Once, Jim and I were invited to a wonderful couple's Halloween party, a theme party. As they both happened to be Episcopal priests, we were asked to reflect some aspect of church or religion in our costumes. It was Jim's great idea to go as death and the devil, after all he said: "They'd be out of business without us." I opted for death and Jim made a dashing devil, as you can see.
On the great metaphorical wheel of the year, this is the time we pagans pause to reflect on death, the end of the harvest, the beginning of the still, chill quiet times of winter, knowing all things must pass. Nature based spiritualities, (pagan comes from the Latin word meaning, someone of the earth), from ancient and contemporary indigenous cultures, view death as no more than a turn on that wheel, an opening into the spirit world. Nature based practices use this time to recall ancestors and departed loved ones. The transitions that cycle through Nature, from life blooming to withering and decaying, is an obvious inspiration for this inward reflection.
When death isn't demonized or denied, it becomes an ally; it teaches us to be thankful, to live in conscious awareness of our physical and spiritual existence and to weigh our values carefully, considering what survives death? Will money work in other dimensions, or is there something more valuable to be gained from living in physical form, something you can take with you?
For Celtic cultures, this time marks the New Year, Samhain. Jim and I got married on Samhain, Halloween to most, for this reason; it's a holy, magical time. And since it's the time of year when the veil between the worlds is thinnest, our parents and beloved relatives in spirit could witness.
That's death, what about the devil? I've discussed in previous posts Carl Jung's view of how we project our own evil on to others and ultimately, through the figure of the devil, create an Absolute Evil we can point to and divorce ourselves from all responsibility. It's an archetype, a universal human psychic energy, Jung called the Shadow. One of the wonderful avenues dreams offer is an opportunity to meet, face and own our own weaknesses and evil, our own Shadows. It's something like when Jesus said before you point out the speck in your neighbor's eye, remove the plank in your own. Projecting evil is at the root of things like the Inquisition and all the holy warring that is humanity's great evil. (for more on the Shadow: http://litadreaming.blogspot.com/2011/09/strange-case-of-me-and-not-me.html ).
So, Death and the Devil really are the big ticket items for patriarchal religions, their cash cows and psychological secret weapons. Patriarchal religions bank on fear of death and the devil to exact allegiance from believers. Just check out this guy, a Wisconsin RC Bishop who brazenly emails his "flock" with instructions on who to vote for on penalty of soul loss or eternal damnation. http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/10/26/another-catholic-bishop-threatens-damnation-if-congregation-votes-for-obama/
My favorite part of this edict is the exquisite Freudian slip of personifying America with the feminine pronoun, which as we all know, patriarchal religions use sparingly.
Let us pray for the electorate and let’s take action, that we may vote for good and moral leaders for this great country which will only remain great, if she continues to be and to do the good.
"If she continues to be and do the good?" As defined by, let me guess... a bunch of old white males who are hell bent on keeping women out of their priesthood and exercising complete control over women's reproductive powers? And if I don't listen to you, what? I go to hell when I die? Jesus won't like me anymore? It was Jesus who acknowledged women's equality by letting them listen to him teach and accepting them among his followers as equals. What else you got?
By who's authority might I claim that religion is unnecessary at best and dangerous at worse? Let me share with you a favorite bible passage from Luke, where Jesus is confronted for teaching and healing by the local "authorities." In addition, I'll treat you to a brilliant work of translation by social justice advocate and Southern Baptist theologian, Clarence Jordan. This verse is taken from, "The Cotton Patch Version of Luke and Acts," published in 1969.
Luke 20:1 It so happened on one of the days while he was teaching and explaining the God Movement to the people in the church, that the bishops and professors, along with the church officials, laid into him and said, "Tell us where you got the authority to do such things. Who gave you this permission?
Jesus, of course, used his best Socratic method to turn the tables on the authorities and went on doing what he was doing.
If I already have a connection to my soul and to the eternal, why do I need religion? And especially, speaking as a woman, a religion that has particular enthusiasm for restricting my freedoms, even over my own sexuality. In some countries, these religions makes women dress to look like shadows, indistinguishable from another, so as not to distract men, (who are apparently in their estimation, quite easily distracted), from their important and holy work. Are you kidding me!?!! ( a rule of thumb for recognizing anything patriarchal is when you look and see a preponderence of men running the show with a binder full of women at their disposal).
As Jesus taught me, I look within for my spiritual authority. For some it's meditation and spiritual practice, for me its my relationship to dreaming and the dream worlds. I'm a dream teacher because there's no greater thrill than helping anyone, of any age, open that inner path of wonder, that path to soul.
I like to call dreaming "organic spirituality." It's the most natural thing in the world, universally and throughout time; it opens windows between the worlds for anyone. When you rely on dreams, intuition and personal spiritual guidance on a daily, nightly basis, religious authority is insubstantial. And when you consider the role religion is playing in this election... well, I hope you do consider it before you vote.
Dreaming ultimately gives each and every dreamer independent authority and an avenue to seek answers to the big questions for ourselves, without relying on controlling external authority. If ever any truth can set us free, it's this one.