Dark Beauty

Within the span of time between equinoxes, where the Winter Solstice is found, lie the darkest days of the year. In Dancing in the Dark, the River Witch reminded me that there does seem to be a skewed perception among people that associates the dark[ness] with evil. There appears to be a list of causes for this unbalanced perception, from primal fear to modern cinema, but it is unhealthy because ignorance is the darkness where evil truly dwells. Therefore, it seems appropriate to try to foster a better understanding of the dark[ness] at this time of year.

Primal Fear

Food and protection from the elements (shelter and clothing) have been the fundamental concerns of survival since the dawn of humankind. The days start to get shorter and the nights longer immediately after the Summer Solstice, but it isn’t until after day and night reach balance at the Fall Equinox that we really notice the loss of warmth from the waning daylight. The earth is going to rest, and the press is on to gather in the harvest and fuel for the hearth fires. A poor harvest or prolonged winter could spell doom. The picture of hungry wolves baying at the door while the wind howls across the cold, barren land is burned deep within the collective consciousness. This is primal fear associated with dark days and the threat of suffering or death.

People fear the unknown and darkness hides much. Even today, the urban mugger or rural wild animal may lurk in the dark and catch us unaware. This is primal fear, also. Today, our modern news media can magnify such fear. However, more often than not, this deep seated fear is leveraged by modern cinema or the “friend” having a good laugh at our expense. Nevertheless, we have some very basic causes to associate the dark[ness] with a potential threat of harm or death, and therefore evil. However, this is only half of the story.

People formed bonds of clan, tribe, and community for the mutual benefit of survival. They sowed, cultivated, and harvested together. They hunted together, and their numbers provided a better defense if attacked by man or beast. They had long days of hard work, though. They sowed in the Spring, cultivated in the Summer, and harvested in the Fall, but when the earth went to rest in the winter, so did they. First they would gather together for the harvest feast or festival, the root of our modern Thanksgiving holidays. They now had time to socialize, tell stories, laugh and joke, sing, and even dance as they waited for winter to pass. It was also a good time for reflection, planning, and teaching the young.

Ancient people around the globe also had their shaman, whose job was essentially to peer into the dark, to glean knowledge for the welfare of their people. Directing the hunters to find game was one way they were to help their people. They were also spiritual healers and psychopomps who helped the spirits of the dead cross over. Ancient people had their own understanding about the natural cycles . Primal fear provides a seed for associating dark[ness] with evil, but it alone doesn’t explain the unbalanced perception of modern people.

Religion

The spiritual guidance of the shaman would eventually be supplanted by the priests and priestesses of religion. It seems a natural progression for spirituality to develop religion as a means to teach about spirit, particularly as communities got bigger. Religion is an expression of a revelation of spirit. Spirit, as an energy or life force, seems most akin to light. The already established primal fear makes it an easy leap to associate the opposite of life-force, death, with the opposite of light, dark, and therefore bad stuff – evil! Religion has contributed much to the association of the dark[ness] with evil, as evidenced by Christianity.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19 KJV). John speaks of spiritual light and darkness here. History and modern news media reveal that most of the evil men do is done in broad daylight, too. However, quite a mythology has developed around the Devil (a.k.a. Lucifer, Satan, etc.) as the “Prince of Darkness.”

The name Lucifer has its root in Latin and means light-bearer. In some Christian circles, it is his appearance as an angel of light that make his deceptions so easy, seductive and dangerous. In Devil Is Christian Not Jewish, Rabbi Maller says “the Jewish view of Satan is not a Devil…but rather an angel of God whose role is to tempt and test people.” This reminds me of when Jewish comedian Lewis Black noted that the Old Testament was their [Jewish people’s] book, and when Christians have trouble understanding it, they should ask a Jew. There does appear to be a discrepancy in the association of the “epitome of evil”, Lucifer or Satan, with darkness.

Modern Cinema

American cinema (a.k.a. Hollywood) uses Christian mythology to enhance the horror genre because the U.S. is predominantly Christian, and it is what they know best. Even if the alleged evil one has nothing to do with the dark[ness], stirring up the primal fear magnifies the adrenaline rush. The scariest scenes in much of the horror genre usually involve dark places or occur at night.

The term Prince of Darkness was used in 1667 by John Milton in his poem Paradise Lost, but it is found as early as the fourth century in the Acts of Pilate (see Answers.com). John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness (1987) concerned a container of liquid that was the essence of Satan. Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) selects a different embodiment of evil, but still associates evil with darkness. However, in some horror films, like The Exorcist, the Devil’s minions are the subject of the story. I do not think an exhaustive list is necessary to substantiate that modern cinema has strengthened the correlation of dark[ness] with evil.

Death

Demeter weeps as her daughter, Persephone, is carried off to the underworld by Hades. Pagan mythology has made its contributions, too. Modern Pagan beliefs include a correspondence between the cycle of the year, the cycle of life, and the cycle of the day.

Spring is the time of new life and birth. It is the season of sowing and watching vegetation sprouting from the earth. It is a time of youth. It corresponds with the dawn, or morning, when we awaken in the cycle of the day.

Summer is the time of growth. It is the season of cultivating crops. It is the long days of heat and work of adult life. It corresponds to midday when we tend to be most active in the cycle of the day.

Autumn is the time of maturity. It is the season of the harvest. It is reaping the benefits that come with time, including wisdom. It corresponds to the evening, when the sun sets in the cycle of the day.

Winter is the time of rest. It is the season of death when the earth goes cold and barren. It corresponds to midnight, the darkest time in the cycle of the day. The cycle continues, however!

Spring now corresponds to re-birth, and the winter now corresponds to the darkness of the womb from which new life springs. Christians and Pagans have something in common here. The womb metaphor is supported in Genesis 1:1-2 (KJV):

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

The Pagan belief in rebirth is the same as the Christian belief in resurrection. The main difference is that Pagan’s tend to believe in an indefinite repetition of the cycle, while Christians believe in a single resurrection. Regardless, an association has made between the darkest days of the year, the darkest part of the day, and death. While dark[ness] is equated with evil on many levels, the association may go the deepest with death.

It may seem ironic, contradictory, and even hypocritical for people who claim to believe in some form of afterlife to fear death and darkness, and equate them with evil. This may be due to the difference between the higher level intellectual belief and the lower level (deep) instinct for survival. The conflict between intellect and instinct may create a great enigma (twisting the mind) where a dark place is created within the human psyche that many cannot face. It becomes a dark place to be avoided, a taboo, an evil to be shunned.

Social Structure

We have grand cathedrals and temples, major religions, and clergy to help us understand life. We have psychiatrists and psychologists to help us if religion can’t help. However, we also seem to have people with an inordinate fear of death. Some even appear to abandon loved ones in order to avoid facing the reality of death. We have also removed ourselves well away from the natural cycles through technology.

Electric lights, oil heat, and modern construction enable us to work or play at any time of the day, and in any season. Modern transportation, refrigeration, and supermarkets ease or eliminate concerns for food. Satellite, cable, and the internet provide us with a myriad of choices in entertainment, too. We don’t even have to physically meet the people we socialize with because of the internet. We have not only removed ourselves from natural cycles, but we are also distancing ourselves from other people. Watch what people do in the next power outage.

What do people do when the lights go out? They will visit with others around them for awhile, like they normally do when the lights are on, but what happens if the power is out for a long time? They run out of things to say and may move on to another group for conversation, if there is another group. Sooner or later, they will start to fidget because they want to do something, but the things they are accustomed to doing are not available. I find whiners particularly obnoxious. Now, go back up and re-read the third paragraph under “Primal Fear.”

The Beauty of Darkness

Have you ever noticed that people change when gathered around a campfire? The change is subtle. They may talk about the same old things, but maybe they are more relaxed. I think the dancing flames mesmerize them. Perhaps another primal memory is stirred; the memory of the hearth fire.

The hearth fire was central to the home in days of old for cooking, warmth, and even light. It is where family and friends gathered. They entertained each other, and in so doing they entertained themselves. The family histories were passed down orally, and the young didn’t struggle to remember the stories about their bloodlines because their “Game Boy” wasn’t calling to them. I do not wish to idealize this setting, but I feel certain that the bonds established between people then went much deeper than they do now. Dysfunctional seems to be the catch word of modern times.

There is a time halfway between the Fall Equinox and the Winter Solstice, called Samhain. Most Americans know this time as Halloween. It is the Pagan New Year, but more importantly, it is when the veil between the worlds is the thinnest. It is when spirits can easily cross over and walk among us; it is the time of the wild hunt. This makes sense if we think of the life-force or energy that we call spirit as akin to light.

Like the stars in the heavens, the subtle light called spirit is easier to discern when our world is not overwhelmed with the energy we call daylight. Discern doesn’t necessarily mean spirit is visually seen, either. Perhaps we feel a presence. In the low light of the hearth fire, with or without candles, perhaps our ancestors felt each others spiritual presence as well as seeing each others physical presence, and this made for stronger familial bonds. There are contemporary stories about one family member knowing another is in trouble even when miles apart… and no cell phone was involved!

We might also hear a presence. Personally, I like the night because it is relatively quiet; I can even hear myself think. The energy of diurnal humankind can overwhelm the day with noise, but their nature is to sleep at night. This brings to mind an Old Testament scripture:

The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (I Kings 19:11-13 NIV)

The God of Abraham was not found in the loud spectacles, but He came as a gentle whisper.

Darkness also frames light well. In the midst of the dark cycle of the year, we have the Winter Solstice, which is the shortest day and longest night. From this point forward the days begin to get longer, so it is celebrated as new light coming into the world. It is an ancient festival (or celebration) of light that is so compelling that Christianity chose to celebrate the birth of Christ at this time because He brought new light into the world. This brings us back to the womb concept mentioned earlier and this scripture from the Old Testament:

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day. (Gen 1:1-5 KJV)

Even in Judeo-Christian cosmology, the divine creation was born out of darkness. Light was created after the heaven and earth. There is a question that begs to be asked because of these first scriptures, but I wonder who else might see it.

The River Witch wrote “about the turn of the seasons and how they are balanced.” The dark cycles brought balance to humankind because we are part of this world also, not separate from it. At least in the western industrialized world, humankind has successfully separated themselves from the natural cycles and have become dysfunctional and fearful. That is not healthy.

The Tapestry of Spirit

Spirit moves among us.  It dances around us and weaves in and out between us. Spirit inspires and moves through us, when we allow it.  Spirit moves upon the face of the earth now, as it did in the beginning (Gen 1:2 KJV), and as it will.  Spirit weaves a rich and vibrant tapestry before us and among us daily.  Why do so many miss it?

Religion is an expression of Spirit. As an expression of Spirit, it can be considered a language of spirituality.  There are many spiritual languages (religions) upon the face of the earth.  Many people understand only one language, so they cannot appreciate the rich tapestry woven before us.  Many people choose to know only one language because they presume other religions are not about the same Spirit.  This presumption is a manifestation of pride; there is no factual basis for this presumption.

Some of the most prideful people can be found among the Children of Abraham.  This is particularly odd when ancient Judaic lore, as incorporated into the Christian bible, states that it was the will of Spirit to confound the language of humankind and scatter them across the face of the earth (Gen 11:1-9 KJV). It seems only reasonable to conclude that it was the will of Spirit that there should also be many spiritual languages.  Why?  Because otherwise, “nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do” (Gen 11:6 KJV).  Imagine the pride that would have been produced in humankind!  Let’s also remember that this took place after the face of the earth had been washed clean by a great deluge because of the unrestrained behavior of humankind, and before the Law was given through Moses.

This is where the legalistic mind is certain to raise red flags about biblical passages referring to “false gods” or Jesus’ words, “No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6 NIV).  The legalistic mind forgets that Jesus also said that one had to be born of Spirit to see or enter the Kingdom of God.  Jesus is spirit and only by spirit can one know Spirit.  The false gods were also described as “graven images” or products of the material world, as compared to things of a spiritual nature. We must not lose sight of the many names of God, either.  Jesus, himself, is also called Emmanuel (Matt 1:23 KJV).  Perhaps even more important is, “I will also write on them my new name” (Rev 3:12 NIV) which should give pause to even the most stubborn, legalistic mind; do you know His new name?  It would be equally remiss to forget,”For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known ”(1 Corinthians 13:12 NIV).  Certainly, one way to miss the rich tapestry woven by Spirit is to think you already know everything.

There is evidence that Spirit does reveal itself in different religions or spiritual languages. The concept of karma, or the principle that “a man reaps what he sows” (Gal 6:7 NIV), seems to be quite universal.  The oriental chi (or ki), the Tao, the druid Awen, and the All of the Kybalion are but a few of the different expressions for the essence of creation and life.  Most religions express the creation of the physical universe as an emanation of Spirit.  There is evidence that Spirit expresses itself in the manner it chooses and where it chooses, not where any individual or group of individuals dictate.  Spirit is like the wind that cannot be bound: “The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going” (John 3:8 NIV).

We live in a time when technology enables us to appreciate the manifestations and expressions of Spirit much more fully because of mass media, and particularly because of the internet.  A cursory search of WordPress blogs yesterday revealed “A Letter From God” by Tikarma Vodicka.  This piece is a refreshing and powerful expression of the omnipresence of Spirit to me, but I am sure it expresses unique things to each individual.  This search also revealed “A Word For The Judging Public…” by Innarae, which is strong, assertive, and of independent spirit. It is dark and brilliant at the same time. Can you feel spirit dancing around you while you read it? For the legalistic who have a hard time opening their hearts to Spirit, remember “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them” (Gen 1:27 KJV) which implies a female aspect to God, and Proverbs 8 (KJV) where She (Wisdom) was with God from the beginning, “before his works of old.”

Not all the threads of this tapestry are bright or colorful; some are dark.  A rich tapestry will have some dark elements to contrast and accent the brighter and richer threads.  One blog I stumbled upon in this cursory search spoke of a congregation that built a Crystal Cathedral, but it was built upon sand and the Waters of Life came along and washed it away.  The author apparently views the spectacle with disbelief, while others appear to perceive it for what it is.  I state this because the author copied posts from elsewhere in order to chastise the authors of such remarks. Spirit appears to have expressed reproof to this congregation, but it was spurned by the author of this blog.  I hope I do not have to explain why I provide no link to this blog.  I am sure that anyone can find it if they truly want to, and probably more blogs like it.

Nobody has all the answers, except Spirit.  We cannot learn fully from Spirit if we close ourselves off to Spirit, or even part of it.  We must learn to see the whole tapestry that it weaves.  We must learn its dance.  We can learn from one another, but first we must learn to respect each other, and also allow each other to freely walk the path Spirit moves us to – for that is the dance of Spirit.

Let those who have eyes see, and those who have ears hear.  Spirit moves upon the face of the earth and upon the hearts of humankind, as it sees fit.  Some scoff at the Animists who believe that Spirit exists in everything, but John the Baptist said, “And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham” (Matt 3:9 KJV).  There is much we can question.  There is much we can debate.  However, be certain that religion doesn’t inspire revelations – Spirit does!

Jesus Is A Witch!

“Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matt 7:16 KJV)

There is an old saying that “actions speak louder than words,” and the actions of Jesus speak quite loudly. He healed the sick, and fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish. He walked on water, and changed water into wine. He even raised the dead. Regardless of whether one prefers to call Him witch or wizard, sorcerer or shaman, or simply mage, Jesus performed feats of magic that are a hard act to follow.

I have heard some people say that Jesus didn’t perform magic; He performed miracles! At best, this can only be characterized as a petty game of semantics. The reported acts of Jesus invoked supernatural power attributed to a beneficent God, and therefore, qualify as magic. These acts of magic were so amazing that He not only qualifies as a witch, but as an adept. Let there be no doubt that any modern Witch, Wizard, or Wiccan would be thrilled to perform the acts of Jesus. This may have even played a role in why He was crucified.

“Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live” (Exodus 22:18 KJV)

When Jesus healed a demon possessed man, the Pharisees were reported as saying, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons” (Matt 12:24 NIV). In the next line, Jesus responds “If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself” which establishes the connection between Beelzebul and Satan. The religious leaders (Pharisees) of the time were declaring Jesus to be in league with the Devil.

Complicity with the Devil was a common characterization of witchcraft throughout the middle ages, the Inquisition, and in the Malleus Maleficarum, through more recent history with the Salem Witch Trials, and even into modern times. Today, in the United States, there are religious factions that claim groups other than themselves are in league with the Devil, or deceived by him. Many were executed in those witch hunts, many are persecuted today, but Jesus was crucified before them all.

”That which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6 KJV)

One religious leader, a Pharisee named Nicodemus went to inquire of Jesus by night, for it would not have been good for others to see him with Jesus. It was in this famous conversation that Jesus said, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3 KJV) Naturally, Nicodemus was confused by such a statement and asked for clarification. Jesus clarified,”Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5 KJV). He further clarifies in the next line, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (John 3:6 KJV).

There is an obvious allusion here to the breaking of a mother’s water just prior to birth in the flesh, or birth into the material world. Then a person must be born again of the spirit, or into the spiritual world, in order to see the kingdom of God, and to enter the kingdom of God. Spirituality is essential to sight and salvation, not religion.

Jesus didn’t usually keep company with religious leaders because He isn’t religious, He is spiritual. The difference between religion and spirituality seems best defined by Awakening to the Spirit World: The Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation ( p. 6):

 My teacher, an old Indian man from the high Andes, once said to me… ‘Religions are simple concepts of spirituality: values, standards, truths, principles communicated in the form of a story that uses poetry and metaphor to illustrate its wisdom.’ These stories have been told and retold until even their embellishments acquire profound meaning and the figurative is taken literally and the lessons are lost.

Coincidentally, the Wiccan Charge of the Goddess states, “And thou who thinkest to seek Her, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not unless thou knowest the mystery; that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, then thou wilt never find it without thee.” Do you understand the mystery about finding the spirit within? Perhaps it would be more accurate to characterize Jesus as a Wiccan because of the developing pattern.

The religious leader sneaks to see Him undercover of darkness because Jesus was generally in opposition to the religious structure of that time. Jesus explains spirituality to the religious leader in the previously mentioned passages. The words and deeds of Jesus define Him as spiritual, not religious.

“There shall not be found among you… a witch… a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer” (Deut 18:10-11 KJV)

One definition for necromancy is “conjuring up the dead, especially for prophesying.” Another defining act of Jesus’ is called the transfiguration in Luke 9:28-33 (NIV):

About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning. Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus. They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him. As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.’ (He did not know what he was saying.)

Clearly, the spirits of two long dead prophets appeared for Jesus to speak with about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment. Clearly, this was a discussion about future events. Clearly, Jesus was engaged in a powerful spiritual activity, and it was an activity that fits the profile of a witch, wizard, Wiccan, etc.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 KJV)

The passages referenced earlier that are the foundation for the Born Again doctrine (John 3:1-8), ironically, also undermines the basic principle of Christian fundamentalism that the Holy Scriptures mean exactly what they say. While this principle is not wholly untrue, strict adherence to this idea ignores the variables inherent with translation, which is evident by the number of translations. Strict adherence ignores the number of times Jesus spoke in parables. Strict adherence misses the need to read the Scriptures with an eye born of spirit in order to “see the kingdom of God.”

The Word was made flesh…” (John 1:14 KJV) and emphasized the importance of spirituality, but many believe they understand God by words read simply with physical eyes? An excellent example can be found in the beginning, Gen 2:16-17 (NIV) :

“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

The fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil has long been considered the apple. In recent times, “scholars” have suggested that the pomegranate might be more appropriate. However, the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil is much more obvious if we read the Scriptures with spiritual eyes.

The Word was “in the beginning” of the Old Testament, and later “The Word was made flesh” in the New Testament. The Word tells us in the New Testament, “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matt 7:1 ASV). The obvious fruit of the knowledge of good and evil is judgment, and all too often judgment results in killing a persons spirit, if not the physical body. There is a weaving finer than intricate lace throughout the Christian Scriptures that seems lost upon most “Christians” since judgment is one thing they seem the most prolific at.

The judgments and finger-pointing of some Christian factions in modern America have not gone unnoticed by American Pagans. The rhetoric of some Christian leaders have raised concern over the security of everyone’s religious freedom under the First Amendment if these factions are successful in carrying out their political agendas in the upcoming presidential election year of 2012.

“So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s” (Matt 22:21 NIV)

Jesus actually established a separation between church and state centuries before the U.S. Constitution was written. If you read this verse in context (Matt 22:15-22), the Pharisees sent their agents to trap Jesus in his own words. This is a common practice in politics. Jesus’ view on these practices is made quite clear in Matt 22:18 (NIV), “But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, ‘You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me?’

Modern Christian factions in the U.S. do not hide their engagement with politicians, or their political agendas. One Christian faction intends to reclaim seven spiritual mountains through prayer and political action – they have revealed their favor. Some politicians favor American Christians simply because they comprise the dominant religion in the U.S., even though, if elected, the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution will prohibit any actions to respect [show favor] to that establishment of religion. It seems ironic (again) when these factions become disappointed in politicians because they do not live up to their expectations.

There is an emerging profile of Jesus being non-religious, non-political, and acting more in character with Paganism. When we start delving into the character of the Christian religion in the U.S., and its political activities, the emerging profile is far from being “Christ-like.” In fact, the political activity suggests that faith as been placed in something other than Christ. “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the LORD” (Jer 17:5 NIV)

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matt 7:15 KJV)

It is quite common for charlatans from many walks of life to prey upon the weak in troublesome times. This passage warns of these kinds of people. It is here that Jesus reveals how to recognize such people with, “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (Matt 7:16 KJV). They prey upon fear during troublesome and uncertain times because “inwardly they are ravening wolves” seeking money and power. Money is power, and political alliances provide power, and the weakness of their prey makes it so easy. The pattern is tried and true, old and worn.

First the fear is magnified by words like “these troubles are upon us as a nation because we have fell out of God’s grace, we have lost His blessing.” Secondly, a scape-goat is needed so the congregation will not be totally alienated or fall so deep into despair that they become unresponsive, so the problem is blamed on one, some, or all non-Christian (unholy) groups – the element of judgment. Next, a little guilt is thrown in like, “But God is displeased by our acceptance of the unclean in our midst because, through them, we have become unholy to Him.” The preacher’s self-inclusion through the use of pronouns like us, our, and we helps create a more intimate bond with the congregation: it helps build trust. Trust is important in any confidence scheme.

Encouraging people to vote a certain way helps strengthen political alliances, but monetary contributions truly enhance the political alliance because campaigns are fueled by money. It may seem astounding that people suffering from a disastrous economy would contribute money to such things, but there are desperate people looking for any hope to cling to. Their fear also blinds them to poorly woven “sheep’s clothing.”

The “wolves” magnify fear, rather than give comfort. They preach judgment, not forgiveness. They also bear false witness.

“Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour” (Exodus 20:16 KJV)

Christianity is and has been the dominant religion in the U.S. for quite some time. However, the judgment has been passed and the fingers are pointed to minority religions as the cause of the troubled times we live in. The insinuations and accusations have been made that some are (once again) in league with Satan. As one who once was Christian, but is now Pagan, I know this to be a false accusation. As one who has sought wisdom by investigating several paths, I know this to be a false accusation. I know this to be a false accusation because the Bible tells me so in Proverbs 8: 1-2 (ASV):

“Doth not wisdom cry, And understanding put forth her voice? On the top of high places by the way, Where the paths meet, she standeth…”

She (Wisdom) stands at a pinnacle where paths meet. There is more than one path to this high place, but some religious leaders make their defamatory remarks anyway. However, what kind of testimony concerning the nature of God are these “leaders” offering?

Does the God of the Jews and Christians punish the general population for the sins of minorities? This concept is contrary to the nature of God as it is revealed in Genesis 18, where God agreed to spare Sodom if ten righteous people could be found there. No, it is the character of God to punish because of the majority, and show leniency because of a minority.

Perhaps it is time to consider the chastisement of “Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye” (Matt 7:5 ASV), particularly if one is going to bear false witness against God himself. If Americans currently suffer because they lost God’s blessing, it is probably due to the sins of the majority who call themselves by God’s name (Christian or Christ-like?), not the minorities. It is written, “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7 KJV).

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many mighty works?” (Matt 7:22 ASV)

The patterns of religion were old, worn, and very recognizable even two thousand years ago. In the next line Jesus says, “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt 7:23 ASV). The Christianity manifest in the U.S. today is a religion that has lost its lessons; its spirituality. Jesus was and is very spiritual. It is significant that when the holy lamb of God, who was sacrificed upon the cross for the sins of the world, gave up His spirit “At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom“ (Matt 27:51 NIV). The holiest place is not reserved just for priests anymore, but you must be born of the Spirit to see and enter the kingdom of God.

I set out to show the character of Jesus revealed by His words and deeds, as recorded in the venerated Christian Holy Bible, is that of a witch. His standards would probably limit Him more to the profile of a Wiccan. However, when He was made flesh (incarnate in the material world,) He seems to have had one foot in this world and the other foot in the spiritual world, which would more accurately place Him in the profile of a shaman. Actually, I suspect shaman may be the appropriate classification for all the Old Testament prophets. However, I am certain that such differentiation means little to the average “Christian.”

Epilogue

There has been great concern within the Pagan community as the Republican candidates for president appear out of the woodwork and pseudo-Christian movements, like the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), attempt to gain momentum. The NAR is simply the latest in a long line of pseudo-Christian movements and it will suffer the same fate as its predecessors. Such movements lack magic; the ability to invoke the supernatural power of a God who never knew them.

The nature of Christ is so very different from many of those claiming to be Christ-like, or Christian, today. I have attempted to provide the evidence of patterns which anyone could recognize. It would be a great injustice, though, to characterize all Christians by the public spectacle provided by some. I personally have known Christians of excellent character who I would break bread with even now. However, like Pagans, these Christians are only human and are just as susceptible to making mistakes as anyone else. I am not concerned about the power of the intent behind unscrupulous prayers, but I am very concerned about what this might cost the innocent and unwary in difficult economic times, when there appears to be no shepherds tending these flocks and guiding them away from the wolves. Perhaps it is the silence and inaction of Christian shepherds that should concern everyone.

There may be some truth to Christian America losing the blessing of their God, which may be creating troublesome times for all of us. In parting, I offer one last passage from the Old Testament, Jer 23:9-12 (NIV):

“Concerning the prophets: My heart is broken within me; all my bones tremble. I am like a drunken man, like a strong man overcome by wine, because of the LORD and his holy words. The land is full of adulterers; because of the curse the land lies parched and the pastures in the wilderness are withered. The prophets follow an evil course and use their power unjustly. ‘Both prophet and priest are godless; even in my temple I find their wickedness,’ declares the LORD. ‘Therefore their path will become slippery; they will be banished to darkness and there they will fall. I will bring disaster on them in the year they are punished,’ declares the LORD.“

May the Lord of Light shine upon all!