Revival of Nature Spirituality (1700 to Present)
Spirituality is all about emotional connections to the divine and others. The techniques used to open, focus, and raise emotions are defined as emotional magic and are analogous to prayer used by faith based religions. Yet its public expression was suppressed and demonized for a long time by those same faith based religions. All theories of emotion magic derive from observations of nature in both its physical and conscious forms and not from any human created idol (sacred book).
The Suppression of the Past
Suppression of all Non-Orthodox Christian and Pagan religions really began under Christian Roman emperor Theodosus I (emperor between 379 to 395). This suppression includes Christians not adhering to the orthodox doctrines so it was not only Pagans who were affected.
After Thodosius I died a brief revival of Pagan traditions took place in the west far from Constantinople but that did not last long. This was the time of the Symmachi Panel.
After the Roman empire in the west disintegrated the Christian church continued becoming the last refuge of literacy and commercial law. Pagan rulers required that literacy to develop and rule their lands so they readily paid the price of converting to Christianity and forcibly converted their subjects.
Only after a long dark age of suppression did freedom slowly emerge once again. Freedom is a Druidic nature based practice.
For a list of suppressive laws originating with Theodosus and his sons see: http://www.fourthcentury.com/index.php/imperial-laws-chart-395
http://www.mountvernon.org/digital-encyclopedia/article/freemasonry/ (image from http://www.masons59.org/)
Freedom from Religious Authority in a Social Setting - Freemasonry (1700 on)
(July 6, 2022) Freemasonry was a Manifestation of the Freedom Stage of the Enlightenment. It was not meant to replace any existing religion but became popular because it was a place for free thinkers to associate in a private club atmosphere. Its popularity was due to doing ceremonial royal-like rituals together and working towards gaming-like level advancements in regards to those rituals. Its members were free to work out and choose their own religious path. This desire for freedom from the repressive state and religious authorities of the time led to most of its workings being secret.
Freemasonry also provided much of the ritual structure for later Nature based magical practices. Many modern Nature Pagans still use the Freemasonry ritual practice of calling the cardinal directions, using its closing phrase of "so mote it be" and its original three degrees of advancement in education schemes. Also the 1950's founders of the British Wicca (Gerald Gardner) and the more nature based Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (Ross Nichols) were members of a Freemason inspired organization called the Ancient Druid Order.
Freemasonry's first informal lodges were formed in London starting around 1680. In 1717 the remaining members of these lodges came together and formally formed a grand lodge (Morris 2013). Consequently, their rise paralleled that of the 3rd and last stage of the Enlightenment which focused on social freedom. By joining a Freemason lodge its members were making more of a personal statement about being anti-authoritarian instead of seeking a nature based religion.
The ancient tradition most in line with freedom and which was adopted by these new Freemasons was that of stone-craft masonry which was in steep decline at the time due to the rise of brick as a building material. Brick had been of poor quality until the time of King Henry VIII (ruled 1509 to 1547) who build several palaces out of it. By the mid 1600's it was the building material of choice, especially for the conversions of old stone houses into houses having the new invention of fireplaces.
The governing guild charter of stone-craft masonry goes back to 1390 CE with the Regius Manuscript. It shows an egalitarian organization of traveling masons having a legendary ancient history. This fake history has the craft masons going back to the time of Babylon and then having the guild associated with Abraham and the Greek geometer Euclid in ancient Egypt at the same time.
Freemasonry invented "secrets" for itself. These secrets consist of passwords, various secret signal, and most of the rituals themselves. Over time most such secrets have been exposed. Why they did so can only be guessed. Perhaps it was to insure security against a misunderstanding and hostile world, perhaps it was to give it an aura of mystery and exclusivity. Yet by claiming to have these "secrets" Freemasonry has generated much hostility to itself. Many people think that they must be doing something nefarious if they have such deliberate secrets.
Freemasonry's rituals in their temples (also called lodges) have been their most important gift to Nature Paganism. These rituals are done around a central altar. The ritual room is orientated along the cardinal directions. Yet these rituals are done without the aim of generating feelings. They involve a lot of rote memorization. Often they are done to illustrate some ethical principle. While the initiation rituals can generate feelings that is not their goal. Instead, Freemason's seek to connect to the Divine with prayers thinking words are somehow transmitted across the veil (the material-spiritual barrier).
Freemasonry is generally segregated by gender. It is also composed of many different organizations which are open to all Master Masons (3rd degree Masons) which belong to a Blue (Symbolic) Lodge. Some of these higher level male organizations are: York rites, Scottish Rites, Shriners, Grotto, Tall Cedars of Lebanon, and Knights Templar. The male African American Masonic orders are Prince Hall
The groups for the female relatives of male Masons are the Order of the Eastern Star, Order of the Amaranth, and the White Shrine of Jerusalem.
Morris, S. Brent (2013) The Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry (2nd edition) Alpha books
In trying to avoid religious attacks the modern Freemason definition of religion centers on the mistaken idea that a religion must provide some sort of salvation idea to save people from eternal death. Their rebuttal is called "Statement on Freemasonry and Religion" prepared by the Masonic Information Center of the Masonic Service Association of North America in December 1993 and revised on September 1998. It is reproduced below:
- Basic Principles. Freemasonry is not a religion, nor is it a substitute for religion. It requires of its members a belief in God as part of the obligation of every responsible adult, but advocates no sectarian faith or practice. Masonic ceremonies include prayers, both traditional and extempore, to reaffirm each individuals dependence on God and to seek divine guidance. Freemasonry is open to men of any faith, but religion may not be discussed at Masonic meetings.
- The Supreme Being. Masons believe that there is one God and that people employ many different way to seek and to express what they know of God. Masonry primarily uses the appellation, "Great Architect of the Universe," and other nonsectarian titles, to address the Deity. In this way, person of different faiths may join together in prayer, concentrating on God, rather than on differences among themselves. Masonry believes in religious freedom and that the relationship between the individual and God is personal, private, and sacred.
- Volume of the Sacred Law. An open Volume of Sacred Law, "the rule of guide of life," is an essential part of every Masonic meeting. The Volume of the Sacred Law in the Judeo/Christian tradition is the Bible; to Freemasons of other faiths, it is the book holy to them.
- Freemasonry Compared with Religion. Freemasonry lacks the basic elements of religion: (A) It has no dogma or theology, no wish or means to enforce religious orthodoxy. (b) It offers no sacraments. (c) It does not claim to lead to salvation by works, by secret knowledge, or by any other means. The secrets of Freemasonry are concerned with modes of recognition, not with means of salvation.
- Freemasonry Supports Religion. Freemasonry is far from indifferent toward religion. Without interfering in religious practice, it expects each member to follow his own faith and to place his Duty to God above other duties. Its moral teachings are acceptable to all religions.
Freedom to Define One's own Religious Path Produced Christian Attacks on Freemasonry (1700 on)
(July 6, 2022) The first attack on Freemasonry was a 1698 leaflet published in London. This attack occurred even before the formation of the Grand Lodge there. It is reproduced below:To All Godly People in the Citie of LONDON
Having thought it needful to warn you of the Mischiefs and Evils practiced in the Sight of GOD by those so called Freed Mason, I say take Care lest their Ceremonies and secret Swearings take hold of you and be wary that none cause you to err from Godliness. For this devilish Sect of Men are Meeters in secret which swear against all without their Following. They are the Anti-Christ which was to come leading Men from Fear of God. For how should Men meet in secret Places and with secret Signs taking Care that none observe them to do the Work of GOD; are not these the Way of Evil-doers?
Knowing how that God observeth privilly them that sit in Darkness they shall be smitten and the Secrets of their Hearts layed bare. Mingle not among this corrupt People lest you be found so at the World's Conflagration. (in Morris 2013, page 214).
The earliest Freemason statement on the religion of Freemasonry was made in 1723 by Freemason and Reverend James Anderson in his book Constitution of the Free-Masons. He imagined some common natural religious framework as the "religion which all men agree" with some natural "Moral Law" without stating what that was or how to find it. Beyond that all sectarian religious opinions were not to be discussed within Freemasonry. His important section of text is as follows:A Mason is oblig'd by his Tenure, to obey the moral Law; and if he rightly understands the Art, he will never be stupid Atheist, nor an irreligious Libertine. But though in ancient Time Masons were charg'd in every Country to be of the Religion of the Country or Nation, whatever it was, yet 'tis now thought more expedient only to oblige them to that Religion in which all Men agree, leaving their particular Opinions to themselves; that is, to be good Men and true, or Men of Honour and Honesty; by whatever Denomonations or Persuasions they may [be] distinguish'd; whereby Masonry becomes the Center of Union, and the Means of conciliating true Friendship among Persons that must else have remain'd at a perpetual Distance. (in Morris 2013, page 212)
The Catholic church under Pople Clement XII issued its first encyclical against Freemasonry in 1738 called "In Eminenti." The Catholic church did not argue against it on doctrinal grounds since that would mean promoting their own doctrine and condemning all other Christian denominations. Instead they seized upon it as being a secret society and assumed it like all secret societies was plotting against the state and the church. They also commanded the inquisition to go after all Catholic members:"Moreover, We desire and command that ... inquisitors for heresy ... are to pursue and punish them with condign (proportional) penalties as being the most suspect of heresy." (in Morris 2013, page 215)
This has continued to be the position of the Catholic church through it new Code of Canon Law of 1983:"One who joins an association which plots against the Church is to be punished with a just penalty; one who promotes or moderates such an association, however, is to be punished with an interdict." (in Morris 2013, page 217)
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger who soon became Pope Benedict XVI (2005-2013) issued a clarification on this:Therefore, the church's negative judgment in regard to Masonic associations remains unchanged since their principles have always been considered irreconcilable with the doctrine of the Church and therefore, membership in them remains forbidden. The faithful who enroll in Masonic associations are in a state of grave sin and may not receive Holy Communion. (in Morris 2013, page 218)
The Southern Baptists also do not find Freemasonry compatible with Christianity. The following is a report from their missions board which was approved at the 1993 annual session of the Southern Baptist Convention. It's eight reasons of incompatibility are reproduced below:We conclude that many tenants and teachings of Freemasonry are not compatible with Christianity or Southern Baptist Doctrine, including:
- The prevalent use of offensive concepts, titles, and terms such as "Worshipful Master" for the leader of the lodge; references to their buildings as "mosques," "shrines," or "temples;" and their use of words such as "Abaddon" and "Jah-bul-On" the so called secret name of God. To many these terms not only are offensive but sacrilegious.
- The use of archaic, offensive rituals and so called "bloody oaths" or "obligations" among these being that promised by the Entered Apprentice: "All this I most solemnly and sincerely promise and swear swear ... binding myself under no less penalty than that of having my throat cut from ear to ear, my tongue torn out by its roots ... should , in the least, knowingly or wittingly violate or transgress this my entered apprentice obligation." ... (more examples)
- The recommended readings in pursuance of advanced degrees, of religions and philosophies, which are undeniably Pagan and/or occultic, such as much of the writings of Albert Pike. Albert Mackey, Manley Hall, Rex Hutchins, W.L. Wilmshurst, and other such authors; along with their works such as Morals and Dogma, A Bridge to Light, An Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, and The Meaning of Masonry.
- The reference to the Bible placed on the altar of the lodge as the "furniture of the lodge" comparing it to the square and compass rather than giving it supreme place in the lodge
- The prevalent use of the term "light" which some may understand as a reference to salvation rather than knowledge and truth.
- The implication that salvation can be obtained through good works, implicit in the statement found in some Masonic writings that "Masonry is continually reminded of that purity of life and conduct which is necessary to Obtain admittance into the Celestial Lodge above where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides." Even though many Masons understand that the "purity of life and conduct" can only be achieved through faith in Jesus Christ, others my be led to believe they can earn salvation by living a pure life with good conduct.
- The heresy of Universalism (the belief that all people will eventually be saved), which permeates the writings of many Masonic authors, which is a doctrine inconsistent with New Testament teaching.
- The refusal of most lodges (but not all) to admit membership of African Americans. (https://www.chick.com/bc/2011/mason_report.pdf)
Morris, S. Brent (2013) The Complete Idiot's Guide to Freemasonry (2nd edition) Alpha books
Ronald Hutton made this analysis of the British romantic era poets and notices the addition of nature themes starting around 1830. (p 33):The impact on English letters is spectacularly clear. …. Between 1800 and 1940 Venus (or Aphrodite) retains her numerical superiority in appearance, with Diana (or Artemis) coming second. Juno, however, almost vanishes, and so does Minerva after 1830. The third place is now taken by Proserpine, as goddess of the changing seasons or of the dead, and the fourth by Ceres or Demeter, lady of the harvest. A reading of the texts listed discloses a much more striking alternative. Venus now appears not merely as patroness of love but related to the woodland or the sea. Diana is no longer primarily a symbol of chastity or of hunting, but of the moon, the greenwood, and wild animals. Furthermore, when a goddess is made the major figure in a poem, instead of the subject of an incidental reference, the supremacy of Venus is overturned. Diana now leads, or else a generalized female deity of moonlight or the natural world, most commonly called ‘Mother Earth’ or ‘Mother Nature.’
Emotional Resonances with Nature Revived with the Romantic Poets (1800 -1830)
(July 6, 2022) The romantic poets made the spiritual/emotional responses to nature respectable again. Prior to this time the only proper spiritual expression was within church defined mental frameworks. This is why the rituals of Freemasons are emotionless and based upon recitations of memorized passages.
The romantic movement began about 1800 in Britain and 40 years later in the United States. The British poets are represented by William Blake, John Keats, Lord Byron, and Percy Shelley. In the U.S. the movement was represented by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman. They all saw Nature as a source emotional/spiritual strength and insight. For example:To see a World in a Grain of SandAnd a Heaven in a Wild Flower,Hold Infinity in the palm of your handAnd Eternity in an hour.(William Blake in Auguries of Innocence )
The word “pagan” started to become something more than a derogatory insult as shown in this passage about the poet Walt Whitman made by William James in his lecture “The Varieties of Religious Experiences” written in 1901. (James, 1987):Whitman is often spoken of as a ‘pagan.’ The word nowadays means sometimes the mere natural animal man without a sense of sin; sometimes it means a Greek or Roman with his own peculiar religious consciousness. In neither of these senses does it fitly define this poet. He is more than your mere animal man who has not tasted of the tree of good and evil. He is aware of sin for a swagger to be present in his indifference towards it, a conscious pride in his freedom from flexions and contractions, which your genuine pagan in the first sense of the word would never show. (James then goes on to quote Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself” as follows:)
I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contained,I stand and look at them long and long;They do not sweat and whine about their condition.They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins.No one is dissatisfied, not one is demented with the mania of owning things,Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago,Not one is respectable or unhappy over the whole earth. (Walt Whitman’s poem “Song of Myself”)
Hutton, Ronald (1999) The Triumph of the Moon. Oxford University Press
James, William (1902) "Varieties of Religious Experience - Lecture IV The Religion of Healthy Mindedness" in William James Writings 1902-1910 (1987) Penguin Books
The placebo only effects body functions which are also affected by stress hormones so it has a core innate component. It was initially called "Animal Magnetism" after a hypothesis proposed by Anton Mesmer.
The placebo effect is strongly affected by culture and only be changed by emotional conditioning learning which takes time and many repeated examples. It is not changeable due to a strong willful belief (faith). Even if people are told a pill is a placebo it will still have a statistical effect based upon deep emotional conditioning.
How the Placebo effect works is unknown. Just because a phenomena is given a name and can be detected statistically does not mean it is understood.
Emotional Magic Starts to be Rediscovered with Anton Mesmer and the Placebo Effect (Animal Magnetism) (1800 on)
(July 6, 2022) The revival of the emotional magic began with the discovery of two of its components, the placebo effect and perceptual confirmation bias (we perceive what we want to perceive) by Anton Mesmer (1734 - 1815) of Vienna, Austria. He was granted a doctor of medicine from the University of Vienna at age 33 after studying theology and philosophy.
Mesmer’s doctoral dissertation proposed that the gravitational attraction of the planets affected human health by influencing an invisible fluid found in the human body and throughout nature. In 1775 Mesmer revised his theory of “animal gravitation” to one of “animal magnetism,” wherein the invisible fluid in the body acted according to the laws of magnetism. This meant magnets could be used to redistribute certain body fluids and and so restore people's health by bringing them into balance.
Many clients reported amazing recoveries after his magnetic treatments but the results were inconsistent. Accused by Viennese physicians of fraud, Mesmer left Austria and settled in Paris in 1778. There he continued to enjoy a highly lucrative practice but again attracted the antagonism of the medical profession because of inconsistent results.
Later investigations of his successes led to the discovery of the placebo effect and confirmation bias (that is, we perceive what we want to perceive). Mesmer also seems to have been the discoverer of hypnotism which was called Mesmerism until about 1840.
Spiritism Goes too Far by Claiming Conversational Communication with the Dead (1857-1915)
(July 6, 2022) The means in which physical matter can interact with the realm of consciousness (the spirit realm) and vice-versa turns out to be quite limited. No where was this shown more conclusively than in the failure of Spiritism to communicate via words with dead spirits. This invalidates word based prayers and only leaves the possibility of interaction via more indirect means like feelings, visions, and perceptual biases (emotional magic).
In 1857 "The Spirits Book" was published by Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail of France under the codename Allan Kardec. He combined the animal magnetism of Anton Mesmer with the new eastern ideas emerging out of western contact with India. He coined the term "Spiritism." Its two main points were:
- Spirits were essentially humans without physical bodies living a spirit realm. They could be "drawn down" with the right rituals which came to be called seances. They were not trapped in heaven.
- Spirits were reincarnated and so could be perfected (idea from Buddhism).
The possibility that dead relatives could be contacted during a ritual caused Spiritism to become popular during the mid to late 1800's. Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Abraham Lincoln, was a big fan after the loss of her child, William, in 1862.
Spiritism was eventually discredited as people realized that most of these effects were due to fraud or human self-delusion. The great escape artist and magician Harry Houdini even gave his wife a secret code that he would use if he died before her in order to test the possibility of communicating with the dead. He died and she never received that code despite constantly trying to reach him via seances.
Transcendentalism - Divine Realm as a Power Developed by Emerson (1863-1880)
(July 6, 2022) Today most people view the realms of consciousness and matter as co-equal each having their own purpose in the scheme of existence. In contrast materialists view matter as the only realm which exists or, at least, is superior to the conscious spiritual realm. In contrast Monists think only spirit realm exists while Transcendentalists simply think the spirit realm is superior. Transcendentalism was an important stage on the way to the equality of matter and spirit.
In the United States the romantic era poet Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882) took Mesmerism in a different direction when he started the movement known as transcendentalism in 1863 with his anonymous publication of an essay entitled Nature.
His father was a Unitarian minister and Emerson was a Harvard trained minister who left Christianity after sensing that Jesus’ teaching about developing heaven on earth was contradictory to the apocalyptic dogmas of Christianity. In Emerson’s view, the kingdom of God (more properly translated as "Divine space" ) could only be manifested on earth if everyone emotionally and spiritually connected with the Divine realm. Emerson was ahead of his time in that he had actually discerned the real teachings of Jesus and linked them with a nature tradition before any objective way existed to do so. Emerson said this in his essay:The problem of restoring to the world its original and eternal beauty, is solved by the redemption of the soul... The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is, because man is disunited with himself. He cannot be a naturalist, until he satisfies all the demands of the spirit. (Nature, chapter 8)
God, according to Emerson, was a cosmic consciousness network, an interconnection of spirits (Logos) which existed prior to physical humanity. Emerson knew his classical Greek! Out of this eternal spiritual network came the universe:Man is the dwarf of himself. Once he was permeated and dissolved by spirit. He filled nature with his overflowing currents. Out from him sprang the sun and moon; from man, the sun; from woman, the moon. The laws of his mind, the periods of his actions eternized themselves into day and night, into the year and the seasons. But, having made for himself this huge shell, his waters retired; he no longer fills the veins and veinlets; he is shrunk to a drop. (Nature, chapter 8)
The various examples of spiritual power represent the remaining power of spirit over matter, that is the power of magic:Meantime, in the thick darkness, there are not wanting gleams of a better light, — occasional examples of the action of man upon nature with his entire force, — with reason as well as understanding. Such examples are; the traditions of miracles in the earliest antiquity of all nations; the history of Jesus Christ; the achievements of a principle, as in religious and political revolutions, and in the abolition of the Slave-trade; the miracles of enthusiasm, as those reported of Swedenborg, Hohenlohe, and the Shakers; many obscure and yet contested facts, now arranged under the name of Animal Magnetism; prayer; eloquence; self-healing; and the wisdom of children. These are examples of Reason's momentary grasp of the sceptre; the exertions of a power which exists not in time or space, but an instantaneous in-streaming causing power. (Nature, chapter 8)
Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1836) Nature
Observations of her own placebo healing and reading the healing stories of Jesus were her inspiration.
Spiritual Healing Promoted in Christian Science (1879 on)
(July 6, 2022) The transcendental superiority of the spirit realm was put into practice with the spiritual healing of Christian Science. This both shows the effectiveness of magical placebo healing and its limitations.
Mary Baker Eddy was born July 16, 1821 as Mary Baker in New Hampshire and died December 3, 1910 in Newton Massachusetts. She founded The Church of Christ, Scientist, in New England in 1879. She also founded The Christian Science Monitor, a Pulitzer Prize-winning secular newspaper in 1908 whose mandate was fair news reporting in contrast to the biased sensationalism of the day. She wrote numerous books and articles with the most popular being Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures which had sold over nine million copies as of 2001.
In her book she identified the deep reality of nature as "Principle" which seems to be her word for the Greek concept of Logos, the conscious interconnection of all things. She also uses the word "metaphysics" instead of theology because she is arguing from nature and not the Bible. She is also a dualist in that Principle is good and matter is evil. She says this on the first page of her book:Metaphysical science explains cause and effect; removing the veil of mystery and doubt, from Soul and body, and from man and God; it unwinds the interlaced ambiguities of Spirit and matter, and sets free the imprisoned Intelligence; explains the phenomenon man, on the basis of his Principle, and how to gain his harmony in science, which seems to us more important morally and physically than the discovery of the powers of steam, the electric telegraph, or any other advanced idea that science has revealed.... Matter is mortality; it has no Principle, but is change and decay, embracing what we term sickness, sin, and death .... Mind, the basis of all things, cannot cross its species, and produce matter. But in order to classify mind that is real, from belief or the unreal, we name one mind, and the other matter; but recollect matter is but a belief, and mind the only reality.
But being the dualist she does not make the mind (consciousness) equal to matter but insists it is superior and that will eventually cause her movement to fail because it encourages ignoring the findings of medical science.We learn from science mind is universal, the first and only cause of all that really is;
It is plain that God does not employ drugs or hygiene, nor provide them for human use; else Jesus would have recommended and employed them in his healing. ...
Mary Baker married Dentist Daniel Patterson in 1853 after the death of her first husband. On October 14, 1861, Daniel wrote to mesmerist Phineas Parkhurst Quimby asking if he could cure his wife Mary of some undisclosed illness. Quimby replied that he had too much work in Portland, Maine to leave but if Patterson brought his wife to him he would treat her. Before going they first tried the nearby water cure at Dr. Vail's Hydropathic Institute but her health deteriorated even further. A year later, in October 1862, Mary and Daniel visited Quimby where she improved and publicly declared that she had been able to walk up 182 steps to the dome of city hall after a week of treatment. The cures were temporary, however, and Eddy suffered relapses.
Despite the temporary nature of the "cure," she attached religious significance to it, which Quimby did not. She believed that it was the same type of healing that Jesus had performed. From 1862 to 1865, Quimby and Mary engaged in lengthy discussions about healing methods practiced by Quimby and others.
On February 1, 1866, Mary slipped and fell on ice while walking in Lynn, Massachusetts, causing a spinal injury:On the third day thereafter, I called for my Bible, and opened it at Matthew, 9:2 [And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee.(King James Bible) ]. As I read, the healing Truth dawned upon my sense; and the result was that I arose, dressed myself, and ever after was in better health than I had before enjoyed. That short experience included a glimpse of the great fact that I have since tried to make plain to others, namely, Life in and of Spirit; this Life being the sole reality of existence
In 1968 she separated from her husband and became a spiritist for a short time before becoming disillusioned with the practice. Her first advertisement for her healing services appeared in the Spiritist newspaper, The Banner of Light in 1868.
In the 24th edition of Science and Health, up to the 33rd edition, Eddy admitted the harmony between Hindu Vedanta philosophy and Christian Science. She also quoted certain passages from an English translation of the Bhagavad Gita, but they were later removed.
Mary was aware of the dark side of spiritual energy work which she called Malicious Animal Magnetism of M.A.M. As there is no personal devil or evil in Christian Science, M.A.M. became the explanation for the problem of evil. Eddy was concerned that a new practitioner could inadvertently harm a patient through unenlightened use of their mental powers, and that less scrupulous individuals could use as a weapon. At first she was paranoid about this. In 1882 Eddy publicly claimed that her last husband, Asa Gilbert Eddy, had died of "mental assassination". Daniel Spofford was another Christian Scientist expelled by Eddy after she accused him of practicing malicious animal magnetism. This gained notoriety in a case irreverently dubbed the "Second Salem Witch Trial."
As time went on Eddy tried to lessen the focus on animal magnetism within the movement as she came to understand that mental healing or mental cursing (placebo effect) only worked if a person's deep emotions were open to it.
Eddy, Mary (1875) Science and Health https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Science and Health
The Resurgence of Occultic Revelations (1879 - 1915)
(July 6, 2022) Occult and faith based practices come from claimed divine revelations to certain people. This is in contrast to nature based practices which are based knowledge coming from observation and subsequent theory crafting. The Occult had a brief revival during and after the Spiritism era.
In a reaction against the fraud of Spiritism, the Theosophical Society was formed in New York City in September 1875 with Henry Olcott as the president and Ukrainian émigré Helena Blavatsky as the theorist. Helena was born in what is now Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine. Its purpose to help free “the public mind of theological superstition and a tame subservience to science” by rational investigation into the spiritual powers. (Lavoie 2012, page 141). Earlier Blavatsky had claimed that lower form elemental spirits were deceiving the mediums based upon the medium's own biases. This idea was rejected by the Spiritists which motivated her to form the Theosophist Society with Olcott.
In 1877 Blavatsky published the founding book of the movement entitled “Isis Unveiled.” She adopted Emerson’s Transcendentalist metaphysics that matter was a manifestation of the Divine and combined that with eastern religious ideas from India entering the West for the first time.
Although Isis Unveiled attracted attention, the society dwindled. In 1879 Blavatsky and Olcott left New York and went to India. Three years later they established the Theosophical Society headquarters at Adyar near Madras and began publication of the society’s journal, The Theosophist, which Blavatsky edited from 1879 to 1888. Here she changed the society's focus from observation and investigation to promoting revelations coming to herself. In order for her ideas to get noticed she claimed that they were transmitted to her via automatic writings from “mahatmas” in Tibet. The society soon developed a strong following in India among the English speaking community. Branches of the Theosophical Society were soon formed in the U.S., London, and India.
This was a time of revival for all sorts of occult groups using rediscovered ancient mystical texts which were then being translated into English. Collectively these texts are broadly called Rosicrucian and Hermetic. Most of these texts claim to represent more ancient revealed traditions.
In 1888 a ritualistic occult society inspired by these trends was formed in Britain by Freemasons William Wescott, Samuel Mathers, and William Woodman. They modeled it on the Freemasons but women had full equality. It was called the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn which is an important part of our story.
The Golden Dawn consisted of three main levels (Orders) with many sublevels. Its first Order taught personal development through study and awareness based on the four classical elements, as well as the basics of astrology, tarot divination, and geomancy. The second Order got members ready to work with revelations by teaching scrying, astral travel, and alchemy. The Third Order was working with the Secret Chiefs (the Mahatmas of Blavatsky) who directed the activities of the lower two orders by spirit communication with the Third Order members.
For some reason William Wescott quit in 1897 At that time his partner Samuel Mathers, claimed that on a visit to Paris he was contacted by the same mahatmas (called the Secret Chiefs) as Blavatsky and they ordered him to establish an inner secret order to the Golden Dawn. This allowed Mathers to eventually take over the whole group in 1897 which he took in the direction of recreating the Egyptian derived Roman mystery religion involving the goddess Isis. Their goal was to gain mystical power by temporarily uniting themselves with various classical divinities. This new direction caused various people to leave the society such that it effectively ended in all but name in 1903. This included Aleister Crowley who desired to experiment with a variety of approaches for gaining spiritual power (Hutton 1999, p 72-83).
In time Cowley came back and took over the then defunct Order of the Golden Dawn. Crowley was an egotistical, self-centered showman who popularized this group's magical rituals for the growing British tabloid press which loved to print sensationalistic news (Kaczynski 2010). Yet this publicity kept magic in the British public consciousness and was one source of inspiration for Gerald Gardener and Ross Nichols who rejected the whole revealed approach of the occult to found the more nature and ancestral based Wicca and Druidry during the 1950s.
ReferencesHutton, Ronald (1999) The Triumph of the Moon. Oxford University Press
Lavoie, Jeffery, D. (2012). The Theosophical Society, The History of a Spiritualist Movement. Brown Walker Press Boca Raton
The Theosophist - First Yearhttps://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/theosoph/theos-hp.htm
Neal Vahle summarizes the Unity teachings as follows (Vahle 2002, page 2):
- God is limitless - While God is not a person he can relate to people in personal ways.
- Divine Nature and Human Nature have the same characteristics but the material world corrupts the divine inner nature of humans. Negativity, fear, malice, sensual pleasure, ignorance, selfishness, and willfulness are manifestations of humanities self-destructive tendencies.
- Men and Women can overcome their shortcomings and manifest their indwelling divine presence by complying with Divine Law and the Will of God. This may take several lifetimes which is why reincarnation occurs. This is aided by the spiritual practices of "right thinking" involving disciplining the mind, affirmations and denials, prayer and meditation.
- Traditional Christianity has misinterpreted the life and teachings of Jesus. He was born human and realized the highest consciousness on the cross becoming "God-incarnate"at which time his body was regenerated and he entered the "spiritual ethers" where he is easily accessible to humans today. Jesus is not in heaven because heaven and hell do not exist.
- Jesus is a source of inspiration for humanity.
Unity Church Incorporates Buddhism into Christian Science
(July 6, 2022) In the 1880's Charles and Myrtle Fillmore of Kansas City, Missouri became impressed by the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy after they themselves were healed and desiring to spread that knowledge they launched a newsletter entitled "Modern Thought" in April 1889. Their ideas were further refined by the teachings of a former student of Mary Baker Eddy's named Emma Curtis Hopkins who rejected Mary Baker Eddy's view of Jesus. Mary Baker viewed Jesus as perfection incarnate, the Savior and Messiah. In contrast Hopkins and the Fillmores saw Jesus in Christian Gnostic and Buddhist terms as a man being born mortal but who perfected his divinity over several lifetimes.
The Fillmores published their praise of Emma Hopkins in their January 1890 edition of Modern Thought magazine shortly after they attended their first public lecture with her:Those who went to the class as the most vehement scoffers came out enthusiastic champions of truth, and members without exception declared themselves wakened to new life. To detail their individual experience in the healing of bodily and mental ills, would fill several such papers as this ... A new universe has opened to them ... It is safe to say that this course of lectures has given an impetus to the work in this city which will ultimate in the freedom of every mind from the thralldom of sin, sickness and earth, and open the way for the new heaven and earth. (in Vahle 2002 page 133)
The Fillmores adopted the magical healing practices of Mary Baker Eddy is shown by this statement from Charles:He who realizes most thoroughly that God is the Supreme Perfection, and that in Him can be no imperfection, and speaks forth that realization with conviction will cause all things to arrange themselves in divine order. (Vahle 2002 page 132)
This dualist idea that the divine is good and the material world is bad continues to be central in the modern day Unity Movement:“God made man in his own image and likeness. Since God is perfect, man in his true estate must also be perfect. By our thoughts and our words we can identify ourselves with the perfection of this true self or we can identify ourselves with mortal limitations. “… as he thinketh within himself, so is he.” (Unity Daily Word Online)
The Unity movement's view of the Divine shows that it has adopted the soft, Buddhist form of dualism in which the material world is imperfect. This view is not the hard dualism of fundamentalist Christians in which the material world is evil and at war with the good divine forces. Still, all dualist thinking leads to the unsolvable conundrum of why a good and perfect God would create an evil or imperfect world allowing pain, and suffering. Unsolvable conundrums are a clue that the metal framework in which the question is posed is wrong.
During the 1890's H. Emilie Cady, a homeopathic physician, began writing for the Unity movement and her 1901 book "Lessons in Truth." It became the theoretical foundation for the movement. She says this about evil which shows she was struggling with dualism and the differences between soft and hard dualism. Her solution was to treat evil as a delusion. She cannot bring herself to admit that so called negative conscious feelings also represent the Divine:Let us to back to our straight white line of Absolute Truth. There is only God. All that is not God is no thing, that is, has no existence - is simply a nightmare. If we walk on this white line where we refuse to see or acknowledge anything but God, then all else disappears. (in Vahle, 2002, page 82)
There is no evil, sickness is not real, sin is not real ... I repeat, nothing is real which is not eternal; and all conditions of apparent evil, sickness, poverty, fear, etc. are not things, are not entities in themselves, but they are simply the absence of Good, just as darkness is the absence of light. In the deepest reality there is never an absence of Good anywhere for that would mean the absence of God there. (in Vahle, 2002, page 82)
The Fillmore's came to view the Unity ideas as "practical Christianity" but by the 1960's the Unity Movement was considered by all other Christian churches to be non-Christian and even heretical. Yet even today, the Unity movement keeps one foot in traditional Christianity with its use of the Bible as an authority and the other foot in mystic Gnostic Christianity with its reliance on direct spiritual insights for knowledge. They always quote a Bible passage in their Daily Word lesson. They make no distinction between personal spiritual knowledge and collective community knowledge as do Nature Pagans. For Nature Pagans, the source for community knowledge is nature which because it is communal knowledge is authoritative. In contrast personal spiritual knowledge is not authoritative but is instead inspirational and motivational. Authoritative knowledge constrains inspirational knowledge.
H. Emily Cady and subsequent Unity teaching have de-emphasized the bodily regeneration part of coming to highest consciousness as being too Christian. She says, "The possibility of living in these bodies indefinitely seems altogether foolish and shortsighted."
The primary spiritual practice of the Unity movement is opening up emotional/spiritual channels via meditative (prayer) affirmations which in eastern religious traditions are called mantras. Early in the movement they offered such prayer affirmations via phone and by letter which was called Silent Unity. The leader of Silent Unity was James Freeman between 1971 and 2000. He says this about their practice and compares their approach with the typical Christian prayer of petition, Nature Pagans adopted this same self-reliant approach:Most prayers are the petition kind. A petition prayer is one in which someone says, "Lord help me to do this or that." Our prayers are more of a meditation. They are not petitions. We meditate on God. To meditate is to dwell on a topic. You don't have to ask God for help. His love is freely given already. You don't have to change God. You have to change yourself and realize you are one with Him. When we meditate we take a subject like "God is my help in every need." We tell people to relax and let it flow through their minds. As the thought flows through a person's mind he realizes that God's love surrounds him; he is more able to cope with or overcome his problems. (Vahle 202 page 249)
One of Freeman's most memorable times on the Unity prayer phone lines is recounted below:One night we got a call from a man in Chicago He told me, "I'm and old man ... its snowing ... I'm in my office and am afraid to go out into the night and go home." We prayed together. As we prayed you could feel the fear going out of the man's voice. Finally, he said, "I think I can go home now."Freeman went on to say, "That's what we are here for, we are here to help you go home in the dark.
Unity Daily Word Online at http://www.dailyword.com/about
Vahle, Neal (2002) The Unity Movement - Its Evolution and Spiritual Teachings. Templeton Foundation Press
Margaret Murry in the introduction to her 1921 book describes the witch cult of Medieval times as:
In order to clear the ground I make a sharp distinction between Operative Witchcraft and Ritual Witchcraft. Under Operative Witchcraft I class all charms and spells, whether used by a professed witch or by a professed Christian, whether intended for good or for evil, for killing or for curing. Such charms and spells are common to every nation and country, and are practiced by the priests and people of every religion. They are part of the common heritage of the human race and are therefore of no practical value in the study of any one particular cult.
Ritual Witchcraft—or, as I propose to call it, the Dianic cult—embraces the religious beliefs and ritual of the people known in late mediaeval times as 'Witches'. The evidence proves that underlying the Christian religion was a cult practiced by many classes of the community, chiefly, however, by the more ignorant or those in the less thickly inhabited parts of the country. It can be traced back to pre-Christian times, and appears to be the ancient religion of Western Europe. The god, anthropomorphic or theriomorphic, was worshipped in well-defined rites; the organization was highly developed; and the ritual is analogous to many other ancient rituals. The dates of the chief festivals suggest that the religion belonged to a race which had not reached the agricultural stage; and the evidence shows that various modifications were introduced, probably by invading peoples who brought in their own beliefs. I have not attempted to disentangle the various cults; I am content merely to point out that it was a definite religion with beliefs, ritual, and organization as highly developed as that of any other cult in the world.
The deity of this cult was incarnate in a man, a woman, or an animal; the animal form being apparently earlier than the human, for the god was often spoken of as wearing the skin or attributes of an animal. At the same time, however, there was another form of the god in the shape of a man with two faces. Such a god is found in Italy (where he was called Janus or Dianus), in Southern France (see pp. 62, 129), and in the English Midlands. The feminine form of the name, Diana, is found throughout Western Europe as the name of the female deity or leader of the so-called Witches, and it is for this reason that I have called this ancient religion the Dianic cult. The geographical distribution of the two-faced god suggests that the race or races, who carried the cult, either did not remain in every country which they entered, or that in many places they and their religion were overwhelmed by subsequent invaders.
The dates of the two chief festivals, May Eve and November Eve, indicate the use of a calendar which is generally acknowledged to be pre-agricultural and earlier than the solstitial division of the year. The fertility rites of the cult bear out this indication, as they were for promoting the increase of animals and only rarely for the benefit of the crops. The cross-quarter-days, February 2 and August 1, which were also kept as festivals, were probably of later date, as, though classed among the great festivals, they were not of so high an importance as the May and November Eves. To February 2, Candlemas Day, probably belongs the sun-charm of the burning wheel, formed by the whirling dancers, each carrying a blazing torch; but no special ceremony seems to be assigned to August 1, Lammas Day, a fact suggestive of a later introduction of this festival.
The organization of the hierarchy was the same throughout Western Europe, with the slight local differences which always occur in any organization. The same organization, when carried to America, caused Cotton Mather to say, 'The witches are organized like Congregational Churches.' This gives the clue at once. In each Congregational Church there is a body of elders who manage the affairs of the Church, and the minister who conducts the religious services and is the chief person in religious matters; and there may also be a specially appointed person to conduct the services in the minister's absence; each Church is an independent entity and not necessarily connected with any other. In the same way there was among the witches a body of elders—the Coven—which managed the local affairs of the cult, and a man who, like the minister, held the chief place, though as God that place was infinitely higher in the eyes of the congregation than any held by a mere human being. In some of the larger congregations there was a person, inferior to the Chief, who took charge in the Chief's absence. In Southern France, however, there seems to have been a Grand Master who was supreme over several districts. ...
The greater number of the ceremonies appear to have been practiced for the purpose of securing fertility. Of these the sexual ritual has been given an overwhelming and quite unwarranted importance in the trials, for it became an obsession with the Christian judges and recorders to investigate the smallest and most minute details of the rite. Though in late examples the ceremony had possibly degenerated into a Bacchanalian orgy, there is evidence to prove that, like the same rite in other countries, it was originally a ceremonial magic to ensure fertility. There is at present nothing to show how much of the Witches' Mass (in which the bread, the wine, and the candles were black) derived from the Christian ritual and how much belonged to the Dianic cult; it is, however, possible that the witches' service was the earlier form and influenced the Christian. The admission ceremonies were often elaborate, and it is here that the changes in the religion are most clearly marked; certain ceremonies must have been introduced when another cult was superimposed and became paramount, such as the specific renunciation of a previous religion which was obligatory on all new candidates, and the payment to the member who brought a new recruit into the fold. The other rites—the feasts and dances—show that it was a joyous religion; and as such it must have been quite incomprehensible to the gloomy Inquisitors and Reformers who suppressed it.
Much stress has always been laid by the skeptical writers on the undoubted fact that in many cases the witch confused dreams with reality and believed that she had visited the Sabbath when credible witnesses could prove that she had slept in her bed all the time. Yet such visions are known in other religions; Christians have met their Lord in dreams of the night and have been accounted saints for that very reason; Mahomed, though not released from the body, had interviews with Allah; Moses talked with God; the Egyptian Pharaohs record similar experiences. ... The witch also met her god at the actual Sabbath and again in her dreams, for that earthly Sabbath was to her the true Paradise, where there was more pleasure than she could express, and she believed also that the joy which she took in it was but the prelude to a much greater glory, for her god so held her heart that no other desire could enter in.
Lord Coke's definition of a witch summed up the law on the subject: 'A witch is a person who hath conference with the Devil, to consult with him or to do some act', and any person proved to have had such conference was thus convicted of a capital offence and sentenced accordingly. This accounts for the fact, commented on by all students of witch-trials, that a witch was often condemned even though she had invariably used her skill for good and not for evil; for healing the sick, not for casting sickness. If it were proved that she had obtained her knowledge from the 'Devil' she had broken the law and must die.(Murray 1921)
Witches Proposed as Remnants of an Earlier Nature Religion (1900-1958)
(July 6, 2022) The year 1900 saw the publication of the book Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum in the United States which began the rehabilitation of witchcraft with Glenda the good witch of the north. In 1902, a musical based on the book debuted in Chicago which went on to Broadway in New York during January 1903 where it played for nearly two years. In 1939 the famous movie came out.
This rehabilitation of the witch's image set the stage for Margaret Murray to propose in 1921 that remnants of a European wide Nature religion was preserved into historical times as witch covens. Her 1921 book, “The Witch-Cult in Western Europe” was based upon witch trial evidence gathered between 1550 and 1700.
The witch trial transcripts show a mix of Christian and older nature Pagan elements colored by the sexual self-delusions of the accused witches and the conspiratorial fears of the prosecutors who often found what they wanted to find. Murry was unable to separate out these various influences given the state of knowledge at the time and so created an imaginative religion of the past.
Murry starts in chapter 1 by providing evidence from ancient sources that some sort of Pagan religion existed prior to the arrival of Christianity:Theodore, Archbishop of Canterbury in Liber Poenitialis (668-690 CE) prohibited:
Eating and drinking in a Pagan temple ... Not only celebrating feasts in the abominable places of the heathen and offering food there but consuming it.... If anyone at the kalends (first of) January goes about as a stag or bull, that is, making himself into a wild animal and dressing in the skin of a herd animal, and putting on heads of beasts ... penance for three years because this is devilish.
Ecberht, first Archbishop of York (734-766) in Confessionale and Poenitentiale prohibited:
Offerings to devils of witchcraft; auguries according to the methods of the heathen; vows paid, loosed, or confirmed at wells, stones, or trees; the gathering of herbs with any incantation except Christian prayers.
Laws of King Cnut, King of England from 1016, King of Denmark from 1018, and King of Norway from 1028 until his death in 1035 commanded:
We earnestly forbid every heathenism: heathenism is that men worship idols, that is, that they worship heathen gods, the sun and the moon, fire or rivers, water wells or stones, or forest trees of any kind, or love witchcraft, or promote morth-work in any way.
By the early 1300's the first witch trails occurred in Britain. Joan of Arc was burnt as a witch in 1431. For Murray, the witch trials provided clues about the beliefs and rituals of this ancient Pagan religion. She says:Looked upon in the light of a fertility cult the ritual of the witches becomes comprehensible. Originally for the promotion of fertility, it became gradually degraded into a method for blasting fertility, and thus the witches who had once been the means of bringing prosperity to the people and the land by driving out all evil influences, in the process of time were looked upon as being themselves evil influences and were held in horror accordingly.
Chapter 2 introduces the witch's god (called the devil by Christians). He was seen usually a handsome man but sometimes a woman (probably in proportion to the witches sexual orientation) or an animal. In rituals this god was usually played by some man dressed up as an animal. She says in section 4:The animal forms in which the Devil most commonly appeared were bull, cat, dog, goat, horse, and sheep. A few curious facts come to light on tabulating these forms; i.e. the Devil appears as a goat or a sheep in France only; he is never found in any country as a hare, though this was the traditional form for a witch to assume; nor is he found as a toad, though this was a common form for the familiar; the fox and the ass also are unknown forms; and in Western Europe the pig is an animal almost entirely absent from all the rites and ceremonies as well as from the disguises of the Devil.
Chapter 3 covers the admission ceremonies.The ceremony for the admission of adults who were converts to the witch religion from Christianity follow certain main lines. These are (1) the free consent of the candidate, (2) the explicit denial and rejection of a previous religion, (3) the absolute and entire dedication of body and soul to the service and commands of the new Master and God.
A witches mark in some places and times was considered proof that a person had been ordained as a witch although it was not proof at other times and places:The Lawes against Witches and Conivration, published 'by authority' in 1645, state that 'their said Familiar hath some big or little Teat upon their body, where he sucketh them: and besides their sucking, the Devil leaveth other markes upon their bodies, sometimes like a Blew-spot, or Red-spot like a flea-biting'. Sir George Mackenzie, the famous Scotch lawyer, describing in 1699 what did and did not legally constitute a witch, says:
'The Devils Mark useth to be a great Article with us, but it is not per se found relevant, except it be confest by them, that they got that Mark with their own consent; quo casu, it is equivalent to a Paction. This Mark is given to them, as is alledg'd, by a Nip in any part of the Body, and it is blew. Delrio calls it Stigma, or Character, and alledges that it is sometimes like the impression of a Hare's foot, or the Foot of a Rat or Spider.'
In chapter 4 Murry describes the witches assemblies and their magical means of travel. Their main assemblies were their sabbaths or in French “sabbats.”There were two kinds of assemblies; the one, known as the Sabbath, was the General Meeting of all the members of the religion; the other, to which I give—on the authority of Estebène de Cambrue—the name of Esbat, was only for the special and limited number who carried out the rites and practices of the cult, and was not for the general public.
Some witches reported that they were magically transported to their sabbats via applying magical oils'Before they are carried to their meetings, they anoint their Foreheads, and Hand-wrists with an Oyl the Spirit brings them (which smells raw) and then they are carried in a very short time, using these words as they pass, Thout, tout a tout, tout, throughout and about. And when they go off from their Meetings, they say, Rentum, Tormentum ... all are carried to their several homes in a short space.' Alice Duke gave the same testimony, noting besides that the oil was greenish in colour. Anne Bishop, the Officer of the Somerset covens, confessed that 'her Forehead being first anointed with a Feather dipt in Oyl, she hath been suddenly carried to the place of their meeting.... After all was ended, the Man in black vanished. The rest were on a sudden conveighed to their homes (Glanvil, pt. ii, pp. 139, 141, 148-9, 151)
("Thout, tout a tout, tout" is French for "Shout everything has everything, everything").
From these magical but ambiguous beliefs came the idea that witches rode on broomsticks for as Murry says:The number of cases vouched for by the persons who actually performed or saw the feat of riding on a stick through the air are disappointingly few.
In contrast to attending sabbats, other witches just rode around at night. These nocturnal reports associate witches with the goddess Dianna:The laws of Lorraine (1329-46) decree that 'celui qui fera magie, sortilège, billets de sort, pronostic d'oiseau ou se vanteroit d'avoir chevauché la nuit avec Diane ou telle autre vielle qui se dit magicienne, sera banni et payera dix livres tournois'. (whoever does magic, spells, spell tickets, bird prognosis or boasts of having ridden at night with Diane or some other old lady who calls herself a magician, will be banned and will pay ten pounds tournaments)The earliest is the decree of the ninth century, attributed to the Council of Ancyra :'Certeine wicked women following sathans prouocations, being seduced by the illusion of divels, beleeve and professe, that in the night times they ride abroad with Diana, the goddesse of the Pagans, or else with Herodias, with an innumerable multitude, upon certeine beasts ... and doo whatsoeuer those fairies or ladies command.
(Murray's source here was incorrect, this quote did not come from that council so it must be considered to be from the European 800's) Diana was the Roman moon goddess and the main feminine deity of the Latin west. She was probably in the line of Sumerian Inanna, Mesopotamian Ishtar, Mediterranean Ayu, and Greek Artemis. Herodias seems to be a temptress goddess based upon Herodias, the woman who causes John the Baptist to be executed by King Herod Antipas of Galilee back when Jesus was living.
Chapters 5 and 6
Chapters 5 and 6 describes the Sabbat proceedings. A French source, Boguet (1589), describes the "typical" Sabbat as revealed by the witch trials (translated into English):The Sorcerers assembled in their Synagogue worship Satan first...they offer him candles, & kiss him in the shameful parts behind. Sometimes still he holds a black image, which the Sorcerers must kiss.... The Sorcerers in second place dance.... The dances finished, the Sorcerers come to couple.... The Sorcerers, after wallow among the filthy pleasures of the flesh, banquet & feast.... Sorcerers tell Satan what they have done since the last assembly.... He makes these wretches renounce again, God, Christianity, & Baptism. He makes them refresh the solemn oath they have taken.
Witch hunters were motivated by the fear of organized conspiratorial groups which could corrupt the social order. In some cases the prosecutors found or more likely invented what they were looking for. Murry says this:
The word coven is a derivative of 'convene', and is variously spelt coven, coeven, covine, cuwing, and even covey. The special meaning of the word among the witches is a 'band' or 'company', who were set apart for the practice of the rites of the religion and for the performance of magical ceremonies; in short, a kind of priesthood.
The Coven was composed of men and women, belonging to one district, though not necessarily all from one village, and was ruled by an officer under the command of the Grand Master. The members of the Coven were apparently bound to attend the weekly Esbat; and it was they who were instructed in and practiced magical arts, and who performed all the rites and ceremonies of the cult. The rest of the villagers attended the Esbats when they could or when they felt so inclined, but did not necessarily work magic, and they attended the Sabbaths as a matter of course.
In an appendix Murray links fairies and witches:The dwarf race which at one time inhabited Europe has left few concrete remains, but it has survived in innumerable stories of fairies and elves. Nothing, however, is known of the religious beliefs and cults of these early peoples, except the fact that every seven years they made a human sacrifice to their god—'And aye at every seven years they pay the tend to hell'—and that like the Khonds they stole children from the neighbouring races and brought them up to be the victims.
That there was a strong connection between witches and fairies has been known to all students of fairy lore. I suggest that the cult of the fairy or primitive race survived until less than three hundred years ago, and that the people who practiced it were known as witches.
Murray's 1933 Sequel
In 1933 Murray brought out a sequel entitled “God of the Witches” aimed at the more casual reader. She continue to claim that the fairies originated out of a race small people and that they originated the witch religion.
But the big difference is that Murray now linked the Devil with the Goddess Diana instead of a fertility god in a convoluted and fraudulent linkage which goes as follows:
She claimed that the Devil derived from the nature god Pan who was the two horned god representing the masculine aspect of nature (the imagery was certainly borrowed).
She further claimed that Pan was the same as the god Janus who was the god of gateways and transitions who was often represented as two heads facing in opposite directions (we get the month of January from Janus in a representation of the yearly transition). Sometimes one of the heads of Janus is horned in a representation of the transition from the divine to the material realms.
Next Murray claimed without any evidence that Janus was the same as a male version of the goddess Diana whom she called Dianus (such a god does not exist in the classical texts). She got this speculative linkage from chapter 16 of the book The Golden Bough by James Frazier. The Golden Bough was first published in two volumes in 1890; in three volumes in 1900; and in twelve volumes in the third edition, published 1906–1915. While those books popularized anthropology they were full of speculation and short on facts.
Murry now claimed that Diana was the original Goddess of the witches before the rise of Christianity.
Initially these books had little impact with the first book only selling 2,020 copies while the second book was pulled from publication and discounted in price after two years (Hutton, p 200). Yet due to the increased interest in witches due to the Wizard of Oz movie, the second book was republished during the late 1940’s and it became a bestseller.
ReferencesCambrue (1567) Quotes of Estebene de Cambrue of the parish of Amou in De Lancre, TableauCouncil of Ancyra (358 CE) held in what is now Ankara, Turkey. https://www.elpenor.org/ecumenical-councils/ancyra-314.aspFrazer, James (1922) The Golden Bough. Online at: https://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/frazer/Margaret Murray (1921) The Witch Cult of Western Europe - A Study in Anthropology. Online at: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/20411/20411-h/20411-h.htm
Perceptheism First Stated in Alcoholic's Anonymous (1940)
(July 6, 2022) Perceptheism is a mental framework which claims the details of the divine realm are objectively unknowable so all conceptions of the divine are personally valid as long as such conceptions are not claimed as something which others should believe. Monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, and atheism all assume the divine can be known in an objective sense and claim the other theisms are wrong.
The modern Nature spiritual concept of Perceptheism was stumbled upon first in Alcoholic's Anonymous. For this organization's founders, the establishment of a strong connection to Divine was an essential aid in overcoming the power of addiction. Having such a connection was more important than any particular dogmatic concept.
This conceptual freedom to view the Divine in a way most natural for each person is called Perceptheism. The importance of divine connections in the recovery of the alcoholic was well stated by George Little who wrote in 1948:The distinctive novelty is that each alcoholic is allowed to choose his own concept of God. There is full liberty of belief and no end to the varieties of belief. Therein Alcoholics Anonymous differs from the churches which require belief in certain sets of dogma. An alcoholic refuses to accept these ready-made, he wants to make his own. In A.A. he is encouraged to do so, with this rider, that he obey the Higher Power as he understands it. That is intriguing. That places the responsibility on the alcoholic. He is on trial, not an organization, a book, a creed, or a sacrament. Can he act according to his own faith?
Every person has some belief, more or less vague, in a creative, life-giving force, a universal mind or oversoul. Alcoholics Anonymous begins by thinking of this as a Power rather than a Person. It works unseen as electricity, may be thought of as gravitation, evolution, or growth. Thought is a power, good will is a power, trust is a power. Trying to visualize the Higher Power is a hinderance rather than a help. Formulas are of little value. Like the-wind, the spirit can be felt but not seen. Instead of expecting ecstasies, visions, trances, one finds God in what is; contact may be made through gratitude.
Surrender to the Higher Power is not difficult for alcoholics, because for years they have surrendered to a lower power. Alcohol has a power, an intoxicating power. It gives a lift, euphoria, escape, release, cessation from fear and worry, a lightening of reality, forgetfulness, stupor, and sleep. In time, however, there are craving and compulsion, memory blanks, shakes, sweats, headaches, and hangovers. One man after a bout felt as though he had seven skulls. In devotion to this autocratic tyrant alcoholics will surrender thought, time, money, health, friends, and vocation. To surrender to the Higher Power involves no more exacting a demand than the surrender they have made to alcohol, perhaps over a drinking period of twenty years. (Little 1948)
ReferencesLittle, George A. (1948) The God Concept in Alcoholics Anonymous. Religion in Life 18(1) p 25-33. Online at: http://www.silkworth.net/religion_clergy/01018.html
While Gardner's ideas inspired most of the witchcraft groups which followed very few actually adopted his approach. The only groups which did so are now called British Traditional Wicca. The real growth of witchcraft began during the rebellious mid-1960s among women. During this time many spiritually sensitive women felt intellectually and emotionally excluded from patriarchal society in general and from patriarchal Christianity and Judaism in particular. Wicca was empowering because it placed value on the feminine. The most succinct and insightful explanation of these times is given by author Cynthia Eller (footnote page 217):Many spiritual feminists, like those cited here, seem to experience this need because they have felt very ambivalent about being a woman prior to any involvement with the movement. They do not want to feel like freakish imitation women; short of expensive surgical interventions, they cannot be men. But neither to they want to be the type of women of whom society approves. Other spiritual feminists seem to arrive at their desire for female validation from the opposite extreme. They feel very comfortable with femaleness as society describes it. They were not tomboys as children, but easily feminine little girls.Their only complaint is that they should be made to feel lesser than men for what are, in their eyes, equally if not more attractive traits. A feminism that emphasizes a complete abdication from cultural femininity is asking them to give up something they hold dear. Feminist spirituality, because it does not request this sacrifice is especially appealing to them.
Gerald Gardner's Wicca (1948-1964)
(July 6, 2022) The idea that witches represented the remnants of the pre-Christian nature religion motivated Gerald Gardner (1884-1964) of Britain to found Wicca. He sought to recreate the original witch fertility cult proposed by Margaret Murry.
Gardner himself was flawed and used his Wicca to gain access to young women yet his later followers stripped Wicca of these flaws while keeping its important spiritual core. These traditions later became known as British Traditional Wicca.
During his working life Gerald Gardner managed tea and rubber plantations in Ceylon, North Borneo, and Malaya until 1923 when he became a government inspector. During that time he was exposed to tribal level spiritual practices. In 1936 at age 52 he was able to take an early retirement due to an inheritance. He then settled in a suburb of Bournemouth, England and joined the local mystical esoteric society called the Fellowship of Crotona at nearby Christchurch.
Right after WW 2 Gardner's interests became more focused on spiritual things. Consequently, he rented an apartment in London so he could participate in the Ancient Druid Order. He was elected to their governing council in 1946. This Druid organization was a Freemason type of organization which used the Druid as its icon. Gardner soon found out the organization had no interest in developing a more nature based magical focus.
The Ancient Druid Order was founded around 1900 in London. They drew mostly on the fake Druid documents of Iolo Morganwig and the occult ideas of the Order of the Golden Dawn. Significantly, the founders of both Wicca (Gerald Gardner) and Druidry (Ross Nichols) were members at one time and both left for the similar reasons. They both found the organization to be too stagnant in its rituals and ideology. In 1961 Nichols left to found the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids.
In 1947 Gardner visited old Aleister Crowley who led the Order of the Golden Dawn. At that time Gardner was looking to revive a spiritist organization called the Ordo Templi Orientis which had originated in 1904 in Germany as a mystical offshoot of Freemasonry. In 1912 this organization had made Crowley its head in England due to the similarity of their approaches. (Hutton, p 222).
Failing in that, Gardner decided to go his own way. In 1948 Gardiner published a novel called “High Magic’s Aid” which was a story mixing Murray’s portrait of witchcraft with the magical ritual approach of the Golden Dawn. The book presented witch rituals which he was probably already doing with a woman friend known to history as Dafo. These rituals included nudity which the novel justified as bringing the witch into a more powerful mystical unity with nature. Gardner himself was a nudist (naturist).
The real name of “Dafo” has not been published out of respect for her family’s privacy because she later was ashamed of her part in this affair. In any case she was with Gardiner during 1947 in his witchcraft revival project called Ancient Crafts, Ltd.
Gardiner and Dafo bought some land next to a naturist (nudist) camp just north of London. Upon this land they built an imagined sixteenth century witch cottage and it was there that they established the first modern witch coven and worked out its rituals with other mystical minded nudists (Hutton, p 214).
In 1951 Britain repealed its witchcraft acts which had made practicing witchcraft illegal. In 1952 Dafo broke up with Gardner. In 1954 Gardner published his book “Witchcraft Today” with a foreword by Margaret Murray herself and began publicizing witchcraft as a religion, which he called “Wica” in the book. With that he began initiating other members into his “secret” movement. Wican covens grew slowly at first but his publicity and the publicity generated by others inspired others to form covens of their own.
Eller, Cynthia (1993) Living in the Lap of the Goddess, the Feminist Spirituality Movement in America. Beacon Press, Boston
Hutton, Ronald (1999) The Triumph of the Moon. Oxford University Press
Ritual of Drawing Down the Moon (1949)High Priestess stands in front of Altar, assumes Goddess position (arms crossed). Magus, kneeling in front of her, draws pentacle on her body with Phallus-headed Wand, invokes, "I Invoke and beseech Thee, O mighty Mother of all life and fertility. By seed and root, by stem and bud, by leaf and flower and fruit, by Life and Love, do I invoke Thee to descend into the body of thy servant and High Priestess [name]." The Moon having been drawn down, i.e., link established, Magus and other men give Fivefold Kiss:
- (kissing feet) "Blessed be thy feet, that have brought thee in (these ways";
- (kissing knees) "Blessed be thy knees, that shall kneel at the sacred altar";
- (kissing womb) "Blessed be thy womb, without which we would not be";
- (kissing breasts) "Blessed be thy breasts, formed in beauty and in strength";
- (kissing lips) "Blessed be thy lips, that shall speak the sacred names."
Ritual of Third Degree Initiation (1949)(Gardner defined three levels or degrees of witches and this is his 1949 third degree initiation rite.)
Magus: "Ere we proceed with this sublime degree, I must beg purification at thy hands."
High Priestess binds Magus and ties him down to the altar. She circumambulates three times, and scourges Magus with three, seven, nine, and 21 strokes. She then unbinds him and helps him to his feet.
Magus now binds the High Priestess and ties her down to the altar. He circumambulates, proclaiming to the four quarters, "Hear, ye mighty Ones, the twice consecrate and Holy (name), High Priestess and Witch Queen, is properly prepared and will now proceed to erect the Sacred Altar." Magus scourges High Priestess with three, seven, nine, and 21 strokes. Cakes and wine may now be taken [see "Cakes and Wine"].
Magus: "Now I must reveal to you a great Mystery." [kiss].
Note: if High Priestess has performed this rite before, omit these words. High Priestess assumes Osiris position.
Magus: "Assist me to erect the Ancient Altar, at which in days past all worshipped, the Great Altar of all things. For in the old times a woman was the Altar. Thus was the altar made and so placed [Priestess lies down in such a way that her vagina is approximately at the center of the circle], and the sacred place was the point within the center of the circle, as we of old times have been taught, that the point within the center is the origin of all things. Therefore should we adore it." [kiss]
"Therefore, whom we adore, we also invoke, by the power of the lifted lance." Invokes. "O circle of stars [kiss], whereof our Father is but the younger brother [kiss], "Marvel beyond imagination, soul of infinite space, before whom time is ashamed, the mind bewildered and understanding dark, not unto thee may we attain unless thine image be of love [kiss].
"Therefore, by seed and root, and stem and bud and leaf and flower and fruit do we invoke thee, O, Queen of space, O dew of light, O continuous one of the Heavens [kiss]. "Let it be ever thus, that men speak not of Thee as one, but as none, and let them not speak of thee at all, since thou art continuous, for thou art the point within the circle [kiss], which we adore [kiss], the fount of life without which we would not be [kiss]. "And in this way truly are erected the Holy Twin Pillars Boaz and Joachim [kisses breasts]. In beauty and strength were they erected, to the wonder and glory of all men."
(Eightfold Kiss: 3 points, Lips, 2 Breasts and back to lips; 5 points)
"O Secrets of secrets that art hidden in the being of all lives. Not thee do we adore, for that which adoreth is also thou. Thou art that and That am I [kiss].
"I am the flame that burns in every man, and in the core of every star [kiss].
"I am Life and the giver of Life, yet therefore is the knowledge of me the Knowledge of Death [kiss].
"I am alone, the Lord within ourselves whose name is Mystery of Mysteries [kiss].
"Make open the path of intelligence between us. For these truly are the 5 points of fellowship [on the right appears an illuminated diagram of the point-up triangle above the pentacle, the symbol for the third degree], feet to feet, knee to knee, groin to groin, breast to breast, arms around back, lips to lips, by the Great and Holy Names Abracadabra, Aradia, and Cernunnos.
Magus and High Priestess: "Encourage our hearts, Let thy Light crystallize itself in our blood, fulfilling us of Resurrection, for there is no part of us that is not of the Gods."
Closing the Circle High Priestess Circumambulates, proclaiming, "The twice consecrate High Priestess greets ye Mighty Ones, and dismisseth ye to your pleasant abodes. Hail and Farewell."
She draws the banishing pentacle at each quarter.
Core Rituals and Theory Developed by Gardner (1949-1961)
(July 6, 2022) Near the end of his life in 1964 Gerald Gardner made public his rituals in what is known as the "Gardnerian Book of Shadows." This was the time when alternate religious practices were starting to be noticed and invented. His rituals continue to be at the core of Traditional British Wicca groups. What follows are excerpts from his book.
How to Cast a Circle (1949)
It is most convenient to mark the circle with chalk, paint or otherwise, to show where it is; but marks on the carpet may be utilized. Furniture may be placed to indicate the bounds. The only circle that matters is the one drawn before every ceremony with either a duly consecrated Magic Sword or an Athame. The circle is usually nine feet in diameter, unless made for some very special purpose. There are two outer circles, each six inches apart, so the third circle has a diameter of eleven feet....
Gardner's Theory of Spiritual Power (1953)
This section on spiritual power shows that Gardner was biased by his naturist (nudist) desires and so assumed spiritual power was some sort of invisible material fluid created within the body which can only come out through the skin and orifices. This spiritual power could then be stored in items. This contradicts his other idea that spiritual powers come from focused emotions.Power is latent in the body and may be drawn out and used in various ways by the skilled. But unless confined in a circle it will be swiftly dissipated. Hence the importance of a properly constructed circle. Power seems to exude from the body via the skin and possibly from the orifices of the body; hence you should be properly prepared (go naked).
The slightest dirt spoils everything, which shows the importance of thorough cleanliness. The attitude of mind has great effect, so only work with a spirit of reverence. A little wine taken and repeated during the ceremony, if necessary, helps to produce power. Other strong drinks or drugs may be used, but it is necessary to be very moderate, for if you are confused, even slightly, you cannot control the power you evoke.
The simplest way is by dancing and singing monotonous chants, slowly at first and gradually quickening the tempo until giddiness ensues. Then the calls may be used, or even wild and meaningless shrieking produces power. But this method inflames the mind and renders it difficult to control the power, though control may be gained through practice. The scourge is a far better way, for it stimulates and excites both body and soul, yet one e easily retains control. The Great Rite (sex) is far the best. It releases enormous power, but the conditions and circumstances make it difficult for the mind to maintain control at first. It is again a matter of practice and the natural strength of the operator's will and, in a lesser degree, of those of his assistants.
If, as of old, there were many trained assistants present and all wills properly attuned, wonders occurred. Sorcerers chiefly used the blood sacrifice; and while we hold this to be evil, we cannot deny that this method is very efficient. Power flashes forth from newly shed blood, instead of exuding slowly as by our method. The victim's terror and anguish add keenness, and even quite a small animal can yield enormous power.
The great difficulty is in the human mind controlling the power of the lower animal mind. But sorcerers claim they have methods for effecting this and that the difficulty disappears the higher her the animal used, and when the victim is human disappears entirely. (The practice is an abomination but it is so.) Priests know this well; and by their auto-da-fé, with the victims' pain and terror (the fires acting much the same as circles), obtained much power.
Of old the Flagellants certainly evoked power, but through not being confined in a circle much was lost. The amount of power raised was so great and continuous that anyone with knowledge could direct and use it; and it is most probable that the classical and heathen sacrifices were used in the same way. There are whispers that when the human victim was a willing sacrifice, with his mind directed on the Great Work and with highly skilled assistants, wonders ensued but of this I would not speak.
Skyclad Magic with a Lover (1953)
Gardiner was a Naturist (Nudist).It is important to work naked from the start, so it becometh as second nature, and no thought of "I have no clothes" shall ever intrude and take your attention from the work. Also, your skin being so accustomed to unconfinement, when power is given off the flow is more easy and regular. Also, when dancing you are free and unconfined. . . .
And the greatest of all, the touch of the body of your beloved thrills your inmost soul, and so your body gives out its utmost power; and then it is most important of all that there is not the slightest thing to divert the attention, for then the mind must seize and mold the power generated, and redirect it to the desired end with all the force and frenzy of the imagination.
It has been said that no real knowledge may be gained our way, that our practices are such that they can only lead to lust; but this is not really so. Our aim is to gain the inner sight, and we do it the most natural and easy way. Our opponents' aim is ever to prevent man and woman from loving, thinking that everything that helps or even permits them to love is wicked and vile. To us it is natural, and if it aids the Great Work it is good. 'Tis true that a couple burning with a frenzy for knowledge may go straight to their goal, but the average couple have not this fire. We show them the way, our system of props and aids (i.e., magic ritual). A couple working with nothing but lust will never attain in any case; but a couple who love each other dearly should already be sleeping together, and the first frenzy of love will have passed, and their souls will already be in sympathy.
If the first time or two they do stay a while to worship Aphrodite, 'tis only a day or two lost, and the intense pleasure they obtain only leads them again to the mysteries of Hermes, their souls more attuned to the great search. Once they have pierced the veil they will not look back. This rite may be used as the greatest of magics if it be done with both partners firmly fixing their minds on the object and not thinking of sex at all. That is, you must so firmly fix your mind on your object that sex and all else are naught. You inflame your will to such an extent that you may create a strain on the astral such that events happen.
The Working Tools (1953)
This section is a list of the magical tools Gardner used and it also indicates Gardner was rediscovering the emotional magic of the ancients as evidenced by the statement "magical operations are useless unless the mind can be brought to the proper attitude, keyed to the utmost pitch."There are no magical supply shops, so unless you are lucky enough to be given or sold tools, a poor witch must extemporize. But when made you should be able to borrow or obtain an Athame.So having made your circle, erect an altar. Any small table or chest will do. There must be fire on it (a candle will suffice) and your book. For good results incense is best if you can get it, but coals in a chafing dish burning sweet-smelling herbs will do. A cup if you would have cakes and wine, and a platter with the signs drawn into the same in ink, showing a pentacle.
A scourge is easily made (note, the scourge has eight tails and five knots in each tail). Get a white-hilted knife and a wand (a sword is not necessary). Cut the marks with Athame. Purify everything, then consecrate your tools in proper form and ever be properly prepared.But ever remember, magical operations are useless unless the mind can be brought to the proper attitude, keyed to the utmost pitch. Affirmations must be made clearly, and the mind should be inflamed with desire. With this frenzy of will, you may do as much with simple tools as with the most complete set.
But good and especially ancient tools have their own aura. They do help to bring about that reverential spirit, the desire to learn and develop your powers. For this reason witches ever try to obtain tools from sorcerers, who, being skilled men, make good tools and consecrate them well, giving them mighty power. But a great witch's tools also gain much power; and you should ever strive to make any tools you manufacture of the finest materials you can obtain, to the end that they may absorb your power the more easily.
And of course if you may inherit or obtain another witch's tools, power will flow from them. It is an old belief that the best substances for making tools are those that have once had life in them, as opposed to artificial substances. Thus wood or ivory is better for a wand than metal, which is more appropriate for knives or swords. Virgin parchment is better than manufactured paper for talismans, etc. And things which have been made by hand are good, because there is life in them.
Gardner's Ideal Coven Organization (1961)
Priestesses were to rule the Coven but they must resign once their beauty fades with age because her power actually comes from the masculine god and not the goddess.[A] The Law was made and Ardane of old. The law was made for the Wicca, to advise and help in their troubles. The Wicca should give due worship to the Gods and obey their will, which they Ardane, for it was made for the good of the Wicca, As the Wicca's worship is good for the Gods,
For the Gods love the Wicca. As a man loveth a woman, by mastering her, so the Wicca should love the Gods, by being mastered by them.And it is necessary that the Circle, which is the Temple of the Gods, should be truly cast and purified, that it may be a fit place for the Gods to enter. And the Wicca should be properly prepared and purified, to enter into the presence of the Gods. With love and worship in their hearts they shall raise power from their bodies to give power to the Gods, as has been taught us of old, For in this way only may man have communion with the Gods, for the Gods cannot help man without the help of men.
[B] And the High Priestess shall rule her Coven as representative of the Goddess, and the High Priest shall support her as the representative of the God, And the High Priestess shall choose whom she will, if he have sufficient rank, to be her High Priest), For the God himself, kissed her feet in the fivefold salute, laying his power at the feet of the Goddess, because of her youth and beauty, her sweetness and kindness, her wisdom and Justice, her humility and generosity. So he resigned his lordship to her.
But the Priestess should ever mind that all power comes from him. It is only lent when it is used wisely and justly. And the greatest virtue of a High Priestess is that she recognizes that youth is necessary to the representative of the Goddess, so that she will retire gracefully in favour of a younger woman, Should the Coven so decide in Council, For the true  High Priestess realizes that gracefully surrendering pride of place is one of the greatest of virtues, and t hat thereby she will return to that pride of place in another life, with greater power and beauty.
Awen is a Celtic word for the inspiration which comes from spiritual connections. As such it is analogous to the Greek word Logos which as a noun it means "the interconnectivity of consciousness" or "spiritual network." As a verb it means "connective inspiration."
An example of a wisdom triad in OBOD is:
Three ways Druidry can help ease sorrow is through these connective principles:
- opening our souls to the cradling of Time and the nourishment of Place;
- through welcoming us home to our true nature,
- through welcoming us home to the family of All Being.
This triad is informally discussed with Phillip Carr-Gomm below.
Druidry (OBOD) (1950s on)
(July 6, 2022) Modern Druidry has several organization but this discussion will center on its earliest organization called the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD at https://druidry.org). OBOD includes the core elements of witchcraft but is more focused on experiencing emotional resonances with nature, emotional healing, developing wisdom and awareness, and being creative. OBOD is a spiritual path making no claims to being a religion. Instead it provides a kitchen full of nature spirituality practices to use as needed.
As originally conceived by druid revival groups, "Druids" were assumed to be the priests of the people of Stonehenge and other megalithic monuments around Europe. Stonehenge was older then the Romans and so were the Druids of Gaul and Britain mentioned by the Roman geographer Strabo (63 BCE - 21 CE) and Julius Caesar. Strabo says this:Amongst [the Gauls] there are generally three divisions of' men especially reverenced, the Bards, the Vates, and the Druids. The Bards composed and chanted hymns; the Vates occupied themselves with the sacrifices and the study of nature; while the Druids joined to the study of nature that of moral philosophy. The belief in the justice [of the Druids] is so great that the decision both of public and private disputes is referred to them; and they have before now, by their decision, prevented armies from engaging when drawn up in battle-array against each other. All cases of murder are particularly referred to them. When there is plenty of these (Druids) they imagine there will likewise be a plentiful harvest. Both these (Druids) and the others (Vates and Bards) assert that the soul is indestructible, and likewise the world, but that sometimes fire and sometimes water have prevailed in making great changes. (Strabo's Geography Book 4, Chapter 4, Section 4, translated by Hamilton and Falconer, as found at Perseus)
But the Germans were more barbaric than the Celts because they had no Druids and no zeal for sacrifices. This indicates their Indo-European religion had not yet been corrupted by lordification in which deities as people had to be appeased and bribed. Julius Caesar says this:The Germans differ much from this manner of living. They have no Druids to regulate divine worship, no zeal for sacrifices. They reckon among the gods those only whom they see and by whose offices they are openly assisted — to wit, the Sun, the Fire‑god, and the Moon; of the rest they have learnt p347 not even by report. (Julius Caesar, The Gallic War, Book 6, chapter 21. Online: https://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Caesar/Gallic_War/6C*.html)
Late Greek historian Diogenes Laertius (sometime between 220 and 300 CE) draws on other accounts referencing a respected book by Sotion (about 200 – 170 BC) to say this in his Lives of Eminent Philosophers, Book 1, Prologue:There are some who say that the study of philosophy had its beginning among the barbarians. They urge that the Persians have had their Magi, the Babylonians or Assyrians their Chaldaeans (Akadians), and the Indians their Gymnosophists; and among the Celts and Gauls there are the people called Druids or Holy Ones, for which they cite as authorities the Magicus of Aristotle and Sotion in the twenty-third1 book of his Succession of Philosophers. ...  As to the Gymnosophists and Druids we are told that they uttered their philosophy in riddles, bidding men to reverence the gods, to abstain from wrongdoing, and to practice courage.
(Translated by R.D. Hicks. Online at: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text%3Fdoc%3DPerseus:text:1999.01.0258:book%3D1:chapter%3Dprologue%26highlight%3Dthales)
"Chaldaea" is a Latinization of the Greek Khaldaía (Χαλδαία) which is similar to "Akkadian." The book "Magicus of Aristotle" is not believed to have been written by Aristotle but only attributed to him.
While Strabo and Caesar were referencing a late Indo-European (Dualist, Lordified) religious culture which has nothing to do with Stonehenge builders the name "Druid" and Ovate actually are connected to Stonehenge because they are Akkadian.
The word "Druid" means "Eternal-Form.Channelers" from the compound word DR.ID (duru-id). Eternal forms are the invisible "platonic" forms into which matter flows to manifest itself as a physical object. Thus they were the priests of the life-growth powers for the European Neolithic farmers and analogous to the life priests called abu (meaning father) in the Levant.
The word 'vates or 'wates or 'uates (depending on the translator's native language) is similar to the Greek ouateis which is assigned the meaning of "soothsayer" or "prophet." Both actually derive from a compound Akkadian word meaning "Motion Magic-Crafter" from 'W.T. (’û-tû) or the earlier (a'û-tû). This word has the letter ayin as the first letter which does not exist in Latin or Greek where it is either ignored or replaced with the letter "O."
The founder of OBOD was Ross Nichols. He was the principal of a cramming school in London during the 1950s. He started contributing articles on Druidry and the occult to magazines in his younger years. In 1954, probably at the suggestion of his friend and fellow naturist Gerald Gardner of Wicca fame, he joined the Ancient Order of Druids. He even edited Gardner's book Witchcraft Today. He left the Order in 1964 after three of his core friends there died including Gerald Gardiner. Ross wanted to form a more authentic Celtic spiritual practice less focused on supposed fertility witchcraft rituals. He did this by combining Celtic mythology with Occult practices. Yet Ross remained a Christian not viewing the spiritual practices of OBOD as a full replacement for Christianity despite having many personal reservations about Christian theology. He probably saw the nature spirit elements in the teachings of Jesus.
After Ross died in 1975 leadership of OBOD passed to Philip Carr-Gomm, a psychologist and long time student of Ross Nichols who started out by taking photos of their ceremonies when young. At this time OBOD was not doing well so Phillip refocused OBED on nature and emotional healing distancing it from the occult. He also developed OBOD's popular correspondence course.
Carr-Gomm, Philip (2002) Druid Mysteries-Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century. Rider Publishers
The "Force" in Star Wars (1977)
(July 6, 2022) Star Wars presented a magical divine/spiritual realm not populated with people like gods but with the "Force" generated by conscious experiences. Jedi were the magic crafters and some were more talented at it than others. Yet in order to make a simple adventure story it divided that divine realm into good and evil taking the dualist religious position. Yet this simplicity shows how dualism is so seductive on the human mind. Star Wars was released on May 25, 1977.
Quotes on the Force in Star WarsFrom Yoda: “Remember, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware: Anger, fear, aggression – the Dark Side, are they.”
From Obi-wan: “Well, the Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It is an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.”
From Yoda: "For my ally is the Force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the Force around you; here, between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes."
Quotes from: https://screenrant.com/star-wars-best-quotes-force/
Books and camping festivals were the main conduits of Nature Pagan growth during this time. The History of Circle Sanctuary in Wisconsin is representative of the change during this period as many diverse pagan traditions started coming together at Nature Pagan camping festivals.
After this era three unreconcilable main divisions started to become apparent. The Heathens/Reconstructionists, the Occultists, and the Nature Pagans.
The Reconstructionists wanted to recreate a Pagan religion based upon various ancient mythologies as preserved in ancient texts. These typically are Norse, Greek, Roman, and Egyptian. Like the traditional faith based religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), their source of authority are ancient texts.
The Occultist groups continued the Hermetic and Rosicrucian magical traditions and added a few new ones like Scientology. Again, their sources of authority are various texts.
The Nature Pagans connect with the divine (spiritual) realm via emotion magic with their practices and ethics inspired by and derived from nature. They follow the most ancient ancestral traditions because those traditions were also nature based and magical because they existed before the written word.
History of Circle Sanctuary online at:https://www.circlesanctuary.org/index.php/organization/history-of-circle-sanctuary
The Neo-Pagan Era: A Growing Sense of Identity and a Failed Search for Grounding (1960 - 2010)
(July 6, 2022) Neo-Pagan or simply Pagan became a general catch-all term for the many non-Christian groups which emerged at this time. They were unified simply by being non-Christian. This resulted in their fundamental differences being overlooked, especially those between the reconstructionists who sought to revive ancient Pagan religions by deriving authority from surviving ancient texts and the New Age approach of people who refused to be grounded in anything (feelings defined their reality).
Other Pagans started calling themselves by various names such as eclectic wiccan or kitchen wiccan (home and herbal based) leaving Gardiner's original style to be called traditional British Wicca. The more extreme feminist Wicca came to be called Dianic Wicca. Others started calling themselves witches and claimed authority from familial traditions. Finally there were the nature based Druid groups who went looking for grounding but failed doing no better then scattered Roman era texts (see Druid Source Book by John Matthews 1997).
One of the first statements of Neo-Pagan principles occurs in the founding papers of the first Druidry group in the United States called the Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA). This group was founded in 1963 at Carleton college in Northfield, Minnesota as protest against the requirement that all students attend a certain number of religious services “of one’s own religion.” Their founding statement is listed below (Adler 2006 p 337):The object of the search for religious truth, which is a universal and never-ending search, may be found through the Earth-Mother; which is Nature; but this is one way; one way among many.
And great is the importance, which is of a spiritual importance of Nature, which is the Earth-Mother; for it is one of the object of Creation, and with it do people live, yea, even as they do struggle through life are they come face-to-face with it. (Adler 2006 p 337)
The Carleton religious requirement was abolished the following year but much to the chagrin of some of the original founders, the RDNA continued on as a real alternative religion. This example is paralleled throughout the Pagan movement. What started out as one thing became another as people discovered spiritual liberation in something more personal.
An early statement about grounding Wicca as a religion was made in 1984 by Janet and Stewart Ferrar. In this statement they define for Wicca a purpose as an alignment with the spiritual (divine) powers (1984, Part 2, p 146):Now the purpose of Wicca, as a religion, is to integrate conflicting aspects of the human psyche with each other, and the whole with the Cosmic Psyche; and as a Craft, to develop the power and self-knowledge of the individual psyche (and in a coven, the co-operating group of individual psyches) so that it can achieve results which are beyond the scope of an undeveloped, un-self-aware psyche - much as an athlete develops, and learns about, his muscular power and control to achieve feats impossible for the non-athlete.
In 1995, the alignment with nature became the sixth recognized religious root for the Unitarian Universalist church. This root is presently represented by the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans. They stated this sixth source as follows in their source list :"Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature" (U.U. Source List)
In 2002 realizing the limits of magic on the physical realm, the chief of the Nature-Pagan religion of Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, Philip Carr-Gom said this about magic:“So the magic taught and practiced within Druidry, at least in the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, concerns not the attempt to manipulate circumstances or to ‘get things’, but instead the art of opening to the magic of being alive, the art of bringing ideas into manifestation, and the art of journeying in the quest of healing, inspiration, and knowledge.” (Carr-Gomm 2002, page 164)
Pagans at the turn of the millennium did not yet have a solid intellectual foundation for their beliefs and practices. As a result, the Neo-Pagans of the time mostly defined themselves by what they were not. This is shown by this summary from Margot Adler’s book “Drawing Down the Moon”:But when asked, Neo-Pagans were adamant in insisting that they were “different” although often the differences were subtle and hard to express. “What are the common traits of Pagans?” I asked. The answers I received included, again, that sense of childlike wonder, acceptance of life and death, attunement to the rhythms of nature, sense of humor, lack of guilt-ridden feelings about oneself and about the body and sexuality, genuine honesty, and unwillingness or inability to play social games. (Adler, 2006, p 384)
As a practicing Nature Pagan herself she added this insight about Pagan rituals as a means of promoting connection:From my own experiences of Neo-Pagan rituals, I have come to feel that they have another purpose - to end, for a time, our sense of human alienation from nature and from each other. Accepting the idea of the “psychic sea,” and of human beings as isolated islands within that sea, we can say that, although we are always connected, our most common experience is one of estrangement. Ritual seem to be one method of reintegrating individuals and groups into the cosmos, and to tie in the activities of daily life with their ever present, often forgotten, significance. It allows us to feel biological connectedness with ancestors who regulated their lives and activities according to seasonal observances. Just as ecological theory explains how we are interrelated with all other forms of life, rituals allow us to re-create that unity in an explosive, non-abstract, gut-level way. Rituals have the power to reset the terms of our universe until we find ourselves suddenly and truly “at home.” (Adler, 2006)
Adler, Margot (2006) Drawing Down the Moon, Penguin books, U.S.A
Carr-Gomm, Philip (2002) Druid Mysteries, Ancient Wisdom for the 21st Century. Rider: London
Ferrar Janet & Stewart (1984) A Witches’ Bible, The Complete Witches’ Handbook, Phoenix Publishing
Matthews, John (1997) The Druid Source Book. Blandford