Radiant Lord Apollo, god of the borderlands and leader of the muses, fill my mind with divine light and awaken the energy of my imagination that I may write poetry worthy to claim your inspiration. Lend me a portion of your glory that I may use it to compose poetry that glorifies you in turn.
Archive for May, 2009
Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Apollo, Apollon, Art, Divinity, Glory, God, Greek Myth, Greek Mythology, Hellenic, Hellenic Polytheism, Hellenismos, Imagination, Inspiration, Invocation, Liminality, Muse, Poetry, Polytheism, Prayer, Writing on May 29, 2009 | 1 Comment »
Posted in Spirituality, tagged Ancient Order of Druids in America, AODA, Aphrodite, Beltaine, Beltane, Belteinne, Deity, Druidry, Earth, Exploration, Full Moon, God, Goddess, Hawthorn, Holiday, John Michael Greer, Katana, Liturgy, Mental Health, Montgomery County, Moon, Nature, Neo-druidry, Neo-Paganism, Neopaganism, Niwalen, Paganism, Parks, Ritual, Sanity, Spirituality, Sword, Ticks on May 23, 2009 | 3 Comments »
After I finished with final exams, I was able to take a day for myself and go tromping around the woods. It was a few days after any reasonable dating for the holiday (the full moon was on the 9th, but I wasn’t able to get out and about until the 15th), but it was close enough and my most practical option.
So I spent a day exploring undeveloped parkland in Montgomery County, which was a lot of fun. Most of these areas are parcels of land bought by the county and technically part of the park system, but with no access or anything–they’re just pieces of woods that you can go play in if you can find a way to get there. The day was tough on my allergies, and I wound up really exerting myself with a day full of exploration, but it was a lot of fun. I even found a cool snake under an old corroded piece of metal. Getting a chance to be outside in nature does me a lot of good and generally makes me feel a lot saner.
My other project for the day was to try out the Beltaine liturgy from Greer’s Druidry Handbook, as a way of kicking off my AODA candidate year. So one of my goals while exploring was finding a suitable place for a ritual. It took me a bit of time and expense to gather all of the needed materials (and I wound up not having a sprig of hawthorn, or any idea of how to find one). I used a katana instead of a medieval European-style sword because it’s what I have on hand, and I wound up just putting my white altar cloth on the ground for lack of anything more altar-like. I also made an on-the-spot substitution of gods, invoking Aphrodite in the ritual instead of Niwalen (I already have a close relationship with Aphrodite, and she seems like an entirely appropriate goddess for Beltaine).
Honestly, I could have come into it with better preparation, so it was a definite learning experience. Without a sprig of hawthorn, I just used a sprig from a sapling nearby, which was a little unsatisfying. And I had to carry the book around with me because I hadn’t learned the liturgy very well. No spiritual fireworks went off during the ritual, but when I was finished, I had a sudden and very interesting sense of spiritual wholeness and satisfaction, like I had accomplished something that was actually significant.
My location was kind of fantastic, with a few exceptions. It was pretty difficult to get access to (I had to park on the side of the highway and tromp in past some backyards), and there were an insane number of ticks, but that’s partly an issue of season and not going to get much better in any wooded area. But I was flicking the little buggers off of my arms and legs all day long. Those issues aside, it was a wooded hilltop with a bunch of clearings covered in this vibrant green ground cover, and the hill was almost entirely surrounded by two branches of a little creek. It was the kind of place where you could almost feel a spiritual presence. If I get the chance, I would like to go back.
I wasn’t wild about Greer’s seasonal liturgy before I gave it a spin, and now I’m rather excited about it. This is not to say that I am prepared to accept it as scripture or anything, but I would like to try it again. The holiday-specific stuff didn’t drive me wild–really it is just an offering, an invocation of deity, and a meditation session (it was hard fro me to concentrate when I was imagining ticks crawling all over me)–but the general opening and closing of the Druid’s circle was pretty awesome, and I will definitely keep using that, even if I wind up cherry-picking the rest.
Posted in Religion, Uncategorized, tagged Authenticity, Book of Mormon, Brainwashing, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Critical Thinking, Cult, Cults, Exercise, God, Golden Plates, History, iPod, Joseph Smith, Missionary, Mormonism, Paradigm, Religion, Running, Spirituality, Supernatural, The Doors, Thought, Translation, Truth, Western Hemisphere on May 22, 2009 | 156 Comments »
When I went running this afternoon, I saw some of the Mormon missionaries doing street contacting outside my apartment complex. As per my usual, I began to have a lively discussion/argument with an imaginary missionary in my head. This time, our argument was about the Book of Mormon (I didn’t bring my iPod, so I had nothing else to do but suffer for three miles; otherwise I would have probably been listening to the Doors).
One of the most frustrating things to me about Mormonthink–and something that I think is evidence of cultlike behavior and cultlike thought in the Mormon church and culture–is how complicated, intermeshed ideas get blurred together into a simple question of “true or not true” that winds up really obscuring and distorting the ideas that are being manipulated.
Specifically, when a Mormon talks about the Book of Mormon being “true,” they mean at least three different distinct things. First, there is the question of whether or not the Book of Mormon is a faithful translation of an authentic ancient document written by Hebrew religious leaders in the western hemisphere. Second, there is the question of to what extent the religious and spiritual concepts expressed in the Book of Mormon (regardless of its authorship) reflect eternal truths. Third, there is the question of whether Joseph Smith Jr. found and translated the Book of Mormon by God-given supernatural means.
In my experience Mormons often conflate these three issues, or insist that they are logically linked so that you can’t have any one without the others, and so they just wind up bearing their testimonies about how the Book of Mormon is TRUE. It’s imposing black-and-white thinking on a potentially nuanced and relatively controversial set of issues, and as such it honestly pushes the boundaries of brainwashing tactics.
Of course I am generalizing here. Plenty of Mormons have thought through all of the questions I have raised here, and have an answer–even possibly a really nuanced answer–for each. Nevertheless to the extent that they simply use the shorthand of talking about the Book’s truth, generally, they are truncating the issues and contributing to a paradigm that discourages or disables critical thinking. And that’s no good.
NOTE: At one time I down comments on this post because it was kind of swallowing my blog and dominating the traffic, but enough time has passed that I decided to open it again, especially since Jonathan Blake has since closed down the comments on his “Convince Me” thread.
Posted in Music, tagged Adam Lambert, American Idol, Art, Consumerism, Cynicism, Disappointment, Idolatry, Kiss, Kris Allen, Led Zeppelin, Megan Joy, Music, Profanity, Queen, Robert Plant, Rock, Rock and Roll, Singing, Star, Television, TV, Voice on May 21, 2009 | 21 Comments »
My beautiful and sexy wife and I followed American Idol pretty closely this season, and I have to say that Adam Lambert seemed like the clear and obvious winner for pretty much the entire season. His performances consistently blew everyone else away. I was a fan of Megan Joy, and I was sad when she got kicked off the show, but at no point did I entertain the idea that someone other than Adam deserved to win. Kris Allen is a good singer, and he is incredibly cute, but he has nowhere near the musical talent or star power that Adam has.
When Adam sang “Whole Lotta Love” a couple of weeks ago I was permanently converted. I fucking love Led Zeppelin, and the fact that Adam 1) sang one of my favorite Led Zep songs and 2) sang it well just absolutely made my day. Anyway, every one of Adam’s songs has just crackled. Kris has a nice voice, and like I said, he is really cute, but he is nowhere near the superstar that Adam is. So I thought it was pretty much bullshit that Adam didn’t win.
This confirms my suspicion that democracy is fundamentally flawed. But I guess it’s not the end of the world, because Adam is pretty much guaranteed a successful career, and I will pretty much certainly buy any CD he releases. So the fact that he did not win is sad, but he’s still going to be a fucking awesome rockstar, and will probably have a longer and more successful career than Kris, Kris’s victory notwithstanding.
Posted in Spirituality, tagged Aesthetics, Cards, Consciousness, Discovery, Divination, Divinity, Female, Grail, High School, Holy Grail, Knight of Cups, Magic, Magick, Mesopaganism, Mystery, Neopaganism, New Age, Occult, Orthodoxy, Psychology, Rider-Waite, Significator, Soul, Spirituality, Subconscious, Superconscious, Tarot, Tattoos, Unconscious on May 21, 2009 | 4 Comments »
I have been turning into something of a tarot enthusiast here lately. I’ve been fascinated by the tarot since I first played around with a deck back in high school, but I didn’t have my own deck until I bought a Rider-Waite from a game shop during my first year of law school, near to the time when I first started to really broaden my horizons in terms of the scope of my spiritual search. I did a few spreads with it back then, but mostly just let it sit around until a few months ago when I finally started to grapple with the tarot in earnest.
I feel like I have a talent for the tarot. I have done spreads for myself, for my beautiful and sexy wife, and for my brother, and some of them have been shockingly insightful. I’m still using a couple of guidebooks to make connections and understand the meanings of the cards, but I am slowly gaining an understanding of my own through a combination of committing key-words and other peoples’ interpretations to memory, and also through meanings that have emerged from readings I have done. Not every spread I do winds up being useful or insightful, but enough of them seem to be so incredibly on-target that I think I have a lot of potential as a tarot-reader.
While I have not yet written the post I want to write about magic, I will say that I don’t necessarily think that the tarot cards are supernatural. A good deck of tarot cards is composed of powerful symbols that correspond to complex structures in the mind (conscious, sub-, un-, and probably super-), and can be used to make connections or better yet reveal hidden connections between emotions, ideas, and events. So my basic understanding of the tarot is that it is deeply psychological, but psychological nonetheless.
I’m kind of a purist as far as decks go. I’ve looked around at some of the alternatives, and I am generally not impressed. For most decks, I don’t even think the art is all that good, and I definitely would be hesitant to even bother with divination with any deck but Rider-Waite. On the other hand, I realize that my prejudice is purely a matter of personal aesthetics, snobbery, and a persistent nigh-insuppressible orthodoxy reflex. Which means I don’t think you’re an idiot for using a different deck, but I’m going to pretty much stick with the one I’ve got. Although I need a new box or bag for my cards, because the one they came in is rapidly disintegrating, since I habitually take my cards with me, stashed in a pocket of my backpack or rucksack.
Personally, I have grown to identify strongly with the Knight of Cups, and I am considering eventually getting a full-sized tattoo of the card, probably on an upper arm or back shoulder. I imagine at that size and in full color it’s not going to be cheap, so I will probably wait until at least next summer when I have a job and a steady income. Anyway, the Knight of Cups is the consummate questing knight, the grail-knight, on a journey of discovery that is a journey into the depths of the subconscious. Cups have a lot of water-symbolism, and water is an element of mystery and the subconscious. It’s also a strongly female element, particularly when associated with cups or the grail. So there are aspects to the quest and the quest’s object that are associated with the divine feminine, the deep places of the soul, and the mysteries of the unconscious mind, all of which are intensely relevant to me. It’s also the card that I used as a significator—purely because of the color of my hair and the instructions in the little pamphlet that comes with the Rider-Waite cards—way back in high school when I first started to become familiar with the tarot.
I plan on spending a lot more time and effort with the tarot. I’d like to have a deep understanding of all of the cards, even the tricky ones that elude me, and I would like to start moving past individual cards and out into the relationships between them. It’s exciting and compelling stuff for me. And also, it is just plain fun.
Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Art, Battlestar Galactica, Bob Dylan, Deity, Dionysian, Dionysus, God, Gods, Greek Mythology, Hellenic Polytheism, Hermes, iTunes, Jimi Hendrix, Jimi Hendrix Experience, Joker, Music, Mysticism, Mythology, Neo-, Neo-Paganism, Neopaganism, Paganism, Passacaglia, Polytheism, Rock, Rock and Roll, Science Fiction, Spirituality, Television, Thief, Uncategorized on May 6, 2009 | 1 Comment »
I just read a fantastic post by Egregores in which the author interprets “All Along The Watchtower”–which is in my opinion the single greatest rock song ever written, although I will stand by my assertion that the Jimi Hendrix version is by far the most superior–to be about Hermes and Dionysus. It’s really good stuff, and I would reprint it here except that I want you to go see it for yourself.
“All Along the Watchtower” was featured in one of the most intense episodes of the new Battlestar Galactica–which I will maintain is in fact the single greatest television program ever produced. My first personal experience of Dionysus happened while I was listening to the Battlestar Galactica soundtrack (although a different song from the soundtrack: Passacaglia, from Season One).
This is all somehow incredibly mind-blowing and significant to me. In any case, I will never listen to “Watchtower” the same way again, and I will be moving it to my iTunes playlist of songs about Dionysus. That reminds me that I have promised to post my Playlist of Divinity sometime. I should do that soon.