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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Holiday Break--Spiritual Ponderings.

The greatest thing about working for a University is the week (sometimes, like this year, week-plus) of free vacation that comes about over the Holiday Break, which falls between December 24 and January 1, inclusive. This year, I don't go back until the 4th of January because of the way the weekends fall. Woot.

I'm sure, as it always does, the break will go way too fast and I won't have time to complete a fraction of the things I want to complete, such as:

1. Reading the 13 young adult/children's books I have to read for the start of class on January 5th.

2. Finishing the draft of The First Battle: The Chronicles of Charlie Morning and Mr. Night.

3. Starting on what I hope is the final revision of Broken Gods for publication.

4. Catching up on some pleasure reading.

Thanks to a bizarre happenstance, I've rediscovered my love for religious studies, which is going to be torturous as I only have time to read materials for my MLIS currently, but in any case I realized that in my studies of western religion in antiquity I've left out a lot of interesting modern spiritual paths, particularly dark paths--what attracts people to darker forms of spirituality, and what's the real history of these paths? There's very little new under the sun, as I'm sure many of you know, and most religions have roots that go back way farther than their practitioners and followers realize. For some people, I'm sure, darker paths of spirituality are attractive for rebellious, "fuck society" reasons. But to assume that everyone who follows darker paths is just a blind rebel is to discount some very intelligent, spiritual, educated people who simply have a different view of spirituality than the rest of us. Unfortunately, as with many religions, it's the assholes who tend to make the most noise and unfortunately they set a bad example for the rest of the faith. How many people abhor Christianity because of the way Christians behave? What about Islam? How many people think it's just a religion of extremist, terrorist zealots? The truth is, many Christians are very good people who live as Christians should, and most Muslims don't commit mass murder and acts of terror...but the 10% asshole factor is the most visible and doesn't paint that picture.

The point is, I'm sure that many, if not most, practitioners of darker paths of spirituality aren't necessarily cat-killing cultists or people out to shock the world with how eeeeevil they are. And yet, we as religious scholars overlook them, and indeed many modern pagan and alternative spiritual paths. Why?

Something to ponder as I continue my studies of the divine feminine, which certainly has its own dark aspects.

Well, just another pointless musing. Don't mind me--it's just been awhile since I updated.

Merry Christmas, Happy (belated) Chanukkah, Solstice, Happy Festivus, Happy Kwanzaa, Joyous Saturnalia, Happy Birthday get the idea.

And Happy New Year to everyone, should I forget to update before then.


  1. I'm not sure what you're referring to, Jason. Apocalyptic Christian cults? Zoarastrians? Snake handlers?

    In other words, are you talking about the darker spiritual aspects of mainstream religions, or dark fringe paths?

  2. Hey baby! How'd you like to help me handle some snakes?

  3. "Ewglu phln'slghn hngl'wi. Krha'gr br'clnuilha wgah'rly'ueh v'glua n'gl."
    ("Chicks dig the tentacles. That's why I keep 'em where they can see 'em.")

  4. Ross: any and all, though Zoroastrianism isn't a dark spiritual path any more than any other--it was, in fact, the first dualist religion. It's where the very concept of a good God opposed by an evil Adversary came from. Mostly it's just random ponderings by me as a student of religious studies.

    Mostly, however, I'm talking about Satanists, people who worship what we would consider "dark" pagan gods such as Kali, Hecate, Morrigan, etc., or people who revere the dark side of the soul.

  5. The problem is one of terminology. I don't consider worshippers of Kali to be Satanists. I consider them worshippers of the darker aspects of spirituality. Satanists, as a Christian, are evil. Maybe it's just me, but I don't equate death with Satan.... I asked about the Zoarastrians mostly because they are not-Christian, as a way to discover you were equating non-Christians with "darker".

    I, too, wonder what draws people to the darker aspects of spirituality. It may be people simply being poseurs. Or it may be that death and decay appeal to their sensibilities. In this case, they see spirituality as a Cosmic Cycle. In order to have a beginning, you must have an ending. The winter comes to clear the way for the summer. I would posit that they identify with endings moreso than any other aspect of the cycle. Not that I would agree; I think such people are depressed. =)

  6. Sorry, I wasn't equating Kali worshippers with Satanists--I was giving a list. Dark paths:

    Kali/death worshippers
    Hecate worshippers
    Morrigan worshippers

  7. I'm really interested in this question, because I think it provides a bit of cultural anthropology. It also shines a light on an aspect of religious studies that does seem to be neglected. I saw a lot of courses on Sufism or the Upanishads, but none on Morrigan. =)

    Maybe you should undertake this more as musings during the holidays....

    I wonder if Campbell's The Golden Bough delves into this question. (Not the one-volume book, but the mighty encyclopedia version).

  8. Well, most polytheistic/kathenotheistic ancient religions (such as Celtic, Babylonian, Greco-Roman, etc.) tend to be taught in "Classics" instead of Religious Studies, though I had two great courses on Egyptian religion and Greco-Roman Religion in my program. Hindu generally makes it into religious studies b/c it's not a "dead" religion, but is alive and vibrant in the world today, as opposed to half-forgotten traditions "Resurrected" by neo-pagan groups.

  9. that's why it's neo/new. hey, i never claimed my spiritual beliefs/path/whatever had any historical validity in regards to being an exact reflection of what people did thousands of years ago. and anyways, does that even matter? why does spirituality or religion require that in order to be weighed as valid? it's personal truth, as communicated to me by my gods, the universe, etc. it makes sense to me. it's not hurting anyone else or affecting their rights.

  10. Unfortunately, more neo-pagans than not DO, in fact, claim they are resurrecting ancient traditions in order to justify what in truth is generally someone adopting a name they think is cool and turning a deity into something they frankly are not. More often than not, they make such claims solely to give themselves some sort of weight of history to be more valid than their hated Christian foes.

    And largely without exception, these people have no clue about the so-called "ancient" traditions they claim to be following. The neo-druids are the worst offenders; we know NOTHING about the Druids. They left nothing behind. Yet people claim they're following some ancient and revered tradition.


Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom, and Mary Magdalene.

I'm not a mad bible thumper--Sophia, however, is my inspiration and always in my heart