Currently viewing the tag: "Imagination"

Pass The Fortune Cookie

Over dinner at a Chinese restaurant, my husband, a practitioner of the intuitive arts (a.k.a. a Psychic) told it to me straight– as straight as a gay man could tell it. He talked to GOD – the one that the Monotheists worship – and GOD told him things that most Monotheists (and a number of Polytheists) would gawk at. GOD, it seems, is misunderstood.

He paused from his explanation and asked if I thought he was crazy.

“No”, I told him. “No more than the rest of us. Plus – hello – psychic.

He broke open the fortune cookie and told me things about GOD (the One) and about Gods (the Many) that I had no context for, but that strangely made a great deal of sense. Now, I’m going to share them with you.

Prepare to gawk.

What GOD Said

  1. The Monotheists are right.
  2. So are the Polytheists.
  3. And, we’re all wrong.

According to GOD, there are many Gods. These Gods came into being when the universe came into being. These Gods are as natural to the world as we are. They are a part of the world. They did not, however create the universe.

There are also fewer Gods than we might think. There are Gods of Creation, Gods of Destruction, Gods of Death and Birth, and Gods who govern just about every other aspect of the living (and dying) world. They are called different things in different cultures, but essentially, these are the same Gods. We engage with them differently by the stories we tell, and those stories do not even come close to unpacking their true nature.

These Gods, contrary to the assertions of some modern religious folk, including those who share my tradition in ADF Druidism, want nothing from us. They need no offerings, outside of the sincerity of our heart. Anything more — food offerings, burnt offerings, sacrificial offerings — are only useful if they help to clarify or refine that state of sincerity.

But Wait… There’s More…

And, GOD said that there is also GOD. This genderless God, which is the misunderstood God of the Abrahamic tradition, came into being after the universe. GOD did not create the universe, or us.

GOD was born, in effect, at the moment when the a human being (or, homo sapiens, or homo erectus, or some other fabulous homo) first asked the question, “Why?”

GOD is in existence, as my husband describes GOD telling him, with the sole function of experiencing the variety of human experiences. We live in order to inform GOD of what living can be. GOD serves us in no way and we have no need to serve GOD, although we do by living. The more fully we live, the more GOD comes to understand living.

The Biblical stories, an attempt at explaining GOD and GOD’s relationship to humanity, show us examples of how we have behaved, and how we’ve projected our ideas of behavior (anger, benevolence, love) onto GOD. But, GOD is not angry, or benevolent, or loving. GOD simple is.

Um…So…What Does This Mean?

I have no idea. I’m still trying to sort it all out. The challenging thing about these ideas is that they come with no built-in mythology within which to contextualize them.

Our religions require stories. Even Pagans, who fancy themselves to be People of the Library rather than People of the Book, must acknowledge that we build our religious experience around narrative. We are always engaging with narrative, whether that be the stories we tell about our Gods, or the stories we tell about our religious origins and identity. We tell stories in order to understand the meaning behind what we do, and we perform ritual in order to continue to affirm the stories we tell.

It’s a lovely cycle.

And I like this idea of the misunderstood GOD and the Many Gods all coexisting, behaving in different ways than we may have previously thought. It may not be accurate, but I like what it does inside my head. This could become one story that helps me to reconcile my former expression of Christianity and all of what it taught me with my current exploration of Paganism, polytheism and Druidism.

See – I’m not of the mindset that now, as a Pagan, I can shrug off my Christian upbringing as “nonsense”, or dismiss it as some vacuous tradition built on the practice of “co-opting” more ancient, more relevant traditions. That seems lazy, and condescending, and elitist. It does nothing to acknowledge all of what is good about Monotheist traditions, and in a Karmic sense it sets up those who hold that view to have their traditions and beliefs be shrugged off, dismissed and condescended to.

There’s got to be a better way of being.

It’s hard to imagine a way in which two conflicting cosmologies can co-exist. True pluralism requires a level of mental flexibility that many of us are unwilling to practice. In our defense, we haven’t had much in the way of instruction, but that’s no excuse for mental rigidity. We have to take the initiative and seek out a new story; one that speaks to all of our experiences of the Divine.

Be Flexible

For now, this is just information. I’m not going to insist that it serve any one purpose, and I don’t think you need to, either. It may just be good to sit with it and see what ideas it spawns. Perhaps holding this story in my imagination will inform the way I approach my altar, giving me cause to be more sincere in my worship of the Gods. Perhaps it will give me permission to revisit the Biblical stories from my Christian upbringing, seeking out new understandings from this new vantage point. Regardless, it is a valuable exercise in mental flexibility.

What do you think? Do these ideas resonate with you? Does this seem like a possible scenario that GOD and Gods exist, simultaneously, or does that thought rub you the wrong way?

As you think over your thoughts on the matter, I leave you with a video that shows an example of beautiful physical flexibility. May you be in your mind and spirit as this man is in his body: strong, supple, and a sight to behold.

As always, I appreciate you sharing this post with your friends on Facebook and Twitter. And please – join me in conversation in the comment section.

link to video

It is a myth that Aleister Crowley received the inspiration of the entity, Aiwass, and that from their Cairo channeling sessions in the year 1904 came the fundamental holy text of the Thelemic religion.

And, it is true.

It is a myth that the Irish Goddess, my patron, Brighid, inspired the hearts of all her faithful poets, and continues to do so to this very day.

And, it is true.

It is a myth that the fairies–a magical, invisible race of beings who still lend aid to openhearted seekers–helped to craft this post.

And, it is true.

Yes, but…

Throw “factual” to the wind for a moment. Suspend your need for scientific accuracy. That isn’t the discussion I’m opening up here. Talk of the literal existence of Gods, or the literal nature of spirits is not what this post is about. Literalism can be such a drag. I’m bored of everything having to be accurate in order to be true.

This post is about myth, specifically the role that myth-making has in the modern world. How do we consume myths? Who’s selling them to us, and why are they valuable? How are we using myth, or misusing it? And, how is it being used against us to keep us from creating new myths of our own?

We Were The Music Makers

Last night I had the terrible misfortune of watching a competition reality show. I was asked to participate in an online chat with an acquaintance of mine that would take place during the broadcast. I’m not a big TV watcher, in general, and I’ve never before seen a complete episode from the “hustle for fleeting fame” genre. But, I reluctantly agreed. What harm could it do me?

Let me tell you…

For the better part of 2 hours, I witnessed the most vile, embarrassing, ugly show of distaste I’d ever been privy to. And I’m not talking about the program. The episode was fine – boring and formulaic, mostly forgettable. No – the nastiness I witnessed was coming from everyone in the chat-room.

It. was. horrible.

Who dresses her?! Did you see how fat her legs were?… Uh, he should totally put his glasses back on… Time for that one to go home — she sounds like a chainsaw….

People were mean. Like, YouTube Comment Mean, but in real time.

I left the experience feeling utterly gross for having taken part. Could I please take a shower on the inside, I asked when I got home.

This morning, however, I came to understand the experience in a different light. The ugly typists were doing more than just showing humanities scuzzy underbelly, slinging insults through a computer screen. They were consuming mass-marketed, mass-produced myth, American style, and they were engaging with it in exactly the way it’s creators had intended them to.

We Were The Dreamers Of Dreams

Who are the modern myth-makers? The producers, writers, and the occasional savvy celebrity, herself, who create the shows, the ad campaigns, the centerfolds sold for our consumption. Myths are made by crafty marketers; tabloid bards. And we can’t get enough of it.

Our culture feasts on competition reality shows — and all entertainment media for that matter — because we have a myth deficiency in our spiritual diet.

It is an entertainment-industry created myth that the contestants of these reality TV competitions will go on to do brilliant things with their lives; that they will become celebrated, or that their innate gifts will one day become widely seen and fully appreciated. This myth is dangled in front of every singer, dancer, actor, comedian, or any other artist in the audience.

And this myth is neither accurate nor true.

The contestants may experience either a brief moment of celebrity worship, or widespread disdain. Either way, the victors and the losers will become the newest canvas for our individual and cultural projections of hope, desire, fear of success and fear of failure. Real as they may be in the flesh, they will be transformed into symbols; heroes, villains, deities.

This is the truth behind the myth.

Celebrities Make Lousy Gods And Are Rarely Heroes

We need symbols. They are important. When we hold up a figure from a myth in our imagination – when we examine it, celebrate it, critique it, seek to understand it’s relevance – we engage in a deeply human act. We re-enchant the ordinary world by fusing it with that of the mythological. This act of imaginative transformation makes for a rich, fulfilling, spiritual life.

The rub comes when the object of our attention is not a mythological deity, or a hero of old, or a created character of the imagination; but rather a flesh-and-blood person. Or, more accurately, a two dimensional version of one. This is where I think we make a mistake.

Turning an ordinary person into the stuff of myth – in real time, in front of us, behind the TV screen – requires us to ignore something essential about her; mainly, her humanity. Or, if we don’t ignore it, we participate in it’s distortion.

Be Your Own Myth-Maker

Consuming mass-marketed myth is not only a disservice to the human beings on the other side of the channel-changer; it also disempowers us from becoming our own myth-makers. The format subjugates our imagination and sets the standards for our desires and aspirations. It tells us what we want, who we should be, and then it politely reminds us that we are neither of those things. [Insert commercial here]

Honestly, I think we deserve better than that.

Our imagination – our own, personal myth-making machine – is in need of exercising. Its become atrophied from lack of use. I’ve said it before, and I believe it even more strongly now – your imagination is your greatest tool for living a magical life.

So I decline from participating in this cultural practice of myth-consumption; of celebrity worship followed by celebrity bashing. I’d rather worship an ancient Celtic Goddess, or an invisible magical creature, or the fire burning on my altar candle than to consume a manufactured myth, crafted to make me feel inferior; a myth that is simply untrue.

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Close your eyes.

No… don’t close your eyes. That won’t work. Keep reading, but picture yourself in your mind sitting there with your eyes closed.

Take a second. Can you do it?

Well, you have just exercised the first Value in my Pagan Values Blogging and Podcasting Month Series: Imagination.


*** Imagine An Image Here ***


Imagine What I Said Before

As I wrote in my last post, there are challenges to any group claiming a value as their own. The principle that is meant to be a strengthener of group identity can also be used to alienate others outside of the group. After asking a slew of questions, I concluded my post with the decision to write about my own personal values first — The Teo Value System, if you will. Then, I could see if these values resonate with other Pagans, and I may also discover that they are values shared by an even wider community of seekers and critical thinkers.

Purple elephant.

Values are kissing cousins with morals, and I don’t think I want to get into a discussion about morals. I’m probably not the only one, either. Moral-talk has its place, usually within smaller groups of people who share a perspective, perhaps even a system of belief. And we know that’s not really an accurate description of my readership, not to mention the wider Pagan community.

No. Let’s unpack some values first. They’re going to be enough of a handfull.

So, I start here with a Teo Value that is free of any moralistic residue, but that is quite central to my spiritual practice, my creative work and my expression of self.

Imagine It, and It Is There

Was that a siren? Do you hear that?

Imagination is the fundamental building block of all spiritual and magical work. Your imagination is where it all takes place. See a deity? Give thanks to your imagination. Create a circle of protection? Again, imagination.

Note that I do not say, “Those things are in your imagination,” in some dismissive fashion. Rather, they come from your imagination. Your imagination is the origin point of co-creation. You make things exist from and out of your imagination, and so do the Gods. It’s a shared workspace; a common medium.

So, I’m not suggesting that the Goddess you saw when you were standing, eyes closed, in front of your altar was not, indeed, a Goddess; nor do I suggest that you’re ritual is actually not protected from malevolent forces ’cause your circle ain’t real.

To say that something is born of the imagination– The Goddess, the circle, the…

…ball of green, glowing light that has begun moving around your computer screen, slowly at first and then steadily faster, changing form, becoming a continuous beam of color, growing, growing…filling the whole space around you with green light….

…those things totally exist. Just differently.

You Were Once Imagined

Before you were you, you were not you. But, you were still you.

That before-you may have not looked much like the present-you, but it was still kinda you.

Can you think of this thought of you?

Is the wordplay dizzying? If so, try to picture this:

Everyone with whom you have a relationship once imagined you. Not the you-you that looks exactly like you now. But, the essential you. The stuff of you. They imagined your attributes, or your qualities. Or, they imagined that they wanted to feel or experience in their lives, and somehow you help them to realize those feelings in relationship to them. You are, then, helping to bring to them qualities and experiences of the life they once created in their imagination.

Trippy, right?

And if you feel a little like a tool after imagining that, don’t. They’re serving the same imaginative function in your life.

Spare Some Change?

Imagination is the staging ground for all real transformational change. If its going to happen anywhere, it has to first happen in and through the imagination.

Let’s say you’re tired of your job. You’re bored. The routine is stale, and you feel almost robot-like as you go through the motions. You want something different.

Well, what does different look like? It doesn’t look like what you’re experiencing now. It looks like something else. But what?

Turn the key and crank up that imagination. The quickest and most effective, perhaps the only way to build a life that is different than the one you’re experiencing now is to engage your imagination. Transformation depends upon an active imagination.


*** Another Appropriate Image Is Here ***


Suspend Your Disbelief

Imagination makes ecstatic religion possible. For the Catholic, does the bread turn into Christ’s Body & the wine turn into His Blood? If she suspends her disbelief it does, and in that moment she is able to experience something truly magical. It’s happening because she allowed herself to engage in an imaginative experience of her revered ritual.

I realize that the Catholic Mass may not be a useful example for some Pagan readers, but its High Magic nonetheless. Plus, its familiar to me, and I’m writing about Teo Values, after all.

But, this same act of engaging the imagination in ritual applies to all of us in our own traditions. If we want to experience our spiritual lives in a relevant way; if we want to get out of our books, step onto sacred ground and truly commune with forces that are greater than ourselves, we first have to suspend our disbelief in our own imagination.

A Value Challenge

So, I conclude with a challenge. Be a kid again. Let your imagination expand and explode, and remember that doing so is a way to invest in your own spiritual growth. Regardless of how you self-identify, you have an imagination. It’s a sacred tool. A magical instrument that you were born with, created from, and to which one day you will return.

So use it, already.

You can open your eyes now.


If this ideas got your imagination going, please share your thoughts in the Comments section. I’d love to know what you think about Imagination as a Pagan Value!

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