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Jesus Christ – Pagan Messiah

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.”

Gold Heh The Emperor
Frankincense Vav The Hierophant
Myrrh Daleth The Empress

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.

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Jesus Christ: Lord of Misrule

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.


He's revelling now, but tomorrow he'll feel slaughtered!

He’s revelling now, but tomorrow he’ll feel slaughtered!

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].

Matthew 27:27-31

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.

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Women Are Free To Have Sex In English Cathedrals

Good news for women in England today, as well as for those into sacred sexuality! A woman is allowed to have sex in the grounds of an English Cathedral – this is the ruling of a court in Cambridgeshire.

There is one fly in the ointment though – a man will still be prosecuted for it.

In a news report today, a couple were found having sex in the grounds of Ely Cathedral. They were caught and arrested by the police – but only the man was prosecuted at the local magistrate’s court. He was convicted and fined £130, but more seriously he presumably will now be registered as a sex-offender. The woman however was not prosecuted at all!

Now I could say that it would be good to see more women exploiting their new found privileges and perhaps test to see how far the law goes – but that would obviously be crass and out of place. Instead I find it a happy day that, two thousand years after the blatantly hypocritical predicament of the Woman Taken In Adultery, we have now reversed the position so that it is the man who gets a public stoning instead. Hooray for the end of the outrageous sexism that characterised the Piscean Age! ;)

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Creative Visualisation – Lessons from a Christian Mystic

Here are two methods creative visualisation which you can use to alter your life for the better. These are basic techniques which ideally should be carried out every day. You may notice a certain similarity to techniques recommended by certain occult or new-age / theosophical sources suggesting that they are far eastern in origin, but in fact they are nothing of the sort: they were actually first mentioned by the fifteenth century mystic Saint Thomas à Kempis. Not only is this Saint respected in exoteric Christian circles, he is also endorsed in Rosicrucian ones as well, e.g. Theophilus Schweighardt.

Thomas à Kempis wrote:

If you cannot recollect yourself continuously, do so once a day at least, in the morning or in the evening. In the morning make a resolution and in the evening examine yourself on what you have said this day, what you have done and thought, for in these things perhaps you have often offended God and those about you.

Imitation of Christ, book 1, chapter 19, “The Practices of a Good Religious.”

Kempis has an unfortunate pre-occupation with sin and offending God, and comes across as negative. He could of course have focussed on the positive instead – by recollecting oneself at the end of the day one might discern that you have pleased God and those about you – not for the sake of indulging in piety, but for that of rejoicing in the goodness of the Universe.

Yet in this short quote Kempis has hit upon the basis for a workable system of daily creative visualisation. I have therefore formulated the following practices of which anyone of any faith (or lack thereof) may make use.

Morning: “Prospective Visualisation”

First thing in the morning on waking up, visualise how your day is going to proceed whilst mentally repeating an appropriate affirmation or resolution. You should visualise yourself being successful at everything you know is going to happen, i.e. you see yourself being happy, being popular, achieving what you want to achieve, etc. You can even visualise things coming to you from sources outside your conscious control – i.e. because your mind is connected to the Universe in ways which you only unconsciously appreciate. Never assume that anything is completely impossible, even if it seems unreasonable, because you would then be creating limiting self-beliefs.

Evening: “Retrospective Visualisation”

This is almost identical to an exercise which I recommend in connection with Lucid Dreaming. In the evening, last thing before going to bed, meditate by visualising the events of the day, remembering them backwards. When you discern something going right for you, contemplate a feeling of gratitude to whoever caused it, and to the universe in general. If you realise something went wrong, you should also express gratitude for being able to discern your mistake, and resolve that you will learn from your experience and do better in the future.

Results

Getting into the habit of using creative visualisation regularly everyday increases the probability that one day you will be pleasantly surprised to find events happening as you had intended them that morning. This can include apparently remarkable occurrences like people getting in contact with you, offering you opportunities, which you did not cause to happen. In fact you did cause them, though not in a way that skeptics might appreciate.

Retrospective visualisation helps to improve the memory – some sources allege that it can ultimately help one recall ones past lives. I also find that by doing this immediately before going to sleep, ones dreams are less likely to be plagued by memories of the day just gone, and instead will be filled with images from the deeper levels of the unconscious.

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Happy Lugnasadh!

Lugnasadh or “Lammas-tide” (July 31st) is an ancient pagan feast which yet again has been assimilated into the Christian church, in much the same way that Samhain has been assimilated in the form of Hallowe’en. Lugnasadh is the origin of the Harvest Festivals which take place in churches up and down the land.  Apparently in Pagan times it was also when the divine priest-king was sacrificed in the fields and his body scattered.

Poor old dying god! He keeps getting sacrificed and reborn all the time!

According to my book of witchy things (“What Witches Do” by Stewart Farrar), on this day cakes and wine are meant to be taken as well – so doubtless I shall observe this obligation later.

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Women Priests Mentioned In The New Testament

The Ordination of Women is mentioned in the New Testament! The actual canonical New Testament, I mean – not some obscure gnostic gospel of dubious provenance. I present here a slightly more sober follow-up to my post XX Priests.

Basically my theory is this: Ordination is a Sacrament, and involves an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. If therefore one can find references in Holy Writ that God sent the Holy Spirit upon a woman, and that woman then took on a Priest-like role, then theologically that is evidence that that woman was effectively Ordained.

Such references do exist in the New Testament, to wit:

Mary, the Mother of Jesus

“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,” the angel answered “and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow.”

Luke 1:35

Mary was the original tabernacle - because she bore Jesus. Mary was also the original altar, because she offered her son to the world. This was a well known theme Christian art, e.g. the Pieta:

La Pieta di Michaelangelo

Elizabeth, Mother of John the Baptist

Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Luke 1:41

Miscellaneous

A number of other women may be presumed, including Mary Magdalene and others both named and unnamed: e.g.

With Him [i.e. Jesus] went the Twelve, as well as certain women who had been cured of evil spirits and ailments: Mary surnamed the Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, Joanna the wife of Herod’s steward Chuz, Susanna, and several others who provided for them out of their own resources.

Luke 8: 1-3

All of these [i.e. the Apostles] joined in continuous prayer, together with several women, including Mary the mother of Jesus …

Acts 1:14

When Pentecost day came round, they had all met in one room, when suddenly they heard what sounded like a powerful wind from heaven, the noise of which filled the enite house in which they were sitting; and something appeared to them that seemed like tongues of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit…

Acts 2:1-4

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XX Priests

So the Catholic Church refuses to ordain women, eh? The reason they give being that Jesus only chose men disciples? Well Mr Benedict XVI, let me drop some science for you! The Apostles were consecrated by the Holy Spirit – which came down at Pentecost. On that fateful day in the Upper Room, the occupants did not just number the Apostles, but the women-folk as well. Hence – the women received the Holy Spirit along with the Apostles! This makes them just as much entitled to be priests – nay, bishops even – as men.

See, you don’t have to appeal to modern revisionist feminist thinking to show that the refusal to ordain women priests is wrong: Scripture itself says so!

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Nunc Vides, Nunc Non Vides

There being a lack of interesting news stories these past few days, I am forced to resort to desperate measures to find something on which to opine: I read The Guardian. And lo! Here is a story about a Church of England Vicar who admits to being a magician and visiting a Druid gathering for Summer Solstice.

Excited I read on. Could this be someone like the Reverend Ayton who was a clergyman, alchemist, and one of the first members of the Golden Dawn? Or Father Fitzpatrick and his brethren who was active at Whare Ra? By calling himself a Christian and a magician, was he in fact saying he practised a Christian form of magic such as that of the Elus Cohens – or a form of Christian esotericism such as Martinism or Rosicrucianism?

As it happens, no. What he – a gentleman named Mark Townsend – actually meant was that he was a stage magician. Apparently he thought that this was somehow comparable to actual Magic(k) as is practised by both pagans and Christian Occultists. He seemed to think that the use of ledgerdemain can impress people so much that they will pay attention to him long enough for him to minister to them.

The fundamental problem though is this. With stage magic one experiences initial surprise which quickly wears off because one knows that it is actually false. With real Magic – as indeed with the miracles of Jesus – the wonder of it stays and continually grows, because one realises that it is actually true. It is a shame that the priest in question attempted to use a False thing to give witness to something which is purportedly the greatest truth of his religion, when the use of Theurgy – magical ritual used to attain the ends of mysticism, would have been so much more effective.

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Magick, Wicca, Witchcraft, Christianity

Magick is an old English spelling of Magic which was revived by Aleister Crowley. He defined it as “the science and art of causing change in conformity with Will.” The crucial word in this sentence is Will. This does not mean any passing fancy, but refers to the great spiritual forces which are driving ones soul. Magick is therefore really about finding your Soul’s purpose – and then giving effect to it.

The concept of True Will is something Crowley took – like most things – from the Golden Dawn. True Will is what occurs when your ordinary everyday conscious Will is perfectly united with your Higher Will – which is your aspiration to that which is highest and most spiritual.

Wicca is a term most associated with the movement first brought to public consciousness by Gerald Gardner in the middle of the last century. It is primarily concerned with worship of the Goddess and God, and the observance of the traditional pagan festivals (Sabbats) and full-moon ceremonies (Esbats). There is now evidence to suggest that what we now know as the modern Wicca movement was founded in the 1920s by former members of the Golden Dawn who believed that they had been Witches in previous incarnations. Gardner did not found Wicca, but he was the first person to actively publicise it. See, for example, Gerald Gardner and the Cauldron of Inspiration by Philip Heselton (which coincidentally I once reviewed in the Journal of the Western Mystery Tradition).

Witchcraft is a general term for the historic Witch tradition. Many Wiccans would say that Wicca is Witchcraft, or at least a part or an example of Witchcraft: I do not particularly want to get into an argument upon the matter.

Can a Christian ever practice Magick – and remain a Christian? Certain elements of Thelema and Wicca have a religious character, so in these instances, probably not. However, one should also remember that for 1900 years prior to the 20th century, magick was being preserved and studied by Christian scholars. Not, of course, those who slavishly followed the dictats of the Church, but freethinkers who believed that the Kabbalah was the perfect synthesis between magic, mysticism and religion – even though at times they were persecuted by the mainstream Church for daring to say so.

So for a modern day Christian who is thinking of magick I would say if you are such a Free-Thinker then yes it is possible – you would then find Christian overtones in Martinism, the Elus Cohens, Waite’s Fellowship of the Rosy Cross, Dion Fortune’s Society of the Inner Light, and even in the Golden Dawn.

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The Pentagram

News today of naughty Pagan goings on in the Forest of Dean, in Gloucestershire, UK.  Apparently, a local well has been the subject of a severe case of well-dressings to celebrate the Equinox. Shock, horror! Apparently St Anthony’s Well, which is the renowned for its miracle cures for skin conditions, has been haunted by several teenage delinquents who have also been leaving pentagrams nearby, much to the consternation of local Christians.

Let us gloss over for one moment the fact that Christians ought to be praising God for any teenager that ventures near a cure for skin conditions, no matter how odd. Let us also gloss over the fact that this ancient well, though supposedly a Christian site is almost certainly an old pagan one that got saved for the Lord. What – pray tell – exactly is wrong with a Pentagram?

The Pentagram is a symbol of Nature – literally. Its proportions are based upon the Golden Ratio – 1:1.618… etc – which itself is based upon the Fibonnaci series.

Now there is a curious (and not unrelated) fact – if one were to imagine that the orbits of both the Earth and the Planet Venus were circles, then the major occlusions of the Sun by Venus as seen from Earth would mark out the points of a pentagram! There is a simple reason for this: the ratio of the distance of Venus from the Sun, to the distance of the Earth to the Sun, corresponds to the Golden Ratio – 1:1.618. Because orbital speed is also proportional to its distance from the Sun, it follows as a Math that a Pentagram-like arrangement would occur.

I was chatting on this matter to some Companions of mine in the pub – where all matters of cosmic importance are always discussed.

“What I find most remarkable,” I said, “is that the planet Venus just so happens to be that particular distance from the Sun in relation to Earth.”
“Yes,” one of my Companions answered. “And we are the only planet with intelligent life to see it.”

In this sense the Pentagram is quite exciting – it is a greater argument for Intelligent Design than a lot of the tripe put forward by Bible-bashing fundies. Christians have a unique opportunity to embrace this symbol because it really does indicate that a divine being created the Heavens and the Earth – yet they shy away from it because they think it is a symbol of the occult. Pagans are smarter in that respect.

Of course there are some Christians who like to appropriate the Pentagram as a sacred symbol – simply because it is a symbol of the number 5. There were 5 wounds of Christ, and there are 5 letters in the Hebrew spelling of the Qabalistic name of Jesus – “Yeheshuah.” This, incidentally is the basis for the Pentagram ritual of the Golden Dawn, which itself has passed into the neo-pagan tradition.

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