Like most of us, I was raised more than nominally Christian. I mean, that’s normal, right? It is the mainstream religion…whether we like it or not. And whether we like it or not, it is very influential on our society.
Unlike many of us, I did not leave Christianity due to any problem with Christians or hypocrisy or dogma or any of that. In fact, I was gung-ho, die-hard, up to my eyeballs in Christianity. I had a church I adored, with a wonderful, loving community. It didn’t fall apart until long after I left the church, and even though many have left it, I think that thatparticular Episcopal church is probably just as loving, warm, and welcoming as it always was.
I wanted to be a missionary. I volunteered at the Church. I studied the Bible. Yes, I was simultaneously studying folkloric witchcraft and the paranormal…but those things aren’t complete anathema in the Episcopal church. Which is one of the many reasons it rocked. Hard. Of course, that’s one of the reasons it’s almost been completely torn apart (the whole gay bishop thing…*sigh*). And yes, things did get a little awkward for me in my late teens as there was a bit of an evangelical edge that came into the church. It was a bit of a fad, but infiltrated the youth groups pretty hard, and I was very involved in the youth group. I was also very into “secular music” at that point in time. There was some not-so-joyful poking about my music that I’m still a little sore over (that’s an entirely different post right there), but all-in-all, I didn’t leave the church voluntarily.
See, I did study the Bible. Too much. I studied the culture, the anthropology, the archaeology surrounding the Bible. I studied the history behind the establishment of the Christian faith and the Holy Roman Catholic Church. I studied the mythology that influenced the Old Testament, and the politics that influenced the Church.
In short, I learned too much for my logical mind to believe it any more.
This also cut short my love affair with John Dee and the Enochian systems. All of a sudden, dealing with angels and demons seemed far too Judeo-Christian…and I knew too much to believe that, so therefore that all had to be wrong as well.
I had to sit down and actually think. What do I believe? And the first thing I realized? I do not believe in sin. I particularly do not believe in “Original Sin.” Which then made it even harder to swallow Christianity. Because, let’s face it, there are a lot of Christians out there who do not necessarily believe in the Bible. It sounds weird, but it is true. Some of them accept that it has been corrupted by the human influence. Some accept it as guidance, but not verbatim. I even knew one woman who belonged to a very small church who only accepted books after Acts to be pertinent. The others were studied and read for historical purposes, for inspiration, or out of respect…but they only followed the instructions for living from Acts forward. Weird, but true.
However, without sin you really don’t have much need for a savior, right? So the whole point of Christ dying for our sins seems rather pointless.
So I was out of a religion. Then I wandered into Wicca…and from there Santeria and Voudoo…and now I have my own mottled form of polytheism.
But with Santeria and Voudoo…the Christian wound was poked again. I realize the Christian symbolism is syncretized to the original African. And that it might be possible to extract one from the other and come up with some sort of reconstructed African religion. But that just doesn’t seem right to me either. In fact, that seems downright wrong. I will admit I’m fascinated by the study of the original African traditions (and don’t get me started on the lack of any decent archaeology in Africa…it will trigger a rant!) but I’m interested much as I was interested in Biblical studies even after I’d decided that the Bible was all bunk. It’s the academics of it that I find interesting. And every now and then, there’s a glimmer, a piece of truth that does fit with what I’ve learned of the Santeria and the Voudoo…or something that explains a practice or a word that seems somehow out-of-place.
And yet…there’s that Christian thing facing me down again.
Recently, news articles have been floating around the internet again about the polytheism that was probable in Judaism at and prior to the time of Christ. The evidence is there, and it is also written in the Bible itself. The Bible speaks of the Asherah in the Temple…as well as weeping for Tammuz/Damuzi…
In the middle of the night as I laid in my bed, my body exhausted but my mind still on full spin, I received a message. I’ve learned to separate these now…these thoughts that come out of nowhere and are in my voice in a way but are distinctly not in another…and were no where near anything I was actively thinking at that time. And the message I received was…
Put the Asherah back into the Temple.
I don’t know that I’m up for that, really. Of course, I don’t know if I’ll have the option to refuse. I did…but I have this feeling my refusal will be ignored. With this concept comes a whole world of problems…the least of which is what the hell would I call that? I mean, I have no real name for what I do already…but…what? Polytheistic Christianity? No. That doesn’t work because as I said, without sin there is no need for a Christ/savior. Polytheistic Judaism? Bite my tongue! The last thing I want to do is mess with a religious tradition that has thousands of years of tradition and heritage, has been through more prejudice and punishment than any ethnic group should be exposed to, and happens to be both a culture and a religious tradition I have a lot of respect for. (If nothing else, their ability to survive despite horrendous odds deserves respect. There’s a lot more there, but that alone…)
It would also require a metric ton more research, in an area of research that I had left buried for almost twenty years as I pursued other avenues…
And even more altars in the spooky room, I just know it.
Here’s an ongoing joke with Mousie and I: When I set up the spooky room, I was pure Wiccan. So I set it up with four altars for the directions/elements and one central altar. The plan was that depending on season/work…I could set the altar in the center up to face whichever direction I pleased. Let’s just say there are many more altars than five in there now, and the only two left that aren’t taken by someone are the west and the south. The East altar and the North altar are still there, but shared by deities that “fit”. I’ve been muttering for months that the gods are aiming for my altars. I’m still partial to the elements, so I’m fighting to keep them. I’m losing the battle, though…
Of course, if I were able to make this switch at least in my head, it might lighten up my resistance to some of the Christianity that’s inherent in so many other Traditions. I suppose we will just have to see.
Yeah, I needed this. (Sarcasm)