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Am I Damned?: Part 1

Author: Ambrose Hawk

Brought to you by Ambrose Hawk Consulting, email ahawk@centurytel.net.

(Excerpted from a planned website, much of this material has already appeared in answer to various questions on the boards, especially in General Earth Spirituality. I will attempt to redact it for this forum, as much of the arguments contained here are basic to the further argumentsdemonstrating that Wizards Can Too Be Christian!

I apologize in advance for the polemical tone of the piece. It was initially created for a very limited audience.

Christian Esotericism is a movement with hundreds of known branches in which there are deep, deep divides -- just like the witch or neopagan who doesn't want to be called Wiccan or the nature magic/high magicsnobbery so prevalent in some of our circles. This article was originally intended to be "preached to the choir" to show why we followed our particular tradition! I've attempted to modify it into a more inclusive piece, but the basic ideas are clearly here and so I decided to include it as an example of me at my most surly curmudgeon behavior. More material is bound to follow on this topic.)


In our time, the development of new capacities in the human imagination and mental acumen has opened a world of magic to many people who might have never gone beyond fairy tales before now. Developments in studies of ESP and related phenomena have literally opened an entire branch of science and new technology of energies never before

publicly known. In the middle of this outburst, you have experienced something unusual. Maybe you have had dreams which seemed to forecast events you would later experience. Maybe you have discovered that magic works.

Maybe you have found some life approach from Native American traditions that makes more sense than the cosmology of your parents. Whatever your experience, you are faced with integrating it into your experience of a redeeming and loving God. The odds are extremely high that your ministers have threatened fire and brimstone greets anybody who does what you do. Are you damned? Or is Christianity all wrong? Or is your preacher ignorant, however well-intentioned, of the true nature of your experience (that was very hard to write politely!)? It is our contention that the third prospect is the easiest to defend.


Before we begin any discussion, let us share an understanding about God. We will try to randomly alter the gender of the Deity: She is beyond gender, which implies boundaries and separations that we, not He experience. If you find it easier to pray to the Deity visualized as an imaginary girl than to an equally phantasmagoric boy, fine! We can't apologize for this, we didn't make the mess. Unfortunately, there is no workable solution on the horizon. Sexist language is still with us for awhile, if only because we experience reality as sexed beings. I often suggest to people that they try saying the Lord's Prayer, starting, "Our Mother, who art in Heaven ...." Why should this make anybody feel uncomfortable? Why should praying, "Our Father" exclusively then not make women equally uncomfortable? I've seen a proposed minor doxology that runs as follows:




"Glory is Thine, O Eternal Parent;

And Thine, the Holy Child;

And Thine, Their Divine Fire:

Wisdom, Love, and Ever living Power:

For as Thou wert in the beginning,

Thou art now,

And ever shall be,

Unto all the ages of the ages."


This point is important if you have had an experience of the modern Wiccan concept of God as the Earth Mother.

Yes God does speak of Herself giving birth in Isaiah. Elsewhere, She clearly compares Herself to a lover who is betrayed by her beloved. Careful reading of the Bible will reveal many such switches in gender. Probably for the reason we just noted. Why is Judeo Christianity then a primarily masculine faith? Beyond the accidents of history, who knows?

God's reasons are rarely understood until long after the show is over. God Is. How you experience Him / Her is between the two of you.


Now to the meat of the matter. An experimental program conducted by Christians interested in these questions,

uncovered several points during their research which should be very helpful for you. First of all, the "High Magic" of the west is rooted in the Kabbala. As such it is explicitly Judeo Christian both in content and in intent. Secondarily, much "magic" actually involves physical processes which are only now beginning to be understood. Thirdly, technique is not doctrine. Meditation, relaxation, and breathing have little, if anything, to do with faith. On the other hand, they do help develop a person trying to follow any faith. In fact, Christian mystics have used or modified nearly every technique tried by mystics anywhere. Finally, we found that magical rituals and acts, when directed into an explicitly Christian environment, became even more effective in assisting our spiritual metamorphosis and in achieving other personal goals.


Make no mistake. Magic can impact the physical realm. Don't worry about theory unless you want to. Furthermore, there is nothing in the essential practices and tools of most magic which would in any way really conflict with Christianity. If you already have texts which seem reliable and effective, but the non Christian elements bother you, rewrite the chants and go merrily on. God mothered the earth and all that is on it.


You object, "But the seemingly Reverend Stumblegood has condemned all this as the work of the devil!" So, what does he know? I'd wager that his ideas on the subject are overwhelmingly derived from sensationalist propagandists who never knew what they were talking about either. Preachers today preach against Psionic discoveries and the applications of mental principles in the same words with which they ranted against railroads, steamships, telegraphs, telephones, airplanes, and most especially radio. The modern sermons seem to pirate these older texts.



Very few of these speakers are aware that the victims of the Salem witch hunt were all devout Christians, nor do they comprehend the distinction between the modern religion of Wicca and the antithesis of both Wicca and Christianity, Satanism in all its mutually antagonistic forms. Indeed, the picture of Satanism that these preachers hold exists primarily in their own imaginations. It is true that some small groups do seek to torment and to torture others and in return hope for power from the Devil. Yet the vast majority of "devil" worshipers see that creature as a much maligned figure or even an imaginary symbol of the repressed physical drives. The majority of the "Satanists" would not condone the deranged behaviors which often accompany the lives of tormented children who buy into the preacher's nightmare precisely because such activities are still not a true release and fulfillment of the energies that they believe the creature to really represent.


Given that you know that they are attacking not what you actually do, but what they imagine that you do, you can easily refute for yourself their assault. Unfortunately, once people get locked into a confrontational view of reality, they

cannot perceive the illogic of their arguments. This afflicts the Wiccan who believes that the Devil and Hell were purely Christian creations of cynical hierarchies as it does to the Fundamentalist or Evangelical Christian whowill believe that any denials of evil are false.


Consider their objections piecemeal.


First of all they quote blanket proscriptions from the Bible against witchcraft. "Witchcraft" in biblical terms was the deliberate channeling of Satanic power to hurt other people. Do you do that?


"Consulting the spirits" was a class of idolatry, putting creatures on the same level as their Creator. Personally, I'd be happier if people would elevate their All Father/Mother to the same level as their favorite athlete or musician. Not many

preachers seem to cheer over salvation and miracles as loudly as their flock does over a touchdown. If, however, you think Elvis Presley is really God, you may (repeat, may) have a problem here.


One of their most terrible sins was "summoning the dead" as when Saul spoke with Samuel at Endor. The most terrible aspect of this sin is the assumption of the ability to force, to coerce the spirit to respond. Many preachers say such

apparitions are simply a deceit of the devil. My dear correspondent, Samuel was not a devil. On the other hand, the Bible has instances of those who have gone before appearing to us on mission from God. If you ask and permit the departed to manifest, instead of trying to force and to command, and if you keep the whole thing bound within the love and explicit purpose of God, where is there evil in Her will? The Catholics, for instance, observe a multitude of such incidents occurring as formative events in their culture. Not just the Blessed Virgin, but many saints, including the blessed teacher of love and respect the other creatures of this creation, St. Francis, have manifested bodily to their devotees.


Astrology is blasted as denying free will. "Nobody is trapped by inescapable Fate," they cry. Establishment Christians accept much science, however, which argues that everything is locked into a determined sequence of cause and effect. Some of them also accept a doctrine called Pre destination which certainly appears to be as inescapable a fate as could be cruelly imagined! Also, most of them can preach emotionally over the mission of the Magi (plural of "magus" from which we derive the word "Magician"). These guys, if they were not themselves astrologers as many authorities (including the translators of the New American Catholic Bible) believe, were using astrology to determine the place, time, and nature of the Messiah's birth! Every professional astrologer will tell you that the stars incline, but they do not

impel. In other words, astrology will show you major influences and cycles in your life, which you can then take control of and gain even greater freedom the same argument, by the way, used by many psychologists.


Closely related to astrology are other forms of divination. Tarot Cards (which seem to have begun as a way of illustrating the mystic meanings of the Pentateuch, the first books of the Old Testament), I Ching, scrying (gazing into crystal balls is a kind of scrying), and the Ouija Board are all put together as the devil deluding us.


First of all, the effectiveness of each of these forms depends upon the sensitivity of the users and would seem to fall under ESP studies as if purely physical phenomena. Secondarily, the ancient Hebrews used the Urim and the Thurim and like the Apostles cast lots to find answers. Are the patriarchs and apostles servants of Satan?


While fundamentalists rave against magic, their God, through Her absolute will, created a radically new kind of existence; imparted it with an incredibly specific pattern through the immensity of His intellect and imagination; and watches over this creation with deep, abiding emotion. What is this, other than the supreme act of magic? Are we not copies, in some way, of that Being? Do we not also create? God denies creating death, envy, or any other evil. So who did? Not God, but people like you, me, and other free willed spirits.


There are, however, five elements of "New Age" thought that can cause a Christian trouble. How you deal with them, however, will simply mark whether you are an "orthodox" Christian (a term which really just describes how you interpret the Nicene Creed and includes the Greek Orthodox, the Catholics and their appendages, the Coptics, and about a dozen others including recently the Monophysites {whose heresy arose because of a linguistic difficulty, not a truedebate of substance in which both sides thought the other was guilty of the identical heresy!}). In most English speaking countries, the majority of folks are not part of this "orthodox" cluster from the beginning, so making adjustments for these particular aspects of modern spirituality should not be so difficult. First is the belief that existence "emanated" from God and is not a created, separate entity. This particular belief is very popular among Kabbalistic thinkers, for instance. Traditionalists would ask you how many times have you made a mistake? How many times did you feel you really blew it? Your answer should show you that people, at least, are not any god worth trusting. On the other hand, Unitarians and Universalists, to mention just two groups, do not seem overly concerned with the belief of "Creatio ex Nihilo" (Creation from nothing). Emanationism also winds up declaring that spirit and matter are somehow the same thing, and some go as far as to declare all matter "illusion". This attitude is also very popular among some gnostic groups.


The second derives from the teaching of Pan theism (everything is God). You are God, I am God, He is God, She is God, the flower is God, etc.). This is an ancient belief which the American Transcendentalists embraced over a century ago. Some say that even "good and evil" are illusions. They also argue that belief in good and evil denies the "one god" teaching we hold it appears dualistic. Dualism, however, requires two equal forces, but evil is never equal to

good. Evil cannot even exist by itself! Evil occurs by a deliberate rejection of good or by a perversion of good, not of its own. To say they are equal is to say that a sick branch is the equal of a whole, healthy tree that the branch is falling

from. Furthermore, New Agers replace Good/Evil with other terms such as positive or negative, growth versus whatever, etc. that have exactly the same ontological meaning! Somewhere, there is a failure to communicate.


Next the "New Age" frequently relies on a fragmented Deity. While most accept a united Divine Principle, they do not feel that she/he can be directly encountered. Deity is then met through the Earth Mother and Sky Father or some other pantheon. Unfortunately, they are supported in their belief by Judeo Christian thinkers such as the Kabbalists who concentrated on God's transcendence at the expense of our transcendence. For orthodox Christians, at least, there is no question that God can be physically touched. Nor should there be a question that She can physically touch us. Don't you believe in prophecy and miracles? Another source of support for belief in a god who is manifested through a variety of beings {let alone every distinct thing in the Universe} is a body of absolutely atrocious anthropology which divides all gods into simplistic classes and tries to argue that these classes are the "actual" proto religion. On the other hand, if you believe in saints and angels, many of the entities which "neo pagan" theories try to work with seem to have similar

attributes. This is especially true of the local Deities of the Celtic traditions, which seem to be local avatars of greater, related principles. Indeed, there are many cases in which important saint's cults deliberately incorporated aspects of the prior cults. The most extreme example was the nun, St. Brigid, who dedicated her life to being basically an avatar of the Irish goddess so that the good of that cult could be undeniably available to Christians. Again the orthodox Christians have many prayers to various angels, let alone their vast collection of saint cults. These beings are not God, but they are ministers. Doyou feel that you should not speak to your minister about your joys and sorrows? Do you think that your minister can not effectively speak with God to help you? Do you need a new minister? Unfortunately, I'm not fully ordained. Then again, I have so many fine ministers to refer you to like Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel,....

To all of these, remember, O Israel, the Lord, Your God, The Lord is ONE!


The fourth is reincarnation. The Bible says, "It is given to man to live but once, and then comes the judgement." On the other hand, does not Jesus imply that John the Baptist was the re incarnation of Elijah? This question is not simply

answered. For now, it is enough to say that the experiences which imply reincarnation can be explained in other ways, but that absolute rejection of reincarnation may not be necessary.


The fifth and final element is the current rage for channeling. Some Christians are very leery of this. The only spirit guaranteed to be perfectly in harmony with our needs is the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, what about St. Joan of Arc or a host of similar visionaries? In our experience, God and His ministers never completely supplant our own personalities. Otherwise, the tests for spirits are the tests for spirits. Do they create better harmony or disorder? Do they

help us be better people or do we decay into self destructive behaviors? Do they tell the truth?


Let us now consider the origins of much of modern "magic".


First of all, the Psionic phenomena up to and perhaps including astral projection respond to mathematical models. They are approaching the level of predictability every physical thing seems to be bound by. Furthermore, they seem part and parcel of the mass/energy, space/time equations. If radio and airplanes are Satanic, then these events must be also. As Christians, however, we believe that most of the Universe was made by somebody who saw it as good.


Secondly, the sources of ritual magic are men such as Trithemius of Spanheim, an abbot in the Italian Alps; Agricola of Nettlesheim, a Christian mystic whose books along with The Greater and Lesser Keys of Solomon, underlay much modern theory; John Dee, a Protestant whose work sought to defend Elizabeth against her Popish foes, and whose work is the basis of "Enochian Magic" as espoused by the Golden Dawn and its offshoots; Eliphas Levi and Papus, two Catholic seminarians who found the occult path to expand, not deny, their faith; Francis Barret, a esoteric Christian who

taught that alchemy was directed as much to personal transformation as it was to science. In their works, every other line turns to God in worship, praise, and submission.


A large number of the "spells" and "chants" used by hedge witches resemble in most particulars the ejaculations and short prayers and petitions to the patron saints used by Christians since the days of the lions.


Many other forms of magic and mystical approaches are harmonious with our faith. Native Americans were frequently easily converted because the actions and histories of Christ fit what they knew of the behavior of the Great Spirit. The destruction by Europeans of native communities often involved the slaughter of Christian missionaries who bravely condemned the Europeans' sins. In New York, a Catholic priest has been installed as a Zen sensei. The sensitivity to our environment and our care for our Earth Mother is echoed by the many preachers who take people to task for destructive exploitation of all kinds.


If you have magical or psychic experiences, you need not deny them. Nor do you need to choose between Christian and non Christian. St. John gave the best test. Does the spirit give glory to God? If the experience leads you into self destructive behavior unredeemed by good fruit, you would probably fight it anyway, right? If it leads you to be more free, more redeemed...St. Paul writes that it is only through the power of God that we can will and do good. So if you find that you are doing good, healing people, and being more charitable, more caring, and more able to handle stresses and obstacles, perhaps you are being empowered by the same Deity.


Indeed, the brilliant German Jesuit, Karl Rhaner, and his brother created a term for folks like that who do not accept the Christian religion. They were called "unconscious Christians." This was not intended as a reference to a Sunday morning congregation three quarters of the way through the sermon but to people who were empowered by the Deity to expand and continue the work of Jesus, especially to people who willingly and cheerfully cooperated with this impulse. Now I'm sure that there's folks on both sides of the fence screaming now, but consider these often ignored scriptures in the Gospel according to Matthew and the First Epistle of John.


In Matt. 7: 21-23 "It is not those who say to me, 'Lord, Lord,' who will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the person who does the will of my Father in heaven. When the day comes, many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?' Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, you evil men!"


This passage is further expanded in Matt. 25:31-46. In that passage, the famous sheep versus goats parable, entering into the blessed realm is based not on an explicit declaration of faith, but on the person's willingness to do works of mercy: to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick, comfort the afflicted. Indeed, in some versions of the story, the sheep do not even know who Jesus is!


Now the major denominations will scream that this is salvation by works, not faith. That is a question so loaded with confusing and distorted images that I refuse to answer. Instead, I ask, what is salvation? Is it not the transformation

of the beings of this world into beings whose reality is drawn from the nature and love of the Deity and most manifest in the Blessed Isles? What are works? Paul writes in Philippians 2:17 that it is the Deity who puts both the will and power to do good in us. If we manifest the Mother in this way, willingly and knowingly, how do these actions not transform us? If you have had the experience of participating in a magical or miraculous healing, you know the feeling of humility that you've been honored to be there. Moreover, the most openly mystical of all the New Testament authors, St. John, wrote in his First Epistle 4:16b "God is love, and anyone who lives in love lives in God, and God lives in him."


The language is inescapable. If the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus happened, if it was meant to open a path for us to partake of the Glory and the Life and the Love of the Deity, then that path is open. Those beings who are willing to

walk it, will walk it. Our name-calling refusal to not judge others has no bearing on what lies in other folks' hearts.


Indeed, in no place in scripture do I find the Great Spirit leading her prophets to command, "Do not take care of this place. Abandon the weak, the ill, the oppressed. Be a wastrel and do not practice good stewardship. Avoid anything which might expose folks to the wonder and power of my love. Above all, don't dance and sing to celebrate our love; and especially don't include any kind of other being in your joy or in your life."


Probably, Jesus was not "just an Egyptian wizard." Yet, he was a wizard, as was his Father and his mother and as were his friends and as those who will do greater works even than these shall be.


Be Blest,

Ambrose Hawk

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