Sunday, 4 May 2008

One more reason why I'm a Pagan

It's called substitutionary sacrifice - the idea that Jesus, the pure lamb of God, had to be sacrificed to the implacable Jehovah in order to pay for our sins. It's not something that all Christians subscribe to (it's pretty much a heresy in Orthodoxy), but it is a widespread view among fundamentalists and evangelicals. The kind of chorus song illustrated in the picture expresses the vile substitutionary doctrine.

The idea that Jesus' life, death and resurrection is a mystery that his followers can participate in is a much more humane view (though if this is the case, why did the Church have to stamp out all the other mystery traditions?)

Another possibility (the Unitarian position) is to embrace the ethical precepts of Jesus; this leads one to an appreciation of other similar thinkers (Gandhi etc.) and a rejection of Christian intolerance.

But the twisted substitutionary doctrine leads to a rejection of natural desires and a rejection of the divinely-bestowed fullness of life.

Whereas the Pagan view embraces life, nature, and sexuality and the presence of spirit in all these things, the fundamentalist Christian views them as inhabited by demons - a word which originally meant a spirit of place or a tutelary genius (a daimon in Greek).

The Pagan view celebrates the immanence of spirit in matter, and seeks to encourage matter to become ever more ensouled, ever more aware of itself; to re-enchant matter, as in the old animist worldview of our ancestors. Ironically, I think this was actually Jesus' aim (if we can ever really recover what he thought from beneath the mass of doctrinal statements about him); and this was the source of Gardner's and Sanders' claims that being a witch made you "a better Christian".
In a dream I saw Jesus and My God Pan sitting together in the heart of the forest.
They laughed at each other's speech, with the brook that ran near them, and the laughter of Jesus was the merrier. And they conversed long.
"And now let us play our reeds together."
And they played together.
And their music smote heaven and earth, and a terror struck all living things.
I heard the bellow of beasts and the hunger of the forest. And I heard the cry of lonely men, and the plaint of those who long for what they know not.
I heard the sighing of the maiden for her lover, and the panting of the luckless hunter for his prey.
And then there came peace into their music, and the heavens and the earth sang together.
All this I saw in my dream, and all this I heard.

[Sarkis an old Greek Shepherd, called the madman : Jesus and Pan]
from Jesus the Son of Man by Kahlil Gibran
Io Pan!

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Happy Beltane

At last the leaves are properly out on most of the trees. There are bluebells everywhere, but there is still cherry blossom. The chestnut candles are poised to burst into flower. Beltane is in the air. It's my favourite festival because it seems to me to embody in many ways what Paganism (or at least its contemporary revived form) is about - the simple joy of being alive, relating to other people (including other-than-human people) and the Earth and Nature.
"Oh, do not tell the Priest of our Art,
For he would call it a sin;
But we shall be out in the woods all night,
A-conjuring summer in!

And we bring you news by word of mouth
For women, cattle and corn
Now is the sun come up from the South

With Oak, and Ash and Thorn!"

-- A Tree Song from Rudyard Kipling's Weland's Sword story in "Puck of Pook's Hill"