"Black then white are all I see in my infancy
Red and yellow then came to be, reaching out to me
Lets me see
As below, so above and beyond, I imagine
Drawn beyond the lines of reason..."-----Tool-Lateralus
If you live in the United States or Europe regardless of your upbringing you have acquired your culture in a Christian society. Even if you are not religious certain rituals and cultural events will be familiar, Christmas comes to mind and the warmth of family, gifts, feasting and Santa Claus bring pleasant memories to many Americans. We can argue the pagan roots of this tradition, but the over arching belief is that it is Christian and even if you practice secular Christmas, as we do in our house, in conjunction with Pagan Yule, there is no doubt that there is enjoyment during this season. Were you to travel to a Muslim or Hindu or Buddhist country there would be no indication of this holiday and it would be business as usual. You would find yourself an alien experiencer during another religion and cultures' holiday because you do not have the links and experiences relating to it. If you have not experienced another cultures holiday I highly recommend it as it is a very useful exercise for self reflection and to crush the "fear of other" so present in those who do not travel.
The Christian over culture, here in our country, affects everything around us from our laws to the way people perceive things and react to us as well as the lense we use. If you have decided that Paganism and witchcraft are paths that you wish to follow then you will have to work to de-program your mind from Christian thinking, much of which is automatic and which you are unaware of. We often see students struggle with this aspect when they study or in other Pagan or Witch friends and acquaintances. Pagan thought or polytheistic thought takes time to cultivate. Old patterns and synapses must be broken and then reworked and this can take time. So what to do? First it is useful to know what your deep held beliefs, fears and thoughts are so that you can analyze them and decide what to do with them. It is also useful to define Christianity from a Pagan and magical perspective to really see what you are dealing with.
Christianity: A different perspective: Christianity is a desert cult which is layered upon the myth of the dying God from antiquity and surrounding a spirit from the desert. This spirits is an old dust demon or wind spirit most likely a type of Djinn named Yahweh. The myth of Jesus is almost the exact same as that of the Greek God Dionysus and the Egyptian God Horus. All these "Spirits/Gods" died and were reborn and hence we call it the myth of the dying God. Jesus embodies this myth. In Horus' case he too was a miraculous birth from a virgin mother. All of these beings have connections to the winter solstice and various stars. We find that this is no coincidence. Spiritual practices and religions often cross pollinate. However, in Christianity the root energy of this cult is suffering and death. All reference to the fecundity of the Earth, the Goddess, female power and sexual energy is verboten. Somehow the worship of this Djinn and the myth of the dying God came together to form a new cult in ancient Rome, probably as a reaction to Roman rule of Jews and various other peoples under their dictate.
Suffering is the foundation of Christianity. Jesus suffered for your sins. Women must suffer in childbirth. The more you suffer for your faith the better. Martyrs are given high honors and the more a martyr suffered the better. This sacrificial blood lust coagulated into the middle ages to an excruciating crescendo of self flagellation, hair shirts, slicing flesh off and rituals of dragging crosses, wearing thorns and crawling for miles on bloody knees. To the ancient Romans and indeed modern Pagans today these practices seemed vile and barbaric. Indeed the Greek philosopher Celsus of the 2nd century wrote of the early Christians:
“First, however, I must deal with the matter of Jesus, the so-called savior, who not long ago taught new doctrines and was thought to be a son of God. This savior, I shall attempt to show, deceived many and caused them to accept a form of belief harmful to the well-being of mankind. Taking its root in the lower classes, the religion continues to spread among the vulgar: nay, one can even say it spreads because of its vulgarity and the illiteracy of its adherents. And while there are a few moderate, reasonable, and intelligent people who interpret its beliefs allegorically, yet it thrives in its purer form among the ignorant.”
So too the eucharist seemed cannibalistic to outsiders and Muslims to this day accuse Christians of not being monotheistic enough. There is an Arabic inscription on the Dome of the Rock that accuses them of Paganism for having the Trinity. Something I find quite amusing.
When one reads the various witch hunting manuals, the Malleus Malificarum (the Witches Hammer) comes to mind, so beloved in the 16th and 17th centuries, we see they are filled with the most insane sexual acts involving pain, blood and violence. Women and children were tortured to confess these sexual acts with the Devil over, and over and over before panels of all male priests until they died. A perfect offering to a desert God who loves sacrifice, blood, pain and death it would seem. We see this kind of mob insanity rising again and again in Christianity where the evil people or Satanists must be purged. In my own life I lived through the "Satanic Panic" of the 1980's where innocent people were accused of the most heinous crimes from ritual sexual abuse to cannibalism. Families were torn apart, children taken away and innocents imprisoned. One of the most famous was the case of Damien Echols who was jailed for 18 years for a murder he did not commit. His crime? He was Pagan and dressed in black. Christians are prone to mass hysteria as well as harboring a persecution complex. They are the only group of people who can be completely in power and control and yet claim that they are constantly under threat of persecution while they persecute others. I find this cognitive dissonance to be extremely disturbing and dangerous.
Dangerous as it may be the time of unilateral Christian theocracy and grip is waning. Their Aeon, the age of Pisces, has passed as we enter into the Age of Aquarius. We will not see something like the Christian Medieval church again for another 12 thousand years. This is not to say that secularism or scientific thought has the complete upper hand as the blending of one age and another happens for a while. For our part as Pagans and witches it is important to understand where they come from so that we can navigate our lives as well as try to un-do their types of thinking so that we can fully enjoy our incarnation on this planet in the present moment.
Where do you stand?
Country: What is it like and what is the culture and ideals?
Region: What region of your country were you raised in? What are its values and ideals? According to some there are 11 distinct cultural regions in the US that are very different from one another.
State: What was your State like? What are the values and ideals of your State?
City: What was your city like? What were its values and ideas and culture?
Neighborhood: What is the neighborhood that you grew up in? What was it like? How did it shape you?
Family: What was your family like? What was important to it? How were you raised?
Self: What are your ideals? Values? Things that you like or things that bug you?
Next you need to find out what your programs are and what things might trigger you. Here are some examples for you to think about and write about.
Thoughts to work out of your System:
1. I am bad. I am a sinner. I am guilty.: The concepts of sin and metaphysical damnation are a very strong way to control followers of any cult. See if you feel this way or if you have had these thoughts. There is no "sin" in Paganism and specifically witchcraft. Do you feel bad or dirty in relation to sex? To being happy? Things to think about.
2. That (belief, practice, technique) is EVIL or SATANIC: One of the ways to break this thinking is to practice heresy. Embrace being an apostate. I am not condoning breaking any laws but what I am saying, for example, is that if you have shame for feeling sexual then you need to explore that. Or for reading say, tarot cards, then explore that. Get comfortable with your true desires and educate yourself and expose yourself to other ways of thinking and other people. This is an inoculation against monotheistic thought. Experience destroys monotheism.
3. Being poor is bad and means I am being punished: This is HUGE for working class people who come from a Christian upbringing. The root of this thinking comes from the Calvinists who came to America to escape religious persecution (oh the irony). They believed that there were an "elect" by God who were the chosen ones and only THEY would ascend to Heaven. But (here is the kicker) you did not know if YOU were an elect so you had to live a good Christian life just incase. If you were an elect nothing you did that was bad would stop you from going to heaven as long as you said you were sorry to God but if you weren't an elect they straight to Hell with you. (I realize this makes no sense. I guess your community kept your (regular Joe Puritan) in line and all the rich fuckers got away with anything they wanted...so kinda still happening). Also if you were rich then God was blessing you and you could do no wrong. The evangelical prosperity gospel comes directly from this crappy way of controlling your followers. IF you struggle with these thoughts you need to work on compassion for yourself and others and work to help yourself out of poverty or have more compassion for those who are poor. Talk to a homeless person once in a while to keep things real.
4. Money is Evil! Another way that Christianity makes you crazy. Money is now bad! Depending on the sect you were raised in you may have heard one parent say something like ..."money is the root of all evil." To me this seems more in alignment with the book of Christian stories called the Bible. There are about 2000 references to money being bad. But I am here to tell you that money isn't bad and you need it to survive in our current society. It is merely a tool like any other. This type of thinking can be detrimental to abundance and can block your abundance workings.
5. Sex is bad. No, no it isn't. All beings enjoy sex and higher order mammals (of which you are one) enjoy sex outside of procreation in all forms. Auto, hetero, homo, bi, group, and on and on and on. This one is really deep because according to Maslow's hierarchy of needs sex is on the bottom along with food, water, and shelter. We have so much shame and hurt surrounding sex in our culture and it makes sense. What is anathema to a Death Cult with a God of Pain and Suffering? Why the VERY act that creates LIFE! Duh! The anathema to pain is pleasure. We human beings need sex to be healthy and happy and what happens when you deny the very thing that gives happiness, relieves stress and helps us in so many ways? Well we get sick. Our bodies and minds get sick. There is a reason that some of the MOST heinous sexual crimes are committed by the most faithful. The rapes of children in the Catholic church comes to mind but they are not the only ones. Our Goddess tells us that "all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals". So if you have sexual damage, and you probably do, please get help. Find a secular counselor, process, heal, do chakra work, study Tantra. Do what you must to break this horrible conditioning.
6. If I do that spell or working there will be Karma, Blow Back, or it violates the 3 Fold Law: Nope sorry these concepts do not exist. The same as sin does not exist. There is no cosmic rubber band that is waiting for you to do something bad (and who determines what actually is bad?) to snap back and punish you. These are Christian concepts. Now can you go around the world doing what ever you want, breaking all the rules and harming others? Sure...but the society that you are in has laws and they will punish you for violating them. What I am more speaking to is what people run into when they wish to do say defensive magic or retribution. I have more to say on this but no you will not get blow back. Remember though, that like does attract like, and so you can set up conditions that you may not like. Before running off and casting spells please work on yourself. Find clarity and healing and then things may be very different than you thought.
7. Dichotomous thinking, or black and white world view: These are the concepts of good and evil and you are on one side or the other. Just watch a super hero movie and you will see what I mean. But the real world is shades of grey and more complex. We tend to fall into black and white thinking because it is how we were raised and to fear the "other". Black and white thinking is easier. IT is LAZY thinking because it requires much more processing to evaluate from different points of view. So don't be LAZY! Another remedy to this is to travel, to seek out unlikely friends and to get out of our comfort zones. Once you can hold two or more simultaneous "truths" in your mind you can start to understand true polytheistic thinking. This takes work and time so be patient with yourself.
Book recommendations: Here are some books that I recommend to help you to break the programming from the over culture you find yourself in. Once fractured, the light of our Lady can shine through. The bringer of Light can imbue you with knowledge of Self and you can lead a fulfilling life out of darkness, pain and suffering.
Meditations - Marcus Arelius : Pre Christian thought by the greatest Pagan Emperor
Mastering Witchcraft - Paul Huson: Breaking out of Christian thought with Heresy. Yes this book is dated and there are better witchcraft books out there but it has awesome techniques for getting past your Christian programing.
Undoing Yourself - Dr. Hyatt: Do you want to Nuke your destructive patterns? Then this book is for you.
Tao Te Ching - Lao Tzu: Taoist philosophy. Another way to think.
Paganism in the Roman Empire: Ramsay MacMullen: Learn about an actual Pagan society
The Swerve - Stephen Greenblatt: How the Christian Church systematically destroyed 99.99% of all Pagan literature and how some of this Pagan literature was preserved in remote monasteries and this ancient preserved Pagan knowledge helped to usher in the Renaissance.
The Darkening Age: Christian Destruction of the Classical Age - Catherine Nixey: How Christianity destroyed the art, philosophy, medicine, and mathematics as well as killed untold numbers to gain power and control.
Prometheus Rising - Robert Anton Wilson: What it means to be human and how to be a conscious participant in your own life.
Learn. Grow. Be better. Work hard. Find YOUR truth.