Recovering Mysticism: Part Two

NOTE:  I was seized with the need to write part two this morning and impromptu sat down and wrote all of it in half an hour. It’s terribly long for something written in thirty minutes, and I considered splitting part two into – well, two parts – but I decided against it. Make a cup of tea (or coffee) and settle in for a bit of a read, which I hope excites you.

It wasn’t a straight line, getting from St. Cecelia’s to here. It’s been nearly two years, in fact, but they haven’t been two idle years. I began slowly, the equivalent of peeking around corners and under rugs, just barely dipping my toe into studying ‘other’ things. Not because I was afraid of Delving Too Deep, as Saruman would say, but because somewhere I’d picked up the misconception that to look at other religions was somehow betraying the one I followed. (Where did I pick up that idea? I honestly don’t know. It’s nowhere in the Bible.) I was nervous, and I never really talked about it. I began to read, here and there. I began to follow a few crystal-oriented Instagram pages, then a few more because a) crystals are beautiful and b) it began to make sense. Crystals /are/ extremely high-energy. They /are/ extremely high-vibration. Everything around us runs on energy and vibration, and also hey, colors! Colors are a big thing. Did you know that the colors we vibrate at are, in fact, chakra points? That when God gave Noah the rainbow, that promise literally lives inside us as the color of our own healthy vibration?

I began to discover more and more, picking up speed. But I know myself – I have a tendency to get stars in my eyes for something, run after it, and then realize wait, I should have probably thought about it more. So, in order to make sure I didn’t accidentally wind up three hundred miles from my original goal, I determined to get serious about pursuing and practicing my own faith. I’d always found it strong, if not particularly interesting, but I can’t tell you what getting up earlier and setting aside actual time has done for me. Reading the Bible, reading books, praying – spending time just listening. Just spending time with God. Yesterday I sat at my window with a cup of coffee and just talked to him – not ‘Father in Heaven/Amen’ praying. Just talking. It’s incredible.

And I found that as I grew more and more excited about my faith, God kept giving me more things to be excited about. Even if sometimes my knee-jerk reaction as, “Um, excuse me?” because let’s face it – there are a bunch of adults my age out there who – if Christian, especially if homeschooled – are going to be extremely startled by the concept of someone being a ‘Christian witch.’

I bet you just had a visceral reaction and if I were sitting there, I’d probably go, “Right!?” It was on a blog, and I remember thinking the person writing the blog was misguided and my goodness, probably into some dangerous stuff. That was probably a year ago.

This year? I know what she meant. I don’t even disagree with her. That sounds absolutely bonkers, right? Probably even totally unbiblical, because after all, ‘thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.’ But see, here’s the thing –

I dove into Etymology studies. After all, we all know the word ‘wizard’ wasn’t even around until post-Jesus, and all it meant was ‘wise.’ Turns out the word ‘witch,’ while laden with all kinds of connotations – some true some not true – wasn’t around either. God condemns those who practice divination and spirit communication. The future, and the dead – those are His realms. He doesn’t want us messing with them.

Not because they can’t be done, either. They can. We can read about that in the Bible, too. The Christian church has a long history of starch anti-magic, but here’s the thing – many, many things that fall under the umbrella term of ‘magic’ today, I firmly believe God created purposefully to give us to use.

Use of herbs? Magic. Use of crystals? Magic. Even – get this – astrology? Was sanctioned by the church, and until the sixteenth century nobody questioned it as being ‘anti-God.’ It seemed to them to fit perfectly with their conceived notions of who God was, and I believe they were right. Probably not in the way you think, but I’ll get there in part three.

According to Philip Carr-Gomm in The Book of English Magic, ‘Historians now believe it is highly unlikely that organized groups of people met as witches in covens to pass on traditional lore and to carry out rituals….It seems more likely that what we think of as the witchcraft of earlier centuries was a type of folk magic practiced by individuals. To stave off illness and starvation, bad weather and harvest failures, people have always turned to the supernatural – using chants and dances, blessings and the ‘sympathetic magic’ of ritual enactments of success, in an attempt to attract beneficent forces and to repel malign ones. Beliefs and practices of every age – of the Druid and Anglo-Saxon wizards, of every kind of pagan and even Christian practice – were included in this folk magic, which was not termed ‘witchcraft’ by its practitioners, since it was designed to repel the magic of witches, who were believed to be evil and the cause of misfortune. It was only in the twentieth century that a reversal of meaning occurred, and the term ‘witch’ started to be used in a positive sense to designate followers of the ‘Old Ways’ who used folk magic for benign purposes.’

I’m not using that paragraph to say you should drop everything and cast a spell, but rather to illustrate how often we take at face value something that may not be what we think it is. Even the history of magic, witchcraft, etc. itself is fairly complicated and has changed to mean something often very different from our preconceived notion.

I follow many Christian Instagram accounts because not only is it encouraging – a bit of long-distance fellowship, even – but, well, I’m a Christian. A devout one at that, so I want to be encouraged and challenged in my faith. I also follow the Instagram accounts of quite a few practicing witches. It began because nobody else was talking about crystals in any kind of grounded way – the rest were more akin to that one woman I met in a crystal shop who kept talking about envisioning your roots wrapping around mother earth and shooting energy back into the sky. (Did I have a hard time not laughing? Oh, very. I’m sorry. I’m sure she was a wonderful person.)

Did a few of you cringe when I said I follow some witches on Instagram? Did I lose my Christian Credibility? Hopefully I’ll be able to clear it up for you, but I’m going to do it in very simple terms because otherwise this post will be freakishly long:

– the modern concept of ‘magic’ is an umbrella term under which fall many wonderful, good, God-given holistic practices with scientific basis such as the energy of crystals, color theory, vibration-raising, manifestation, and intent. Things I DO believe are wrong to practice also fall under the concept of magic – divination, for example. Ancestor worship. Shamanism. Contacting the deceased. The thing is, you can pick and choose which you do. You can collect crystals for positive energy. You can use herbs for healing. You can use the energy God gave you to raise and lift and direct toward things – and much of the witch community would say you were one of them. You can also do those things and be a completely devout, Biblical Christian believer. It makes the concept of ‘Christian witch’ seem not quite so far-fetched, doesn’t it?

– I don’t recommend walking around calling yourself a Christian witch, however. I remember my first reaction to it. Your first reaction to it might have been about five minutes ago, and we don’t want to be a stumbling block to our fellow believers even if we’re right. That said, if you told me you were one, well, okay. I’d be considered one, too. But being a Christian also means respecting where your fellow Christians are, and not bulldozing them.

Remember in the paragraph from English Magic where Philip Carr-Gomm said some Christian practices also fell under the umbrella of folklore magic? I’ll give you an example. One of my favorite books is The Celtic Way of Prayer. The Celts were an extremely imaginative people, but also incredibly grounded. They were fully aware of the spiritual realm all around them, and they were also very ritualistic – they loved song, they loved recitations, they had a different prayer, chant, song, or ritual for nearly everything. Listen to this passage from The Celtic Book of Prayer.

‘The day starts with three palmfuls of water splashed on the face in the name of the three members of the Trinity, and from then on the Trinity is never far away. The day will end with the ritual of smooring the fire at night…The embers were spread evenly on the hearth in the middle of the floor and formed into a circle with a small boss, or raised heap, left in the middle. This circle was then divided into three equal sections with a peat laid between each section, each peat touching the boss, which was called the Hearth of the Three which formed the common center. The first peat was laid down in the name of the God of Life, the second the God of Peace, and the third the God of Grace. The circle would then be covered over with ashes sufficient to subdue but not extinguish the flame in the name of the Three of Light. Then the woman would close her eyes, stretch out her hand, and softly intone the following prayer, which opens:

The sacred Three

To save,

To shield,

To surround

The hearth,

The house,

The household,

This eve,

This night,

Oh! This eve,

This night,

And every night,

Each single night.

Amen.’

That, my friends, is a prayer. It is also a ritual. Sounds kind of like a spell, doesn’t it?

And yet, can you find any good reason (aside from the fact in our modern homes, the whole fire ritual thing might be kind of impractical – which is genuinely sad) to say, ‘You shouldn’t perform that ritual? You shouldn’t pray that prayer?’

NOW before I get a ton of comments and messages telling me I’m giving into the lies of the devil or that I’m going to lead other young adults astray etc. (which yes, I’ve had said before – mostly after I wrote a defense of Harry Potter) let me just say: there is more to come, I have more to say, please don’t take THIS part two like that’s the end and I’m finished talking. I’m not. There’s a good deal more to say, and I probably said something here that could be misconstrued or taken out of context (if you’re so concerned you can’t sleep, then okay, ask me what I meant, but chances are high it’ll be cleared up in one of the further parts of this series).

ONE MORE POINT:

I realized, as I began to really ponder, study, and pray about all this some time ago, that I was walking around – as many people do – with double standards. I’ve always hated double standards and have a kind of hissing, wet-cat reaction to them, so when I find them in myself I grab them by the root and do my best to yank them out. My double standard here was that I’d always found it all right to study some religions – Buddhism, for example – and not others. Wicca, for example. Why? Well, Buddhism seems safer. ‘Safer’ from what, I then have to wonder? Am I afraid that knowing about a religion is going to somehow mysteriously suck me into it and I’ll have no say? If that’s the case, my faith isn’t terribly strong. Am I afraid I’ll be ‘betraying’ God by searching for truth? I don’t think God’s afraid of truth, or looking for it. He kind of invented the whole concept. Do I think it’s ‘unchristian’ to know about other religions? If that’s so, Paul probably shouldn’t have quoted a poem about Zeus during his sermon on Mars Hill.  (See Acts 17:28.)

I realized that the faith I was holding to was, in fact, a scaredy-cat, trembling faith, afraid of challenge, afraid of knowing too much, afraid of other religions, afraid of – well, you name it. And here’s the thing – God doesn’t ask us to be afraid. For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and love, and of a sound mind. He asks us to be bold. Paul says it’s ALWAYS good to be zealous of good things. The entire concept of Christianity is based around power, boldness, faith, fearless love; of right and wrong. We know what Right is. We know what God we follow. And if we think He’s afraid of – well, of Wicca, for example – then friends, we’re worshiping the wrong God.

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3 thoughts on “Recovering Mysticism: Part Two”

  1. Okay, I’ll have to finish reading this later because it’s super long and I have to go to work. 😂 I’ll admit, at first I was alarmed by the title of this blog series and a little concerned because I’ve seen many “Christian Mystics” in my circle go off the deep end and get into some pretty weird stuff. Haha. But I think I see what you’re getting at and I’m excited to read more about what you’ve discovered! Something I learned somewhere (I want to research this in depth in the future) is that a lot of the “witches” persecuted throughout history were actually Pentecostal Christians accuses of witchcraft because they were following Jesus’ mandate to perform miracles, signs, and wonders… which was in direct opposition to the Roman Catholic Church’s agenda to basically keep people uneducated and oppress them into subservience.

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    1. Isn’t it amazing how what we take for granted is so often inaccurate?? gosh, research is important. Thanks, Catholic church 9_9 (at least post-Pope Gregory, who did some pretty cool things)
      I’M SO EXCITED ABOUT ALL OF THIS. I feel more invigorated in my faith than I have in a very, very long time and I’m SO GLAD YOU’RE EXCITED TOO.
      (I’ve seen some people go off the ‘deep end’ too and even though I know this post series seems kind of extreme, it comes around to points I think are entirely reasonable + Biblically sound. XD <3)

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  2. Dang, Mirriam!! I’ve actually been studying Wicca just because I like it, and one of my friends and I think that if we weren’t members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints we would be Wiccan. I love that you’re so excited! If you ever happen to wander down to Oregon, there is this INCREDIBLE shop that I frequent run by the most amazing Wiccan couple ever. I’m taking everyone at church one at a time, so you’re next. 😉

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