Since this recent holiday season I’ve had a renewed interest in Jesus and how all the things I learned growing up in church relate to me now. There’s no doubt my previous convictions have changed and morphed as my life has taken many different turns, and I’m feeling it’s about time I revisit those convictions of my past to try and gain a new understanding of them with the knowledge I’ve gained since. Until recently, when studying magick I would get very uneasy when I came across discussions dealing with any Judeo-Christian themes, such as Qabala, Ceremonial Magick, and the works of famous occultists like Dion Fortune. Slowly my views are changing to a more open perspective that embraces spirituality as a whole, and by dealing with my hang ups of the past I’m able to find the truths that are found even within Christianity. There have been a few sources that have inspired me to loosen up a little and let the universe teach me what it may. The one that had the most profound effect was The Cosmic Shekinah by Sorita d’Este and David Rankine. This book took everything that I thought I knew about the Bible and scrambled it all up and placed it neatly back in my head, much to my surprise as like I’ve said, I wasn’t keen on letting Christianity leak back into my newfound pagan beliefs. This book and other works that I’ve come across have helped me to see that once you look beyond the face of Christianity, and get to the heart of where all these teachings fit into the development of mankind as a whole, there are many great truths to be found.
Last night I decided it was time to start putting up decorations for the holidays, and now I’m sitting here going through my iTunes library, putting together my favorite holiday songs for the season. As I go through and listen to a lot of the classics and some more recent songs, I can’t help but get wrapped up in the spirit of the season. Cascada has a new song called “Somewhere At Christmas Time,” and the simple yet beautiful lyrics bring to mind the images we’re all familiar with. In my mind I travel back through the story many of us have learned from the time we were young, of that little child in a manger on a starry winter night. I’m not here to debate the historical accuracy of anything, because that’s beside the point, but I do want to discuss this magical spirit filled with hope and wonder that affects the world during this special time of year. Regardless of what you believe, whether you call it Yule or Christmas, or if you choose not to believe in anything at all, there is something undeniable that happens this time of year that we all feel in our hearts. It’s a lifting, a peace, a joy, a sense of happiness and celebration. I listen to these songs and relive the memories of being with family, of waking up on Christmas morning to find gifts under the tree; the smell of turkey in the oven and the glow of twinkling lights everywhere.
From the time I was born, I was taught the story of baby Jesus, and how he was born in the manger outside the inn. I could visualize the angels filling the sky with song, and the wise men travelling on camels following that bright shining star. I’m more educated now and I understand that much of the Bible is basically a mythology, but I have also learned that “myth” doesn’t mean not real. Since discovering paganism and reading the fantastical myths that many of us adopt as a religious backdrop, I look at the big picture and how these myths are real when we believe them in our hearts. I no longer follow Christianity as a religion, but do I have to be an Egyptian to believe in the myths of Osiris, or a Roman to honor Jupiter? The Christmas story is one of joy, hope, and the redeeming savior coming into the world, and to me that is what Christmas will always be about. Now as a pagan I can also celebrate the redeeming sun coming to save us from the darkness of winter, and the Horned One ruling over the harsh landscape during this time of year. I know there are many pagans who, like a light switch, just automatically try to do away with all things Christmas to replace it with Yule once they convert, but really, what is the difference? I used to be that type of person, but this year I embrace it all. I want to listen to “O Holy Night” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” and celebrate the birth of the newborn king. There’s no other way to describe this season other than pure magic. It’s probably the only time of year that collectively we join together in love and good cheer, to just celebrate. It goes deeper than what religion we follow, what gods we honor, or whether we call it Yule or Christmas. As we enter into this joyous season, my hope is that others can see through these walls we put up between each other; that we allow each of our celebrations to color the world just as the lights on the tree come together under that beautiful twinkling star. So no matter what holidays you’ll be celebrating in the coming weeks… remember to just believe.
Studying astrology seemed like such a daunting task, but it seems to be connected to everything magical so I knew I would eventually need some basic working knowledge of it. The thought of learning it all freaked me out because it just seems like so much to tackle. I decided to start somewhere and a few weeks ago I began recording basic astrological info in my journal everyday. Since I’ve been watching the skies (through my computer ..LOL) daily, it’s really helping me to get familiar with the cycles of the moon and how the planets move through the Zodiac. I’ve even been recognizing some of the energy patterns in my life.
I wake up everyday and I strive to live a good life, but I don’t seem to be going anywhere with a focus. Yea, I learn new things and I get random divine insights, but I want to be more connected to the inner happiness inside. I’ve been reading things online about Pagans returning to Christianity, and the skeptic in me scoffs at how ridiculous that sounds. This path is very tough, and there are no instant results, especially when studying and practicing as a solitary. There’s a lot of trial and error, often without any input from others on what direction to take. At the same time, I’ve learned more about myself and the world around me in just a couple short years than I ever did during my years as a Christian. I don’t say this to proclaim Paganism’s superiority over Christianity, but I can’t imagine leaving a religion that challenges and fulfills me to return to one that left me feeling dull and without any hope. I totally respect any Pagan that chooses to become a Christian, but for the many Pagans who have left Christianity only to return to it many years later just seems counterproductive. Even in moments like now where I struggle to find my center and the foundation of my spirituality, I know there are energies that will guide me, as they always have. This is a challenging and rewarding spirituality that I wouldn’t trade for anything.