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per amica silentia lunae

or, across the ferny brae with the evil voodoo celt

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My theology class project
This summer, I took a course on Pagan theology at Cherry Hill Seminary. It was a very good, very thought-provoking experience, and it helped me crystallize a number of things.

We had a class project as our final... the idea was to take what you learned and realized during the class and apply it in some way. I decided to formulate (as much as is possible at this time) my "Credo"- what I actually believe... I need to be able to at least start to explain what my path is, what being a Pagan means to me, what I think about Deity and Truth and Reality and Life and Death. This is important for me and for those I minister to. My tribe-of-choice is very diverse... if I understand my own eclecticism, I can better understand theirs.

So, without further ado, I present my Credo.

It is, of necessity, incomplete. And very little is actually original to me- I've cited inspirations where I can identify them, but it's not a scholarly paper, so there's no footnotes or anything.

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1. Biodh se? My google foo fails me in translating this.

It's Gaelic for "So be it" or "Amen", roughly speaking...

2. Could you speak more about "the shift from Pisces to Aquarius" and "the Age of Pisces and the Age of Aquarius"? I'm not familiar with this.

The short form... there is the concept of "aeons", periods of time where there are certain characteristic patterns of culture, society, religious experience, thought. We seem to be in a transition period between aeons...

The aeon now passing away was/is characterized by hierarchy, top-down control, adherence to tradition, etc. The aeon now coming in is/will be characterized by lateral connection, individuality, control by network, etc.

One model of looking at these aeons is that of "astrological ages", based on the position of the vernal equinox (although the actual connection or correlation to this position isn't proven). In that model, we are transiting from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius. There are other models- Joachim of Fiore had the Ages of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; Crowley had the Aeons of Isis, Osiris, and Horus; Hindu myth has much longer periods called "yugas", etc.

Biodh se

You should have an "I dare you to pronounce this" contest and see whose entry is the most interesting.


I'm sure that even my pronunciation ("bee shay") is off...

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Yeah... that's a hippy-dippy take on the same concept. I doubt the astrological stuff in the lyrics is anything other than bogus, though. Also (as I think I've mentioned elsewhere) the change in aeons isn't necessarily good- it's just change. We have to work to make it good.

Defining evil and good are easier than distinguishing them. When is a person being willfully ignorant and when are they "following their bliss"? The two can look awfully similar.

I don't mean this as an attack on the concept of following one's bliss in its pure and philosophical form, but to illustrate that, to me, it does seem that the places where religion is most likely to become entirely inadequate is not, as most posit, in matters of science (the two share a lot of purpose, language, and playing ground, after all, and both easily abstract themselves a far as necessary for purposes of intellectual comfort...as you point out they turn into one another with the enthusiasm of lusty teens) but in the area of actual living, a place where science frequently falls on its ass as well.

The people that seem to be at peace with this inadequacy are those who feel a strong attachment to powers that are present in their everyday lives in whatever form, be it a driving ambition or a totem animal or what have you. But between them and the rest of us there's this yawning and unfortunate chasm that seems philosophically insurmountable.

The best we do is build fences on each precipice so we can observe each other without falling to our deaths. THe fences are made out of earthly and imperfect compassion/hope, or the airy and inscrutable mystery of "personal choice"...personal choice being used as a stopgap against mandatory compassion more often than I can really stomach both in science and religion, since it "explains" religious alienation, migraines, depression, social dysfunctions, fibromyalgia, and poverty. It's basically an anti-explanation, a giant broom for sweeping certain peoples' problems off the collective path.

From this vantage the only real way to address religion in an unextraordinary and unguided life is to think of it as being similar to love, which places huge imperatives and obligations on you without ponying up a single resource for meeting them except for a heroin-like addiction to spasms of ecstacy. I would make a statement as to whether or not its worth it, but seeing as I'm a complete fucking junkie my judgement is suspect.

The crown of heaven is a thorny one, no lie.

I don't take any of this as an attack, and I welcome your questions and comments. Even if you disagree with anything I say, if it helps you formulate your own answers to the same questions, it's good.

Religion should teach how to follow your bliss, live rightly, yes. I think that Paganism/Heathenism has a lot to offer in that area (for example, the Nine Noble Virtues of Asatru). Modern Paganism is a very young religion, and being developed by people and Powers who are conscious of the need for religion to function as a guide for living just as much as a guide for what happens before or after that.

Religion also should provide resources as well as obligations. The Powers are there to help us- they want to help us. It's not a one-way street.

But it's also not a free ride. We have to work, at least make an effort. You have to follow your Bliss, exercise your Will. Willful ignorance is a much easier path to take. That's at least one touchstone for judgment.

And even then, there's no guarantee. Things sometimes get thoroughly f***ed up for people. Personal choice is no more a complete explanation for the condition of someone's life than is destiny or fate, or the will of the Powers, or random chance, or any other sweeping generalization. Our lives and life paths are woven together by a wide range of factors, including the ones mentioned above, and the interactions with the life paths of others.

Edited at 2008-09-05 04:39 pm (UTC)

Hugh: Were you not already my friend, this document would make such a friendship necessary to me. There is so much wisdom here. I must process it further and try to do that witout overthinking it. Thank you.

Thank you. Please let me know if you have any questions. You have my email, right? This is meant to be a living document, so I welcome discussion.

I love you. Masha'allah.

Thank you for sharing this, my friend. I read all 15 pages avidly and with great interest, and I feel like I could talk to you about this for several hours to compare notes and thoughts. Although we are from very different schools of theology and faith practices, much of what you wrote resonated for me - your thoughts on prayer, on science versus religion, on compassion, on intercession, etc.

I don't see you enough! We've missed being at the same last few parties that I've gotten out to, but if you ever have a free evening where you'd like to get together over dinner, I would so enjoy sitting down with you and your paper and just sharing thoughts and talking more than we have the opportunity to at parties.

In any case, what an honest, reflective and thoughtful paper, and it reaffirms to me that this ministerial calling was a worthy one for you as you continue to explore your faith path and reach out to others. Once more, I am glad for your friendship and sharing!

I'm glad you read it and found it interesting and thought-provoking. Thanks so much for your compliments... you are very encouraging to me, and I really appreciate that.

Although we are from very different schools of theology and faith practices, much of what you wrote resonated for me - your thoughts on prayer, on science versus religion, on compassion, on intercession, etc.

Even taking into account my beliefs on the individuality of spiritual truth, I think there are some threads that connect all human spiritual experience. Joseph Campbell once quoted a Hindu saying: "The Truth is One- but the sages speak of it by many names."

I would love to see you again! We really should make time to have dinner together and talk. That would be wonderful!

Love you too.


What a wonderful paper!! Your thoughts on the powers really resonated with me as they are close to my beliefs. I've come to realise that I'm more deist than true Christian as despite my roots in a fundamentalist church, I've never really gotten the whole "Jesus died for my sins" thing.

Did you write the "Your mission if you choose to accept it" poem? I might have to print that out and post it on my mirror. I loved it.

You should come to Meeting sometime too. If nothing else, the meeting house has an excellent "vibe" to it. :)

Thank you! I'm glad you liked it and it had some resonance for you...

I did indeed write "Your mission...". Feel free to print it out... glad you loved it!

Quaker Meeting? I'd love to do that some time...

Awesome!! I attend Alexandria Meeting at Woodlawn right next to Ft. Belvoir:

http://woodlawnfriends.org/home/location/ We're a completely unprogrammed meeting so there's no structured message, readings or singing but people have been known to do any of those things as the spirit moves. Meeting for Worship is at 11am on Sundays (First Days) and lasts about an hour. Feel free to bring a book. We have a common meal afterwards so you'll always be fed. Let me know when you want to come and I'll make sure I'm there.

We've got a diverse group of people from traditional Christians to at least one Sufi, a Buddhist, a Taoist, and variations thereof.

thanks for the info... I'll have to make time for it sometime...

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