Sunday, January 29, 2012

Antiquated Religions

Think about this:  All the choices we have in life were already in existence before you were born.  For example, at the time of your birth, all the nations of the world were mapped out, all the definitions of ethnicities were already decided, the different genres of music styles were created, political party lines were drawn, and careers paths, all the world languages, and your choices of religious practice had all been established.  You did not have a say in how you would have liked the world to be at the time you arrived on this planet.  Moreover, as creative as you might think you are, all the ingenious ideas you had were based on the choices you were presented with from the time of your birth.  Here is the worst part; we all still act as if we have infinite free will, yet still perpetuate the choices and superstitions of thousands of years ago.

Soon after your birth, your parents taught you to communicate with sounds we call speech and they chose the language and dialect you would use initially, if not for the rest of your life.  As a child, you were not in a position to refuse and then pick the method of communication you felt might suit you better.  After a certain amount of time, you could make a conscious choice to learn another language or method of communication, but you still started with that first language and had to use it as the basis for learning the next one.

What if you grew up with no influence on how you learned to communicate?  No one taught you to use voice, hand signals, or body language.  How would you communicate?  How would you express yourself?  Would it be more natural? Would your perceptions, concepts, and ideas about life and the world be different? 

Now, think about this.  If there were no people around to influence you, what would your perception of the ‘divine’ be?  You would know nothing about the concept of ‘religion’ and would have never heard the word ‘god.’  What then?  Would you be missing anything?  Would you ‘feel or sense’ the divine presence?  Or would you just be you in this world?  Would you feel compelled to create your own religion?  What would that be like with no point of reference?  You wouldn’t know anything about angels, demons, spirits, Heaven, Hell, purgatory, god, goddess, polytheism, churches, temples, or the afterlife.  Nor would you have ever heard of these words and concepts.

 When did we learn these superstitious ideas?  Am I to understand that primitive humans witnessed natural events and imagined an unknowable entity as the cause?  And not one primitive ever actually witnessed one of these gods, angels, devils, spirits, to verify this overly creative idea?  They all just went with it because they were too stupid to understand or see the cause and effect.  Let’s say the primitives rationalized certain events.  Why did the loud light from the sky touch my friend and now he no longer lives?  Why not me?  Was he struck down as I choose an animal to strike down for food?  If so, what decided he was to be struck and not me?  Predators choose the young and the weak.  He was not young so he must have been weak and lacking in some way.  Was he not worthy in some way?  One could continue this line of thought to the determination of aspects and perceptions of why certain individuals met an unfortunate end.  This may lead to ‘sins’ and then rules to avoid these sins.  Stories and anecdotes would be told about all the terrible things that happened to people and tribes and some morality lesson would be extrapolated from each event.  Eventually, we might understand that individuals would have to be selected as rule keepers and the ‘law’ would be written.  The personality and character of this divine entity would soon be developed and the primitives would endow this unknowable entity with very human nature; anger, vengeance, jealousy, judgment, etc.  

Let’s fast forward to today.  Although we cannot predict where and when it will discharge, we know what creates lightning.  We know what causes earthquakes, tornados, floods, hurricanes and all other natural geological events.  We even understand the plagues of illnesses, diseases, and pandemics.  We can go beyond the clouds to see into space.  We have detected solar systems neighboring ours in this vast galaxy.  We may not know how or why we all came into being, but we do know that every time we ask a question, we find the answer – eventually. 

So why do we still cling to superstitious religions?  Aren’t we smarter that our primitive ancestors?  I am not saying that there is no divine presence or greater source.  I don’t know either way.  I am just wondering why we haunt our world and cultures with primitive ‘gods.’  Is it not time to embrace our knowledge and stop being afraid of what primitives feared.  I have come to accept that religion may be a necessary step for some people to understand their place in this universe.  However, I don’t understand why our religions have not evolved with the rest of the planet.  These dark shadows of fear lurk in the corner of our collective minds.  We feel we are constantly being judged by a being who is unknowable, unfathomable, unappeasable.  I don’t knock on wood, throw salt over my shoulder, or avoid black cats.  I don’t cringe at the sight of the number 13, don’t worry about ‘speaking too soon,’ nor do I circumnavigate step ladders.  Nevertheless, I am expected to go to a special building, participate in rituals, listen to spells, and sit at the feast of cannibals.  We even select our world leaders on how superstitious they are and with what superstition they delude themselves. 

Maybe I am too optimistic.  Maybe we are not as evolved of a culture as I thought.  But I do think there are an elite portion of this world population that has grown past those primitives.  It may be up to them to set the example and lead the primitives out of the dark ages and into the enlightened world of the present. 

I don’t know what the answer is, but I am willing to learn and move forward.  Who is with me?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Eight Year-Old Rocker

This is so awesome I just had to share it!  Enjoy!

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Holy Grail (Book Review)

I have just finished reading The Holy Grail, Its Origins, Secrets, & Meaning Revealed, by Malcolm Godwin.  The version that I have was published in 1994.  How I have not come across this book sooner is a mystery to me.  Since I was a teenager, I have read and researched the Arthurian legends, the Knights Templar, mysticism, and the early origins of the three ‘major’ religions.  I guess some things happen when the time is right.  Godwin explains the legend of the Grail by separating its mythical origins into three “Branches;” the Celtic Branch, the Christian Branch, and the Chymical (Alchemical) Branch. 

Godwin starts with the Celtic Branch, which he explains as the origin of the myth.  Godwin sets the original stories from Irish echtrai, or adventures, and the Welsh Mabinogion legends.  He takes the story back to a mythical time when the peoples of the earth lived in harmony with the land.  Maidens lived by sacred groves and springs and were the connection for humans to the ‘other world.’  These Maidens of the Sacred Wells provided food and drink to travelers with golden vessels.  These magical women represented the Goddess of the Earth.  This Goddess would appear throughout the land as either a maiden, a nymph, of a crone.  She was the Sovranty [sic] of the Land.  No man could rule the land without a sacred bond with this Goddess through the Maiden of the Well that sourced his land.  As these stories go, the greed and treachery of an evil king severs the connection between the other world and this world resulting in a wasteland.  This is the point of the quest.  The questing knight must find the sacred vessel and heal the bond between both worlds bringing prosperity and peace to the land again.  Godwin walks us through the tale of this legend through the adventure of the questing knight Peredur from the Welsh romance Peredur.  This story follows the pagan elements of myths of its time such as the Four Hallow from the Mabinogion that later become the Four Hallows of the Grail. 

The second part of the book focuses on the new Christian Church’s struggle to Christianize the overly popular legend and draw parallels to Jesus.  This is the Christian Branch.  Here the connection between the heretical Knights Templar and the Cathari are made to the Celtic Pagan mythology.  The mythical Caldron and Hallows get redesigned as Jesus’ cup at the last supper and other Christian relics; the Spear of Longinus, the Disk or Paten, and finally, the Sword (Excalibur/Sword of David).  The Church attempted the use of sacred symbology to change the pagan story to that of a christian one:  the life long quest for redemption.  The hero of this story is Perceval from the Didot-Perceval.  The story ends with Perceval, Galahad, and Bors retrieving the Grail.

The final branch is Chymical.  This version weaves the symbolism of the pagan sacred feminine with the near-east mysticism which would eventually become Alchemy.  The story is a vehicle for relating the concept of cycles; a concept which was contrary to the linear history of the Church.  The Church leaders did not want lay-peoples to think that it was possible to fix their own mistakes or that their relationship to the divine was in their own hands.  Almost every aspect of the story was a signpost for the seeker on his/her fool’s journey to learn about themselves and their relation to God.  Godwin also illustrates a connection with the Chymical Branch of the Grail story to the Tarot.  He brings us full circle with the sacred feminine and the Earth Goddess, but this time not just the Celtic pagan Goddess but the Gnostic Goddess of Wisdom: Sophia; the sister of Christ: Achmoth; Mary Magdalene; Helen, consort of Simon Magus, etc…

The last few pages of the book, Godwin explains his interpretation of the story and how it is still relevant to us in this modern age.  His warning is that we have not yet found the balance that humans once lost.  We are still living in that proverbial wasteland and we, as a people, need to seek that bridge with the other world to find our sacred feminine nature.  The only way to find the other world is to allow our inner nature to take the lead and for us to stop trying to force the result.  As Godwin puts it, “The legend of the Grail is a myth of Paradise Regained.  But the message behind the legend shows that the paradise was never really lost.  It was only forgotten.”

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New Year Gym

I have to thank all the people who made New Year’s Resolutions this year to get in shape.  Normally, the first month and a half of the New Year brings with it an over-crowding of the gyms.  Everyone has saved their fitness goals for the New Year (can’t have a happy holiday without gorging on seasonal foods).  This desire results in an influx of inexperienced, half-hearted workout neophytes.  They wander around the fitness floor like lost children in an enchanted forest; wide-eyed and confused by the mysterious machines and chunks of steel.  What does this machine do?  How much weight should I be using?  (Yeah, that is probably too heavy for you…)  How much longer should I ‘work-out’?  These zombies shuffle around from machine to mat to bench.  They sit on the machines or with weights at their feet while they talk to their partners or search their iPod for that elusive track which is going to motivate them.

But not this year.  I do not know if they all realized that this yearly cycle of hope always leads to physical discomfort and have decided to not participate in this year’s pantomime.  Or, maybe they are joining the latest fitness fad, P90X, Zumba, jazzercise…or whatever.  Either way, Thanks!  I am still able to walk into my gym and nail my flesh to an anvil!

Good luck, fitness novices!

By the way, check this out: