September 22, 2017

Do Animals Love?




   It is all too common to think of animals as "dumb" and incapable of emotions, such as love.  Many people will tell you that animals only imitate love to get their needs filled; ie, "your cat only pretends to love you because you feed it."  My experience with animals says the exact opposite; that is, animals are capable of simple love.   My contention is that if we believe that God is defined by Love, then we have to believe that love is pervasive throughout all of God's creation. 

   I'll start with the example of Annie, a cat who belonged to a wonderful neighbor of ours.  Annie was an old cat, and she absolutely adored her human.  She had been abused by her previous humans, and didn't trust men much, but she had an immense amount of love to share. 
   Tragedy struck when Annie's human mommy died.  It was just the two of them, mommy and kitty, in the apartment, and Annie was alone.  Fortunately, her human mommy's human daughter took her in and took incredibly good care of her.
   Annie was well fed, well groomed, and doted on by the women where she went to live, but none of that mattered to her; she wanted her human mommy back.  She would run across town, despite her old, arthritic bones, just to sit on our doorstep and wait for her human to get home.  She never understood why her mommy didn't come back.  Annie truly did love her human, and I'm sure the two of them are happy together in the afterlife.

   Let's deal with an issue which makes people say, "no, animals don't love at all;" the issue of animals eating their young.  Some species of animal do actually sometimes eat their young, and some more often than others. However, to dismiss all animals as incapable of loving because of this heinous action would be to ignore the fact that many human women, sadly, murder their own babies.       I'm not referring to abortion, that's a topic about which you're unlikely to see me blog, but babies after their born being thrown in trash cans, drowned it toilets, children driven off of cliffs by their mothers, and many more inexplicable, heinous actions.  It doesn't mean human women are incapable of love, not even those who are led to commit such a horrendous deed.  This post isn't about the psychology of infanticide by mother, so that's all on that depressing topic.

   Let's take a look at happier examples of humans and animals living together, particularly cats and dogs.  Our animals are genuinely excited to see us, and it's definitely not just about food and treats.  They don't necessarily get food or treats every time they see us, and I know my own animals will even ignore treats given them just to come sit on my lap and get attention.
   Cats and dogs are social animals who form close groups.  They want to snuggle with their human pack/pride members when we sleep.  I know my cat wants to snuggle even when it's blazing hot, even though he eventually gives up and lays elsewhere on my bed.  Yes, to some extent it's about safety in numbers, but it's also very clearly about affection for a close member of his family; his caregiver.  He wants to spend every waking and sleeping moment he can with me.  I know it's that way with many pet owners, and it's not just limited to those of the canine or feline varieties.
   Cats and dogs also seem to instinctively know when we are well or not, and want to help us.  Dogs are well known for wanting to, and often succeeding at, helping their humans.  I've heard many stories of animals taking extra care to give extra attention and love for people who are sick.
   I'll use another personal example of my former cat, Mihos; named for the Egyptian lion god.  I used to have terrible seizures, which are thankfully much more under control now, which would leave me helpless in the "post-ictal" (after seizure) period.  Mihos would sit right next to me until I could get up, and if my roommate was home Mihos would pound and scratch on the roommate's door until he came to help.
   Another pack love example comes specifically with dogs and pregnant women.  If a member of the household is pregnant, anyone who acts threatening towards her better pray hard and run harder if the family dog sees it going down!  Yes, it is canine instinct to protect the next generation, cats have been known to stand up for small children too, chasing off dogs or even strangers who were threatening their littler humans.  However, it goes beyond instinct, to "that's my family, and you don't hurt my family," which is a major expression of love.
    One last pack example is the love between pets in the same household, and I'll use the example of my mom's old Siamese cat and our dog.  The cat knew the dog since he was a puppy, and he was almost like her own baby.  She was an old lady even when he was young, and had a couple generations of kittens she had birthed and mothered, even grandmothered.
   After the puppy grew up, he lived primarily in an outside yard during nice weather, and other dogs would come up to his fence to try to pick fights.  One day, a rottweiler came up and was getting really vicious in his barking and attempts to bite my dog through the fence.  We ran out, as usual, to stop the incident, but before we could get there the Siamese cat flew out the door and jumped up into the rottweiler's face!  A few whips with her claws, and that dog ran off crying.  That cat was not going to stand for someone messing with her puppy!

   Now, one main contention is that people say love is a choice and animals can't choose to love, but I think that misunderstands the nature of love. Perhaps one can say that animals don't love in the same way that humans love, but they absolutely do have an abundance of love.  Perhaps there are even some species of animals which don't feel love in any way we'd recognize as such, or maybe even devoid of emotions altogether.  I certainly think at least mammals, and many other animals experience love.
   Perhaps humans just over-complicate love, just as we do with other things, and to animals it's simpler.  Perhaps in some ways we even do understand love better than they do, but I think we could still learn a lot about love even through just understanding the simplicity of their love.
 

  

   
   

   

April 18, 2017

Angels Are Not Perfect

There seems to be an incredibly common misconception, even among great religious scholars, that angels are somehow perfect beings.  However, only God is perfect.  Angels may come close, and are perfected in the Presence of God, but are not perfect in and of themselves.

Angelic sins are not entirely like human sins, but there are similarities.  Angels can be wrathful; extremely wrathful.  Generally they won't act without God's blessing, and they almost never act against the Will of God (the consequences are dire, and we'll get to that later.)  Angels can be impatient and unforgiving.(1)  Angels can be lustful. (2)  Angels can be jealous.  The biggest temptation for an angel, however, is ego; just look at the fall of Lucifer.

However, there are sins which angels cannot commit.  It is nearly impossible, perhaps entirely impossible, for a Holy Angel (not a fallen angel) to lie.  In fact, even fallen angels often have to use trickery instead of outright lies, and cannot lie about their name.  It is just entirely against angelic form and function to lie, as it is so opposed to God.  Any angel can mislead someone, but outright lying is nearly impossible.  Likewise, it is a dire thing for an angel to kill any living thing except by the direct Will and Power of God.

The Presence of God is the purifier of all.  No soul or angel can be imperfect in the Direct Presence of God.  The closer an angel gets to God, the more it is perfected.  If an angel sins too gravely, coming into the Presence of God physically hurts, but it is a cathartic pain; they are released from the burden which "sin" puts on their being.

See, angels don't exactly "sin" for the most part.  Their misdeeds are not weighed like human misdeeds, and instead have a more direct effect on them.  They can be tempted, but falling into temptation causes them discomfort and weakness; nonetheless, it happens.  Humans are actually affected similarly, but the consequences aren't as apparent in physical form and are measured differently; perhaps the topic of a different blog post.  I digress.  When an angel is drawn into the Presence of God, it is purified, strengthened, and renewed.

Certain angels are always in the Direct Presence of God.  Among them are Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael, but there are others as well. (3) While these angels do act on the Earth, they are never out of the Presence of the Divine.  It would be complicated to explain the ethereal physics of the arrangement, but simply put; God is always close by when they are around.  It is in their nature to always be with God, and to always act according to the Divine Will.  Because of their link to the Divine Presence, they are also the most powerful among the angels.

If angels were perfect beings at all times, the two most famous angelic blunders of the Bible would be impossible to happen.  The first, of course, being the fall of Lucifer, who took a full third of the host of Heaven with him.  Get that, 1/3+1 angels rebelled against God!  It was the ultimate act of defiance, and it merited them the ultimate punishment which can be meted out upon an angel; to be eternally removed from the Presence of God, and eternally tormented.  The fires of Hell are almost a mercy compared to the pain of being removed from the Presence of God and being weighed down with ultimate sin!  No wonder demons are so awful to humans, the ones God loves so much.  The second is an obscure reference in the Book of Genesis, at the beginning of chapter 6, which is expounded upon by religious philosophers and in the Book of Enoch.  This is the case where "Sons of God," in Hebrew, "Bene Elohim," literally, "sons of the gods/God" which most scholars and the Book of Enoch interpret as being angels, saw the "daughters of men" (human women) and made children with them.  These angels, though their crime wasn't to the equivalent of the original fallen angels, were punished extremely harshly; however, the punishment described in the Book of Enoch isn't entirely accurate, because it wasn't intended to be.

These are the only stories we have in reliable texts.  Some obscure texts, such as the Gospel of Judas, refer to other stories of angels which fell away from God, but their versions of the story are either not accurate enough or too obscure in details for most students to glean much from them.  Therefore, I'm not going to reference any one of those texts specifically, rather, I'll tell you an old story which many obscure texts touch on just a little bit, a story about certain angels who came really close to falling.

When the Earth was created, and long before humans existed, certain angels were sent to the Earth to watch over and guide creation.  Some of them even dwelt within nature, being like spirits of mountains, volcanoes, forests, deserts, waters, and clouds and storms.  It was a great and honorable task, but because they were not Angels of the Presence, and because they were integrated into creation, it meant being almost the farthest an angel can be from the Direct Presence of God, at the outskirts of God's Being.

At first, it wasn't too bad; there were temptations, but most temptations were easily scoffed at and didn't lead to any misdeeds.  However, when the result of the War in Heaven was that Lucifer and the other fallen angels were cast to Earth, the fallen ones began to tempt them gravely. They were tempted to all kinds of destruction, and belief in their own power as forces of Nature.

Temptation of these angels grew as intelligent beings were formed on the Earth, as God allowed primitive sentient beings of every creation on the Earth to think of these angels as Divine; it was a primitive understanding and relationship with God, a starting place.  Unfortunately, the fallen ones were able to twist the minds of some of those angels into believing that they were actually gods; maybe, not equal to God, but certainly gods in their own rights!  They were, after all, among the most powerful forces on the planets.

Some of these angels were also born into human bodies to human women by human fathers, according to the Will of God.  They usually did not know of their angelic nature, though most suspected it, and they would live many lifetimes as human beings.  They were given an innate wisdom which most people misunderstood, and were always fascinated with things of the spirit world and the Divine.  Thus, they could learn, like humans but with an innate insight which surpasses human understanding, and they could teach and guide.  Being angelic souls, they have an immense capacity for love, and a strong sense of justice.  Most of them are warriors of one kind or another, as well as scholars and priests.

The angels who became full of their own ego and likened themselves as gods met various fates.  Some were numbered among the fallen angels, and will suffer that most sad fate of Lucifer and his army.  Others were recalled to Heaven, where they underwent a most painful and wonderful cleansing.  Still others fell in between, they had sinned gravely enough to not be able to stand the Direct Presence of God, but not enough to warrant being cast aside; therefore, they were allowed to incarnate among the others who already were doing so.  They renew their souls slowly through their unwavering service to God.   A few, and only a few, were allowed to remain at their posts, and an Archangel was appointed to bring them nourishment from God to keep them strong.

Unfortunately for those who are born among humans, they feel most out of place.  They somehow know they're not like other humans, but they don't know what they are.  They make up all kinds of stories about their origins, and play on the mythologies of many cultures to explain themselves.  They need nourishment from the Presence of God, but they can only find some through spiritual practice, shamanic practice, temples, and religious adherence.

The greatest bonanza for these incarnated angels was the Eucharist.  See, Yeshua, the one called Christ, came as the Son of God to renew humanity and to save it from damnation.  He brought love for all humans, and the angels who were born among humans did not get left out.  When Yeshua instituted the Eucharist, it was primarily for humans, but it was also for these angels.  The Eucharist, unlike any other ritual, contains the Divine Presence, and humans take God into themselves when it is consumed.  Therefore, the more these angels consume the Eucharist, especially those who have damage from sin to undo, the more they feel the Presence of God; thus, the more they are healed, renewed, and strengthened.

The irony is that the most powerful form of the Eucharist can be found in the Catholic and Eastern churches, even though these angels would be branded heretics by either or both churches if they ever knew enough of themselves to reveal their nature.  Of course, most or all other sources of the Eucharist also come from human churches which would misunderstand these beings, and either worship or revile them; either way leading to the doom of those people.  In addition to consuming the Eucharist, preferably under both species (bread and wine) such beings also find healing and strength through Eucharistic adoration, reading the scriptures, and other religious activity.   Of course, some inevitably are born in Hindu, Islamic, or other cultures and must find the Divine Presence through those paths, but they are more difficult paths for such beings as they do not contain the gift of the Eucharist.

If you think you are one of these angelic beings, incarnated, the best advice I can give you is: live life full of love, forgiveness, and compassion; serve God in every way you can and strive to never harm anyone; participate in the Eucharist as often as possible, but only if you have the right according to the rules of that church; and don't tell anyone what you are, or what you think you are, unless you are absolutely sure they will both understand and not feed your ego because of it.  The greatest danger to an angelic being is ego.  Human, angel, or otherwise, we are all servants of God, and it is through that service from which comes all power, strength, renewal, and hope.  

How much of the above story is true, and how much is allegory or parable to teach a lesson?  I would say that at least most of it is true, but it is up to those granted the Wisdom of God (4) to discern.  




***  Note on Wisdom texts such as the Book of Enoch, referenced here.  These books are not intended to be taken literally, just like much of the Bible itself.  They contain secrets which those with Wisdom from God can glean about the nature of angels, humans, God, life, and Heaven.  Many of them also contain magic, but the magic is a result of the practice, not really a goal of the practice.  That is, you don't gain the magic by seeking the magic, you gain it by earnestly seeking the Wisdom and Knowledge hidden within.

(1) Exodus 23:20-21
(2) Genesis 6:1-2, Enoch 4:1-4
(3) Enoch 20
(4) James 1:5-8

*Vague references in this document allude to stories found in the Koran, the Gospel of Judas, and other texts, but not to an extent warranting citation.

August 24, 2016

Why and How I became Catholic



Most people who know my background had to have done a mental flip when I became Catholic last year, in May of 2015.  I didn't tell anyone leading up to it, mainly because I wasn't ready to answer questions or deal with backlash from pagan friends, some of whom absolutely hate Christianity.  I had originally intended to turn this into a book, somewhat of an autobiography, going into details of my life which lead me to this point, but instead I find that it works best as a blog.  That doesn't mean the book won't ever exist, I may still write it with plenty more details, but that at this point my other writing projects are taking a priority.  I'm still not sure how much of my past it is alright for me to reveal, since it involves other people's deeply personal business, so the blog version, without too many personal details, will suffice for now.  

Background

     Though most of my family who I knew were Catholic, my Ludad/Gypsy relatives, my mother was Nazarene and neither her nor my father went to church.  However, I always knew who God was, and I always knew that my life would center around serving God. My dad prayed with me and taught me some basic prayers, and I had some children's bible story books. I was jealous when my half brother got to go to church with his dad, but that is also how I found out that church is where you go to learn about God.  I desperately wanted to go to church, but no one wanted to take me. 

     When I was around 6 years old, I spent one of many days at my grandmother's farm with my cousin and I asked if I could stay the night. It was a Saturday, and my grandmother said no because my cousin had to go to church the next day.  I got super excited and said, "Church?! I want to go to church!"  I ended up going with him, to a Southern Baptist church, and I was able to arrange, with permission from my parents, for the church bus to pick me up every Sunday morning for Sunday School and Church.  

     Fast forward several years, and my life had turned to a nightmare.  I won't go into the details, but suffice it to say that from age 9 until at least age 18 or 19, my life was turmoil after turmoil, and trauma after trauma.  It shattered me.  I will never go into the details of in what ways I was shattered, even the little I remember is too much for most people to even begin to understand.  However, there I was, a complete mess.  

     I kept to myself the details of most of what was going on inside of me, and I turned to prayer for healing.  I prayed fervently, several times a day, and would cry myself to sleep at night while praying intensely.  I would eventually have an experience which is best for another blog, and the details of which it isn't appropriate to share anyway.  Suffice it to say, I was put back together, slowly, and eventually learned some deep spiritual truths from the experience. 

     Healing from that kind of experience really takes a lifetime, but over time I grew stronger, more clear-headed, and focused.  My love for God manifested greatly, and I saw a need to seek Him more fully.  I told my pastor, and he began giving me private classes in his office, no funny business, teaching me about church history and why the church believed as it did.  At that time it was at a "First Baptist" (AKA American Baptist) church which I was attending because of family issues with the first church I went to.  

   Through the course of those classes, I became disillusioned with the church.  I found that I didn't believe as they did, and I didn't sense the presence of God there.  I started seeking out other Christian churches, including the Catholic church.  For various reasons, each church didn't work out for me.  I didn't agree with how they interpreted the Bible, and some of them only seemed to be after money.  I even tried the LDS (Mormon) church for a year, but eventually decided that I didn't accept their story of Jews in America and the golden plates, etc.  All respect to my LDS friends, it's just not something I believe.  That said, there are certain parts of their theology which I find intriguing. 

    Though I had attended a couple Catholic services, the catechism class scared me off, and the priest was very unfriendly when I told him that I want to convert and eventually hope to become a priest.  I was 16 at that time.  Thus, I never gave the Catholic church a real chance back then.  Funny thing is, it was Mary who had called to me back then as well.  She appeared on a bed-sheet hanging over my window in lieu of a curtain, as the Madonna and child.  She simply smiled at me, and I knew that it was Catholics who honored Mary. 

     Eventually I decided that God didn't exist in any Christian church, and that the original Christian church had been destroyed, just as the Mormons had taught; even though I didn't, and still don't, think that they are the restored church.  I became Christian without a church, and began to go to the library to study other world religions.  I figured if I had a broader perspective on different religions, then I could more discern who God is and how to find Him. 

     When I was a young adult, late teens, I decided that I was Wiccan, but then decided Wicca didn't suit me, and I became just pagan.  I even became the High Priest of a pagan coven.  We worshiped many gods, though I still believed in Yeshua, Jesus, as well.  Ultimately, by the time I was a High Priest, I was not a polytheist nor a monotheist; I was a panentheist who accepted both monotheistic and polytheistic interpretations of the Divine.  I decided that each religion was a unique cultural view of Divinity and spirituality, but that they all ultimately were attempting to describe the same things.  Yes, there are differences because they have different cultural and environmental influences, but they were trying to achieve community and union with the Divine.  

     I kept studying diverse religious traditions on my own and through school, though I never attained any scholarly degree.  I did, however, at some point get an online ordination so that I could more fully practice as an interfaith minister.  I did weddings and baptisms, as well as more esoteric and occult things such as reading Tarot, runes, and I-ching, and offered shamanic services as well.  

Shamanism

     I went to college, and I originally majored in psychology, but ultimately changed to Archaeology.  I figured that I was serving God through my spiritual role, but that it would never pay the bills.  As I studied Archaeology, I discovered the anthropological term, "shaman."  There is a whole other post on this blog dealing with what exactly is a shaman, but for this current post we'll keep it simple.  A shaman is one who experienced great trauma, was shattered, and then put back together with the help of the spirit world.  Such people learn various spiritual lessons along the way, and gain a unique insight to spirituality which can't be quantified or easily explained.  It became apparent to me that the term shaman described my life exactly, and that I had been practicing like a shaman for many years without ever knowing what shamanism was until much later.  (Anthropologists use the term "shaman" to refer to spiritual leaders and other significant people in various cultures who all seem to have certain things in common, despite differing cultures and vast distances.  Some people have thus become mistaken thinking that "shaman" is a title, something which is given to one by others.  Instead, it is a descriptive term, and most primal cultures have/had their own title for their spiritual leaders.) 

  In my case, as in many others, I also dream significant dreams, which I did even before these experiences, and I also would go on spiritual journeys, have visions (such as the one of the Virgin Mary) and help others to put themselves back together.  I practiced physical and spiritual healing, and intervened on the spirit world for others.  I would use drumming, or even just fervent prayer, to make these journeys into the spirit world, and I always saw results; though I was never allowed to do anything which would work in my own favor.  I paid a heavy price for this practice, and I will keep paying that price until the Blessed Mother prays for it to be removed from me. 

   I discovered God in nature.  God was all around me, and through me.  God was complex and beautiful, and I became uncomfortable using any gender pronouns for God.  I believed God was male, female, and everything else, including that which is beyond our understanding.  The forest was always one of my favorite settings for shamanic journeying, and the collective spirit of the forest would just carry me away, even without drums.  



The Archangel Michael

     One night at home, I began a shamanic journey.  Everything was normal so far.  I had a candle as the only light in the room, had some nag champa and frankincense burning in my incense burners, and it was all silent.  I didn't drum that night because I was at home, and I didn't want to disturb my neighbors.  

     No sooner was I on the starlight path beginning my journey, when the Archangel Michael stood in my path.  I had no idea what Michael should look like, nonetheless I recognized him right away.  He said, "You shall go no further until you hear my words."  Sadly, I don't remember his exact words, but the gist of it is that he wanted me to attend a service at Old Mission San Miguel Arcangel, and actually asked me to attend all the way through Advent.  It wasn't until I got to the church when I realized that San Miguel Arcangel is Spanish for "Saint Michael the Archangel." 

     My best friend and I attended a service, and it was my first time ever at the mission.  I was overwhelmed by the beautiful, but simple, architecture, the powerful statues and paintings, and the overall spirit of the place.  I decided that I wanted to take adult catechism classes to see if I wanted to be Catholic.  However, my best friend talked me out of it.  He brought up all the reasons I would never wish to call myself Christian, let alone Catholic, and we never attended another service that season.  

     The one thing which did come out of that experience was my first book, "An Angelic Journey Within," which I believe was inspired by the Archangel Michael.  Despite not being Christian, it's a rather Christ-centered story, though it does include some references to other cultures and religions because of my personal views at the time.  

EWTN, Fulton Sheen, Mother Angelica, and Pope Francis

     Within the next month, December, I discovered that our satellite tv came with a Catholic television channel, EWTN; "The Eternal Word Television Network."  I grew interested in it, and slowly so did my best friend.  I particularly felt drawn to the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and I would turn it up and sing along with it whenever they played it.  We then discovered the oddest thing, our wild boy cat would calm down completely and watch with interest whenever Mother Angelica (may she rest in peace) would come on and pray the rosary with the  sisters. We ended up leaving EWTN on whenever we would leave the house, because when we would come home the kitty would be much more calm and we'd find much less of a mess to clean up.

     We ended up watching a lot of EWTN ourselves, and through it we learned a little bit of Catholic theology.  Neither of us had any intentions of becoming Catholic, though we were finding that we agree a lot with the Catholic Church. Nonetheless, despite our agreement on some principles and teachings, we were panentheists and we believed that most religions would lead us to God. 

     In November of 2014 I had another vision of the Virgin Mary.  She appeared as the Virgin Guadalupe, and surrounded by corn, though as she spoke she changed into Our Lady Queen of Heaven, with stars orbiting her head as a crown.  She told me to seek out her Son at Old Mission San Miguel, and to attend for all of Advent.  My best friend, same one, agreed to go with me.

     After our first mass there, yet again the Spirit of God overcame me and I felt a need to take adult catechism classes.  This time when I mentioned it to my best friend, he said, "Me too."  He had been watching old recordings of Archbishop Fulton Sheen, along with Pope Francis, and had become more intrigued by the Catholic Church than I had known until that moment.

Joining the Church; unanswered questions answered

     We interviewed with the priest, followed by the director of RCIA (Right of Christian Initiation for Adults) and began Adult Catechism classes, not the formal RCIA program.  I felt for our catechism teachers.  They were intelligent and knew their Catholicism, but we had a lot of tough questions.  My years as a protestant, followed by years as an interfaith minister, had me well-versed in the Bible (no pun intended) and I had studied Qabbalah, Gnosticism, and many obscure forms of Christianity.  We kept them hopping, but they were excellent instructors who were always on the ball.

     The director of RCIA is also, until the next election, the formation director for the Secular Franciscan Order, and he invited us to one of their meetings. I immediately felt at home, like I was among family, even though I knew no one.  I still had so many doubts about the Catholic Church, but in my heart I knew that I was home.

     I learned about Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, and how she went to mass every day.  I decided that I would also go to mass every day.  I don't drive, but at the time my best friend had a work schedule which would allow him to drop me at the mission an hour before the early morning weekday mass. It also meant that I would have to stay at the mission for a few hours after mass until my friend could get a lunch break and pick me up.  A nice older gentleman who attends regularly helped me find the right pages in the Liturgy of Hours so that I could read along with everyone.  In my diocese we do that practice, which a lot of Catholics don't like, where people who can't receive communion go up with arms crossed over their shoulders and receive a blessing instead.  I was reluctant at first, but eventually I started going up with crossed arms.

     One day after morning mass I knelt in front of the Guadalupe painting in the mission chapel, and I said the Hail Mary a few times, even though I barely knew the words.  I can't kneel for long because of a physical disability, so I then decided to walk around and look at the different Stations of the Cross which are on the walls among the paintings of angels and saints. I prayed at each of the 14 stations, and I let all of my doubts about the Catholic church come to mind.  As each doubt played out in my mind, it immediately had an answer.  

     I can't cover them all, but a few examples of doubts I faced, and the responses: Question; "If I'm going to be Christian, I can't worship statues anymore."  Answer, "You never worshiped statues.  You worshiped what they represent.  Catholics don't even worship what these statues represent, except for Yeshua.  Statues were present in the Temple of Solomon and on the Ark of the Covenant, but they were not worshiped." Question;  "How can I be a Christian after years of preaching an interfaith message."  Answer; "You can be a Christian because you believe in Yeshua, and because I have lead you to this church."  Question; "How can I give up being an interfaith minister, how will I make a living and survive?" Answer; "I will provide.  Only have faith."  

     Protestant churches had me really hating Saint Paul the Apostle.  They twisted and misused his words so much, that I came to the conclusion that Paul was trying to corrupt the message of Yeshua, and I hated him for it.  It was thanks to our catechism instructors that I was able to heal my relationship with Saint Paul, and eventually discovered that if you think Paul is disagreeing with Yeshua, then you're either misunderstanding Paul or misunderstanding Yeshua; and it's probably Paul that you're misunderstanding.  

     I don't remember exactly when, but at some point during that process I had a dream which sealed the deal for me.  I can't reveal all the details of the dream, but simply put; the Virgin Mary showed me untold destruction and evil in the world and asked me to help her Son's church, the Catholic Church.  It was after that dream that everything else clicked, including accepting the Apostolic authority of the church, handed down through Peter from Yeshua.  

     I discussed all of these events and lessons with my best friend.  We had lively, in depth discussions about the Catholic Church, Christianity, and God in general.  We read through the Catechism of the Catholic Church together to help us gain a better understanding. Ultimately we came to very similar conclusions to one another.  

     We finally asked our catechism teachers about first communion, and on Pentecost of 2015 (May 24) we were confirmed into the Catholic Church and received first communion.  I chose Michael the Archangel as my patron saint, and my best friend chose Saint Francis of Assisi.  Just prior to that we were both provisionally/conditionally baptized because neither of us could track down our infant baptismal certificates (mine was Catholic, his we're not sure of.  We still can't find either.)  Of course, we both also went to first confession before our confirmation.  

     After we were confirmed we were invited to regularly attend the Secular Franciscan meetings, and now we are both in formation with the Secular Franciscan Order.  We are also Knights of Columbus, though we have trouble getting to meetings or functions very often because of the remote area in which we live plus work schedules.  

     A few months before our confirmation I joined the church choir, and I still sing with them, I'm currently the whole bass section.  I eventually would also become a lector, and my best friend volunteers as an usher and whatever else he can do as need arises.  We are both awaiting training to be Extraordinary Ministers of the Eucharist.  We can't go to daily mass anymore, but we do go every Sunday, and every other chance we get.

     I won't pretend everything is hunky-dory.  We are financially struggling like never before, and things weren't exactly easy before. We often don't know how we will get rent paid or have food.  Somehow we've made it work, but we're running out of options.  All we can do is keep praying and keep trying.  Maybe God will bring my book to the attention of enough people who will enjoy it and it will become a real source of income, or one of my upcoming books (one in final editing.)  I don't know what He has in store for us, but we keep praying and trying to keep the faith.  

     Hail Mary, full of grace.  The Lord is with thee.  Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. A-men. 

     Saint Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.  Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.  May God rebuke him, we humbly pray; and do thou, oh Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the Power of God, thrust into Hell, Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls.  A-men. 
     
     





     

October 22, 2014

Physics and the magic of the Ancients

This post is the first real mysteries post.  Obviously mysteries can't be fully explored in a blog post, but herein is an intense introduction to the mysteries of magic and religion.  Behold the doorway to understanding how Stonehenge and other great structures were built, how matter exists, and the nature of the most ancient magic in the Universe. 

Who are the Ancients?

"Ancients" can refer to a lot of different groups of people.  However, for the purpose of this article it does not refer to the antedeluvian civilization; rather, it refers to the people who were the post Ice Age remnants of that civilization, and to the otherworldly beings who helped guide the earliest forms of our post Ice Age world. 

These people are those who taught secrets to our ancestors, and who built or guided the building of history's greatest structures and monuments.

While there are certainly much more ancient civilizations on the Earth, the ideas our civilization has about magic originates with the people referred to in this article.

Subatomic Forces

You probably know that matter is made of molecules, which are comprised of atoms. You likely also know that atoms are constructed of protons and neutrons, inside of the nucleus, and electrons in orbit around the nucleus.  However, modern physics is still working on deciphering from what these ions, charged particles, are made.

I am not going to get into an argument as to which modern theory is correct.  Instead, I will give you the ancient understanding, from when science was more advanced. 

The Universe is a living thing comprised of various thoughts.  These thoughts comprise all of the forces of the Universe.  However, they are without mass, and have no form of their own.  They are empty space, which always grows.

At some point these forces were caused to organize together to create the illusion we call the physical Universe.  This illusion is the means through which the soul of the Universe grows more complex; that central force which some think of as the heart of God.

The song which began everything

Vibration was the first physical force. Romantically, and somewhat literally, it was a song sung by God and the, yet noncorporeal, angels. The vibration of this song, its resonance, ordered the forces of the Universe to create the lesser forces.

The song caused those lesser forces to spiral and to spin, which created different harmonies.   Each harmony created each of the subatomic particles we know of, along with those yet undiscovered. 

Thus, matter and what we call energy are the result of those harmonies.  It is not so much that they created matter and energy as much as it is that the harmonious resonances formed the intangible substance of the Universe into tangible forms. 

Modern physics already talks about some of these forces, because they have other effects in the physical plane aside from forming energy and shaping it into matter.  They may speak of the weak or strong forces, gravity and magnetism among them, but they are just beginning to unravel the beginning cause of these forces.  It is amazing what humanity has already accomplished again. 

Magnetic and gravitational magic

Modern science has already captured some of the magic of the ancients once again.  The funny thing about magic is that once it is understood, it becomes science.

Our computers, magnetic trains, electricity generation and control, and much of our modern technology is magic to most people.   They know that someone understands these things and makes them work, so they don't literally think of them as magic. However, the knowledge of how many of these things work is limited to a few, and to the rest they are but mystical devices. 

Magnetism has been used since antiquity, and today we understand electromagnetism and use the forces to levitate and move massive trains at astounding speeds.  Magnetism is the core of modern electricity generation, an ancient force, harnessed to power so much of our lives.

Modern science is beginning to see how massive objects warp space, using the spectrum of light to estimate the masses and determine composition of distant planets and stars, learning to compensate for the effects massive objects, such as the Earth, have on time, and otherwise harnessing and understanding the forces of nature in increasingly amazing ways. 

The basis of ancient magic was in science, and sometimes technology.Thus, our modern science and technology begin to demystify some of that magic.  Humanity is growing ever closer to reclaiming some of the greatest mysteries of the Universe. 

The Ancients used gravitational and magnetic magic as balancing forces.  They understood how the planets from Jupiter inward, including the moon, have an effect on the gravitational and magnetic waves of the Earth, as well as the Sun's similar effects and the much lesser effect of other stars and the planet Saturn.  This knowledge is part the origin of why most ritual magic has certain ties to lunar, solar or astrological patterns; the other obvious reasons are agriculture, hunting, migration and the seasons of subtropical regions. 

Sonic magic

Remember that it was the resonance of the vibration of a song which caused the forces of the Universe to spin and spiral; creating the physical plane.  Likewise, sound, and inaudible vibrations, can reorder the physical world by aligning the spins and spirals of the ions and the lesser forces of the Universe.  Sound alone can accomplish amazing transformations of stone; causing it to weigh far less, liquify it, shatter it, or even cause it to dance and move on its own!

Modern science has touched on how to weaponize sound, but it has also begun to explore how it can be used in other ways.  It is possible that they will once again discover these complex melodies.

Here's a hint for you: many of the ancient carved groupings of spirals found around the world are actually an early means of recording a melody.   Unfortunately, I do not know exactly how to read and interpret them, so it is up to musicians and mathematicians to work together to decipher them.

When you sing hymns, drum, chant mantras, or sing out your emotions, you are likely engaging in sonic magic (coupled with thought magic, discussed below.)  There is power in rhythm, melody and resonance.  Some kinds of dance are an extension of that magic, using the body to help shape the resonance, but dance is a complex topic worthy of its own future post.

Light magic

Photons, light particles, are the earliest expression of the physical Universe.  They are pure energy, and, in a way, everything is constructed from them.  That is, they have the potential to be transformed into the subatomic particles which comprise matter.  Granted, they are not thought of as photons when they are in their earliest state inside of stars; wherein almost all physical matter is formed.  They are only photons when they are emitted as light.

People have been producing light for thousands of years, and today we can produce it in myriad ways, and even harness it to create electricity and movement.  We can even focus light with lenses, and intensify or "amplify" beams of light by lasing it through stimulated emissions of radiation. 

The Ancients used light to do many of the same things, though actual laser technology was no longer possible by that time period.  They did amplify and intensify beams of light in other ways, and Archimedes is among those who carried forth the legacy of their knowledge.  Parabolics is the key to most of what they accomplished with light.

Thought magic

Remember that when the primary forces of the Universe were first mentioned, they were referred to as thoughts.  They are an extension of the consciousness of the Universe.  So are we. 

Conscious living beings are physical embodiments of a part of the Universal consciousness; sparks of God.  Physical existence is a means for these sparks to become established souls on the prime dimension of the Universe; oneness with God, yet still individuals. 

Because we are sparks of God, we have thought. Though ou individual power of thought is miniscule compared to the Universal consciousness, collectively our ordered and focused thoughts can accomplish many great wonders. After all, thought is among the primary forces of the Universe.  Love, of course, is the most powerful of these thoughts.

Unfortunately, only science fiction and paranormal sciences have seriously considered the links between thought and the physical plane; with the exception of the increasingly rate experiments into psychic phenomenon by mainstream science.  It will probably be a while before science once again realizes the power of thought to be directed to change the makeup of the Universe.   It is said that thinking without acting is futile, but directed thought power can create action. 

Dimensions and layers

The Prime Dimension of the Universe is mostly immutable, and it is not subject to entropy.  In order to expand, the Universe had to create different layers, often referred to as planes or dimensions, with different properties. 

Each of these dimensions is unique, and the further out from the Prime Dimension, the more mutable the domension is.  The outer most dimensions are subject to entropy, and among those dimensions is what we know of as the physical Universe.

The inner dimensions, those which are somewhat mutable but not subject to entropy, is where the entities such as gods, devas, angels, great spirits, and by other such names dwell.  Between those dimensions is where the dark forces of entropy dwell, and where shaman are tested.  Some say that there are nine such dimensions, others say thirteen, while some believe that there are twenty-seven or more. 

The next dimensions out are where our spirits are, which are somewhat immortal; except that our thoughts and actions on these entropic planes can cause them to either grow and thrive, or to wither and suffer.

Shaman use thought magic, guided by higher spirits,  to walk the different spiritual planes, including those of gods and angels.  Witches, shaman and other magic users amplify their thought magic, often called "intention," through these same dimensions.   Even prayer is an amplification of intention being carried to the Divine and the Angels through the dimensions; to where thought has origin. Many good spirits echo our intentions, and resonate with our spells and our prayers.

The Ancients used dimensions for all of these things and more.  Some could even alter their form to use dimensions for swift transport in the physical dimensions. 

Through a combination of magics, people such as Solomon could even command demons in the physical world.  The Hindu vedas and Mahabharata have similar stories.

Ancient structures and monuments

Any of the above forms of ancient magic could be used by itself to create most of the greater Neolithic structures and monuments, if they happened to have the technology.  However, technology had all but disappeared by this time, so they had to use a combination of forces to accomplish the same tasks. That said, some few structures did have the benefit of the advanced technology brought by otherworldly beings (not aliens, per se.)

Stonehenge, for example, was a collaborative effort between humans, ancient humans, and otherworldly beings, but without too many technological devices available.  Humans provided raw labor, were recruited for chanting, drumming and singing, or added to the meditation (thought) circles which powered parts of the operation.  The Ancients provided the technical knowledge, and the most intelligent among them devised the chants and melodies or worked on tying the different forces together.  Astronomers from every group did the calculations to figure out gravitational and magnetic effects on the Earth, so that adjustments could be made by the geniuses. 

Many ancient structures around the world show keyhole shaped impressions cut out of them, some few with copper remnants.  While I don't know the exact mechanisms used, I do know that the copper was more than a staple to join blocks together.  Adding it to the stone allowed for electromagnetic forces to also play a role in moving massive stones.   Usually, there was a technological device involved, but sometimes it was simply an ancient people trying to imitate those who they thought of as gods.  Either way, the copper did also work as a staple to hold stones together. 

Through a combination of different technologies, even without technological devices, the Ancients were able to accomplish what seemed like magic. 

Only the beginning

Great Neolithic structures are only the most tangible examples which remain of the magic of the ancients.  Some of the feats they accomplished regularly were equally or even more amazing, but the only evidence left of it is the watered down stories which come to us through the filter of countless generations which lacked the ability to remember and grok the mysteries behind those stories. 

Some mystery traditions have guarded many of these secrets through the ages, including that through which I learned these secrets. Some few shaman and other magic users still employ some of these secrets in our arts.  This article exists to open that understanding to more people. 

Though this is not a strictly Hindu post, I am not Hindu, I believe that it is appropriate to end this piece with:
Namaste.  Om shanti shanti shanti.

September 21, 2014

Why I believe in God

The purpose of this post isn't to convince anyone that God exists.   One either sees it and believes, or doesn't.   In addition, I'm not speaking specifically about the Abrahamic God in this post, though my beliefs are heavily influenced by the Abrahamic faiths.  

There are many levels of my belief, as I tend to be the kind of person who analyses everything, perhaps too much at times.   Each and every one of my beliefs has to sit well both with my heart, and my reasoning.   Thus, the specifics of my beliefs change over time;  they evolve to better understanding.   To me, that is the purpose of life.

There are times when my heart has been shattered, or my life thrown for a major loop, and part of me wanted to give up believing in God.  I am going through a particularly rough patch at the moment; however, I find that as time goes on, my ability to doubt the existence of God dwindles.  My intellectual side has considered the question too often, and even the pieces of my shattered heart still echo with love for God.
 
I'll admit to feeling a little abandoned right now, but overall I know that God is a force for love and life.  It is not God who has caused my issues, but God tries to motivate other people to help those who are in need.  Such is the design of our world; we grow most by helping one another succeed, so God leaves most of it to us.

Cogito ergo Deus est

Descartes famously said, "Cogito, ergo sum," which is, "I think therefore I am."  I agree, and I also say, "Cogito ergo Deus est," which is, in my middling grasp of Latin, "I think, therefore God is."

Consciousness is a sign of God.  It is almost believable that life, even complex life, could randomly evolve from the elements created in stars; given the currently understood size of the Universe, it's statistically probable that if it is at all possible to happen, it would happen somewhere.   However, consciousness is amazing, especially among humans.  We have the ability to think and reason, to drastically alter our environment, and even to leave it and go into space.   Unlike machines, we can wonder about existence and purpose.  Consciousness and sentience are signs of God, or at least some divine force, even if you think of it as a universal consciousness (see "Who is God" also on this blog.)  Consciousness and sentience are not things which I believe can occur by random chance evolution; it goes far beyond survival strategy, and often works against us because of our ignorance.

Related to those concepts are good and evil.  We don't see much sense of good and evil from animals, though pack, flock, pride, and other group animals they do have a concept of behavior which is or isn't socially acceptable.  We find this distinction most pronounced in carnivorous and omnivorous mammals, elephants (herbivores) and primates (some of whom are herbivores.)  Our dogs, and only some cats, will even express what looks to us like guilt when they piddle on the rug, or steal food when our backs are turned.   It's a survival response, and evolved so that weaker group members could survive. 

Humans have these same drives, but we also have the ability to think of right and wrong as individual and abstract concepts, beyond survival and what is socially acceptable.   Even some atheists are vegetarians because they believe it is morally wrong, while some deeply spiritual people are omnivores and see eating both plants and animals as part of their place in the cycle of life.  We have empathy, even genuine empathy, when others suffer, often even if they aren't a part of their own pack.  Though, some animals, such as the African painted dog, will care for older and injured pack members, and form relationships with other animals.  Sometimes even animal behavior can be seen as more than just for survival.  They too mourn their dead, and perhaps some plants do as well.   There's no evolutionary reasoning for morals, ethics,  sentience and consciousness in general to randomly happen.  It is evidence that there is something greater guiding evolution and life, even if you simply think of life as the Universe guiding its own evolution and trying to understand itself.

I believe in evolution

Evolution, as it has happened on Earth, is evidence of God.

Based on the evidence currently available to humanity, evolution seems like a probability.  It does appear that life began as simple organisms, and gradually became more complex.  My book, "An Angelic Journey Within," offers one theistic answer to why it happened in such a way. 

It is almost feasible, as I said, that life could evolve randomly, through the trial and error of random mutations,  and become more complex.  However, since most mutations are maladaptive, causing sterility and/or death before reproduction, it simply doesn't make statistical sense that enough adaptive mutations would occur to explain the billions of varieties of life on the Earth (think plants and insects, mold, fungi and bacteria, etc)  not to mention all those which came before and were wiped out without leaving genetic descendants; including some species of hominid (early human variations) and billions or trillions of species at the end of each zoological era, only a tiny fraction of which survived to leave descendants.  (If future science proves that last fact to be untrue, we still have trillions upon trillions of species which have evolved over the past lifespan of the Earth.)

So, evolution itself becomes a proof that some force greater than us, which I think of as God,  is guiding the development of life upon the Earth.   It has happened successfully too many times on one planet to be random chance, and I personally think that the way nature and different species balance one another, like wolves culling herds, deer eating and then fertilizing plants, happens almost too perfectly to be random chance.   Only humans violate those principles, and our ability to do so, as mentioned in the previous section, with choice is even further evidence for something greater than us. 

I believe in God

The reasons which shape my personal beliefs about the nature and being of the aforementioned greater force; ie, God, are complex and, well, personal.   I believe that there is historical and cultural evidence of the Divine around the world.  There is evidence that the overall teaching of the Divine is that we are to learn real love and compassion for one another, and to seek knowledge and wisdom.  I believe that Yeshua, the one many call "Jesus," and his ministry are one important reflection of that message, and that there have been many others around the world throughout history and prehistory.  It is a nearly universal theme.  However, the specifics of belief are topics for other blog posts. 

The spirit of God be strong with us all. 

July 10, 2014

Are you a Shaman?

Read this blog post if you want to know more about shaman, whether or not you are one.  If you know that you are a shaman, enjoy this perspective, and I hope that you will leave a comment with your wisdom.  If you don't know whether or not you are a shaman, this article will give you a framework to find your answer.

The term, "shaman" invokes different images for different people.  Likewise, people have different thoughts about how the term is used, who may apply the title, and who may be a shaman.

The reason for the confusion is the layman's limited understanding of a term used in cultural anthropology and archaeology.  The term comes from the tribal cultures of Siberia and the surrounding regions. However, anthropologists use the term "shamanic" to refer to spiritual leaders from primal cultures across the world who have certain traits in common. 

"Shaman" come from different cultures with often radically different beliefs from one another.  These cultural differences are the heart of most disagreements on the modern use of the title,  "shaman."  What is absolutely true about shaman from one culture or group of cultures, may not be true for those from other cultures.   In our global, often culturally blended modern world, a conclusive definition becomes even more elusive.  So, here is a cross-cultural view to help you understand the heart of what a shaman is, the common thread which connects all. 

Cultural Context

Unless you are living among a culture with a primal religion, you probably do not think that you have much of a cultural context from which to draw. However, you do.  While it is good to learn from shaman, past and present, from other cultures, you are not them. They drew from their culture, though they were unique among their people.  In our multicultural world that means probably drawing your beliefs and practices from a variety of cultures.   However, ultimately shaman are unique people, and don't often fit into any cultural boxes.

Can you name yourself a shaman?

This question is, perhaps, the most contentious question in modern shamanism.   The simplest answer is yes, depending on circumstances.
Many cultures which have shamanic like traditions have strict rules for the passing down of their spiritual leader roles, and often only another shaman can name one as such within the context of that culture.  Thus, many modern shaman believe that one cannot name oneself a shaman.  They see it as a spiritual leadership title similar to "priest." (Though, even priests are often such in spirit and calling long before they are titled and gain a flock.)

However, if you return to what the core of being a shaman is, the common thread, it becomes free from the restrictions of those titles, and becomes descriptive of a person with a certain kind of life calling on a certain kind of path which crosses both primal and modern spiritual paths. 

In fact, in some of the cultures from which the term "shaman" originates use it more as a descriptive term than a title.  Sometimes there is one, sometimes there are many, sometimes even most or all of the tribe.  Sometimes they are regarded as sacred spiritual leaders, and sometimes they are reclusive and do work mostly for themselves or for the spirits.  They are often feared. 

Shaman must always recognize for themselves that they are a shaman before any other recognition has any meaning.  Some shaman are lucky enough to have another shaman recognize and guide them, and some have to walk their road alone.  The latter are becoming more common in this disbelieving, strife-filled modern world.   Even a shaman who is self (and spirit) raised and trained is wise to seek out other shaman, and to be careful in so doing.

How do you become a shaman?

A person who will become a shaman is chosen before birth.  You cannot choose to become a shaman unless it is who you are, and not everyone who is called will become a shaman.
The Divine knows that humans, on their free will, make life full of strife for one another.  Those souls who are selected to be shaman ate placed into lives which will experience that strife to a great extent.  A traumatic event is most often the means of shamanic awakening.  Sometimes it is a childhood illness, or epilepsy.  Other times it is a loss of a parent, sibling or someone else close to them at an early age.  Still other times they are abused. In some cases a shaman is awakened purely through an experience with the Divine, whether or not it is aided by natural hallucinogens.  (Use of hallucinogenic substances is not necessary, and is not usually recommended by modern shaman, outside of a cultural context.)

Regardless of how they get there, the next step is the same for most, if not all, shaman, and is reported by shaman from around the world.  It is the shattering.   The soul of the shaman is shattered, left in pieces,  sometimes ground to dust and scattered to the winds.  The shaman is broken, lost, often quite insane, during that period of time.  In some cultures, one who is recognized as a shaman is exiled for that phase, which can take months or even years.

The shaman spends that time analyzing themselves as they gather all of their pieces of their soul to put it back together.  The fact that shaman must go through that process is why shaman are skilled at helping other people with soul retrieval.  Each shaman has their own walk, their own process, and it is private and sacred.  It is not shared, except with another shaman whom they trust.  The one common thread which can be shared is that it involves an extended series of journeys into the spirit world, introduction to guides, and a lot of hard work and deep analysis. The shaman experiences more in that time than most people experience in a dozen long lifetimes. (S)he comes away with great knowledge, great wisdom and a very different outlook on life. 

Many who are called to be shaman don't make it through that process.  Some go permanently insane, others die.  All shaman are scarred by the process and may seem incredibly odd, or act randomly unpredictably from time to time. 

Do the spirits make bad things happen to shaman so that they will awaken?

No.  Shaman are placed into lives where awakening is likely to be triggered.  People have free will, and sometimes a shaman doesn't awaken until later in life.

The spirits did not cause the heinous event which triggered my awakening when I was a child, but they did cradle me, comfort me, teach me, encourage me and guide me back to wholeness.  In other words, they used the effects that horrible offense had on me to trigger my awakening.

As I noted earlier, some few shaman awaken purely through visions, without a traumatic trigger.

Is everyone who was once broken or who experienced trauma a shaman?

No.  Just as not every shaman has trauma, so is it that not all who have trauma are called to be shaman. Sometimes humans are just horrible to one another, and sometimes awful things just happen.  Many people are shattered, and there are many ways to become whole again.  Those people who are not shaman often need the help of a shaman to be whole again, and sometimes there are other ways to be whole again. 

What differentiates the shaman is that the shaman comes back together through the help of spirits, angels and the Divine.  A shaman takes a special path to wellness, which only those who are called to be shaman can take.  Through that road, the shaman is prepared to help others and/or to do other important spiritual work for the world which only another shaman would recognize is being done.

The shaman spends most of his/her time in spiritual work and learning, either in the physical world or the spiritual world; often both at the same time.  They are prepared and trained for their work, most or all of that training is often by God and the spirits and angels.

Are shaman better than everyone else?

Shaman are better at some things than anyone but another shaman. If you need to heal your soul, a shaman can help.  If you need spiritual cleansing of your home, yourself, etc, then a shaman can help.  If you need spiritual guidance or wisdom,  a shaman is a great source for that kind of service.

However, shaman is just a description.  It describes something about a person, and doesn't necessarily define them.  It likewise doesn't make them more important than other people.  That said, they are sometimes the most important people in their community, only because they end up filling many different important roles.

It is not a title used to boast nor to gain status.  One is a shaman because that path is the path which one walked and continues to walk.  The best shaman do their work humbly and only see themselves as one small part of the machine of humanity, which is part of the machine of the Universe.  Each part of the machine is as important as the others.

Should you call yourself a shaman?

That answer is almost entirely up to you.  No matter what term you use, if you are a shaman you are a shaman.  Just don't go using the earned, inherited or passed down titles of other cultures, unless that culture formally recogizes you in that role. While I like the term shaman, I use it only selectively when referring to myself, mostly only among other shaman to whom the spirits guide me. 

It is a unique descriptive term, and there isn't much to replace it.  Priests and other spiritual leaders are sometimes also shaman, but not all shaman hold official titles.  If you do decide to call yourself a shaman, be prepared to fend off nastiness.

Most modern shaman I know are fantastic people, but some few are jealous, judgmental,  and back-biting.  Some treat shaman as a title of prestige, an elite club rather than a humble, deep calling.   Some are just, understandably,  wary of other shaman because of the insane number of scam artists and just plain nuts who use the title to sound mystical.   So, use it if it fits you, but I wouldn't recommend putting it on your business cards unless you are recognized as such by a community, or you just don't mind putting up with the derision from people who think that they know better than you. You'll run into people like that anyway, in anything you do. 





June 4, 2014

My second novella

Many of you know about the recent publishing of my first novella, "An Angelic Journey Within."  I know that you will enjoy reading it, and you may learn a lot from it.  It is a fiction story containing many spiritual truths,  some deep and some more surface.  The message contained within it is multicultural and Interfaith,  and accepting of everyone.  It discusses subjects from science, creation and evolution mysteries,  history of the Universe, history of the Earth, philosophy, daily living and the potential of humanity both now and in the future. 

The second novella is a sequel, and from a different perspective.  The main character in the first book is a man who is a Messianic Jew, and it takes a Judeo-Christian viewpoint (though it is specifically inclusive of other viewpoints.)  The main character in the first sequel is a woman who is half Lakota and half Norwegian, and who follows a form of Wicca.  

However, this book won't contain a strictly Wiccan viewpoint.  Rather, it will contain the myths, legends and stories of many different cultures, much more so than in the first novella.  The point of the second book is to demonstrate that God didn't abandon other cultures, and taught the same basic message through many cultural filters. 

Though I consider myself to be a Christian minister, my training and study is cross cultural, and I have experienced many diverse religious and spiritual traditions.  I see the same spirit within all of those who most purely follow almost any path.  I see the same spirit in the Dalai Lama as I do in Pope Francis,  and in many other compassionate, loving, deeply spiritual people of many paths, including also some of my Wiccan friends. 

The main character in the second book is Sarah.  She is not named after anyone I know, even though I do know a few good people with that name.   Parts of her personality will likely end up being inspired by some of my friends who follow Wicca.

Before you start screaming about witches and the devil, give these books a chance.  The devil has nothing to do with people who live the philosophy of love and compassion.  He would only wish to see division between different groups who do, because if we unite, he is defeated.  We are stronger when we work together in love.

The overall message of this book will also point to the universality of the message and story of Yeshua (Jesus.) There are similar stories in many cultures, and many of those stories informed parts of the eventual myth which surrounds the life and ministry of Yeshua.  However, rather than disproving Yeshua, these other stories only demonstrate that Yeshua followed an ancient Divine pattern. 

Anyway, those are the plans for this book, but it isn't written yet (about two thirds done writing chapter one) so only spirit knows how it will ultimately turn out.

Love to all of you, even those who disagree with what I have said here.