Tag Archives: Ritual

Weaving Webs of Belief

In a recent article by doctoral candidate Samuel Webster, he proposes the suggestion that belief is a mental illness. While making some interesting observations, it is unfortunate that his own personal biases against minority beliefs in Christianity have created a problematic logic in his thesis, namely that faith is first the sole central component to Christianity (and I’d presume by extension Judaism and Islam), and that faith itself is irrational and somehow counter to reason. In omitting definitions of belief, he seemingly exempts his coreligionists from having some form of belief, as well as creating a rather messy category of the subject matter. To this end, I am led to the following conclusions.

First, I propose we look at some definitions of faith in order to address some of the misconceptions of this article. According to Protestant, existentialist philosopher and systematic theologian, “[Faith] is the state of being ultimately concerned”[1], “being” in this case referring to the Dasein or principle of humanity at its most genuine state. He continues in stating that as a centered act, faith is the movement of being toward the sum total of being itself – one here may make the argument that this sum total could be referred to as God, or in the case of Neoplatonic philosophy, the noetic One that exists from the sum total of the henadic worlds. Less philosophically, faith is a duty of fulfilling one’s trust[2], or confidence based on reason in that being ultimately concerned.

Belief, then, is the trust in which we are concerned with the sum total of being in contrast to the state of being which is faith. How then do we rest our trust on things that are purportedly immaterial[3]? Belief becomes the element of faith in the self-affirmation of one’s being in spite of the powers of non-being. In his discourse, Fear and Trembling, Søren Kierkegaard suggests that faith is not an aesthetic emotion, but something higher because it has resignation as its supposition; paradoxical to be sure, however affirmative of Being in that it is entirely rational and capable of apprehension by the aesthetic person, perceivable by the ethical person, and experiential by the religious self. In the his classic Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas even states, “Science begets and nourishes faith, by way of external persuasion afforded by science; but the chief and proper cause of faith is that which moves man inwardly to assent.” [4] Here, we approach the threat of non-being through discursive measures to arise at a faith that itself is entirely rational and founded on experience as the core of humanity’s nature.

Arguments that faith is the result of some psychosis, are clearly unfounded even at a basal etymological level describing derangement[5]. Since faith is rational it cannot be the result of psychosis, however that does not excuse the reality or possibility of actions that are affronts to faith on the part of believers and may sometimes be irrational as well as rational. Affronts to faith, in this case, could also be considered affronts to reason itself since they indicate either a form of willingness against the objects of faith or they concern the rejection thereof either out of ignorance or spite and are therefore more appropriately acosmic in their natures as they themselves are concerned with an element of non-being.

To illustrate a point, belief is fundamental to religious activity is predicated on the a priori acceptance of a superior ontology of Being. An individual engaging in religious activity is operating in the realm of faith. Were one, for example to build an image some deity, engage in operations dedicated to that deity such as prayers and offerings, yet not believe in the reality of that state of being, then they are merely engaging in pantomime. For the religious person, who may believe in a manifestation of the divine, consecrate it and make offerings, they are necessarily engaging in the activity of faith and, as would happen, believe in that manifestation of Being, a good example would be the affectionate titles of that deity, such as κύριος (Gk. Lord) as well as σωτήρ (Gk. Savior) – epithets of divine affiliation common from the Ancient Greek deity Hermes as well as Jesus the Christ.

Faith is real in every period of history regardless of the symbols associated with the varieties of faith from history to the common era and cannot be discredited by superstition or authoritarian distortions. The denial of faith, in this sense, if indicative of its triumph as it is itself an expression of faith as that movement toward the ultimate concern. If there is a problem with faith in the modern age, it is that the concepts of faith and belief have been reinterpreted as “faith/belief in something unbelievable”. Empirical and epistemological inquiry does nothing to harm faith, instead it is reason and this self-criticism that provide validity to the emblems contained within each faith.

Raphael-Plato-and-Aristotle

 

[1] Tillich. Dynamics of Faith.

[2] faith (n.) mid-13c., “duty of fulfilling one’s trust,” from Old French feid, foi “faith, belief, trust, confidence, pledge,” from Latin fides “trust, faith, confidence, reliance, credence, belief,” from root of fidere “to trust,” from PIE root *bheidh- (source also of Greek pistis; see bid). For sense evolution, see belief. Theological sense is from late 14c.; religions called faiths since c.1300.

[3] https://medium.com/the-physics-arxiv-blog/5e7ed624986d

[4] Aquinas. Article I. Faith. Secunda Secunae Partis.

[5] psychosis (n.) 1847, “mental derangement,” Modern Latin, from Greek psykhe- “mind” (see psyche) + -osis “abnormal condition.” Greek psykhosis meant “a giving of life; animation; principle of life.


Christianity as Theurgy

In a recent post my colleague Rufus Opus recently discussed his experiences as a Christian and a magician. For myself, I have been frequently met with the same essential question, “How can one be a Christian and a Magician?” While it may seem strange to reconcile the two apparently disparate ‘practices’, fundamentally my views of Christianity, esoteric and non-esoteric, is fundamentally a theurgical religion, organized as a mystery tradition – a shared point of origin with many other traditions that helped create the Western Esoteric Tradition, an root to which I personally feel drawn and representative of the true roots of Christianity to which we must return.

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The early Christian movement arose alongside the mystery schools of the Hellenic world, eventually competing with them well into the fourth century. As such, Christianity borrowed much of its early terminology from the mystery schools that prevalent at the time and, as it spread, also adopted much of the language of Neoplatonism. At its core, Christianity is a mystery religion – a religion with particular semiotic markers, signs and symbols and experiences separating initiates from non-initiates. To this day, in orthodox and heterodox churches, the sacraments are oftentimes referred to as mysteries or realities that transcend created intellect.

From here, it is very easy to understand where Christian mysteries and the practice of occultism become necessarily intertwined. The actual process of initiation is experienced separately from the ritual itself, the ritual creating a symbolic scaffold that the initiate would be able to use in integrating the semiotic content into their individual learning and developmental process leading to a greater understanding of one’s relation to the divine either through union with the uncreated logoic nature through contemplation or prayer or through mystical visions of the kosmos and celestial spheres. Applied prayer in the Christian context is nothing short of living theurgy; the miracles attributed to saints and holy persons a form of applied thaumaturgy by those who have by virtue of their initiations and contemplation of Deity are able to directly impact the subtle material world.

delville_school_ plato

By the time of the late Middle Ages and the emerging Renaissance, Christianity once again was able to reconnect with its esoteric nature with the translation of the Hermetica and the rise of natural philosophers such as Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, Marsilio Ficino, the School of Florence, Abbot Johannes Trithemius, Johann Reuchlin and many others. In his Oration on the Dignity of Man, Mirandola explains:

“As the farmer weds his elms to the vines, so the magus unites earth to heaven. For nothing so surely impels us to the worship of God than the assiduous contemplation of His miracles and when, by means of this natural magic, we shall have examined these wonders more deeply, we shall more ardently be moved to love and worship Him in his works, until finally we shall be compelled to burst into the song: “The heavens, all of the earth, is filled with the majesty of your
glory.”

The Rennaisance, here, represents a return to the mysteries of early Christianity and the ancient schools of Greece through theurgy and the practice of so-called natural magic. The modern magician and Christian is an inheritor of this great chain of union between past and present and as such draws on this great power stretching from beginningless time to the Omega Point at which Godhead draws all things into itself completing the process of reintegration. Magic, here, is an essential tool to facilitate the process, best characterized by Louis Claude de Saint-Martin in his opus, Man: His True Nature and Ministry:

“The powerful virtues of men of God of all epochs are offered us, to strengthen and support us, that our own spiritual virtue may take courage and confidence in the fight, as well as to instruct us in the marvels and grandeur which fill the Kingdom of God, which they began to know, even while they were still in their earthly bodies…. the virtual sacred support of the Redeemer is granted to us, to revive within us all our former regions and powers, upon which He is pleased to take His seat, and to which He communicates His universal life.”

While the more conventional Christian or critic of Christianity and mysticism may find ritual and evocation to be bizarre at best and dangerous or useless at worst – the Christian magician recalls the words the living Christ left to his disciples as the most potent of invocation in the Lord’s Prayer, invoking the Divine Beloved to be radically present to establish the reign of God in the very real here and now. In the Lord’s Prayer, the Christian not only raises themselves to divine union but also, becomes God themselves as co-creator and participant in Creation itself. Therefore, as an initiate in the mysteries of Christ the Christian has no choice but to radically engage and exercise his arete as a being made in the likeness and image of Godhead.

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The Way of the Heart and the Way of the Cup

Handed down from master to disciple in an unbroken chain of succession, the prayer of the heart as a spiritual discipline was fixed in writing by the eleventh century Byzantine, hesychast monk Symeon the New Theologian who taught that humanity could and should directly experience theoria, or direct contemplation of the experience of Godhead. In the Orthodox tradition, the preparation for vision of God takes place in two stages: purification, and illumination of the mental faculties. Without this it is impossible for man’s selfish love to be transformed into selfless love and unceasing prayer, as praised by the Apostle Paul who exhorts us in Thessalonians to, “Pray without ceasing.”

Though never achieving much currency in the West, the way of the heart as an esoteric discipline would become a central principal in the writings of the French philosopher, Louis Claude de Saint-Martin who, in his Theosophic Correspondences shares with us, “The inward or centre is the principle of everything; so long as this centre is not open, the greatest external wonders may seduce without advancing us; and, if I may venture to say so, it is our inward which ought to be the true thermometer, the true touchstone, of what passes without. If our heart is in God, if it is really become divine, by love, faith, and ardent prayer, no illusion can surprise us.” In Saint-Martin’s teachings, through similar meditation on God, one may undergo a spiritual process of reintegration with the Divine.

The way of the heart, in both hesychast and esoteric doctrines, is ultimately a form of theurgy. For Neoplatonists such as Iamblichus, the goal is henosis, or unity with God; in the Orthodox East, it is theosis, or the absorption into a divine way of life. I would posit, similarly, that in the esoteric doctrine of the West and the principals of the teachings of Saint-Martin, the achievement of reintegration is a form of spiritual and evangelical salvation of the soul at home with the universal Mind which, after its descent into the innermost core of being, must spread outward in all directions in a like manner as Christ, having experienced at a pivotal point in time descended into Hades and, upon ascent, drew them likewise out of the depths and later, again, spread outward in the form of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost imbuing the Apostles with the same knowledge of doing the same.

Although penitential in tonality, the way of the heart does not contradict Iamblichean principals of theurgy, but indeed does “[enlarge] very greatly our soul’s receptivity to the gods… and accustoms [our] eyes to the brightness of divine light, and gradually brings to perfection the capacity of our faculties for contact with the gods.” (De Mysteriis 5.26.18-40) Similarly, Saint Martin writes: “I think they would do better to call it the sentiment of the presence of intermediate agents doing the will of God. I believe we always perceive this reaction of the Virtues whenever we seek the Verb, not outside of us, but within, looking with intelligence at the temple in which He dwells.” My personal preference for keeping Saint-Martin’s usage of the ‘Verb’ adequately presents the activity of the divine as opposed to the rather abstract and now poorly understood Word, or Logos.

It occurred to me recently that this process is a form of eternal liturgy resulting in the fractio of our limited selves into the chalice representing the fullness of both our hearts and minds. Joining together these two species into one sacrament and consuming it, we experience joy of heaven on earth and partake of the ecstatic ‘Verb’ or action of Godhead. Far from the melancholy, the way of the heart teaches us to live in accordance with our intellect in the very real here and now instead of trying to escape to some indeterminate eschatological future. This bliss and this ecstasy, open to all, brings us not only contemplatively closer to Godhead, but is a challenge and affirmation of our own divinity and active co-participation in the Creation of a redeemed Humanity.

Sacred Heart doves Chalice


Good Friday

Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worse kind of suffering.
– Paulo Coelho

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ILLE mi par esse deo uidetur, ille, si fas est, superare diuos,qui sedens aduersus identidem te spectat et audit dulce ridentem, misero quod omnis eripit sensus mihi: nam simul te.
-Catullus, Carmina 51

scourging

“This is what is signified by the words Ana l-haqq, “I am God.” People imagine that it is a presumptuous claim, whereas it is really a presumptuous claim to say Ana ‘l-‘abd, “I am the slave of God”; and Ana l-haqq, “I am God” is an expression of great humility. The man who says Ana ‘l-‘abd, “I am the servant of God” affirms two existences, his own and God’s, but he that says Ana l-haqq, “I am God” has made himself non-existent and has given himself up and says “I am God”, that is, “I am naught, He is all; there is no being but God’s.” This is the extreme of humility and self-abasement.”
– Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi, commentary on Mansur Al-Hallaj

Crowning-with-Thorns-lowf

“So you see, Good and Evil have the same face; it all depends on when they cross the path of each individual human being.”
-Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prynn

carrying the cross

Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean; the world has grown grey from thy breath;
We have drunken of things Lethean, and fed on the fullness of death.
Laurel is green for a season, and love is sweet for a day;
But love grows bitter with treason, and laurel outlives not May.
– Charles Algernon Swinburne

dali_corpushypercubus1954

Cum ergo accepisset Jesus acetum, dixit: Consummatum est. Et inclinato capite tradidit spiritum.

– IOHANNES XIX: xxx


Agapé

This past Saturday I woke up early after a peculiarly restless sleep anxious about the day ahead. Every first and third Friday the Seattle Johannite community, Holy Paraclete, meets at a local esoteric bookstore for communal prayer and, occasionally, participation in the Eucharist through our friend, Monsignor Scott Rassbach+, of Rose Cross Community in Portland. This time, however, was different and unique. Although the monsignor couldn’t make it to the service, I decided as the narthex leader to try something different from our usual vespers service on account of a special guest coming from out of town and offer them, as a gesture of friendship between our different communities.

Friendship and mutual support is important. Regardless of traditions, we are all being led by the Sacred Flame toward the Godhead in whatever way we imagine it and are all fellow travelers on the spiritual path. I met Pater Craig Williams a number of years ago at the Esoteric Book Conference ,where he was interviewed last year by Occult of Personality. A priest of Ecclesia Gnostica Æterna and adept in Ayurveda and Eastern spirituality, I’ve enjoyed my conversations with him and acknowledge him as a friend and exemplar of what it means to be a modern gnostic. Another guest, friend and soon-to-be deacon of Ecclesia Gnostica was also present, as well as others from different traditions. To say I felt overwhelmed at first would be a gross understatement.

The entire morning I traveled here and there across town to get the things I needed for the ceremony in-between making lunch for my partner and me, ironing the clothes I was going to wear, and packing up my travel bag that I use to bring what I needed to the location. I decided that I would arrive a few hours earlier to clean up the space with my partner, set up what was needed, and then grab a quick drink at a local pub to calm my nerves about an hour and half before Holy Paraclete’s first Agapé Meal.

The Agapé Meal is a ceremony dating back to the earliest ages of the Christian movement and although the Council of Laeodicea effectively marked the end of the practice of the agapé feasts in the transition of Christian worship from home to the adapted Hellenic temples and other buildings granted to Christians for worship and congregation some fifty years earlier by the Flavius Valerius Aurelius Constantinus Augustus by declaring, “no one holding any office in the Church, be he cleric or layman, who are invited to an agapé feast, may take away their portions, for this is to cast reproach on the ecclesiastical order[1].” Although it can be certain many still met in the context of their own families and extended friends, this development also marked the codification – or rather separation – between clergy and the laity.

Although eucharistic in appearance, the agapé is principally communal in nature, best described by His Grace, +Mar Timotheos of New South Wales: “[The Agape Meal] a prayerful feast shared in community.. [and] a time for a whole household to come together and give thanks… you can think of [it] as a bridge. It bridges the domestic, mundane reality of the meal with the sacred time of liturgy – so it has a flavour that is somewhat liturgical and somewhat casual. As the liturgy proclaims: there is no separation between these things – but it’s easy to think of sacredness as only being at church or in meditation. Agape is a way to remind ourselves that truly ‘there is nothing mundane in the holy’.”

The above description is precisely what I felt last Saturday in the presence of good friends and spiritual partners. In spite of our many different backgrounds, experiences and even personal practices, we were able to come together, sit at the same table, pray and enjoy our company in a mindful manner. The conversations were delightful and I was overjoyed by the entirety of the experience in spite of my initial anxieties. Waking up the next morning, I felt inspired – the first time in a number of weeks due to personal life stressors – and motivated to move past the things I’ve been letting hold me back to some degree and try out new things.

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[1] Canon 27, Laeodicea


Dust in the Wind

 

AshCross

Today, Ash Wednesday, marks another return to the liturgical season of Lent, a period oftentimes associated with fasting, self-denial, and penance in many churches. For many post-restoration Gnostics, however, the meaning of this season shifts from one of denial and self-deprecation to an opportunity for engaging in deeper, more attentive, inner contemplation and meditation. Though the external symbols may appear the same, the penitential mood of this season has more in common with alerting us toward our true natures and our frequent inability to remember who we are and “whereto we speed[1]”, as opposed to attaching ourselves to guilt.

Scripture reminds us that we are in fact extensions of the eternal Godhead; immortal, incorrupt, made in the image of eternity[2]. Yet, due to the vast temporal distance from the initial moment of Creation, it is difficult for us to remember this truth and instead wander around in a more or less amnesiac state either bemoaning the gift that has been given us or, conversely, reveling mindlessly in temporal delights without pausing for a moment to recognize that material pleasures are fleeting and not intrinsically meaningful.

During this time of introspection, we are called to make a conscious effort toward remembering our own unique divinity and the divinity we share with the whole of Creation. Far from being a period of denial, Lent is an opportunity for radical engagement with ourselves and the world around us, an exercise to see things as the Godhead intended them to be. By saturating our experiences with meaning, we are able to rediscover the original moment of Creation as continually unfolding around us at all times, in all places and in all things.

The liturgical season of Lent is concrete marker for us to focus on what is ultimately an abstract process that each of us are going through individually in our spiritual process. By infusing this season with meaning, we encounter other markers along the way that can help us better focus our wandering minds. Ash Wednesday changes from penance and the negative religious mood of self-denial to being marked for stronger spiritual training [3]and casting off those things hindering our process and making us mentally and spiritually more capable of putting our experiences into a wider perspective as Jesus did in casting aside the temptations of using his messianic mission for worldly ends instead of offering an example for experiencing and exercising our free will[4].

Echoing my post from the previous year, the primary importance of Lent is to help us grow in our experience toward the divine in whatever form we may honor it. The goal is complete transformation and is unique to each and every one of us and there is no external litmus test for success or failure, only the intent and the rewards of being able to slowly see things as they are and receive being open to experience of our own dynamic divine nature.


[1] Excerpta ex Theodoto

[2] Wisdom 2:23

[3] Asceticism (from the Greek: ἄσκησις, áskēsis, “exercise” or “training”).

[4] Matthew 4:1-11; Mark 1:12-13; Luke 4:1-13


A Mass of Candles (and a little Beeswax)

The Presentation of the Lord

As I noted in my entry last year, Candlemas, also known the Feast of the Presentation, is one of the Twelve Great Feasts and is celebrated by Christians world-wide in commemoration of the gospel account of Mary and Joseph’s presentation of Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem to complete Mary’s ritual purification forty days after birth in accordance with the Law of Moses.

The tradition of purification following childbirth was something that, unsettlingly to many in our contemporary culture, survived well into the modern era in the Catholic and Anglican practice of churching new mothers forty days after childbirth wherein a blessing is given to mothers and prayers of thanksgiving are offered for the survival of the child, which with higher infant mortality concerns was a major reason to give thanks.

brighids-flame

In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the Feast of Candlemas became deeply syncretized with the Irish quarter celebration of Imbolc which, even in modern Ireland, is considered to mark the beginning of Spring and is a festival fundamentally associated with the ancient goddess Bríg or Brigid, who may be fundamentally considered the same as the Christian Saint Brigid of Kildare whose feast occurs traditionally on the first of February. At this point, it’s hard to say which celebration and traditions influenced one another but in practice they have become so fused that to this day many modern Pagans celebrate it as one of their major yearly celebrations however the tradition of setting lights and keeping vigil are maintained.

Western ecclesial practice for this day maintains the tradition of blessing bees-wax candles to be used in church and by members of the community throughout the year. According to some traditions, the candles used by the faithful put to flight the assaults of evil spirits or faeries and have the additional advantage of warding away the harmful effects of storms. The emphasis on beeswax is something that deeply interests me in light of the current ecological disaster facing many beekeepers with the current die-offs as well as being someone who grew up in an agricultural community where bees are essential to daily life. The connection between liminal (cross-between) times, prophesy, and enlightment and the bee is something I find fascinating, in particular as a modern Gnostic.

tholos

Throughout the ancient Levant, the bee was believed to be the sacred insect that bridged the natural world to the underworld. Tomb decorations, in particular the Mycenean tholos tombs, were even shaped like bee-hives, likely in reference to the ancient goddess Potnia whose name simply means, “mistress”. Her title and epithets were also inherited by classical and Mycenean Greek and applied to many goddesses, including Kore in her role in the Arcadian mysteries of Eleusis.

The bee was also connected in many of these cultures with the gift of prophesy, elements of which are also apparent 1 Samuel 14:24-30:

“He [Jonathan] extended the staff that was in his hand, and dipped the tip of it in the honeycomb, and put his hand to his mouth; and his eyes brightened. Then one of the soldiers said, “Your father strictly charged the troops with an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food this day.’ And so the troops are faint.” Then Jonathan said, “My father has troubled the land; see how my eyes have brightened because I tasted a little of this honey. How much better if today the troops had eaten freely of the spoil taken from their enemies; for now the slaughter among the Philistines has not been great.”

The Biblical connection between honey and prophesy continues in the account of the prophet John the Baptist who was said to wear clothing of camel hair and feed on locusts and wild honey. (Matthew 3:4, Mark 1:6) as well in the Apocalypse of John (Rev. 10:9-10)

Although the Romantic notion of a connection between a supposed Jesus Dynasty flourishing in France such as those popularized in the fictional books Holy Blood, Holy Grail and the The DaVinci Code, has been definitively disproven, golden bees (or cicadas!) as a symbol of royalty were discovered in 1653 in Tournai in the tomb of Childeric I, founder in 457 of the Merovingian dynasty and father of Clovis and were resurrected in usage by Emperor Napoleon of France in his coat of arms. Interestingly, as Father Donato+ points out in his speculative essay:

“[A] few days before his imperial coronation, Napoleon met with the Roman Pontiff in secret. This was the social and political backdrop of Dr. Fabré-Palaprat’s discovery of the Lévitikon in Paris that same year. The secretive meeting between Napoleon and the pope took place in Paris, but not as a State visit. During their private talks, the pope reportedly pressed Napoleon to sign a document in which Louis XIV “disavowed the articles of the declaration of the clergy in 1682, which was drawn up by Bishop Jacques Bénigne Bossuet as the foundation of the liberties of the Gallican Church… The pope was asking that Napoleon sign a document repudiating the authority of the French Monarch to his extraordinary authority over the established Catholic Church in France, which was claimed – and never relinquished legally – by Louis’ successors. Here, it is important to recall that after Louis XIV, his nephew, Philippe d’Orleans, served as regent for Louis XV. This Philippe is the Duke of Orleans who was appointed Grand-Master of the Order of the Temple, and reformer of its statutes. In name alone, but still by intention, this made Philippe and his successors the Johannite Patriarchs – privy to the secrets and the succession of St. John and everything that entailed. With a renewed monarchy, such as the one Napoleon was about to create, all of these prerogatives would eventually fall into the imperial lap. And the pope knew it.”

Although speculative, for Johannites this connection between the bee and its relevance to the mysteries of John may prove something fun to think about.

symbolique

This Saturday Holy Paraclete Community will be celebrating the Vespers service of the Apostolic Johannite Church, a central part of the ceremony being the lighting of the lucernarium. Traditionally, it would be during the vespers service that the candles would be blessed however, in absence of a priest; I plan on distributing candles to the community out of symbolic solidarity.

For me personally, the morning of Candlemas will be spent in contemplative meditation and participation in Teo Bishop’s Solitary Druid Fellowship’s February Cross Quarter liturgy. Though not pagan myself (in spite of what P. Sufenas Virius Lupus may say), the emphasis on ecological awareness and integration as well as spiritual enlightenment and transformation found in modern druidry appeals to me very much and, in honor of the Brigid’s might not be a bad opportunity to help focus on the Sacred Flame within all people and all paths.

artOfStonehenge_PD204

 

note: in the original post, I had erroneously called Imbolc and Irish ‘cross-quarter’ celebration. As PSVL notes in the comments: “Imbolc is not a cross-quarter day for the Irish, it’s a quarter-day. The whole notion that Imbolc, Beltaine, Lugnasad, and Samain are “cross-quarter days” comes from Wicca, not from Irish tradition. This is the first day of Spring for the Irish, just as Beltaine is the first of Summer, Lugnasad the first of Autumn, and Samain the first of Winter.”


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