Tag Archives: mysteries

The Hermetic Mysteries of Christmas Revisited

I’ve written about the Hermetic Mysteries of Christmas before —  here and here.  What’s a “mystery?”  In the religious sense, “mysteries” are the wondrous things we feel when we put ourselves inside a myth and allow ourselves to fully experience it as if we are there.  The word mystery comes to us from Greek musterion and Latin mysterium where it means “a secret rite or ritual.

Within Catholic and Orthodox Christianity we see embedded the esoteric methods and essential nature of the Greco-Roman mysteries — updated to serve the goal of Christian salvation.

Four Ways to Seek the Christmas Mysteries This Year

  1. Gospel Reading Meditation.  Get out your Bible and turn to the gospel of Luke.  Read Luke 2:1-20.  Then close your Bible, shut your eyes, and regulate your breathing to a steady rhythm.  Imagine that you are one of the shepherds, sitting by the fire with your friends and brothers, watching over the flocks, when an angel appears.  Allow the story to unfold in your mind’s eye.
  2. Go to a live Nativity Scene.  Try, despite the presence of the other viewers, to imagine you are one of the shepherds as outlined above.
  3. Experience the Joyous Mysteries of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  Click here for instructions.  If you have never prayed the Rosary before you are in for a treat.  The basic idea is that you repeat certain prayers while you meditate on the Joyous Mysteries — the Annunciation of Gabriel to Mary, the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, the Nativity of Jesus, the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple, and the Finding of Jesus in the Temple.
  4. Watch this amazing lecture by Jonathan Pageau.  See below.  Jonathan is an Orthodox Christian icon carver, a skilled artisan who understands Christian symbolism as deeply as any churchman — perhaps even more deeply — having spent so many intimate hours carving these sacred images.

Experiencing the Christmas Mysteries as if we are fully present within them is the greatest Christmas “present” we could ever hope for.  

Hermetic Mysteries of Christmas Part 2

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about the mysteries of Christmas, and it turned out to be rather popular.  Since people seem to be interested, I thought I might expand and illuminate even further.

What exactly do we mean when we say “the mysteries?”  Well, a mystery — with a little “m” — is a riddle or a puzzle.  But when we say the Mysteries — with a big “M” — we are talking about the wondrous things we feel when we put ourselves inside a myth and allow ourselves to fully experience it as if we are present.  The word mystery comes to us from Greek musterion and Latin mysterium where it means “a secret rite or ritual.

Mysteries are at the center all of the great and enduring spiritual traditions.  When the Mysteries depart a tradition, its heart ceases to beat, the body of the teaching dies, and rigor is soon to follow.

The Masonic Mysteries consist of putting initiates inside the myths of Hiram, one of the architects of the Temple of Solomon.  The Wiccan Mysteries involve, among other things, experiencing various myths that unpack the Wheel of the Year and the natural cycles it symbolizes.  There are the Sikh Mysteries that involve singing of the divine names, Hindu Mysteries, Buddhist Mysteries, and so forth.  Cabal Fang also has it’s Mysteries, which we call “trials.”

Perhaps Christianity owes some of it’s enduring popularity to the fact that it is positively thick with Mysteries, having perhaps more Mysteries than any other tradition since Greco-Roman paganism.  One of the most powerful and pervasive is the Christmas Mystery.  If you would like to participate there are two very simple methods.

The first method is to begin by reading the nativity presented in the Gospel of Luke.  Then immediately close your Bible, assume your chosen meditative posture, and close your eyes.  Imagine the story as if you are a participant, letting it play out in your mind.  Imagine you are there, and really allow yourself to feel what it would have been like to have been present at the birth of Jesus.

The second method is of course to simply go to a public nativity scene and allow yourself to fully experience what it would have been like had you actually been present.

I would not dare put words in the mouth of the famous mystic Saint Francis of Assisi.  However I do believe that he was intentionally creating a great Mystery — that he really wanted people to be present in the moment of the birth of Jesus — when he invented the concept of a live nativity in 1223 AD.

 

For Hermeticists like myself, these Winter Solstice holidays are brothers and sisters in spirit.  So it doesn’t matter so much which Winter Solstice myth you choose — it can be the Death of the Oak King and rebirth of the Holly King, the birth of Horus to his mother Isis, the birth of Baldur to his mother Frigga, etc. — as long as you pick one and allow yourself to fully experience it.

Being fully “present” in the holiday is the best Christmas “present” there is.

 

 

Living Spirituality

Sunset view getting into my truck after work.

Sunset view getting into my truck after work.

If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change…. science and Buddhism share a search for the truth and for understanding reality.”  ~Tenzin Gyatso, the Dalai Lama¹

Spirituality must be alive, fluid, adaptable, and ever evolving.  Holy books are at best of little value.  At worst they are dangerous tools used as weapons by traditionalists to punish heretics and blasphemers.  The ideal method for teaching in spiritual matters is experiential, initiatory, and oral.

“However, transmission can fail.  When this occurs a tradition no longer focuses on or even appreciates direct experience of the sacred.  Then what is left is an institution largely devoid of direct experience of the sacred, without firsthand understanding of altered states and the transcendental experiences they access. Techniques for inducing altered states then give way to mere symbolic rituals, direct experience is replaced by belief, and living doctrine fossilizes into dogma. We might call this degrading process the ritualization of religion.”  ~Roger N. Walsh²

Some of the ancients took great pains to prevent the fossilization of spirituality into dogma.  This is why there is a great deal written about, for example, the Eleusinian Mysteries, but not not much written about what was actually experienced.  The experiences were the most important part, and each person’s differed.

This is why in Cabal Fang we use initiations to bring on spiritual awakenings that are unique to each explorer.  What a person needs is a guide to individual discovery, not someone to tell him or her what is right and what is wrong.

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¹ “Our Faith in Science” NY Times, Nov. 12, 2005  (by way of the excellent article at SOMA)

²Walsh, Roger N., The Spirit of Shamanism, Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., Los Angeles, 1990, page 8