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Alchymist

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What if.....?
« on: March 03, 2017, 03:36:24 PM »

What if……….

The underlying myth of Western (which means, essentially, Christian) culture seems to be the Garden of Eden story from the Book of Genesis, which I’m sure we’re all familiar with at least in outline.

The standard orthodox interpretation is that the Hebrew god Yahweh (or Iaoue; I’ve given my reasons for the alternative spelling elsewhere on the Forum), the sole Creator of the Universe, planted a beautiful garden “eastward in Eden” and placed the male and female human beings, Adam and Eve, in the garden with strict instructions not to eat the fruit from one particular tree that grew in the centre of the garden, because “in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” Then along comes the wily Serpent, who is the Devil in disguise, who speaks to the woman, Eve, telling her that Iaoue’s prohibition is not true; “God knows ye shall not die, but thine eyes shall be opened.” So Adam and Eve eat the fruit, they don’t die and their eyes are indeed opened, they see that they are naked, are ashamed (for reasons that are never made perfectly clear) and cover themselves with fig leaves. In punishment for their disobedience, Iaoue expels them from the garden and visits various other punishments on them – and also on the Serpent. All their descendants inherit the blame for Adam and Eve’s “sin”, but can be redeemed if they accept Iaoue’s son Ieshua (Latinised into “Jesus”) as their personal Lord and Saviour.

An alternate reading of the myth, popular among Gnostics, is that the real Creator God, who is nameless and unknowable, exists in some ethereal realm far beyond the mundane world most of us mostly inhabit, most of the time, and the lesser god Yahweh or Iaoue is a mere demiurge, or subsidiary deity, who only pretends to be the almighty Creator God (and eventually almost comes to believe it), and because of his incompetence he created a flawed universe where evil seems to be mostly in charge. Acting irresponsibly, he created human beings “in his own image”, but, terrified that they might become intelligent and become equal to him – or even stop believing in him – he forbade them from eating the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, on pain of death, so that they would remain ignorant, and thus remain useful to him as slaves to take care of his garden. In this interpretation, the Serpent took pity on the poor, ignorant humans and urged them to defy Iaoue, eat the forbidden fruit and become intelligent. Despite Iaoue’s dire prediction, they didn’t die, but their eyes were opened. Thus they were of no further use as slaves and he threw them out of his Garden to make their own way in the world. And thus, the supposed “god” Iaoue lied, and the Serpent told the truth – and was, of course, punished for it, as are most truth-tellers, it seems.

This Gnostic view, with human beings as intelligent aware entities capable of asking awkward questions and coming to their own conclusions, didn’t suit the ruling Elites, the Powers That Were – and the Church and State acting in concert condemned the Gnostic interpretation and  reverted to the worship of Yahweh as Omnipotent Omniscient Creator God, condemned the Serpent to the role of Devil, and instituted the feudal system whose ruling principle was – and despite regime changes and apparent reforms, today still is – Unquestioning Obedience.

And yet….. What if……

What if there’s yet a third possible interpretation?

What if the last 3000 years of religion, theology and history is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of this primal myth?

Could it be that the Garden of Eden story, based as it is on a much older Babylonian myth, may be a distorted description of an even more ancient, indeed pre-historic, Shamanic initiation ritual?

In Shamanic cultures, a candidate for initiation is often chosen because of a vivid dream (“God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam”) during which he, or she, meets one or more spirit guides (Eve and the Serpent) or deities. He, or she, must undergo severe ordeals, or a serious illness, often as a result of consuming a normally “forbidden” substance (the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge), culminating in a simulated death (“thou shalt surely die”). This causes an enhanced awareness (“Thine eyes shall be opened”) – but his, or her, previous idyllic and peaceful (but ultimately boring) life in the Garden is now no longer possible; the candidate is now a Shaman and must see the Universe as it truly is, ask his, or her, own questions and seek his, or her, own answers. To be a Shaman is an awesome responsibility and is emphatically not for everyone.

Perhaps we can see an echo of this in the initiations into many magical orders or secret societies of recent history, and even today, wherein the candidate must undergo a simulated death – such as the third degree of  Freemasonry and indeed of many other initiatory orders. Ritual nudity is also often a requirement, particularly in the various branches of Wicca. And it is a matter of record that many people who report near-death experiences (NDEs) claim to have met spirit guides or ancestors, and also claim enhanced awareness as a result, and no longer fear death. Perhaps they have undergone their own Shamanic initiations. NDEs are dismissed as “hallucinations” resulting from the brain being starved of oxygen, by many who call themselves skeptics, but they would seem to be missing the point. The near-death experience, and the Shamanic initiation, cannot be described in mundane terms – the language to describe it simply doesn’t exist – and certainly no-one who hasn’t had the experience is qualified to talk about it – and definitely isn’t qualified to tell someone who has experienced it that that it’s all their imagination.

This interpretation would seem to present the usurper-god Iaoue in a rather more positive light. Rather than an angry tyrant, he is the Initiator, along with the Serpent; the Garden of Eden story is a heavily garbled account of a shamanic initiation. And the rest of the Book of Genesis, and in fact the whole of the rest of the Bible, not to mention three thousand years of Middle Eastern and European history, is the result of a profound misunderstanding of this ancient account. Iaoue, or Yahweh, is not the mean-spirited, petty-minded, perpetually angry “jealous God” that his followers, of all three of the principal monotheistic faiths, have made of him.

If he exists at all, by now he has undoubtedly been driven insane by the sorry chronicle of atrocities and genocides that have been committed in his name. Was Man made in the image of God, or was it the other way around?

It's only an idea, after all; but what if it's something close to, or at least heading towards, the truth.......?

Blessed Be everyone,

Alchymist.

 


« Last Edit: March 21, 2017, 05:16:13 PM by Alchymist »
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Firesong

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Re: What if.....?
« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2017, 03:02:06 PM »

Quote
The underlying myth of Western (which means, essentially, Christian) culture seems to be the Garden of Eden story from the Book of Genesis, which I’m sure we’re all familiar with at least in outline.

The standard orthodox interpretation is that the Hebrew god Yahweh (or Iaoue; I’ve given my reasons for the alternative spelling elsewhere on the Forum), the sole Creator of the Universe, planted a beautiful garden “eastward in Eden” and placed the male and female human beings, Adam and Eve, in the garden with strict instructions not to eat the fruit from one particular tree that grew in the centre of the garden, because “in the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” Then along comes the wily Serpent, who is the Devil in disguise, who speaks to the woman, Eve, telling her that Iaoue’s prohibition is not true; “God knows ye shall not die, but thine eyes shall be opened.” So Adam and Eve eat the fruit, they don’t die and their eyes are indeed opened, they see that they are naked, are ashamed (for reasons that are never made perfectly clear) and cover themselves with fig leaves. In punishment for their disobedience, Iaoue expels them from the garden and visits various other punishments on them – and also on the Serpent. All their descendants inherit the blame for Adam and Eve’s “sin”, but can be redeemed if they accept Iaoue’s son Ieshua (Latinised into “Jesus”) as their personal Lord and Saviour.

The only problem with any "orthodox" interpretation, is that what may appear that way, may be something very different when the surface is scratched;  In Orthodox Jewish Kabbalah, the Garden of Eden is an allegory.  The snake is not the devil.  The "devil" doesn't exist; there is Satan, but he is not in competition with G-d, but a servant; not evil.  They believe that G-d created everything, good and evil.

The snake is a catalyst, which in the end produces free will, responsibility, and personal accountability.  Nothing evil about that.

The original Tora scroll is composed of ancient Hebrew; each is exactly the same in terms of content, for a reason; it was given by G-d, written by G-d, with the strick admonition that nothing will be added or taken away.

Any translation of Ancient Hebrew will only give a small part of the real meaning of Tora.  The scroll is evaluated by scholars through the "pardes", which represent the for levels of interpretation:

P'shat - literal interpretation
Remez or Remesh - interpretation of allegory and metaphor
Derash or Drosh - interpretation with the assistance of additional information, such as Oral Torah.
Sod - interpretation with the aid of the metaphysical, such as Kabbalah.

If Tora changed to another language, any other language, three-fourths of it's meaning is completely torched. 

This is something that many, especially Christians, have no clue about.  The entire concept of Judeo/Christian is basically oxymoronic, because they really have almost nothing in common, beyond their bastardized version of Tora and The rest of the Jewish cannon...

The "Devil", is a romantic creation of Christian poets.  The entire war is heaven is basically ridiculous, from a Jewish point of view.  There can be no war, because there is only one side... G-d's side.

Now angels, archangels, demons, now we're talkin...
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Alchymist

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Re: What if.....?
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2017, 05:08:58 PM »

Of course the standard orthodox interpretation of the Garden of Eden story is mistaken; that, it seems to me, was entirely my point. Perhaps, if we go back far enough, it was all a misunderstanding of an ancient shamanic initiation ritual........

And here's another "What if....?" for you all to chew on...

What if Aleister Crowley and Gerald Gardner collaborated in inventing Wicca to keep dangerous idiots out of Thelema? This is a thesis put forward by one Thomas Sheridan at
 http://thomasssheridanarts.com/articles.php?article_id=74

Quote
Have those of you who have known a friend who dabbled in Wicca ever noticed that their time as a Wiccan was mostly an explorative stage which essentially open-minded and inquisitive people go through following their resulting disillusionment with traditional mainstream religions? But they never seem to stick with it beyond posting the occasional meme to their Facebook wall? After an initial bout of enthusiasm, soon they become weary of all the 'difficult people' they encounter within the Wiccan movement? I myself could put the number of people that have stated this to me somewhere in the hundreds. 
 
The only long-term hardcore Wiccans we tend to encounter are, by all accounts, some of the most belligerent and vindictive people around. Casting 'lemon spells' (which do not work) on their ex-partners, their neighbours or anyone else who has had the misfortune to have had a disagreement with them. Often arrogant and filled with righteous indignation and socially isolated from all those around them, these 'solitary practitioners' tend to be completely wrapped up in themselves and seem incapable of compromise, decency and respect for others. Chain-smoking and vindictive rages are rarely optional. 
 
Now just imagine if such unhealthy people were to have access to, and working knowledge of, Thelema: a deep well of intense, esoteric magic based on centuries-old canons of voluminous theory, along with challenging and difficult practice.

This, I hasten to add, is Thomas Sheridan's own opinion, not mine. I merely present it here as a topic for cogitation and discussion. From my own experience of both Wicca and Thelema - and admittedly my own experience of the latter dates from almost 30 years ago - the "dangerous idiots" were at that time not only in Thelema, but running the show. Anyone on this forum who has experience of both, is welcome to comment.

Sheridan then contends that Wicca was later co-opted by the CIA, along with sundry UFO and Space Brothers cults, again as a diversionary tactic to mislead radical thinkers:

Quote
In the post-traditional Christianity days of the 1960's, the CIA were looking to create cults and religious fanatics in order to divert intelligent and idealistic people away from real political activism and have them waiting for the “space brothers” or the end of world (pick a date, any date will do) instead.

I suspect that Sheridan is heading dangerously close to paranoia here; but I suppose a case could be made that paranoia is the only sensible response to current political happenings. Personally, I can't imagine genuinely "intelligent and idealistic" people getting involved in stupid UFO cults (think Heaven's Gate or the Unariuns), but stranger things have happened - good heavens, stranger things are happening right now, right under our noses.

Blessed Be everyone, and may She Whom the Stars Serve protect you....

Alchymist.
« Last Edit: March 21, 2017, 05:16:47 PM by Alchymist »
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Alchymist

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Re: What if.....?
« Reply #3 on: May 04, 2017, 05:45:04 PM »

It's part of my nature to believe nothing and question everything. I can't help it; it's just part of who I am. It began in elementary school, in Britain in the 1950s, and continued through secondary school where our teachers were telling us stuff that was demonstrably bogus, especially about religion (I failed the final Religious Knowledge exam......). And I've been questioning everything ever since, in religion, in spirituality, in politics, in economics, even in science.......

The aforementioned article by Thomas Sheridan, whoever he may be, is a typical case. His contention is that Wicca has been co-opted by the CIA as a way of keeping "intelligent and idealistic" people from asking awkward questions; but, apparently, it hasn't occurred to him that his own beloved Thelema might be just as vulnerable to co-option.

It's a matter of historical record that Good Ol' Uncle Aleister himself published pro-German propaganda during WWI, but claimed to be secretly working for British Intelligence; and during WWII he claimed to have been in close collaboration with both British and American military intelligence. It's also a matter of record that L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology, was for many years a member of Crowley's O.T.O., but claimed to have infiltrated the Order on behalf of U.S. Naval Intelligence (the O.T.O., of course, had its origins in Germany in the 19th century, which would in itself have been sufficient grounds, in the 1930s and 40s, for the Allies to pay the Order close attention). What if the O.T.O., unbeknownst to its rank and file members, is in fact a front for the CIA, NSA or some other Government agency? I'd say it's not beyond the bounds of possibility.

I often suspect, in some of my more subversive moments, that there are few "fringe" organizations that haven't been co-opted to some extent, or at least heavily infiltrated, by Government intelligence agencies. It's well known that the spooks keep a careful eye on environmental and political organizations such as Greenpeace and the American Civil Liberties Union; do they also have a strong presence in more spiritually oriented organizations such as, for example, the AMORC Rosicrucians, the Temple of Set, the Church of All Worlds, and, yes, Thelema, and, yes, even some of the traditional Wiccan groups?

Many Wiccan groups have recently been making strong efforts to become acceptable to the mainstream of society. And yet, in doing so, I suspect they has to a great extent lost their heart and soul - a heart and soul which is (or should be) subversive, transgressive, heretical. Witchcraft, as I understand it, not only "thinks outside the box", in the jargon beloved of corporate CEOs without really meaning it - but breaks the box up altogether; from this point of view, Wicca is just another box. There is perhaps some truth in Sheridan's assertion that today's Wicca serves as a diversion - but not to keep the crazies out of Thelema. I suspect, at times, that both Wicca and Thelema, and other "fringe" groups, serve as diversions to keep the "follower" types away from genuine Witchcraft by allowing them to feel "superior" in belonging to a "proper" initiatory organization, while the really creative, dangerous and heretical individuals self-initiate, write their own rituals, dance naked in the moonlight and invoke the true Soul of the World, the Universal Anima, in the shape of Hecate or, better still, the Morrigan; She who sees right through all our pretences, She who will not let us get away with half-truths, She who will not allow us to deceive ourselves.

I realise I've quite possibly annoyed more than a few people by putting these ideas forward; but, having spent time with and around a number of these groups and found them, for the most part, uninteresting; overly concerned with lineage and "legitimacy" rather than making things happen - intentionally, consciously creating new realities, to use my own definition of Magic - I've become a Solitary by choice, it seems. I'm not condemning all groups; most of these groups serve a purpose, and the best ones honestly do an excellent teaching job - but the only legitimate function of a teacher, it seems to me, is to bring the student to the point at which he or she doesn't need the teacher any more. We can't stay in elementary school all our lives - and even grad school doesn't last forever.

Perhaps, as I've said, we must not only "think outside the box" but ignore the box altogether, and each carve our own individual Pathway through the forbidding dark forest alluded to, obliquely, in all genuine mythology.

Blessed Be everyone, but especially all solitary Seekers,

Alchymist.
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Alchymist

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Re: What if.....?
« Reply #4 on: September 22, 2017, 05:07:56 PM »

Joseph Campbell, in his well-known book, "The Hero with a Thousand Faces", argues that almost all mythology comes down, in the end, to what he calls a Monomyth; The Hero's Journey. He describes it in the following terms.

Quote
A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.

This seems to me to be virtually a word-for-word description of a Shamanic initiation.

The "hero" of the story is, quite often, the youngest of three brothers, or he is a dreamer rather than a warrior, or he has some other strike against him: the candidate for the shamanic initiation is almost always damaged in some way, an orphan perhaps, or he or she has suffered a great loss or a serious illness. The "hero" meets with mysterious entities who help him or her; the shamanic initiate meets spirit guides. The 'hero' returns with the power to bestow boons; the shaman returns with healing powers. The hero's journey and the shaman's journey are in all essential details identical.

Both hero and shaman tend to be outsiders, as Colin Wilson observes; they feel themselves to be apart from their mundane environments; they don't "fit in", no matter how hard they try. What is important to others around them hold little or no interest for them.

Does all mythology, then, evolve from a description of some ancient shamanic ritual?

Something to think about. Blessed Be all you who walk the Shaman's path - and all who would wish to,

Alchymist.
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