes the Dark or Bright so intense, so polarizing and forceful. Energy all around us still continuously gathers and diffuses, always dancing, here in a growing forest, there in an earthquake or volcano, one slower, the other faster. The Dance rises and subsides, subsides and rises again, which is why the tide, the moon, the seasons, the ritual Wheel of the Year, the give and take of bodies in lovemaking, the cycles of death and rebirth, are all such splendid teachers of this rhythm.”

“You seem to be arguing against your earlier point,” the younger woman said. “Doesn’t everything move toward equilibrium? And it’s been doing so for a really long time, long before humans appeared. Any Order, even a ‘dark’ one, is part of that equilibrium, isn’t it? Why do we suddenly need to worry?”

“Not suddenly. Everything does indeed ceaselessly seek out equilibrium. But when humans appeared, so did new opportunities for consciousness and manifestation of the equilibrium in new forms and patterns. Branching or diverging is one of things the universe ‘likes’ to do. And it makes sense to speak in such terms as ‘liking.’ We can see it in patterns as substances crystallize, we see it in snowflakes, in plants growing, in thoughts and ideas unfolding, in the outflung arms of spiral galaxies, in the whorls of seashells, in human groups and institutions which form and split and regroup and dissolve and are reborn. We see it in relationships, and we see it in new stars and planetary systems forming. The word, the idea of equilibrium, can mislead us, because people think ‘changeless.’ But equilibrium in this case is dynamic. It’s a living thing. The addition of consciousness to the local equilibrium — to this planet or solar system, which stretches the sense of ‘local,’ I admit — means that humans get to participate in the equilibrium in powerful ways. And they participate differently to how … how a rock does, for example.”

“So it’s our participation that makes the difference, then?”

“Yes,” said Morgrugyn, with a smile. “And an Order, as a potentially highly focused gathering of energy manifesting through human consciousness, can effect long-lasting changes in the equilibrium, for both ill and good together.”

“But those are human judgments, aren’t they?” asked Dragon, who had been frowning with concentration as he followed the thread of Morgrugyn’s argument. “What we consider good or bad may not be the same thing as what’s good or bad from a non-human standpoint.”

“The loss of branching or diversity, whatever else we think of it, means lives lost, animal and human, and a decline in equilibriating ability. With fewer options, an equilibrium deteriorates in stability. And increasingly violent shifts can shove an equilibrium to a new balance point that is far less conducive to the richness of lives we have known. Yes, that’s a judgment rendered largely from a human standpoint, but it does concern more than human lives. Some Orders and human groups may advocate from non-human standpoints, like those of a god-form. Yes, Lugh or Thor or Isis or Yemaya may perceive and cherish and pursue longer, deeper goals than most humans. However, they never cherish goals against life. But some few Orders work from standpoints that value some specific advantage or benefit at a cost most of us would refuse to pay, or even consider. From what I’ve seen of them, Urdd Awen Ddu is one of those latter Orders. And the nature of their “darkness”? It lies in this: the price they are planning for all of us to pay to achieve their goals — with neither our knowledge nor our consent.”

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Part 3 coming soon

 

 

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