Monday, April 28, 2008

Polytheism And Liberty

Polytheism And Liberty Cover Another way in which polytheism differs from monotheism is in regard to political freedom. By its very nature, polytheism promotes real freedom of choice. Monotheism offers only one option for worship, and it historically enforced that option with a social structure in which authority flows from the top downward. One God, one ruler - the idea of the "divine right of kings" came only after monotheism took control of society.

Without exception, our concepts of freedom can be traced to the polytheistic tribes of Europe. Representative government in Europe and America derives from the Germanic tribal assemblies. Centuries before the British parliament was founded, Iceland was governed by a nation-wide legislative and judicial assembly called the Althing; the same is true of the Isle of Man. Tribal leaders were generally chosen by the leading families or by the entire assembly of freemen. Some tribes did not even have a real leader, except in time of war.

Our deepest ideas of law derive from the Germanic world, through the Norse and the Anglo-Saxons (Hence "Anglo-Saxon Common Law"). Indeed, the very word "law" comes from Old Norse, not from Roman, Greek, or Hebrew. Indigenous European law applied to all freemen, and the king was not above it; defiance of tyrannical rulers is a common thread running through the old sagas of Europe. Iceland was colonized in the ninth century to provide escape from the dictatorial edicts of Olaf Tryggvason, the law-breaking king who forced his countrymen to accept monotheism or die.

Many of the individual freedoms we take for granted in the West today had their counterparts in our ancient tribes. Women in traditional Germanic culture had many more rights than did their sisters in later centuries. Similarly, the right to bear arms belonged to all freemen in Germanic society - a right that eroded after the triumph of monotheism.
The list can go on and on, but the essence is this: Northern Europe, under its traditional, ancestral religion was dominated by republics with built-in safeguards to protect the rights of the free folk. After the destruction of that religion, royal power was centralized at the expense of the ancient checks and balances, and human freedom was drastically lessened. These rights were painfully regained through the centuries, with the Magna Charta, the American Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of the United States.

In summary, freedom is a birthright from our polytheistic Ancestors in Europe, not something we imported from monotheists!

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Judaic Beliefs

Judaic Beliefs Cover
1. I believe in the One God and Creator who is incorporeal and transcendent, beyond the limitation of form, yet who cares for the world and its creatures, rewarding the good and punishing the evil.
2. I believe in the Prophets, of whom Moses was God's foremost, and in the Commandments revealed to him by God on Mount Sinai as man's highest law.
3. I believe in the Torah as God's word and scripture, composed of all the Old Testament books (the Hebrew Bible) and the Talmud. They are God's only immutable law.
4. I believe that upon death the soul goes to Heaven (or to Hell first if it has been sinful), that one day the Messiah will appear on Earth and there will be a Day of Judgment, and the dead shall be called to Life Everlasting.
5. I believe that the universe is not eternal, but was created by and will be destroyed by God.
6. I believe that no priest should intervene in the relationship of man and God, nor should God be represented in any form, nor should any being be worshiped other than the One God, Yahweh.
7. I believe in man's spiritualization through adherence to the law, justice, charity and honesty.
8. I believe that God has established a unique spiritual covenant with the Hebrew people to uphold for mankind the highest standards of monotheism and piety.
9. I believe in the duty of the family to make the home a House of God through devotions and ritual, prayers, sacred festivals and observation of the Holy Sabbath Day.

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Saturday, April 19, 2008

Man His True Nature And Ministry

Man His True Nature And Ministry Cover

Book: Man His True Nature And Ministry by Louis Claude De Saint Martin

Some account of Saint-Martin (Le Philosophe inconnu) and his writings has been given in the preface to his ‘Correspondence with Baron Liebestorf’, recently published; and it is necessary hero only to say that the book of which a translation is now presented to the reader, ‘Le Ministere de l’Homme-Esprit’, was probably the last, as it certainly was the most important, of his works. It was published in Paris, in 1802: he died the following year.

Saint-Martin wrote to his friend the Baron : (Let. cx. of the above ‘Correspondence') : "The only initiation which I preach and seek with all the ardour of my soul is that by which we may enter into the heart of God, and make God's heart enter into us, there to form an indissoluble marriage, which will make us the friend, brother, and spouse of our Divine Redeemer [‘the violent take it by force:' Matt. xi. 12.]. There is no other mystery, to arrive at this holy initiation, than to go more and more into the depths of our being, and not let go till we can bring forth the living, vivifying root, because then all the fruit we ought to bear, according to our kind, will be produced within us and without us naturally; as we see is the case with earthly trees, because they are adherent to their own roots, and incessantly draw in their sap." These few words suffice to show the scope, intent, or spirit, and point to the modus operandi, of all Saint-Martin's works, and of none more truly so than of the work before us.

The reader will observe that Saint-Martin affects to designate God by the name of His Attribute which is immediately in question or in action: thus we find Him called Supreme Love, - or Wisdom, - or Ruler, - The Principle, - Source, - and such like. In a work which seeks the ground of all things, this is, no doubt, in itself, strictly as it ought to be; - but, if it should sound inharmoniously to some readers, let them remember that Saint-Martin wrote for the French of the Revolution, who had decreed that there was no God, but who had no objection to recognize Him in His Attributes. In this way Saint-Martin undermined the ramparts of infidelity.
With these few remarks the Editor commits the book to the reader, and wishes him God speed. - Topsham, 1864

Download Louis Claude De Saint Martin's eBook: Man His True Nature And Ministry

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Bhagvad Gita

Bhagvad Gita Cover

Book: Bhagvad Gita by Arjun Vishad Yog

The Bhagavad Gita also more simply known as Gita, is a sacred Hindu scripture, considered among the most important texts in the history of literature and philosophy. The Bhagavad Gita comprises roughly 700 verses, and is a part of the Mahabharata. The teacher of the Bhagavad Gita is Krishna, who is revered by Hindus as a manifestation of God himself, and is referred to within as Bhagavan, the Divine One.

The content of the Gita is the conversation between Krishna and Arjuna taking place on the battlefield before the start of the Kurukshetra war. Responding to Arjuna's confusion and moral dilemma about fighting his own cousins who had taken the side of evil, Krishna explains to Arjuna his duties as a warrior and prince and elaborates on different Yogic and Vedantic philosophies, with examples and analogies. This has led to the Gita often being described as a Concise Guide to Hindu theology and also as a practical, self-contained guide to life. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi describes it as a lighthouse of eternal wisdom that has the ability to inspire any man or woman to supreme accomplishment and enlightenment. During the discourse, Krishna reveals His identity as the Supreme Being Himself (Svayam Bhagavan), blessing Arjuna with an awe-inspiring vision of His divine universal form.

The Bhagavad Gita is Also Called Gitopaniad, implying its having the status of an Upanishad, i.e. a Vedantic scripture. Since the Gita is drawn from the Mahabharata, it is classified as a Smiti text. However, those branches of Hinduism that give it the status of an Upanishad also consider it a sruti or "revealed" text. As it is taken to represent a summary of the Upanishadic teachings, it is also called "the Upanishad of the Upanishads". Another title is mokasastra, or "Scripture of Liberation".

Download Arjun Vishad Yog's eBook: Bhagvad Gita

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Zhine Tibetan Dream Yoga

Zhine Tibetan Dream Yoga Cover

Book: Zhine Tibetan Dream Yoga by Steve Roberts

An interesting way of unfolding the Mysteries of the inner process is through Dream Yoga. A successful seeker in dream-work must be stable enough in presence to avoid being swept away by the winds of karmic emotions and lost in the dream. As the mind steadies, dreams become longer, less fragmented, and more easily remembered, and lucidity is developed..

Waking life is equally enhanced as we find that we are increasingly protected from being carried away by the habitual emotional reactions that draw us into distraction and unhappiness. Dream -work can instead develop the positive traits that lead to happiness and support the seeker in the spiritual journey.

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Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Patriot Ledger

The Patriot Ledger Image
Easter is everywhere now. Christian believers are preparing for midnight vigils, sunrise services and other observances of Jesus' death and resurrection.

The faithful are ordering traditional white Easter lilies, too. Along with many who do not attend church, they are putting up bunny decorations and planning egg hunts for their children - and as they follow those rituals, they will be evoking age-old, pre-Christian practices so familiar that few people give them a second thought.

No one knows this better than Kendra Vaughan Hovey of Duxbury, a former Wiccan priestess who is now Christian. She sees reminders of her former religion at every turn this time of year, and she still embraces much of it.

"It's a holiday of new life," she says of Easter. "There's a beauty in that."

Hovey notes that even the name Easter has a pagan source - most likely from Ostara, the ancient Norse goddess of spring. Ostara's festival was always around the spring equinox, which is still used to calculate Easter Sunday dates.

Hovey and Stonehill College religious studies professor Mary Joan Leith said brightly colored eggs and bunnies are among the most ancient and widely found spring symbols, though they were part of much more serious fertility observances thousands of years ago.

Leith, who teaches a "Pagans and Christians" course, said the closest contemporary comparison to the seriousness of ancient practices is the ritual use of boiled eggs as part of the Jewish Passover seder.

Hovey noted that the white lilies are also borrowed from the "earth faiths" of the ancient European and Mediterranean world as symbols of motherhood and purity. Lilies are also mentioned in the Hebrew Bible and by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, but it is unclear whether those would have been white lilies.

While those rituals live on as folklore, Leith said one other Christian practice disappeared more than 1,500 years ago: "House church" groups often observed the eve of Easter at family burial tombs.

She said Christians of the 2nd century A.D. adopted the practice from Roman religion, which included "meals with the dead" several times a year.

Leith said the Saturday night gatherings could be rowdy, until the mood settled down for a Eucharist service at sunrise on Sunday. Church leaders criticized the cemetery parties, but did not succeed in replacing them with reverent church worship until the late 5th century, 150 years after the emperor Constantine issued an edict protecting Christianity in A.D. 313.Leith said Christians of that era were in constant contact and competition with Greek and Roman mystery cults, including the worship of Mithra and Attis, two Middle Eastern deities whose myths featured similar stories of rising from the dead.

Christians did not borrow from those religions, but Leith said the similarities would have given Christians an opportunity to try to convert pagans.

As a convert herself, Kendra Hovey understands how persuasive those appeals could have been.

"Even Paul called to the pagan community," she said of Christianity's first great missionary. "He had to find a way to speak to them in their own (religious) language."

Hovey is not interested in combining her previous Wiccan practice with her current faith. But she is not a bit troubled by the popularity of pagan relics like eggs and bunnies.

"There's no reason to fear it," she said. "Let's make it part of our tradition."

by Lane Lambert


Friday, April 11, 2008

The Machinery Of The Mind

The Machinery Of The Mind Cover

Book: The Machinery Of The Mind by Dion Fortune

ORIGINALLY given as a popular lecture course, this Little Book does not pretend to be a contribution to the formidable array of psychological literature. It is intended for those who have neither the time nor the training necessary to assimilate the standard works on the subject, but who want to know its elements and to understand the principles on which our characters are formed and the means by which the process of thought is carried on, not so much from the scholastic point of view, but in relation to the problems of everyday life.It is hoped that many will find herein the key to Things That have puzzled them in their own natures, for only those who hold such unsolved problems in their hearts can know how crippling and tormenting they are.

This book does not aim so much at an orderly setting forth of the elements of psychology as at planting certain fundamental concepts in untrained minds so that they may serve as a basis for future studies. To this end the writer has adopted a pictorial, almost diagrammatic method of presentation in order that a framework of general ideas may be formed into which details may subsequently be fitted, having found this to be the best way to convey novel concepts to minds untrained in web physical subtleties. The teachings of no special school of psychology are adhered to; the writer is indebted to all, though loyal to none; holding that in the absence of any accepted standard of authority in psychological science each student must review the doctrines offered for his adherence in the light of his own experience.

This book is essentially practical in aim, written in response to a practical need. In her experience of remedial psychology, the writer saw that many cases of mental and nervous trouble would never have developed if their victims had had an elementary knowledge of the workings of the mind. She also found that many patients required nothing but an Explanation of these principles to put them on the road to recovery, and that even when more than this was needed to effect a cure, such a knowledge greatly expedited the treatment by enabling the patient to co-operate intelligently.

So far as she is aware, there is no book that deals with psychopathology, not from the point of view of the student, but from that of the patient who needs an elementary knowledge of the laws of the mind in order to enable him to think hygienically. This book is written to fulfil that need. It is not only applicable, however, to those who are sick in mind or state, but to those also who desire to develop their latent capacities by means of the practical application of the laws of thought and character.
Courtesy

Download Dion Fortune's eBook: The Machinery Of The Mind

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Hermes Trismegistus Book

Hermes Trismegistus Book Image

Book: Hermes Trismegistus Book by Hermes Trismegistus

The alleged teacher the magical system known as Hermetism of which high magic and alchemy are thought to be twin branches. The name Trismegistus means thrice greatest Hermes, and is the title given by the Greeks to the Egyptian god Thoth or Tehuti, a lord of wisdom and learning. At one time the Greeks thought two gods inseparable. Thoth governed over mystical wisdom, magic, writing and other disciplines and was associated with healing, while Hermes was the personification of universal wisdom and the patron of magic. The myths go further. Both gods are associated with sacred writings. As scribe for the gods, Thoth was credited with all the sacred books. In various Egyptian writings he is called "twice very great" and "five times very great." Hermes is credited with writing 20,000 books by Iamblichus (ca. 250-300 BC), a Neo-platonic Syrian philosopher, and over 36,000 books by Manetho (ca. 300 BC), an Egyptian priest who wrote the history of Egypt in Greek, perhaps for Ptolemy I.

The combined myths of these gods report that both Thoth and Hermes revealed to humankind the healing arts, magic, writing, astrology, science, and philosophy. Thoth wrote the record of the weighing of the souls in the Judgment Hall of Osiris. Hermes led the souls of the dead to Hades. The English occultist Francis Barrett in Biographia Antiqua wrote that Hermes "communicated the sum of the Abyss, and divine knowledge to all posterity" According to legend Hermes Trismegistus is said to have provided the wisdom of light in the ancient mysteries of Egypt. "He carried an emerald, upon which was recorded all of philosophy, and the caduceus, the symbol of mystical illumination. Hermes Trismegistus vanquished Typhon, the dragon of ignorance, and mental, moral and physical perversion."

Surviving Hermes Trismegistus is the wisdom of the Hermetica, 42 books that have profoundly influenced the development of Western occultism and magic. A.G.H. Hermetic books, ancient metaphysical works dealing essentially with the idea of the complete community of all beings and objects. Authorship of the books was attributed to the Egyptian god of wisdom, Thoth, whose name was sometimes translated into Greek as Hermes Trismegistus [Thoth the thrice great] and was therefore equated with the Greek god Hermes. The books treat of a variety of subjects, including magic, astrology, and alchemy, and were particularly influential in the 3d cent. with the Neoplatonists and in France and England in the 17th cent.

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The Hermetic Arcanum The Secret Work Of The Hermetic Philosophy

The Hermetic Arcanum The Secret Work Of The Hermetic Philosophy Cover

Book: The Hermetic Arcanum The Secret Work Of The Hermetic Philosophy by Anonymous

The beginning of this Divine Science is the fear of the Lord and its end is charity and love toward our Neighbour; the all-satisfying Golden Crop is properly devoted to the rearing and endowing of temples and hospices; for whatsoever the Almighty freely bestoweth on us, we should properly offer again to him. So also Countries grievously oppressed may be set free; prisoners unduly held captive may be released, and souls almost starved may be relieved.

The light of this knowledge is the gift of God, which by His will He bestoweth upon whom He pleaseth. Let none therefore set himself to the study hereof, until having cleared and purified his heart, he devote himself wholly unto God, and be emptied of all affection and desire unto the impure things of this world.

Authors of this note have discoursed both acutely and truly of the secrets of nature and hidden Philosophy, Hermes and Morienus Romanus amongst the Ancients are in my
judgment of the highest esteem; amongst the Moderns, Count Trevisan, and Raimundus Lullius are in greatest reverence with me; for what that most acute Doctor hath omitted, none almost hath spoken; let a student therefore peruse his works, yea let him often read over his Former Testament, and Codicil, and accept them as a Legacy of very great worth. To these two volumes let him add both his volumes of Practice, out of which works all things desirable may be collected, especially the truth of the First Matter, of the degrees of Fire, and the Regimen of the Whole, wherein the final Work is finished, and those things which our Ancestors so carefully laboured to keep secret. The occult causes of things, and the secret motions of nature are demonstrated nowhere more clearly and faithfully. Concerning the first and mystical Water of the Philosophers he hath set down few things, yet very pithily.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Lesser Banishing Ritual Of The Pentagram

Lesser Banishing Ritual Of The Pentagram Cover

Book: Lesser Banishing Ritual Of The Pentagram by Order Of The Golden Dawn

There is a much employed Ritual which utilizes the symbol of the Pentagram as a general means to banish and invoke the Elemental forces. This Ritual is called the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram. However, it should not simply be
regarded as a mere device to invoke or banish, for it is really the Stone of the Wise and incorporates within its structure a high magical formula of Self-Initiation. It is, to all intents and purposes, a Ritual of Self-Initiation.
This ritual is given to the Neophyte of the Order as a means for him/her to come into contact with the Invisible forces of Nature and to learn how to direct those elementary forces.

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Buddhism Going Beyond Words

Buddhism Going Beyond Words Image

BEYOND WORDS AND PHRASES

"Explanations of mind and explanations of the nature are not affirmed by the Zen BUDDHIST PATRIARCHS. Seeing the mind and seeing the nature is the animated activity of non-Buddhist. Staying in words and staying in phrases is not the speech of liberation. There is a state which has got free from states like these" - Master Dogen, Shobogenzo, Sansuigyo. What is Dogen discussing here? "Not affirmed"? How does the speech of liberation sound? How does one access the states beyond explaining and seeing? MORE

ULTIMATE TRUTH


Wisdom Quarterly (Palikanon.com: PARAMATTHA)

The Buddha repeatedly mentioned his reservations about using conventional speech. For example, in THE LONG DISCOURSES (DN 9): "THESE ARE MERELY NAMES, EXPRESSIONS, TURNS OF SPEECH, DESIGNATIONS IN COMMON USE IN THE WORLD, WHICH THE WAYFARER ("TATHaGATA, "THE ONE WHO HAS GONE BEYOND) USES WITHOUT MISAPPREHENDING THEM."

"Paramattha-sacca": "Truth (term, exposition) that is true in the highest or ultimate sense," as contrasted with the "conventional truth," which is also called "commonly accepted truth."

The Buddha sometimes explains the Dharma using conventional ("vohara") language. But sometimes he uses the philosophical mode of expression in accordance with undeluded insight into reality.

In this ultimate sense, existence is a process of physical and mental phenomena. In it and even beyond it, there is no real ego-entity. There is no abiding substance to be found. So whenever the sutras speak of a person, or the rebirth of a being, this must not be taken as being valid in the ultimate sense. It is merely conventional mode of speech.

It is one of the main characteristics of the "Abhidharma" ("Higher Teaching"), as distinct from most of the Sutras ("Discourses"), that it does not employ conventional language. It deals only with ultimates, realities in the highest sense ("paramattha-dharma").

Language is not something to cling to ("Talking With Buddha," Empty Mind Films)

But in sutras as well there are many expositions in terms of ultimate language. For example, this happens wherever the texts deal with the AGGREGATES, elements, SENSE-BASES, and their components or whenever the THREE MARKS OF EXISTENCE are applied.

The majority of sutra texts, however, use conventional language. It is appropriate in a practical or ethical context. It would be confusing or hollow to say, for example, "The aggregates feel shame," and so on even if ultimately this is the case.

It should be noted, however, that even statements by the Buddha that are couched in conventional language are called "truth" for they are correct on their own level. It does not contradict the fact that such statements ultimately refer to impermanent, unsatisfactory, and impersonal processes.

The two types of truth -- ultimate and conventional -- appear in that form only in the commentaries. But they are implied in a sutra-distinction of "explicit (or direct) meaning" ("nitattha") and "implicit meaning (to be inferred)" ("neyyattha").

The term "ultimate" ("paramattha"), in the sense used here used, occurs in the first paragraph of the "Kathavatthu", a work in the "Abhidharma". (See "Guide to the Abhidhamma", p. 62). See also S.I. 25. The commentarial discussions on these truths (Commentary to DN 9 and MN 5) have not yet been translated in full. On these see K.N. Jayatilleke's "Early Buddhist Theory of Knowledge" (London, 1963, pp. 361 ff). In Mahayana Buddhism, of which Zen is a variety, the "Madhyamika" school has given a prominent place to the teaching of the two truths.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

World Religions The Great Faiths Explored And Explained

World Religions The Great Faiths Explored And Explained Cover

Book: World Religions The Great Faiths Explored And Explained by John Bowker

This richly Illustrated book shows the world's most important religions with detailed annotation of sacred texts, paintings, epic imagery, symbolism, iconography, key beliefs, architecture and artifacts. World Religions gives insights into the world's main religions and offers a deeper appreciation for the belief you have chosen as your own.

Unlike other books that claim to present an unbiased, fair view of the religions of the world, this one actually delivers on that promise. It discusses in depth the various major religions, offering pictures of artifacts, religious ceremonial equipment, and illustrations of the gods/goddesses involved. I was impressed by the religious timelines, continental graphs by religious practices, and Golden Rule section that closes the book (saying to basically be respectful of others' views). This book does not endorse any of the religions, nor does it neglect any of them either. If you are shopping for an impartial, complete, detailed account of all of the world's major religions, I highly recommend this book to you.

Through the pages, the author looks at the beliefs and practices of many different religions from the ancient Egyptians to the faiths practiced today. I have so enjoyed John Bowker's books and he has given me so insights into the religions of the world. He was the dean of Trinity College, Cambridge from 1984 to 1991. He is the author of many books, including The Meanings of Death and The Complete Bible Handbook. With the knowledge presented, you can learn about the central leaders and their teachings, examine the similarities and differences and discover the main beliefs behind each faith. The chapters include:

What is Religion? - An explanation of what it means to be religious.

Ancient Religions - Why have most cultures had a religion?

- Hinduism
- Jainism
- Buddhism
- Sikhism
- Chinese Religions
- Japanese Religions
- Judaism
- Christianity
- Islam
- Native Religions

Colorful pictures enhance each page with virtually every detail identified via arrows and described in a detailed caption. Each chapter begins with a succinct Introduction and is followed by one-or-two page sections that explain the basic tenets of the faith, symbols, events, people, buildings, works of art, and the differences and similarities to other religions. Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are included as are Jainism, Sikhism, Chinese and Japanese religions, and Native religions. The time line places key figures and events of one faith in relation to important people of another belief. Maps identify locations of sacred sites and the spread of the religion. Pages that include tall pictures are printed sideways across the double-page spread. This means the illustrations can be larger and clearer, but it is awkward for readers, who must constantly turn this oversized volume around. However, this is a visual feast that will be useful in most collections.

The Golden Rule - How this rule exists in all religions in some form or the other. Religious Timeline and Maps - Six pages, one with a very helpful timeline that shows when the religion came to be and how it evolved over time. Further Reading - A page of books organized according to the religion they explain.

"What you do not want done to you, do not do to others." - Confucius, is found in every religion in some form or the other!

The belief in a higher power is found in every culture and seems almost essential to our existence. Why do we "want" to believe in a God? Why do we choose one religion over the other? Here you can explore your choice and see the choices of others.


Buy John Bowker's book: World Religions The Great Faiths Explored And Explained

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Asatru A Native Religion

Asatru A Native Religion Cover Asatru is a native European religion - one developed by the Germanic peoples from the very essence of their soul, rather than imposed from without.

Perhaps the best way to understand Asatru is to compare it with the more familiar American Indian spirituality. Both are tribal. Both honor the ancestors, and both have much to teach us about our connection with the natural world around us. Both offer a noble set of values. Most relevant to the point we are trying to make, the Germanic Way and the Way of the American Indian are both native religions - the indigenous religions of specific peoples.

When we see that Asatru is a native religion, it becomes clear that this is not some "pagan" religion we have arbitrarily adopted, nor is it some New Age fantasy, nor is it a whim or passing fad. Asatru has ancient roots - our roots. It is the spiritual path of our Germanic ancestors, and as such it deserves to be taken seriously.

Far from being unusual, this connection between ancestry and spirituality is very natural. What is truly strange is to adopt a religion that began in another part of the globe, among people who were not our ancestors!

Asatru honors the Holy Powers - the Gods and Goddesses. It does so using the names by which they were called in ancient times. The Vikings were among the last of the European cultures to be stripped of their ancient beliefs, so followers of Asatru often call the Holy Powers by their Norse names, such as Odin, Thor, Freya, and so forth. This does not mean that modern followers of the Germanic Way dress or act like Vikings, run around in horned helmets, wear bearskins on their shoulders, or pretend that they live a thousand years in the past. Modern-day Asafolk, like modern-day American Indians, drive automobiles, use computers, and dress like ordinary people.

In short, Asatru is not some strange cult, nor something we have taken up casually, nor a historical hobby group. It is a native religion of a large and important part of the Earth's population - the peoples of Europe. As such, it deserves respect just like the religion of the Indian peoples, the African nations, or any other group on Earth

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Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Afro American Religion

Afro American Religion Image
religiondispatches.org - A scholar of the religion known as Vodou (or Voodoo, if you're Anglo) tells how she saved a small cloth ritual object from desecration by a gang of spooked professors.

I am now the guardian of a Vodou doll that has wreaked havoc at my university. I first learned of him last week, when a colleague in the art history department sent me a mysterious message. Could she bring him by so I could take a look at him? She did not disclose where he came from or how he ended up over at art history instead of my own department, religious studies.

Both my research and personal interest were piqued, and I invited them over for Friday-but on that morning I ran into some difficulty. My husband's car would not start; the doll would have to wait. I called my colleague and suggested a Monday meeting. She took the news a bit ominously, mentioning that other faculty had been having "bad luck" since his arrival in their lives.

Monday morning I waited with eager anticipation for my colleague's arrival. I must confess that I was ready to wow her with my expertise of Afro-Caribbean religion. I must also admit I was expecting an elaborate doll, one worthy of inspection by professors of the fine arts. Instead, I was handed a Kodak slide tray box containing a medium-sized cloth doll, along with a bag of candy corns. His eyes are two slits of white thread, his pants, hat, and scarf are red, his shirt a light purple. He looks like something you would buy at a tourist stand. In fact, as I gazed at him, that is where I assumed he came from.

But no. He was discovered by workmen. The computer in one of the university's classrooms had been crashing, and no one could fix it. Finally a tech person came and took the computer out of its cabinet. There he was, wedged behind it. The computer was fixed.

My colleague did not want to leave him to perform any more mischief so he was brought to her department. Faculty were not pleased; a modernist in the department said to "get rid of him." Others joined in to demand his exit. As a way of appeasing him, someone gave him an offering of candy corn. And then he came to me. He had nowhere else to go. It was either I take him, or the plan was to dig a hole, pour some rum and gunpowder on him, and bury him. The idea of PhDs sitting around plotting the burial and destruction of a doll makes me smile even now. I thought that sort of irrational superstition only happened in religious studies-apparently, we are not alone.

Vodou dolls and zombies are associated with the Hollywood popularization and vilification of Vodou, a rich African Diaspora religion that is too often reduced to witchcraft and sorcery. As a scholar that works on Afro-Caribbean religion, I cannot tell you how many times I get calls from journalists wanting me to denounce Vodou, describe it as satanic, list it as a possible explanation for a case of torture or ritual death.

When I teach students about Vodou they are intrigued and often fearful; field trips to Vodou house temples evoke an excitement that no visit to a church ever provokes. When I teach Catholicism, I do not get inundated with emails from undergrads asking to meet a priest. When I teach about Vodou (and consequently Santer'ia), I get flooded with desperate emails asking me to reveal the name of a "good" Vodou priest that can give them a spiritual consultation or help them with a "spell." I do not associate Vodou with superstition, but too often I find it reduced to superstition or "black" magic.

I have searched long and hard for the origins of Vodou doll mythology. La Regla de Palo Monte, whose origins are Bant'u (sub-Saharan African), is an Afro-Cuban religion. The name Palo comes from practitioners' use of branches and trees. While the various religions described as Reglas de Congo have their origins in the Congo region, in Cuba they have been decidedly influenced by Yoruba religion. Palo Monte ritual centers around the Nganga. In Bant'u religion nganga refers to priests or ritual leaders; however, in Cuba it came to refer to the cauldron used in Palo Monte ritual practices. This cauldron carries relics, most often a skull, of a deceased person with whom a priest has entered a ritual contract. Also, some paleros were known to make figures to attack enemies, such as their slave masters. This is perhaps the origin of the contemporary mythology behind the pop-culture Vodou doll. The collapse of two African religious traditions-one Cuban, one Haitian-does not surprise me.

The doll who sits in my office is not the type of doll you stick needles in. I am not even sure he is a Vodou doll. And yet, his black cloth skin and his scarf evoked feelings of fear and mistrust among a group of university professors. The mythology of evil surrounding Vodou, surrounding black religion, remains. I have nestled him between an image of the Mayan god Maximon and an image of the Yoruban orisha Babl'u Ay'e. I decided he would feel at home with other marginalized and often misinterpreted religious figures.

He has been with me now for twenty-four hours. I am happy to say, as a type this reflection, that my computer is working fine.

You also may enjoy these free books:

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Schools Before Buddhism

Schools Before Buddhism Image
LESSON 1: "Pre-Buddhist Indian Background," Mar. 30, 2010, Ven. Chandananda, LABV)

With Aryan invasions or indigenous development (see video below) came the rise of brahmins in India. The Rig Veda and other religious texts outlined a social order framed by castes. The educated elite or "brahmanas" manipulated the nobles (administrators), farmers (merchants), and servants (outcastes). This Brahminical social order was upset by a new movement of which Buddhism was a part.

Shramanas (those who work with vigor towards spiritual success) brought the rise of mystical, non-Vedic, wandering ascetic orders. Buddhist records summarize six general "shramana" schools, views, or doctrines with Buddhism as the seventh. (See Wikipedia chart under teacher Makkhali Gosala). While most of these schools went extinct, the views behind them are alive and well in America:

* AMORALISM taught by Puraa Kassapa, which denies the result of intentions and actions (karma)
* FATALISM taught by Makkhali Gosala (Mahavira's former student), which asserts that everything is pre-destined, due to fate, and unchangeable -- that is, that deeds (karma) have no effect
* MATERIALISM taught by Ajita Kesakambali, which states that only the material is real and that therefore at death, everything is annihilated
* ETERNALISM taught by Pakudha Kaccayana, which maintains that an eternal and unchanging soul or self survives death
* RESTRAINT taught by Jainism's Mahavira (whom Buddhist texts call Nigaha Nataputta), which teaches karma, self-purifcation through extreme asceticism, and the avoidance of all harming
* AGNOSTICISM taught by Sa~njaya Belahaputta, which is an evasive position of either not knowing or refusing to commit to (and declare) any fixed view

These "shramanic" philosophies had many things in common:


* They rejected the notion of omnipotent gods and a creator.
* They rejected the Vedas as revealed texts.
* They taught karma (deeds) and rebirth (the consequence of deeds) as the "wandering on" in Samsara of a self or soul ("atman"), views that were later accepted in Brahminic Hinduism.
* They denied the efficacy of animal sacrifices and rituals for cleanliness and purification.
* They reject the caste system.

The British fed India's post-Moghul invasion inferiority complex with Aryan invasion theories to convert Indians to Western culture and religion. Their statements and data can be debunked with modern findings that reveal a highly developed Indus (and Saraswati) River Valley civilization and indigenous literature. Marine archaeology (at sites such as Dvaraka) as well as carbon and thermoluminiscent dating of archaeological artifacts, linguistic analysis of scripts, and studies of the cultural continuity and evolution establish that India's culture did not come from invaders.

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Various Authors - Childhoods Favorites And Fairy Stories
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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Occult Symbol The Shri Yantra

Occult Symbol The Shri Yantra Image
"The Shri Yantra - Powerful Occult Symbol.."

The old Occult symbol above is called a Yantra - the Shri Yantra. It was and is still commonly used today as a visual meditation tool. Simply by meditating on this symbol for a while it is said to open doors in the consciousness and bring in energy..

The Shri Yantra is one occult symbol that has also been classified as a sacred geometric symbol because when the mind looks at it for while the mind shifts to its geometric shape. The symmetrical aspect allows locking the mind to the image, which in turn allows thoughts to drift by more easily whilst allowing a more deeper connection in meditation..

SYMBOLIC OCCULT MEANING..

"The symbol originates as an old hindu symbol"

The nine triangles within the sybol are interlaced in such a way as to form 43 smaller triangles in a web symbolic of the entire cosmos or a womb symbolic of creation. Within there is a lotus of eight petals, a lotus of sixteen petals, and an earth square resembling a temple with four doors.

If you look at the chakra you will see it has 9 separate levels, each of these correspond to a mudra, a yogini, and a specific form of the deity Tripura Sundari along with her mantra. Each of the 9 levels -

* "Trailokya Mohana" or "Bhupara", a square of three lines with four portals
* "Sarvasa Paripuraka", a sixteen-petal lotus
* "Sarva Sankshobahana", an eight-petal lotus
* "Sarva Saubhagyadayaka", composed of fourteen small triangles
* "Sarvarthasadhaka", composed of ten small triangles
* "Sarva Rakshakara", composed of ten small triangles
* "Sarva Rohahara", composed of eight small triangles
* "Sarva siddhi prada", composed of 1 small triangle
* "Sarvanandamaya", composed of a point or "bindu"

"I have meditated on on this yantra symbol many times and have found it very peaceful and colourfulIf you decide to meditate on this occult symbol, let me know how you go..?"

You also may enjoy this free books:

Aleister Crowley - The Soul Of The Desert
Martin Boord - The Cult Of The Deity Vajrakila
Pyotr Demianovich Ouspenskii - The Symbolism Of The Tarot

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