As Greenberg describes it: “Torah doesn’t say that God waved a magic wand and everything appeared; according to Kabbalah, He created a complex evolutionary system through which infinite Divine energy evolves into finite forms.”
Category Archives: Religion
Updated version of a post from 2011
The Feast of the Epiphany is celebrated by Christians on January 6th. It is thought to be the date upon which Jesus was visited by the Wise men, and in many non-English speaking countries (e.g. most of Africa) is regarded as the actual date that Santa Claus comes to visit (Europeans – though not those in the UK – believe he comes a month earlier on December 6th – the feast of St Nicholas). However all this is by the by as in this blog post I intend to analyse the symbolism of the feast of the Epiphany from a Qabalistic perspective.
It is widely thought that there were three Wise Men i.e. Magi, however this is a misconception – the number three only arises because of the number of gifts specified. There could in actual fact have been any number of Magi – they might for example have decided to ignore a literal reading of the constitution and quietly re-elect one on the sly! The actual wording of Matthew’s Gospel in fact seems to indicate that there were many so-called Magi living in Jerusalem – perhaps making up an actual cult or secret society.
Nevertheless, let’s examine the symbolism of the three gifts: Gold, Frankincence and Myrrh. It has been said many times in the past that they are symbols of Jesus’ ministry: Gold – because it symbolises his Kingly role; Frankincense – His Priestly role; and Myrrh – the mastery over Death. Now let’s compare this with the Tarot. Although there is a rather obvious card associated with “Death,” there is at least one less obvious one as well – “The Empress” – because in Rosicrucian terms, Daleth / Venus is “the Door” to the Tomb. The Kingly role is most obviously associated with “The Emperor” and the Priestly role with “The Hierophant.”
Now you see the pattern emerging? The three gifts represent paths leading to the sephirah Chokmah. And, in the Rosicrucian tradition, an initiate of the grade of Chokmah is called a Magus. What actually makes this most remarkable is that the name of the Rosicrucian grade of Magus pre-dates the assignment of Tarot trumps to the Tree of Life by over a hundred years or so, coming as it does from the Gold + Rosy Cross.
What we have in effect in Matthew’s Gospel is Jesus, whilst still a small child, effectively being advanced to the grade of 9=2 Magus. I say with no intended irony that it is the very model of a modern Magus ritual. Seriously though, the fact is that thereafter, “being warned in a dream they returned to their own country by another route.” In other words, these Magi were not Jews at all but foreigners – i.e. Pagans! Moreover there is at least one Gnostic gospel that claims that Jesus’ coming was foretold by “Zeredusht” (i.e. Zoroaster). What this means is that Matthew – and indeed perhaps the early Church itself – intended Jesus not just to be the Messiah of the Jews, but of the Pagans as well.
If this is true, then it represents a notion which would have proved far too radical for later and more modern Christians, if indeed they even dared to conceive it all. For example – how many times have you heard preachers trying to explain Jesus’ life by reference to the Old Testament? A lot. How many times, however, have you heard preachers trying to explain Jesus’ life by reference to Pagan scriptures in the same manner? I am keen to wager it is somewhat less. Yet the implication of Jesus being initiated as a Magus by Pagans would seem to imply, to my mind at least, that it would be appropriate to do so.
This is a re-posting of a blog from 2010. I was prompted to do so after reading another blog, by a Catholic Priest, who was adamant that Saturnalia had nothing to do with Christmas. Apparently, all though he admitted that Saturn was associated with human sacrifice, the fact that Jesus Christ Himself was a Sacrificed God eluded him! Nevertheless, the same blog was interesting as it pointed out that the available evidence as to dates suggests that the feast of the birth of Sol Invictus is based upon Christmas, not the other way round. See here for more details.
Happy Saturnalia to you all. This is of course the ancient Roman festival that was celebrated from the 17th to the 23rd December, and involved a lot of feasting, revelry and debauchery. And guess what? It was being condemned as sordid and commercial as early as 400 AD! O Tempora – O mores!
The pagan customs obviously survived into the Christian era. In mediaeval times there was elected a “Lord of Misrule” who was the master of revels of the Saturnalia *cough* I mean Christmas period. However, James Frazer (he of The Golden Bough fame) reported that there was at least one incident of Roman soldiers choosing a “Lord of Misrule,” and at the end of the Saturnalia period - sacrificing him on the altar of Saturn.
This got the Sumner family brain cell working. Where had I heard of Roman soldiers doing something like that before? Oh yes! Here:
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the common hall, and gathered unto him the whole band [of soldiers]. And they stripped him, and put on him a scarlet robe. And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put [it] upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews! And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify [him].
The “coincidences” stack up even further when you consider that Jesus was “sacrificed” on a Cross, which in Hebrew is Tau – the letter associated (in the modern Hermetic Qabalah) with Saturn. Thus, what we have here is Jesus being put through a version of the Saturnalia ritual!
The idea that Jesus Christ is in fact the Lord of Misrule might seem strange at first, although I suspect that it occurred to William Blake in the past, when he made the point in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell that Jesus was all virtue yet he acted from impulse. Thus the “Misrule” of which Jesus was Lord was defiance of the stifling restrictions of old religion which often ran counter to justice.
Esoteric Christianity is a theme which I explore in my latest book. Many of the most powerful rites in occultism are essentially Christian in nature, though not necessarily associated with the mainstream churches. And yet the subject does not get as wide an airing as it deserves! (Or so it appears from my point of view). Anyway, I reblogged this because this post because it is part of a series which raises some of the issues involved.
Originally posted on Digital Enchiridion:
In my previous post, I stated in no uncertain terms that Christianity is, at its root, a theurgical mystery religion. Although I did explain a bit of the context for that, I present the following as a more thorough explanation with context.
The early Christian period, preceding the council of Nicaea in 325, was characterized by many disparate groups, each with their own particular philosophical and spiritual charism. It is important to recognize that far from being a monolithic movement – Christianity is best described as Christianities.
The first Christians, as described in Acts, were primarily Jewish and centered around Jerusalem and nearby cities. Although it is very clear that the early Christians participated in many of the rituals associated with temple-period Judaism, the pervading Hellenism of the Mediterranean at the time may suggest that Christ himself may have not only been familiar with the mystery religions of the Greeks…
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News today that Britons still believe in miracles, angels and ‘spiritual forces’. From a sample of 2000 people, the following numbers were crunched:
% of the population who think spiritual forces have no influence on earth: 25%
% of Christians who think such spiritual forces can influence people’s thoughts or the human or natural world: 62%
% of non-religious people who think the same: 35%
% of people who said they or someone they knew had experienced a miracle: 16% - including 8% non-religious people.
More interestingly though (from my point of view), the full report also says:
Nearly a quarter (23%) of people say they have had their tarot cards read, whilst 17% have had their star sign read, and 12% have had a reflexology session.
- Smaller numbers had experienced more esoteric spiritual experiences, such as having a reiki session (8%), having their aura read (6%), or healing with crystals (5%).
- Women are considerably more likely than men to undergo these experiences (51% vs. 26%).
- Interestingly, while 39% of the overall population admits to having undergone at least one of these experiences, so do 38% of the non-religious(compared to 40% of the religious). When it comes to these more obviously non-religious spiritual activities, there appears to be no difference according to whether someone is religious or not.
The United Kingdom is a nation of 63 million – including 49 million adults. Hence assuming that the sample reflects the nation as a whole, that means that 11 million adults have had or are likely to have their Tarot cards read. To those 11 million people I say: I can be contacted via this website and my rates are very reasonable. ;-)
It’s that time of year again when tired internet hacks try to capitalise on the symbolism of the Summer Solstice in a pathetic attempt to drive traffic to their website. But enough about me, and let’s have a good chortle at what journalists around the web have been down to recently. ;-)
Your humble blogmaster’s interest was briefly awakened this morning when I saw a news report saying that the Church of England is trying to create its own Pagan Church. The otherwise sensible Daily Telegraph even went as far as saying:
The new move could see famous druids such as druid leader Arthur Pendragon move to Anglicanism.
This reminds me of a sketch from Not The Nine O’Clock News some thirty years ago, in which the premise was that the Church of England was so desperate for members that it was now accepting practising Satanists into its ranks. Cue trendy vicars trying to justify why this was a sensible proposition.
As always, the truth is far more boring. Since the news report first came out, the Church Mission Service – the body alleged to be wanting to create this Pagan CofE church – has issued a clarification:
CMS is happy to categorically say, for the record, that we are not seeking to create any kind of ‘Pagan church’. Our vision remains unaltered: we want the world to know Jesus.
The story may have come about due to the fact that a member of the CMS attended a Lammas festival in Eastbourne last year, and did “readings” for visitors to her tent, with something called the Jesus Deck. Presumably a cunning plan to prosetelyse Tarot enthusiasts!
Perhaps though, the CMS could teach the Catholic Church in Ireland a thing or two. The Association of Catholic Priests there has said that Irish people have “to all intents and purposes, become pagan.” NB: in the mind of the ACP this is supposedly a Bad Thing. Their response however is bizarre. Ask any right-thinking person why this state of affairs might have come to pass, and they will probably say it is because the Irish Church has made a complete balls-up, including most notably – but not exclusively – the scandal surrounding its treatment of child molesters. Ah no, says the ACP, it is because the Irish have been seduced by the evils of materialism and consumerism – it’s not the Church’s fault at all! Hence the answer is not wholesale reform of the Church but more evangelisation. Which is another way of saying more of the kind of stuff that got it into so much trouble in the first place.
News today that Jim Bowen lookalike and head of the Roman Catholic Church Pope Francis has told a congregation
“In order to solve their problems many people resort to fortune tellers and tarot cards. But only Jesus saves, and we must bear witness to this! He is the only one.”
Now I’m a tarot reader amongst other things, so I could be forgiven for interpreting this as a dig at me! In fact, what I would actually say that if the operative word in this sentence is “saves” then technically the Pope is correct. Tarot cards do not “save” someone, in the sense of salvation of ones immortal soul. One has to look to the theology of ones own religion to determine what is necessary for such salvation.
However the Pope does make a terrible leap from going from “solving problems” to talking about “salvation.” The Tarot does help solve peoples problems – it gives suggestions and makes people think of things that they would not otherwise think about. The Tarot encourages and stimulates an intuitive approach which draws out answers from the praeternatural regions of consciousness. Who would turn down the opportunity of asking a friend for advice by saying: “I’m sorry I cannot listen to your opinion – because only Jesus saves.” ?
NB: This is an updated version of the page which originally appeared here.
Pope Francis I (born Jorge Maria Berguglio, December 17 1936 in Buenos Aires) was announced as the new Pontiff at 7.06pm local time at the Vatican City. Using this information I have attempted to draw up charts for Francis I himself and for the moment of his election, and compare the two.
I found myself, however, up against an immediate problem that I did not have birth-time data for the new Pope: I have therefore attempted a spot of Chart Rectification. Looking back through the notable events in his life so far, according to his Wikipedia entry, I noticed that in 2001 not only was the then Archbishop Berguglio appointed Cardinal, but he also attracted a lot of (favourable) publicity to himself by visiting an AIDS hospice in Argentina. I am therefore willing to bet that the date of his appointment as Cardinal coincided with Jupiter crossing his Midheaven. This would imply that his Midheaven is 2º 25′ Gemini.
Based on this assumption, Pope Francis I’s birth-time according to his rectified chart would be 11.09pm (local time for Buenos Aires). This would make him a Sun-Sagittarius with Leo-Rising.
There are a number of intriguing observations to be drawn from both the Rectified Natal Chart and the chart for his election as Pope, e.g.:
- Jupiter is transitting his tenth house. Of this my crib sheet says:
This is a time to gain in status, particularly on the professional front, but could also indicate marriage in some cases. Jupiter in your tenth house is a very fortunate place for this expansive planet. Increased public recognition and professional success characterizes this position.
Whilst a Cardinal he was doctrinally conservative, so thoughts of marriage can probably be discounted. Note that this applies to a general period in Pope Francis’ life which started approximately three months ago and whill last over a year.
- Comedy planet Uranus, previously identified with signalling the decline of the Catholic Church in general and the previous Pope in particular, is square to Francis I’s natal Sun and Caput Draconis. Of this angle, my crib sheet says:
You may have to control an urge to rebel and be different that could set your ambitions and goals back a step … Unexpected changes, upheavals, surprises, reversals, discontentment, and a break from the safe and predictable characterize this time period.
- Despite this though, Uranus is not in such a bad position in relation to Francis I as it was to Benedict XVI. E.g. it is trine to both his natal Moon and Venus, which would suggest that he is in the mood for partying and having fun! This does not strike me as a particularly apostolic thing to be doing but hey, I’m just calling it like I see it.
- Also, I will just make the note that the Moon is some nine degrees past the last planet (Uranus, coincidentally) in a Cardinal sign and in an angular house, which would suggest that Berguglio’s accession to the Papacy was effectively in the bag nine days ago, on March 4th. It is also opposite the new Pope’s natal Mars, suggesting that he faced some exceedingly bitter arguments in the conclave (reinforced by transitting Mars square to his natal Sun).
General Predictions for Pope Francis’ Papacy
Unfortunately for those hoping for an early end to the Catholic Church, it is exceedingly unlikely during the reign of this particular Pontiff. Looking at the chart for the announcement of Pope Francis’ election – the Sun, representing the government of the church, is fairly free of bad aspects but conjunct Mars and Venus. This would suggest that the new Pope Francis will bring a new burst of energy to the papacy, increase the Church’s patronage of the Arts, and generally solve disputes rather than cause or exacerbate them.
However, it is not all good news. Jupiter, representing the Hierarchy (i.e. the priests and bishops), is square to Mercury (retrograde), the planet of unfortunate PR disasters, and Neptune, the planet of shady cover-ups – suggesting that scandal will nevertheless dog the Church during Francis’ reign. NB: I mean revelations of new scandal, rather than just continuations of the current ones.
Also: Pluto, the planet of large explosions, is giving grief to Uranus, the planet of revolutionary change, so whilst this Papacy may not see the end of the church per se, the fervour of the Church’s enemies will not be undimmed, and there will even be at least one major terrorist atrocity which badly affects the Church.
Fate can be a cruel altar boy sometimes. Not only has it seen fit to depose Pope Benedict XVI, it has now got rid of Cardinal Keith O’Brien, Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh. Unfortunately, given the circumstances of his departure, he only had twenty more days before retirement anyway, so in terms of damage to the Catholic Church the point is almost academic.
Nevertheless: when looking for the stars of the day, I cannot help but notice that the same planet that figured so highly in the chart for the Pope’s departure is also prominent in that of the Cardinal’s, viz. Uranus. However, whereas in the Pope’s case I am willing to believe that His Holiness’ departure is genuinely due to the decrepitude of old age (because he is currently undergoing a Uranus-return), O’Brien’s recession is far more intriguing.
O’Brien (born 17th March 1938, Ballycastle, Northern Ireland), has Uranus, the planet of forced resignation, transitting Venus, the planet of inappropriate touching, Saturn, the planet of bringing things like one’s career to an end, and Mercury, the planet of public scandal. Of these three, Saturn is the slowest moving one, indicating what we already knew, that the end of O’Brien’s career would happen in this general time-period, whilst Venus and Mercury indicate the particular nature of his departure.
Hence, Uranus has seen off two senior figures in the Catholic Church, though for different reasons. This has given the Sumner Family Brain Cell an idea.
There is a saying bandied about by some astrologers that the discovery of each of the new Planets had something to say about the age in which it was discovered. Uranus was discovered in 1781, leading some to associate it with the birth of USA (the American Revolutionary War ended that year), or of the Industrial Revolution, but more generally speaking it came at the end of the Age of Enlightenment – which from a philosophical point of view marked the beginning of the decline of the Christian Church. (NB: from a Postmodernist point of view, the decline in popularity of a thing is not a valid indicator of its worth). Hence I am tempted to speculate that this is the real meaning of the Age of Uranus – that of the decline of Christianity as an organised religion. We may therefore keep a track of this planet’s movements to see how much further it goes down the plughole of history in the future.