Archive for the ‘Religion & Philosophy’ Category

A Nod

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

There are times in my life when I know the decision that I’m about to make has numerous unforeseen consequences. Its times like these that I realize just how alone I am. Perhaps, that’s not the best way to put it. I should say that I understand just how personally responsible I am for any decisions I make.

Today, I faced one of those choices. It’s one that’s been coming for as long as I can remember. Today, I made the decision that I will become a guide, a teacher. Today, I made the choice to not let fear control me. When asked if I would undertake the endeavor, I replied “Yes.”

For those of you who don’t know me personally or haven’t really talked with me, you probably don’t understand the full difficultly of this decision. See, I’ve often had people asking, sometimes pleading, for me to teach them to understand things, to experience things, as I do. Now, the explanation part has never been difficult for me. I like to talk and I’m one of my favorite subjects. But, I’ve always been very hesitant of guiding other beings in any way. To do so requires me to take a certain responsibility for someone else that I’ve always been afraid to take on. I’ve been afraid that people would look to me for infallible answers I simply cannot offer or proofs I am ill equipped to give. Shit, I have a hard enough time convincing myself I’m not one strap short of a straight jacket.

But today the question was posed by Athena at the behest of another “abstract” group. I’m not entirely clear what/who this “abstract “group was, although they had a spokesperson, of sorts. Regardless, both made it quite clear that, as much as I may fear helping others explore and deal with things that I can’t entirely explain, the result of me not being open to helping would be extremely detrimental to those seeking assistance. Furthermore, choosing not to offer my knowledge/intuition or continuing to hedge on any commitment to do so, would hinder my own growth.

I guess I should have seen this coming. For the last few nights I’ve had inklings that something big was coming my way. I’ve had dreams that were quite vivid and, at times, I had to work through some harsh truths. I guess I should have known dealing with those issues was a way for me to clear my plate.

Now, I suppose it’ll be a wait and see game to see what comes of this decision. I got the impression, more clearly than at other times in my short life, that I’m playing some role in something that is just beginning. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty sure that I’m not so important that the whole thing would have come to a stand still if I had chosen not to be involved. But, it’s nice to know to be reminded that I do indeed have something of value to offer. Even if I don’t entirely understand the treasure I apparently hold in my hands.

Contemplation: My Altar

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010

So, I’ve had an altar off and on for quite awhile now. Previously, I’ve mainly setup the altar itself according to instinct and feel. It usually has an aesthetic pleasantness about it and a feel of calm surrounding it. The objects on it are things I happen to have around and usually represent things that I feel are “needed” in the space.

Sadly, I’ve never fully setup an altar in our latest abode. I mean I had the stuff setup but there was no energy associated with it. It sat like a classic car in an old barn. I knew it was there but it was simply hibernating, neglected.

Part of the reason for this is that Kuan Yin, told me quite sternly “Don’t put up an altar if your not going to use it”. And, since I didn’t have an immediate need to make “use” of it, I never fully created or sanctified it.

However, since I’ve decided to be more of an active participant in my religious practice, rather than just sit on my duff and wait for stuff to happen, it was time to setup the alter in hopes of using it as a tool during my current journey.

The first thing I’ve noticed is the difference in the feel of setting it up. This time there is a lot more work involved. It feels like I’m searching through myself in order to find out what the altar needs, its layout and its decor. I know that there are some things that the altar needs, like representations of Athena or things associated with her. These will take awhile to acquire but that’s okay. It’s not meant to be instantaneous this time around.

But, it’s not just the objects or the layout of the altar that have been difficult to work on. It seems like the more I work on the altar, and it really will be a long process, the more I’m working through my own issues. I feel that, while frustrating, it much more important that I work through the stress. It’s seems to be part of my current journey.

This is a new experience for me. Not bad, just different. I really hope that this is what Kuan Yin meant by “using” my altar.

Contemplation: My Polytheism

Sunday, July 18th, 2010

I’ve been struggling to figure out what the subject of my first contemplation should be. I think to start off with I’d like to address the nature of my polytheism. As a core part of my belief system, it separates my from my Christian neighbors and, in some regards, makes it distinct from other Pagan faiths. I’ve always had a hard time explaining it to others. Of course, I think this has more to do with my fear of being seen as ‘insane’ than it does with my lack of words.

So, here goes.

The first thing that I feel my readers need to understand is that I do have interaction with the beings I talk about. While the specific ways in which we communicate may vary, I do feel, hear and see them. The meaning of this is literal, not figurative.

When I profess this, I always find it interesting that many Christians, especially those that claim to have a ‘personal’ relationship with Christ, look at me cockeyed. I mean, really guys, if you’ve never really interacted with Christ outside of reading about him, if you’ve never discussed anything with him, then how can you call that a ‘personal’ relationship? If that’s what it takes to have a personal relationship, then Sandra Bullock and I have a personal relationship because I’ve read what the tabloids say about her. (Not that I would complain. She is rather cute.)

This sort of interaction means that I’m not prone to try to understand a deity solely based on scripture, myths, legends, etc. which mention them. Sure, there are times when this comes in handy, especially when you want to understand the type of personality that just walked in, but it is by no means fool proof. As Athena told me during our first meeting, “Don’t believe everything you read.” I’ve come to realize the benefit of keeping an open mind and letting my understandings of a god’s personality grow through experience.

I don’t consider myself Neo-Pagan for this very reason. I don’t see the need to try and recreate the historic religious practices surrounding a specific deity. In many cases, I’m sure that this endeavor would be interesting and worthwhile academically but I’m well aware that I’m ill equipped for the task. To the point, if I have a deity right here to discuss such matters, I’m pretty sure she’ll guide me.

Since I have relationships with specific deities, I see them as distinct entities. This causes me to take issue with some of my Pagan brethren who wish to put all goddesses and/or gods under some sort of Ultimate Goddess/God. To me this makes about as much sense as claiming that all Matts contribute to some Ultimate Matt and that to know one means to know us all. Not to mention, I wouldn’t want to be in the same room as someone who has decided that Athena is the same as Hera.

I don’t mean to berate this point. I can totally understand that if one saw the gods as symbolic of ultimate forms, be the forms feminine, masculine, etc, than it would make sense to categories them along such lines. I see no harm in one trying to emulate a specific philosophical ideal and building one’s life around that goal. However, given the context of my experience, this simply isn’t an option.

For me, acknowledging the existence of a god or goddess does not mean that one needs to worship or honor them. I’ve found that my relationships with deities can be just as varied as those between people. Sometimes one comes into your life just to say ‘hi’, to point out something you’ve missed, to beat the crap outta you for no good reason (not all are benevolent) or to become a lifelong friend. There are more ways to interact with the divine than the ‘Master-Slave’ type so poplar these days. (And, while I say this with Christianity in mind, I know that this causes Yahweh to grieve. I bear him no ill will. I humbly submit that this type is not a necessity for him.)

If my interactions have taught me anything, it’s that I should never claim to know whether a deity exists without first having an interaction with the one in question. Seriously, I have made the claim before and had the deity show up just to show my ignorance. As such, I see myself as agnostic in regards to the existence of others.

Yep, this has a tendency to make my religious perspective a little broken up. One would think that it would make sense to say that if Athena exists then, by extension Zeus must also. I can understand that perspective but, I’d rather remain agnostic than make a claim I’d later regret. I have no clear understanding of what has gone on behind the veil of time or beyond my experience. I’ve learned never to claim to know whether a deity exists without first having an interaction with the one in question. Seriously, I have made the claim before and had the deity show up just to show my ignorance. As such, I see myself as agnostic in regards to the existence of others.

Wow… That’s quite the jumble of stuff up there. I’ll let it be for now. Those of you with eyestrain may thank me later.

A Time of Transitions

Sunday, July 11th, 2010

Transitions are always one of those funny things. It seems to me that, even with the best laid plans, I find myself with unexpected consequences. This is one of those times.

Lately, I’ve found that I have this nasty tendency to dwell on insignificant incidents or circumstances that could have gone wrong but didn’t. While I seem to fixate on one thing at a time, I quickly move from one concern to another no matter how irrational or out of my control the thing is. I’ve gotten stuck in a continual loop of being overly ‘mindful’ of things.

This tendency to fixate, coupled with my lack of self confidence, has caused me quite a bit of mental anguish.  I’ve lived in a heightened state of anxiety for the last several weeks.

Now, most of this may sound like pure intellectual crap, but it all boils down to the fact that I find myself in a situation where I’m realize I’m not in a good place mentally but seemingly unable to stop working against myself. It’s very frustrating.

So, this morning I decided to take a walk and so some serious thinking. I soon found that Athena had joined me on my walk and once again offered Her guidance. Athena’s presence was not new, nor exactly unexpected.

See, I’ve known for awhile that the next step upon my path was to walk with Athena. I’ve been transitioning, with Quan Yin’s blessing, to Her.  But, as usual, I’ve been procrastinating due to my own self doubts and skepticism.

This morning I made the conscious decision to take Athena up on Her offer.

The decision was not an easy one. Before She would agree to become my patron I had to meet one requirement. I had to admit that I have a tendency to not “live” or “own” my religious perspective. I had to admit that I tend to remain non-committal when my religion might bring conflict between me and another. I had to confess to Her, and admit to myself, that I have often hid behind the skepticism inherent in my own stance in order to justify not committing to much of anything.

In essence, I had to admit that I’m a coward.

There something a bit refreshing in being that honest.

Now, it’s time to learn how to walk again.

Where are the Wind Mills?

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

There are times when the Moon sets and leaves us wondering what will become of those things we once held so dear. Will they still hold the same importance once the sun rises in the morning? Or, have they already set sail and we’ve ignored the flowing out of the tide.

This sort of thing doesn’t bring me despair but the emptiness it leaves behind breeds a sort of melancholy that leaves me wondering why I bother to latch onto things in the first place.

Yes, the Magic is gone. I’m a blind man faced with the nothingness that results from Mankind’s pursuit of the next best thing, regardless of the value of what’s sacrificed. In the end, I know I can’t face this Reality. It’s too sterile. It has too little promise. There is nothing in it but a pale reflection of wonder and an echo of a child’s laughter hidden in quite sobs of adulthood.

My coping mechanism is to tilt at windmills. I grasp at the little ‘What if?’s, hoping to stretch them over the open chasm of my heart. I suppose that I once sought humankind’s knowledge thinking that this was the greatest of all treasures. In my foolish longing I overlooked the wonder and the awe of the unknown, the unfathomable.

No… It’s not an either/or, this choice of Worlds, but that doesn’t mean the transitions are easy. The choices are not always mine. The concept of inalienable ‘Rights of Man’ are foolish if more than Man exists. This isn’t something they teach in the Ivory Towers.

The Gods are the greatest of Windmills but there are little swirls of Being here and there. I used to feel their presence with little endeavor, but their whisper is few and far in between. And, I miss them…

I suppose when one ceases to listen, whether out of fear or arrogance, the Other ceases to waist it’s breath. Now, I find myself holding mine, hoping that I’ll be given another chance to see things, beyond the pale of human understanding..


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