Lunchtime Meditation for Relaxation and Stress Relief

Introducing ‘Spirit of the Rainforest’, a single from my new meditation CD ‘Spirit Journey – Into the Elements’. The single is now available on Youtube and the complete CD will be available soon for digital download at most online music outlets including Amazon and ITunes.

‘Spirit of the Rainforest’ is a complete meditative session for home or office incorporating elemental sounds from the natural world and subtle Theta Om binaural entrainment techniques of my own design (variable left / right frequencies at a consistent 4.5Hz separation) to ensure a successful session of relaxation and stress relief while promoting spiritual harmony from within a theta state. The 16 min. length is designed to fit into a standard lunch break during the work day. Stereo headphones should be used for best results.

Posted in Anger Management, Peace, Relaxation, Spirituality, Sress Relief | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Religious Persecution is Not a Myth

I am writing this post in response to an article on Huffington Post where Candida Moss discusses the ‘myth’ of Christian persecution. Ms. Moss makes several valid points in this article but I think it wise to actually review the meaning and history of persecution before forming a reasonable opinion of her perspective. Most dictionaries define the term as any action which causes another to experience difficulty, inequality or suffering because of a difference in their beliefs.

Furthermore, religious persecution is a very real and ongoing problem that has existed for thousands of years. As an openly practicing pagan living in the extremely Christian southern United States, I have experienced different levels of persecution. For instance, we were denied a business license from the local city council, twice, when we first opened the Sanctuary of Light here. The council members confronted me directly about not being a Christian and suggested that since we pagans do not revere the Bible we would do better to establish our church well outside of city limits. We eventually received our license, but only by confronting the Mayor and threatening to litigate.

I have been publically spit on simply for walking down the street; my vehicle has been befouled with eggs and other filth; the windows of our Sanctuary were even wallpapered with Christian pamphlets proclaiming that hellfire and damnation await all who do not accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Suffice it to say that I know what religious persecution is, in a very personal way.

Now, why did the local Christian population treat us this way? My thoughts go to a quote from Michael Gaddis, where he states that “The Christian experience of violence during the pagan persecutions shaped the ideologies and practices that drove further religious conflicts over the course of the fourth and fifth centuries… The formative experience of martyrdom and persecution determined the ways in which later Christians would both use and experience violence under the Christian empire. Discourses of martyrdom and persecution formed the symbolic language through which Christians represented, justified, or denounced the use of violence.”

Mr. Gaddis is correct, ancient pagans did indeed persecute the Christians. This is historical fact and cannot be denied; furthermore, we modern pagans are still paying for the behavior of our pagan ancestors toward early Christianity, as I have explained. Ms. Moss believes, and I quote, that “you can disagree with someone sharply on the basis of your religious beliefs without accusing them of persecution. When you say they’re persecuting you, you’re basically accusing them of acting with Satan.” This is indeed the justification given by Christian zealots who actively persecute others but one cannot follow this by saying that Christians themselves have not been persecuted. Clearly Ms. Moss does not understand the meaning of the term.

For hundreds of years under pagan Roman rule, if a Christian did not sacrifice to the Roman Gods he or she was guilty of breaking the law and would be put to death, usually publically in the great arena of Rome, torn apart by wild animals or some other gruesome demise. Their lands and property were confiscated, their lives forfeit. Ms. Moss may choose to ignore history but this is but one example of clear persecution, and for Roman Christians it did not officially end until the Edict of Milan was signed by Constantine in the fourth century. Of course, Christians actively persecuted each other as well in later centuries, such behavior coming to a head during the protestant reformation. Again, this is historical fact not subject to debate.

Even today, Christian missionaries are routinely harassed and in many cases are put to death if they travel to theocratic countries that are inherently unfriendly to the Christian faith. These missionaries are martyrs for their faith and this also cannot be denied. Humanity’s penchant for persecution is well established and one cannot escape the reality of human intolerance, whether one be Christian or Pagan, believer or atheist.

Treating someone with contempt or derision simply because you do not agree with their beliefs cannot be justified through the use of reason, for such behavior is not acceptable to the truly rational mind. One must respect the right of others to believe what they will even if those beliefs are clearly not correct. By all means, we must combat ignorance with information and reason, wherever we encounter it, but always with compassion and never with hatred and dismissal for such thinking leads us to become guilty of persecution ourselves.

Posted in Atheism, Equality, Paganism, Peace, Politics, Religion | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

And The Burning Times Continue Unabated

I have already addressed this on my liberal politics blog, The Second Beast, but I wanted to post here as well since this is a clear religious issue. A young woman named Kepari Leniata was recently tortured, branded and burned alive for allegedly practicing witchcraft, by an angry mob in Papua New Guinea; of course, if the circumstances had been different and the victim had been a Christian nailed to a cross somewhere by an angry mob of non-Christians, I can imagine the worldwide outrage over such an atrocity. Instead, people make foolish comments in an attempt to find humor in this situation or worse, they blame religion itself for the violence and use that argument as a reason to proselytize for atheism. I call on solitary practitioners and covens everywhere to hold a sacred vigil tonight in honor of Kepari.

As a devout Pagan I am absolutely horrified at this story but I am certainly not surprised. We constantly suffer abuse at the hands of religious bigots, even in ‘enlightened’ nations such as the United States. In case it has been forgotten so quickly, President Bush once commented that witchcraft is not a religion and he firmly believes that all Pagans essentially deserve to burn in Hell. The level of prejudiced venom behind such statements is absolutely disgusting.

The first amendment of our constitution is supposed to protect every religion from legislative persecution and yet every day fundamentalist Christians in elected office make a concerted effort to enshrine their Christian beliefs into our system of laws, both locally and at the state and federal levels. American witches need no longer fear that we will suffer the same fate as Kepari but we must continue to remain vigilant and fight against those who literally seek to convert our freedom into a form of biblical slavery. Blessed Be.

Posted in Death, Faith, God, Morality, Paganism, Peace, Religion | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Please help preserve the integrity of the popular vote.

The Huffington Post reports that “On Wednesday, Virginia’s Republican-controlled legislature became one of the first to advance a bill that would allocate electoral votes by congressional district. Last week, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus endorsed pushing through similar proposals in other states with Republican legislative majorities.

The strategy would have states alter the way they translate individual votes into electors — thereby giving Republican candidates an advantage. Had the 2012 election been apportioned in every state according to these new Republicans plans, Romney would have led Obama by at least 11 electoral votes.”

We cannot allow our franchise to be marginalized by politics; we must not stand idle while legislative maneuvers threaten the very stability of our democratic way of life. We must unite, with one voice, and demand that immediate steps be taken. I ask that all of you, Democrat or Republican, join with me in defending our franchise. This is not a partisan issue, it is an American issue.

I have created a petition at whitehouse.gov requesting the President publically support a constitutional amendment preserving the integrity of the popular vote. Please help this petition go viral, follow the link below to sign it with a clear conscience and ask everyone you know sign it with you. We need at least 100,000 signatures to force the administration to respond.

https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/publically-support-constitutional-amendment-preserving-integrity-popular-vote/sW8jlWCp

Posted in Elections, Electoral College, Equality, Politics | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

The Debate on God – A Pagan Perspective

Any argument attempting to prove or disprove the existence of a personal God inherently presents a false dichotomy. God is a subjective concept and therefore cannot be reified, rendering the use of logic insufficient as a means to resolve this argument. In any case, efforts to actually personify God are, in essence, clear examples of anthropomorphic fallacy.

The ongoing debate between atheists and non-pagan theists is an exercise in futility, a complete and utter waste of time in my opinion. Both sides rely upon argumentum ad ignorantiam, meaning an argument based upon ignorance, a practice which violates the laws of logic. Most atheists would disagree with this assessment as they maintain the burden of proof resides upon the claimant; they purport to make no claim and therefore shift the burden of proof to the theist but this practice is itself a fallacy. By the act of engaging in debate and demanding proof, the vocal atheist is effectively claiming that the theist’s belief is lacking evidence and is therefore false. The non-pagan theist in comparison will always find themselves claiming that God must exist simply because the existence of God hasn’t been successfully proven false.

I do not pretend to understand atheists who challenge any public statement of religious belief with incredulity and generally seem obsessed with the need to castigate those who possess such beliefs. Albert Einstein once characterized such individuals as “slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who—in their grudge against the traditional ‘opium of the people’—cannot bear the music of the spheres.”

To prove with certainty that something is indeed true one must define all factors in the equation and then proceed with the argument for or against. Reasonable assumptions must first be agreed upon before the argument can continue. If you wish to hold a valid debate on God’s existence you must provide a basic definition for God. As previously inferred atheists and non-pagan theists usually attempt to personify God in their arguments and therefore encounter a logic block before they even begin.

Contemporary Pagan philosophy posits that God is immanent in the universe and equivalent to all that exists. Our definition by itself provides the proof to our claim. Allow me to explain in greater detail; the Pagan argument uses deductive reasoning to conclude that from our perspective, all that exists is God and therefore God exists. We do not conceive of God as supernatural but rather as the essence of nature itself.

The Pagan religion does not rely on doctrine, dogma, scripture or myth despite misconceptions to the contrary. We know beyond any possible doubt that God exists and indeed that consciousness itself continues after the death of the physical body although we do not claim to know in what form it continues. Conscious thought must be energetic for all that exists is fundamentally comprised of energy in one form or another. One of the basic scientific laws maintains that energy cannot in fact be destroyed, it may only be changed in some way.

I often think of Richard Feynman’s description of this principle when he said “There is a fact, or if you wish, a law, governing all natural phenomena that are known to date. There is no known exception to this law—it is exact so far as we know. The law is called the conservation of energy. It states that there is a certain quantity, which we call energy, that does not change in manifold changes which nature undergoes. That is a most abstract idea, because it is a mathematical principle; it says that there is a numerical quantity which does not change when something happens. It is not a description of a mechanism, or anything concrete; it is just a strange fact that we can calculate some number and when we finish watching nature go through her tricks and calculate the number again, it is the same.”

It is not terribly difficult to put this into context, from a Pagan perspective at any rate. Again, as God is in everything so too is everything within God, infinite and eternal. The death of one’s physical body is but a transformation to a different energetic state and the immaterial substance of one’s consciousness must also transform for this is the mandate of scientific law. We may not yet understand the mechanism for such change but the fact that the transformation takes place is incontrovertible.

I have said before that in order for religion to be relevant in this modern age, it must mark its beginning where science ends while remaining in agreement with everything science has previously determined to be true. I would like to conclude by returning to the words of Professor Einstein, who believed that “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind. A person who is religiously enlightened appears to me to be one who has, to the best of his ability, liberated himself from the fetters of his selfish desires and is preoccupied with thoughts, feelings and aspirations to which he clings because of their super-personal value. It seems to me that what is important is the force of this super-personal content … regardless of whether any attempt is made to unite this content with a Divine Being, for otherwise it would not be possible to count Buddha and Spinoza as religious personalities. Accordingly a religious person is devout in the sense that he has no doubt of the significance of those super-personal objects and goals which neither require nor are capable of rational foundation … In this sense religion is the age-old endeavor of mankind to become clearly and completely conscious of these values and goals and constantly to strengthen and extend their effect. If one conceives of religion and science according to these definitions then a conflict between them appears impossible. For science can only ascertain what is, but not what should be.”

Posted in Faith, God, Inspiration, Paganism, Philosophy, Religion, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

A brief comment on religious equality

I find it highly offensive and distinctly un-American when fundamentalist Christian bigots lobby elected officials to legislate in favor of prejudicial restrictions on personal conduct required by scripture while simultaneously complaining that socially liberal policies infringe upon their right to hold independent religious beliefs. The first responsibility of government is to defend civil liberty; the authority to govern derives from the consent of the governed and absolute equality is essential to free democratic rule.

Marriage equality, fair insurance practices and a woman’s right to choose in no way restrict individual freedom vis-à-vis religious practice. I would argue that such policies effectively defend the freedom of religion for they prevent misguided individuals from persecuting others who do not share their particular religious beliefs.

In my opinion, one who advocates the use of government as a means of forcing the general population into compliance with Christian scripture is the western equivalent of those enforcing Sharia law under theocratic rule in the Middle East. I would further add that perceived violations of a moral covenant with God are not sufficient to justify summary judgment or discriminatory action; the assessment of one’s heart and the judgment of one’s soul is the province of God alone. The importance of separating church and state is paramount.

If advocates for the far religious right are truly Christian, the indwelt grace of Christ should guide them toward a position of love and forgiveness. Their continual barrage of hatred and judgment against their neighbors is indeed terrible; I am stymied by their apparent inability to apply even a basic understanding of their own scripture in day to day life. At the very least, I suggest such people return to the Bible and re-read Matthew 10:14, shake the dust off their shoes and leave the rest of the world to our own beliefs.

Posted in Abortion, Equality, Gay Rights, Morality, Politics, Religion | Tagged , , , , , | 6 Comments

The Pagan Creed

To you who do not understand,
these words describe our way:
we journey on the spiral path
from dusk to dawn each day.

We do not heed the words of Mark
nor Matthew, Luke or Paul;
Creation is our holy book,
the Earth our worship hall.

The trees contain the chapters,
each leaf a single line,
our scripture rides upon the wind
then travels on through time.

Our faith defines what we perceive
with every passing hour,
For mirrored halls both high and low
convey the Witch’s power.

We stand together equally
in perfect love and peace;
the sacred circle binds us all
at will and word’s release.

Great wheel of life continue round
when spirits walk alone,
as winter finally fades away
our Goddess calls us home.

Posted in Equality, Faith, Inspiration, Paganism, Philosophy, Poetry, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , , | 20 Comments

On Marriage – a Pagan Rebuttal to the Catholic Church

Marriage. What image does the word invoke when you contemplate its meaning? Most of you probably envision two people making a commitment to support each other through adversity and intimately experience every aspect of life together, united as one by the strength of their love. On a practical level, you might also consider marriage to be a voluntary contract between individuals formally declaring their intent to equally share financial and legal responsibilities.

Perhaps it may be useful to first look at marriage from a legal perspective and provide a foundation from which to proceed. Marriage is first and foremost a contract, the meaning of which is fully defined by the dictionary as a formal agreement between two or more parties, a document that states the terms of such an agreement and marriage considered as a formal agreement.

If we assume that the above definition is correct and the practice of marriage is a contract between two parties (or more for practitioners of polygamy), is it reasonable to then legally prohibit those parties from entering into a contractual agreement based on gender? Before you reply, consider this: what if you were to apply the same question to any other contract, say a land purchase deal, for example. Is it acceptable to prohibit individuals from buying or selling real estate based on their gender? Allow me to answer for you – of course not. Any state attempting to enact such legislation would be bankrupted by the endless number of discrimination lawsuits that would follow such a decision, and rightfully so.
From the viewpoint of the law, there can be no justifiable objection to the practice of same-sex marriage. Any argument against its practice must come from a religious source, although the reasoning behind such argument is universally flawed. Let’s take a look at the recent attempts by the Catholic Church to denounce same-sex marriage.

In Pope Benedict’s 2012 Christmas message, His Holiness makes a clear case against gay marriage in his call for Catholics to join together and oppose the practice. He states that “People dispute the idea that they have a nature, given to them by their bodily identity, that serves as a defining element of the human being. They deny their nature and decide that it is not something previously given to them, but that they make it for themselves.” He further goes on to say “When freedom to be creative becomes the freedom to create oneself, then necessarily the Maker himself is denied and ultimately man too is stripped of his dignity as a creature of God.”

In his message the Pope provides an incredibly clear distinction between Pagan and Christian religious philosophy, for Pagans do not believe that humanity is subservient to God or that our physical body is essentially the sum of all being. We recognize that the freedom to determine one’s own identity and to create one’s personal reality through the power of perception is an existential process which cannot be denied or prohibited, although the Catholic Church is certainly making a concerted effort to try.

Cardinal Francis George of the Archdiocese of Chicago expanded on the Pope’s message in a letter to Chicago Catholics denouncing the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act being considered by the Illinois legislature. The Cardinal begins his letter by stating that “Marriage comes to us from nature. The human species comes in two complementary sexes, male and female. Their sexual union is called marital. It not only creates a place of love for two adults but also a home for loving and raising their children. It provides the biological basis for personal identity.” He also says that “It is physically impossible for two men or two women to consummate a marriage, even when they share a deep friendship or love.”

I would like to point out that if the legitimacy and acceptability of an intimate relationship between two beings is derived from nature, not from doctrine, then Nature herself does not agree with the Catholic Church. In Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity (1999), Bruce Bagemihl describes statements like the Cardinal’s as essentially being a “single-minded attempt to find reproductive (or other) explanations for homosexuality, transgender, and non-procreative and alternative heterosexualities.”

Intimate same-sex relationships have been observed in close to fifteen hundred species thus far, including humans of course, and such relationships are not rare by any means. In order for same-sex intimacy to be considered an abomination against nature it would have to occur infrequently at best, by necessity. The fact that such inclinations are hard wired into our genetic makeup is proof positive that one cannot legitimately use the “nature of man” argument to protest gay marriage; at least, not without exhibiting complete ignorance on the subject to begin with.

Additionally, the process of consummation in this instance must be defined as the completion of an arrangement or agreement by the signing of a contract. To argue that sexual intercourse is required for the Church to consider a marriage valid in the eyes of God would effectively prohibit any man suffering from erectile dysfunction from ever participating in a Catholic marriage. I find it disturbing that the Pope and Cardinal George, both of whom are intelligent and highly educated individuals, have chosen to lay out their respective arguments against gay marriage with such transparent dishonesty.

I should like to return briefly to Cardinal George’s letter for a moment and here I address the Cardinal directly when I refer to his assertion that the Catholic Church is not anti-gay. In short Your Eminence, yes, you are. Claiming that “the Church welcomes everyone, respects each one personally and gives to each the spiritual means necessary to convert to God’s ways and maintain friendship with Christ” is at best a slap in the face to any gay person. Please don’t claim that you welcome and respect homosexuals with one breath and call them unnatural defilers of God’s grace with the next. Do not insult our intelligence, Sir. It would be far better for you to be honest about your prejudices rather than disguise them with a poor attempt at politically correct dialog.

For the Catholic Church to say that recognizing civil rights in turn destroys natural rights is completely absurd; to claim that human dignity can somehow be negatively affected by enacting laws that promote freedom and equality is ridiculous. And the next time they decide to invoke the Gods of Nature I suggest they consult with a Pagan first and avoid further embarrassment. Nature is our specialty, after all.

Posted in Equality, Gay Rights, God, Paganism, Religion | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Unified in Faith

With so many religions vying for supremacy in our increasingly unified global community, the fact that tens of millions of people cannot decide which spiritual tradition, if any, they should affiliate with is perfectly understandable. Which doctrine is correct? Does God even exist? These are reasonable questions and there is no way to determine the answers with any semblance of certainty. The question is, are such answers even required?

As a society we are far too concerned with labels. We academically compartmentalize our beliefs and coldly dissect every possible philosophical position until the spiritual foundation of our faith is essentially lost. In fact, faith does not require certainty nor does it demand religious belief. Whether one is an atheist, any brand of theist, spiritual but not religious or even a committed agnostic is utterly irrelevant.

Humanity tends to differentiate between our diverse religious beliefs in the same manner we segregate ourselves into specific races by the color of our skin or cultures by geography. We lose sight of the singular truth that every human being is a member of the same species. Individually we are not defined by our religion, our culture or by the color of our skin but rather by our capacity to feel compassion toward our brothers and sisters. Faith is what guides us, whether toward understanding the Great Mystery or simply understanding ourselves.

The process of segregation, in any form, is extremely detrimental to our personal growth and on a societal level prevents the natural evolution of human understanding from following its proper trajectory. We are all equal members of one global family; this is an incontrovertible fact. Religion, skin color, gender, orientation, culture, in the final analysis these differences are immaterial.

Those who live their lives surrounded by hatred walk a very narrow path indeed, smothered by a desperate fear that blinds them to the truth, but their influence is waning; they no longer control the world. Our journey has been a long one and though we yet have far to travel, I remain encouraged by our continued progress toward respectful co-existence, unified in our faith and committed to positive change. Hope lives on.

Posted in Equality, Faith, Hatred, Inspiration, Peace, Religion, Spirituality | Tagged , , , , , | 23 Comments

A Beautiful Truth

I would like to quote Annika’s recent blog post entitled Magick from Solstice to Solstice, where she beautifully defines a place of worship and the yearning for spiritual unity that moves us all. She writes

“It is the place where the creator of all pulses with the drum beat of every heart and each cell of the body bows in wild abandon to the great mystery. Each breath draws in the bliss of a love the mind cannot fathom. I will do anything and give my whole being to the One whose presence consumes me. Magic has guided me from solstice to solstice and I tremble with deep fear and joy at the path that lies ahead.”

Rarely is the truth spoken so eloquently. Namaste, Annika.

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