Am I Damned?: Part 2
It is impossible to answer a "theological" question simply and correctly at the same time. The reason for this is the fact that the theological arena involves reality not only beyond our capacity to adequately express, but even beyond that, it
is not fully experienced by incarnate (read "material" ) oriented beings. To communicate these truths, therefore, requires use of special definitions, tons of modifiers, and "evocative language."
In order to help you, I will first state what the point is and then provide the mandatory lengthy explanation. The lengthy explanation of the above statement follows.
The greatest problem comes in the necessity to show that "evocative language" is neither literally true nor a lie. It is really adapted from poetry from the earliest times of religious expression. The terms and descriptions are really
metaphors which try to catch a tiny piece of the transcendent experience.
It is reasonable, therefore, for any answer to be both too much, in terms of the loads of words used, and too little, in that it can not completely transfer full knowledge. Almost any theological discussion opens up a lot of other questions among individuals who are truly interested in knowing. To help, each question will get a short, pat answer. This answer will then be modified, explained, and rhapsodized.
Another problem in dealing with esoteric questions is that esoteric phenomena occur on a multitude of levels. Among less educated or among the more educated bigots with degrees, all these events get limited to a tiny spectrum and then
dismissed as non relevant, delusions, or evil. These things actually happen on a multitude of levels. Few events, in fact, occur totally on a single level if humans are aware of them. For purposes of these answers, and to keep paper consumption to reasonable levels, I will consider only a few of these levels:
a) Material events occur primarily / mostly in a realm governed by the dynamics of mass / energy, time / space, and entropy. This category, by the way, seems to include the majority of "ESP" or Psionic phenomena. A term which frequently occurs in discussion of human paranormal phenomena at this level is "soma" or "somatic". This is Greek for body. It is intended to deny the presence or influence of non material forces when used by the bigots and to describe the involvement of the body and physical world in spiritual events by adepts.
b) "Psychic" events involve a dynamic which covers the realm of events such as thought. This may (and I must stress the MAY) be the realm of astral events, emotions, and "reason". Its primary feature seems to the ability to be aware of
itself and its reactions, aware of itself vz "other". It also is the level that experiences "union". It's a classic, `how can you see a bright light without shadow?' question. One primary effect of this level is the mind's control of the body. This level of being influences or causes the material components to fall into the patterns necessary for the continuance of a unique body. In the New Testament, the Greek word "psyche" is used to describe this level. In most English translations, this level is known as "the soul". Soma and psyche without the next level is the "sarx" usually translated as flesh. This might also be the level at which elementals, fairies, and similar "nature" spirits arise and manifest.
c) The next level is "spirit". In the Greek, nous; from which the term "numinous" (not to be confused with numismatic which is the study of coins). This level involves, among other things, angels and devils. The exact linkage between the
"spirit" and the "soul" are difficult to understand and the subject of much discussion. Many ancient religions, including some like the Buddhist which thrive in modern times as well, postulated several kinds of spiritual essences. Each of these has a different function and a different kind of immortality. Suffice it to say that Christian thought is simply not very exact on this subject. You have an eternal essence in the "spirit" whether that everliving being included the "psyche" (as
seems probable) or not can be debated.
Humans have difficulty functioning primarily on the spiritual level. It seems to involve the essence of our free will and the ability to manipulate and create abstract concepts. One of the problems is that things which exist on this level do so eternally. They are immune to change. While they can grow by accretion or shrink by deletion of associated elements, the core reality is fairly fixed. Another problem is that ideal beings do not require any material manifestation in any
sense which we could really recognize. Or they could be materially manifested, but only at a particular nexus.
It is on this level, furthermore, that the fundamental decisions and acts by humans occur. Your life is fulfilled or destroyed by what you do with your unfettered will which may be totally in the subconscious.
This is also the level at which God must be ultimately encountered and at which He is most effective. Before Jesus, God is Spirit. After Jesus, God had assumed the totality of the human condition also.
Having muddled the issue with this non essential angent, let us return to the questions.
Question #1: Is the use of "magic" permissible for a Christian?
Simple answer: Yes!
Complex answer: This depends on how "magic" is defined. If you define "magic" as the application of intelligent imagination to alter reality via the personal energies of someone, then it has to be yes. The proof of this argument lies in two primary areas. First is the nature of creation. God said, "Let there be light." God imagined an existence which did
not exist. Willed it to be. And in the immensity of Her awesome power, imposed creation on the continuum. Within creation we were made as pictures of God. One of the ways we can see what God is like is in our own acts of creation. Of imagining, patterning, willing, and energizing patterns in reality. Creation is the apotheosis of magic.
Second is the function of free will. We choose. Or do we? Many scientists foolishly propose that all our actions are the inevitable result of the causes preceding them. In this bleak world, our discussion is meaningless, but we are forced inexorably to carry it out anyway. These people, of course, feel that astrology is superstition because, among other things, it purports to show an inescapable fate.
On the other hand, if you do have free will, you are a source of an uncaused cause. No predetermined cause & effect drives your spirit. Your own will is autonomous, self ruling. Such a thing is beyond the bounds of the material universe and pre supposes the ability to make something that never existed before. Out of nothing, you have plucked an act that becomes a cause for subsequent events. Sort of like plucking a meal out of the air.
This answer presupposes that you distinguish between this kind of magic and other things labelled as magic. There are "psychic" events and powers. These abilities, however, are becoming steadily more amenable to mathematical modeling and prediction. Ultimately, machines can and are being built to do them. They are material phenomena.
There are also the arts of tapping natural energies in "natural magic". Again, this will become technology if studied close enough and with persistent experimentation. Indeed the old "white magic" always decays into technology. While
technology may seemingly give us better temporary control, it always winds up creating other problems because it is unable to address the spiritual and cosmological functional and nature of the things and forces it presumes to manipulate.
There exists a magic which involves exciting elementals and fairies and
directing them to the purposes of the magic user. How is there any difference
between this and the ability to train a horse, to house break a dog, to direct
children, or to drive a car?
There exists the art of summoning and binding various spiritual entities to your will. Here exists a problem. Done correctly, this is nothing more than getting the team together to get the job done. Even the darkest creature may theorecticall6y be summoned in order to heal its failure to function properly in God's plan (though I suggest strongly that you avoid such procedures unless an advanced adept operating with the aid and discretion of a good group). Done incorrectly or for improper motives, this becomes coercion and sorcery. The deliberate binding of someone for any purpose other than enabling a freer access of God's will and love to occur among the practitioners and subjects is blackest villainy. It is rape.
On the other hand, certain individuals prove themselves so harmful and evil willed, that their binding is essential to the safety of God's family. God likes to work thru people. How many times does he use a Moses, a Paul, an Elijah, or some other jackass?
There is a rich tradition, however, of Christians who are both Hermeticists and mystics including exalted writers such as Eliphas Levi, Papus, and Agricola. A modern proponent is Valentin Tromberg, whose "Meditations on the Tarot"
(published anonymously after his death) has been favorably reviewed by such major Catholic Theologians as Urs Von Balthasar and Joachim Illes. Modern "high magic" is almost exclusively derived from Judeo Christian roots. Indeed, it is massively informed by "applied Kabbala" in other words, applying a Jewish Mystic tradition to Christian rubrics. Moreover, much of"natural magic" as taught by the Wiccans (as has been already mentioned) is simply natural processes and spiritual harmonies to which we all should be sensitive. A Christian needs to be especially sensitive to those harmonies; we are charged with being stewards who are to manifest the Most High in this universe. Indeed, if we are images of the Deity, all creation has the right to watch each of us and see what She is like.
Recall that the intent of the letter is to assist those with traditional beliefs incorporate the experience of the paranormal universe. They have been told that it's all from the devil, that they are doomed if they participate (which they cannot evade because their bodies are already doing it), and that it is all illusion (which they know is false as soon as their precognitive experiences begin to be effective). On the other hand, they are told that Christianity is a horrible monster
guilty of all the barbarisms of history (Even though the pagan hordes inflicted most of them on our ancient customs). Moreover, they are offered an "ancient" faith (which actually is totally a modern creation) which incorporates their experience. This is the reason for the existence of this page. To provide these individuals with hope that the God who dies for love is the same God who offers them these new windows of understanding and experience. Our basic message is CHRISTIANS CAN TOO BE WIZARDS! And vice versa, of course.
Question # 2: Can Christians do any work in common with Wiccans or Neo pagans?
Simple answer: Maybe, as long as there exists first, an explicit understanding that there is only one "true Deity" however It may be invoked, and second, that the Christian will only invoke the Deity under the paradigm of that theology.
The difficulty here is that many Christian traditions include the paradigm that they embody, in some fashion, the "one, true, way;" so participation with the Wiccans may imply an equality of faith which the Christian simply doesn't believe.
Indeed, given the ambivalence of the entire New Age and associated phenomena to questions such as Good versus Evil, redemption, the response of a Wiccan or neopagan to the manifestation of the Deity is liable to be very different from that of a Christian.
There are some major things that help translate from one experience to the other. One is that both see the relationship with the Deity as one of love. The purpose of ritual is to manifest, not just in tangible reality but most importantly
in the character of the participant, the nature of that loving Deity. Such a transformation is the ultimate promise of Jesus. Another is that both the mystical Christian and these neopagans are seeking an imminence within the Deity, and such an
imminence is provided both by the existence of Jesus and the ministry of the saints and angels.
Indeed, it rarely fails that for every prayer and chant offered by our neighbors, there is a Christian equivalent. For every "deity," there is a saint or angel. If they will allow us to plug in our names for their names in a kind of public fashion that helps a lot also.
Such analogs and parallels become readily more apparent as you examine things case by case. Then you'll find often that the Wiccans are excited to hear about how the same thing can be done by a Christian!
Question # 3: How can a Christian overlook all the prohibitions against witches and magic and sorcery in
Simple answer: A literal application of these prohibitions may distort their actual explicit meaning. Because of modern shifts of understanding, the terms such as witch etc in these days may not apply to practitioners of, for instance, Wicca.
Complex answer: Let us examine Biblical References respecting "Magic." Negative references begin in Genesis, but often the primary proscriptions quoted are found in Exodus and later.
Reference: Activity proscribed:
Exodus 22:18: "You shall not allow a sorceress (poisoner) to live."
Lev 19: 26 ; "You must eat nothing with blood in it. You must not practice divination or magic."
Lev 19: 31: "Do not have recourse to the spirits of the dead or to magicians, they will defile you. I am Yahweh your God."
Shortly after these, there is also a proscription against tattoos.
Lev 20:6: "If a man has recourse to the spirits of the dead or to magicians, to prostitute himself by following them (terminology always linked to practicing the worship of false gods), I shall set my face against that man and outlaw him from the people.
Lev 20:27: "Any man or woman who is a necromancer or magician must be put to death by stoning; their blood shall be on their own heads."
Some New Testament Proscriptions:
Gal 5:19: "When self indulgence is at work, the results are obvious: (a list
including "sorcery & idolatry").
Col 2:8: Avoid traps in 2nd hand "rational" philosophy based on "this world".
2:16: Avoid EXCESSIVE "FEAST DAY" EMPHASIS.
2:18: Avoid the ego trips involved in angel worship and in false importance derived from "visions". (visions etc. must be in union with Christ, and the term "worship" as used here is quite technical and restricted to the Deity as its only appropriate focus).
2:20: There is no good in excessive asceticism, for it causes body to rebel.
2 Thes 2:3 12: The Rebel will work "signs & portents" (see Cor and 1 Jn 4 re tests for spirits)
1 Tim 4:1: Some will listen to "deceitful spirits and doctrines."
1 Tim 4:3 5: False teachers will say that marriage is forbidden and lay down rules about what foods may be eaten, but God made all things GOOD.
2 Tim 4: False teachers "according to their tastes" turn from truth to myths.
1 Jn 4: World hears false prophets who fit worldly experience. The Christian tests for a spirit: 1) does it lead to a life of greater loving kindness; 2) does it acknowledge Christ as Lord; and 3) does it tell the truth? (For others, substitute
"does it help me enjoy and work with the Deity?" for #2).
Jude 8 f: Disrespect towards fallen angels is forbidden.
Rev 2:24 Resist "secrets of Satan"
Now not only are these proscriptions taken out of context, and often misapplied, but they must be compared to the many positive references of "Magical" activities.
Reference: Activity Praised
Matt 2:1 11: Astrology is explicitly mentioned here as leading people to the Messiah and to worship.
2:12: Psychic dreams (2:19 21) (1:18 25) are clearly given as messages from the Deity.
Acts 1:23 26: Divination practiced to find Judas' successor.
8:9 f: "Magus" is not condemned but listing as having that power which people call Divine (his sin of "Simony" is in trying to buy ministry, something which orders which charge for initiations should consider).
17:22 f: Paul uses the principle of parallel revelation in his adaptation of elements of pre Christian faith to the Kerygma.
1 Cor 12:8 QBL powers alluded to Binah, Chokmah, Daath, Tipareth, Chesed, etc. Also hints of Clairvoyant etc abilities? Faith / hope = Creative Visualization? Miracles (thaumaturgy) prophecy (seers)
1 Cor 14: rules for testing spirits (See 1 JOHN also). Satan can disguise self as Angel of light.
14:32: Control of "powers" is assumed for believers.
2 Cor 3:7 11: The Splendor (QBL) is mentioned.
2 Cor 3:18: THEOPROMORPHIS (basically, being changed into the "shape" = morphis of God) "And we with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the brightness of the Lord, all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the
image that we reflect; this is the work of the Lord who is Spirit."
4:16 18: Paul refers to the weight of "glory" (QBL) in another discussion of the Theopromorphisis.
Eph 6:10 f: The binding of spiritual powers is a Christian ministry and right // also the "Spiritual Armor" (see Is 59:17)
Philippians: Christ triumphs over universes;
Phil 2:13 18: Our sacred works are actually cooperation with the action of the Deity and joined to the redemptive
acts of Jesus.
Phil 4:8: Christians should endorse good things with good fruit.
Col 1:24: Grace / Sacrifice / indulgences our work can add to Christ's.
Col: 2:9 15: Christ triumphs over angels as we will = angelic magic. Note that this precedes the admonition against "worshiping" angels.
Col 2:2: Understanding / wisdom / knowledge = "jewels" (QBL)
< also note the references thru NEW TESTAMENT about wining "the crown">
1 Tim 2:8: Lift up hands in prayer, etc. (chants, gestures, dances)
4:7: "Train yourself spiritually."
6: Orthodoxy is a vitally important test.
James 4:7: Stand up to the foe and he will flee = proper use of "black" magic
26 27; The prayer of the faithful man works wonders, in specific, Elijah controlled the weather.
Jude: Even Michael treats the foe with respect. Using religious powers, especially dealing with angels with false understanding, can be lethal.
Many "high magic" traditions depend on the angelic experiences of the Old Testament and allege that the first revelation of these was to Enoch. Consider the following:
- Dream interpretations by Joseph and Daniel.
- Weather Magic conducted by Elijah.
- Elijah also could call down fire.
- Elisha could summon angelic armies and strike human armies blind.
- Receiving instruction via visions (Prophets, Elijah, Moses, Joseph, the Magi, Paul, Peter, John).
- Working signs to move men to marvel: (Moses, Daniel, Jeremiah, Elisha, Peter, and so on).
- Miraculous healings, even Elisha's raising a child to life, flowed from God.
- The marvels worked by Moses were "magical" events. Indeed, just like Jesus, many people thought that he was an Egyptian Magician out of control.
- Several other "partings of water" occurred in Scripture: such as the crossing of the Jordan and Elisha's return after Elijah got taken up.
- Jacob worked symbolic magic to accentuate the numbers of his flocks.
- Divination was practiced by casting lots, the Urimn and Thurim, etc.
- More than once, time flow was altered. Once by Moses and another time by a prophet in Jerusalem who also prophesied the Virgin Birth.
Now consider just a few of the major magical works of Jesus:
- Being "comforted by angels" after his temptations and after the agony in the garden,
- changing water into wine,
- healing sick,
- casting out demons.
- Multiplying food
- Consulting with those who've gone before, as with Moses and Elijah at the transformation,
- Passing unhurt and unhindered through various lynch mobs,such as the one at Nazareth.
Again and again, it is not the specific actions that ceremonial magic takes that are condemned but the false attitudes and purposes of that act. While classically, "White Magic" meant using the associations and correspondences inherent in nature, that has come to be called "nature magic," the original "black magic" was intent on summoning and directing various kinds of spirits. When done in union with the will of the Deity for good ends, it was blessed, if risky. When done from selfish motives and / or in defiance of the Deity, it inevitably released destructive forces into the milieu of the wizard.
There is nothing without a price and the law of karmic return is unavoidable. What Christian mages do is to adopt the karmic stance of the intentions and existence of Jesus. Thus they may acknowledge and correct their mistakes without
fear, and thus they may bring Godly blessings into tangible existence.
So on what basis were the poisoners, necromancers, diviners, and so forth condemned? Not the basis that they had certain gifts, but in the particular use to which they put those gifts. They used them for selfish goals or in disunion from the love and the design of the Deity. It would be the same as some procurer using the allure of witchcraft to trap children into drugs and prostitution. This is blasphemy of the purest sort, whether you use the words "Lady of Light" or "Jesus Christ."
On a more difficult level, it is similar to the activities of such hypocritical groups as C.I.S.C.O.P. who use deceit and trickery to "prove" that magic and E.S.P. are bogus! For many of those condemned were great practitioners of the
"personal magic" (the powers inherent in the "soma" of a human and expressed in chi, kundalini, psychic powers, etc.) who used their skills to prevent folks from participating in the spiritual life of their community. How would a coven leader react to some hot shot, ego-tripping, power-tripping individual using his or her skills to disrupt the covens activities or to harass the coven members simply to show off their supposed powers? Probably in much the same way that the priestly scribes did then.
Ultimately, we have to deal with the fact that many predatory beings exist on all planes. Some do actively hold some feeling of hatred or destructive selfishness; others are simply hungry. The difference has small measure to a victim. If such a being is intelligent, it is possible that a magus could establish some sort of contact to gain particular benefits however, the price for such behavior can be rather gruesome! On the other hand, it is the control and hopeful transformation or healing of such forces whether arising from our own psyche or from the traumas and mistakes of other beings is the proper employment of what was classically termed "black magic" as was found in those very Christian texts, The Keys of Solomon. Involvement in such practices, however, is probably a remote probability for the vast majority of folks who seek to learn the sublime truths of the cosmos in caring for nature and in listening and watching for the spirits which sustain its harmonies.
So in summation: was Moses damned who worked such mighty feats in Egypt and is the archetype of my kind of wizard? Were the prophets and patriarchs who were gifted with foretelling the future, calling down fire, controlling the weather, healing, levitation, and angelic servitors damned? Were the Magi damned for following their charts to Bethlehem? Was Jesus damned for evoking demons, calling up Moses and Elijah for conference call, walking on water, passing unseen or unstoppably through the mob, materializing food and coins, bewitching the fish into Peter's nets?
Of course not. Why should you be then? On the other hand, St. John wrote that if we love the parent, we must love
the Children of the parent. So, if you want a loving relationship with the Mother, do you cherish and nurture the creatures, plants, and elements that reveal Her fertile imagination? Do you care for the earth? Do you take care of it as you can even when it is a long winded Christian like me?
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